Simply Sunday ~ Remember

We are at a time in which it seems there has been a great falling away from God. Disbelief – many feeling there is no need for an Almighty God who created and is involved in every step of our lives.

Power and money pervade society. In many ways it is not longer “keep up with the Jones” but “I have more than you, you are insignificant”. This does not lessen the need for a deep relationship with God – it makes this relationship all the more important.

While there has been a falling away, I believe He will be found, though perhaps in ways often most different than historically taught. Many formal religions remain out of touch with who God is and have tried to hoard Him away for the few.

Our God is Almighty. Belonging to everyone and His/Her (because we do know God was neither male or female) love of all of creation. Knowing God, loving God and each other as God has intended from the very beginning of the bible. A book which too has often been used as a weapon instead of the love letter it was intended to be.

Remembering our loving Almighty God, Recognizing all of the Gifts God has rained upon us with abandon we are to go forward in life in celebration; of our selves as created by God, each other as He made us for each other – and in celebration of the greatest being who designed, created and loved us from the beginning of time.
Wandering away from a religion/church that is not honestly and truly bringing people closer to the way Jesus lived and taught is not a bad thing. Jesus himself walked away from such a religion – did He not? His lesson is slowly being seen by more and more who seek to find, share, teach and love Him in new ways – that are truly old, originally – the way. There are Christian spiritual groups and centers that are growing with knowledgeable advisers assisting.
In my last article I mentioned a talented musical artist Lauren Daigle. I wrote of how her *Christian music is hitting the main stream – which is such an important gift! Listening (in the background) to this past Thursdays episode of Grey’s Anatomy I heard a familiar voice. Another song from her newly released (record-breaking) album “Look Up” her song “Rescue” was played. Beautiful.


Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Paul Mabury / Lauren DaigleRescue lyrics © Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Playing through some of her other songs from this album “Remember” resonated with me, where I have felt in the past few months. Despite the darkness that can sometimes invade our space, looking for His light, warmth, tenderness and love is what can and does see us through. I hope and pray that my sharing this love of God with others will help others know with confidence that God will prevail over all and we are saved in His arms.


Songwriters: Lauren Daigle / Chris Tomlin / Ed Cash / Jason Ingram / Paul Mabury Remember lyrics © Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Remember

Lauren Daigle

In the darkest hour, when I cannot breathe
Fear is on my chest, the weight of the world on me
Everything is crashing down, everything I had known
When I wonder if I’m all alone
I remember, I remember
You have always been faithful to me
I remember, I remember
Even when my own eyes could not see
You were there, always there
I will lift my eyes even in the pain
Above all the lies, I know You can make a way
I have seen giants fall, I have seen mountains move
I have seen waters part because of You
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember)
You have always been faithful to me
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember)
Even when my own eyes could not see
You were there, always there
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I remember, I remember
You have always been faithful to me
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember)
Even when my own eyes could not see
You were there, always there, with me
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
I can’t stop thinking about
Your goodness, goodness
I remember, I remember
You have always been faithful to me
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember)
Even when my own eyes could not see
You were there, always there, with me
Songwriters: Lauren Daigle / Chris Tomlin / Ed Cash / Jason Ingram / Paul Mabury
Remember lyrics © Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Feeling bombarded by sin and tragedy? Look upward

I have been looking for work since June.  Very stressful.

Because I have my toddler grandson with me in the evening I rarely watch the evening news.  I do however do the news roll on my smart phone.  Babies crib is still in my room, when I settle him in for the night I usually lay on my bed for a few minutes while he settles down.  Perhaps not the smartest habit – it is what it is . 

Tonight I came across a story of a wedding photographer elbow pushing the stepmother of the groom out-of-the-way so she could take more pictures.  I have a feeling the photographer was a friend of the bride.  Looking at the video it was clear she had her first kiss pictures before stepmom stepped in the way – and regardless, photographer or not you do not physically push someone else out of the way like that.  What has happened to manners and civility?

Yesterday morning the news scroll showed me a now deceased priest has been accused of child sexual abuse that is said to have happened decades ago.  I looked at the archdiocese website.  Though they stated no moves for six years there are tens of moves  listed this past month or so and some include out-of-state, *more than one listed as no longer in diocese and removed from mailing lists – oh?!!

Business As Usual.

I realized looking at this list that I cannot and will never trust this religious church. This does not mean there are not clergy whom I trust there is.  However, the church overall, for me simply is no longer a house of God.  I can’t fall for the line of the church being the “good” people “there” because the church is all over the world in many religions and for Jesus, it was never a building and His love is not within an institution. 

As a survivor of domestic violence I would ask this – if it was wise for me to leave my husband/abuser even though he could appear good and nice at times, knowing the sickness within – why would anyone really stay within the walls of the Roman Catholic church and support it’s sin

So, I find myself struggling to find some balance with this and with what has been asked. 

I have a separate article in mind to write over the next day or two on this topic.

Last night I woke during the night and . . . picked up my phone to read for  few minutes.  I read the news of the mass murder in California, many young people it seems who were or were attending local Christian colleges, out line dancing for the night.

Political news and rumors abound.

Last week, Mathew Shepard was laid to rest in the lower level of the Washington Cathedral.  Twenty years after his horrific murder – a hate crime as he was out as a homosexual.

Over the last week or two, also in the news have been stories about a young woman, Christian singer Lauren Daigle.  She has broken record sales recently for her music.  When she was asked, and did perform on the program “Ellen” she was attacked for playing music for a lesbian, for “them”, “gays” , “sinners”  etc. etc.  Knowing this she stated the following:

“I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God,” Daigle said during a recent interview with WAY-FM Radio. (Quote published in People Magazine).

“I don’t have all the answers in life and I’m definitely not gonna act like I do, but the one thing that I know for sure is I can’t choose who I’m supposed to be kind to and who I’m supposed to show love to and who I’m not, because that’s the mission right?” she continued. “Be who Christ was to everyone.”

As a Christian, I know I am not perfect.  We all sin (though I didn’t realize missing mass was a “mortal sin” until the other day – seems like blackmailing people to go to mass.  I do love Jesus and all He has taught and represents. 

I don’t understand why I haven’t found a good job yet, I can’t solve the hours my son works but I can love the baby as a mother and I do.  I won’t uproot and move out-of-state as my son asks so I will lose them probably at some point, to their new lives if we can’t figure something out.

I cannot fathom why any man would choose to murder kids in cold blood nor will I ever understand the misplaced hatred toward God’s children who love someone of the same-sex.  I can however speak on these topics, I can love these people because at the end of the day isn’t that what life is all about?

Lauren Daigle doesn’t seem to be affiliated with any particular denomination but she has been a faithful disciple of Jesus, performing for hundreds of thousands over the years.  Now, she is on “main stream” TV.  Look up her website and her performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon of 11/7/18.

Look Up Child
Lauren Daigle
“Where are You now
When darkness seems to win?
Where are You now
When the world is crumbling?”
Jesus – is here with us.  His words through Lauren are a reminder of this – His constant love. 
Realize she appered – not on a religious program, not on a religious network this was on main stream talk t.v.  Christian songs. 
Nones and others.  Seeking Him
The church is falling – but He will not.  
 
Look up!

Loosing touch with all that matters. . .

In recent days I have found myself with more time contemplating on several matters that are going on in the world, country, state, surround me and . . . flow through me.  Topics, issues, people close to my heart I ponder and stay in prayer.  Knowing our Father is always there has been a comfort in my life that I wish all knew.  With a variety of stresses in our world, country, state and religious events/issues at hand I have heard (and read) many clergy suggest staying in prayer.  Something so easy for some, others struggle with.  Staying close to God does not guarantee and easy pass in our lives or that he will give us what we want, when we want it or that we will ever see it.    

Prayer is about offering thanks to our loving Father, asking for continued guidance, support and love.  So often (as in earlier today) I have read of prayers being compared to a Christmas time “Santa list”, yes there are many who think this way but it is only because they have never been taught or told differently.

This morning I felt drawn to a website I do not frequent. I found myself reading that a beloved Pastor  who I have read and written about passed away.  Rev. Dr. John Pelletier  passed on September 15, 2018.  His informative obituary can be found and read here: Please take a moment to read . . .

Though I never met Reverend Pelletier learning some of his story though a parishioner, then research for my article on revoking the celibacy requirement.  I have listened to a handful of his homilies, feeling torn for listening – finding a comfort from my childhood,  “bad” because I have been a practicing Catholic and I know he was not in “good standing” with the Roman Catholic church.  Details in his above obituary, he was a Priest for many years and left the church to walk a new path in and with Him.

Odd though that it is –  how so many abusers; Priests, Bishops, Cardinals remain in “good standing” and those holding them up – no?  Whom is the good example?  Who really walked the talk?  

Loosing touch with all that matters?

In truth I know our Father set me about on this path.  I have had a very close relationship with our Father and have followed where He has led though not always clear and certainly to the confusion of myself and others and sometimes I would dare to say frustration with several of us.   Still, I persist as a child I suppose – as that is what He has asked of me.   Two things that appear as one.  This article however is not about me. 

This is about a good and faithful man of God who lived his life in Christ *as Jesus taught.  His wisdom, honesty, knowledge and love flowed through the homilies I have listened to and I dare say I will over time listen to a few more.  Once a month it seems there was “open discussion” on the gospel reading which in listening to you hear women – and men offering what they took away from a particular reading with the reverend speaking mostly at the end.  Reminding me that this is how Jesus would have taught, listening to those thoughts and questions from the groups He spent time with.

These homilies are different in many ways from those we hear in the Roman Catholic church.  They offer historic and geographic insight into readings as well as the stories so that we hear lessons on proper perspective. 

I know there are clergy and perhaps others in the church who may consider Pastor Pelletier smugly for his life choices, however He lived a good life in God and abided by His teachings and lessons.   He had so much to offer and teach all of us.

“He doesn’t say I want you to be identical to me, He doesn’t say I want you to be identical to all those people, He says; I want you to know that God identifies with all those people and what you do to them, you do to me” Reverend John Pelletier

Please take the time to listen to his last published homily:  ‘Identity/Identify – Matthew 25: 31ff.’ August 19, 2018 by Rev. Dr. John Pelletier  

“loosing touch with all that matters. . . .”Reverend John Pelletier

. . . a  quote I have pulled from this sermon.  My mind thought back to yesterday, when I read a facebook post about the costs and desire to erect a statue of the “Virgin Mary” on the southern boarder wall.  Loosing touch with all that matters ~ My first thought was “why not Jesus?  Kneeling with arms outstretched as in “let them come unto me”.  Then I thought – why not spend the funds on aid to assist those needing legal help.  Christianity is Jesus Christ, Mary served her part in giving birth but the focus is always to be God.  Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

God > teachings *of God who is Love.  Always first.

Have you lost touch with what really matters in Him, in life?  Thoughts to ponder.

Prayers offered with thanks for a man who walked with, talked with and taught Jesus.  He will be missed for sure by all those that knew him personally, as parishioners and those few such as myself who stumbled across his homilies and teachings in most unexpected ways.  May he rest peacefully in His arms.

Following Jesus ~ The Gate

I have tried to think of a time in my life when I have felt as overcome by sadness as I feel today, if there was a day it alludes me.  The recent news of clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has hit the news again – and again in recent days.  I will be honest and admit the scandal of 2002 went unseen by my eyes, unheard by my ears.  I really first learned the depth of it just a few months ago after reading about the movie “Spotlight” in American Magazine and watching the movie.  It has torn away at my heart for the innocent and even the very, very broken guilty.

Over time I gradually came to realize the stories I had heard of a now deceased Priest were most likely true.  It has touched my own home and family in ways I never would have imagined.  Because I refuse to speak ill of this deceased Priest and to protect any innocent I will say nothing more than I do know he was moved from one parish to another.  I see other moves that have been made over time and even, sadly made the comment to one Priest that they always move him to the trouble spots to clean up.  I said that long before I had a tiny clue.  I am so, so very sorry.

I have spoken out against mandatory celibacy for clergy and religious after this topic came up, years ago now at a summer retreat. Today I extend that to include female and male.  There are multiple reasons that clergy should be allowed to be married; the first being this is how Jesus founded His church (which was not even really a word at the time, I do find myself wondering what the word was and how He has intended its use).  I have written extensively on this topic and most of that writing can be found in a link on the menu of my home page.

I have not had the time to read the full report that was issued from Pennsylvania, but I have read several   excerpts that make it very clear inside the walls of the church, lies and secrecy – anything to protect the appearance of a holy church.  This has gone on for decades and honestly, I would wager this has gone on for centuries.  There have always been rumors, and proofs of abuse.

Recently we hear the news from Pennsylvania – over 1,000 children, 300 Priests and the claim this happened long ago.  These are confirmed cases, they expect the numbers would be much higher but for lost records, and those who never came forward. – Then we learn it’s not all so long ago.  Then more news on Buffalo, then one seminary, now two or three even in my state – and it is just exploding.  Behind the lines, off the national and world-wide news for the most part.  It seems some must be assisting in keeping things as quiet  as they can.

Those seated within the church have known all along how deeply rooted the sin against sexuality has been.  Raping of children, novices, nuns, seminarians, priests being “hit on” (raped?), by even Cardinals, tunnels in Europe between the nuns and the Priests, A Bishop funding the abortion of a Priests child and then offering condolences on the child’s death.  The sin of forced complicity.  The sin of telling Gods children they are not to have their (as created by God) emotional, spiritual and physical needs met by a spouse, but :wink: :wink: it’s okay to take in an elder, widow housekeeper etc.  The church has made it “dirty” to act like Jesus.

Innocent clergy have been looked at skeptically for decades – now it is worse.  It is not Godly and it is not what our Father wants.  Today I read a piece from a Priest who stated “Anyone who wishes to be saved must risk the hostility, punishment and humiliation that our rescuer first experienced. Whether that risk leads to the death of the body or only the death of the ego makes no difference. Any who follow Christ must accept that to rescue others, one must first accept a cross. The temporary humiliation of some can ensure the eternal salvation of many.  In regards to this Sundays readings.

The issue I have with this is I know that God does not want those who love Him to feel humiliated for the sin of others – and no – the sins of others are not their cross to carry.  Jesus Christ has already done that – there is and will ever be only one Jesus Christ. We must all be responsible for our own sins, this includes those responsible for what has happened within the church.  Loving children of God who entered a church and took or made vows or promises were also deceived – this mess is not theirs to carry.  Their task is to follow God forward on whatever path He leads them on, and trust that the act of His discipleship at the end of the day is all Jesus really asked for.  Go forth and spread the good news, Love the lord our God with all your heart, mind and soul, Do unto others and you do would do for yourself.  The beatitudes.  Jesus – was simple and loyal to God.  That is all He asks.

I don’t intend to rant about the details, the sin, the ruined lives.  Only a dolt would be unable to grasp the seriousness of this though  in all seriousness, saying that it is also clear there are many ranking clergy who do not “get it”.

I know my very “simple” Christian background is fully responsible for my strong faith in God.  My grandparents took me to the “Gospel Hall” for a reason – for me to love Jesus and all that He represents.  I’m not sure today what they would think of my spirituality and our Trintarian God. I have practiced to the best of my ability and conscience the Roman Catholic faith for decades now.

When we read the bible it is really quite clear, from the beginning of the bible through out that our Trinitarian God – The Father, Son and Spirit intended a married clergy for the church.

The original disciples/apostles were all married.  Even in those days where that meant traveling to spread the word these men had wives.  God valued/s joined unions.  He saw the need and value of a life partner for Adam and going forward two by two – pairs in Noah’s story.

Our Father created us.  Refer to Psalm 139, He created us to complement each other, lifelong companions, family, growing through life in Him.  His gifts to us.  His gifts no institution, no church has the right to even consider to suggest a celibate life is the only way one can serve the church as clergy or religious.

I read a blog earlier today on marriage.  It was a short story – a love story.  Telling of meeting each other, staying up more than half the night talking, sharing, breaking up and getting back together in Him.  Marriage – a call to wholeness, a call to holiness.  When two become one in Him.

Intimacy in marriage is not “sex”, it is those late-night hours one spends staying up late talking, getting to know each other.  It’s dinner – and it’s dishes!  Who’s taking the trash out and where will we go on vacation and explore together, physically caring for a sick family member, serving at the soup kitchen, sorting through clothes to donate, helping a single parent care for their children.  It is planning  (and praying) a future together with each other and with your family and friends.  It is something to carry forward with you in all of your day thru to our physical death in His Kingdom on earth with the joy and hope of carrying that love forward in your heart.  Marriage in Him changes a person.

A married clergy offers our clergy life experiences and it offers others the witness of life and love, marriage in him.  Men who have close intimate relationships with women, who have children in their family would not fare well with the secrecy and lies of the church.  A Priest who is a father would not tolerate a clergy or religious who abused someone, because living Gods life of family you learn and see things differently.  You grow in ways you cannot as celibate.  In marriage there is the trusted wife/husband.  The pillow talks at bedtime, the quiet time of night conversation that may not offer any real details but a confession of problems or issues of  sorts, sharing and support as that is what spouses do in an emotionally intimate relationship.

This church as greatly failed its people.  It has failed laypersons, but it has also failed its religious and clergy of both sexes.  It has stolen away a life given by God by telling His children this is the only way you can serve God as religious or clergy is to be celibate (unless you are a “chosen” convert).  It is a lie.  We know that.

I know I am sounding like a broken record but Jesus founded His church on a married clergy.  If He wanted a celibate clergy, the story would have been written that way and it was not.  Perhaps marriage is not for everyone, but it is for a large majority of His children.  It sickens me to hear the Pope will allow bishops to ordain married men – and know the church has literally thrown away over 120,000 Priest who married.  They have gone off to live and teach Gods love in new ways.

I have a habit of reading some of the daily readings ahead of their days.  I almost always read the following Sundays by mid-week.  This week two of the readings really stand out in my heart and my mind – my soul.

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The second reading for Sunday August 26th

Reading 2EPH 5:21-32 (adding 33)

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

33In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

Sadly, though Christ is to be the head of the church He is not treated as such as there are so many man made rules and laws that have been made.  He weeps.  There is nothing clear or pristine about the Roman Catholic church – to me, this evening.  It has caused a worldwide hurt (which the church  appears to be hiding again, I will state it does seem that this huge news is being squashed by someone.  Those “across the pond” were not aware).   Also, St. Paul reminds us of Genesis and how God stated a man will leave his parents and take a wife – and cherish her as Jesus will cherish the church. “two shall become one”.

The Gospel reading for this week:

GospelJN 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Who cannot grasp this writing?  Jesus told us living  as God asks is not easy. The beatitudes would not be easy and there were those that left His teachings.  I submit there are those that run the church – that left a long time ago.  Centuries.  They have forgotten how to be every day citizens of the world, men.  Walls and secrecy – walls between the church and the world, between the walls and God.

Do you want to leave?  Should I leave, or should I stay?

I wrote a portion of this on a post online yesterday and I believe it is fitting.  We have been called by church leaders to pray and fast.  I believe that does nothing more than pat everyone on the head and force innocents (clergy included) to pray for the guilt of others, a practice that is made for Priests in that they must serve penance for each confession they hear.  (Jesus has already forgiven, and the sinner must grasp their own sin, correct their ways, make things right).

Jesus, believing in and loving Jesus is very simple, pure.  It has become muddled and mucked up and sullied through this church.  His teachings are simple, kind and loving – the church is not.  There have been so many hurt.  I see many wanting to try to fix this mess.

This scandal will bring portions of the Roman Catholic church to its knees.  It may drop it to the floor.  Perhaps this is a time to consider the “what we want” and “what we need”.  We may “want” to fix something incredibly intrinsically broken.  We may “believe” we can do that, we can make it happen – but the very truth is that the Roman Catholic church has carried this luggage around for close to two-thousand years.  Is our Father leading us somewhere new?

Seeing the depth and knowing more of the sins against child and man – against God and the continuation thereof. Men in high places who will not admit where the issues began and laugh at the thought of a married clergy which would have given us many Priests. The inability to see outside of a box with the love and joy given by our Trinitarian God.

With each day passing we see more and more deceit and sickness within the church revealed. – I do not believe the church will make the true corrective necessary changes at this time.  For some strange reason they seem to think a shrinking faith is what God wants.  The tares and the wheat, those that believe in less followers, squelching the growth of His Kingdom – or those that follow the path that leads to God in His growing Kingdom.  There are so many who need to learn of and experience God’s love out there.

The church is not fully our God, that is the blessing we have. Our Father loves each one of us as created in Psalm 139.

We have hope in our Father when we accept His gifts and walk with the Son. I do not have an answer today.  I am overwhelmed with information and rather than make a rash decision to flee, I am following my heart and know to be what God asks of me. I also know He offers us many paths that lead to Him, all with wide and narrow gates.  14717049_10209299619395248_4202024409840928460_n~ Laurie

But…we don’t know!

“She’s out sick, we’ll see…” What do you mean?  She was sick on Friday, I know she doesn’t feel well.  “Yeah, but she went to the doctor after work.  They must have given her medicine and after being off two days she should be all better.”

But. . .  We don’t know why she is not here.  I hope she feels better and we see her soon.

Gossip, judging and sometimes – downright nastiness.    It can take a lot to not be sucked into the nonsense some days when we’re not as focused as we should be on being kind, helpful – and not judging.

I enjoy my job, it is challenging, super busy but I have learned having the door at the end of the far hallway can be at times a depressing spot.  Both a welcome reprieve with a visitor chair to sit and visit,  a quiet space away from the craziness of the front line office and the secretary desks – or it can be a place where some overworked folks hit their limit in frustration from demanding jobs with a non-stop pace and need to stop for a breather.

Of course – my job is a nonstop pace too.  It requires a lot of patience some days to sit and listen.  Assuming or guessing Jane/Joe Doe is out for an unscheduled day of r&r but even if they – what does it really matter?  How does it affect you?  S/he is either going unpaid (or) using up precious vacation days.  There is no financial reward with calling out of work.  Sometimes I want to say “would you feel better if they had a terminal illness?”.  :shrugs:

cno_gossip_quotes_bible_ (2)

Work ethics vary with each person.  I have a tendency to be focused on work and the clock can easily tick past my 4:30 quitting time and if I haven’t left to pick up my grandson to watch for the evening – it is common to find me close to 5:30 one of the last to leave.  I have learned though when I am sick – I am sick and I stay home and I try really hard not to feel guilty.  I feel the same way about severe weather and was sure to discuss this during my interview for my current job.  If anyone wants to gossip about me being out, I don’t really give it a thought.  I keep in contact with my employer and am honest.

 

There are other types of gossip or mean talk that happens, we’re all familiar in one way or another with this.  A lot of times it can be found within the “safe” walls of a family home.  I remember hearing my mother on the phone one night talking to one of her sisters, gossiping about a women they knew (who was 40) who found herself pregnant and my mother and her sister apparently thought an abortion was the only thing to “do”.  In fact, that is the conversation in which I heard my mother say she “would have aborted me” (her youngest) “if I could have”.  I was between eleven and twelve when I heard this.  You can imagine the varying thoughts hearing this gossip and how it may have affected my thoughts, feelings and choices in my life.

How about the gossip that sounds too false to be true and attacks the character of someone directly?  I have a friend met her eldest brother for the first time when we were in our late teens.  At a family gathering she walked into a room to hear one of the siblings she grew up with quietly telling her “new” brother that he heard she just had an abortion.  Pro-life, she never would have considered an abortion for herself and was not nor had never been pregnant.  The gossip was started by a cousin that none of them really knew – and her sibling chose to spread gossip without thought or care of the damage such untruths could cause.

Perhaps the worst type of gossip is when words are shared about someone who has long passed away and cannot defend themself . . .  What a horrible act – and what do they think they are accomplishing by doing this?  It is a vile act that’s damage is questionable.

What about when this gossip is spoken in front of little pitchers – with big ears?  Do they not talk too?  What lesson are they being taught?

My own thoughts on this are one is trying to draw attention to themselves for some perverse reason that I will never understand – but my faith in God tells me also that I do not have to understand.

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I have to love.  We are called to love.

Our words have power.  They can damage and kill or uplift and offer life.  Speak with love – in your words.  Grow closer to our Father and bring other closer too with positive conversations that offer growth, not the poison of gossip.

 

Roman Catholics ~ Celebrating Marriage & Family ~ Time to Return to a Married Clergy?

Due to the length of this  article it is now located in the menu,under religion/spirituality –  within its own page.

The number of Priests is rapidly declining in the United States – and across the world.  Parishes are closing an/or consolidating.  In small towns where all could (and perhaps should have) attended one church building, Priests are being required to serve mass (and other activities) at more than on church facility.

Closing Parishes and consolidating churches is a lazy (though it may not seem lazy with all the work involved) solution.  It is not the correct solution.  Returning to a married clergy is for this and other reasons you will find written about in my long page found on my menu bar.

Over 120,000 men have left service as a Priest in the past few decades.  25,000 in the United States alone.

The church will thrive, followers, clergy when we return to His teachings.

Thank you for your time, thoughtful reflection and – please feel free to share the page.

Roman Catholics ~ Celebrating Marriage & Family ~ Returning to a Married Clergy?

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Simply Sunday ~ If you fall

This morning I ran across a petition by a young mom in a neighboring town.  She is asking people to sign a petition to the Archdioceses to keep the only parochial school left in town.  Their newly assigned Priest is said to be closing the school.  I would hasten to guess that is a decision made at the level of the Archdioceses office months ago.  In truth, I do not know the details of the how and why.  I do believe it is a mistake.  The church is known to have money.  Millions are being spent on some park near the city Cathedral. Attendance is dwindling, children are not being raised in the faith.  Part of the solution to this is parochial school.  Mixed up priorities.

When my sons were small, we chose to move to a small town and spend more money on housing than a private school would cost.  Now, I bring my grand-baby to mass every week, talk to him about Jesus, sing and read to him about Jesus.  His daddy isn’t feeling the call to mass right now though he is happy that I am bringing baby.  We have talked about towns to live in, schools and he has said even if I have to live in a town that doesn’t have a good school system – baby can go to parochial school if we can afford it (and often the schools have assisted families with financial difficulties).

The Church is suffering many growing pains, largely in part to the lack of progress and  ability to change.  Things I have written about here before and will write more of in the future.  Life has been very busy this past year but I have plans to have a little more free time to write again.  It matters.

One professional musician that has been on my radar has not made it “big” though she is passionate about her work, her family and our Father.  Over time I will share more of her music.  It is a mix of Christian contemplative and music for little ones.  Both are enjoyed in our home.  She does tour and perform for churches too.

The song I chose to post for Simply Sunday this week is by JJ Heller ~ If you fall.  Lyrics and my feelings about them below the video.

 

IF YOU FALL
Words and Music by Dave and JJ Heller

You are a house that’s broken down
You are a house that’s burning
And everything in me wants to run
But that’s not love

If you fall, I fall with you
If you hurt I feel it too
Even if my heart turns black and blue
I will love you

I planted seeds down in the ground
Not every one is growing
When I am tempted to give up
I choose love

If you fall, I fall with you
If you hurt I feel it too
Even if my heart turns black and blue
I will love you

Beauty and light will fight for you
Goodness will rise
It shines for you

Website: http://www.jjheller.com

~

My interpretation.

I believe many of us see the church as a house that is broken, burning and in need of love and care in order to restore it to the simple ways in which Jesus lived and taught.  .  There are many times over recent years I have felt bruised and beaten down and I realize this is something many Christians have experienced in one way or another.  There were times when I wanted to  “run” / leave, but He called me to be here so here I am. Running/leaving is not love.  Love bears all things. Love – hopes for all things.

I believe God is disappointed in some of the decisions, choices and teachings that have been made in His name.    Millions have been hurt by these such things.  God feels that pain with us.  We join together to fight to overcome the darkness and bring light back to the church and each other.

I am specifically dedicating this posting to our clergy who in truth are wonderful loving human beings charged with the task of living as super humans which they are not.  They are the beautiful loving sons our Father created, who have given their lives to make our world better and all to often we forget all about them when we walk out the door after mass.  I pray the powers that be make the corrective actions necessary to revoke the clerical celibacy rule and allow all men of strong integrity, character and love of God to serve as a Priest in His church, a married clergy as God designed.  We have parishes closing, not enough clergy to cover churches and more and more schools closing.  It is time for change.  It is time to return Gods loving gifts to all men who love Him so very much, enough to serve in His name.  It is time to grow and allow the church and all of its peoples to flourish.

Blessings on this ~ Simply Sunday

Prayer is the light of the soul

This very much a favorite of mine. Though this is a homily, it’s topic is prayer and it fills my heart each time I read it, another who understands – who walked this earth so many years ago.

St John Chrysostom (Hom 6 on Prayer)

A homily of Pseudo-Chrysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

“The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.
Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.
Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfills its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.
Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.
If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.
To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.”
 

Summer Retreat & Meeting Michael

A few years ago, after being divorced for several years, I filed for an annulment in the Roman Catholic Church.  I wrote about this recently in Where do I belong? Some of you reading may be aware that I moved my original website after purchasing my own domain. Over time I have moved some older articles back, editing and updating as I go.  Also, adding some new articles.  I will republish my article on annulment, but not yet.  I mention this because in part, making that choice has brought me to where I am today.

I saw one fellow socially for almost two years beginning several months to a year after my divorce (funny how those details no longer seem important).  It was someone I knew who moved out-of-state, kept their home here.  I had socialized with his sister and even one of his best friends.  That “romance” fell dead to the ground in a chilling way, when I was informed his out of state (upper crust?) family would not accept me because they are strict Catholics and I was a divorcee with three kids.

Thank you God for saving me from that sort of fellow & family.  God – had other plans.

The short version of this portion is with a bit of a shove from a friend, I filed for an annulment of marriage in the Roman Catholic church.  I was afraid of my ex-husband, for very good reasons that came up even during the process, but there was something inside of me driving me to go through with this.  I am not sure why I felt I needed validation from the church – but I did.  I never felt that my marriage was blessed by God.  I wanted to be in the position to marry in the church in the future, if God would bless me with a loving relationship of this type.  I wanted the option.  I wanted to be free to date – and the ability to feel free to teach & participate more fully in my church again.

Almost two years later my annulment was granted.  I had made a promise that I would teach again if my annulment was granted, because I took that in part as a sign that this was also what God wanted me to do.  Annulment granted, I offered to teach.  I was to begin teaching again when classes resumed that coming fall.  That summer a neighboring Parish offered a summer retreat on Catholicism.  Every other Sunday afternoon from 1-5pm.  Okay, what better way to get re-involved and learn more about my religion?  Grow my faith?

Then something unexpected happened.  I learned things I had not known.  I learned I disagree with and hit me at my core.  Along with watching our weekly DVD’s of Father (now Bishop) Baron, we had a lot of discussion.  The group was led by a fellow who attended Seminary for two years before dropping out and later marrying.  His son, as well as one of his sons friends from St.s Private Catholic High School were assisting.  Both were now 20-21 years old.  Right around the age of my youngest son.

Young Michael we learned was discerning the Priesthood.  By the second class he was comfortable enough to broach the subject with participants all but myself it seemed were employed as directors of religious ed at various parishes in our archdiocese.   Here, I learned there are married men with families who are Roman Catholic Priests, here in my state and across the country.  I was not the only one in the room who was dumbfounded.  If he was looking for support there, he was not finding it with the exception of two elderly Latin ladies.  The rest of us being mothers of young men, and a another father present. 

It is not that we do not support clergy.  It is, generally speaking a married clergy would be widely accepted.  It is what Jesus taught, and the structure of the church – from it’s very foundation.  More on this in upcoming writings.

We learned that men who were clergy in Angelian churches were welcome to convert to Roman Catholicism, become Roman Catholic Priests.  Men who have/had wives and children.  This became allowed supposedly because of the extreme shortage of Roman Catholic Priests. 

Honestly, I never put a lot of thought into the life of  a Priest before this.  It was something I didn’t understand but – it wasn’t my life.  The truth is, it is part of the life of every single Roman Catholic and it is something that needs to be looked at and should be corrected.  In past writings I have discussed how Jesus Christ chose a married clergy for His church.  Men changed that.  Men cannot take away the gifts of our loving Father.  We have a shortage largely because of the inability of the church to make corrections, change and grow.

That fall, I also met a Brother from a neighboring state.  He came for a long weekend, to meet my friend from school whom he met online (playing video games!).  Our conversation including his very honest thoughts and experience with required celibacy.  I assure you it was as negative as we could expect.  Again – it is not how Jesus structured His church.

Another topic that came up at this retreat was the churches standing on same-sex love.  Jesus never spoke on same sex love.  The commandments he gave to us do not speak against same sex love.  We are all children of God.  It makes no sense that God would gift people with loving relationships and expect them not to touch each other.  Love making is an extension of His gifts. 

What the men of the church (at least those in powerful seats) fail to grasp is – each time it is suggested to a mom or dad that their son would make a good priest is they are suggesting that a parent is to teach their child that they are to remain without loving human relationships throughout their life.  No wife, no truly intimate human relationship, no one to grow through life and our Father with, no children, no grandchildren, no one to grow old with.  Why would anyone wish this on anyone?  God is with all of us, our loving Father see’s us all the same.  God did not want this, Jesus did not teach this – he lived and died to bring about a change in faith, God, Love.

Look into the eyes of a mother and tell her that she gave birth to a homosexual “freak” of nature (in essence that is what is being taught), that the child that grew in her womb for nine months, that she lovingly nourished and nurtured is never to have a loving romantic relationship because it is sinful.  How… do you do that?  How do you have the nerve to do that? 

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I am sure I may be riling a few feathers, especially of those more fundamental or conservative readers.  Give me time, I will back up everything I say.  It is time for the church to make changes, it needs to grow.  If it does not make a huge shift, it will see more people walking out the doors to worship and celebrate the very loving God who graces us with everything we see, everything we taste, touch, smell and celebrate.  He is good.

Prompt: Loving

 

Sin ~ What harm is it?

We all do it. No one likes to talk about it. When is the last time you did something and the word sin came to mind? If you are a parent, when is the last time you talked about sin to your children? When is that last time you called a spouse or child on sin? Hmm. This is what family should do, with love.

If you read back through my posts you will see times that I have questioned whether my own behavior was sinful. Not long ago, I found myself questioning whether I had sinned, in not trusting God enough to stay by my side in a place I know He led me. I reacted to a dear one’s obvious frustration, though they did not tell me what I did wrong, I think I figured it out today. There is something to be said for communication skills and it does not matter who you are – use your words.

Though I am a practicing Catholic I am going to try to look at sin today in with a wider, perhaps different view. God, being the loving father has provided us with information to help us be the best people that we can be. That is what a parent does, right?

We reference points in the Bible that have to be considered, and, they should be considered every day, not only during Lent. Make it a habit – it is something I learned growing up and though my childhood was a mix of Christian churches – I knew all about fire & brimstone and if I swore – I was going to go to hell. (Thankfully I learned that isn’t quite the case “but”).

We have the Ten Commandments
Protestant V. Catholic

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I know – why can’t we all just get along. Remember, we’re just looking at guidelines right now.

The Greatest Commandments

Right from Jesus!

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What about the Seven Deadly Sins?

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**Note** These are sins when they are intentional and you have full knowledge of. Being human, we need to understand these sins, why they are sinful – but that being human we all fall to them at times. I don’t think there is a human alive who has not had lustful thoughts (yes, women can be as guilty as men, why do you think we have movies like Magic Mike or 50 Shades of Gray?). Gluttony is not spoken of but there are many of us out there they fall to over eating (or under eating), Greed, Laziness, Wrath or Envy. Pride.

  • Lust – to have an intense desire or need: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Practice – Self-control/Chastity.
  • Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking: “for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21). Practice – Temperance.
  • Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19). PracticeGenerosity.
  • Laziness – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19). PracticeZeal.
  • Wrath – strong vengeful anger or indignation: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1) Practice Kindness.
  • Envy – painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2). PracticeLove & Charity.
  • Pride – quality or state of being proud – inordinate self esteem: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Practice – Humility.

Rather than look at a long laundry list, let’s take a  look at this. As a Christian mother, I will make reference in teaching our children and advising them. Remember, even as adults we should remind them of anything that may put a wedge between themselves and God. Remember though you cannot control your Adult Children, you can pray for them. Don’t “nag” as that will push them away, talk to them lovingly, as you would want to be spoken to.

As Christians we know;

God is always to be first in our lives. Too often people have not been told this, forget this or get slack. In order for Christians to have a solid foundation we need to focus and turn our heart, mind and soul over to our Lord, God. Before anyone else. All of us. It is our responsibility to teach this to our children as well as teaching others when we spread the word of God. It is the responsibility of a man and woman in a relationship to bring each other closer to God in this, they become one with God. Remember to teach this to your children. Remember to honor God, study the Bible, attend Church, grow in your spirituality.

Love your Neighbor as yourself. We can squeeze parents, neighbors, co-workers, employees, employers, kid at the gas station – all other human beings. Treat everyone with love, respect and a kind ear. Thou Shall Not Murder. Thou Shall not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor. Remember the Golden Rule? “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You” Mathew 7:12. How about “Judge Not Least Ye Be Judged” Mathew 7:1

You shall not commit Adultery • Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Wife

Greed • Thou Shall Not Covet They Neighbors Goods • Gluttony • Envy • Pride

Laziness – Ignoring or being lazy in your Spiritual life.

Okay, thanks for the reminder – now what?

Well, the truth is this; When we are not cognizant of our actions, we can hurt ourselves and others. Doing this, especially knowingly, puts a distance between ourselves, God and whomever else we may have touched (figuratively or literally). When we knowingly and willingly commit sin and bring others too it – that wedge between self, others we have affected and God is bigger. Our responsibility as Christians is to bring others to God, most especially those we love.

We should remember to ask God, when we pray to help us be mindful of our actions and caution that they are wholesome and good. This sounds great and easy in theory, but, we are human and in our humanness – we sin. In our humanness we get caught up in sin, which is why we need to reflect on this.

A few things to keep in mind and consider is this; Greed can be as “innocent” as taking that last scoop of potato’s before your brother, who is in the bathroom, gets his dinner plate – to not paying your employee a fair wage. Laziness? Stay active in your spiritual life.

In the past I have  discussed both our chosen attire, taking care of our body (healthy) and how our appearance matters because it reflects both our sense of self and – our modesty (or lack thereof). No saint here, I remember wearing sundresses and tops sans a bra when I was a teenager, not good. It’s important to look nice, neat and respectful. While we do want to look attractive, our focus should not be on drawing people to us by looking sexy. Save that for your spouse.

Consider the movies you choose to watch, books you read. If they contain erotica, think twice. We’re really not supposed to be entertaining ourselves or others with things that can lead to sinful thoughts or behavior. This means no 50 Shades of Gray ladies, and men – no surfing for porn (or vise versa). In married relationships the goal is celebrating your love – making love, which as you deal with childbirth, an illness, medical condition or aging may mean learning new techniques or enjoying some warm cuddles and kisses. These loving actions will not be happening if you are off ogling a woman 1/2 the age of your wife, with a flat tummy and double D boobs. Same goes for the women, no Magic Mike – celebrate your love and your bodies in your marriage, you have been given a very special gift.

Life is not about the size of our home, model of our car or bank account. It does not matter what profession you have chosen, single, married, divorced. God loves each and everyone of us. Realize, looking at each other – we have the divine love of the Holy Spirit within us. When we sin, we sin against God. We hurt God, ourselves and others. Celebrate that divine love by spending time in prayer and reflection – and make a conscious effort to take a personal inventory, a written or mental check list of what sins.

In addition to realizing we have or have come close to sin – it is important to examine why we were/are in that place. What is going on with us internally that has brought us to that place. If it is not readily apparent, pray to God and ask for him to reveal to you what brought about this state. Remember to ask him to fill the void you may be feeling in your life, some self confidence on the job, insight into an issue with your spouse, or a human relationship that you long for. If we don’t ask – we don’t receive. Be positive and put your trust in God, while you’re waiting, serve him which includes working hard to be a good person. Be prepared to find an answer that may surprise you – be open to His love. God wants us to feel loved and happy, He is a good Father.

Something I’ll share is I do have a couple of people in my life involved in recovery and being familiar with Twelve Step Programs I realize these steps may help others in reflection of behaviors, admitting sin, asking others for forgiveness when possible or appropriate and remembering to turn our lives over to God.

Catholics are taught the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we are to go confess our sins to a Priest who will forgive (most of) our sins for us. Many find this to be a useful way to find forgiveness and feel at peace with God. Not everyone is Catholic, and even not all Catholics believe in this manner of confessing and asking for forgiveness. If you are Catholic and have not made confession in recent times, please take a few moments to check out the above link and consider speaking to your Priest (not only for confession but for any questions you may have about it).

I do spend time reflecting my thoughts, actions and words. I understand that my choices can and do impact others. I do ask my Father to forgive me from the bottom of my heart the sins I have committed. I also believe it is more important to sincerely apologize to who I may have hurt (aside from myself) and ask their forgiveness when I can, I think that is far more important than sitting in confession doing so and it is actually much harder. Perhaps a mix of both is a good idea. It is a good idea if someone close to you has brought you to a difficult spot, to share that with them so that they can do their best in protecting you from sin. Good communication skills are essential, though there may be times that it may be difficult – do the best you can.

love

Our responsibility is to live up to being the best human being that we can be. God recognizes that we are human. Too often, bad people forget what sin is. Alternately, often very good people forget that we are all God’s children, children – growing in God. He loves us so very much. After bringing your sin to lay at the cross, receiving forgiveness, be sure you allow that forgiveness from our loving father to flood your soul and allow the light within to burn brightly touching everyone in your reach.satanseesin-godseeson

~~2/24/16 Edit to add:

Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Vatican Website – linked below.

1466 The confessor (The Priest) …..He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord’s mercy.”

I don’t remember ever hearing this before. This is Catholic Teaching. Though I grasp the idea of how confession is good for the soul and our relationship with God – I would never put my sin on a Priest and I don’t care if they “willingly” took that on.

There are different schools of thought on Confession and surely many are still going to heaven who do not go to confession (or heaven will be pretty empty – right?).

This is really not what God is about. It is good and very healthy to know ourselves, understand our sins and move forward earnestly endeavoring to do better. Some things we really must work through internally with God, and that is not wrong as long as we are doing it. Confiding in a close friend or family member who you know and trust to keep you on track – is good and can be very healthy.

This also reminds me of more current essay I have written (as I update this one). In two of them I had posted this from a daily bible reading for the Divine Office:


Mid-morning reading

1 Timothy 2:4-6

God our saviour wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time.


I cross post / am still waiting for someone to tell me how this is considered okay when it is not biblical, and the more I look at the history of sacraments, the more apparent it is that these have been changed, added to – manipulated (?) over centuries. Why? Confusing.

We are human, no matter what sacraments we have received, a Priest standing next to me is as human as I am I am responsible for my owns sins and I know for a fact I do penance for them, it is not for me to hand them off to someone else. Goodness Gracious

Where do these idea’s come from?

Not God!

We must be personally accountable!!!


Reflecting on the story of the woman in the book of Luke, I think we have to look at this story and consider how many of us have torn ourselves up inside for sins we have committed in our lives. Often carrying that guilt forward into life today. Jesus said – no, that is not for you to carry. You are forgiven.

I also would suggest that we often look at the “sin” and not the “sinner” – who they are, why they have “committed sin”, where they were at when doing so. What brought them to that place? There are personal reasons I believed God was punishing me in the abusive marriage I lived in – for twenty years. I had guilt that in truth no one but God himself could alleviate me of. No friends, or priest – only God himself. In retrospect, I look back to life growing up, events that happened and I can see why I behaved the way I did. My heart breaks for that young girl.

Our Lord, God does not want anyone to feel so sinful, dirty, unworthy of his love. It is not for us to judge others, but to truly look upon others with love and compassion and an attempt of understanding. Never tearing people apart or making them feel such shame that they become further self destructive.

0fb1a326f3a71e1e776822166d89dde0Originally Published 2016

Spiritual Reflections – Salt of the earth – Mathew 5:13-16

St. Mathew 5:13-16

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’


As Disciples of Christ we are connected in Him. The examples He uses to encourage growth in faith, hope and love is salt. When we allow our growth to become stagnant we have nothing to offer, our knowledge in His faith, hope and love mean nothing.

Jesus goes on to say “You are the light of the world”. We are to use our knowledge of Christ; faith, hope and love, The Holy Spirit, God the Father and let the light within illuminate us, so that others too, can learn of Him.  Let them see Him in Me, as we go about our lives.

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St. Peter speaks of :

The Power of God’s Promise

3His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. 4 Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, 7 devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.

“Further more, He aids us in this by helping us to supplement our faith with virtue (goodness). With goodness we gain Knowledge (of Fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22-23)” Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” This knowledge compels us forward to learning more.”

We we accept these gifts from our Father we are given tools for growth in faith, hope and love, to spread the word and use in our own relationships.

 

Reflections -The Power of God’s Promise

Grace, as defined here by St. Peter is the Divine power of God bestowed upon everything that makes for life and devotion, through knowledge of God himself. Our Christian life and ability to live that life to the fullest is through the gift of Grace from God, He shares His divine nature with us.


2Peter 1:2-7

Greeting.

1Symeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of equal value to ours through the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ:

2 may grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power.

4 Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge

6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion,7 devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.


 

The more we seek Him, the closer to Him we are, and the further from sins of the world.

He aids us in this by helping us to supplement our faith with virtue (goodness).

With goodness we gain Knowledge (of Fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22-23) “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”

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This knowledge compels us forward with the desire to learn more.

With our knowledge moderation/self-control so that we can bring order to unhealthy habits (my lack of menu and exercise schedule require self-control) temperance. The term, self-control can tend to scare some people off or make them concerned that make you think you can’t enjoy life. There is a difference between mindless eating or desiring a loving relationship keep your thoughts in check.  With moderation/self-control we gain endurance.

As our knowledge and faith in God grows deeper still, which naturally brings us to be more devout in our faith. Our devotion to God and one another, brings about mutual affection with love,  sometimes a more mutual love as that can be a progression of Gods gifts.

So here we learn how the Grace of God, is truly a blessing in the lives of Christians and how the fruits of the spirit work together in bring us to new a better places but for our asking, and at times His prodding.

With all things religious, we must work to gain knowledge of what is being taught. We may not agree with something today, that tomorrow a new light may be shed upon that will allow us to learn something new, see something new. Alternately – that can work in reverse. Somethings we think we know or understand, we in fact truly need to spend time on our knees and contemplate. It is both part of being human and a gift that we have knowledge and faith in God and he teaches all of us to grow.

Originally Published 2016

Light of the World

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Cannon Law -Roman Catholic

“Can. 940 A special lamp which indicates and honors the presence of Christ is to shine continuously before a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.”

Over the years, I have spent many hours before the tabernacle in prayer. Raising three boys along with other household issues, it was difficult at times to find a peaceful area to commune with God.

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I took this photo one evening of a winter passed.   During a trying time in which I found it difficult to find the connection I sought with the Holy Spirit. Extra house guests, youngest son, his young lady and Ella my gran-pup were staying with us and my apartment was bustling with activity.

While the room was in darkness, save for the light by the tabernacle, the love and light of our triune God filled my heart and soul.

Published 2016- As I republish this tonight, I recognize, with sadness that a lamp being light inside a church is an actual church law… For a church that is loosing it’s members.  Tradition, Law, rules – over God.  In a way, if you see what I mean.  The simplicity of what Jesus taught in the Gospels – gone.  My class of eighth graders tonight who don’t really know who or what God is, how could they even have a prayer life? 

Who is God? Faith Formation & 8th grade.

Tell me one thing that you are grateful to God for . . .

I taught my eighth grade faith formation class this evening.  I love the kids – I really do.  They are a sweet bunch, variety of personalities and backgrounds.  Tonight I had four regulars, one extra and was missing one.  One or two I don’t even bother looking for any longer.  As far as  I know they are no shows.  My DRE (Director of Religious Ed) was surprised that one was not showing up.

The topic for this evening was Prayer.  The problem with discussing prayer is these kids really have no clue who God is.  Eighth graders.  They have made it through seven years of CCD or Faith formation to be in my class.  I can’t help but wonder who taught them before me.  What their classes were like.

They don’t know God.

They don’t pray.

They are sweet kids.

The lesson book tells me to have them follow seven steps for prayer – which include saying the “Our Father” in closing.  The side notes tell them a short prayer a Saint said and tells us they should use this in their prayers.

Clueless.  Those are prayers of others that I am being told (through the material provided to me to teach with) to teach them more rote prayers.

No.  Enough already. 

They don’t know God.

We talk about God and prayer every week.  Most of the kids rarely go to Mass.  The local kids don’t pray at home though one in tonight group remember praying with parents at bedtime “many years ago”.  One boy attends my class from out of town.  He prays with his family at night.  I asked him how they pray.  He is Vietnamese.  He smiled then shrugged and said “just a bunch of Vietnamese prayers, then the rosary, then more Vietnamese prayers’.  I asked if they say personal prayers and he said yes they follow a format, though I’m not so sure the way he spoke that they did, and certainly not the private personal prayer we were discussing.  More rote prayers.

Okay, regroup I tell myself.  – Back to the book.  Back to the seven steps.  As I read through them with the kids I realize how absolutely ridiculous this is.  The author has no idea what he is doing.  Much of the book seems okay but when it comes to real life practice – not so much.  I’d need the darn book and have to read steps one through seven just to be sure I covered everything he thought was important.

These kids don’t pray.  Why would I make it harder than it has to be.  Did Jesus tell us we had to pray a certain way?  No, I think to myself – not that I recall.  I love God.  I pray throughout the day.  It’s just part of me at this age.

I smiled at the kids and told them the truth, prayer shouldn’t be a chore.  Prayer is about having a close relationship with God.  Conversations.  Three steps.  Prayer of gratitude and worship, thanks for all He is, all He does and all He is.  Next, prayer for those in our lives and things in the world that need our attention and the attention of our Father, ask Him for guidance in these matters.  Lastly – pray for ourselves.  Ask for guidance and that He show us, guide us in His will.  Help us to be good people, speak to him of special intentions.  Thank him.

I tell them I know there is a five step list I have read from Pope Francis and that I will look it up and bring this with me to next class.

Going through review questions, we didn’t get very far.  The first was “if you make ten minutes a day to pray for the next thirty days how will that change you?”

I was reminded that we already talked about this – only one in the class prayers.  So I steer them toward prayer and share different experiences that I felt were age appropriate to share like the early birth of my grandson and being concerned because he was early (no need to share details with them) but how God has been with him, how well he has grown in two months.  … Of the time I was out of work for a long time and prayed and prayed and just when I needed it – I had a job offer and I knew that was God.  These things caught their attention.  An adult sharing experience.  It also helps know that I respect them enough to share little glimpses of my own life.  I remember being that age.  Not long ago my own sons were.

Last question . . .

Tell me one thing that you are grateful to God for . . .

No answer.

How can they be grateful to God…

When they don’t know Him???

My heart hurt.  These are good kids.  Smart, loving.  Lacking God in their lives. 

I answered. 

I am nothing without God.  He created me.  Psalm 139 tells us that He created us an knows us from before we were born, He formed us, knows us, our thoughts, fears, loves, hopes.  He is with us always.  I am grateful.

I smiled looking each in the face . . .

I am grateful for God, because if it were not for Him we would not be in this room and I never would have met you and I enjoy learning from you – very much.

The sweetest expression on the faces of my eighth graders.  They were not expecting to hear that.  They’re at the age where life becomes a tug o’ war at home, grasping for some freedom that they are too young to have.  Too many don’t have long conversations with their own parents.  Too seldom are they told they are respected for just being themselves.

As we’re gathering books they begin to talk about a paper they have to write on President Trump.  Only one began with how great he thought he is.  I told them we probaly shouldn’t talk politics and the boy who loved him said why?  Lockerroom talk?  {ack}  So we had a very short talk that went like this… “If you are talking about what I think you are, you would not want anyone to speak to your mother like that, your sister – or your daughter”.  It is unkind, ungodly and a real gentleman would stand up to that.

To  my left a student in a choked voice said I am afraid, have you heard what he has said about GLBT?  He said he will use shock treatment on all of them, do you know what that means?  Conversion therapy?    She looked truly frightened.  A young person that I was not surprised at all to hear this from, sometimes you just know.  She said – “you know, my hair is short he may think….”   I looked at her and promised he would not get away with hurting anyone like that, don’t worry – it will be okay.

As I said that I thought of the program my own religion has “Courage” for those with same sex attraction, to help them be celibate.  En-courage for family members to assist them with.  She is worried about the president of the United States wanting to use shock therapy to “fix” GLBT,  as I turn away, sadly I think of the church that will not love and accept people for the way they have been born . . .

What Would Jesus Do?

Love & accept.

At home writing this tonight, I think of my own childhood.  Attending Sunday church services (Protestant) with my grandparents.  Little ones were encouraged to learn and memorize bible verses at home during the week (I was no older than five!), on Sunday we’d be invited up in front of the congregation to recite our verse.  If we got it right (and even if we slipped up a bit) we got a life saver.  A nice way to involve families in their education of little ones.

I read and prayed with my own boys.  Admittedly grace at the table was lacking.  My ex-husband and his family made fun of me when I brought it up one time.  My older two are agnostic (though I keep an open conversation going about God).  My youngest attends an Evangelical church and is quite adamant that he will never attend Catholic Church again.

My grandson is two months old.  I talk to him about God and Jesus.  I’ve mentioned the Holy Spirit.  I sing him lullaby’s and I sing songs from my childhood that we sang in church (adults with the kids) and my grandparents and I would sing on car rides or in the kitchen preparing or cleaning up a meal.  Jesus Loves the Little Children ~ Jesus Loves Me, this I know…

I love the kids I teach.  We only have a few more weeks together.  What I posted last night about my religion, The Carpenters Son? Mary’s Son? ~ The Begotten One. (revised)  is true The church places Catechism, tradition, rules before God.  This is why our young people have no relationship with God, yes, their parents should be teaching them at home, but God must come before religious teachings.  It is useless to push teachings on people who have not yet even learned who God really is and that He is in our lives every single second of our lives.  Isn’t it?

God is about relationship. 

He is Love.

 

 

 

 

The Carpenters Son? Mary’s Son? ~ The Begotten One. (revised)

This mornings gospel reading from the book of Mark was a reminder to me of the differences in how things are interpreted and how those interpretations affect the lives of so many people following church leaders.

The divine office readings that I follow are from a free source that utilizes the Jerusalem Bible.

Here I read:

Mark 6:1-6
Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.


In my morning email I receive the daily mass readings from the USCCB – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  It can be really interesting to see the difference between the two readings -but today’s are very clear.  They are almost exactly the same.


Mark 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Here in the book of Mark we learn Jesus was indeed a carpenter (and a Rabbi – husband? “Master” refer to previous writings, I will link back here when I have time). Do you see how  Jesus himself managed a working career (carpenter/craftsman) with being a Rabbi?  Most probably also a husband “Master”? 

Jesus was born a human.  This is referenced in scripture.  i.e. Jerusalem Bible (my divine office reading)  Acts 2:32  God raised this man Jesus to life,  Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law – to meet the conditions of the law, everything I have read indicates Jesus was born human.  We really, really have to look at the fact that that throughout the Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we are all children of God.  Jesus was the “begotten” – “chosen” one.  This is one of those believable facts that tie into what I have written toward the end of this article.  These biblical facts are what teach people about Jesus, our Father, the Holy Spirit and salvation.  Pure, Simple.  No embellishments needed.  ~ This is how we bring others to God.

You have to be really open to looking at this and that is not easy for many.  We are raised, taught and indoctrinated with certain beliefs.  The Spirit will guide you to see truths.


St. John 14:15-21 The Advocate.

What does Jesus tell us here?

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth,which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” 2Judas, not the Iscariot said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him,Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“will keep my word” > The Gospel

Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him > As Christians – we do!

The divine is within all.  Those of us who believe in and love Jesus will find It’s our job to find it, share it – and help it grow.


Reading the notes on the USCCB website for the New American Bible, Revised Edition version of the bible, we learn that this is the only Gospel that refers to Jesus as a carpenter.  Historically speaking it would make sense, He would have learned the trade from His earthly father Joseph.

“”* [6:3] Is he not the carpenter?: no other gospel calls Jesus a carpenter. Some witnesses have “the carpenter’s son,” as in Mt 13:55.”” (Footnote Mark 6:3)

If we compare this verse from St. Mark 6:3

“”Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.””

        …  to the same story in St. Mathew 13:55

St. Mathew 55 Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?

It seems to me that both verses state Jesus is a carpenter, St. Mark refers to Him as the son of Mary (a possible nod to Him being the son of God…?) but… in St. Mathew it is written as “the carpenter’s son” (Joseph), occupations handed down through generations.

Do we also learn that He had siblings?

Reading the notes on the USCCB website, further on we read;

“” The brother of James…Simon: in Semitic usage, the terms “brother,” “sister” are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf. Gn 14:16; 29:15; Lv 10:4. While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from Semitic usage, the Septuagint often translates the Hebrew ’āh by the Greek word adelphos, “brother,” as in the cited passages, a fact that may argue for a similar breadth of meaning in some New Testament passages. For instance, there is no doubt that in v. 17, “brother” is used of Philip, who was actually the half-brother of Herod Antipas. On the other hand, Mark may have understood the terms literally; see also 3:31–32; Mt 12:46; 13:55–56; Lk 8:19; Jn 7:3, 5.   The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.“”

Researching the topic of Mary’s lifelong virginity (not something I grew up hearing as a Protestant, not something most Catholics I have spoken to know of – or believe) this was not a teaching early on but something written about over the years. 

*Note: some may not approve of my terminology i.e. “made love” but I feel it is important to drive home the teachings of marriage, love and family life.  I could say consummate, I could say intercourse – but a married couple?  Blessed by God? Make love.

There are stories written that are not biblical.  I have not put a lot of thought into why anyone felt Mary – a married woman would have to remain a virgin for life.  She was married – making love is a natural part of family life.  A gift from God.  If Mary and Joseph consummated their marriage (legally would have had to – no?) would that not make them more of an attainable role model for families?  He was the step-father of Jesus, why would they not have more children?  Why  would they not partake in marital love making?  Actually, isn’t that required in a sacramental marriage, as well as no contraception – but openness to receiving more children?

Perhaps those Catholics educated in a Catholic school system, indoctrinated (“teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically“) ?  know, and believe in her perpetual virginity.

I can’t say whether they believe it or not.  Considering my limited research on the belief of the Eucharist (now an article) being the body and blood of Jesus,  I am going to hazard a most (American Catholics) don’t believe it.

Why is important? 

Why am I daring discuss this? 

This is part of my view from the bottom up.  It is what I see, what I know and what I feel. 

People walk away from what they do not believe

The church has grown so complex people cannot even follow along.  Like an old fashioned game of “Operator” or “Telephone”.  That is not necessary.  That is very much is not in tune with the teachings of Jesus, is it?

Looking at things like this is important when one considers the decline in the Roman Catholic church and I believe Christianity as a whole. 

In this day and age, as I have previously noted people are able to read more easily, research, study and discern.

When we have the simplicity, the purity of the Holy Gospel and even the readings I have studied so far (a lot more to go) of St. Paul –  there are those that challenge the life of Jesus Christ.  That number multiples now, most especially among young adults and our youth because so much of what the church teaches takes those simple, pure – beautiful teachings and embellishes upon them. 

There was no need to all of the additional stories or sightings or personal visitations.  Why would there be?  We have been taught all we need to know in the bible.  Simple.  Pure.  Believable.

I have brought up in the past that Mother Mary’s parents – Sts Anne and Joaquin are not biblical.  They are not.  They are referred to as “Catholic legend” on the Catholics online website.  References are given to them being brought up in unauthenticated writings. 

There again is not reason to even hear of them but to further add ? credence to Mother Mary’s virtue because Catholic teaching teaches that Mary too was born of immaculate conception – meaning Mary was conceived and born to a virgin St. Anne.  That is the “Immaculate Conception” that was made dogma in the Roman Catholic church in 1854.  1854.  Yes.  Not all that long ago

Most Catholics I have spoken to think the Immaculate Conception was when Jesus was conceived.  Interesting, is it not – that Mary is still held in high esteem, requiring no additional story or background. 

Many Catholics believe Mary made love to her husband Joseph after the birth of Jesus.  His siblings are mentioned in the bible.  It seems many don’t know or believe an immaculate conception was necessary for her to be held in high esteem as the Mother of Jesus.

I was a Catholic for many years before I myself heard these teachings of Mary.  Many people today pray to Mary, though it is clearly written in the bible that Jesus Christ is the only intercessor with our Father.  Doesn’t that put a bit of a wedge between children of God and their father?  Why?  He is always with us – why try to hide that fact?  We do not need anyone to intervene for us.  He is our loving Father and He has time for each and every one of us.  He is Life.

If one steps back and looks at this – is it really that hard to see why people in this millennium walk away, no longer believing the teachings of the church?  To many, these teachings seem far fetched.  Over complicated.

 The teachings of Jesus –  simple, pure gospel of Jesus.

St John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, Whoever loves me will keep my word,

Here too, in this reading (both versions) Jesus is referring to His own house/home.  Something too often contested in the church – but Biblically correct.

Less is more.  Isn’t it? 

I understand it may be easy to look at what I have said and “write it off”.  You can’t.  Not really.  Not when it comes to being a true disciple of Jesus. 

One must seriously examine why people are leaving the church, many going to other Christian churches (maybe they are right?), though we know Christianity as a whole is shrinking.

Many are leaving religion all together. 

How many – are completely walking away from Jesus and our Father?

This isn’t just about good seeds or bad seeds – this is about replanting and fertilizer. 

Looking at things carefully is prudent and looking at ways to approach some of these things, openly has the possibility to retain, and draw children of God – to Him.

Santa Claus is a legend.  It seems even on Catholic websites there are teachings (more than one) that slips into that category.  Is this fixable?  Without saying “it’s a mystery” which is how my children were answered – as millions have been, when questioning teachings.

I don’t believe in a defeatist attitude, that is not godly.  However, many things need to start changing and they need to start changing today in order to save the church – and grow Christianity. This is about God.  Not ego’s, not Catholicism per say.  This is about the teachings of Jesus Christ – the reason we Christians, are Christian.  Standing back and looking at things, I can begin to see why other Christian denominations state – emphatically, that Catholics are not Christian.  We need brave clergy, Bishops to stand up and make changes.  I am not so sure a basically elderly, celibate clergy is going to emotionally and spiritually deal with the changes that need to be made in order to really stabilize and grow the church.  Painful words, with loving intention.  It is asking a tremendous amount from  men who have given up life that God never intended them to give up. It is in life experiences that we experience God.   It requires them to begin to live life in a new way, new eyes, new growing hearts, expanding souls – and living, earning real life experience.  It is asking a lot.

God first.  Always.  Living the Gospel.

 

Christ and His Commandments

The first section is a short Reading from this evenings divine office, I am adding in the first two verses

1John 2:1-2

1 My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  2 He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

1 John 2:3-6

We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. Anyone who says, ‘I know him’, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth. But when anyone does obey what he has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him. We can be sure that we are in God only when the one who claims to be living in him is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
In the book of 1John we are reminded that Jesus is the intercessor, our advocate with our Father.  He has atoned for our sins – we can saygreatestcommandment “I know Him” but if we are not following His commandments, we are not honoring His gift on the Cross then we are liars.  We are to be obedient to our Father.  We are to to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, love our Father with all of our heart, mind and soul.  Love one another as ourselves.  Realizing I think, that we are one in Him. Carrying out our lives in this way, working for the good of all in God.

The Greatest Commandment

St. Mark 12:28-30

28One of the scribes,i when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”

29 Jesus replied,“The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30bYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’j

Turning ourselves over to God is a lot more than going to church on Sunday. It requires; patience, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and love – of ourselves. We are going to work through all of those emotions when we truly open our hearts and souls to God.

Jesus brings us to God – once we get there, it is our job to fully accept and allow God into our hearts, soul, mind and body. He is there now, inside of your being but for you to allow Him to grow. Nurture and Nourish your soul. Take some time to read about prayer and how to best go about it for yourself. Study your Bible.

St. Mark 12:31-34

31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Do you love yourself? Do you think positive things about yourself, your intellect, appearance, actions?

Do you believe God loves you?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

God is part of us, as we are His children. The more we allow ourselves to grow in Him, the more He grows within our souls. Yes – we are walking around with God in us. Do you respect that?

When we love ourselves, we are loving God in part too. When we realize this we are better able to really love everyone that we encounter, not just our family or friends – we learn to be more patient in kind to the harried mom in front of us at the check out who’s baby is crying and two year old is pulling on her arm. Our love radiate can radiate out in a oneness with another. How would we like to be treated if dealing with crying kids? Smile at that mom, why not engage the two year old so mom can focus on the baby for a few minutes?

Or the new waiter at for favorite pizza place, its his first night and he spills water all over the table (and a bit on your leg)? Now he is scared of loosing a new job, after spilling water. Can you help the waiter clean up the spilled water and share a time when you made a mess with a glass (who – had – not?) – maybe slip him an extra dollar tip.

When your husband (wife) comes in late from work, on your anniversary with not so much as an “I Love You”, you feel crushed – right? Reach inside and pull out some of that good love and see how well that plays out for you. The husband who may be short on money, is short on time? Totally stressed about something (work? and ill parent?) that he did not have his focus on your marriage, but was a million miles away, would he really want to hurt you?

This one is more difficult, it really hurts to feel forgotten by your love.  Your spouse is deep in your heart and soul. Take a few minutes alone, perhaps in the bathroom (it works) and have a few minutes with our Father. Ask our Lord for help and guidance. How the evening plays out is in your hands. Give him some space, let him talk. Then maybe walk over and give HIM a big hug, tell him you love him as much today as you did 8 years ago when you married him. His may be rendered speechless, but he will feel that love and that is what life is all about.

Love God, love and nurture your relationship with him as well as everyone you touch.

Love another as you would love yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

Out Upon the Waters

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How very true this is.  Many times that all I can say is “Jesus.  Sweet Jesus.  Jesus” and I know He hears. 

In time like this evening when I have things weighing on my mind, heart and soul I find the need to pull away and spend some quiet time in thought and prayer.  As I began to end my evening I found myself reading some of tonight’s readings which many nights will bring me to look up more of the readings and learning more.  Which is good. . . . but… this tends to bring me to read and do more research when I should be turning toward evening prayer and sleep.

This evening I found myself listening to some contemporary Christian music.  The is a song I have heard before and recently saved.  The lyrics to this song and melody worship our God and pull me closer to Him.  I can feel the safety of His embrace. 

I find the lyrics resonate with me this evening.  “You call me out upon the waters” which indeed He has done and what was one situation seems to have grown – taken on a life of it’s own.   Though – I know He is in control,   relaxing into this music reminds me of this fact and that I am safe, as are those in my heart.  This brings me closer to Him in prayer, conversation with Him.

Enjoy . . .

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Yeah

Oh Jesus yeah, my God

I will call upon Your Name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine

Songwriters: Joel Houston / Matt Crocker / Salomon Ligthelm

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

Simply Sunday ~ Forever

This evening I find myself saddened by the current events and choices of those in political power in my country.  Challenges in my personal life too can be overwhelming.  I lean into Him.  I turn my heart, mind and soul to our Father and I find strength.  I’ve chosen the song Forever written by a personal favorite Chris Tomlin, performed soulfully by Kari Jobe.  He came to us to bring us to our Father.  He walks with us today – we are not alone.  “Forever he is risen, he is alive”.
I pray we all come together as one people in this world.  We are all one.  True love and respect must be given to each other – regardless “of” anything.  Treating each other with love and respect is godly behavior and what is asked of us.  The only differences are what we make.  Let us focus on building bridges and not walls – of any sort.  Not one human being is seen to be better, higher or more valuable to our loving Father.
Have a blessed Sunday and peaceful week.
My apologies, you may have to click through to youtube to view this video.

 

 

“Forever”

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon himOne final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged


The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome

Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome
You have overcome

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness.

One simple word that can evoke a wide range of emotions, for both the “offender” and the “forgiver”.

Christians know we are required by God to forgive, or face God in our inability to extend forgiveness. (continued below)

From the Gospel reading:

Matthew 18:21-35

“Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.”
– Then Jesus told this Parable;

” ‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’”

We all have times in which we find it difficult to forgive. What child wants to say “okay, I forgive you for breaking my favorite toy?” Right. Or, how about the husband to the wife “oh, geez, ummm you threw away my favorite sweat-shirt because it had a tear in the hem?” Yup. Those are the easy ones too, aren’t they?

What about the big things? The ones that tear you to your soul, leaving your heart wide open, bleeding? There are so many things that hurt us this way, a drunk driver causing a car accident that paralyzes your mother, backing into the driveway and accidentally running over napping Fido, who is old and deaf.  Spoken words that cut like a knife and wound your soul.

We all have things.

Every one of us.

They leave deep scars.

My own range from having a mother who didn’t want me, who had no trouble telling someone, with me just a few feet away that “I would have aborted her if it was legal”, she was emotionally detached from at least two of her three children. – My ex-husband who abused me emotionally, mentally and physically for many years, leaving scars both literal and figurative. What do you do with that?

Forgive. Jesus tells us to Forgive. My mother, was easiest. I cannot relate to her in any way shape or form. I pity her for the upbringing she had, her inability to bond or grasp what love is. I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt, because there are times that it does hurt but – I have forgiven. I also have no contact with her any longer. Sometimes that decision must be made and my choice was very well thought out, including with the help of professionals. I’ve done my work.

My ex-husband? Not so much. Forgive him? What – are you kidding? I couldn’t even stand to realize the hell I had lived in for so long that I allowed myself and my kids to do (oh…. good timing here, forgiveness of self! – we cannot forget that). Well, I did learn to forgive him and it remains the most difficult act of forgiving that I have ever done. I prayed about it for quite a while (I mean months, maybe even a year or two). One day, someone suggested rather than pray how to forgive him, to pray for him. What a concept!

I did. I prayed for him. I wasn’t happy about that idea at all, why should I do something “good” for him anyway? At this point I was still terrified that he would find me one night and kill me, “stab you to death while laughing staring into your eyes, as I watched the life fade from them” (oh yes, he said that and a good deal of other things).

My love for Jesus Christ called me to forgive him, to pray for him, so I forced myself to overlook my self centered dislike, fright – and pray for him. He is the father of my sons and they to date are the biggest gift God has graced me with. I prayed. I cried and I prayed. I prayed – and one day, I smiled because I was able to let go and forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean you say the words to someone. In fact, I doubt I ever would even have to opportunity to do this with my mother or my ex-husband. In my heart and soul though, I forgive them. I feel sorry for them. They were both incapable of loving me as I should have been loved. In the ways most daughters are loved by their mothers and wives are loved and treasured by their husbands, people who love and protect them at all cost.

I never had fear of God’s wrath if I did not forgive these two people because my love for Him knew He understands my heart and how I was treated. In time my heart began to heal, it had to or I would allow those terrible emotions to follow me and into my own relationships for the rest of my life.

One thing I do know about myself. I am an awesome mom. I love my boys to the moon and back. I’ve loved other kids too, that’s what moms like me do. My kids love me very much, they come to me for an ear to listen, advice, love (to give and receive) and … they bring others to me. Always have. Always will. One day, by the grace of God, I may also have that loving relationship in my life, which I could not have, if I had not learned to forgive. My heart would have hardened and become bitter.

If there is someone who is or has been in your life that you need to forgive, pray for them. In time, you will be able to forgive – and – you will heal ♥ By the Grace of God.

Originally published 2016

Following the footsteps of Jesus Christ

Christians. Literally billions of them. Lumping all denominations together. Each, claiming their particular denomination is the right way. It appears though, how far we are from the very basic, simple teachings of Jesus Christ, by who’s life and death we actually identify our faith.

A “Cafeteria Catholic” which some can appreciate, some . . . ignore, for sharing my thoughts and beliefs openly. I am in truth a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. I study, read, pray – practice Lectio Divina , which I did long before I heard this was a “thing”. I share. I teach (I have taught years of CCD/Faith Formation).

Mark 1:16-18 “The Call of the First Disciples.* 16j As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. 17Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 18Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.”

Jesus called us to spread Love, the words of our Loving God. He taught in parables, which we know are used throughout the Holy Bible. My focus at this point in my life, today – is the Gospels. They are Jesus Christ. Those books are the reason I am a Christian.

In the book of Mark Chapter 1 Verse ” 17Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” My thoughts on this is Jesus is saying here that not all will come, not all will follow. I will teach you how to “fish” for those who will become followers of our Lord, God.

In the book of Mark Chapter 4 Verse 2-8

2And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, 3* “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. 7Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. 8And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

If you continue reading down the page you will see His explanation to the 12 Disciples:

13* Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?d Then how will you understand any of the parables? 14The sower sows the word. 15These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. 17But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, 19but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 20But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Jesus taught.  He was/is the greatest teacher.  He walked among men, women – children. Crowds would gather and He would speak. He taught using parables . Here He explains that though you work to reach many, the seeds will fall and not all will take root.

All knowledge, and instruction is not going to reach each individual in the same manner. God created and designed each and every one of us. All Christians are called to discipleship. It takes all types of people, knowledge, thoughts, behavior – who have conviction in the teachings of Jesus.

Study His teachings. Christianity is our Loving Father, whom Jesus bring us to. His purpose was to save us, bringing us close to Our Father, God.

I think one of the things we tend to be wrong about is, we take our study and focus away from Jesus and place the focus on religion, which often can put a wedge between ourselves and God, rather than pull us closer.

In my essay A Spiritual Reflection of the Crucifixion . That night and the next morning I found myself continually  pulled back to the below verse I had read (and used) in that essay. As follows:


Mid-morning reading  1Timothy 2:4-6
God our saviour wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time.

I am really confused with this. I do put a lot of thought into what I write. I do practice Lectio Divena.

Roman Catholic Priest do act as mediators – which is against God? I had to return to this verse this morning. (3/26/16 adding, this cafeteria catholic (protestant to catholic convert) never really wrapped my brain around this, my friendly priests never inferred it, my catechism must have skipped it).

I pray and will pray on this. Once more – we are all human and supposed to be living – life. The Bible we are given does not give us the full-life story of Jesus, who from all we do know – really lived life!   Before being called by God to serve, and give His life on the cross.

There are teachings in my religion, that very definitely pull people away from the close, personal relationship our loving God calls for. In truth, I have a lot of admiration, respect and love for our clergy. They have dedicated their lives to serving God. The problem is – they serve “The Church” first. I don’t think they see this truth. It is to be God, before man in all, taught; God before man, spouse before self, on down. Works aren’t supposed to be first, they are to be integrated. You need to live, really experience life in order to serve fully. Peter was Christ’s chosen. Perhaps I am blind to something, I would really appreciate one Priest coming forward here and correcting me – it matters.

I read something this morning, as I am admittedly studying – I have a way to go. But, it came to my attention that in the book of Revelations it is said the end of all religions as people would learn to have their relationships with their loving God. :sic:

When I share, when I teach what I know – I am open and honest.

I do believe a very real truth lay in this need for (all Christian) religions to learn to adapt to the true teachings of Jesus (not just Paul). The focus, teachings and design of the church should be – Jesus – who, it seems at times, too many forget is the true chosen foundation and teacher of the church, the begotten one – by God Himself.

During Holy Week, the celebration of the chosen one, the begotten son of our Lord, God. His resurrection. It is His way of life and gift to billions of people, on the cross that needs to regain focus.

His simple teachings should not be twisted into teachings that conflict with the truth of God.

Another point I would like to bring up is this, we are on this earth, living this life that God has blessed us with. As we mature and grow in faith we die and are born again. We walk with Jesus now. Do you see a bit of Heaven is here, on earth? It is important to consider, pray, study and realize see this.

We can recognize thank in our lives here on earth, experiences that are deep, beautiful,  God given – that we can cling to, carry with us when we pass from this earthly life and bring to Heaven with us.

These experiences are lovely glimpses (and more) of what our eternity will be like. If all people, religions could consider this, perhaps the loving acceptance and caring for one another would happen more often. The acceptance of our responsibility for beginning to live heaven right here on earth. This responsibility begins with me and all whom I come in contact with and lives I touch.

A Spiritual Reflection of the Crucifixion

117

I really enjoy this portrayal of Jesus. Just a regular guy. A man of flesh and blood. He was born in a time long, long ago to loving parents here on earth, that nurtured and raised Him into the man who Loved God with all of His heart and Soul. Who was chosen by our Lord, God to save literally billions of human beings from themselves.

Jesus at the age of twelve, in Jerusalem with Joseph and Mary for the Passover festival, as an adolescent traveling with a large group was not missed for two or three days, when His parents realized Jesus was missing from the group they returned to Jerusalem. He stayed behind to be found in the temple studying with teachers.

Luke 2: 48When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” 49And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”*

Our Lord, God brought Jesus to us.  With Him, a new way of life, a new way of thinking. Jesus – brought our Loving Heavenly Father to us, and through Our Father we are  gifted with  the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps you can take a few minutes to visualize what the life of Jesus may have been like, the parts we don’t read about. Regardless of your relationship status, you can relate. A young man? An older gentleman? Woman, teenage girl. Wife, grandparent, husband, single person. We all know children, young men, teenagers – men. Jesus was human. What was His unwritten/unseen life like? These details of His life on earth don’t seem necessary to His overall mission, which is in essence, to bring peace and goodness to the world, to bring others to our Heavenly Father. I think though, it is critical to realize Jesus was a man. His lessons are those we can all live by.

This may sound like an oversimplification, and religiously speaking, it really is, but that is the synopsis or perhaps Spark-note version.

I readily admit, I am reading, studying and learning more about the Holy Bible and Catholic teachings which do conflict (at times). I suppose that’s where the “Cafeteria Catholic” comes in. I read other (Catholic) religious and spiritual writings and I encourage everyone to take some time doing the same. Just as living through life physically is a journey, so must our spiritual self travel to learn and grow.

The following reading is from today’s Divine Office Reading 3/23/16.

Mid-morning reading 1 Timothy 2:4-6
God our saviour wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time.

I do put a lot of thought into what I write. I do practice Lectio Divena. Roman Catholic Priest do act as mediators – which is against God? I had to return to this verse this morning.

His belief in our Lord, God the Father was so strong, He was so deeply filled with the Holy Spirit that He gave His life to bring us to Him. Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied: greatestcommandment“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The price he paid for the sin, of billions of humans – was His life. I think, in a way as a mother considering the man child Jesus, the child, teenager, man – Jesus Christ and understanding that He really was just like you or I in human flesh, with wants, needs, desires. He had human relationships, but He was chosen by God; “John 3:1616For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

I will note, this is the first bible verse I memorized as a child. This version “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that he who believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” The background reading I have done on this reading/translation, has deeper meaning and value (to me) today than it did as a child. I have found this translations to mean spiritually more than the Catholic Bible translation, and more than the face value written in this paragraph.

I will reference this link What does it mean that Jesus is God’s only begotten son? (not Catholic, but I was researching something from my childhood), which in truth gives a much deeper meaning to the Jesus we all know and hear about. We know He was chosen, but having a better understanding of the original wording/translation puts so much more meaning (and “common sense”) into this phrase. No longer is Jesus, God’s only son, or only a son of God. He is the chosen one, chosen by God, and as we know we are all children of God.

Jesus was God‘s begotten one. His unique human child with Holy Spirit on earth, brought forward for the purpose to bring us to Him. Upon the Crucifixion and resurrection we see the Trinity in full, God the Father, God the Son together in the Holy Spirit.

(4/29/16) In a recent Mass, an elderly Priest was rather upset. He insisted that Jesus WAS God. There are various readings in the bible too that refer to Jesus as human in form on earth prior to the resurrection.

(5/9/17) 1Peter 3:18  “18For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.g”

* [3:18] Suffered: very many ancient manuscripts and versions read “died.” Put to death in the flesh: affirms that Jesus truly died as a human being. Brought to life in the spirit: that is, in the new and transformed existence freed from the limitations and weaknesses of natural human life (cf. 1 Cor 15:45).  NAB (USCCB)

Today (4.29.16) DO Readings include:


Mid-morning reading (Terce)Acts 2:32,36

God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. For this reason the whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.

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Does God want us to be happy? On earth?

A portion of a recent daily reading reminded me of some words spoken at Mass this past Sunday. Now I will admit, I don’t remember the exact words – but – they went something like this; “Happiness is not for earth, we are to look to finding our happiness in heaven”. Again, that is not the exact quote, but it is the sentiment that was stated. This is a dangerous statement.  This makes the general population afraid they are bad (sinful) for being happy, wanting to be happy – Catholic Guilt?  Is this being said because it is what our clergy are being taught?

That infamous phrase (this is not only a Catholic issue). Let’s be careful about scaring people away from church and scaring people away from God – and look at some facts

God does want us to be happy human beings right here on earth. When we take the time to read scriptures, we can discern the meaning behind what information St. Paul is passing on to us. This article is based upon scriptures only, not  Catechism teachings.

The below readings are taken from a letter of St. Paul to the Galatians. The Galatians, written to here are said to be recent converts, possibly Celts who had invaded Asia Minor (etc.). They were being woo’d by other missionaries who wanted them to added Jewish laws to (i.e. circumcision) as a means to the salvation of the Cross.

Also, we can reflect upon the words of Jesus here in St. John 14:

The Advocate.

St. John 14: 15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you

18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

What a gift indeed! The Holy Spirit is generous and gifts us with much.

~

Mid-morning reading (Terse) Galatians 5:13-14

My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself.

Noon reading (Sext) Galatians 5:16-17

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions.

Afternoon reading (None) Galatians 5:22,23,25

What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

~

The last verse lists the Fruits of the Spirit. In reading this, in conjunction with above scriptures we can see more clearly how our Father has blessed us!

If we truly believe and keep our overall focus on God – who is goodness and Love, the Holy Spirit within will guide us in His goodness and love. Jesus “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Trustfulness, Gentleness & Self-control.

Catholic “tradition” lists additional “fruits” that I am not going to list here. The biblical listing above is taken directly from the current version of the (NAB) Bible which the Roman Catholic Church uses here in the United States.

There tends to be a leaning toward denying self of the true gifts given from God, when they become translated in the church. Long after Jesus and St. Paul, and long before today. A balance needs to be found and can be found in honoring the seven fruits of the spirit as listed above.

These gifts are to be used along with honoring the Laws we have been asked to follow;

#1 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength” God First!

#2 “Love your neighbor as yourself” #2 Do not put yourself above anyone.

#3 The Ten Commandants and

#4 The Beatitudes should also be honored.

– In giving of self, we receive.

With this knowledge:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Trustfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control

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Everything listed as a Fruit of the Spirit; emotions, actions, attributes that bring about happiness in our lives right here on earth. Living following the rules and guidelines provided to us as living for in, for and with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – God has provided us with true ways to live to honor He and each other.

You may hear at Sunday service, or from a well meaning person that we’re not to look for happiness here on earth – that happiness is after our earthly life – to be found in the Kingdom of Heaven above. Jesus stated the Kingdom of God is at hand.  Today. We can have both.  What is true that we are told the above gifts will be multiplied in a magnificent way when the time comes that we are called Home to our Lord.

Live ~ Love ~ Laugh With Our Lord

Our loving & Generous Father is pleased when His children are happy living in Him.

 

published 2016

Simply Sunday ~ (formally) Do you remember records?

I grew up in a household in which my older brother censored the music I was allowed to listen to. Good thing as an adolescent my dream luv was Donny Osmond. The church I attended with my grandparents had no piano or organ but we sang hymns happily on Sunday and weeknight bible study. Often, we would sing hymns in the car or around the kitchen preparing a meal or washing dishes up. As an older teenager (when I was able to escape my brother the sensor) I enjoyed the Eagles, Boston, Chicago, Beatles, Reo Speed wagon (though the later – I don’t remember what songs they sang). Really, I listened to a lot of music but never was one to run out and buy albums or know who all the artists were.

I do enjoy a vast array of music though I will never be one to match all of the artists with all of the songs (my sons do a good job at that!). I like to understand the lyrics and am not a fan of bass. Would you believe I gave birth to a music school grad? I know… I wouldn’t be so sure either. I did.

While I do enjoy listening to what are now the oldies, and even then some real old oldies as well as some contemporary tunes, I do tend to stick with Contemperary Christian Music on K-Love Radio I stream live in my office at work, car radio (just realized I have a broken antenna :ugh:) I have shared links for some of my favorite songs below on You-tube. Please note all do have their music available for sale / download and I cannot stress strongly enough to please support these artists by purchasing their music.

Below I will share a few favorite songs, I hope you have time check some (or all) of them out. They help me keep God in my day. K-love has what they call a 30 day challenge, listen to Christian music for 30 days and see if it does not change your life. Try it!


Today I am re-posting an article that was originally categorized under Daily Prompts “records”.  Some of my favorite Contemporary Christian songs.  I hope you enjoy!


Lyrics – Holy Spirit written by: Brian & Katie Torwalt

Good Father Lyrics – written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

At the Cross (Love Ran Red) Lyrics Written by; Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jonas Myrin, Matt Armstrong, Matt Redman

Come As You Are lyrics – Crowder written by Writer(s): David Crowder, Matt Maher and Ben Glover

One more

If We’re Honest lyrics written by; Writer(s): Francesca Battistelli / Jeff Pardo / Molly E. Reed

Remember – Please note all artists do have their music available for sale / download and I cannot stress strongly enough to please support these artists by purchasing their music.

Thank you!

Parable of the Wheat & Tares

The Gospel reading for today comes from the book of Mathew. Here we hear from Jesus on judging others goodness for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mathew 13:24-30

24He proposed another parable to them.* “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds* all through the wheat, and then went off. 26When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let them grow together until harvest;* then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”g

Here we can see that wheat & tares are very similar in appearance.

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The message in this story is simple. The land represents the world as a whole. The landowner in this story is Jesus. The enemy who slipped into the field in the dark of night represents Satan. The servants represent the 12 Apostles, The Wheat & Tares are the mortals that are both Disciples of Jesus (Clergy & Laity, though someone is bound to call me on that, I am holding my ground) and other people who are not true followers or disciples of Jesus.

The Apostles asked Jesus, Did you not choose who your Disciples are? How could there be non-believers mixed in? Shouldn’t we weed them out and have them move on?  Jesus says “No, let them both grow together to harvest”.   This in itself shows that Jesus a repetition in His belief that all do not grow at the same time (seeds), some will take root, some will transplant, not all will flourish and grow – but – we still have my proverbial bird who flew off with good seed and dropped it in fertile ground that took root and flourished at another time.

Some folks will explain that the field is the physical church. I disagree. Disciples are to go out into the world to spread the good news (that includes each and every one of us). The Church is not a building, it is a state of being in Him. Jesus taught us this.

“No, let them both grow together to harvest” is also one more reminder that God views each and every one of us in the same way. He has no favorites. We do not earn Grace by deeds, He gifts us with His Grace. He encourages us to work together, in His name. To learn from each other and grow with each other. It is healthy to read scripture and question what religions are teaching and why. Humans err and when we see an institution doing this it is our responsibility to stand up and say “Why? (or) this should not be, it is not Biblical, it is not what Jesus taught”, because we are to be following the teachings of God – as taught right here in this parable. Yesterdays reading and post Ancient teachings are relative today weigh heavily upon my mind today.

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

A misstep?

A slippery slope ensues.

So many opinions, theological studies, religious views. Hebrew, Aramaic? I have read Jews at that time understood both languages.

Does it matter?

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

 

While I am a person who is often compelled to delve into details, and I would hasten to add I am sure over time this phrase has been interpreted and reinterpreted so many times – who knows the original or exact meaning?

Regardless of your personal standing on the belief of God, I am going to ask you to follow along, view the video, read what I write and perhaps – view the video again. Meditate on it. Consider – Jesus was a man. We too often forget that fact when we speak of Him. Flesh and blood. Human.

Very much a favorite song of mine.

Listening to K-Love Radio on my way to work the other day, I heard a review of a new movie “The Young Messiah” that depicts what the writer feels Jesus may have been like, lived like as a child of seven. While I am in favor of faith based movies, this is not something that interests me.

Biblically, we can read excerpts of the life of Jesus in His birth, age eleven at the temple then nothing again until He is thirty. I believe it is dangerous to put too much mystical credence to His existence in those years we have not heard about. Those years have been untold to us for a reason. I would go so far as to challenge there are probably more documents that have not been, nor ever will be released publicly, on His life. Based on historical / religious facts of that era it is all but certain that Jesus was a married man, a father with children. He was a Rabbi. Truth? These things matter not in the grand scheme of loving our loving God.

Often times, more so in recent months I find myself contemplating Jesus – the man. A man. The Catholic Church celebrates Mary the Mothers parents Sts Joachim and Anne, however there is no historical evidence of them. The church also teaches Mary was born of an Immaculate birth (meaning she was without original sin when she was conceived). This has no bearing on the mission of Jesus Christ.

Most people who hear of the Immaculate Conception think that is Catholic wording for the conception of Jesus Christ. A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with one gal friend and Sunday with another – both Cradle Catholics, both were totally shocked to hear what the Immaculate Conception is. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter. We can agree that as the mother of Jesus, Mary was an important woman – but salvation for Christians is based upon Jesus Christ.

I wonder if Pope Francis has this in mind as he has been pushing the Gospel, encouraging reading the bible, having a tendency to turn focus away from miracles being as they have been presented. I am sure miracles occurred – I have no doubt, but there is a propensity for some Catholics to put focus on visions and pieces of toast that resemble Jesus, perhaps spending more time talking about the toast than the Word. I actually know a married couple who left the church because of that.

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The true miracle of Jesus Christ is that his life and death has brought millions / billions of people to God. Jesus Christ is not about “miracles” and “religion” he is about a way of life. Living a good, helpful life of service, with happiness and love. Turning from Sin, because sin is anything that hurts us (or another).

Why does it matter, the words He cried from the cross? Jesus was a man, a human, who was violently beaten and crucified – who died for our sin in order to bring us closer to living a Godly Life, to the arms of our Loving Father.

The true lesson here is the Holy Spirit filled Jesus Christ who returned to our Father. He walks among us today, in our thoughts and actions. If you look, you will see heaven on earth.

As Lent draws to a close, draw yourselves ever near to God. Follow the teachings of Christ, Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Don’t get wrapped up in all the details of when he was conceived, who his parents or grandparents where. Understand this truth – Jesus did not die on the cross for religion. He died to bring us to His (Our) Father. Jesus was a radical in His time, loving all, standing up for those in need. Do you walk in His footsteps? What can you do to be more like Jesus as you walk your path?

It is we, individuals who follow in Christs path to share love of God, service to man (remember the Beatitudes!) that needs to be embraced. Religion is important as it brings us together to worship, live and love and serve God. Our choice of religion should accentuate these beliefs, not detract from the true purpose here – the true purpose being living in one with our Lord, God. The Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Consider a world where we can all accept, love and honor each other? Work for the best and good of all? Never intentionally cause harm. Heaven – on Earth.

Love God. God is Love – Love is God.

 

The Mission of the 12 ~ Spiritual Reflections ~ Luke 9 / Mark 3

Yesterday I updated and republished my article Who thinks they know better than Jesus??? (formerly – Living) I noted the daily Gospel reading of the day day

Gospel Mk 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus was quoted in the book of Luke 9: The Mission of the Twelve.

“Summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick]. 3 He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. 5 And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” 6 Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.”

Firstly, He said “take nothing for the journey” that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave a home behind. We know the original Apostles of Christ , the men Jesus Christ physically with witness chose, were married men, so they had marriage, marital relationships, children, homes, responsibilities. They were able to manage all – and still go out and spread the Good News.

In fact the Gospel reading for today (1.21) states: Mark 3:20-21 (Jerusalem Bible/DO Universalis)

“Jesus went home, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind.”
1Corinthians   St. Paul is clearly stating the original chosen Apostles of Jesus Christ were married. 
9:5 Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

There are many debates on St. Paul’s state of marriage. There are writings aside from the bible that state he was married but left his wife at home so that she would not be in the way of his mission. There are hints that he was widowed, there are statements that due to his religious background, he too must have been married, just not in the portion of life we read about in the bible. He (St. Paul) also spoke of refraining from marriage at a time He thought the return of Christ was imminent. – Additionally, I strongly suggest the phrase St. Paul – very clearly states his statements and ideas are his own and NOT from our Tritarian God. Translations, missing books and – all that…The original 12 – married. There is reasoning behind my discussing this below:

“Is it more important to bring people to church, or to help others find God?” I believe it is the later. Here, in his writings Richard Rohr suggests the same.

He points out what Jesus taught the Apostles going out to spread the word – Christianity is not to be lived in a box – it cannot be. That is not how God designed us! Oh gosh I wish people would hear this. I am not saying this for “all about me”. I am saying this is the truth!

We teach by example as human beings living good lives in God. It is as important to remember the above lesson of not relegating our faith to a church building but to live our faith in life. So many don’t understand why the LDS or Jehovah Witness knock on our doors (I politely turn them away) – they are following teachings. Catholics (and other Christians) hear of wonderful, humble people but – we really don’t know true details to their lives. If we focus on Jesus and the disciples/apostles, do we really need to give credit to hundreds or thousands of others? No. The focus should remain upon the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That means turning our focus on the gospels.

Here, in the Gospels we also learn that Jesus did not always live a nomadic type of life, dependent upon others but he did have his own home, which he taught from. Joseph was a carpenter, the most likely early profession of Jesus.

There are also readings (and common sense) to indicate that Jesus himself had His own house. I believe in keeping Jesus “homeless”, it lends more to him living a single celibate life because no home meant no family. I can’t wrap my head around why it is so imperative for the church to believe his. I have read suggestions that this would lessen His credibility as the Son of God. The truth here is we are all considered to be sons and daughters of God.

In these days and times, accessibility to information we can use the hearts, souls and intelligence God graces us with for further development and that does not mean doing so harms the existence of Jesus, the son of God -as His begotten (chosen) one.

Looking outside of the box can give a wider view of God and His intentions for us. As we are graced with growth, consider how – considering Jesus a little differently might mean even better things for all of Gods children.

The unwritten (or unshared?) books of Jesus, the years we do not read of were the years of a teenage Jesus through an adult man, a Rabbi as we read. A Rabbi in that era would have been married for several years with children. In fact, I have read a Rabbi of that era was not allowed to speak in the Temple if he had not taken a wife. So, we can loosely consider that Jesus was married, the rumblings that the church (or Christians in general) like to squelch would be likely Mary Magdalene would have been married to him. She traveled with Him, was at the foot of the cross when He was crucified and was the first He appeared to upon resurrection. The fact that no children are mentioned means nothing as there may have been and they were too young to have been part of His story (or) the couple was infertile. Marriage does not lessen any credibility of His being the Begotten One. I have previously stated this doesn’t matter in the grand plan, however in this regards it does;

It does go to show our very human Jesus as a man who lived life, experienced it first hand and was able to teach with not only love but compassionate empathy (whereas those with little life experience outside of the box are saddled with mostly with cognitive empathy, where they try to relate, find for negotiations or attempting to steer in a direction but lacking in the true ability to emotionally empathize, which living experience offer us, as God gifted). Taken in full context, perhaps you will have a greater understanding of why some believe Jesus was married. It is not to mar Him in any way, shape or form. It is to show an extension of gifts given by God the Father.

People are assisted with true compassionate empathy but those working with cognitive empathy – tend to have that loud gong thing going on. Note: You cannot gain compassionate empathy by reading and discussing with others who practice cognitive empathy. This is why Jesus knew who really understood and who did not. Blessed are . . . you can’t fake it, you have to live through life to really get it. I intend no hurt in saying this ♥ please trust me in both cases! There are reasons I say these things as well as there are reasons God gave us gifts that no man should convince anyone to take away or live without. Again, how do you turn your back on what only God can give???}

St. Mark 2:13-18 The Call of Levi. 13 Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. 14 As he passed by,* he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 15 While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16 Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 Jesus heard this and said to them [that], “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

In this reading Jesus we see Jesus meeting Levi/Mathew and inviting him to join him “follow me” and Levi/Mathew followed him. Next we read While at table in his house … the USCCB translate this to be Levi’s house. The book of St. Mathew 9:9-13 states the same. In the book of St. Luke 5:27-32 we read similar words but here it states that Levi 28And leaving everything behind,he got up and followed him. 29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.” – It is in no way a “reach” here to state they went to the home of Jesus Christ. Levi/Mathew (etc) “followed him” home. It is not a reach in anyway to suggest the tax collector handing off many coins for others to go gather food and wine for a feast. Really. I am not reaching it is the way I read it. Pretty simple and why the big deal?

Jesus opened his home to others to share the word of God and help healing begin. There is nothing outrageous or wrong to suggest this. – And so, I stated that Jesus himself suggest we reach people outside of Temple or Church buildings, outside of a dogmatic religious structure to share the good news.

Jesus was a very wise man of simple truths. Over centuries His teachings have been set aside in many cases for the words of others who came long after He. Who should we look to? A saint or the explicit teachings of Jesus Christ, the *Begotten (*chosen) One?

The truth is there is much to be said for a holy life outside of church wallsaccording to Jesus. Gifts of our father – for a reason. This is my view, subject to change as knowledge may show me something new, but for today there is very much how I see things.

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In upcoming days I will be writing an article on why I believe in the rebuilding of the church.  Parishes are shrinking, closing and while it is only too easy to say we will build on what we have and enjoy smaller, Parishes – that is not what we are called to do at Christians. That is a defeatist attitude.  Other Christian churches are growing. 

The church needs to grow emotionally, spiritually, and adapt and realize the need for the church to fully  return to the original teachings of Jesus (simple ways), and return to a married clergy.  Optional, perhaps not a “requirement” but the option for marriage at any stage of life – as this is a God given grace and right to celebrate in Him.

I recently have read the words (in more than one article) quoting a person in a powerful position, who found it funny that a woman would ask for a Priest for her Parish rather than (sic?) to have it closed.  The man said “why it is not my job to provide Priests, I am a celibate – that is for you and your husband to do”.  Bad choice of words, not funny, amusing, kind – or correct.  This sort of thought line drives wedges and is the reason people leave.  Like the 120,000 Priests who have left in the past 60 years.  25,000 here in the United States.  Does that not speak volumes?

There is a lot of thought behind  this, it is quite clearly His biblical teaching.  The foundation of the church is found in it’s disciples, teachers, clergy.  This is why I begin in this area. Rapidly dwindling numbers are revealing of both the teaching of God,  and the understanding and respect of lay persons in His gifts.  
Living in Christ is not about being closed off from the life experiences that God gifts and offers all of His children.  God is not selfish, our Father is a loving, giving God.  Accepting those gifts, experiencing life better enables one to serve and celebrate Him.
Please bear with me while I put these thoughts fully to paper.  I will begin with Michael, the young 21 year old who brought this very topic to my attention three years ago. . .

Ancient teachings are relative today

I The Purpose of Parables and those who understand , I wrote about Jesus speaking in Parables. This was His was of weeding out those with a hardened heart with those of purity of heart – who would hear His word.

I am going to bypass the readings from Mass this morning which in part I have covered already in and refer to scripture in No longer concealed in the tomb . I would like to share, the Roman Catholic Church – Pope Francis has elevated July 22nd the Memorial Day of Saint Mary Magdalena to a Feast Day, which is a very special honor. Reading some articles today I am afraid there are many who will still not accept her position in the life of Jesus and the other Apostles. The role of women in general, and perhaps all laity – well, I see points are being missed and I hope they keep the focus on Jesus where it should be and remain – in time they will get it -the wheels of the church move slowly, I think a very long road lay ahead. We are all “one”, the church makes divisions that Jesus did not.

~

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No longer concealed in the tomb

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Easter Sunday, the resurrection brought Jesus Christ back to the world. There are different versions of this event. In this DO reading, offer the version the girl in me holds most dear. I know there are other women who feel the same way. Many I have “met” on the pages of Catholic periodical’s online.

Gospel  John 20:11-18

Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognize him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.”

This particular reading shows us a side of Jesus and Mary M. in a context many choose to overlook, not acknowledge. The human Jesus that I hold as dear to my heart as the resurrected Christ. Mary M. ran to the disciples to tell that Jesus was gone, they investigated, saw he was gone – and walked away, back home they went.

Mary M. who had traveled with Jesus, followed him, was at the cross when He was nailed to it, remaining at the foot of the cross as His body died away. How can you not read these verses and not picture Mary, laying in heap, mourning the loss of Jesus? Further heartbroken by His missing body. He chose to appear to dear Mary first. A faithful woman, she remained where she last saw Him. Imagine her shock and surprise when he appeared?

Her vision blurred by her tears, not recognizing Him. “Rabbuni” she called out. The translations of this vary; Rabbi, Knowledgeable Rabbi, My Master” according to the US Bishops website (a term also used for husband repeatedly in the Bible). I know, I know. So many dislike thinking Jesus so human but He was, He lived and walked the earth. We don’t know and will likely never know the truth according to scriptures, because there are so many missing years. For myself, the importance of Jesus appearing first to Mary M. shows His respect and love for her. Respect and love I know women often do not feel in the church. The Apostles went off on their own way. Mary M. loved him so that she stayed and wept.  He came – to her. Before completing His earthly mission and ascending to be with God, the Father.

On a personal note, when I began researching “Rabboni” and seeing Master and Lord were also terms for husbands, I came across scriptures where wives are to submit to husbands.  That led me to write Wives Submit to your husbands…

Who thinks they know better than Jesus??? (formerly – Living)

In my faith journey, I am noticing a trend in some followers of Christ that has a tendency to give me pause.  Things that to me, seem so obvious me – apparently aren’t so obvious to everyone.  We’re all human, learn, see, feel and grow at different rates.  In this updated essay I have chosen to cut out some dialog from my first “printing” in an effort to be more direct and to the point.

After reading the Gospel reading this morning (1.20)

Gospel Mk 3:13-19

 Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

I found myself looking through my older posts that i have been slowly editing and re-posting.  This particular article is mentioned in other articles I wrote so I “dug” this one up and am re-posting after adding/editing.

life-is-out-thereLife is out there! Happy. Sad. Work. Fun. Joy.  Joy in Love.  …Joy In Him.

The day I wrote the last version I had read a piece that contained a lot of information that I knew by my own life experience.  I realized as I wrote that the tone of what was written was not so much for me as for those that have not fully experienced or lived life.  I know when I say “this Is not the life God intended for His children” that I am absolutely speaking the truth.  There is no reason to live in a box (or) think God is in a box.

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Enough of this living in a box already.  Play in the sun and play in the mud!  You cannot really teach life (God) experiences when you stay in a box that forbids you from experiencing life, Jesus does not put us in a box!!!

I have mulled this essay over and rereading it I remember this particular Sunday; at mass a monthly homilist made a blunder that still has me saying “yeah right?!?”  

 “may    they    love”.  ~ Was it a blunder, or was the Holy Spirit stirring up some inspiration???

There is a well-known Franciscan Priest (Richard Rohr) who both clergy (from all denominations) as well as laymen read.  I have heard him referred to as a spiritual master and I believe he is, though my opinion  may not always jive with his, – I realize we are individuals so our experiences and even gender may play into that.  The truth is there is much to learn from him.

On the particular morning that I first wrote this, among my other email subscriptions I found an article by the Franciscan Priest I mention above.  My frustration was because so much of what is said seems so obvious to me.  Maybe it is the spiritual female me that easily grasps what the male, theologian, Roman Catholic finds eluding?  Something perhaps for me to contemplate.  We are wired differently so our thought process as well as life experience do come into play.

Below I am placing a copy / past the entirety with credits given:  I have changed font to blue on portions that stand out to me.  I have written in bold blue, my own comments.


5/15/16 –  Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

Initiation                                                                    Men’s Rites of Passage (MROP). CAC archives.

Yours Life Is Not about You

{True, not all get this – but? Parents do, many people do}

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One reason we Christians have misunderstood many of Jesus’ teachings is that we have not seen Jesus’ way of education as that of a spiritual master. He wants to situate us in a larger life, which he calls the “Reign of God.” But instead we make him into a Scholastic philosopher if we are Roman Catholic, into a moralist if we are mainline Protestant, or into a successful and imperialistic American if we are Evangelical. Yet the initiatory thrust of Jesus’ words is hidden in plain sight. {Who made this so complicated?  I have understood who Jesus was. I did not realize it was that difficult to see?}

Study, for example, his instructions to the twelve disciples, when he sent them into society in a very vulnerable way (no shoes or wallet, like sheep among wolves). How did we miss this? Note that it was not an intellectual message as much as it was an “urban plunge,” a high-risk experience where something new and good could happen. It was designed to change the disciples much more than it was meant for them to change others! (See Matthew 10:1-33 or Luke 10:1-24.) Today we call it a reverse mission, where we ourselves are changed and helped by those whom we think we are serving. {Truly – LIVING-  life !!!}

When read in light of classic initiation patterns, Jesus’ intentions are very clear. He wanted his disciples–then and now–to experience the value of vulnerability. Jesus invites us to a life without baggage so we can learn how to accept others and their culture. Instead, we carry along our own country’s assumptions masquerading as “the good news.” He did not teach us to hang up a shingle to get people to attend our services. He taught us exactly the opposite: We should stay (live in our) in their homes and eat their (our) food! This is a very strong anti-institutional model.


Yes, indeed.  Chosen by Jesus Himself, Apostle, Rock – Foundation of the church – right!?!

Peter;  Husband, Child, Son In-law, Parent, Friend and Disciple of Jesus? 

First Pope of the Roman Catholic Church?

 He {Jesus/God} knew what LIVING life was and Jesus chose him}. 

The original 12 Apostles chosen (with witness) by Jesus Christ were all married with families and lives that they were able to maintain.  They succeeded at this along with being (chosen) founding leaders of the church. 

Jesus Christ, God the Father nor the Holy Spirit ever stated one should forgo living and experiencing a full life in order to serve.  Men experienced with living life were chosen. 

How did this ever become so mixed up? 

Who thinks they know better than Jesus???

 He {Jesus} knew what LIVING life was and Jesus chose him}. 


One can only imagine how different history would have been had we provided this initiatory training for our missionaries. We might have borne a message of cosmic sympathy instead of imperialism, providing humble reconciliation instead of religious wars and the murdering of “heretics,” Jews, “pagans,” and native peoples in the name of Jesus. Amen!!!

When we could not make clear dogma, moral code, or a practical war economy out of Jesus’ teaching, we simply abandoned it in any meaningful sense. His training of novices has had little or no effect on church style or membership, by and large. When one throws out initiatory training, the whole latter program and plan of life is left without foundation or containment. Now we seek a prize of later salvation {I believe our heaven can, in the very least, begin this celebration on earth with Jesus when lived properly!!!}instead of the freedom of present simplicity. I am told that the Sermon on the Mount–the essence of Jesus’ teaching–is the least quoted in official Catholic Church documents.

However, there were always people like Francis of Assisi, Simone Weil, Menno Simons, Peter Waldo, George Fox, Catherine of Genoa, Peter Maurin, Mother Teresa, and Dorothy Day who made Jesus’ Gospel their life map. They knew that lifestyle was more important than theories, intellectual belief systems, or abstruse theology. Once you know that your life is not about you, then you can also trust that your life is your message. This gives you an amazing confidence about your own small life--precisely because it is no longer a small life, it is no longer just yours, and it is not all in your head. Henceforth, you do not try to think yourself into a new way of living, but you first live in a new way, from a new vantage point–and your thinking changes by itself.

“I live no longer, not I,” Paul shouted with his one daring life (Galatians 2:20). And this one-man show turned a Jewish sect into a worldwide religion. Paul allowed his small life to be used by the Great Life, and that is finally all that matters. Your life is not about you. It is about God and about allowing Life and Death to “be done unto me,” which is Mary’s prayer at the beginning of her journey and Jesus’ prayer at the end of his.

Gateway to Silence

From death to life

References:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 62-64, 66.


Jesus taught us how to live.  He taught us, as humans that we make mistakes, we fail but we can overcome failures and thrive.  We can love God with all of our hearts and He taught us all of the gifts our Father has given to us.  Live life thoughtfully, carefully in His name.  Follow His teachings first and foremost.

A very real truth in realizing that life is not;

all about you, then you can also trust that your life is your message.  This gives you and amazing confidence about your own small life – precisely because it is no longer a small life, it is no longer just yours, and it is not all in your head” henceforth, you do not try to think yourself into a new way of living, but you first live in a new way, from a new vantage point – and your thinking changes by itself.” 

This may be understood in living the life that God really did intend for us, that Jesus asks of us.  This  means experiencing and living a full life in a way that serves Our Father but also others here on earth.  There is a very real truth in realizing our “small life” will touch others and help them grow in both their everyday life experiences which too often is overlooked in religious teachings, and – in spiritual growth to our loving Father. 

This is why Jesus never imposed rules and laws upon us that would lessen our lives experience and/or gifts from God the Father.  When we live in them, celebrate our lives we are celebrating and honoring God.  When we celebrate our lives and God, we share His love and way of life with others which makes that “small life” one that is not about ourselves. 

Gods gifts, the crucifixion of Jesus, and His resurrection for the forgiveness of sin and to bring a new way of life – for  living, as we walk through our lives – with our eyes on God the Father.  Spending time with the Holy Spirit you may see these truths, you may celebrate these truths.  Living in this way is not selfish, it is about becoming truly selfless.

Live.  Donate clean socks to a homeless shelter, volunteer at a local food bank, offer to take a single parents kids on a day trip with your family (and cover the expenses – they won’t forget!), brings meals to someone recovering from surgery or who has brought home a new baby, donate extra building materials to Habitat for Humanity (and your time too?), offer to bring someone in recovery to meetings or a methadone clinic (transportation is a huge issue for many in recovery!), hold up traffic and let people out onto a busy road, donate your time and experience in any way that you can. Share God with others.  Invite singles to holidays in your home.  Invite lonely persons to holidays in your home.  Take an elder to lunch or shopping for that new blouse.

But. . .

Remember to  experience & celebrate the other very real life gifts God has given us

 so many neglect to notice or for reasons that Jesus did not teach,

refrain from celebrating. . ..

Play in the puddles,

gaze at your snoring spouse,

laugh at the muddy puppy foot prints,

eat ice cream for breakfast on your birthday,

snuggle a baby after they’ve spit up on you

. . . Kiss in the rain. 

Live Life.

In living, we teach God’s love

Accept – and – thank God for these gifts with love

*Note:  I wrote the original version of this many months ago.  This evening as I was editing, it really struck me that we are as Christians to directly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.Who thinks they know better than Jesus???

God gave us live – to live.

 

The Purpose of Parables

In  Gospel reading  of St. Mathew 13:10-17  the disciples question Jesus on why he teaches crowds in parables, and the privilege of discipleship. I think considering today’s environment these teachings remain the same today. If only more could come to understand the word of God, live and love each other, tear down barriers – work together for the greater good of all. This is not something for a select few, it is for all of us.

St. Mathew 13:10-17

The Purpose of Parables.

The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. 12 To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’

14Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. 15 Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’

In this reading Jesus explains that many of those listening “hear” and “see” but they do not believe he is the begotten son of God. He teaches in parables, using simple examples of daily life to teach important and deep spiritual lessons.

“For the heart of this nation has grown coarse, their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, for fear they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed by me.”

Jesus knew many would not want to hear the loving teachings of God, those with a good heart would understand His teachings, those with hardened hearts would not – because it meant they would have to correct their ways of living.  Disciples place God and others first, live simple lives not in palaces with gold and glitter. Live to love all and serve God, those in their lives – and strangers.

The Privilege of Discipleship.

“16But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. 17 Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Because the disciples were pure of heart, they understood He was the Begotten one, they understood He spoke for God and the better way of life.

Walking in His path is a lifelong commitment to God. To learn, continue learning, opening of mind, heart and soul. Some may seem more committed to growth than others, but that is not what God looks for. He looks for an honest and sincere heart. He knows us as he formed us. We have different learning and teaching styles. The most important things to remember is God first and all else will fall into place.

 

 

 

He knelt and wrote in dust

One of my favorite events written about in the Bible, is when Jesus stood strong against the scribes and Pharisees who brought a women before Him, caught in adultery. I remember this from my childhood, though I know I had no idea what adultery was then. I just knew a lady was being accused of sin by a group of men and Jesus stood up to them saying “who among you is without sin, cast the first stone” and they left.

As an adult, I fully understand what adultery is and I realize the writings are telling us the story of men who, trying to set Jesus up to fail, brought before Him a woman accused of a great sin. Adultery. They brought a woman before Him, scared and alone, in the center of the group. Jesus knelt to the ground and in His handwriting, began to write with His finger. There is speculation about what he was drawing or writing. One source I came across, but have not had time to look further into, is that when people were accused of a crime their names and the crime would have been written in dust while tried (as writing in dust or sand was temporary not “written in stone”. This theory sounds the most likely to be. The truth is – we will never know.

What we do know is this – rather than condemn this woman to death by stoning, Jesus stood and said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” Interesting thought here – Jesus did not cast a stone either. . . I will have to ponder this thought, my human Jesus ♥ he was a good man – He never said He was perfect, which makes Him all the move approachable, no? He stood up to teach and say “Let he who among us, who is sinless, cast the first stone”. As they walked away, He told her – “go, your accusers have left. Go and sin no more”. {Footnotes on this at the USCCB website indicate this portion was added to original writings of the bible, style seems more in line with book of Luke authors, though is accepted Canonically}.

This event is important, regardless of when it was written, what Jesus really wrote on the ground, whether the woman had really committed adultery – those things don’t matter. What does matter is Jesus stood up for what was right. Don’t bring me the woman accused of a crime without the man or men she is accused of sinning with, as they have sinned too. This is a sin that hurts hearts and souls, such sin is not a sin of one, and in fact she is a victim too. We need to look into our hearts and souls and feel and love with compassion and empathy – to heal hearts and souls. Not condemn, beat, maim. Jesus has taught us that God is Loving. When we love we are acting with God. Love is the proper response.

Holy Bible, Book of John 8:1-11 For the full readings please refer to the United States Catholics Bishops Conference website – which also provides foot notes.

A Woman Caught in Adultery.7:53 Then each went to his own house, 1while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.* a 2But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.* So what do you say?”b 6They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.* 7* But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them,c “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.9And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. 10Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”d 11She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”

 

 

Jesus was raising a ruckus!

The gifts Jesus brought to us, are often told in parables. In my essay Discipleship I shared verse from the book of Mark, which is where Jesus explains He taught with parables, He did not teach in literal terms in order to help the peoples of that time learn, He taught in a manner that all listening could understand, despite where they fall upon a learning curve. It is so important to understand the written word, is taught by Jesus, in parables.

Recent mornings reading of the Gospel:

Gospel                                                                              John 5:52-59

The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said.

Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’
He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.

Reading the footnotes on these readings on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, they tell us “Spirit flesh: probably not a reference to the Eucharistic body of Jesus but to the supernatural and the natural, as in. Spirit and life: all Jesus said about the bread of life is the revelation of the Spirit.”

There is actually quite a bit to be found on the history and celebration of the Eucharist – in the Roman Catholic Church. There was a day when it was a very simple (but deep) reminder of the love of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. The Church has changed teachings on this as well as other sacraments over the years. I have enjoyed reading some of the things various Saints have said about the Holy Eucharist and do plan on reading more about this sacrament.

What this all points back to is our lord, Jesus Christ. He is to be a true focal point in our lives, as part of the Holy Trinity. What is He telling us in this reading today?

Jesus was sent by our Lord, God the Father to bring us to Him. We are not reading about literally drinking His blood or eating of his body in this text. He is teaching us; cling to my words and my actions and I will lead you to Our Father. Our Lord God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, in Him we shall live forever. Jesus perhaps refers to coming down from Heaven because we look up to our Lord, God.

Jesus was God’s gift to us, to teach us how to live lives of love and peace with one another through God our Father who gifts us with all. We are all, each and every one of us part of this – together. Our lives are not about dying in body, but dying in spirit to be reborn to a new way of life, living, giving, sharing – loving. In God.

I will encourage you once again to read your bible – and pray. There is much to be learned about life and love within those pages. There is much to be learned about life and love through our prayer life too.

What can you do today, that will bring heaven into your midst? Love. Love as Jesus has taught us, love with heart mind and soul. Everyone.

Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part Three ~ Negative Consequences paid for Misplaced Value

 

The negative emotional consequences for young women who plan on saving themselves for marriage, and have that taken from them – in my case and others mentioned (or) that very beautiful gift – paraded about all but on a sign – stealing part of her own being away from her, can be devastating.

purity-balls.png
Purity Ball ~ A formal Father Daughter dance in which the girls promise they will remain virgins until married.

I was raised to be a young lady. I wore dresses straight through most of middle school, was taught that men would open doors, pull out chairs, and drop me off by the door – especially in inclement weather. Because I was a girl. I wasn’t allowed to go to the barns or race track (dad was an owner/trainer/driver of harness horses) because young ladies did not belong there. If we went out to dinner I liked to pay the bill for daddy, if the cash register was out of sight or in the bar – dad was literally right behind me. When I was old enough for “the talk” about “men-stu-a-tion” (does anyone else remember those film strips? Aging myself I know), there was a little talk at home about this being part of the bodies process to make a girl ready to have a baby, but that was for marriage. That was for someone special. No real details from mom. At some point I learned she had her first son when she was fifteen and her wish for me to remain a virgin and pure until I met the love of my life and married. Virginity was a gift from God, God wanted me to wait until I got married and that gift was for my husband. Where I went, who I was with was mostly monitored closely.

I had no intention of having sex before I was married. I wanted to wait to share that mystery with my future husband. I was taught to dress modestly, act like a young lady and respect my body. I shared in my essay on Abortion Perspective of a Pro-Life Mom, that at the age of seventeen (just be high school graduation!) I was raped by the older cousin of my then boyfriend. I also shared that I did not share this with any adults.

My best friend and I were also in a car accident shortly after this happened, bruises that were seen were attributed to that. Because this was so close to graduation I have a photo or two that shows a black eye, it does not show the bruised inner thighs (no shorts for weeks) from my rape. I prized my virginity and – I think that was a good thing “but” after being raped . . . I was devastated. My virginity was such a large part of my identity that I was shattered and broken. I felt shattered and broken. I spiraled down – terribly. Eventually – marrying a man who would abuse me emotionally, spiritually and physically over twenty years.

Talking to one of my best friends, who incidentally is also the gal who also had a mother who told her she wished she had aborted her, also lost her virginity to rape. A co-worker who drove her home after a company party. She too said no, No, NO.

Statistics show varying numbers. Having conversations with woman and young women my sons have dated, sexual violence and rape is happening to a larger number of the population than we will ever know.

Why? Like domestic violence, we are ashamed. Somehow, we think it is our fault. We were not “good enough”.

I remember reading an article last year, when I was still on Facebook I even shared it. It was the story of a young woman who had partaken in a vow of purity with her father. Promising to remain a virgin until marriage.

Setting her up for failure? Stats on sexual abuse and rape mixed with might have set her up to crash. Be sure to use the right words and teach the correct lessons. Don‘t expect a child to take a purity vow to their father. Raise healthy kids.

She shared how this defined her. She was used as a role model. Everyone knew she was a virgin. Her wedding night, after making love with her husband for the first time, losing her virginity – included her spending the following two hours curled in a ball crying inconsolably in the bathroom – instead of snuggled closely to the love of her life. She felt shame. She felt like everyone knew she was a virgin, now she no longer was.

In her mind everyone was going to stare at her when they next saw her because she was no longer a virgin. The truth was, people would now simply look at her as a married woman. What was inside her mind was something else. She suffered terribly for two years before opening up to her husband, who then went into therapy with her.

At the end of the article we learned she was doing well, her marriage that was close to being torn apart over her secret fears and imaginary inadequacies, was closer than they imagine possible and they were enjoying a very healthy physical and emotional relationship.

I have spoken to numerous other women over the years. There have been a number who suffered date rape, molestation, by male family members (one impregnated by her father), adult family friends. I also have knowledge of someone who’s parent prostituted her for a Heroin fix.

Considering the devastation loosing ones’ virginity or having your body violated by a man is, something really has to be considered in these days when we are to have compassion, understanding and love for everyone. We don’t all stand up and wave a flag and say “help me, I was raped, I am broken inside”. Many, many do not.

In my own experience – well, it took decades for me to realize the damage that was done not only to my body -but to my heart, my soul, my spirit that night. The fallout was severe. It is for so many of us. Beware of making judgements on the behavior of young ladies, or young men (as they are raped too).

s-l1000True love waits.  I believe it does.  However, that love may or may not be a virgin.  Remember to honor and respect each other.  Value Purity of Heart.  Jesus did.

Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part Two ~ Talking to Eighth Graders about dating

Over the past three years I have been teaching Eighth and Ninth Grade Faith Formation, last year I took off, this year I am back at it teaching one class in each of those two grades. Great kids, great age. What I realized that I was teaching Catechism, but the kids didn’t know Jesus. They didn’t really pray outside of rote prayer, and they did not really think about having a personal relationship with God. You could say I went kind of rogue. The Catechism book I was given to work with was less than adequate. After the second session or so I all but threw it away. Why? Because I was not about to talk to kids about the bible readings in Leviticus “drunken debauchery and orgies”. Talk about keeping ones innocence… Oh dear Lord – whoever put that book together needs to have their head examined. Once again, I digress.

*Note:  This year there is a really good new book to teach from.

Regarding the first book I worked with, I did tell my director I wasn’t dealing with that book (why), and – what is the main point we are to learn this year? Apostles Creed. Fine, no worries. I have this. We worked on the Apostles Creed and it’s meaning line by line. I also bought each child a wooden rosary, because I found the scriptural reference for them. We worked on that each week, learning about the conception, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You could say, I made Mary’s Rosary more about her son, and God the Father than most consider. It worked, they learned.

We also talked each week about various aspects of Mass, prayers, we discussed personal prayer time with God every week – which was really encouraging. We also spoke of other matters in their every day life and how Christians live.

When formal dances came up and discussion on who their dates where, things became interesting. One girl, 13 was dating a very popular boy – age 13. They had been going steady for a full year and they were also allowed to be home alone together. No chaperones. What are their parents thinking? Oh – wait. . . We know they aren’t right? Other kids were saying “nope, no way I don’t wait a boyfriend or girlfriend” and there were a few (both classes) that felt left out because they didn’t have an actual “data” for their formal dinner dance.

I tossed out a question to them, the same I used with my own sons and their friends while they were growing up. “Do you know what the purpose of dating is?” There were more looks of wide eyed wonder than giggles, blushing or downcast glances.

Because everyone does it!

For fun!

To be Popular!!!

Nope! That’s not it. (me)

Well . . . what’s the answer then? (confused looks around the classroom).

Well, we probably shouldn’t want to do anything simply because everyone else is doing it – right? Everyone jumps off a cliff, are you going right behind them? :heads shaking, no:

And… Aren’t there a lot of fun things you can do with your friends, girls with girls, guys with guys – or a group? :heads shaking, yes:

Okay, and while I get the idea that “popular is good”, do we really need to date at this age to be “popular”, don’t you want to be liked for who you are? :thoughtful heads shaking yes”.

~ Okay, okay – but what is dating for then?

Dating or courtship is a time that you spend getting to know a man or woman to discern if they are the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with – in marriage. When you are old enough to consider marriage, then you spend time learning about what you are looking for in a marriage partner, who you want to spend the rest of your life with. For you kids, when your older – what you should be looking for is another Catholic or Christian who will attend church with you every week. You look for a good person who will celebrate your life together with God, raise your family together – in God.

The kids were actually relieved to hear that dating was something adult. They really didn’t have to worry about a date for an eighth grade dinner dance. We talked some more and reaffirmed their need to enjoy time on their own, growing up, growing in their relationship with God and others and they could wait to worry about dating (and kissing ,because yeah that came up with giggles in the back) until they were older.

I encouraged both classes to speak to their parents about these things, almost every one of them said their parents didn’t have time or wouldn’t bother. I told them to give it a try anyway I was sure their parents would love to speak to them about life events like this.

The truth is, a lot of parents don’t talk. They are either uncomfortable, embarrassed or just too busy to consider the consequences of not spending time helping their children in developing a well rounded moral view of their mind, body and souls.

Added challenges are the loose values in society today, many of which have been loose (but unspoken of) all along. If we want to raise good kids, that means we spend an awful lot of time focused on them. Monitoring what they’re watching on TV (and TV does get worse all the time, really it does). People laugh when they hear I did not allow the oldest two to watch Rugrats before youngest was much older because I didn’t want him to pick up back habits (that Angelica was a rude one). Books, friends, video games. It takes a lot of time and effort.

This also means taking the time to talk to our kids about love, sex and marriage. Of the two classes of eighth graders that I had, only one was from a broken family. What these privileged (to have long Christian marriages) are overlooking is that the peers of their children are not being brought up the same way, they are from broken homes, mom or dad may have a revolving bedroom door ( I was a rarity in not having one, single after my divorce ).

Who is stopping to talk to these kids about virginity or remaining pure for marriage, their special love? ? ?

*Note: Said dinner dance did have strict rules on heel height and modesty in dress, a rarity in public schools today.

 

Reflections of Sexual Morality ~ Part One ~ Her name was Maria

In recent days I have come across a variety of writings in regards to sexual abuse of females (abused males should be included in this). A few months back, while reading the “about today” section of the Divine Office, I read part of a very tragic story of a young girl, only eleven who was brutally murdered for “saying no”. There were other writings in this article too, combined with the other writings I have recently come across that have led me to the topic of “sexual morality”. It is an important topic that really is overlooked in so many ways now. This will be the first of … in essays. Lively conversation is appreciated, crude or rude will be deleted.

The story of the little girl (because eleven is still a little girl to me), caused me concern because she is now a saint. Saint Maria Goretti. There is much to be found of her tragic life and death on the internet. Her story was originally used to propagate saving your virginity at all cost, including your life. We know today that is a false view and we do what me must to survive. Our lives are far more important to God (and ourselves!) than our virginity.

In the research I have done over the past few days, it is clear Maria was from an extremely poor farming family. Her father died, she being the oldest girl at eleven was left home to cook, clean and care for siblings (I have read she was also babysitting for a neighbor’s infant the day she so tragically died). I don’t really want to go into all of the details that I have read, as I have suggested spending some time surfing, you will find a lot of information, much contrary.

The most consistent information I found is though she was only eleven, the church for at least a while, referred to her as a young woman. She is said to have shunned the advances of the “landlords” 20 year old son. I have also read things to indicate he had learning issues, etc. Considering a girl of eleven in those days had not yet begun her first menstrual cycle, was too young to be married and he was almost twice her age, it does seem to indicate he had issues. . .

Maria was stabbed over 14 times (number varies with article), in her throat, lungs, heart, abdomen, severely enough that her organs were protruding. The amount of conversation the child, who was found unconscious is said have held in some readings is simply unrealistic. Her surgery was performed with no anesthesia, and at one point she is said to have awoken for a short time. I would assume the loss of so much blood and pain would have her unconscious even without medication. She is said to have forgiven her murderer, after being prompted by a Priest, just before she died.

So much of her tragic life and death seems to have been embellished upon. Maria did not go to school, rarely went to mass, and had items placed in her hands as she died. She was not buried. Her remains lay within a statue that some confuse to be her actual remains, in a glass coffin under an altar. That so bothers me. I understand it to be Catholic tradition but … let the child go. I know. I am a “bad” catholic for saying this I suppose. She was but a child of such tragic circumstance.

At the time she was canonized, as I stated before, propagated saving your virginity at all cost, including your life. The church does not teach this now. My concern is knowing, so many countries hold Saints in a higher esteem than here in the United States. I know it concerns me that young girls in some far off mission are being taught improperly on how valuable their virginity, their purity is to God (and man).

The Catholic church has defined and changed the meaning of Saints from the original intention in the bible.  Saints are God’s Holy people, living humans in the bible.  Follows of Jesus, children of God. 

While we absolutely need good role models, the list of 10,000 plus saints and the background and true life stories of many give one pause.  Often while reading through the saint area of the Divine Office it is noted that not much is even known about this or that saint – or even correct spelling of their name.Focus should perhaps not be on “saints” but on our Tritarian God and all of His children.

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Note: I spent some time debating whether to write about Maria’s story. It is because of her story that I am writing this series. I also believe, in some small way this is a way to pay homage to a child who lived a tragic life, death and … after life. My heart tells me this child deserves to be buried somewhere pretty under a tree, with wild flowers growing nearby. A place she never seemed to have a chance to play, sit with a book or pray.

The remaining portion of the article that I read, which I wish I could quote but because I use the free version and unfortunately did not copy/paste the article… I will have to admit I can’t give exact quotes… The author of said article acknowledge that we may not all pay homage to plaster saints, etc., but what about the value of virginity, purity why is there none in today’s world” <<< This comment holds merit however, I do believe perhaps the lifestyle of the author and unfortunately the readers the article is intended for are living at a handicap, and perhaps not able to fully understand the experience, life and God in the world most of us live. For this reason, and knowing there are other every day folks who are missing very good points, please look for the next article in this series.

Unfit for the Kingdom of God???   ~   Reflections of St. Luke 9:51-62

Jesus taught in parables. His manner of teaching is taught as fact, and then ignored – or perhaps only understood by a few ? can be distracting at times. I sat listening to a talk in which this reading was explained in the literal sense. I found my lips moving (thankful the voice box was off!) saying “oh, no – that is not what Jesus said”.

What is Jesus talking about in these readings? It sounds scary (what is it about some readings that cause people to tense, become fearful and say… um no???”). Presentation. So, lets take a look at  our master teacher Jesus, and His parables.

Gospel Lk 9:51-62

“When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,

he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,

and he sent messengers ahead of him.

On the way they entered a Samaritan village

to prepare for his reception there,

but they would not welcome him

because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,

“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven

to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village”.

If we look back to Luke 9:2-5 which I have discussed in my post The Mission of the Twelve we read; 2and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick]. 3He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. 5 And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” So, it would be natural for Jesus not to be surprised that they were turned away from any location and to chastise His disciples – their reaction was out of line with His teachings.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus answered him,

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

Parable? Right. Traveling along on this mission, it’s clear they were turned away from lodgings. We already know He did have a Home as did the rest of the Disciples. In this case – they were traveling.

And to another he said, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.

But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,

but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”

To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow

and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Here, Jesus in His normal teaching style is saying “Follow me”, I can almost picture Him standing among a group of people or sitting on a boulder, getting off His feet for a bit and having a refreshment. Right? Casual discussion, important lessons. We know He is the fisher of men. He knows not all will follow. Here, we see a frank exchange, a discussion. “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” Christs reply? “Let the dead bury the dead”. Another states “let me first say farewell to my family at home” Christs reply? “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom.”

Say … what? Jesus is pulling in His net, let’s see which fish He has caught. “Let the dead bury the dead” is stated in translations as let the spiritually dead bury the dead. Now while that is quite possible, I tend to see this more as a case of “don’t use your aging father as an excuse to not spread the “word”. We really are not give a lot to work with here so it is purely speculation. However, when we consider the next sentence “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom.” It is clear, Jesus is saying “Look here folks, if you really are going to follow me to our Father then stay on task (on the path), you’ve put your hand to the plough – don’t back down now. Carry forward. You are called to be a disciple”

We are not being told we have to give up our families. We are not being told we are to give up our friends or home. In fact, what we are being told – clearly is; If you say you will follow me you will spread the word of God. In those times (as even today) it can be dangerous to travel to certain area’s to spread the word but we can do so and we can go with our families too.

Jesus – did not leave His human family and friends until He physically died.   Why would He expect a human being to live life on earth without intimate lifelong loving relationships???  Nonsensical – mixed up by humans unable to see the difference of parable – and *living the blessed life God gifted each and everyone of us with*. 

In truth, we really do not know that Jesus the human was not married.  There are indications that He may have been.  Mary M. was the first person He appeared to upon resurrection.  She was financially self sufficient if indications that she financially supported Him and the ministry – she did not need to be taken  in when He passed.  Being without sin certainly does not indicate He was not married . . .  His mission is what we learn of, His lesson.  He had loving relationships that very well may have included a wife and children (remember – Rabbi’s were married).  We could go back and forth on this but in the end it is not worth a real argument.  It ends with “we do not know the truth in this”.  We do know – God made us for Love as human beings, designed for human relationships, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  We do know for a fact Jesus both lived at home and traveled with – and died in view of those people who were His loving human family, friends and beloved.

In the Church of Latter Day Saints, young adults “How long is a mission for a Mormon? Many missionaries learn a new language at a missionary training center as part of their assignment. Missions typically last two years for males, 18 months for females, and 6 to 18 months for older couples. The LDS Church strongly encourages, but does not require, missionary service for young men.” I remember reading about this when I was younger, and it came to mind again when I came across an article on Elizabeth Smart and that she and her husband met abroad, on “mission”. – My Christian (Protestant) grandparents used to offer financial and emotional support to missionaries. They assisted several couples over the years (some whom I had met).

It is I think a sad thing, that the simple words of Jesus, taught in parables are too often taken literally. In reality, our loving Father did not create His children only to directly serve Him. Love (God) created love. He who created us, did so in a manner that we would be drawn to loving and helping each other, in peaceful and loving relationships. Yes, that parable of Adam and Eve does explain free will (which is not all bad) but we also have the Holy Spirit within to guide us and help us grow through life with each other, in God, toward our Heavenly Father.

In what ways do you serve as a Disciple of Christ?

It’s all about ~ Love

Before I get out of bed in the morning, I read the bible. I like to read the daily Mass readings whether I am headed out the door to church or if I am home. After reading the Mass readings this morning, I skipped over to another section of the Divine Office readings “about today”. The below readings were part of what was written in that area. Favorites of mine.

Mid-morning reading (Terce) 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Noon reading (Sext) 1 Corinthians 13:8-9,13

Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect. In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

Afternoon reading (None) Colossians 3:14-15

Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

We are blessed people to have our God. We are gifted both with His love and with the abilities to give and receive love. I have learned not to underestimate the power of love and what it can do in our lives if we are are able to be open to it. Something that sounds simple, but for many of us it is a painful struggle. Experience may have taught that love hurts. Love does not hurt, only people who don’t know how to love hurt.

In truly loving others, giving of self, we do this in practice by treating everyone we encounter in a loving way. From the delivery man, grocery employee, bank vice president, people we work with or for and our friends and family. There are no limits in truly loving and sharing God..

Are you open to giving and receiving love?

Too young to know . . .

“Mayberry’s basket ball team”. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

He kept repeating this as if it were a code. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

I made note of this, of the fact my student seemed to be trying to communicate something with others – but I had no idea what.  I thought – I’ll wait this out.  I knew by the way he was speaking it was just a matter of time . . .

As the clocked ticked to 6:00pm one night last week,  my class settled into their seats and we d handed out books.  Some light hearted banter on where we were in our book.  A difference of opinion  – because two of the five had not made it to the last class.   We hadn’t been together since the holidays so we caught up on what everyone did with their free time.  How boring a week off is to middle school kids in the middle of winter.  Stuck home of course with parents at work. 

This week we read about Lust and I discussed Love and the difference between the two.

“hahaha”  “Mayberry’s basket ball team”.   ~ Guess who pipped up again!?!

So I went there.  What about Mayberry’s basketball team?

Lust. 

It is hard to sort between the truth and the rumor – which I pointed out.  It seems a young girl “sexted”… took a (possibly) naked torso, photo selfie of herself and sent it to (one?) boy.  Not clear.  Regardless – the entire basketball team ended up with her sexted selfie on their phones.

Oh sweet Jesus, help me here. 

Damage control.

Turning their shock, giggles and confusion – to God was what I did.  It’s what we should all be doing.

Too young to know.  Babies.  Young, inexperience.  Hurting.  Dying.

As I sat there for a moment before speaking. An article I read last week online came to mind.  A twelve year old girl, on Facebook “live” spoke of sexual abuse, beatings, and an almost rape nintchdbpict000293890784(I am going to assume assault that ended before penetration because that is the what “almost” rape brings to mind).  She said good-bye and kicked the bucket she was standing on out from under her.  Her body dangled on live camera for twenty minutes.  I have not seen, nor do I wish to see the video.  Her name is? was?   Katelyn.  It should burn into the soul of anyone knowing her story.  Tragic death at her own hands at – twelve years old.  Not much more than a baby!  Make up worn as a twenty year old might, certainly not a twelve year old child.

Last year in the news was a story of young girl who also committed suicide.  There was a video posted online of her father standing behind her after cutting off all of her beautiful long hair.  Not released at the time as it was so soon, was the full images-washingtonpost-comstory the police have.  This young girl also sent a photo or photo’s to a boy and her father had warned her. Cutting her hair was his punishment for her focus on her beauty (?).  While stopped at traffic light in her grandmothers car she jumped from the bridge shortly after her hair cut, hit a car driving below and died the next day.  By  the grace of God the person in the car her body hit… survived.  Izabel.  Age?  13.

The local girl?  Middle school age. 11385561_490093151156376_1319894834_n Between the ages of 11 – 14.

This particular class was my eighth grade group.  I knew I needed to make them understand this wasn’t funny, a “dirty” joke.  A serious matter that had to be handled delicately even by them as that may prevent the loss of a life.  We are responsible for each other in this life, we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

I explained that they were correct.  Sexy photo’s were indeed used to draw attention but that being done in this way did not bring love, it did bring lust “but” our job here is to love this girl. That surprised them a bit.  I explained we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

Silence.

I further explained;

We do not know the true story.  You have shared rumors (which I figuratively stepped on as they were brought up).  We cannot judge, first of all it is not our place.  Secondly, if this is true – how do you think the young girl feels?  Someone who feels good about themselves doesn’t do this to draw attention.  I explained that I felt if they were old enough to experience this situation and be talking about it, then they needed to walk with Jesus and follow what He would have done.  I asked them to think about (but did not have to share) something they may have done that they are not proud of and think how it would feel if the entire school (or) town knew about it.  They did think about it and were able in their own ways to understand.

I asked them what the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us is. . .

“What’s that?”

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We don’t know what has happened in this young girls life, that would bring her to the point that she would, if she did, send “sexy” images of herself to anyone.  We must pray for her.  If you are in school tomorrow and people start gossiping or laughing what should you do?  Tell them you feel sorry for the girl  (at this point they did feel sorry for her), and feel sorry for the basketball team or whoever… too.  You are not going to gossip about it, it is not funny.  It’s sad.  Walk with Jesus.  Be kind.

We talked about this for a few more minutes, until I felt they all heard what was being communicated.  We talked about judging people and how that is God’s job and if we know someone has done something wrong or sinned we should pray for them, never belittle them.  We cannot spread God’s love when we participate in further hurting His children. 

“What about the story of Jesus and the woman?  The crowd of men who wanted to stone her?”  What did Jesus do?  He stood by her side.  He said “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone”, none did.  The men turned and walked away.  This I explained is how each and everyone of us (looking at each face) are to walk with Jesus.  Protect this girl by not gossiping, not saying hurtful things.  If you do see her in school again, don’t laugh or be mean.  Be kind.  God is within us, it is our job as Christians, as good human beings to be kind.

Note:  This matter was brought to the principals office, students were in suspension in school.  I did share this information with my director.

There are so many humans in our world who need to be treated with love and kindness.  There are many young people and families who need help, kindness, patience, love.  Safe places and safe people to turn to.  Unfortunately, as I have written in other articles there is a gross shortage of therapists and counselors to work with families and young people before they get to this point in their life, where they act out sexually (often from unknown abuse), or in other ways.  Drinking, drugs, school.  Therapists and counselors are a tool but every day any one of us can step up and speak up.  Set a good example, don’t bully, be kind. 

What would Jesus do?  We must be sure we are setting an example, raising a bar in a helpful – never hurtful way.

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Simply Sunday ~ Guilty

Jesus was not about about a religion, He was about teaching us the ways of our Father, God.   Our Tritarian God.  Inclusion, acceptance, forgiveness and love.  We are called to walk this life with Him.  Christians, as disciples of Jesus are to walk with Him, learn from Him and share He and His teachings with others.  The closer we walk in His ways, the further we may step from the secular life.  Care must be taken to actually live in His Kingdom here, that is done by living His gifts and sharing His love.  We may turn from excessive material goods (more than we need) but we still are called to participate in a full life, as we experience life (His gifts & love) we learn from others, as they learn from us. 

I haven’t posted a Simply Sunday song in quite a while.  Life pulled me away.  I had to search for the writers names as they were not listed on Youtube.  There seems to be some gossip and politics behind the work perhaps that is why.  However, the message of the lyrics is how I feel.  I am nothing without Him.

~ Have a blessed and peaceful Simply Sunday.  Have a good  week, it  will fly by before we know it.

You are loved

“Guilty”

Published on Sep 28, 2015

(Juan Otero / Pete Stewart)

Official music video for the newsboys new single “Guilty,” featured in the  film “God’s Not Dead 2” released April 1st 2016.

 

When did it become breaking a rule

To say your name out loud in school

When your name’s the only one that sets us free?

When did it become incorrect

To speak the truth about life and death

When your life gave us all eternity?

Even if it gets me convicted

I’ll be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you’s against the law of man

If living out my faith in you is banned

Then I’ll stand right before the jury

If saying “I believe” is out of line

If I’m judged ’cause I’m gonna give my life

To show the world the love that fills me

Then I wanna be guilty

I’ll rise up and honor you

I’ll testify to the good you do

‘Cause your grace and your mercy have overtaken me

So even if it gets me convicted

I’ll be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you’s against the law of man

If living out my faith in you is banned

Then I’ll stand right before the jury

If saying “I believe” is out of line

If I’m judged ’cause I’m gonna give my life

To show the world the love that fills me

Then I wanna be guilty by association

Guilty of being a voice proclaiming

Your ways, your truth, your life

I’ll pay the price to be your light

If serving you’s against the law of man

If living out my faith in you is banned

Then I’ll stand right before the jury

If saying “I believe” is out of line

If I’m judged ’cause I’m gonna give my life

To show the world the love that fills me

Then I wanna be guilty by association

Guilty of being a voice proclaiming

Your ways, your truth, your life

I’ll pay the price to be your light

Oh, I wanna be guilty

True Love ~ 1 Corinthians

Love as Found in;  1 Corinthians 12:13-13

The chapter title reads “The Supremacy of Charity”.

“Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.

In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.”

As pointed out during the homily, several of these verses are often requested to be used in a marriage ceremony. Reading and listening to it at Mass, spending time with my Bible – and reading in full context it is all right there for me to see.

What stands out to me most is this:   Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known. Stay with me here, I will backtrack to the beginning shortly.

The truth of Love is right in this passage. Today I see in my reflection but a dim light of you, my Lord, God. I know I have so much to learn and that you will guide me. I know, one day I shall fully be in you as you are in me today.

This entire reading is about understanding the gifts that God graces us with. The first two sentences above: “Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them. these, are the final two sentences in the previous chapter, which discusses Spiritual gifts and what is being taught next rises far above any of those gifts. If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

There are people, and we all know someone that is charismatic, simply knew how to turn the charm – and off at a moments notice. I am not referring to someone who has a bad day or an event that has thrown them for a “loop”. Maybe that fair weather friend who extends a hand, only to show their true colors are not about friendship and love. You realize their motives were based on selfishness. Those are actions feigning love, but empty. The words and actions fall in a loud crash to the floor.

Or Prophecy – an intuitive knowledge, vision – even with having “faith in all its fullness” means nothing without love, A prophet must have a deep loving relationship with God in order to serve Him. True prophecy is a serious responsibility, which may be able to “move mountains” but without that bond of love with God, may veer off course of what He is asking or directing. Proper discernment is needed.

If I give away all that I possess and even let them take me and kill me in the name of God, but I do not truly Love God, I am nothing. I know a man who once gave all of his belongings away and kept only a minimal amount of clothing, looked like a beggar and claimed to do this for God, he was without love. Lost, lonely unable to love or receive love – closed off.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

God is Love. Love is God. He is in me, the Holy Spirit resides within my body His temple. I walk with Jesus, I pray/speak to God. God is patient and kind, God is never jealous, boastful or conceited. He is never rude or selfish and does not take offense, he is not resentful. God takes no pleasure in our human sin – but delights upon our truths. He will always excuse, trust, offer hope and He endures all that comes our way with us. He is our Loving Father.

Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge – for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear.

Love does not come to an end because God is infinite.  He is the Alpha and the Omega. Gifts of Prophecy will fail (to err is human). How many times has it been said the world would end? The gift of languages will not continue forever (languages are dying off). knowledge is ever changing, as more things are learned and taught. Even in cases of religions – right? Only God is perfect, when He comes at the end all imperfect things fall away and only Love – only God is left.

Because our Father is so loving, He graces us with these gifts and it is for us to practice, improve on- celebrate with each other. Love is an action word that we practice & celebrate with others, God is living – our love must be living.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

(Our) Love does not come to an end, because our hope, when we die is to have our eternal rest with God, as God lives forever- so will the love we carry in our hearts. Our love for our spouse, children, family, friends – everyone.

In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is… love.

Originally published: 02 Feb 2016

 

Christian Reformation

 

Rumblings have begun.  Throughout various Christian churches people are calling for reformation.  Acceptance among some denominations to allow for female 15823431_1056573637798238_7958033138514324021_nPriests and Deacons that in years past were not allowed.  Acceptance among some denominations for same sex relationships.  Attention paid to the hows and why they Bible was written and what God really hopes we glean from it.  Sifting through facts – and fiction.  Droves of people seeking (Christian) Spiritual Enlightenment.

Below I have posted (with links) the first of this years series of Daily Meditations by Ftr Richard Rorh I am excited to see these current writings (this is past due!) on rebuilding the Christianity from the bottom up.  Here I will admit, I have not yet read volumes of his writings. I haven’t known about him all that long.  I looked him up after hearing his name in a homily.  I realized I knew what he spoke about and hadn’t realized there were other people who thought this way, who understood a Spiritual (vs. Reglious) Path.  Though for sure he is a Franciscan Priest, he is open to and accepting of other Christian denominations as well as other Religions.  We are all one.  Please – be sure to look him up.  If you’re interested in Spiritual growth – he is a Spiritual Master.

The teachings I am familiar with in his writings are spot on and respect persons of the 21st century.  There is a call to return to the very basic teachings of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the reason for Christianity.  Too many well meaning people over the centuries have twisted and turned His very simple teachings.  The church is shrinking. These twists and turns are responsible for this loss of belief.  

I know the Roman Catholic Church must oil their wheels and make shifts far more quickly than they are used in order to properly grow in Christ.  This trend of  closing parishes and “speak” of a smaller but stronger church is not going to please our Father.  It shows a lack of growth from within the walls.  Most of the men of the church are glued to very old fashioned ways, and have confused ways of man that  not are what the direct teachings of Jesus Christ were. Said with love. 

Accepting we must return back to the teachings of Jesus –  His roots.  Simple, Basic Truths.  Love.  God is Love, Love is God.  However, considering the work of Jesus with the many disciples we know his intention was to teach of our loving God, simple commandments and living in love and respect for one another.

The Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church hold power.  They know they do. I pray the Holy Spirit touches them deeply within, in ways they have never felt before.  They hold the power of change. They hold the power of growth.  Power has been  known to be dangerous. Blessed, divine power is to be used for the good of all.  As painful as it may be to study, learn  accept and make changes – it must be.  For the good of the people – who are “the church”.

In upcoming articles I will be sharing more thoughts on the shrinking church, outdated rules, laws and traditions and how they affect the current slump in attendance.  Idea’s of how change may really be for the overall good and growth of God’s children and our (my) Christian faith.  – I teach 8th & 9th grade faith formation (part of the Confirmation classes).  Tuesday night three kids showed up – none attend Mass (church).  Last night five kids showed up, two never attend mass, one skips past the question and the other two – on rare occasion, even though mom goes every week.  The future of the church.  Foreboding?  Changes need to be made, WD-40 for the squeaky wheels.  The time has come.


From the Bottom Up: Introduction

Making Christianity Relevant Again
Sunday, January 1, 2017

“Our religion is not working well. Christianity is now seen as “irrelevant” by many and 15740804_1760626520615983_1025981791997870865_noften as part of the problem more than any kind of solution. . . . It would seem Jesus’ teaching about the reign of God has had little impact, except among people who surrendered to great love and great suffering. It’s time to rediscover the Gospel and rebuild from the bottom up.” —Richard Rohr  

From the bottom up: Introduction {Richard Rorh}

“What will make a difference to the future is awakening to a faith that fully communicates God’s love—a love that transforms how we believe, what we do, and who we are in the world. —Diana Butler Bass [1]

Our religion is not working well. Another year has ended—a new year begins—in which suffering, fear, violence, injustice, greed, and meaninglessness still abound. This is not even close to the reign of God that Jesus taught. And we must be frank: in their behavior and impact upon the world, Christians are not much different than other people.

The majority of Christians are not highly transformed people, but tend to reflect their own culture more than they operate as any kind of leaven within it. I speak especially of American Christians, because I am one. But if you are from another country, look at the Christians where you live and see if the same is true there.

Let’s be honest: religion has probably never had such a bad name. Christianity is now seen as “irrelevant” by many and often as part of the problem more than any kind of solution. Some of us are almost embarrassed to say we are Christian because of the negative images that word conjures in others’ minds. Young people especially are turned off by how judgmental, exclusionary, impractical, and ineffective Christian culture seems to be. The church seems hostile toward most science (the objective outer world) and thus unable to talk about its inner dimensions with any authority. As we saw in the recent U.S. election, Christians overall showed little prophetic or compassionate presence.

Most Christians have not been taught how to plug into the “mind of Christ;” thus they often reflect the common mind of power, greed, and war instead. The dualistic mind reads reality in simple binaries—good and bad, right and wrong—and thinks itself smart because it chooses one side. This is getting us nowhere.

Throughout the history of Christianity, it would seem Jesus’ teaching has had little impact, except among people who surrendered to great love and great suffering. Could this be the real core of the Gospel? Such people experience God rather than merely having disconnected ideas about God. We need the mind of mystics now to offer any kind of alternative—contemplative or nondual—consciousness. We need practice-based religion that teaches us how to connect with the Infinite in ways that actually change us from our finite perspectives.

We must rediscover what St. Francis called the “marrow of the Gospel.” It’s time to rebuild from the bottom up. If the foundation is not solid and sure, everything we try to build on top of it is weak and ineffective. Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that so much is tumbling down around us. It’s time to begin again. This will be our new Daily Meditation theme: rebuilding from the bottom up. Auspiciously, this year is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s important attempts at reform.

In the year 1205, Jesus spoke to Francis through the San Damiano cross: “Francis, rebuild my church, for you see it is falling into ruin.” If Jesus himself says the church is falling into ruin, I guess we can admit it also without being accused of being negative or unbelieving. Maybe we have to admit it for anything new and good to happen.

Through these daily reflections I will delve into the meaning of Christianity’s powerful “first principles,” or essential elements, in this order: God as Trinity, the Cosmic Christ, the life and teaching of Jesus, and other teachings of Incarnational and Mystical Christianity. Even if you aren’t Christian, I hope you will find universal principles here that you can apply to your own spiritual journey.” R. Rorh

His gifts (lessons from Jesus)

The gifts (lessons) Jesus brought to us, are often told in parables.  In my essay Discipleship I shared verse from the book of Mark, which is where Jesus explains He taught with parables.

Jesus did not teach in literal terms in order to help the peoples of that time learn, He taught in a manner that all listening could understand, despite where they fall upon a learning curve.  It is so important to understand the written word, is taught by Jesus, in parables.

Recent mornings reading of the Gospel:

Gospel of St. John 6:52-59

The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said.

Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,

if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,

you will not have life in you.

Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood

has eternal life,

and I shall raise him up on the last day.

For my flesh is real food

and my blood is real drink.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood

lives in me

and I live in him.

As I, who am sent by the living Father,

myself draw life from the Father,

so whoever eats me will draw life from me.

This is the bread come down from heaven;

not like the bread our ancestors ate:

they are dead,

but anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’

He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.

Reading the footnotes on these readings on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, they tell us “Spirit flesh: probably not a reference to the Eucharistic body of Jesus but to the supernatural and the natural, as in.   Spirit and life: all Jesus said about the bread of life is the revelation of the Spirit.”

There is actually quite a bit to be found on the history and celebration of the Eucharist – in the Roman Catholic Church.  There was a day when it was a very simple (but deep) reminder of the love of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. 

The Church has changed teachings on this as well as other sacraments over the years.   I have enjoyed reading some of the things various Saints have said about the Holy Eucharist and do plan on reading more about this sacrament. 

Transubstantiation was not taught until the Council of Trent in 1551 and so it has been taught for the past 500 years or so.  Other things have evolved with the Eucharist that when reading does show the doctrine has been changed over the years, more recently to allow for Eucharistic ministers, bread without wine, I was taught not to chew the host, now people do, etc. 

There are obvious reasons for people questioning teachings, from what I read and hear.

There really is a lot of history in this sacrament, teaching show clearly there was a day when there was universal church that taught “do this in memory of me”, no transubstantiation taking place, formalities in the simplest of sense – per St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26   “For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, So to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another”. (Universalis)

St. Mathew 26:26   The Lord’s Supper. 26  While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28l for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. 29* I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” 30 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (usccb)

What this all points back to is our lord, Jesus Christ.  He is to be a true focal point in our lives, as part of the Holy Trinity.  What is He telling us in this reading today?

Jesus was sent by our Lord, God the Father to bring us to Him.  We are not reading about literally drinking His blood or eating of his body in this text.    He is teaching us;  -cling to my words and my actions and I will lead you to Our Father-Our Lord God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, in Him we shall live forever.  Jesus perhaps refers to coming down from Heaven because we look up to our Lord, God.

Jesus was God’s gift to us, to teach us how to live lives of love and peace with one another through God our Father who gifts us with all.  We are all, each and every one of us part of this – together.  Our lives are not about dying in body, but dying in spirit to be reborn to a new way of life, living, giving, sharing – loving. In God.

I will encourage you once again to read your bible thoughtfully, prayerfully.  Listen.  There is much to be learned about life and love within those pages.  There is much to be learned about life and love through our prayer life too.

What can you do today, that will bring heaven into your midst?  Love.  Love as Jesus has taught us, love with heart mind and soul.  Everyone.

 

A Parents Prayer

Dear God, please help us to raise emotionally and physically healthy children,

when we fail, because we all do in some way,

help us find a way to continue to help our children grow and mature. 

I understand as a parent,  that I am to parent that no matter the age of my child.  

You have entrusted that life to me to do all that I am capable of doing,

to help my child grow in healthy ways. 

I ask for your continued grace and guidance if and when I hit a stone wall,

though I know rivers have forged canyons this does not mean that I,

a human will always be equipped to do the same.

I ask you Father, to please continue to stay by my side and those I love

both in recovery, and those who are not living with addiction. 

May new treatments be found, Please -more medical professionals

and therapists turn to working with addicts and mental illness to save generations of lives. 

As you have taught, one life touches generations.

I ask this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. 

Amen

There is a known shortage of medical professionals who are licensed to work with addicts.  There has been a long standing shortage of therapists, counselors and psychologists to work with children, teens, young adults – and adults who have endured traumatic events in their lives, mental illness and drug addiction both which may be the result of early, untreated trauma.  We need more people willing to become qualified or use their current skills to carry out  this work of God.

 

Discipleship

Let’s take a look at discipleship.  Some say we are all called to be disciples – are we?

First, let’s look at what Jesus said;

The Holy Bible, Gospel of Mark Chapter 8, verses 34 – 38

The Conditions of Discipleship.

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Again, from the United States Bishops website, refer to the bottom of the page – we find a translation of His quote: “This utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it…will save it: an expression of the ambivalence of life and its contrasting destiny. Life seen as mere self-centered earthly existence and lived in denial of Christ ends in destruction, but when lived in loyalty to Christ, despite earthly death, it arrives at fullness of life.”

Looking at this in simple, realistic terms, with a bit of Cafeteria Catholic thrown in, Jesus tells us that we must first believe in Him, who is God on earth.  Our Trinitarian God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) are to be first in our lives – always.  Before yourself, your spouse, your children, your job etc. etc.   Without God, we are nothing, we have nothing.

After putting our Lord, God first – we are to bring others to know Him.  We are to do this at risk of personal loss, including those Christians who are persecuted and executed for their love of God.  This teaching has to be balanced out with some common sense.  We are being asked to live good, godly lives. 

Following the Commandments as he taught us: Mark 12:30-31 30You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. This doesn’t mean we are to – or have to live the life of martyrs.  God did give us life – to live.  This is one of those readings that tend to scare people… being human and having selfish tendencies.  It is important to explain this fully.

In the book of Mark  Chapter 1 Verse 17 Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  My thoughts on this is Jesus is saying here that not all will come, not all will follow.  I will teach you how to “fish” for those who will become followers of our Lord, God.

In the book of Mark Chapter 4 Verse 2-8

And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them,  “Hear this! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.  And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.  And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

 If you continue reading down the page you will see His explanation to the 12 Disciples

 Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word.These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Jesus taught, He walked among men, women – children.  Crowds would gather and He would speak.  He taught using  parables.  Here He explains that though you work to reach many the seeds will fall and not all will take root.  All knowledge and instruction is not going to reach each individual in the same manner.  God created and designed each and every one of us.

In the Book of John Chapter 15 Verse 1-11

The Vine and the Branches. I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

While the bottom of the same web link does offer the Roman Catholic churches take on this parable, I offer my own – which is actually what I remember being taught in my childhood as a Protestant;  Here, Jesus is saying that as His followers we have already been pruned to become  fruitful, in His name.

Our love and devotion does not come without cost.  Being His disciple means being selfless and putting God and others before ourselves.  Thankful we are that our God is a loving and forgiving God, because in our  humanness,  try as we must, we are not perfect.  What a gift to know He has said  “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”   Remember ~ Mark 12:30-31 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’j 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor *as* yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 Part 2 – How do we go about discipleship…

The beauty of Gods gifts allow us to grow in all things we do.  Bringing others to God doesn’t happen in a church service (per say).  To use a common phrase of Christians; What Would Jesus Do? Where did Jesus Christ go?  Among the people

What do I mean?  For people to truly know God they must experience Him in their heart and soul.  We can sit at Mass, or in a church service and listen but how often does one experience something in a church service that really reach into the souls of people?  It is rare indeed.

Don’t these people, already in a church have a relationship with God?

I believe active disciples are people have a fire (light) that burns within. That draws them deeper to God.  I believe that pull comes first from a calling of the Holy Spirit, and it requires an acceptance to turn oneself fully over to God.

What was Jesus asking us to do?  He sent forth his disciples in sets of two, to go out and teach His word.  To spread the Good News, the Gospel.  How do I think we do this?  First, trying to live as Christlike as possible while acknowledging and accepting as He does, we are His human children.  In this we also are given many gifts from Him, gifts that include Faith, Hope and Love.  Our life example, our story – our testimony, which at times means allowing our soft spots, our most vulnerable selves to be seen in order to help others heal and when we can, bring them closer to Christ.  I know myself, all that I am and all that I will be are due to Him

I believe in personal relationships such as marriage or parenting, it is a responsibility to draw your loved ones ever closer to God with you.   We are all taught – God first, then spouse, before self and this builds a solid, sacred bond.   Married couples who have this foundation and work together with God are able to set a solid example of a committed loving relationship. 

I believe it is important to work together in service to bring others to God.  Both in family life, service / volunteering.  I have read one of the best type of “dates” is to serve where God is needed (which is – everywhere, so be it a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter group home, a school, a prison,visit a nursing home or pack up and move to Appalachia or a southern border overflowing with poor migrants). How about a “food drive” for an animal shelter (God loves animals too).  In all of these types of outreach we are able to spend some time with people who need to be loved.  People who need to feel God’s love and when we have a testimony or story to share, it brings people together – and closer to God.  There are so many place and opportunities to spread the word.

Where there is God there is Love.  Where there Love there is God.  So there is to an extent discipleship that does happen within our intimate relationships.

Some ways I share Christs love for me is by sharing my every day life with people.  It does have an affect and it is beautiful to be a part of.  In another essay I mentioned a couple of things.  One was – when being asked for a donation at a cashier and being asked for what name I wanted to put down.  “God” was the first name out of my mouth.  It wasn’t “my” dollar, it didn’t feel like it.  The kids loved my reply (a spot I also “pay it forward and pay for an order behind me on occasion at the drive up).

As part of my job, I meet and work directly with executives in lieu of the owners.  We were assigned a new gal recently, when she called to introduce and set up an appointment to meet with me, she asked when was a good time.  I said we open at 8:30 – but I go to Mass in the morning before work and usually get in later than that. (I have permission – it is a “perk”).   She remembered our conversation and when she came in to sit with me in my office it was an opportunity to share a bit of my love of God and how He has worked in my life.  I literally had a bank Vice President sitting across from me with tears trailing down her face.  God works through me.  It’s not forced, it is not fake, it just happens.  Well… perhaps not “just”  Every morning I turn myself over to God in prayer and ask Him to use me in the ways that serve Him.

Today. . .  I had sent a woman at a company that we do some work for an email, requesting needed information.  Three or four emails, no reply.  Hmmm, this is odd.  I let it go for a few more days.  Yesterday, I received the information in snail mail,  today I received an email from my contact.  We exchanged several (friendly) emails back and forth.  She shared first that she had been out due to a family emergency and apologized for not getting back to me sooner.  I responded :sic: not a problem at all, I knew something was off – I hope all is well now. – A longer response from her,  sharing with me that her 88 year old father was ill, had two surgeries and had to go back in for another.  My response?  “Oh God Bless!  I will offer a prayer, I hope that is okay. – I no longer have my parents, I do however take a lovely 88 year old woman out to brunch after mass every Sunday.  It is amazing how resilient our elders are!  Be well, XXXX”.

I know at least some reading this are saying – you did this with a business contact???  Yeah, I did and yes – it can be risky in the secular field – but I walk with Jesus ♥.  Her response?  “How nice of you!  I was having breakfast with my dad after mass each week.  I miss that time with him but I am blessed to have him all of these years.  Thank you for the prayers.”   – More emails flew back and forth.  A simple way to share God’s love with others.  Be patient, kind and loving – even with business associates.

Oh – and my Sunday brunch date?  She and I have on occasion had the opportunity to witness to others while dinning out.  Never in a “door knocking witness” sort of way.  We literally had two young women with a baby stop by our table a few months back to talk about church, (they overheard our conversation) raising kids in Christ, etc.  Be open to opportunities to share God with others.

Teaching our children to be disciples of Christ comes by their witnessing us in action (honestly – is that not how many learn?).  My sons have the biggest hearts.

One child of mine has helped three other young people with addiction problems in the past six or seven months.  It is a gift – seeing this one in action – bringing others to Christ too is amazing.  He too has no fear of posting bible quotes or inspirational works to his Facebook wall (along with all of the crazy motorcycle and otherwise crazy young man things). He brings others to church with him too.

One of the days he was over to visit me last week, we were talking about Bibles and I ended up giving him a chronological bible I had recently purchased for a study group that I lost time to participate in.  Between going to mass most mornings, (reading those bible readings ahead of mass) and recently adding several of the Divine Office readings (and other readings as I have done for these essays on discipleship) I am reading a lot (far more than the bible study class).  I wish I could say my other two sons have followed this path, to date they have not but youngest and I still have hope.

It is my hope that at least one of these suggestions will work for you should you choose to step out in discipleship.  I hope that sharing some of my experiences shows that with time

Sharing my love and knowledge of God flows naturally and freely.

I know there are others on this blog website who also share their love, hope, knowledge and experience with God.  I have some (real life) friends on Facebook who enjoy bible and spiritual posts – one openly shares that she does this as a service to God.  Facebook too – is a great way to spread the word, just remember we must walk what we talk leastwise we are hypocrites and dishonor our Lord, God.  No human is perfect, we endeavor to do our best.  God knows our hearts.

Thu, 28 Jan 2016

Abortion? ~ Reflections of a Pro-Life Mom

Because our life experiences form our choices – here are some of mine:

My own mother had her first child at the age of 15, by the time she was 17 she deserted him (no nice way to put it) and by the age of 19 she was pregnant again.  After her divorce from her first marriage was settled,  she legally married my dad.  Three and a half years later I came along.  She did not obtain prenatal care for me prior to her seventh month of pregnancy.  She told everyone I was a “tumor”.   When I was born, her second born son (the brother that I was raised with) was in the care of my dads parents. It seems they raised him for the first several years of his life – so that my mother could travel with my dad who – traveled for work.  He had race horses. 

I was born in New Hampshire and a week later was living in a motel in New Jersey.  There was no pediatrician  for me.  The summer I turned four, my mother and I visited her mother and family in Maine.  Upon my grams and aunts insistence – my mother took me to a doctor to find out why my toddler waddle remained.  I was diagnosed with having been born without hip sockets.  I had several surgeries during my childhood.  Being the later 1960’s when I was diagnosed, meant staying in the hospital for months on end. That is how it was done back then.   When I was eleven I was back in the hospital, being told I would be in a wheelchair by 20 and “no, I’m sorry – carrying babies is not really in your future”.  I had the last of my childhood surgeries that spring.  I thought the doctors were all crazy (so did my Nana – so thankful for her, granddad  – and God!!!).

It was this year also, the summer that I turned twelve that I very clearly overheard a telephone conversation of my mothers.  I was sitting across the living-room from her.  She and an aunt were talking about another woman they knew, pregnant at 40 and how she should “abort that baby – she is too old to be a mother”  (really?)  Yes.  My mother also stated rather clearly  – that she would have aborted me if she had the option.  

Now in my early 50’s, mother to three very healthy young men, walking and plan on it until the day I die. I have awesome hips (that I need to take better care of!) that were built for me in an Operating Room, over three surgeries and many hours when I was in my mid-thirties.

If my mother had a choice – I would have died before I was born.  I believe my oldest brother too would have suffered the same fate as she was only fourteen when he was conceived.  Her second born?  I think that pregnancy was a convenience for her and brought her a husband that she had big hopes of.  That is my educated guess only.

Sharing life experiences with a close friend, I learned they too had been told by their mother that she wish she had aborted them.  This friend was in their early teens at the time.

Can you imagine how devastating this would be to children – not even in their mid-teens.  “I should have aborted you“.  Thankful are we that God had other plans and we both came to live in this world.

When I was a young innocent girl of seventeen – unlike my friends I was in no hurry to “loose my virginity”.  I wanted to remain pure until marriage.  A night out with older friends, finding myself alone with a man of twenty-five (who was actually the cousin of my boyfriend, who had not been allowed out that night) chose to take my innocence, raping me.  He would not take No for an answer.  There are absolutely no words for how devastated and ashamed I was.  I did not report it.  I felt shame.  I spiraled down.  Thank God I did not become pregnant that horrible night.  I knew after hearing what my mother had said when I was twelve,  I knew I could not end a life.

When I was married and became pregnant with my own children they had standard tests at 15 weeks to determine the fetal health and if abortion would be recommended (down syndrome, etc.).  I refused any tests that did not benefit the health of my children. Abortion was not an option.  Despite my own physical challenges I did carry my first for 42 weeks, second for 40 weeks and youngest was a c-section at 38 weeks because of my medical condition (not having hip sockets does not fair well with pregnancy).  All three were scanned at six weeks to ensure there was no dysplasia.  All are healthy.  Thank you God.

One of my cousins was told she should go out of state and have an abortion when she was six months pregnant.  She was told her child was “retarded”.  She chose life.  Her daughter who did have some learning challenges, did develop just fine.  I have a friend who’s sister was pregnant (married and planned) close to ten times, She miscarried many times.  Eventually, she gave birth to two healthy girls.  With her (third fullterm) preganancy, she too was told medical testing indicated an abortion as the child would have a heart defect and learning disability.  Guess what?  Healthy baby.

I will never forget a mom I “met” online who was pregnant with her fourth baby.  They were so excited – a girl!  Truly they were so joyful she, her sons and her husband.  After medical testing she was told a diagnosis which meant their daughter would not live for one day if carried to term.  Doctors were certain of this and strongly pushed for her to abort – to avoid the psychological trauma.  With fellow board members (back in the “good old AOL message board days)  she allowed us to traveled her journey with her.  Cordelia Rose was born and died in one day.  One this day, she was photographed, held, dressed, loved – loved oh so much by her family – that lost her long before she had a chance to have a pony tail or wear ankle socks.  They celebrated her life, then they mourned her death.

These little stories are all about being born into loving families, despite worries, concerns and in the life of Cordelia Rose – knowing they would have no more than a day with her in their arms.

Psalm 139 One I often have, and often will quote, tells us How well our loving God – loves all of us.  How well He knows everything and every  part of us 13You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.e

Here comes the part of my essay you probably have not seen coming.  After some recent conversations, and reading about the Roman Catholic Church year of forgiving women for abortions I have spent some time in prayer, asking God to help me find the answer and how I should express truths.

We often hear the hypothetical stories of “what if” “would you say it’s okay then?”  If you have been reading my blog, you are aware that I have a tendency to be very open, loving and accepting.

Last week a young lady I know came to me to share her sister is pregnant.  She talked abortion.  She was not dealing well with her sisters news.  She shared more of her own background, which included being abused as a very young child and becoming pregnant by a family member.  She had an abortion.

Now, she had concerns for her sisters choice of (long term) boyfriends and thought an abortion would be the right choice for her.  After listening and sitting quietly with her for a few minutes I asked her if her sister wanted an abortion.  She said her sister didn’t know yet what her sister thought.   The older sister felt “little” sister was too young (mid-twenties) to be a mom.  I sat there in mental prayer with my Father asking for help.  I spoke up and said “I have to tell you I disagree with you, she is not a baby – she is not a teenager, she is a young woman.

I completely understand and respect you so much for what you have been through – but we are talking about a life here.  A baby.  A human and her circumstance is so very  different than yours was.  I took a few more minutes to offer comfort on her own pain and loss of innocence.    I asked; would you support her emotionally when she has the baby?  She said – “Yes, I would”.   We talked some more – How will your mom react?  Do you think she will emotionally support her?   “Yes – she said she would”, they have a great mom and she herself had her first child much younger.  We chatted a little longer, before we parted ways I asked her to remember there is no need for her sister to rush, let her absorb her news and talk to mom and whomever else – her boyfriend.  Respect her feelings and give her time to formulate her own thoughts.

Over the weekend that ol’ Facebook post on one of the Catholic Christian Woman pages came through with an article written by a woman, A catholic who we remorseful for not speaking up when a young woman came to her pregnant, contemplating abortion.  It was sad to read the article, especially just having the conversation that I had.

I waited until this morning to email the gal who shared with me last week, to check on her sister.  She said that her sister asked her to come talk to their mom with her, she went and shared  her mom handled the news well considering circumstances and supported life.

First, she said my mother is concerned that my sister  :sic: “will be sorry for going through with it”.  I said – ohhh – has she decided on an abortion?  “No, not yet but she is leaning that way”.  I countered with – Oh, well there is a place I know of that would be great for her to go to.  I told her the name of the place then I said – wait I will send you the link.  I sent her the link with a note to reiterate that I thought it would be great for her sister to have someone – outside of the situation, to talk to and work through her own decision with.

This place is pro-life but supports with counseling should one choose to end life.  I also told her that I prayed for her sister and her sisters child in Mass this weekend and this morning before I corresponded with her.  What came next filled my heart – she was grateful for the support, the information and the prayers and she asked that I keep them in prayer.

When I met this gal a few weeks ago she could not stand to hear the name “God”, after getting to know me better and learning that God is loving being she has softened and found some hope in this situation. I have done, I think all that I can in this particular situation. I will email tomorrow, in hopes of hearing her sister is receptive to contact this place (my church supports it).  I don’t know the young lady myself.

I chose the verse from my favorite Psalm very carefully tonight;13You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.   While I am undeniably pro-life,  I know in my heart and soul, that it is our Lord, God who forms us – and He is all knowing.  I am sure He is aware of each and every individual baby that He creates. I know He will cradle each in His arms as only He can.  I know He is there for these Mothers, as He is for everyone else – but for the asking.  As Christians, it is our responsibility to God to love women going through this crisis.  With kindness, respect and all the love we can muster.

I am Pro-life.  Adamantly so.  This includes respecting the mental health of a raped woman (or in this case very young teenager).  Or the life of a woman carrying a tubal pregnancy which will result in death regardless.

Tonight I keep this young mother in prayer, knowing our loving God will be with she and her child – every step of every day.

2/29/16 Update:  The young lady mentioned above, has chosen life for her child.

7/2/16 Family update:  Shortly after writing this we learned that an unexpected miracle was taking place within our own family circle.  Despite knowing there are medical baby-swimmyconsiderations – baby “swimmie” (son calls baby “guppie”) is due to join the families mid December.  This ultrasound photo is from June 1st.  August 1st we’ll learn (if baby is being cooperative – mine were not always) if swimmie is a boy or a girl.  Baby is developing well, everything is where it is suppose to be.   Here you’ll see the left arm raised up by the head, right arm kind of waving around, right leg and foot and only partial of the left leg in this picture.  Abortion was never brought up or discussed between the parents or me.

The last week of November my first grandchild, a boy was born.  There have been some complications and issues but we have faith that he will be fine.  God is good and we place our trust in Him.  Baby is thriving, growing rapidly and attentive. ♥   

Wait, Isn’t God Everywhere?

I have been a practicing Roman Catholic for almost twenty-nine years.  Raised as a Protestant Christian and converting to the Roman Catholic religion in my mid-twenties.  I had little Catechism given at that time.

I have raised my sons in the church, taught several years of CCD/Faith Formation, volunteered and currently I have been attending Mass in the morning before going to work.   I love to go to Church.  Over the years, I have spent hours there alone in prayer with our triune God.

I had a Catholic friend, years ago, tell me I should say I am “going to Mass”, not I am “going to church”.  I didn’t get what he meant.  Today I do.  When I enter the church for services, it is for Mass.  Even on Good Friday, when no Mass is celebrated it is called “Mass of the Presanctified” as the host was consecrated on Holy Thursday.

My focus has always been on the readings and more so the homily.  I realize now that is due my Protestant upbringing.  As a child/young person, I went to church to study the bible and pray.  As an adult Catholic, I attend Mass and read the bible readings, listen to the homily but I also partake in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

His question. . .

A few weeks ago, I read an article written by a Pastor.  The following is a clip of that article:  “why is it so difficult to believe that same presence in the Eucharist we celebrate so frequently? Is it that farfetched to think that God can take simple elements of bread and wine and transform them, wholly and completely, into the Body and Blood of Christ?”

Talk about an “aha” moment.  What have I been missing?  What is the link?  I am a person who puts great faith in the power of prayer.  I pray often (several times a day though to see me you may not even know it).  First thing in the morning before I ever get out of bed, driving to work, at work, at my desk.  Prayer can be anywhere and anytime.  The more often we make a conscious action to move closer to God, the easier you will find it to be.  The particular passage above really caught my attention.  I began chatting to God about this and listening for answers.  I also began to question more people.

My turn to ask . . .

A very large majority of my friends were raised Roman Catholic.  Many have left the church for a variety of reasons.  I keep a short list of friends on Facebook.  Under 60 and all but two are people I know in “real life”.  One is a friend of several friends and advertises his wares (harmless), the other is a young Catholic Mom I “met” on a Christian woman’s Facebook page.  We chatted a few times and she asked if we could “be friends”.  Indeed.  She has been a real asset in my quest to learn more about my religion.  I digress.  A little off topic there but not too far.  I decided to pose the question on my Facebook wall and see who would respond.  I was truthfully very surprised at the response (more than 10 people responded, some directly on my wall, some via private message).

Serious question. Reading something this afternoon . . .and I know the answer to this in my own heart and soul – but am really interested in hearing what others think. Please feel free to inbox me your reply.

Roman Catholics are taught that the Eucharist is the very body and blood of Jesus Christ, this is something that historically dates back just a thousand years or so (transubstantiation). We are taught that the very real presence of Jesus Christ becomes present in the Eucharist at Mass. Thoughts on this?

In box is open. I am not tagging anyone but will in-box some for your thoughts. Indulge me if you will. Feel free to post your reply here also – it’s up to you. Thanks”

I greatly appreciate the response that I had.  It pushed me further in my own reflection and belief.  I know I also surprised myself with my own answers.  More on my own beliefs a bit later. . .

The response varied . . .

“yes, i believe it. although it has occurred to me often that our entire religion is based on cannibalism. Hmm”

“but I always took it symbolically & spiritual rather than actually “physical.”

“Don’t you believe this is all figurative?”

“I prefer to think of the Church’s teaching that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are everywhere all the time. Good question — thanks for putting it out there “

“One friend responded that when  a child they believed it however as an adult no longer does,”

“I do believe communion said In The Name of Jesus according to The Word is the same in any church.”

“No, I don’t believe it is really Jesus.”

“NO!  What do you mean the blood of Christ?”

“One of my in real life responses was pursed lips, raised eyebrows and a slight shake of the head to signify “no”.

 Where is the disconnect?

For just around one thousand years the Eucharist has been presented the way it is today.  There was a time in history where it was very simple, even in the Roman Catholic Church.  The breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine was stated as such and “take this in memory of me.”.  I am not going to dive into more detail on the history of this sacrament today and I will only briefly touch upon the Sacrament of Holy Orders today.  I am following along on the path set before me and there is a lot of information and a lot of facts/details on the sacraments.  It is however important to take at least a very abbreviated look at Holy Orders.

Only men baptized men can receive this sacrament.  There are a lot of details and requirements surrounding this sacrament and in truth I am not completely sure how I feel about this but that is not on the table for discussion today.  The very truth is this; When a man has met all the criteria, studies, age, and they become ordained Priests the church teaches that the “grace of the sacrament imprints an indelible character on the soul of the recipient and configures him to Christ”.   This can be more than a little confusing when one considers we are also taught that those Baptized and Confirmed also receive the sacramental character is an indelible spiritual.

Per teaching I reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church” The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental or “seal” by which the Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood and is made a member of the Church per different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible, it remains forever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore, these sacraments can never be repeated. ”  

We are taught that each marking is weighed differently.  Each “level” of Holy Orders receives a new or higher level marking.  This teaching does not go back to the simple teachings of Christ; however, it has been taught for hundreds of years, dating back to writings of Augustine of Hippo.

Once Baptized a Catholic you will by Baptism always be considered a Catholic and no other Baptism would be recognized.  Once Confirmed a Catholic, you will have always been confirmed as such and there would be no second confirmation.  Once ordained a Priest in the Catholic church that never becomes invalid, even should a Priest choose to leave for any number of personal reasons which may include a breaking away from teachings of the church or marriage.

Not fully on the table for discussion here but important to mention as this is in relation to the Eucharist which is the topic at hand.  A Priest who leaves the service of the church, either by choice or suspension, even if laicized (per  http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/about/  -simply put released from clerical duties and permissions to represent oneself as Priest).   In this case the only sacrament a man is “allowed” and required to perform would be to hear the confession of a dying person.   The instructions given to a laicized Priest is they are prohibited from exercising holy orders.

I would question or argue the point (being the apparent Cafeteria girl) that being told to not bless anyone or preach to be rather confusing because it is my understanding that all Catholics can Bless and Preach (not at Mass), and in reading about Baptism – anyone, even a non-Christian can perform a valid Baptism.  I will also note perhaps most pertinent to this article, that a laicized Priest will be told they are not to celebrate Mass can still do and it will remain valid “but” it is considered illicit as it is without the permission of ecclesiastical superiors.

Further reading tells me something that I believe to be true and that a Priest belongs to Jesus Christ/God/Holy Spirit and that is who he truly answers to.  Priests have and do leave the church, it is a difficult decision for most and how they chose to deal with or balance their life as an active Priest with that of a laicized Priest varies and is not on the table for discussion here.  I am sharing this information because I believe it to be pertinent to the discussion of the Holy Eucharist – the body & blood of Christ and why it is taught that only a Priest can prepare and consecrate the Eucharist.  That relationship with Christ does not change no matter the circumstance.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

This is one of three sacraments of initiation in the church.  The other two are Baptism and Confirmation.  Church teaching is that Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper.  This is a sacramental sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.  “In the sacrifice of the Eucharist, through the death and resurrection of Christ presents all of creation to the Father as an offering of praise and thanksgiving.  The church gives thanks to God in the Eucharist for all the blessings God has accomplished in his works of creation, redemption and sanctification.”  “of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead; the Eucharist makes present again the sacrifice of the cross in an unbloody manner.”

I would urge anyone with a sincere desire, to read and learn more detail about the Eucharist.  The quotes in the above paragraph are taken from “outlines of the Catholic Faith Teachings, Beliefs, Practices and Prayers”  https://www.leafletonline.com/outlines-of-the-catholic-faith something in truth I left gathering dust for a little too long.

Church teachings are that the Priest by ordination is acting as Christ, having received the indelible spiritual mark.  In truth, I think these words come across too simply and find myself struggling to impart the deep spiritual connection I believe the Priest has standing at the alter with our Lord God.  It is through the actions of the Priest that the bread and wine become the true body and blood of Jesus.

“This is my Body. This is my Blood. God tells us, at every Eucharist, I am real! I am here! I am no less than I have been in the past, am here today and will be in the future! This is my Body, which is broken for YOU. This is my Blood, which is shed for YOU. Do we think so little of ourselves that we cannot believe that God can and does come to us in this way?”

I have an incredibly beautiful personal relationship with God.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  I live an everyday life but my life is filled with keeping Christ close to my heart, mind and soul.  I share my love of God with people throughout the day, be it a counter server asking me for the name I would like them to put on that $1.00 donation tag (God), or sitting in my office with one of the bank Vice Presidents for small business.  In a way, I eat, sleep and breath Jesus – and I have taken no vows or promises to a religious order or diocese.

Sitting here I can say I do believe that the celebrating the Eucharist is a holy and sacred event.  Knowing the devotion, a Priest has to Jesus there is no reason really for me to not to believe that a miracle transpires before our eyes during Mass and that when we receive, that we do receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ as explained and taught by the Roman Catholic Church.

What do I think of other religions breaking bread and offering communion in the name of Jesus Christ?  I think that this is something very difficult to compare, if you really can.  It is a bit of apples and oranges.  In church’s other than Roman Catholic they break bread and drink wine “in memory of me”.  They too are honoring what is taught in the Bible at the Last Supper.  This is simple and pure teachings of Christ before his death on the cross and before the church became “the church”.

The presence of Jesus.

Now, here is where I get more than a tad bit stuck.  We Catholics are taught that receiving the body and blood of Christ brings us closer to God.  How do I reconcile this with knowing God is with me and in me every day – Mass or not?  My own background is Protestant – though converted I own every bit of that relationship that I have with God on my childhood education of Him.  My darkest days have been after I converted to the Roman Catholic religion, at times I was feelings quite lost and alone (though I know now He was always with me).  I am no more holy today than I will be tomorrow if I miss the morning mass, am I?  If Christ is already present within me?  So, this is where I get hung up.

In truth, I accept the miracle of the Eucharist.  I believe the miracle that changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

“but”

I cannot say today that I truly believe this brings me closer to God.  I also wonder at those good Catholics who live in areas where they are unable to receive communion regularly or the elderly who don’t get out or I suppose anyone in general unable to receive this sacrament physically. I am sure there are cases where this happens and there are people that are holy and living good and moral lives in the name of God who do not receive the body and blood regularly – just as there are those who receive regularly as rote behavior or who, like many mentioned above, receive but do not believe this is the body and blood of Christ.  All thoughts worthy of further examination and consideration I am sure.

Myself?  I will continue to attend Mass and celebrate the Eucharist.  I am glad I came across that short article posing these questions as it gave me pause to reflect and learn more.  I will continue my quest to further deepen my faith, and honor God.  I own my life to Him.

 

 

Being Christian is not “Merry Christmas”

I read an old article today about a fellow who was removed from a flight last year because he became so upset they felt he was a threat to remain on board.

It was not an attack on Christianity per say.  In fact the “quoted” words this fellow had for the gate agent was this“You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas,” the man retorted.Further into the short article I read:

“Well, what should I say then?” the gate agent asked.

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’” the man replied.

Once he got on the flight, the man finally lost his patience when a fellow passenger wished him the same greeting. The man reportedly went on a rampage over the use of the phrase and started lecturing the flight attendants and pilots about what was appropriate to say.”

~

The comments under this article ran the gamut from “Merry Christmas”, to words that would further provoke (with) glee!, one person wrote they felt sorry for the fellow.  A post that stopped me dead in my tracks was as quoted below:

The man being offended must be a atheist or a Muslim & being in a Christian nation is the one to hold his tongue & his reaction until he got to his non Christian home or home country. Political Correctness has been tossed! We are taking back our country & making America Great Again!!!

Wait.  What?  Oh no.  Seriously?  – and there were likes! 

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I did reply to that comment.  I didn’t expect much in response based upon her original post above, so – I was not disappointed with what followed really, as I had no expectations of wisdom.

I find myself mystified to live in a country where my fellow countrymen could have this mind-set.  At some point in my brief “conversation” with this woman she decided I must have attended some fancy liberal university :sic:.  Which both amused and saddened me.  Yes, it is possible to have those feeling simultaneously.

For those loving human beings who are being unfairly attacked my heart goes out to you.  I will stand up for you and by you because in God we are one.  We’re all one.  As I type this I have to say I am still appalled by such narrow-minded responses that this woman and others had.  Hers were by far the worst.

Reading the story above, I thought about the man.  What had his day been like?  Had he just left court after a divorce?  Lost a job?  Buried a parent?  Never been taught about God?  I tried to explain to this woman,  this man now had been given a very negative view of Christians who showed neither compassion or love to him.  I thought about Sheldon (character on the spectrum on the “Big Bang Theory”) and how he most likely would have said those very same literal words “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas,”.

happy_holidays_005
These words cover all Peoples

I shudder at the thought that anyone would read such an article and automatically verbally attack Muslim or Atheists.  I tried to explain that presenting like this built walls not bridges – and that was when she decided I attended a big university and was a liberal. 

I shudder to see the bigotry in my country.  “All one nation under God”.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to enter and warm cold hearts.

I own my faith.  I love God with all my heart and soul.  Happy Holidays is generic and works well in many circumstances.  I work to walk as a disciple of Jesus every day, I wear crosses on my neck to symbolize my belief.  I say  Merry Christmas to my Christian friends and family.  They are bonding words of love and joy.  Good Friday and Easter Sunday are my favorite Christian holidays, Gods gift to all human kind, a chance for eternal life in Him.

merry_christmas_wall_pack_by_gerguter
How I choose to live and love every day of my life is “Being Christian”

If you are a Christian, remember what being a diciple of Christ is all about.  If you are a non-Christian who has been mistreated due to your religious choice I extend my hand in friendship.  God would expect no less of me.

greatestcommandment

Compassion, Respect, Love

Daily Post Prompt: Protest

Reflections of a holiday home

I grew up in an era where life was very different than it is today.  Though I was surrounded by loving grandparents during my formative years. My parents stumbled.  In truth, I am not sure either were ever capable of the responsibility love brings, though first – one must learn who they really are and  to love themselves.  We also have to be open to letting ourselves grow and evolve as this is how God has designed us.

There were many formalities, routines and traditions that were done for the sake of being done because it “always has been this way”. Many I have passed on to my own sons, but they are in regards to common courtesy, good manners and being kind.  Holding doors open for a woman (has nothing to do with physical strength and everything to do with being a gentleman), offering your seat to a female or elderly, please and thank you.   Dressing in a modest and respectful way.

There is a problem with having too many strict formalities, routines and traditions just for the sake of it has always been.  Didn’t Jesus teach us this?  The problem with that is it may be the reality for a select few, but not how it has always been done in other homes, states, countries, religions.  These formalities, routines and traditions left little to no room for growth, learning and experiencing something new.  Truly humbling oneself to another.

I look at my life this past week.  I have learned  in life that I can make or break a holiday for myself – and those around me.  My sons grew up in a very tense, stressful home.  Walking on eggshells so as to not set their father off.  I was the same, tip toeing through life.  Following what I was told, and for too long believing what I was told too

I spent holidays alone as a child in the hospital.  Warm loving holidays with my dads parents, I cannot say I had one nice holiday when I was married.  We always had to do and be what he or his family wanted.  I also had to give gifts we could not afford, to people I did not know because they were (ex-husbands extended ) “family” who we would see once a year, if that often.  In that life those things were not a choice but a given. More than once, I was left home alone while he took the kids to his parents, more than once when I was ready to go, but to change into a holiday outfit.  Yeah.  Thankful that is my past.

This past week I chose to have a peaceful holiday filled with love, family and acceptance of what is today,  is my today.  Formalities, routines and traditions can and must evolve to fit in with the times.  With a greater understanding of humanity – life, and love it must evolve – we must evolve.

As I type this I think of a letter I have read,  my then twenty-one year old father penned to my grandparents.  In this letter he told them he was happy for their upcoming visit, and that he had recently married my mother and they were expecting.  In truth, my mother was still married to her first husband (at age 15) and wore the diamond engagement ring and wedding band from her first husband.  My father had gone off to begin life on his own as a young man, ended up in places most unexpected to him.  It would be many, many years before my grandparents learned the truth of my mothers background.  Secrets, lies.  I have kept these thoughts in my heart and use them for good when going through experiences with my own sons.  Honesty is so important.

Knowing God, means we should know and understand that we are all human.  We have been given guidelines in which to live, Christians know Jesus taught us the greatest commandment is to love the lord God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as our self.  That cannot be repeated enough.  These are the two commandments we are to live by.

Perhaps the our-self is what mucks things up so much. 

Sitting with my eldest son Thursday afternoon, after the little’s went on to visit her family, our conversation came around to people not matching his expectations.  My oldest two sons have been very judgemental of “little moma” and upset that their youngest brother is in this place.  I don’t believe we are given our gift of life to spend it pushing people down because we don’t understand where they are coming from – judging them harshly.  I know enough of the story of her life to completely understand where she is at – and where she hopes to be. 

I recently bought some maternity clothes for moma little.  The kids don’t have the money and her pants were too tight even rolled down at the waist.  She couldn’t understand buying maternity clothes because she needs “regular” clothes.  I explained this to my eldest.  He looked flabbergasted and said “ohhh so I get this now, we never (his friends and him?) should have commented on pregnant women with their clothes not fitting, it’s a financial thing”.

 I have always made sure my sons had good clothes to wear, even when he went away to college in the big city.  He didn’t realize I stopped swimming because I am saving for hernia surgery, he assumed I gave up on myself. We make assumptions of people based on face value and this is wrong.  I really like that visual of the iceberg, the tiny bit we see above water – and that mass of ice below.  There is depth to each and everyone of us that is not to be seen on face value, but through time and knowledge of each other.

My son looked at me and said you are so authentically yourself.  You know yourself.  Yes, I do.  It has taken me years to know myself, love myself – and be open to learning and growing. I think in part a conversation we had early this week was revealing of this to him.  I shared something and he thought (for some reason) that he was wiser and knew more about my feelings than I did.  When I told him exactly what my feelings were – he was floored.  He was absolutely fine with what I had to say but didn’t realize I had the self awareness.

As we go about our lives, work experience, social lives, family functions it is important we gift ourselves with the realization that each person, and each situation as depth to it that we may not understand.  One day we may, or it maybe that chapter is not in our own book but pages to flip through and allow it’s own space in theirs. 

Personal relationships, who has kids, when where.  Decision not to have kids.  Single, married, divorced.  White, Black or Asian.  Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist.  These parts of us make us who we are.  Our God gifts us with life, intelligence and so many options in life.  He allows the fallen to rise, His arms are open and accepting of all who sincerely seek Him.  We become what we seek.  I seek my loving Father, I seek Love, I must love to become love and receive love.

Do you take the time to have these conversations with friends  & family?  Your adult children (who may have been way too long)?

Final thought ~

Life is not about finding oneself, rather it is to discover who God wants us to be.

PS ~ Tradition:  While rushing to finish setting our Thanksgiving table, I could not find my Nana’s dish that I had washed and used every holiday.  Rather than allow that initial stress to turn into a frantic search, I opened the cupboard, pulled out the bottom of a plastic set and used that for the cranberry sauce.  My love for my Nana is in my heart, she would smile if she knew I had washed her dish to use, and rather than getting upset and letting that tension roll over to the kids, I used a simply plastic reusable container (re-purposed).  Things are things… don’t allow them to mean more than the people in our lives

Simply Sunday ~ Revelation Song

Today, I am choosing the Revelation song featuring Kari Jobe as my Simply Sunday Contemporary Music choice. Christians  today celebrate  “The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe”

The words and presentation are beautiful.  This is called Christian Praise Music for a reason The stadium full of Christians gathering to worship Our Loving God is amazing and truly does bring tears to my eyes.  We are a blessed people. 

Who did you share Jesus with today? 

Blessings ~

Chris Tomlin – Revelation Song (Live) ft. Kari Jobe
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be
To You the only one who’s King

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Oh, You’re worthy, mystery
You are worthy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You

~
Written by Jennie Lee Riddle
Published on Mar 25, 2016

Official Live video for “Revelation Song” by Chris Tomlin (feat. Kari Jobe)
Available now on the Deluxe Edition of ‘Burning Lights’: http://smarturl.it/BurningLightsDelux…
Get “Good Good Father,” the new single from Chris Tomlin here: http://smarturl.it/CTGoodGoodFather?I…

Every day ~ ‘Tis the season

One of the short readings this morning serves as a good reminder for those of us identifying as and proclaiming to be Christians.

*Note: I would urge a reader read the preceding verses in this chapter – the Promises of our Father. I had a short write up on this in the past and seem to have misplaced it. I will revisit and write on that sometime in the near future. 

2 Peter 1:10-11

“Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.”

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What I see St. Peter is saying to us is very simple.  Christians have been called to this faith.  Though many may be born into a Christian household, many others learn of this way of life through a continued call to discipleship (spreading the good news).  This is not done by bible-thumping per say.  This is done through our actions, our choices we make in living life.

Saint Peter is reminding us – if we proclaim to be a disciple of Christ, we are called to continue to grow our own faith and keep God active in our daily lives.

Keep Christ in Christmas is one way several groups of Christians have stepped forward.  You’ll see bumper stickers (I do have such a magnet for the back of my car).  Butthat’s the short of it. 

Every day we can (and should) celebrate our God.  Recognize the gifts he has blessed us with each and every day.  This is what St. Peter is saying.  Don’t take God for granted, don’t take our loves for granted.  Appreciate these relationships, friendships, loves – this is where we find God.

Be kind, caring – have compassion and act with compassion.  If you love, show your love in any way you possibly can.  Life is not easy but it is easier when we remember to act as Jesus would.  As our Father wants us to.   

I know what I say is easy to write and not always easy to do.  The heart behind these words has had many experiences in life and love.  If it were not for God being constant in my life I don’t think I would be here writing today.  I have had many come and go in my life and God has never abandoned me.  I also know it is the actions behind our words that matter most.  Empty words, that old gong I refer to, or the choice to open our hearts and souls fully to the call of our God and what I have learned to be a true gift. To be vulnerable and open our hearts and souls to another.  That glimpse, that gaze, that love. 

2 Peter 1:10-11  “Brothers, you have been called and chosen: work all the harder to justify it. If you do all these things there is no danger that you will ever fall away. In this way you will be granted admittance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and saviour

~ Oh, and –  ‘Tis the season, remember those struggling through the holidays, financial hardships, physical concerns, feelings of loneliness.  What can you do to make the life of someone else better?  What will you do?  Remember to extend these kindnesses to those our own home, family and friendships.  … all year through.

Blessings ~

“You have turned it into a robbers’ den!”

As Christians, we are called to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Noon reading 2 Corinthians 13:4

“He was crucified through weakness, but still he lives now through the power of God. So then, we are weak, as he was, but we shall live with him, through the power of God, for your benefit.”

Through the weakness of man, He was crucified, died and buried.  By the Power of our loving Father – He was raised from the dead as a means to save through bringing us to His Father.

Sometimes people confuse this verse to mean Jesus died due to His human weakness, but this refers to the choice of others not to accept His teachings.  His teachings in the Gospel are really radical, full of love and compassion for others.

The Law that Jesus teaches us to follow are these:

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He followed the Ten Commandments and we are expected to.  He also taught through beatitudes11.jpg

Over the centuries many other teachings, rules and laws have been put in place by people both within and outside of religions.  These are the Christian teachings – of Jesus Christ.  My heart was warmed this past Monday morning, I attended Mass.  An elderly Priest was there to serve Mass.  He spoke of God and faith, religion – and – made up laws.  Truly, I could see and hear a  change and know the Holy Spirit must have touched him deeply. In the past he towed a very hard, harsh line.

~

There are times I picture Him  (Jesus) in our churches (note the plural tense – not in relation to any “one denomination”) Raising His voice, turning over table and saying “not in my Fathers house!”.   I can see why others have moved on to do their good works for our Father.

Gospel St. Luke 19:45-48    (Today’s Gospel Reading)

“Jesus went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling. ‘According to scripture,’ he said ‘my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’

 He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they did not see how they could carry this out because the people as a whole hung on his words.”

Indeed.  A robbers’ den.  Thing is – when most people read this they are thinking this reading is all about money.  Of coarse in part it is.  However, let’s be real here – what do you really think Jesus is talking about? 

What I see is a man (God the Son) filled to the brim fed up,  watching those in power, steal and destroy human beings at their core. 

We know that God chose His only Begotten son, Jesus to teach the err of our ways, instruct us how to live – loving lives.  To bring us to our Father who has gifted us with so much.  While there is some financial greed in churches, inflated ego –  the real theft is of person.  

Destroying the Divine Love (light within) in humans that only God can give!!!

When one considers we are all born in His image;

Genesis 1:27 “27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 

Psalm 139:13-14″For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

How many times have people been ostracized for not fitting the mold of man made laws and rules?  Millions of times?  Billions? 

Of course we need some type of structure to our lives and the very word organization – means organize.  That does not mean we should be stepping on – and removing, human rights from individuals as a people, religion – or denomination. 

If we are brutally honest, we will see the err of ways. See and accept the simple teachings of Jesus Christ, and, bring others to God the Father. 

With love, kindness and the help of the Holy Spirit, may we all consider these words and make what  choices or changes can be made to correct the lack of real, true love that has been tossed aside – and not embraced by all who claim to love and follow His teachings. 

May there be an awakening of those in power, through the Holy Spirit, love of Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.

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Consider too – God is not in a box.  His works are outside of a bubble, and found living in the world.  Just as Jesus taught in the temple, lived life and did the majority of His work in living life.  That’s how people find Jesus. That’s how people find God.

 

Those that don’t know God – won’t enter a church.  We are called to bring God to people , and to him throughout our lives.  Make sense?

 

Thoughts worth contemplating.

 

Blessings ~

 

“Whoever humbles himself like this child”

Matthew, chapter 18
St. Matthew 18:1-5

The Greatest in the Kingdom. At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

This is a favorite reading of mine.  One that is often quoted and often times the complex beauty I find in this statement is overlooked.  With the impending birth of my first grandchild I find myself reminiscing over those early and young days of the lives of my sons.  The other day youngest was over helping me by moving somethings in my bedroom/walk-in closet.  We came across a framed photo of my dad as a little boy and reflected upon their similar features.  I take after my dad, my oldest and youngest sons take after both of us.  Little boys.

 

Knowing our creator has provided a portion of His Kingdom on earth, which believers are part of.  Believers are also called to build the Kingdom, right here on earth. In this, we are to celebrate life as God given, along with the many additional gifts that have been and are given to us throughout our lifetime – here.

Here we beginning to celebrate that, which  is but a glimpse of what we are told heaven is like.  Considering this, the pages of the bible that are written with Jesus explaining

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

The first thing a teacher may suggest is that we are simply to submit to His will trusting in Him.  I believe that is true – but – Jesus is also challenging us here to see and participate in the beauty of life and all that it offers to us through the innocence of a child’s eyes, touch, taste, ear, sound – heart & soul.

 

The first moments of life outside of the presumed safety of a mothers womb. Snuggled safely in her arms, in the hours shortly after birth.  Babies this young cannot focus, see.  They know us by voice, scent, warmth.  A small baby perhaps smelling a flower for the first time.  Exploring the wonders of the Kingdom, safely with a parent.  Protected, safe.  As we are in Him.

 

 Experiences the senses, safely protected.  First time in the pool?  With an adoring dad or maybe uncle.  The texture of the shag carpeting beneath the body of a little one just learning to sit up – exploring touch and the magic of sound, the music they can make.  I can almost hear the babbling/singing joy.  An infant in a baby swing – big brother learning to care for little one and sharing fun – learning to push the swing, bonding time with family.  Giggles in a big round swing, or big brother having fun crawling through the big metal tube at the park – having a little race?  Learning, sharing, touch, sound, movement, scent. . . love.

First experience of independence?  Toddling ahead, exploring their land legs, the crunching sound of leaves beneath, chill of the autumn air.  Examining the world “upside down” – what a view!  Learning you can blow bubbles!  The joy of watching that shinny blob grow…float away “pop”!  “Flowers for you mom” I remember those days and floating petals with no stems .  The crunching of snow underfoot, footprints, snow angels? Potters Clay Wet sand, or hard stones on a rocky beach.  Salt air, the sound of seagulls overhead, the sound of the waves coming in – and excitement for tide going out – sandbars to play on!  Catching tadpoles in a pond!  The beauty of life.

 

Piggy back ride Papa?  Giggling happily. Early friendships.  First Kiss.

When we are able to sit back and fully embrace these awesomely beautiful moments in life we are participating in the Kingdom of God – right here, on earth.

When is the last time you allowed yourself to embrace your own life, through the eyes of an innocent child?  Note, scripture does not tell us to be adult, but to live with the humbleness of a child, embracing His gifts.

  5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

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~

When I began writing during my lunch break this afternoon, I did so with the intention of writing something that included the prompt word of the day.  The more I reflected upon the verse chosen, the photographs, experiences and thought of future experiences – the further I have moved from that single word prompt.  I’m no longer going to use it – in this article anyway.  I find deeper thoughts and feelings as I write and hope to share, offer glimpse at experiences we often overlook – or, take for granted.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

As we “grow up”, grow older, we often tend to loose our sense of innocence, childlike wonder.  I think the humility that Jesus is talking about is not simply to say “You are my Father, I trust you”.  I think we are supposed to stretch ourselves, perhaps out of our self imposed comfort zones – to really embrace life and to live again.  True happiness and love are not found in tangible items, they are found within our relationships.  It would I believe, be impossible to really write a full list of the wonderful gifts our Father has given us, this request for our true humility offers to enrich our lives and those in our lives all the more. 

Last night, teaching my ninth grade confirmation class I asked my usual questions.  I had new students in my class and when I asked “Who is God?” a hand shot right up, I called on my student and he replied “The Creator of All”.  Out of the mouth of babes.  While we know and acknowledge this truth,  how often do we sit back and really contemplate the vast beauty he has bestowed upon us? How often do we consider – or – admit, we are not fully turning ourselves over to God?  He asks us to be open and remain open. 

Selecting the photo’s I have chosen to use today, writing this piece. . . I can remember my new born babies the wonder of the older brother(s) as each sibling arrived.  I look forward to the birth of our little one, a baby boy.  I remember little fists clutched with crushed flowers, mud pies and a ring around the bathtub after washing up one toddler (who then was rinsed in the clean water of a shower!).  Yes, messy little boys who loved to play outside and embraced the world God created for us. 

He challenges me.  He challenges us. 

~ Go back to the top and look at each and every photo again.  What do you see?  What do you feel?  What do you want to experience?

~ Blessings

“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them”

I learned when I married, that religion was going to be a big issue in my life, though I had no inkling I would end up divorced and where I am today.  I was raised in various Protestant denominations, attended Roman Catholic with friends, (one more often – who has at this point left the church for Lutheran).  I have written a bit about this in the past, at some point I will probably re-post something I wrote when I first set up my blog “Who am I?”, which was an extension of my “About me” and religion. 

A really short version here is this;  I was raised Protestant and converted to the Roman Catholic faith in order to be able to bring my children up as Christians.  It was the only way my exh who did not attend church (and swore literally that we never would attend a Catholic church after he spoke with a priest prior to our marriage (justice of the peace).  – So, I have a little background on the difficulties and choices we make in order to raise our children to be children of God.

Something I believe I shared last winter was that Little Miss has a two-year old son who is currently being raised by his paternal grandparents.  His father lives in their upstairs apartment.  The details of her life other than, won’t be shared here.  She has had a very difficult life and has come a long way in just the past few months, from when she first entered our lives.  I don’t think she ever really had anyone to love or guide her.  I find her eager to please, fun to be around and a really good person.  When I became involved, aside from wanting to help her, I wanted to help her reunify with her son who she had not seen in several months.  Somewhere along the way she and son became…involved in ways that should have waited.  Now, we have baby little on the way.

Saturday mornings, and any other vacation or holiday I have off work have become our “date” time.  I pick her up, drive to another city to the clinic for Methadone (she became addicted to heroin  sometime after the birth of her first son).  We often go to breakfast before or after and sometimes we go shopping.  I have been waiting for a small Catholic gift  & book store to reopen.  I really like to support the woman who has made her shop her life’s passion.  After the clinic this past Saturday, we drove to the shop and though it was not “quite” open… (awaiting CO) the front door was open so in we went.  I could buy everything in the shop :chuckles:  Really.  Seems my little miss is the same way.   The baby’s room theme is “Noah’s Ark” (seems like many things in my life bring that portion of the bible up :) ).  We picked out a Noah’s Ark nightlight, two inexpensive bracelets for the little parents (leather with cross for son, yellow braided with tiny crosses for moma – as she picked hers out and made sure I’d get one for son too ♥).

20161113_171536Psalm 139 is very near and dear to my heart.  It is my favorite.  “I am wonderfully made” with the little lion was my choice.  Little Miss chose the Noah’s Ark themed cross “God keeps His promised”.

I also bought two crib medals, one for the crib at my home and one for their home.  I have told the kids to bring theirs to the hospital to put in the isolate when baby little is born.

While moma little and I were looking at everything and making a decision on what cross to get for babies wall (my choice will be on the wall, little moma’s on his dresser – her choice).  I told her as he gets older we can pick out a different crucifix for his room and she liked that.  We looked at a couple of other things that I’ll pick up later on.

Here is where things get sticky – and upsetting – for me. 

Though both raised Roman Catholic my little’s are not attending a Catholic Church. 

Moma Little’s toddler is not attending church.  He was not Baptized.  His current guardian (a Practicing Roman Catholic – my understanding) has forbidden young lady to talk to her son about God, Jesus.

Right.  I can imagine what you are thinking.

Many months ago I had bought some Catholic/Christian toddler books and Little Moma brought them to her son on visitation (she now has visits twice a week, for two hours each time – so she is moving in the right direction.  He also adores my son, who visits once in a while – and son adores him).

On Saturday, I told her we’d come back after the baby was born so we could order one of the frames that you add footprints, a photo and birth info to.  I also told her we could pick somethings out for her older son when we came back for Christmas.  This is when she told me she’s been forbidden to talk about God.  I asked her about the books and she said she hasn’t seen them anywhere since the day she brought them there.

The other part of this story is this;  Young lady didn’t want to have the baby Baptized when he was born.  In truth, she was not doing well in her life at the time and wasn’t emotionally or mentally able to deal with any responsibility at that time.  She also thought it would be best to wait and let him make his own decision.  Apparently the grandma bought a Christening outfit and wanted to throw a party and Little Moma and the babies dad said “no”.  Now, the grandma is still licking her wounds – and keeping the little one from Jesus.

My sons were brought up Roman Catholic.  I taught CCD when they were little – even bringing my youngest, a toddler in tow because I had no babysitter.  I worked at summer Bible Camp – and introduced the Catholic Cub Scout awards to my parish.  My oldest and youngest were both alter servers.  The older two – confirmed.  Unfortunately by the orders of their father, not by their choice as it should have been presented.  Neither attend church currently.  Youngest son was not confirmed.  His first session for confirmation class was “why be Catholic” and the DRE, at the time also his teacher – couldn’t tell him why (epic fail on her part).  I spoke to her and she promised to have the Pastor speak to him – and never did.  Around the same time our family split and my ex husband (the reason my family is Roman Catholic…) refused to bring the boys to Mass or CCD on “his time”.

Son still worked at church Bingo taking it over from his older bother, until he was old enough to get a real job (all three boys worked in high school).  He had a two-year relationship with a Protestant young lady (they were “pre-engaged” … due to young age) she had a promise ring.  She had no desire to attend Mass so he attended her family church here and in Florida, and an Evangelical church nearby.

When son and little miss began hanging out, they began attending mass out of town (her family reasons).  Then they began attending the Evangelical church where they felt more comfortable.  They asked the grandmother/guardian of her toddlers if they could bring him and the babies dad (the dad supposedly was willing) to go to the Evangelical Church and the grandmother refused.

A good Catholic? ? ?   A bad Christian.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

The emotional games of tug and war that are played out by adults!!!  Keeping a child from Jesus!  I don’t understand how  this could be – but it is.

What I do know is this.  One day two little brothers will be playing together, hopefully living in the same home with their mom who is trying hard to move forward in her life (though admittedly – she needs a lot of encouragement, support and love herself).  She is capable.  Those little boys will be able to go to church, read stories about Jesus and play with Noni’s age appropriate nativity at Christmas.  One day – because I am sure God is watching.

Meanwhile, toddler brother is in my prayers along with baby little.  When the kids came to dinner tonight I told my son (talked to little miss about this Saturday also), that I am going to buy big brother / little brother shirts because – they are brothers.  He “knows” there is a baby in mommy’s tummy.  The hard part is going to be when she visits, when she brings baby and leaves with baby  – and not toddler child.  I could see this on her face when we were talking the other day.  She didn’t say it, but she felt it.

Please, if you have children, grand children  – any children in your life and you proclaim yourself to be a person of faith – do not withhold God from a child as a means to punish a parent.  Even children that are not “family”, if you have a Saturday night sleepover ask the parents if they mind if  their son or daughter attend church with you.  I can’t tell you how many times I attended mass as a child with friends (other churches too).  I can’t tell you how many little boys attended mass with my sons and me.  I never had someone say “no thank you” and – I never had anyone keep their child home the next Saturday invite either.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Closed minds are not Godly

With news of the election results here in the United States a division can be seen among Americans in a way I have not seen before. While there has been division before, this seems larger than that.

I see ignorance and taunting.  Educated human beings, lacking the emotional capacity to truly empathize, and love others as Jesus Christ would do. Even among my own religion I see this, having just read a letter from a local religious leader, there is continuation of an inability to grasp the intellectual and emotional growth outside of their walls, not by all but by those in power.

In all cases I am seeing a tendency  for some overblown egos … who don’t even realize that they have one.

People in powerful positions who fail to have the knowledge, experience and ability to truly empathize with other human beings is a misuse of power.  When one closes off their mind, heart – and soul they are unable to truly lead anyone in a positive manner.

With all of the gifts we have been given in Trinity there is so much abundance.  There is room for everyone in the United States ,and there is room for everyone in the Kingdom of God, both here in our physical life, and after our passing from this life.

It frightens me honestly to seen this inability in leaders because situations are going to implode upon them and they don’t see it coming.  We can’t build a fence along the entire southern border of the US.  We cannot fill up buses or planes and just send people who have established lives “away”.  I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, muslim, jew, christian, or buddhist, I love youwe’re all in this life together

A unity could be seen, in some area’s still in infancy, some on toddler or preteen stages.  We cannot allow this growth to regress.

We need to pray for all of our leaders.  Government and Religious who are removed from real life experience, they cannot see the forest through the trees.  Sadder yet, is to see them make jokes of God’s gifts and too often I hear that gong banging…

A portion of today’s readings from the Divine Office;

Mid-morning reading:
Romans 12:17,19-20,21
Never repay evil with evil. As scripture says: Vengeance is mine – I will pay them back, says the Lord. But there is more: If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, and if he is thirsty, let him drink. Resist evil and conquer it with good.

Noon reading:
1 John 3:16
This has taught us love – that he gave up his life for us; and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.

Afternoon reading:
1 John 4:9-11
God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

~I’m going to share a little story of my life.  Some of you who know me, or those of you who have read my blog from the beginning,  have heard part of this.  I was born without hip sockets in 1962.  Medical technology wasn’t the same then as it is now, combine that with having parents who were not well-educated and lived a bit of a gypsy lifestyle – I was almost four years old before I was diagnosed and what I refer to as guinea-pig surgery became part of my life. 

One time I was in the hospital for over 7 months straight, sent home only because the measles were going around the hospital and had not yet hit my ward.  The surgeries failed and in truth ended up causing me a lot more problems (and pain) than I had prior to.  Good intentions though and what they learned with me enabled them to help other kids.  I do find solace in that . 

Now, I am going to skip past years and many details of my life, I’ll add in the short sentence:  I was married for 20 years to a man who was physically, emotionally and spiritually abusive.  It was a lonely sad life, during which I did undergo three surgeries in which I had hip sockets constructed (and I “grew” 4″ taller! – in my 30’s).  I wouldn’t wish any of these experiences on anyone.

The first reading above, never repay evil with evil is what brings this part of my life to my writing this evening.  Several months ago my former husband  was in a very bad motorcycle accident.  His pelvis was crushed (he lost a testicle, almost both…).  Very traumatic, painful.  I still remember the phone call from my son and how I felt.  My very first thoughts were to God to protect and save him.  That surprises people who don’t know me, those that know me were not surprised.  What did surprise me is in recent weeks all three of our sons have commented on how they had felt it was deserved and now he knows what I have endured my lifetime.  He apparently walks with a bit of a limp, is having a difficult time maneuvering which makes his work difficult – and he is in pain. 

While it is good my sons felt able to confide their feelings to me, it made me sad that they would consider retribution of this sort being just, because that is not what God teaches us.  So, I had some good discussions with the boys  (separately).

The next two verses tell us of God’s love for us and His desire for us to truly love one another.  I try to live this in my every day life and I pray to grow in this. 

I have to consider what I have said about people in powerful places, leaders above and pray for them – and I will add as a survivor of domestic violence this very real truth;

There are things in life we learn as we grow.  Some of these truths are realizations of those powerful folks using methods of emotional, physical and spiritual – abuse.  These things may be laying below the surface and not visible, but, to the persons being abused.  Our loving Father does not look lightly upon anything that hurts his children.  We are committed to Him directly not the government of a country, employer or religious institution.   I have read judgemental comments stating recently, in reference I believe to things I have spoken of – things like “not wanting that on my conscience”. 

I’ll take that and raise you one

I would not be able to live with myself, seeing truths, not to voice them, at times in very painstaking ways because I fear the hurt it may cause . . . not because of “my conscience” – but because I answer to my Triune God.  The Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit. 

~Blessings & Prayers for all of the courageous people who work hard to have an open mind and accepting heart.   f-john8_-31-32

Spiritual Seeds

Recent readings from a morning  Mass are good reading and for me show interesting aspects of Spiritual growth.  Spirituality can mean different things to different people.  For myself, this is my relationship with our Triune God. 

The three readings are helpful for me show interesting aspects of Spiritual growth.  Spirituality can mean different things to different people.  For myself, this is my relationship with God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.1

The first reading this morning was from the book of Jeremiah which I am not going to quote in the entirety, realizing this was written at a time when the nations were at war. Here we have another reminder in the Bible that God created each and every one of us and he did so with a purpose in mind Jeremiah is told his purpose is to be a prophet to the nations, to tear down – and build up.  This I am going to look at in the spiritual sense.

 

As we go through life in order to grow spiritually strong, we will go through many challenges.  If we look at events as challenges – not obstacles in our growth, they become more of an ally – a friend, than a fear or foe.  dYes, it’s putting the positive spin on situations, finding whatever good we can in them in order to push through and out the other side to be able to grow in our spiritual strength.  When we are spiritually strong, we are better able to serve God and others.  Far easier to type or read than it is to go through, it is hard work at times.  As we grow through life experiences there is a tearing away of who we were and a then the building or planting of the new, wiser, stronger self – who is able to offer more to others, which is pleasing to God. 

 

The next reading at Mass are excerpts from Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15 and 17

 

Here praise is given to our Lord for all that He is and has done for us, from the moment of conception. 3

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.

 

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.

 

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

 

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

                                                   I will sing of your salvation.

 

A very important aspect of a prayerful life is to remember to honor and share our gratitude with God for all He is and all He has given.  5This too is a way of growing spiritually, as we sit before our Lord – to put Him first, before our cares and worries (which He already knows about).  Just like seeing a friend “Hello, how are you?  So good to spend time with you, thank you dear God, thank you for . . .”  God before self.

 

 

 

Lastly, the third reading, the Gospel of St. Mathew 13:1-9

 

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In this story Jesus explains very clearly how we may begin our faith journey with the intention of following Him to God.  Some start off on a path, trampled into hard ground by those walking to and for.  The ground has not been worked or fertilized, the seeds fall and roll – a bird comes by and finds some dinner.  The seed never taking hold.6

Next, we have some seeds that fall on rocky soil.  They take root but there are not many plants hardy enough to survive in the shallow soil, where rocks block the ability for roots to take a deep hold.  With strong sunlight, the leaves burn and the plants die – having no roots deep in the soil to provide moisture for sustenance and growth.

 Walking off the beaten path, we lose some seeds from our pocket – they fall among weeds and having so many so close together they choke out the little seedlings trying to grow, offering little crop.

Lastly, we plant our seeds in loose, fertile soil – full of nutrients, few stones or pebbles to block the way of the roots ability to grow deep allowing the plants themselves to flourish and produce a large number of strong plants.

In our humanness, there will be those that start off in their faith journey like our first seeds, snatched away by the birds.  We have people that struggle to grow among the rocks in their surroundings, not able or ready to move on to more fertile land, some survive their journey but are not able to grow strong roots. 

Those folks who are surrounded by the weeds, or perhaps more easily explained as others who do not believe, will may be smothered by the sinfulness around them and here we will find few able to flourish and grow to a great depth. 

The final planting is in fertile ground, people who are nurtured and cared for who will be able to grow and continue to grow their roots of faith and spirituality deep in the love of God.

I heard an interesting scenario, which can serve as a good reminder.  If care isn’t taken the good soil may wash away to less fertile ground, or a rocky path.  I found this interesting for a couple of reasons.  First – it is a great reminder to stay focused on God in our faith journey.  The example given interested me because it mentioned change in person’s demeanor that could lead: sic: to less fertile ground.  This is true, however one must also carefully consider the full context of a given scenario.  What is really a danger to the soil or – a new fertilizer that will enable the plants to grow and flourish, care must be given in that consideration.  Also, those birds may have dropped some of those seeds from that first part of our story, on fertile ground where in time they took root and grew to be strong and solid.  This too happens with humans.

Serious care must be given to all of God’s children – embrace the final words of Jesus in this story “Whoever has ears ought to hear”.  Just as we must take care to remain in fertile ground, stay close to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – any one of us, may begin our lives in a thorny patch of weeds –  and find ourselves transplanted with life changes to strong and fertile soil with our roots growing to a great depth with God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.

 

Choice, Chance, Change & God

I was talking with a friend recently.  We found ourselves thinking about our lives, the paths we chose,  the knowledge that we have been graced with the ability and options to make choices and decisions to travel different roads.

We are all gifted with the ability to make choices in our lives.  Often, we put a lot of time and thought into decisions that are going to affect not only ourselves but other people.  While we have to look at how it will affect others, the truth is we have to discern what is really best for ourselves because God is within.  I add caution to say not best for ourselves in a selfish way, rather – in a true honest and loving way.  Too often people put their unhappiness on God, but God is such an awesome loving being – all we have is from His abundant love.

Earlier today I read this reading from today’s DO.

Mid-morning reading   1 John 4:16

“We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

I have read through this a few times today, each time my eyes read this a little differently from the way it is written.  What I read is more like this;We know and trust God loves us.  He is love.  He loves us.  We know He knows us intimately, inside and out.  Our thoughts, desires and our human needs.  Our needs to be truly cared for and truly loved.  Our need to have and participate in loving relationships.  He created us this way, this is why it is written all throughout the bible that he created pairs of humans and pairs of animals to live and share life with.  This is natural, this is His gift to us.
Needs are not to be confused with. . .

Noon reading  Galatians 6:7-8

“What a man sows, he reaps. If he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life.”

. . . Needs are not to be confused with self-indulgence.  There are times, particularly within strict religious teachings that teachers will confuse the two and suggest that the true gift of desire that God gifts us with is not a true gift but something self-indulgent.  It is not the same at all. 

True Godly desire of caring, loving, intimate relationships is pure and both self emptying and filling back up by those we love.  Like that power exchange we hear about and that I wrote a bit about in my article on marriage.  Our weakness may be found in our love and our strength may be found in the same love – we exchange.

Self-indulgence is when one acts upon a whim with no consideration of others, their needs, it’s not give and take – it becomes “take”.

When we sow our seeds, plant ourselves firmly in Spirit we are reaching God, we walk toward light and goodness with one another.  That caring, loving intimate relationship with another will find eternal love with our creator, our Lord.

Afternoon reading  (Galatians 6:9-10)

“We must never get tired of doing good, and then we shall get our harvest at the proper time. While we have the chance, we must do good to all, and especially to our brothers in the faith.”

What happens when we live our lives bringing good into the lives of those around us?  Good flows back to us.  Gods design – not?  I am not thrilled with the words “especially to our brothers and sisters in faith” because that doesn’t sound Christlike – it sounds Paulish but after all St. Paul was human so I suppose I have to overlook that.  You understand what I mean though – no?  We should always work to do good, not matter who it is for, as we are on this earth are all children of God.  No one better than the next.

 

When we look at our lives at the beginning as young people our eyes are big and we are excited and so very sure our lives will play out in a certain way.  Our parents will be proud of us and God – our Father will be proud of our choices and decisions.  As a mom looking at my sons right now (22 – 28) I realize an innocence they had (as did all of us I suppose).  I also realize looking at my 22 year old who is taking on the responsibility of being a dad (etc.) that he is at the very beginning of a journey.

 

tworoads

While he thinks he sees all that may lay ahead, I know as an older experienced and wiser person that he is in for a heck of a ride.   He has had options thus far and has chosen the path that is right for him right now.  A path I hope will work out well and be the correct one for all concerned.

The truth is there are going to be times that he feels like he is traveling that road alone but for God and – he will be. path-pic Wet, muddy, fog down the road.  Not quite clear on choices.

 

 

Among our choices we really do have more than one path that can take.  The easiest is two-paths-same-destinationusually to remain in the place in which we are most familiar, with  very little chance of change to our lives or growth.  

Sometimes we may make a choice to change our path, merge with change and others on a different path.

 

When we consider and embrace we have the choice, to take a chance to make change in our lives it can be a really scary realization.  When I left my marriage after twenty years, 754fc4071c3255a51244d0cdeb0b371aI made a choice to take a chance to change my life and the lives of those in my life and – I did.  What a growth experience this has been!!!  I realize now how courageous I really am.

d166c6ba2fc430cc9da00131adf9436bPlaces He may want you to be. 

Discern what you want.  Discern what the God you know are or are really beginning to see in a new light may want.  They say there is more than one way to skin a cat – and there is more than one way to arrive at the same destination. 

When we consider changing our lives, we look at those closest to us, and those whose lives we touch but not in the same intimate way.  Remember God created us to be loving human beings with … needs and desires to be with others in caring, loving relationships

Jesus calls us to be disciples.  We can do both within our homes and without and we can very definitely share God, teach, evangelize and most likely reach people in deeper ways when we are able to have true friendships and relationships with them.  Let the walls down.

I have Miss Little in my midst.  How many ways has my faith touched her life?  How many ways will it touch Baby Little?  How many people will God reach throughout them over their own lifetimes.  It is less about the masses of humans and more about the individuals that we touch and reach in life.  Consider the parable of Jesus sending the disciples out into the world.  We will reach who He intends us to and how that works in His plan is His knowing.

34886d5ae6bf24027dcaad738d325b79Always turn to our Father.

Remain open, listen and He will make paths straight.  Change can be scary no matter what it is.  Staying in the same spot can be scarier. 

Jesus Christ did not teach planting seeds and growth for amusement.  It is fully the intention of our Father that we grow in faith – and in truly living life.  No matter what  a choice is He loves us and we are loved by others.  Real love allows our loves to be free to make choices, support them – but we can still say, hey – I am here too.

My choice of allowing Miss Little into our lives and hearts is to become a Nona (with not a drop of Italian blood I must admit) in just a matter of a few weeks.  I’ll be holding a little tiny baby boy – something I have barely ever honestly considered.  Even with all of the shopping and planning and – even making an appointment for the kids to meet with (my sons) Pediatrician in two weeks.  A nona.  Noni.  Hmmm.

What change will your choice bring into your life?  The lives of others?  So many options, so many doorways to step through.  With love, support of others who have walked in your path is there – as is support from a love no matter what.

~Blessings

Sanctuary

I remember watching movies as a youngster and hearing the word “sanctuary” used when people were seeking refuge – safety.  I wonder as I write this if that was not part of my love of entering a church.  My safe place.  Gods house.

I have to admit I was disturbed to learn recently that our church now provides live viewing of mass via a personal log in on your home computer.  Why does this bother me?  For one thing, our archdioceses offered televised mass that is recorded at a studio.  People know the camera is on them and they are being filmed.  Not so where I attend Mass, unless people visit the website.

For myself, my relationship with God is very intimate.  When I enter my church it is one of my free / safe zones with my Lord.  Suddenly my Sanctuary, my place of peace, quiet – sitting there alone with God – is no longer alone.  You see,  I realize if they are filming us at Mass, they most likely are also using the camera as a part of a security system so those times I have stopped in for some private moments with my Lord – have most likely been watched.

I realize, this is not only my church – perhaps all of them now.  We are no longer alone with God.  A church is no longer a true Sanctuary where you can feel alone in Him.  Praying quietly, tears flowing or laughter with a friend before Mass . . . Big brother is now watching.

I suppose we should not be surprised, shocked or bothered – but I am.  My relationship with God the most precious relationship I can have.  For myself, I know without that relationship there is no me and there can be no other relationships.  

Somehow . . . this seems to taint the beauty, simplicity and openness of our faith journeys. 

Who wants to be viewed or taped while having private moments with our Father?  How often over the years have I heard – no photo’s please?

I think of how many times over the years I have knelt in prayer before the cross feeling free to pray and talk to my Father, on some occasions tears have flowed freely.

No more.  A sacred place that I grew up believing offered sanctuary, has been taken away.  Stolen by technology. 

I am thankful I have grown past the time in my life where I felt I had to kneel before the cross to pray to find God, in the way that I now know Him.  I will still attend Mass. Church is part of my life.

~  Thankfully, we learn with Jesus that our Father is – outside of a church ♥  as he wandered freely to worship and commune with Him, so shall I.

Note to clarify my last paragraph.  Jesus wandered in nature, wilderness, mountaintops and the sea to commune with God.  I have always known God was with me, but in more recent times I find Him differently.  There was a day when  I felt I had to be in a church to have that close contemplative relationship with Him.  I have now found Him – everywhere.

Simply Sunday ~ Holy Spirit

As the wind gusts sweep leaves off the trees outside of my window, the sunshine is warm and welcoming. 

Holy Spirit is one of my favorite songs. Spirit, sent to us by God at the request of Jesus.  Remember He is always with us. 

I am off to pick up my elder lady for an earlier mass.  I have made some changes in my schedule ,and know I am making the right choices.  So  – off to Mass, brunch and ~ life.

I hope you all have a peaceful ~ Simply Sunday.  If you’re just stopping in for today – have a great week!  It will be another weekend before we know it.  I hope to dive back in with some more writing – hopefully even later today!

Blessings ~ know you are loved

Francesca Battistelli – Holy Spirit (Official Audio)

 There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord
I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord

There’s nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I’ve tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

Songwriters
CYRIL GARRETT NEVILLE, GAYNIELLE H. NEVILLE, HACK BARTHOLOMEW, NORMAN CAESAR Published byLyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP

A new coat

This mornings first reading is one often spoken or referred to.  I think it is one of the most beautiful readings, one that when lived, brings us both closer to God, and He further into our midst.  Humility.  Empathy, Love. Serving each other.

First reading
Philippians 2:1-4
 

“If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.”

However, it can be challenging to find a healthy balance between serving others, giving of yourself and being true to the person God wants me to be.  Huh?  I know, Right – what did I throw in there?

I have been giving some serious thought to this of late.  I’ve had some conversations with my Father and I am beginning to see that while I give great advice (ahem), I have to step back once in a while and say “Is this right for me?”,  “How do I really feel about this?”,  “Is this what God wants?”, “Spirit – where are you leading me?”.

There have been several times in the past few days that have given me pause.  In truth I feel gratitude for having different experiences.  My formative years were spent in a more formal environment than many of my peers (it seems).  I remember dinning with my fathers business partners and being served a finger bowl and finger tip towel. 

I’ve had the occasion to dine out with a younger mother who, though picked restaurants herself had no idea of the menu prices or etiquette at “finer” establishments. Because of my experience growing up,  I felt confidant.  I totally enjoyed her company and was able to keep her comfortable despite any  faux paus.  At the end of our meal I suggested a pizza place near her home for our next adventure out. 

It was fun to share these new experiences with her – just as much as I will enjoy sharing a pizza at our next monthly moms out.  I was also happy to learn after chatting with her over time (she is the housekeeper for my office) that after our last dinner out, she chose to take the big step and register her son for faith formation.  It’s my understanding he has not been to church since he was baptized so it is a huge step for them in a new direction

I have written bits and pieces here and there about Moma Little, at this point I am trying to write as little as possible.  Being winter time, knowing she had no winter coat (and lost her state assistance until after the baby is born because she did not go to her job training, bus travel paid for…).  I told her to pick out a winter coat and I bought it for her.  Charged it more like.  I’ll be paying bills off until I die at this rate – but she needed a coat so a coat, hat and gloves I bought.  She is twenty one years old and I’ve been told she has never had a new coat of her own.  My grandparents bought us a new winter coat every year!

I remember last year she talked about wishing for a wool pea coat and that’s what she now will own.  If it’s really her first brand new coat, I am not sure but I tend to think it may be.  If not it is the only new one she is old enough to realize she is getting.  Growing up all of her clothes were hand me downs.  During my early teen years mine were too, then I began working.  She has yet to have had a job but that is another story. 

I also have two gently worn, freshly dry cleaned wool coats in my closet.  I am going to pass on  to someone else who can use them.  They no longer fit and were not a size for Miss Little. 

What I am sharing is not anything great or good about me.  It is realizing not everyone has the same advantages in life that others do.  I know, at least I think I know many people in real life don’t know details of my life.  Even the kids I grew up with.  Though I have had challenges in life, I feel very blessed to be able to reflect on experiences that I had growing up. They have helped me grow into the woman that I am.  Life is a journey for sure.  My happiest times have been in giving to others.

I am in the midst of challenges and changes on  two emotional fronts both very deep in my heart.  While I am in this place I see past experience has brought me through to today, today I remember words a gal I used to work with would adamantly state “Laurie, God is preparing us for the right man”.  I smile as I type that (this was ten years ago!) but the lesson in that is – “God is preparing me”.  He is molding me.  I look back and know my own life story and He has blessed me.  I trust he will continue to bless me and know anything is possible in Him.

~ When is the last time you went through your closet?  Did you donate items you can no longer use to someone less fortunate?  How about other things you no longer need? 

~ Love is a gift too   ~ to give, to receive.

Simply Sunday ~ How Great Is Our God

I’m going through a bit of a rough patch right now.  Leaning into my Father.  Not feeling like writing much right now, trying to keep busy, busy (and that I am doing). 

I enjoy this song.  I will praise Him while standing in this place of uncertainty.

This video speaks loudly.  Our Father is worshiped across nations, ethnicites, religions.  We are all His children.

Chris Tomlin
The splendor of a king
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One
Father, Spirit, Son
Lion and the Lamb
Lion and the Lamb
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God
Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God
Name above all names
You are worthy of all praise
And my heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God

 

Songwriters: Chris Tomlin / Ed Cash / Jesse Reeves

How Great Is Our God lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc