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.

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

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.

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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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! 

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I did reply to that comment.  I didn’t expect much in response based upon her original post above, so – I was not disappointed with what followed really, as I had no expectations of wisdom.

I find myself mystified to live in a country where my fellow countrymen could have this mind-set.  At some point in my brief “conversation” with this woman she decided I must have attended some fancy liberal university :sic:.  Which both amused and saddened me.  Yes, it is possible to have those feeling simultaneously.

For those loving human beings who are being unfairly attacked my heart goes out to you.  I will stand up for you and by you because in God we are one.  We’re all one.  As I type this I have to say I am still appalled by such narrow-minded responses that this woman and others had.  Hers were by far the worst.

Reading the story above, I thought about the man.  What had his day been like?  Had he just left court after a divorce?  Lost a job?  Buried a parent?  Never been taught about God?  I tried to explain to this woman,  this man now had been given a very negative view of Christians who showed neither compassion or love to him.  I thought about Sheldon (character on the spectrum on the “Big Bang Theory”) and how he most likely would have said those very same literal words “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas,”.

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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.

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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.

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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…

“You have turned it into a robbers’ den!”

As Christians, we are called to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Noon reading 2 Corinthians 13:4

“He was crucified through weakness, but still he lives now through the power of God. So then, we are weak, as he was, but we shall live with him, through the power of God, for your benefit.”

Through the weakness of man, He was crucified, died and buried.  By the Power of our loving Father – He was raised from the dead as a means to save through bringing us to His Father.

Sometimes people confuse this verse to mean Jesus died due to His human weakness, but this refers to the choice of others not to accept His teachings.  His teachings in the Gospel are really radical, full of love and compassion for others.

The Law that Jesus teaches us to follow are these:

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He followed the Ten Commandments and we are expected to.  He also taught through beatitudes11.jpg

Over the centuries many other teachings, rules and laws have been put in place by people both within and outside of religions.  These are the Christian teachings – of Jesus Christ.  My heart was warmed this past Monday morning, I attended Mass.  An elderly Priest was there to serve Mass.  He spoke of God and faith, religion – and – made up laws.  Truly, I could see and hear a  change and know the Holy Spirit must have touched him deeply. In the past he towed a very hard, harsh line.

~

There are times I picture Him  (Jesus) in our churches (note the plural tense – not in relation to any “one denomination”) Raising His voice, turning over table and saying “not in my Fathers house!”.   I can see why others have moved on to do their good works for our Father.

Gospel St. Luke 19:45-48    (Today’s Gospel Reading)

“Jesus went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling. ‘According to scripture,’ he said ‘my house will be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’

 He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they did not see how they could carry this out because the people as a whole hung on his words.”

Indeed.  A robbers’ den.  Thing is – when most people read this they are thinking this reading is all about money.  Of coarse in part it is.  However, let’s be real here – what do you really think Jesus is talking about? 

What I see is a man (God the Son) filled to the brim fed up,  watching those in power, steal and destroy human beings at their core. 

We know that God chose His only Begotten son, Jesus to teach the err of our ways, instruct us how to live – loving lives.  To bring us to our Father who has gifted us with so much.  While there is some financial greed in churches, inflated ego –  the real theft is of person.  

Destroying the Divine Love (light within) in humans that only God can give!!!

When one considers we are all born in His image;

Genesis 1:27 “27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 

Psalm 139:13-14″For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

How many times have people been ostracized for not fitting the mold of man made laws and rules?  Millions of times?  Billions? 

Of course we need some type of structure to our lives and the very word organization – means organize.  That does not mean we should be stepping on – and removing, human rights from individuals as a people, religion – or denomination. 

If we are brutally honest, we will see the err of ways. See and accept the simple teachings of Jesus Christ, and, bring others to God the Father. 

With love, kindness and the help of the Holy Spirit, may we all consider these words and make what  choices or changes can be made to correct the lack of real, true love that has been tossed aside – and not embraced by all who claim to love and follow His teachings. 

May there be an awakening of those in power, through the Holy Spirit, love of Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.

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Consider too – God is not in a box.  His works are outside of a bubble, and found living in the world.  Just as Jesus taught in the temple, lived life and did the majority of His work in living life.  That’s how people find Jesus. That’s how people find God.

 

Those that don’t know God – won’t enter a church.  We are called to bring God to people , and to him throughout our lives.  Make sense?

 

Thoughts worth contemplating.

 

Blessings ~

 

“Whoever humbles himself like this child”

Matthew, chapter 18
St. Matthew 18:1-5

The Greatest in the Kingdom. At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

This is a favorite reading of mine.  One that is often quoted and often times the complex beauty I find in this statement is overlooked.  With the impending birth of my first grandchild I find myself reminiscing over those early and young days of the lives of my sons.  The other day youngest was over helping me by moving somethings in my bedroom/walk-in closet.  We came across a framed photo of my dad as a little boy and reflected upon their similar features.  I take after my dad, my oldest and youngest sons take after both of us.  Little boys.

 

Knowing our creator has provided a portion of His Kingdom on earth, which believers are part of.  Believers are also called to build the Kingdom, right here on earth. In this, we are to celebrate life as God given, along with the many additional gifts that have been and are given to us throughout our lifetime – here.

Here we beginning to celebrate that, which  is but a glimpse of what we are told heaven is like.  Considering this, the pages of the bible that are written with Jesus explaining

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

The first thing a teacher may suggest is that we are simply to submit to His will trusting in Him.  I believe that is true – but – Jesus is also challenging us here to see and participate in the beauty of life and all that it offers to us through the innocence of a child’s eyes, touch, taste, ear, sound – heart & soul.

 

The first moments of life outside of the presumed safety of a mothers womb. Snuggled safely in her arms, in the hours shortly after birth.  Babies this young cannot focus, see.  They know us by voice, scent, warmth.  A small baby perhaps smelling a flower for the first time.  Exploring the wonders of the Kingdom, safely with a parent.  Protected, safe.  As we are in Him.

 

 Experiences the senses, safely protected.  First time in the pool?  With an adoring dad or maybe uncle.  The texture of the shag carpeting beneath the body of a little one just learning to sit up – exploring touch and the magic of sound, the music they can make.  I can almost hear the babbling/singing joy.  An infant in a baby swing – big brother learning to care for little one and sharing fun – learning to push the swing, bonding time with family.  Giggles in a big round swing, or big brother having fun crawling through the big metal tube at the park – having a little race?  Learning, sharing, touch, sound, movement, scent. . . love.

First experience of independence?  Toddling ahead, exploring their land legs, the crunching sound of leaves beneath, chill of the autumn air.  Examining the world “upside down” – what a view!  Learning you can blow bubbles!  The joy of watching that shinny blob grow…float away “pop”!  “Flowers for you mom” I remember those days and floating petals with no stems .  The crunching of snow underfoot, footprints, snow angels? Potters Clay Wet sand, or hard stones on a rocky beach.  Salt air, the sound of seagulls overhead, the sound of the waves coming in – and excitement for tide going out – sandbars to play on!  Catching tadpoles in a pond!  The beauty of life.

 

Piggy back ride Papa?  Giggling happily. Early friendships.  First Kiss.

When we are able to sit back and fully embrace these awesomely beautiful moments in life we are participating in the Kingdom of God – right here, on earth.

When is the last time you allowed yourself to embrace your own life, through the eyes of an innocent child?  Note, scripture does not tell us to be adult, but to live with the humbleness of a child, embracing His gifts.

  5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

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~

When I began writing during my lunch break this afternoon, I did so with the intention of writing something that included the prompt word of the day.  The more I reflected upon the verse chosen, the photographs, experiences and thought of future experiences – the further I have moved from that single word prompt.  I’m no longer going to use it – in this article anyway.  I find deeper thoughts and feelings as I write and hope to share, offer glimpse at experiences we often overlook – or, take for granted.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

As we “grow up”, grow older, we often tend to loose our sense of innocence, childlike wonder.  I think the humility that Jesus is talking about is not simply to say “You are my Father, I trust you”.  I think we are supposed to stretch ourselves, perhaps out of our self imposed comfort zones – to really embrace life and to live again.  True happiness and love are not found in tangible items, they are found within our relationships.  It would I believe, be impossible to really write a full list of the wonderful gifts our Father has given us, this request for our true humility offers to enrich our lives and those in our lives all the more. 

Last night, teaching my ninth grade confirmation class I asked my usual questions.  I had new students in my class and when I asked “Who is God?” a hand shot right up, I called on my student and he replied “The Creator of All”.  Out of the mouth of babes.  While we know and acknowledge this truth,  how often do we sit back and really contemplate the vast beauty he has bestowed upon us? How often do we consider – or – admit, we are not fully turning ourselves over to God?  He asks us to be open and remain open. 

Selecting the photo’s I have chosen to use today, writing this piece. . . I can remember my new born babies the wonder of the older brother(s) as each sibling arrived.  I look forward to the birth of our little one, a baby boy.  I remember little fists clutched with crushed flowers, mud pies and a ring around the bathtub after washing up one toddler (who then was rinsed in the clean water of a shower!).  Yes, messy little boys who loved to play outside and embraced the world God created for us. 

He challenges me.  He challenges us. 

~ Go back to the top and look at each and every photo again.  What do you see?  What do you feel?  What do you want to experience?

~ Blessings

“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them”

I learned when I married, that religion was going to be a big issue in my life, though I had no inkling I would end up divorced and where I am today.  I was raised in various Protestant denominations, attended Roman Catholic with friends, (one more often – who has at this point left the church for Lutheran).  I have written a bit about this in the past, at some point I will probably re-post something I wrote when I first set up my blog “Who am I?”, which was an extension of my “About me” and religion. 

A really short version here is this;  I was raised Protestant and converted to the Roman Catholic faith in order to be able to bring my children up as Christians.  It was the only way my exh who did not attend church (and swore literally that we never would attend a Catholic church after he spoke with a priest prior to our marriage (justice of the peace).  – So, I have a little background on the difficulties and choices we make in order to raise our children to be children of God.

Something I believe I shared last winter was that Little Miss has a two-year old son who is currently being raised by his paternal grandparents.  His father lives in their upstairs apartment.  The details of her life other than, won’t be shared here.  She has had a very difficult life and has come a long way in just the past few months, from when she first entered our lives.  I don’t think she ever really had anyone to love or guide her.  I find her eager to please, fun to be around and a really good person.  When I became involved, aside from wanting to help her, I wanted to help her reunify with her son who she had not seen in several months.  Somewhere along the way she and son became…involved in ways that should have waited.  Now, we have baby little on the way.

Saturday mornings, and any other vacation or holiday I have off work have become our “date” time.  I pick her up, drive to another city to the clinic for Methadone (she became addicted to heroin  sometime after the birth of her first son).  We often go to breakfast before or after and sometimes we go shopping.  I have been waiting for a small Catholic gift  & book store to reopen.  I really like to support the woman who has made her shop her life’s passion.  After the clinic this past Saturday, we drove to the shop and though it was not “quite” open… (awaiting CO) the front door was open so in we went.  I could buy everything in the shop :chuckles:  Really.  Seems my little miss is the same way.   The baby’s room theme is “Noah’s Ark” (seems like many things in my life bring that portion of the bible up :) ).  We picked out a Noah’s Ark nightlight, two inexpensive bracelets for the little parents (leather with cross for son, yellow braided with tiny crosses for moma – as she picked hers out and made sure I’d get one for son too ♥).

20161113_171536Psalm 139 is very near and dear to my heart.  It is my favorite.  “I am wonderfully made” with the little lion was my choice.  Little Miss chose the Noah’s Ark themed cross “God keeps His promised”.

I also bought two crib medals, one for the crib at my home and one for their home.  I have told the kids to bring theirs to the hospital to put in the isolate when baby little is born.

While moma little and I were looking at everything and making a decision on what cross to get for babies wall (my choice will be on the wall, little moma’s on his dresser – her choice).  I told her as he gets older we can pick out a different crucifix for his room and she liked that.  We looked at a couple of other things that I’ll pick up later on.

Here is where things get sticky – and upsetting – for me. 

Though both raised Roman Catholic my little’s are not attending a Catholic Church. 

Moma Little’s toddler is not attending church.  He was not Baptized.  His current guardian (a Practicing Roman Catholic – my understanding) has forbidden young lady to talk to her son about God, Jesus.

Right.  I can imagine what you are thinking.

Many months ago I had bought some Catholic/Christian toddler books and Little Moma brought them to her son on visitation (she now has visits twice a week, for two hours each time – so she is moving in the right direction.  He also adores my son, who visits once in a while – and son adores him).

On Saturday, I told her we’d come back after the baby was born so we could order one of the frames that you add footprints, a photo and birth info to.  I also told her we could pick somethings out for her older son when we came back for Christmas.  This is when she told me she’s been forbidden to talk about God.  I asked her about the books and she said she hasn’t seen them anywhere since the day she brought them there.

The other part of this story is this;  Young lady didn’t want to have the baby Baptized when he was born.  In truth, she was not doing well in her life at the time and wasn’t emotionally or mentally able to deal with any responsibility at that time.  She also thought it would be best to wait and let him make his own decision.  Apparently the grandma bought a Christening outfit and wanted to throw a party and Little Moma and the babies dad said “no”.  Now, the grandma is still licking her wounds – and keeping the little one from Jesus.

My sons were brought up Roman Catholic.  I taught CCD when they were little – even bringing my youngest, a toddler in tow because I had no babysitter.  I worked at summer Bible Camp – and introduced the Catholic Cub Scout awards to my parish.  My oldest and youngest were both alter servers.  The older two – confirmed.  Unfortunately by the orders of their father, not by their choice as it should have been presented.  Neither attend church currently.  Youngest son was not confirmed.  His first session for confirmation class was “why be Catholic” and the DRE, at the time also his teacher – couldn’t tell him why (epic fail on her part).  I spoke to her and she promised to have the Pastor speak to him – and never did.  Around the same time our family split and my ex husband (the reason my family is Roman Catholic…) refused to bring the boys to Mass or CCD on “his time”.

Son still worked at church Bingo taking it over from his older bother, until he was old enough to get a real job (all three boys worked in high school).  He had a two-year relationship with a Protestant young lady (they were “pre-engaged” … due to young age) she had a promise ring.  She had no desire to attend Mass so he attended her family church here and in Florida, and an Evangelical church nearby.

When son and little miss began hanging out, they began attending mass out of town (her family reasons).  Then they began attending the Evangelical church where they felt more comfortable.  They asked the grandmother/guardian of her toddlers if they could bring him and the babies dad (the dad supposedly was willing) to go to the Evangelical Church and the grandmother refused.

A good Catholic? ? ?   A bad Christian.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

The emotional games of tug and war that are played out by adults!!!  Keeping a child from Jesus!  I don’t understand how  this could be – but it is.

What I do know is this.  One day two little brothers will be playing together, hopefully living in the same home with their mom who is trying hard to move forward in her life (though admittedly – she needs a lot of encouragement, support and love herself).  She is capable.  Those little boys will be able to go to church, read stories about Jesus and play with Noni’s age appropriate nativity at Christmas.  One day – because I am sure God is watching.

Meanwhile, toddler brother is in my prayers along with baby little.  When the kids came to dinner tonight I told my son (talked to little miss about this Saturday also), that I am going to buy big brother / little brother shirts because – they are brothers.  He “knows” there is a baby in mommy’s tummy.  The hard part is going to be when she visits, when she brings baby and leaves with baby  – and not toddler child.  I could see this on her face when we were talking the other day.  She didn’t say it, but she felt it.

Please, if you have children, grand children  – any children in your life and you proclaim yourself to be a person of faith – do not withhold God from a child as a means to punish a parent.  Even children that are not “family”, if you have a Saturday night sleepover ask the parents if they mind if  their son or daughter attend church with you.  I can’t tell you how many times I attended mass as a child with friends (other churches too).  I can’t tell you how many little boys attended mass with my sons and me.  I never had someone say “no thank you” and – I never had anyone keep their child home the next Saturday invite either.

St. Luke 18:16  Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Closed minds are not Godly

With news of the election results here in the United States a division can be seen among Americans in a way I have not seen before. While there has been division before, this seems larger than that.

I see ignorance and taunting.  Educated human beings, lacking the emotional capacity to truly empathize, and love others as Jesus Christ would do. Even among my own religion I see this, having just read a letter from a local religious leader, there is continuation of an inability to grasp the intellectual and emotional growth outside of their walls, not by all but by those in power.

In all cases I am seeing a tendency  for some overblown egos … who don’t even realize that they have one.

People in powerful positions who fail to have the knowledge, experience and ability to truly empathize with other human beings is a misuse of power.  When one closes off their mind, heart – and soul they are unable to truly lead anyone in a positive manner.

With all of the gifts we have been given in Trinity there is so much abundance.  There is room for everyone in the United States ,and there is room for everyone in the Kingdom of God, both here in our physical life, and after our passing from this life.

It frightens me honestly to seen this inability in leaders because situations are going to implode upon them and they don’t see it coming.  We can’t build a fence along the entire southern border of the US.  We cannot fill up buses or planes and just send people who have established lives “away”.  I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, muslim, jew, christian, or buddhist, I love youwe’re all in this life together

A unity could be seen, in some area’s still in infancy, some on toddler or preteen stages.  We cannot allow this growth to regress.

We need to pray for all of our leaders.  Government and Religious who are removed from real life experience, they cannot see the forest through the trees.  Sadder yet, is to see them make jokes of God’s gifts and too often I hear that gong banging…

A portion of today’s readings from the Divine Office;

Mid-morning reading:
Romans 12:17,19-20,21
Never repay evil with evil. As scripture says: Vengeance is mine – I will pay them back, says the Lord. But there is more: If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, and if he is thirsty, let him drink. Resist evil and conquer it with good.

Noon reading:
1 John 3:16
This has taught us love – that he gave up his life for us; and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.

Afternoon reading:
1 John 4:9-11
God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

~I’m going to share a little story of my life.  Some of you who know me, or those of you who have read my blog from the beginning,  have heard part of this.  I was born without hip sockets in 1962.  Medical technology wasn’t the same then as it is now, combine that with having parents who were not well-educated and lived a bit of a gypsy lifestyle – I was almost four years old before I was diagnosed and what I refer to as guinea-pig surgery became part of my life. 

One time I was in the hospital for over 7 months straight, sent home only because the measles were going around the hospital and had not yet hit my ward.  The surgeries failed and in truth ended up causing me a lot more problems (and pain) than I had prior to.  Good intentions though and what they learned with me enabled them to help other kids.  I do find solace in that . 

Now, I am going to skip past years and many details of my life, I’ll add in the short sentence:  I was married for 20 years to a man who was physically, emotionally and spiritually abusive.  It was a lonely sad life, during which I did undergo three surgeries in which I had hip sockets constructed (and I “grew” 4″ taller! – in my 30’s).  I wouldn’t wish any of these experiences on anyone.

The first reading above, never repay evil with evil is what brings this part of my life to my writing this evening.  Several months ago my former husband  was in a very bad motorcycle accident.  His pelvis was crushed (he lost a testicle, almost both…).  Very traumatic, painful.  I still remember the phone call from my son and how I felt.  My very first thoughts were to God to protect and save him.  That surprises people who don’t know me, those that know me were not surprised.  What did surprise me is in recent weeks all three of our sons have commented on how they had felt it was deserved and now he knows what I have endured my lifetime.  He apparently walks with a bit of a limp, is having a difficult time maneuvering which makes his work difficult – and he is in pain. 

While it is good my sons felt able to confide their feelings to me, it made me sad that they would consider retribution of this sort being just, because that is not what God teaches us.  So, I had some good discussions with the boys  (separately).

The next two verses tell us of God’s love for us and His desire for us to truly love one another.  I try to live this in my every day life and I pray to grow in this. 

I have to consider what I have said about people in powerful places, leaders above and pray for them – and I will add as a survivor of domestic violence this very real truth;

There are things in life we learn as we grow.  Some of these truths are realizations of those powerful folks using methods of emotional, physical and spiritual – abuse.  These things may be laying below the surface and not visible, but, to the persons being abused.  Our loving Father does not look lightly upon anything that hurts his children.  We are committed to Him directly not the government of a country, employer or religious institution.   I have read judgemental comments stating recently, in reference I believe to things I have spoken of – things like “not wanting that on my conscience”. 

I’ll take that and raise you one

I would not be able to live with myself, seeing truths, not to voice them, at times in very painstaking ways because I fear the hurt it may cause . . . not because of “my conscience” – but because I answer to my Triune God.  The Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit. 

~Blessings & Prayers for all of the courageous people who work hard to have an open mind and accepting heart.   f-john8_-31-32

Spiritual Seeds

Recent readings from a morning  Mass are good reading and for me show interesting aspects of Spiritual growth.  Spirituality can mean different things to different people.  For myself, this is my relationship with our Triune God. 

The three readings are helpful for me show interesting aspects of Spiritual growth.  Spirituality can mean different things to different people.  For myself, this is my relationship with God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.1

The first reading this morning was from the book of Jeremiah which I am not going to quote in the entirety, realizing this was written at a time when the nations were at war. Here we have another reminder in the Bible that God created each and every one of us and he did so with a purpose in mind Jeremiah is told his purpose is to be a prophet to the nations, to tear down – and build up.  This I am going to look at in the spiritual sense.

 

As we go through life in order to grow spiritually strong, we will go through many challenges.  If we look at events as challenges – not obstacles in our growth, they become more of an ally – a friend, than a fear or foe.  dYes, it’s putting the positive spin on situations, finding whatever good we can in them in order to push through and out the other side to be able to grow in our spiritual strength.  When we are spiritually strong, we are better able to serve God and others.  Far easier to type or read than it is to go through, it is hard work at times.  As we grow through life experiences there is a tearing away of who we were and a then the building or planting of the new, wiser, stronger self – who is able to offer more to others, which is pleasing to God. 

 

The next reading at Mass are excerpts from Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5-6ab, 15 and 17

 

Here praise is given to our Lord for all that He is and has done for us, from the moment of conception. 3

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.

 

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.

 

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

 

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

                                                   I will sing of your salvation.

 

A very important aspect of a prayerful life is to remember to honor and share our gratitude with God for all He is and all He has given.  5This too is a way of growing spiritually, as we sit before our Lord – to put Him first, before our cares and worries (which He already knows about).  Just like seeing a friend “Hello, how are you?  So good to spend time with you, thank you dear God, thank you for . . .”  God before self.

 

 

 

Lastly, the third reading, the Gospel of St. Mathew 13:1-9

 

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In this story Jesus explains very clearly how we may begin our faith journey with the intention of following Him to God.  Some start off on a path, trampled into hard ground by those walking to and for.  The ground has not been worked or fertilized, the seeds fall and roll – a bird comes by and finds some dinner.  The seed never taking hold.6

Next, we have some seeds that fall on rocky soil.  They take root but there are not many plants hardy enough to survive in the shallow soil, where rocks block the ability for roots to take a deep hold.  With strong sunlight, the leaves burn and the plants die – having no roots deep in the soil to provide moisture for sustenance and growth.

 Walking off the beaten path, we lose some seeds from our pocket – they fall among weeds and having so many so close together they choke out the little seedlings trying to grow, offering little crop.

Lastly, we plant our seeds in loose, fertile soil – full of nutrients, few stones or pebbles to block the way of the roots ability to grow deep allowing the plants themselves to flourish and produce a large number of strong plants.

In our humanness, there will be those that start off in their faith journey like our first seeds, snatched away by the birds.  We have people that struggle to grow among the rocks in their surroundings, not able or ready to move on to more fertile land, some survive their journey but are not able to grow strong roots. 

Those folks who are surrounded by the weeds, or perhaps more easily explained as others who do not believe, will may be smothered by the sinfulness around them and here we will find few able to flourish and grow to a great depth. 

The final planting is in fertile ground, people who are nurtured and cared for who will be able to grow and continue to grow their roots of faith and spirituality deep in the love of God.

I heard an interesting scenario, which can serve as a good reminder.  If care isn’t taken the good soil may wash away to less fertile ground, or a rocky path.  I found this interesting for a couple of reasons.  First – it is a great reminder to stay focused on God in our faith journey.  The example given interested me because it mentioned change in person’s demeanor that could lead: sic: to less fertile ground.  This is true, however one must also carefully consider the full context of a given scenario.  What is really a danger to the soil or – a new fertilizer that will enable the plants to grow and flourish, care must be given in that consideration.  Also, those birds may have dropped some of those seeds from that first part of our story, on fertile ground where in time they took root and grew to be strong and solid.  This too happens with humans.

Serious care must be given to all of God’s children – embrace the final words of Jesus in this story “Whoever has ears ought to hear”.  Just as we must take care to remain in fertile ground, stay close to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – any one of us, may begin our lives in a thorny patch of weeds –  and find ourselves transplanted with life changes to strong and fertile soil with our roots growing to a great depth with God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit.

 

Choice, Chance, Change & God

I was talking with a friend recently.  We found ourselves thinking about our lives, the paths we chose,  the knowledge that we have been graced with the ability and options to make choices and decisions to travel different roads.

We are all gifted with the ability to make choices in our lives.  Often, we put a lot of time and thought into decisions that are going to affect not only ourselves but other people.  While we have to look at how it will affect others, the truth is we have to discern what is really best for ourselves because God is within.  I add caution to say not best for ourselves in a selfish way, rather – in a true honest and loving way.  Too often people put their unhappiness on God, but God is such an awesome loving being – all we have is from His abundant love.

Earlier today I read this reading from today’s DO.

Mid-morning reading   1 John 4:16

“We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

I have read through this a few times today, each time my eyes read this a little differently from the way it is written.  What I read is more like this;We know and trust God loves us.  He is love.  He loves us.  We know He knows us intimately, inside and out.  Our thoughts, desires and our human needs.  Our needs to be truly cared for and truly loved.  Our need to have and participate in loving relationships.  He created us this way, this is why it is written all throughout the bible that he created pairs of humans and pairs of animals to live and share life with.  This is natural, this is His gift to us.
Needs are not to be confused with. . .

Noon reading  Galatians 6:7-8

“What a man sows, he reaps. If he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life.”

. . . Needs are not to be confused with self-indulgence.  There are times, particularly within strict religious teachings that teachers will confuse the two and suggest that the true gift of desire that God gifts us with is not a true gift but something self-indulgent.  It is not the same at all. 

True Godly desire of caring, loving, intimate relationships is pure and both self emptying and filling back up by those we love.  Like that power exchange we hear about and that I wrote a bit about in my article on marriage.  Our weakness may be found in our love and our strength may be found in the same love – we exchange.

Self-indulgence is when one acts upon a whim with no consideration of others, their needs, it’s not give and take – it becomes “take”.

When we sow our seeds, plant ourselves firmly in Spirit we are reaching God, we walk toward light and goodness with one another.  That caring, loving intimate relationship with another will find eternal love with our creator, our Lord.

Afternoon reading  (Galatians 6:9-10)

“We must never get tired of doing good, and then we shall get our harvest at the proper time. While we have the chance, we must do good to all, and especially to our brothers in the faith.”

What happens when we live our lives bringing good into the lives of those around us?  Good flows back to us.  Gods design – not?  I am not thrilled with the words “especially to our brothers and sisters in faith” because that doesn’t sound Christlike – it sounds Paulish but after all St. Paul was human so I suppose I have to overlook that.  You understand what I mean though – no?  We should always work to do good, not matter who it is for, as we are on this earth are all children of God.  No one better than the next.

 

When we look at our lives at the beginning as young people our eyes are big and we are excited and so very sure our lives will play out in a certain way.  Our parents will be proud of us and God – our Father will be proud of our choices and decisions.  As a mom looking at my sons right now (22 – 28) I realize an innocence they had (as did all of us I suppose).  I also realize looking at my 22 year old who is taking on the responsibility of being a dad (etc.) that he is at the very beginning of a journey.

 

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While he thinks he sees all that may lay ahead, I know as an older experienced and wiser person that he is in for a heck of a ride.   He has had options thus far and has chosen the path that is right for him right now.  A path I hope will work out well and be the correct one for all concerned.

The truth is there are going to be times that he feels like he is traveling that road alone but for God and – he will be. path-pic Wet, muddy, fog down the road.  Not quite clear on choices.

 

 

Among our choices we really do have more than one path that can take.  The easiest is two-paths-same-destinationusually to remain in the place in which we are most familiar, with  very little chance of change to our lives or growth.  

Sometimes we may make a choice to change our path, merge with change and others on a different path.

 

When we consider and embrace we have the choice, to take a chance to make change in our lives it can be a really scary realization.  When I left my marriage after twenty years, 754fc4071c3255a51244d0cdeb0b371aI made a choice to take a chance to change my life and the lives of those in my life and – I did.  What a growth experience this has been!!!  I realize now how courageous I really am.

d166c6ba2fc430cc9da00131adf9436bPlaces He may want you to be. 

Discern what you want.  Discern what the God you know are or are really beginning to see in a new light may want.  They say there is more than one way to skin a cat – and there is more than one way to arrive at the same destination. 

When we consider changing our lives, we look at those closest to us, and those whose lives we touch but not in the same intimate way.  Remember God created us to be loving human beings with … needs and desires to be with others in caring, loving relationships

Jesus calls us to be disciples.  We can do both within our homes and without and we can very definitely share God, teach, evangelize and most likely reach people in deeper ways when we are able to have true friendships and relationships with them.  Let the walls down.

I have Miss Little in my midst.  How many ways has my faith touched her life?  How many ways will it touch Baby Little?  How many people will God reach throughout them over their own lifetimes.  It is less about the masses of humans and more about the individuals that we touch and reach in life.  Consider the parable of Jesus sending the disciples out into the world.  We will reach who He intends us to and how that works in His plan is His knowing.

34886d5ae6bf24027dcaad738d325b79Always turn to our Father.

Remain open, listen and He will make paths straight.  Change can be scary no matter what it is.  Staying in the same spot can be scarier. 

Jesus Christ did not teach planting seeds and growth for amusement.  It is fully the intention of our Father that we grow in faith – and in truly living life.  No matter what  a choice is He loves us and we are loved by others.  Real love allows our loves to be free to make choices, support them – but we can still say, hey – I am here too.

My choice of allowing Miss Little into our lives and hearts is to become a Nona (with not a drop of Italian blood I must admit) in just a matter of a few weeks.  I’ll be holding a little tiny baby boy – something I have barely ever honestly considered.  Even with all of the shopping and planning and – even making an appointment for the kids to meet with (my sons) Pediatrician in two weeks.  A nona.  Noni.  Hmmm.

What change will your choice bring into your life?  The lives of others?  So many options, so many doorways to step through.  With love, support of others who have walked in your path is there – as is support from a love no matter what.

~Blessings

Sanctuary

I remember watching movies as a youngster and hearing the word “sanctuary” used when people were seeking refuge – safety.  I wonder as I write this if that was not part of my love of entering a church.  My safe place.  Gods house.

I have to admit I was disturbed to learn recently that our church now provides live viewing of mass via a personal log in on your home computer.  Why does this bother me?  For one thing, our archdioceses offered televised mass that is recorded at a studio.  People know the camera is on them and they are being filmed.  Not so where I attend Mass, unless people visit the website.

For myself, my relationship with God is very intimate.  When I enter my church it is one of my free / safe zones with my Lord.  Suddenly my Sanctuary, my place of peace, quiet – sitting there alone with God – is no longer alone.  You see,  I realize if they are filming us at Mass, they most likely are also using the camera as a part of a security system so those times I have stopped in for some private moments with my Lord – have most likely been watched.

I realize, this is not only my church – perhaps all of them now.  We are no longer alone with God.  A church is no longer a true Sanctuary where you can feel alone in Him.  Praying quietly, tears flowing or laughter with a friend before Mass . . . Big brother is now watching.

I suppose we should not be surprised, shocked or bothered – but I am.  My relationship with God the most precious relationship I can have.  For myself, I know without that relationship there is no me and there can be no other relationships.  

Somehow . . . this seems to taint the beauty, simplicity and openness of our faith journeys. 

Who wants to be viewed or taped while having private moments with our Father?  How often over the years have I heard – no photo’s please?

I think of how many times over the years I have knelt in prayer before the cross feeling free to pray and talk to my Father, on some occasions tears have flowed freely.

No more.  A sacred place that I grew up believing offered sanctuary, has been taken away.  Stolen by technology. 

I am thankful I have grown past the time in my life where I felt I had to kneel before the cross to pray to find God, in the way that I now know Him.  I will still attend Mass. Church is part of my life.

~  Thankfully, we learn with Jesus that our Father is – outside of a church ♥  as he wandered freely to worship and commune with Him, so shall I.

Note to clarify my last paragraph.  Jesus wandered in nature, wilderness, mountaintops and the sea to commune with God.  I have always known God was with me, but in more recent times I find Him differently.  There was a day when  I felt I had to be in a church to have that close contemplative relationship with Him.  I have now found Him – everywhere.

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.

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

Reflections of Proverbs 19:2

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Another way to word this:  “Ignorant zeal is worthless:  Haste makes waste.

Grow a wise heart – you’ll do yourself a favor:

Keep a clear head – you’ll find a good life.”

 

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The Fruits of the Spirit include forbearance. A gift of patience in a difficult situation, self-control, the ability to lean into God and trust His timing and direction.

It’s important to remember the fruits of the spirit.  These are gifts from God to all of His children who believe in Him through Jesus – who asked our Father to send the Spirit to guide us through life.  When we’re able to apply lessons learned and grow in the fruits our gifts multiple through Him.  Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self-control.  Against these gifts there is no law.

Are you familiar with the gifts of the spirit?  Do you work to grow and apply these fruits in all area’s of your lives?  If you have children – do you take the time to talk to them about these gifts?

Reflections of Proverbs 19:1

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Another way I have found this written is this:

It’s better to be poor and live an honest life than to be a dishonest fool.

When we truly surrender our lives to the Lord, we seek to live life in Him.  Honest and true.  Genuine Integrity.  God understands we will fail but the purpose is for us to strive to be honest in our lives. 

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He knows us.  He created us.  Our days were written in His book.  We allow the Spirit to guide us.

The dishonest fool is one who lives a false life which contains lies that cover up the wrongs or sins of themselves or others.  Lies protect no one and in truth harm everyone.  Right down through the generations, damage is done.

What do you think?  Are you living or working hard to live a life of integrity? (or) Is your choice to lie, cover ups sins of others and live the life of a dishonest fool?

God see’s all.  He knows all.  What is your choice?  Through Jesus Christ, we are offered a clean slate and new life – just for the asking.