10/1/14

Leaving the Right Kind of Footprints Behind

We keep hearing about the “The Ecological Footprint” and how we can’t leave it behind worse off than how we received it.  This particular footprint estimates how much of God’s creation, i.e., the lakes, the forests, and the other natural resources, we will have abused, overused, consumed and wasted on an annual basis in our lifetime.

We are told over and over again how terrible this is now and for those coming after us.  Instead we are encouraged to give nature, the attention, care and proper respect in an effort to avoid or reduce the “Ecological Footprint.”   We are told that if we do this, all will benefit!

Now on the other hand, isn’t Jesus’ gift of faith a great footprint to leave behind?  In fact, we can call this life giving footprint our “Faith Footprint.”  This footprint can tell everyone who sees it how we have followed Jesus.  It stamps our path with the imprint that Jesus invited us to accompany Him on this journey and that we accepted.

And along the way, the imprint will show the signs we left, i.e., that we treated people fairly and justly; that we did our best to do what’s right; and that people saw that Jesus was our friend.  “Faith Footprints” show we invited the people we loved to share this friendship with Jesus.  Lastly, it shows how we worked daily to build God’s kingdom in what we did.

Yes, our “Faith Footprints” boldly proclaim that we are grateful to have walked this earth, and delighted also to enjoy God’s creation while here.  Today in all you do–leave your Faith Footprint wherever you walk.  It’s the stamp on creation our God enjoys seeing every day!

09/21/14

Christ Offers the World Real Peace

The headlines these days are about wars or preparedness for war and the need to rid ourselves of enemies. They tell of the way to find peace, and the price we have to pay to insure this peace.  And the price tag is enormous.

In the gospel, Christ too speaks about peace, and how he wants to give it. His peace does not come with scary headlines.  His peace seems different, and it comes differently too.  He says his peace is not “not as the world gives peace do I give it to you.”   So what is different about His peace?

Does Christ have a different understanding of peace?  It seems so.   Shouting voices from advertisers talk about the need for a good burglar alarm to protect our home, politicians preach invincible military might, labor leaders fight for a substantial pension plan for our retirement, and insurance agents sell policies that cover every major disease that can inflict harm.

Each believes that these are the ways to peace, contentment and security.   To all these clamoring voices, Christ softly says again that his peace is   “not as the world gives peace do I give it to you.”

Christ peace is the reality that God, His Father, loved us from the first moment we were created.  He loved us as a friend and never backed off from this promise.  God also knows our mistakes and still continues to offer His forgiveness.  These truths alone are enough to instill peace.

Jesus describes God, as the Forgiving Father on the hill, anxiously waiting like a loving parent to embrace us in heaven.   This is God’s daily wish that we be with him for all eternity.  That’s the peace Jesus shares with us.

It is a grand portrait of a loving and forgiving God who longs for our eternal presence.  How can this not be a  “peace that surpasses all understanding “says St Paul In Philippians 4:7?

And nothing can take this gift away.  God guarantees it forever.   When Jesus says  “My peace I give you.” Listen to these truly wonderful words. They are free and they are there for you every day.

09/17/14

The Battle of the “No’s”

Sometimes following Jesus can be a Mighty Battle of the “No’s.”  Now this probably sounds odd, but  how often do we hear someone say, e.g., “I can’t follow Jesus, I am not holy enough,” or perhaps “I am not good enough.”  And then there is always the proverbial standby: “I try but I just can’t stay on track.”  But what we rarely hear is that quiet little internal No!–“I can’t give up this comfort or that comfort just yet.”  I often wonder–“ Is it that I can’t?” or rather that “I won’t !”

The reality in all this–is that “battling No’s” is a life long struggle.  It simply appears every time we want to say “yes” to following Jesus, but to do so we have to hold in check these little “No” demons who want us to fail.

However, the best part of this struggle is that Jesus is on our side!  He knows how these “No” demons work.  Remember when Jesus was tempted three times in the desert–there it was all about saying “no” to being Savior and instead enjoying only the power and glory that came with the title.  Jesus said “No”– and He did it with strength.

This is the same strength Jesus shares with us.  He promises to help us defeat our “No’s,” and he does this with the power of His grace.  With Jesus on our side, those negative demons, don’t stand a chance.  So say “yes” to Jesus and  Jesus will always say “yes” to us.  Now that’s the way to win the battle!

09/14/14

“ Be Who You Are and Be That Well as a Testament to the Creator Who Made us”

God made us in His own image and likeness, but He loves us for what we become with His Image.  God is also truly creative.  He gave us personal gifts and distinct talents, and he sends us forth to mold and shape His likeness by these gifts and talents.  In gratitude surprise the Lord this day and become the masterpiece we are. It’s a wonderful way to say “thank You” for His love and concern.   Live today well!

09/8/14

“Earth is Crammed…”

We are assured from faith that God wants to communicate with us.  He does it in many ways.  My favorite is through a “small still voice.”   This whispering voice may offer encouragement, or some small consolations like “drops of water on a sponge,” writes St Ignatius.

God’s “small still voice” doesn’t come from a dark, far away “out there” place.  It comes from inside us; and it shows how we can be that wonderful gift called self!  St. Francis de Sales writes that this voice encourages us gently, to take the risks that can lead us to be “who we are and to be that well as a testament to the master craftsman who created us.”

Whatever our God given gifts and talents may be, they are our clues as to what God’s plan is for us.  Certainly, God provides differently to each of us.   The point is never to forget is that God does give and does it generously.  Gerard Manley Hopkins described it in this way: “For Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his.”

We have to stop, look and listen, for if we don’t, we will miss the clues and not see the signs.  But above all, we will be the people that Elizabeth Barrett Browning described in her poem:

 

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he, who sees, takes off his shoes—

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries”

 

We can do better than pick blackberries.  We can and should endeavor to listen to God’s “small still voice” and strive to climb mountains instead!

09/3/14

Bidding Farewell

Jonathan is nearing 79 years of age.   When he reminds his family that his time on this earth may be running out, they cut him off with a humorous remark.  “God doesn’t want you yet.” Or “You look too good and healthy for your age!”

Jonathan explains he isn’t saying this for self-pity or for compliments, rather he is simply preparing now, to let go more easily when his time to leave this earth does arrives.

Jonathan is on to something.  In life we are always saying “good bye” to something.  We bid farewell to our “hair” to  “our youthful energy” in running  a 10 K race and even our hearing!  Life helps us to let go whether we are ready or not.

When St Francis de Sales was asked “If you were told you are to die in the next minute what would you do?”  He simply responded. “Exactly what I am doing right now.”  In other words, stay focused on the present moment.  There is no better way to live or to die, for that matter, than to be doing well what we are doing in our present moment!

Jonathan is right in preparing.  He understands that living on earth means we are always approaching eternity.   This is why it is good practice every once in a while, to remind ourselves of this by “Living  today well!”

08/31/14

Love Has Marvelous Powers

St. John of the Cross once wrote “where there is no love, put love and you will draw love out.”  This is so true for Beth and Joel.

Beth is totally in love with Joel.  Beth puts her life on hold each time Joel needs her.  Beth loves to be with Joel, and even when nothing is said, she knows she is loved deeply in return.

Their love has no boundaries.  It is simply unconditional.  Love is a smile, a kind word of encouragement, a slight touch as they pass one another or a few moments of listening to show they care.  Their love “draws out love from one another” in simple everyday actions and gestures.  It calls them to be more than they are at any given moment.

When Joel wakes everyday, and looks at Beth at his side he is filled with a warm, gratefulness to God.  They feel better about themselves just to be in the same room with each other.  What did they ever do to deserve such joy and delight?

Jesus always put love in places where it was needed too.  One example was His kindnesses to Mary Magdalene which produced one of Jesus’ closest friends.  Another was inviting himself to dinner with Zaccheus which enabled Zaccheus to make his enemies–his new friends.  Jesus showed us that loving another has amazing healing and sealing powers.

Joel and Beth discovered this.  It binds their union.  And their gratitude binds their union with God.  St John of the cross is spot on.

Love draws love out!  Try it today and every day!

08/27/14

Hope in Loss

Recently while attending a funeral liturgy, I was struck by this contrast. The world outside the Church was going about life as usual. People were rushing to catch the metro to be on time for work; some were reading newspapers–getting caught up on the latest war casualties; colleges and universities were welcoming incoming freshman; and everyone else was simply doing what they normally do. It was just a routine, ordinary day.

However in this quiet, sacred place, we chanted ancient prayers, and knelt before our God. We prayed to God, who for some, seemed distant and disconnected from all this hubbub. Yet to us in our pews, we knew our God was real and very much connected.

Faith tells us how ever close, ever caring and ever consoling– especially at this precious moment of pain and mystery–God truly is! In listening to the meaningful words of our Scriptures: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God and no torment will ever touch them.” Once again, this truth came alive for us!

We felt our healing already beginning. From these words we knew our deceased loved one was in good hands, and that God would take care of him. We were comforted to know truly that our loved one would be protected by God for all eternity in the safety and security of these “hands of God.”

It reminded us of why our loved one was created in the first place. God made him, as he made all of us, to love and to live eternally with Him.

How could this be any other kind of a day except special? Jesus’ words from the Gospel confirmed this even more when he said: “I am the resurrection and the life and those who believe in me will live forever.” And because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that our loved one would too. But there is more! So will we!

For us kneeling in that sacred place this day, Jesus took the “sting” from death. In its place, Jesus added a better ending- a superb ending- One day we will all be together again. Yes, it was no ordinary day. It was a fantastic day! Hope in Jesus healed the loss.

08/24/14

The Ease in Following

When Jesus calls us to himself, He first of all accepts us for who we are.  He loves us, embraces and makes us His friends, but mostly Jesus listens.  He hears our fears, our hesitations, our doubts and then, in His constant gentle way: He whispers–”Be more!”  “Be more!”  Two small words, and yet they hold so many possibilities.  Jesus can see deep within us.  And He wants us to see them too!

Jesus knows that a subtle change here, or a turn there, can set our life on a happier course and in a more satisfying direction.  Yet, Jesus does it by patient nudging.  He presents the gifts of joy, peace and love that await us just around the corner and then invites us to choose.

Jesus knows our life is never a dead end if we choose to make a turn.  Jesus knows this and urges us to do it.

Today as we navigate through our pathways ask Jesus to help with his grace to make that needed turn.

08/21/14

Tourist or Pilgram?

I can remember gazing speechless at the overpowering view of the Grand Canyon. It was a portrait of depth, colors, shapes and endless distance.

Suddenly the silence around me was broken by a couple who noisily pushed their way to the railing. They set up two different cameras plus a video cam. They posed for pictures alone and then together. Eight minutes later they were gone. As he packed away his gear I heard him say, “Come on, Sally! We’ve got it on camera. Let’s go.”

Right then and there I knew I had met tourists. They move through life on a tight

schedule. They gather snapshots, postcards and mementos, store them in albums and then store them in trunks and then talk about what has passed.

The Lord has invited us to walk with Him not as tourists, but rather as pilgrims. Pilgrims savor each moment. Each step is important because the Lord walks with us. He speaks to us out of where we are right now. He doesn’t wait.

As pilgrims of the Lord, we travel our particular road with Him. We become who we are with each success, each crisis and each choice. Our holiness lies on this “well traveled road.”

We don’t need to rush forward to the next stop or to look back to wonder what was missed. Pilgrims yearn to discover meaning and understanding in embracing the time at hand. St. Francis de Sales touches this same point:

“If you want to recover lost time, do your best in the time that still remains.”

With hope we look to our present time as a special gift from God. It is sacred because God’s love is there and our ability to share this love is in this “time that still remains.”