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.

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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

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

A Spiritual Reflection of the Crucifixion

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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

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.

 

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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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 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.

 

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! 

tumblr_m8rr02885g1r7lmn5o1_500

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

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…

“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.

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.

 

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.

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.

Is Jesus all we need? ? ?

There is a continuing trend by some Christians to strongly state  “Jesus is all you need” (or) “God is all I need”.  

There is a problem with making such a statement.  This is one of the things I believe St. Paul refers to in   1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.a

I was recently reminded  of this.  Yesterday, I found myself reflecting on the times I have heard these words spoken in the past.  I found a  very real need to address this. I do this in hopes of others finding perhaps a new understanding of what negative impact such statements may have.  There are those who have yet to find Our Father, new to faith, those who love God (but follow these words rote) and know they are to believe those words but that simple sentence/statement holds  no real depth or meaning, therefore they find themselves struggling for the meaning behind the words.

There is a misconception when one states “Jesus is all we need”.        
As stated this may confuse (upset) and cause others to lose faith – or not find it!     

This phrase is often said, as a stand alone comment by long-term, well-meaning Christians in an attempt to bring people to God, uplift a person who is in crisis.  It falls flat when there is no attempt to look below the surface and discuss the true gifts we are blessed with by our Father, and how they play into our lives.  How difficult, challenging and even times of sadness and mourning can be brought to see His light.  If evangelizing, if you don’t dig below the surface you short change the person with whom you are speaking – and God the Father.

Jesus brings us to God the Father, God the Father gifts us with Holy Spirit. God the Father is truly who we need, and must remain “in”, in order to receive all three as a oneness. In saying this, we also must acknowledge that God is within us.

The truth is we do need loving human relationships and God does gift us with this love.  It is a matter of truly opening our hearts to understand and feel this. Sadly, there are those that block this out for a variety of reasons, hurts from their past, fear – and religions that say this is something that God requires.  God does not and has never asked us to block any type of love from our heart, soul – being.

God is love, love is God.
We are called to remain open to loving relationships, by the design of God. 
We are called to remain open to the possibility of Love  because God is Love.
God created us with full intention of living our human lives, to experience for ourselves the vast array of experiences and emotions in our lives. 

Our Father, sent Jesus to bring about a new way of life, the Holy Spirit to bring about a new way of thinking, feeling, loving – and hearing Him.

Someone recently stated to me “Jesus is all we need–I am enjoying my “graying” years for the deepening growth and intimacy of my relationship with Him. Like you, I had some “hard knocks”, and the invisible scars are still in the process of healing; I am happily single and solitary–it makes life simpler for me.”

This person states they are happily single and solitary.  While it is not for me to say that is wrong for her – it is wrong for me and most humans.

Happy and simple is not really the life God calls us to, is it? 
Sit in a corner, read and not experience?  No

He called us to Liveand Love and be open to Love.

Our entire lives should be spent in deepening growth and intimacy of our relationships with Him. 

We care called to this very factIt is a fallacy to believe anyone can only be committed to this belief, this growth if they choose singledomGod tells us this! 

Spouses are called to bring each other to God, Parents are called to bring their children to God, Friends are called to bring Friends to God, All of faith are called to bring non-believers or “un-knowers” to GodTo suggest a total focus is on God is not a truth, but a yarn that is spun. 

God never called anyone to forgo the life he gave as an offering to Him. 
Relationships, true Godly, human relationships require true selflessness
as we know we are to see God in each other. 

In having these healthy relationships, we offer witness to the love that God has provided to us.  There are lessons we can only learn in committed, loving human relationships – which is why the bible contains such relationships from the first chapter throughout. 

God’s gifts to His children.  Do we turn our back on His gifts?

The other thought I had in regards to what someone shared is this… single and solitary is not what God asks of us. He challenges us to continue to grow. God designed us to be loving, giving human beings. There may be something within our own being that we are by His design, to impartto share with another.

In healthy, loving relationships there is a continual self-emptying of self. God has designed us this way (biblical) … while it may be easiest to stay single/alone – we really need to discern if that is what God wants of us and/or how to fulfill what His desire for us is. There are *many gray-haired loves and marriages in the bible. From Genesis throughout the new testament, to the Apostles & St. Peter.  Intimate, loving relationships are throughout the bible. 

There are some who know they have had their great human love and experienced Gods gifts and lessons

Though they may no longer be (passed away), that love remains forever in their hearts and they look to the day they are called home to our Father to be once again by their side.  My grandparents had this love, it was beautiful to witness. They grew in God together here on earth and I am sure are happily reunited now. 

This is the true gift of God.
 He is all we need –
God is love, Love is God – God is within Us. 
When we truly share this selfless Love with another, we experience the Love of God.

Dear gray haired lady,

Thank you for reminding me of a very important topic and prompting me to write today. 

Gods gifts are many, Jesus came to bring us to God and in order for us to live abundantly in His gifts, one of those gifts being the Holy Spirit who will guide us in ways to live, here on earth that life of abundance, if so blessed – with another.

Wives Submit to your husbands…

The first time I heard this. . . I winced.  “Say what?”  I was young and thought that meant giving up freedom of self, being controlled, no longer being “Laurie”, which – oddly enough is exactly what happened in my marriage to the father of my boys.  This is not what the bible is teaching us, not at all.

Marriage is about a union of two human beings who make the promise to love each other for the rest of their lives.   Recommitting daily.  From this mornings (10/25/16) first reading (this was also the first reading back in June) copied and pasted as in my usccb bible reading email.slide_13

“Reading 1 Eph 5:21-33

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

 

There are different explanations for “Falling in love”.  I read just today (for the hundredth time) that “love is not an emotion”.  I read a response to that statement that I thought was spot on.  For those that are lucky enough to first find themselves with that strong feeling of attraction and – love, we begin to give of self.  When that love is returned it does become an emotional joining of hearts and souls “but” it will not stay that way without work. Together we grow in love.

I think the level of work depends very much on the personalities of both people.  Some have a chemistry that just seems to work smoothly – most of the time.  Others?  You look at them and wonder (observing) why they became a couple to begin with.  Some have skills that help them more easily navigate the waters than others.  All – will find challenges they have to work through together. 

Unexpected things will pop up.  Great Aunt Hilda may hate (strong word, I know) your new wife which makes family get together really challenging.  Having babies and raising children will bring on challenges, as will who is going to keep an eye on grand baby 3 when grandpa volunteered, then wants to go play chess with an old friend.  You get the idea.  Little things come up, how you react to them and your ability to navigate through – together will make your marriage a happier loving union – or one that has more struggles to muddle through.  Together is what matters.  Keeping the commitment to each other, God and yourselves.

 I came across this chart tonight and appreciate the examples given.  Very, very important in marriage.  Marriage is a Covenant  is a relationship initiated by our loving God.19_chambers_chart_jn-1

Looking at this chart, meant for both husband and wife you see no “submission’ per say.  Marriage is not 50/50 – it is 100%/100% from both partners, then those times or days when one cannot put forth their full effort you work to stand strong for both.

Working together to ensure a continued religious and spiritual growth throughout your marriage that must come first. Raising a family, living in service to spouse, family and others, committing your love and support to each other every day, even those days you may not be happy with your spouse – and things you strive for, fall under the umbrella of God first.  Keeping your marriage “in God,  together” will help all other issues flow in an easier manner.  We are commanded to keep God first.

Now, a bit more on the above bible reading.  I think putting it simply,  a “successful” Christian marriage is learning the fine art of humbling yourself to the other.  Neither is “above” the other, both are God’s children.  A wife submits to her husband as to the Lord, the husband submits to the wife as Christ did to the church.  A loving husband in a Christian marriage knows his wife, discerning – keeping in prayer any serious matter he will consider his wife’s needs before his own as he knows she trusts him.  A wife will honor her husband as the lord in the same way.  A move our of state?  One person may really have to make that call if it depends on a job opportunity, if a woman has carefully discerned her relationship, engagement and marriage she needs to trust her husband will make the correct decision, with love.

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There is no room for abuse in a true marriage covenant.  Love between man and woman is a gift from God.  Marriage is an intimate union between equal partners.  Both man and woman have different gifts to offer in this union. Catholic teaching is that couples are open to children in their marriage, if unable to bear children or past child bearing age couples are still to find ways to nurture younger generations together.

I would like to share one more thing before closing this article.  Many of us may have read a saying at some point in our lives “a family that prays together, stays together”.  I have seen truths in this.  I have also come across websites for both  wives and husbands that offer Christian support in marriages.  Though feeling a bit on the outside, being a divorced woman (annulled), I follow a couple of Christian women’s pages on Facebook that I enjoy.  Not all things are directly marriage related but many are.  Including reminders to pray for your love, pray for spouse, pray yourself to be a good supportive partner, etc.  These are great idea’s and offer a helpful foundation of support to couples in their marriages.

As a survivor of domestic violence, having noted how many reads the original posting of this essay had – I would like to add the following to reiterate that a true Christian marriage is about mutual submission, true caring and love – never intentionally abusive.

2015-05-13-marriage4

Reflections, Called to Service

Over my somewhat short blogging experience I have written, edited and deleted some different  essays.  I am rebuilding my website now at a slower pace.  Today I found there had been two searches of the above that brought someone(s) to my page.  When I looked this up myself on Bing I found hints of an article I had written several months ago on discernment and exactly how much trust did I think I was really giving to God at that time.  I had second guessed what I felt He called me to, actually struggled with it for a long time though as time has played out I am sure I have followed along and am headed in the way He wants, though – I’m still not sure what that means completely.  Today – I continue to turn my trust to Him, heart, mind and soul.  Personally, I am staying in prayer and listening for direction.  A somewhat  intense time in my life.  That’s as much as I am going to divulge. 

Early on in this journey I came across what I have been told (and read) is the Prayer of Discernment by Thomas Merton.  In truth, I cannot remember how I came across this, I believe it was at a summer retreat that I participated in at a neighboring Parish.  The retreat was held every other Sunday afternoon over the summer.  It was at this retreat I came face to face with some issues that I really had not paid as much attention to up to that point.  Rather than veer off point and continue on with those issues, I am going to continue on and return to those topics in other writings at some point.

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The above .gif is something I installed as the background on my cell phone for several months as I tried to come to discern what God was asking me.  This prayer is one of many that are used for some discerning Holy Orders, though that was not my purpose for this prayer.  Others use this prayer apparently to help them through difficult and challenging times in their lives.

The mid-morning, noon and mid-afternoon verses included in the Divine Office readings today are from  1 Corinthians as noted below.  I am going to inject verses 7-11 that were not included in the readings for the sake of this discussion.

Mid-morning reading (Terce)1 Corinthians 12:4-6

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them.

7. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  8 To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;  9 to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; 10 to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Noon reading (Sext)1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptized, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Afternoon reading (None)1 Corinthians 12:24,25-26

God has arranged the body and that there may not be disagreements inside the body, but that each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all parts are hurt with it. If one part is given special honor, all parts enjoy it.
The above teachings of St. Paul were written as a lesson to the Corinthians on the gifts of the Holy Spirit to us.  He further goes on to teach that these gifts can help assist all of us in our calling to serve God.
 
One thing that struck me yesterday about these readings, while reading a post by a friend over on FacePlace was one of those  lists of what a mom does.  I have thought of this in relation to these readings before but never found myself sitting down and writing about it.  There is a reason I am going to used quotes on “mom”.  Please note, I sincerely believe the same can be said for many dads too! 
 
Please pardon any repetition
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I personally don’t know anyone who has written such a list, it seems kind of  ? self serving.  These things are just what we do.  Moms, Dads and others who help us out – right?  In addition to all of the above “jobs” many of us are blessed with a marriage or other adult relationship . . .

 

 

ee1ff7351f626e7ce4252695ee48e78aThat relationship usually comes before children in hopes of providing a really solid family foundation.  This type of relationship requires work and gift of self too!

In addition to these relationships and endless list of responsibilities comes our career.  What we do outside of the house to bring income “in” as a means of being able to provide for ourselves, those we love and others who also need a hand up.

For myself – God is before all of these human relationships.  When I put Him first, I am able to serve Him and others as He asks us to do.  Worship our Triune God – and Serve.

What does all of this have to do with the words of St. Paul?  We all have many gifts.  We are not limited to any one special gift of the spirt, though some may have more of one gift than another, some may really only have one or two, some may have several – and they may flex or change over time.

St. Paul’s words as taught in the church limit the abilities of everyone, whereas looking at the broader scope, maybe with the female mind – we can see how all things in our life are all interchangeable, possible, and though they may not always be as simple as a list of words on a page, they are our lives.  Our relationships.  Our loves.  All gifts from God – who never has limited His children in any way, shape or form.  All things are possible in Him.

“We thought depriving ourselves or doing something contrary to nature, will, or body would somehow please God, whereas it only made us feel “strong” and significant. Jesus never advocates either asceticism or heroism. In fact, Jesus says, “John the Baptist came along fasting and living an ascetic life and you were upset with him. Now I come along eating and drinking and you don’t like me either” (see Matthew 11:18-19). Jesus is neither a rigorist nor a legalist. He is scandalously free from these ego games”  R. Rohr

We are all called by Him to serve.  He does not limit our lives, He gave and gives Life.  Live.  His Love and the Gifts He gives us are in abundance, Unlimited but for our own minds.  Faith, Hope & Love, the greatest of these is Love.  Serve with Love ~ but, Live.

Lessons from a tiny seed

St. Luke 13: 18-19
The Parable of the Mustard Seed.

mustard-seed118 Then he said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? 

dv031678_xs19  It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.’”

In this Parable, Jesus explains that while the Kingdom of God, right here on earth –  begins as tiny as a mustard seed, when the seed of faith if planted it grows and spreads across vast space.

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A portion of this mornings reading was from the book of Luke.

In the reading of

St. Luke 17:6

Saying of Faith. 5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”  6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

There are several references to the small size of the mustard seed and what it can do for us when we plant ourselves in faith.  With God all things are possible, it if it His will.  We remember when we pray, if we are compelled to ask for something that we do this in a way that honors God.  “God if it is your will I ask that . . .”.

Do you place your hope in your faith?  Do you trust God’s love to help you through your growth in life, in Him?  It is an ongoing process.

Trusting in Him.

~ Blessings

We’re Raising Agnostic Kids

Two years ago, I took on two 8th grade classes for Faith Formation. Last year I took off.  I volunteered to take on two classes this year.  One 8th and one 9th grade.  After teaching the first class I had second thoughts, and for multiple personal reasons, I said I couldn’t do it this year.

It has been heavily on my mind.  I have a knack for getting along well with kids this age.  I manage to get them comfortable enough to share, participate, have them teach what they know, and open their minds to God.

 I like to spend time  –  chit chatting during the  first class.  This allows us to get to know each other a bit.  More importantly, this gives me as their instructor an opportunity to learn what they know, what they don’t – and where I need to focus class time on.

Questions I asked the kids this year (as I did last time I taught two 8th grade classes) to me are simple – and a really good indicator of what they know.

  1. Did you pray today?
  2. Who is God?
  3. Do you have a relationship with God?
  4. Why do you go to Mass?
  5. What is the Eucharist?
  6. What is the Trinity?
  7. What is the Immaculate Conception?

Both two years ago and two weeks ago the answers I recieved were,

  1.  No
  2. Embarrassed silence
  3. No (you cannot have a relationship with God if you have no clue on who God is)
  4. Because parents bring me
  5. … A wafer?  Two years ago I did have female alter servers in once class so they knew right off the bat.  One in another class, he knew (the other kids did not).  This year – after circling back to this question one girl did guess “body”.  One girl.
  6. I don’t know
  7. When Jesus was …  Mary saw the angel.

I voiced my concern (again) to my director, mentioned it to the Pastor who asked what the director said – he said “It’s a good thing they have you for a teacher because you really care what the kids learn”.

Blame on the parents is often made, but I speak up to that also. My sons learned so much in their own (weekly) religious ed classes (years ago).  Now we only meet twice a month – only once in April!

I do have many issues with the religion that I participate in.  I know others do too. There have been times I have considered walking out the door and never returning.  One dear ones loyalty to the church is what has kept me there to date. Obedience to our Father too, which has become more personal  and challenging as days go by.

Today I made the decision to teach again.  Because of my love of our Triune God.  I will teach the kids out of the book, but I will also teach them about our Triune God, witness some of my own experiences.

I will also explain teachings on the Eucharist.  I have already explained what the Immaculate Conception is though I doubt they grasped it.  It’s one of *those teachings….  I did my duty.

Church is God’s “house”  my  focus is helping these kids find God, bringing Him into their lives, prayer and that church teaching is the Eucharist is the reason for Mass (I still stay it’s the homily :) because that is *learning* about Faith, clergy disagree but – they are clergy for the purpose of Eucharist…).

So tomorrow, I will call my director, apologize for waffling on him and return to the classroom. Teaching through April.  I am looking forward to it.

I enjoyed helping the kids grow in faith and God in the past.  I look forward to doing it again.  Two years ago I purchased the Rosaries I used in my feature image. Not because I am a “good Catholic” but because I was able to utilize the prayers One page Rosary Instructions – multiple languages as a way of teaching the children the life of Jesus Christ.  Actually, maybe it is because I am a good Catholic, no one else even offered to teach these classes. 

While I love my rosary (and provide them to others to give out), for me it is more of a tangible connection at times when I have felt alone.  I practice Contemplative Prayer, the Rosary is not something I get anything out of – but I teach it.  If you take a look at the link above you will see the scriptural readings that match decades.  I suppose you could say I used this as an interactive lesson.  These kids just don’t know the life of Jesus.  There has been a failure in their early years of not learning about our faith – the first 12-14 years of life.  So yes, this does also lay in the laps of parents.

I ordered more and had them blessed yesterday.  I guess part of me knew I would follow through teaching this year, I can do this for the next six months.  I am open to life changes, including becoming a Noni soon that may prevent me from teaching next year.

The Roman Catholic Church really, really needs to return to it’s basic beginnings – the teachings of Jesus.  Without sincere teaching of our Triune God – there is no reason to go to church.  Many current teachings are no longer believable to societies that receive a better education than decades ago.  The church teaches “our loving God” yet forgets how loving He really is   For the next six months – I will do my best to bring our Father to His children.  I only wish their parents had done this – long before.

How much time do you spend talking about God, your faith and your religion to your own children and family members?

 

Waiting on Him

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Waiting on the Lord.  This is something worth waiting for.  When we make the choice to surrender our lives to God we are fully entrusting Him with helping us grow through life.  We make thousands of decisions every day, most are so minor we don’t even consider it a decision.  Will I get up the first time my alarm clock rings?  Hit doze?  Wait for the next buzz?  Pick out todays clothes before or after a shower, do I have time to wash and dry my hair?  What will I do, Did I decide what I wanted to wear last night?  Hair – up, down.  Makeup – eyeliner today?  Earrings?  Which shoes?  Which socks?  Do I need socks?  Can I get away with flip-flops in October, it is 75 today!?  Get the drift?

The more important decisions we make in our lives, to move to a new home, buy a different car, how to deal with a business issue, the way to talk to a child about a phone call from their teacher explaining they really believe your child should stay back this year.  Dating, Marriage, Love, A choice to change your career.  What does God want for us to do?  I have found the more I turn my life over to God the easier it can be most of the time to discern what my next step should be.  Other times. . . not so much.  This is where trusting in Him and waiting for His direction comes into play.

While it is important to complete all the steps you can on your own – research cars, new/used/mileage/cost/insurance rates (or) Is it time for me to move to a job that I will find more emotionally satisfying that serves Him and others?  These are big decisions that we can do our own leg work on – then turn it prayerfully over to our Lord and ask the Spirit to Guide us, give us strength, wisdom and direction. 

One time I was offered a position, the closest to what I think I could choose while earning enough pay to survive – and serve.  It was for a non-profit start-up.  They needed an Office Manager/Bookkeeper who was also available to work with special needs clients, teaching them financial skills, banking, balancing a checkbook, how to shop wisely etc.  Unfortunately as a start up they offered no health insurance and that was a sign for me that this just was not the job I needed or could afford to take at that time.

By the grace of God where I am today.  I was able provide and to get my youngest son through high school  in the small town environment he was born into.  I am also able to attend mass before work (slipping into the office a few minutes late – but approved), blare my K-Love all day long and chat with people about God off and on throughout the day.  Pretty cool for a secular job, that’s where diciples are called to be.  I used to toy with thoughts of working in Appalachia or the Southwest at border crossing locations.  Who knows, maybe one day that’s where God will bring me.

Meanwhile, the other major areas in my life I have to trust in Him.  He leads and I follow.  I leaped and though I haven’t sprouted wings, I seem to be bouncing up and down on that safety net from below.  He is there, He will provide

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do note rely; In all ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Blessings~

The Daily Post: Waiting

His Silence

Is God silent?

I often hear people say that they don’t feel God is with them.  They don’t hear God.  Where is He?  Does He love only certain few?  Does He have favorites?  No.  He loves all of us the same.

Jesus told us the greatest commandment:

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I have come to realize that it is in the complete surrender to the Father that we find Him.

Often words will be spoken;  “I pray to God, I asked Him to fix this”,  “I love God, why doesn’t He love me?”, “Where is He?”, “Why does He leave me alone?”.  I need a job, I need a car, I want a house, My kid is a mess, fix my marriage, etc. etc.

Do we go to Him with a laundry list, expecting him to wave some magic wand, kiss a wound and make it better?

The truth is – too often that may be the approach made.  The approach made to our Faithful Father, who really is with all every second of the day – but for our asking.

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God is not sitting on a chair up in the clouds, He is here among us, He is here in us.  He is not some far off deity.  Jesus walks among us, the Holy Spirit is within.

Something that gets lost, especially in religions that have laundry lists of “how to” be a Christian is the fact that we have our very own relationships with God – if we work on developing one.  We have to give of ourselves too.  In our human relationships we must give of self.  In our relationship with God, we must give of self.

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Absolute truth. Without my relationship with my Father, I have nothing.  I am nothing.

It is important when we spend time with our Father to offer praise for all He is, all He does and all He will do.  We acknowledge His power.  We offer thanks for all He has done for us and we need to think about things that we can mention – not a blanket “thank you”.  We pray for others and their well being, health and joy.

Lastly, we pray for our own personal intentions, not like a birthday or Christmas list, and we need to remember to ask God to help us help ourselves.  Give us strength, guidance, wisdom.   After all we are also responsible to take actions or make changes that we know God would want in order to help ourselves or those in our lives grow in God, love and life.

Listen, watch for His guidance.  While going through difficult times, lean into God, walk with Jesus and be open to guidance from the spirit who is the helper God sent to us.  Remain open, pray to remain open.

and . . .

Do your other leg work.  Do you spend time reading your bible?  If you don’t own a bible you can find online versions (I refer to all the time, my own bible is too large to carry everywhere – but I have access on my cell phone or any computer!).  Reading the Bible is one part of our responsibility in our relationship with God.  There really is a lot of love and wisdom within the pages.  You will find guidance in His word.  Are you helping others too?

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While we’re working on growth, learning, healing, loveHe is too!

Our triune God is ever present.  We are never alone.  If we are doing our part – and often when we fail to do our part, He is still working actively in all of our lives. Be prepared for surprises, what we think is not what He thinks….

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Trust in Him.  He knows what He’s doing

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Above and before any human.  Bring your loves to God and, allow your loves to bring you to God.  Trust in Him.  He places people in our lives for a reason.

He may be silent – but He is here

Where do I belong?

As a child, I was raised as a Christian by my loving grandparents.  My own parents lacked a desire to instruct their offspring in any formal religious instruction.  My grandparents followed a very simple Christian lifestyle which in all honesty and truth seems to me, to be the closest of how I know Christ himself lived and taught.  Simple,  selfless, compassionate – love.  Completely with love.

I remember attending church with my grandparents as a very small child – and loving it!  The “Gospel Hall”  come one, come all.  “Take your coat off and stay awhile” – yes, really.  A habit I still keep when I attend Mass, even when I am chilly.  I’m in God’s house and settling in for a visit.  No tithing was required (though donations were accepted for overhead).  As long ago as that was, I have a memory of  rather than a basket being passed for “collections” they had a pretty burgundy colored velvet bag with a wooden circle on the top.  You could drop your donation in and no one could see the amount because it dropped to the bottom of the bag, out of view.  No judgement there for the poor or wealthy.  Pot luck suppers and church picnics held in state parks.

When I was seven, I spent the summer with my grandparents out-of-state.  At this point, the church they attended offered Baptism by full immersion.  I remember wanting so badly to go up one night to be Baptized.  I knew then that I loved Jesus Christ with all my heart and I wanted to be baptized in His name.  Sadly, my grandparents did not/could not allow that as my parents did not want us baptized as children.  That choice, my parents stated, was for adults only.

My parents did not attend church with us though I do have a vague recollection of attending a Dutch Reform Church in NY when I was small.  My parents had moved us to upstate New York, away from my grandparents.  I believe they promised my grandparents that they would take us to church. That did not last more than one or two times.   I remember being upset that we were not going to church.  As a very young child I spent a lot of time in the hospital for medical care, weeks/months at a time.  That’s how it was in the 1960’s.  Thankfully, I already knew Jesus at that time and that he loved me.

There were times when visiting overnight Girl Scout camp, or staying with friends that I would attend their church.  Growing up, many of my friends were Roman Catholic.  At such a young age, I had no idea what being Catholic meant (I did know they would not let me have communion and that I felt badly that I could not).  I had watched old black and white movies about St. Bernadette, Our Lady of Fatima.  I have vague memories of a movie about a Nun helping orphans.  At thirteen or so my best friends two Aunts were visiting from Boston.  They were both Nuns.  We visited a local Abbey.

Over the years there are various times I visited a particular location on the Abbey grounds.  Not drawn to a religious life as the nuns, more the peace and quiet and a specific spot there in which I liked to sit and pray.  I visited that spot a year or so ago and wondered in amazement what it was I found there – whatever it was no longer remained.  Perhaps because my faith and relationship with God has changed and evolved over time.  Perhaps because I often find peace and connection with God both sitting in my parish church, alone by the shore, or in prayer at home.  Interestingly, I have recently reconnected with my gal friend of those years.  She is no longer Catholic (Lutheran now), one of her aunts (one of the Nuns) has also left the church after many years . . .

Thankfully, my grandparents had taught me about Jesus Christ and how much He loved me.  I knew God was always with me.  A year or so my parents’ marriage faltered (their failing marriage was the reason we were sent to Tennessee for the summer)  my brother four years older than I, our mother and I were relocated to a small town in Connecticut to be near my mother’s family. 

This time, my grandparents (paternal) were in the state and though “retired”, my grandfather took a position as an estate manager in order to live nearby.  Back to church and loving overnights. My grandparents did not only take us to church.  I was taught to love and and service.  To visit the home bound, write letters, shop thrift, donate, share God.

There were times my brother and I were sent off to church either on our own (walking down the street to the local Congregational Church which when alive, my maternal great grandmother attended.) or with the families of friends, when my grandparents were away, needed a break from taking two kids with two very different personalities and finally, when they retired to Nova Scotia. 

I stayed many Saturday nights with my grandparents who at this time lived out-of-town, so that I could attend church with them on Sunday.  At home I remember around the time of eighth grade being sent to a Baptist church with my brother and the family of his friend.  I didn’t really like it.  I liked going to church not Sunday school (my grandparents church had Sunday school only for little ones).  After a certain age you attended Bible Study before worship on Sunday morning.  Home for a light Sunday lunch, early dinner, then back to church in the evening for more bible study.  We also attended bible study at church one night during the week.

When I was fifteen my grandparents retired to my grandfather’s hometown in Nova Scotia.  Being in my mid-teens it was not long before I was working all weekend (as well as school nights) and my religious life fell by the wayside.  I know God was always with me and kept in prayer in an undisciplined manner for years.

My conversion . . .

When I met my former husband, and he proposed I knew I wanted a church wedding.  I married for all of the wrong reasons, one bit of the fairy tale I believe was that he being from a “good Catholic” family would ensure the future of the family we would have together.  That too – was not to be.  We discussed where our marriage would take place, he visited the Pastor at the Catholic church he attended with his mother and siblings growing up (his father attended another parish).  I remember him coming home fuming and spouting some rather vulgar language and insisting we would never be married in a Catholic church.  Okay then. . . I had not attended my childhood church for many years but I will call, we will marry there. After being told that was okay, I was then informed –  No, that was not to be either. 

I learned that my former father in-law would not (could not) attend a marriage in a Protestant church because it would not be valid (I had no idea what that meant).  At last this mean a Justice of the Peace, and so – no church wedding.  We were to be the first marriage the Justice of the Peace officiated.  He grudgingly agreed that we could have some bible readings incorporated into the ceremony at my request.  We were married by the Justice of the Peace in an dingy VFW Hall in 1986.

Move ahead to 1988.  I was pregnant with our first child.  I was sure I would be able to bring my children to a Protestant church. My then husband was so adamant about not getting married in a Catholic church.  It wasn’t long before I was informed that was not going to happen either.  He insisted (after pressure from his parents) that the baby would be Baptized and raised Roman Catholic – “or we would attend – no church at all“.

I felt like I had no choice and being Christian was all that mattered. I had to bring my babies up loving Jesus as I did.  Then I learned I had to be Baptized or the baby could not be.  Oh.  Okay, that wasn’t so bad – right?  I had wanted to be Baptized from the time I was seven years old, sitting in that pew in a little church on a hot summer night so long ago, in Tennessee.  So – yes.  “I will be Baptized Catholic “and my babies will have that (I was young and naive) good “Catholic family” that I always dreamed of.

The church was contacted and an appointment with the Pastor was made.  We met with him briefly and were introduced to a deacon who was to instruct me in Catechism.  Sometime around the middle of February we began attending one hour classes for six weeks.  I was then Baptized, received my First Communion, Confirmed and our marriage was con-validated in a senior center on church property (but not in “the church”).  Still – no church wedding.  In retrospect, perhaps that is was a foreshadowing.

A dear one, once commented on my being upset with that Pastor “who did me wrong”.  He did not.  He did his job, I never felt that he was wrong.  I felt the church was wrong in forcing me through an annulment process in which I felt unsafe – knowing I was not married “in” the church.  Physical structure.  I do feel that the six weeks of instruction was nowhere near enough time for someone who was clueless about the Catholic religion to be given so many sacraments.  Given the Sacraments the way I was – it was not until many years later that I received the Sacrament of Confession.

My first confession, I still remember that day.  It was during Lent, the church had three or four Priests available at various areas of the church and you could go up in front of everyone (quietly) and whisper your confession.  My big confession was that it was my first confession.  Epic fail – I know.  Interestingly enough, the older Priest told me he was very happy for me (sincerely) that I had such a close relationship to God, that I felt I could ask our Father directly for his forgiveness.

Over the years all three of my boys were Baptized and raised (by me) as Roman Catholic.  All but the youngest was confirmed in the church.  The older two now say they did so grudgingly.  I remember their dad insisting upon it.  I divorced when my youngest should have gone through the confirmation program.  His father refused to bring him to Mass on his visitation weekends.  He had the boys more Sundays than I did.  For my son it became a real issue when the catechism program had a change in format.  My older boys were taught by Seminarians (not popular with parents, assuming that is why it changed – though I don’t know).  My older two boys did enjoy having them as their teachers.

When my youngest attended, the kids selected “classes” similar to high school, youngest son picked “Why be a Catholic?” first and oddly enough, at thirteen, the director of religious education could not relate to him why he should be a Catholic.  She promised me she’d have the Pastor speak to him, in time I learned that never happened.  So, he stopped going to CCD.

I had been teaching Catechism the year I filed for divorce and though I was encouraged to continue teaching, I felt that it was not the time – fearing a stigma of divorced woman in church (which does exist though it not often acknowledged).  I too ended up taking a long break from church.

A growing faith. . .

A few short years ago an online friend encouraged me to go back to church, to file for an annulment and feel free to begin a new life.   The annulment process was long and difficult.  I almost gave up on more than one occasion.  I had been legally married for twenty years when I petitioned, due to a complicated family background I was lacking in familial witnesses.  I prayed.  I prayed a lot.  My faith in God grew stronger with each day.  I knew, in my heart and soul –  the marriage that I had could not possibly have been blessed by God.  God would never have blessed the hell that had been.  I wanted the annulment to feel that blessing, that I knew in my heart but needed my church to know.  I so wanted to feel understood and hoped to one day have a real, true loving relationship and marriage.  A marriage God could bless.   In my church that meant an annulment.  Finally, approximately eighteen months (and several hundred hard-earned dollars) later – I received the news.  My request had been granted.

Remembering a promise, I had made a few years prior, that I would teach again if the marriage was annulled I stepped forward to take on teaching middle school students Faith Formation the next fall.

In a Sunday church bulletin, I read about an upcoming summer retreat to be held at a local parish.  From 1-5pm every other Sunday the group would meet to view videos on Catholicism, work together as a group and discuss the videos.  Great!  I signed up.  What better way to prepare for taking on a class of middle school kids?  I felt good about this.   I was going to learn more about my religion and grow deeper in my faith.  I did learn.  I watched, read, listened, heard and learned things that in retrospect. . . while I am glad my eyes opened, I often find myself wishing I was still naive and ignorant.  That was not God’s plan, it was not the path He chose for me.

The questions began . . .

It was during this summer retreat that I became a “Cafeteria Catholic”.  As much as I learned about my church and religion – I know that I lost an innocence that I cannot easily relay.  A church that I actively attended for years, volunteered with – summer bible school (when large groups of children attended!), teaching CCD, I even was the first (or so I was told) to bring the Light of Christ and Parvuli Dei Cub Scout emblem programs to my parish.

It was during this retreat that two issues, that as a mother of young men cut me to the quick and honestly, in a very deep way – broke my heart.  The church stance on same sex love came to the forefront one summer day, when a member of the group shared a family story and discussion ensued.

At this retreat, I met a young man a year or two older than my youngest son, he was discerning he had questions on celibacy and the conversations that ensued (more than one Sunday afternoon). The church requires most (but not all) Roman Catholic men seeking to become a Priestly brother of Christ (hoping I worded that properly) – to take a vow, if they are of a religious order.  To become a Diocesan Priest a promise of celibacy is required to be made to their Bishop

There are married Roman Catholic Priests in the United States, they have “converted” to Catholicism.  These men have wives, families – and work side by side with Priests who are required to take a vow or make a promise of Celibacy.  Disconnect.  Particularly when we know that St. Peter, chosen by Jesus Christ as the “rock of the church”, the first Pope – was married.  In fact, all of the original twelve apostles were married.  Love and marriage are God given gifts.   The church should not ask it’s religious to choose between marriage and life in service as Priest.

In future writings I will discuss my thoughts on these topics and more.  I have spent hours researching, discussing, speaking with and listening to….  There is an underlying sadness in my heart and soul now that I have not been able to reconcile. 

Why would our Lord, God – who is love itself, gift His children with Love and then expect them to turn their backs on it?  This is something I have difficulty wrapping my head around.  God is Love.  Love is God.  Love is love – right?


2/1/17  There is a very serious shortage of Catholic Clergy.  This is a disconnect between the church and the children of God.   God did not ask this.  It is a man made rule and does not agree with the Gospel teachings of Jesus or St. Paul.  All clergy should be allowed married as that is the foundation of the church.

Reading through articles posted and upcoming articles, I have – and will tie all of this together.


Some have told me I don’t belong in the church.  Some have wondered why I am still practicing this religion.  I read an article by a Pastor on Cafeteria Catholics, read articles linked off that article and have remained close to God, in prayer and actions. 

“Where do I belong?”  To God. 

Today, this means the Catholic Church.  I am where God asked me to be today, of that I am confidant.

where-do-i-belong


2/1/17  This is an extended portion of my “About me” post.  I know I have certain readers that may find this helpful.  It’s still a “cliff notes” version of me, but explains a bit more about my religious background.  I realize how much I have grown spiritually over the past few years, if not religiously.  The Catholic church is shrinking.  I see reasons why this is happening – a disconnected clergy, particularly at the upper levels is largely the reason.  You cannot live in a box and expect to grow.  I have said recently and will repeat here, I have much respect for our clergy, I say nothing with any intention of causing hurt or pain though I am aware some things I say may cause that.  It is not without great efforts, prayer that I share what I do.  I am where I am supposed to be right now, the reason really is not clear to me.  I hold in my heart the original reason this blog began and that still is.  The additional writings here. . . seem to be something additional.  I know others will relate and understand this comes from my heart and soul.  I will move this back in date to be the original post in a day or two, as that is where it began.