11/25/14
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Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread

How often do we second-guess our decisions? Did we make the right choices for our children, our careers and about where we live? Sometimes we can second-guess ourselves to the point of exhaustion.

To avoid this behavior, we can look through our photo albums of things done, and smiling faces enjoyed, and see that more was good than we thought or ever planned.

Somehow the Lord is with us, and has given us “our daily  bread.” Where would we be without this daily bread of the Lord’s love, care, and protection?

St Francis de Sales has the answer:

“Do well what you can, and the rest leave to God, who will do it sooner or later, according to the disposition of His Divine Providence.”

Happy Thanksgiving:

To My Friends Around the Globe

11/12/14
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God’s Mercy Gushes Over All!

God doesn’t seem to hold back mercy when it comes to us–even when we don’t deserve to have it, God gives it any way.  God personifies the image of the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost.  What a great image for God!  This wonderful Father who looks for every opportunity to forgive his children and then helps them start again.

God does this for each of us and makes no exceptions!  God is serious when He says that He doesn’t want any of us to be lost or perish.  As one author wrote, “God’s mercy comes through the eyes of the heart and not through a reasoning mind.”

What does God see with His eyes “from the heart?”  I’m sure God sees where we are now, but even more important–He sees where we can be, could be, and ought to be!   God then provides us with the mercy each of us needs to get there.

Sometimes we take God’s mercy and repent, and at other times, we slip back into our old ways.  However, and what is so awesome is God simply gives His mercy.  We make the choice to accept it or not.  And if we fall again, God doesn’t walk away.

One example comes to mind.  No one knows how many times God gave mercy to Mary Magdalene before she changed.  But, Mary Magdalene did eventually repent   and she became Jesus’ beloved disciple.  God’s perseverance and patience paid off.

God’s mercy is available to us all no matter what we may have done.  Why not then make this your day and let God’s mercy gush over you–God’s waiting-just do it!

11/5/14
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Loving Another Sends Blessings

Lydia, a grandmother, has a wheelchair bound eight-year old granddaughter, named Elizabeth.  Every time Elizabeth visits her Grandmother, she gets a big hug and this wonderful greeting, “Elizabeth, it’s so good you’re here!”

Lydia continues, “God has given me the most wonderful granddaughter in the whole world.  Every time I see you I see joy. When things get tough around here, I see your smiling face, and remember how much I love you with all my heart!”   Then she added her usual ending: “And I feel so blessed. Things always get better for me–thanks so much–your grandmother truly loves you.”  And then they hug each other.

It is an amazing scene that is repeated with every visit.  Elizabeth knows she matters and counts, because her grandmother never stops telling her.

Lydia chooses not only to love her granddaughter, but bless her with warmhearted words and tender actions.  Lydia’s blessing expresses a fundamental truth, Elizabeth is, as are we, lovingly made into God’s image and likeness.  Lydia’s words and actions show Elizabeth what love is truly like.

Lydia shows how God behaves towards us.  In fact we can hear God whispering to us, “I feel so blessed!”  Why? The answer is  simple. God finds beauty even where it isn’t easy to see.

No wonder we’re beautiful.  We are God’s masterpieces.  And Lydia mimics God in her feelings and sentiments for her granddaughter.

 Every morning when God sees us and blesses us, we, like Elizabeth’s grandmother, gratefully respond, “It’s so good we are here.”

St. Francis de Sales said it this way: “Never does our good God leave us save to hold us better, never does he let go of us save to keep us better; never does he wrestle with us save to give himself up to us and to bless us.” 

10/26/14
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Get Ready to Meet Jesus Now — He is Waiting!

Dorothy, an 83 year old living in assisted care, expressed to me these thoughts- “I worry so much about Jesus coming to get me.  I hope Jesus finds what He’s looking for, and finds me ready to leave this good earth and follow Him to heaven.”  I said Dorothy: “Don’t you know Jesus is already here, and that He already knows exactly what’s going on.”  She looked at me curiously.

“Dorothy, I continued, perhaps the following questions might answer your concerns.  She perked up in her bed and looked right at me.

I then said: “Since Jesus is already here and walking with us–What are we doing right now to make him comfortable in our homes?  Are we using the gifts given us to share with others on this earth?  And will Jesus be pleased at the way we love the people He placed in our lives?”  I went on, “for you see Dorothy, we don’t get ready to meet Jesus on our last day, rather, we get ready each and every day we have, for Jesus lives with us in every one of our present moments.”

While the answer may have startled Dorothy, it is certainly real and true.  For example, think back to Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary.  Martha chooses to scurry around in the kitchen–getting the meal ready for Jesus, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.

Mary was intently looking into the face of Jesus hanging on His every word.   For nothing else, at that present moment for Mary, was more important than looking into Jesus’ face and hearing what He had to say right there and then! Mary gave Jesus her rapt attention.

So the very real question for us remains, what are we doing now to meet Jesus in our present moment?  Like Mary, do we realize that He is with us, walks with us, and participates right now in this place and space?  We must strive to make Jesus feel at home and to understand that how we respond to His presence can help us, as it can Dorothy, to be ready for that final present moment when Jesus comes to take us to His home.

Someone once asked St. Francis De Sales, if he were told that he was going to die in a little while, what would he do?  He replied: “I would keep on doing what I am doing now.  There is no better way to meet Our Savior than in this present moment where I am.”  St. Francis de Sales gave a confident-filled answer.  I wonder if we, being asked this same question, would show such confidence and keep doing what we’re doing right now?

Well, Jesus is–right now–in our present moment wherever we live!  We need to act like Mary and make Him feel at home, as this is our very best way to prepare.  I think Dorothy was convinced–are we?

10/19/14

Want to know what we believe about Jesus; take a good look at what we do today?

Let’s keep some basic truths about Jesus in mind as we go about our daily tasks: Jesus came to reconcile all people to the love of his Father, Jesus came to call sinners, Jesus came so that no one would be lost, Jesus came to give us life to the fullest, and Jesus came to offer these free gifts to all.

Today, Jesus wants His Church to do these same things- and be a Church of love and mercy.  We can’t transform the lives of people especially “sinners” unless we find a way to meet and greet them.

Pope Francis reminds ministers that “We have to leave the sacristies and go out into the streets and bring them into the Churches.”  He also reminds us “to open our Church doors” if we want the people to enter and to feel welcome.

Someone once wrote: “our Church is a hotel for sinners and a greenhouse for saints.”  Thus, there’s no doubt that we have to welcome people as guests in our “hotel” before we move them into our “greenhouse.”

Pope Francis is constantly urging us to be missionary disciples and invite others to share our beliefs.  He urges us “to go out into the streets” and “get dirty for Christ.” Pope Francis knows it’s a difficult and risky endeavor, and literally jumbles our comfort level.

Our Pope reminds us that to be Christ’s disciple is not about comfort, it’s about “being sent” even “to the ends of the earth” to spread the Gospel.  It’s quite challenging, and yes, quite uncomfortable!

But first we need to heal our own sinfulness and reluctance.  For this, we need the Holy Spirit’s presence and strength.  We need what the early apostles had when they began preaching the news of the kingdom.  We need the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:20).  We can’t bring what we don’t have, and our world today needs a good shot of all these fruits!  We are invited to do what we can and to leave the rest to the Holy Spirit

Pope Francis continues to lead the way in this mandate.  We see that he “walks the talk” of discipleship everyday.  More importantly, he asks us to join him in finding the hurting, the disappointed, and the angry–to learn their pain.  Only then, as ministers and Christians, will our hearts be open to the healing power of Jesus Christ.

Let’s then as stated above, in the course of this day, simply watch how we live each moment, and it will tell us what we believe in our hearts.  For isn’t what we do and say– a good indicator of what we believe?  Look at Pope Francis and see if this is not true!

10/13/14

Does God Have Bad Days?

Philip, a university senior said,  “I just can’t figure God out.  Sometimes I get what I want when I pray and on other days, I can pray all day and get nothing.  It seems my prayer falls on deaf ears.  I guess I have to catch God on a good day if I want something bad enough.”

At times we all feel like Philip, don’t we?  Yet when we think seriously about it, we know our God isn’t that difficult to figure out.  We just have to remember where God is coming from.

God always has our best interests at heart.  He simply wants to give us what will do the most good at any given moment.  He wants each of our lives, no matter who we are to be successful.

Again, remember that it’s God’s idea of what is successful not the world’s.  To be who we are and to be that well as a true witness to Him who made us!  In fact, God knows what will make this happen better than anybody else–especially us!

So no matter what we pray for or how we pray, God always gives us the means and the manner to grow towards Him!  However, the problem arises because we think that our request should be answered even though God has something else in mind.  God always chooses that “other” thing, except in what may be those rare moments when we are both thinking alike.

We simply have to trust God, our Father, who loves His children and will only send what is best.

So Philip, hear this, there are no bad days with God!  We simply have to be “open” to understanding that the answer to our prayers comes out of God’s love and only His love for us.  God always has our best interests in His heart-and He does every day!

10/10/14

We are God’s Harvest

My Grandfather grew grapes in his large yard behind his house.  As the vines grew thick and tall, he made a sort of leafy gazebo there, which became a handy shelter from the warm summer sun and the surprising showers.

Inside this gazebo my father’s eight brothers and sisters and their families gathered on most summer Sundays. As everyone feasted on my Grandmother’s mouth-watering homemade gnocchi, her luscious meatballs and scrumptious bracioli dinners, we listened to numerous stories in the gazebo, triggering intermittent laughter or sometimes joining together in boisterous melodies–sung  of course, off key.

And almost on cue during these weekly get-togethers, my Grandfather sitting contently in the shade of his rustling grape leaves gave his usual “stump speech.”  He would point to his vines and say “Quest’e mi vigna.”  As translated, “These are my vines.”  And in the next breath, my Grandfather–pointing to us then said “Questa e mi vendemmia!” “But this is my harvest!”  After which everyone cheered and clapped!

We all knew that my Grandfather loved his vineyard, but he wanted it known loud and clear that he loved us more–for we were his true vineyard and his real harvest.  And believe me, none of us ever doubted this truth.

Yet despite all the love my Grandfather showed us over and over again, we know that God loves us more-even more than Grandpop.  For God makes it clear over and over again, we are  His  chosen and His beloved.

And didn’t God make each of us to spend eternity with Him?  And doesn’t God long for that special day when we finally enter heaven forever?  Isn’t that why Jesus came, died, rose again and returned to heaven?  Indeed, Jesus did all this so that God, like my Grandfather, can wait with a big smile for the day when he can give us a big hug of welcome.

God may even say “mi vendemmia-my harvest is here!”  And looking at God’s smiling face, we can be absolutely certain that we have made God’s day- forever!

 

10/6/14

What about Angels

A while ago a man stopped me in a parking lot and asked:  ”Reverend, it seems to me that Catholics have the Holy Spirit and Angels all confused?”  I responded, “Why do you say that?”

“Well,” he went on, “You have Angels and the Holy Spirit doing the same thing-watching and protecting us.  To me it’s confusing.”

I paused ever so briefly and I answered him, “I don’t see any confusion, I believe it’s all about God’s generosity.”  “How’s that?” he replied.  “Well, God loves us so deeply and desires our company so strongly and with such joy that He doesn’t care how many, or by what means it takes to get us there with Him!”  I then added, “believe me; I am very grateful for the help!”  The man just shook his head and walked away in disbelief.

In Matthew 18, Jesus spoke these words “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”  Imagine that–Angels always look upon the face of Jesus’ heavenly Father.  They do now what we long to do.

No wonder Angels are so eager to do their job of guarding and protecting us more eagerly.  Indeed, Angels are our greatest supporters.   You might well ask: What’s their reward?  Probably seeing Our Heavenly Father smiling, as He waits to embrace each of us, as we “Look upon the face of God” for the first time!

My advice to that man and everyone is: Stop wondering and be grateful for the passionate and personal work that Angels do each day for us–keeping us enroute to our heavenly reward.

Since they are still doing it–their success rate must be smashing!

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.