Thoughts on sonship…

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I have been thinking about King David lately, because of the fact that we have been hearing about him in the first readings at Mass lately.  Also, I have been thinking about how much being the chosen ones of God should give us a moment of pause.  Even more than just a moment of pause, it reminds me that as the chosen one, I need to be constantly reminding my children that they are going to have to follow God on their own and not rely on the fact that God is doing work in their Dad as a foundation for their faith.  If the son of King David, Absalom, tells us anything, it should be that it is incumbent on the son to continue to follow the Father in his humility and obedience to God’s will, or the end could be bad.  See the first reading from Today’s Mass for the context.  As for King Solomon, who succeeded King David on the throne, he followed to many of Dad’s bad habits and not enough of his virtues to guarantee the lineage of the Father staying on the throne, at least in the physical world and as far as earthly thrones are concerned.  My hope for my children, and all the Christian children in our world today, is that they will follow their Fathers in the faith, maybe not necessarily their own Fathers, if they are not faithful to God, so that God will continue to bless this world with his mercy and allow our world to convert, as God has shown us his mercy today.  My hope is that their faithfulness and use of their gifts to give glory to God in all things will give the world enough time to the greatest multitude of people the chance to accept the salvific message of the Gospel…For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on me and on the whole world…Amen!!!Image

Are you still persecuting the church?

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I’m breaking from my normal format today, to make a comment about the readings for today’s Mass.  It seems to me that the gospel reading today makes it very clear that Jews that were with Jesus had a hard time accepting the fact that Jesus said that they would have to eat flesh and drink blood to have life within them.  How many non-denominational Christians are still struggling with this today?  It strikes me that if they would only see that Jesus has been present in the church

imagesince the Institution of the Eucharist, the people who had struggled with accepting that the Eucharist is truly His Body and Blood would have the scales fall off their eyes just like Paul.  Jesus wanted us to be One Church, not many denominations of Christian churches.  Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that other Christians are still struggling, like us, to follow Christ in their own way, but with a Pope like Francis, and a God who humbled himself to come down to earth, not just as a baby but also making himself present to us in the form of bread and wine right now, I think we could easily be in Communion as brothers and sisters in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  Maybe they are waiting for Jesus to return and really blind them, like Saul was on his way to persecute the first Christians, before they will let their eyes be opened to the truth that has been revealed for 2000 years of history in the church.

I pray that we all continue to follow God’s will for our lives and we are brought so low that everyone can see Jesus behind us…I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!

The Pope is still on fire, speaking truth that shines bright!

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Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of ...

Benedict XVI (2005-present, Episcopal form of Papal arms) An alternate version with Papal Tiara: here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

POPE: DO NOT GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION TO INSTRUMENTALIZE GOD

 

Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated the catechesis of today’s General Audience to the season of Lent, which begins today, Ash Wednesday. “Forty days,” he said, “that prepare us for the celebration of Easter. It is a time of particular commitment in our spiritual journey. … Forty days was also the period that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life, when he was tempted by the devil.”

 

Reflecting on Jesus’ temptations in the desert, is “an invitation to each of us to respond to a fundamental question: What is truly important in our lives? … The core of the three temptations that Jesus faced is the proposal to instrumentalize God, to use Him for personal interests, for self-glory and success. In essence, it is putting oneself in God’s place, eliminating Him from our existence and making Him seem superfluous. … Giving God the first place is a path that each Christian has to undertake. ‘Conversion’ … means following Jesus, so that His Gospel becomes the practical guide of our lives. … It means recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, on His love …This requires us to make our decisions in light of the Word of God. Today it is no longer possible to be a Christian as a simple consequence of living in a society that has Christian roots. Even those who come from a Christian family … must renew daily their decision to be Christian, to give God the first place in the face of the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, in the face of the criticism of many of their contemporaries.”

 

“The tests that Christians are subjected to by society today are numerous and affect our personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in our everyday lives, or to leave space for prayer and inner silence. It is not easy to publicly oppose the decisions that many consider to be obvious, such as abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to avoid hereditary diseases. The temptation to set one’s faith aside is always present and conversion becomes a response to God that must be confirmed at various times throughout our lives.”

 

The Holy Father recalled that in history there have been “great conversions such as St. Paul’s on the road to Damascus or St. Augustine’s. But also in our age, when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God’s grace acts and works wonders in the lives of many people … as was the case for the Orthodox Russian scientist Pavel Florensky who, after a completely agnostic education … found himself exclaiming, ‘It’s impossible without God.’ He completely changed his life, even becoming a monk.” The Pope also cited the case of the intellectual Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), “a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin, who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she discovered Him by looking deep within herself, writing: ‘There is a well deep within me. And God is that well.’ … In her scattered and restless life, she rediscovered God in the midst of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah.”

 

“In our age, there are more than a few conversions that are seen as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, have turned away from the faith for years, then later rediscover Christ and His Gospel. … In this time of Lent, in the Year of Faith, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, overcoming the tendency to be wrapped up in ourselves and to make room for God, seeing our everyday reality with His eyes. Conversion means not being wrapped up in ourselves in the search for success, prestige, or social position, but rather of making each day, in the small things, truth, faith in God, and love, become what is most important,” the Pope concluded.

 

( I feel the comparison to the forty years since Roe V Wade decision legalized abortion can be made here, and it is about time we all stand up for all the obvious issues that can be opposed and defeated, if we choose life now and choose now to not be afraid, the Holy Father said it would not be easy to publicly oppose this issue among others, but not impossible!)

 

Who am I?

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Gregory of Nazianzus

Gregory of Nazianzus (Photo credit: Texsain (formerly Nazianzus))

 

Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

 

Reading:  Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians. (From a sermon by Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop)

 

Observation:  I read the readings for Mass first this morning, and the first reading from the Office of Readings probably had some more interesting material to journal on, but when I got to the end of the second reading from the Office of Readings for today, I was blown away by how humble this Saint was.  He could have said that because of their great wisdom, he knew that he and Saint Basil would go on to make great reforms in monastic life because they knew what to do.  He didn’t, he said their great pursuit, would be to be called Christians.

 

Personification:  Peace. Once again, if the fruit of peace is to be put on display in my life, I must learn to be content with where God has called me in every moment today.

 

Prayer:  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen

 

With all that God has done for us, can we not offer him our children?

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St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) – With the gift of wonder and awe (fear of the lord), we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.

Reading:  I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.” Then they worshiped there before the LORD.  (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

Observation:  It seems to me that we spend a lot of time in this country worrying about our children.  Thanks be to God that means plenty of us, Christians, pray for them to be delivered from the evil forces that would gladly take possession of them, if they were left alone without God protecting them.  I read this reading this morning, again, thinking about how thankful we should be, like Hannah was, after she was given her child, she delivered him to the priest in the temple.

Personification:  Peace. It is only when I realize the way my children are being delivered from evil, that I can be at peace about the future that God has prepared for them.  To make a display of this peace I need only look to Saint Francis and his prayer of peace to be a guide for me.

Prayer:  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  Where there is injury, pardon.  Where there is doubt, faith.  Where there is despair, hope.  Where there is darkness, joy.  O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.  For it is giving that we receive; it is pardoning, that we are pardoned; and it in dying that we are born to eternal life.  I as this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Called to be holy…

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Brooklyn Museum - The Birth of Our Lord Jesus ...
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Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.* Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 1:5-7)

Observation:  The question for me is, how am I called to be holy?  Saint Paul is not just talking to the people of Rome, but I think we should see that he is talking to all the people of the world who would consider themselves Christians.  I should not shrink from the challenge to act like a saint would act, because I am a sinner.  Rather, because I am a sinner, I am called to repent of my sin and replace that sin with more holy action.

Personification:  Faithfulness  No matter what it is that God calls me to today, I want to be ready to answer that call.  I don’t care if others see it as holy, I only hope that others can see my obedience to the will of the Father.

Prayer:  Lord, not as I would want, rather your will be done in me and through me today and every day for the rest of my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Do you want to know God and have his Spirit living in you?

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Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnets...

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Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

Reading:  4 This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.  We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.  (1 John 4:13,16-18)

Observation:  My title of my journal this morning may sound a little sarcastic to someone who reads my journal often.  I mean, if you are reading this, the assumption is that you are reaching out to find God and of course you would want his Spirit living in you.  The second reading for today’s Mass is so important to our faith, because of the fact that all Christians want to know God and somehow be sure that we are following His will for us.  The footnote for the 13th verse leads us to the 16th through the 18th verses, even though the actual reading for today ends with the 16th verse.  It is important because we must love one another, but we must not allow fear to overcome that love.  As the 18th verse says, there is no fear in love and God’s love is perfect and it will drive out fear.

Personification:  Kindness  It will be my focus today to display the fruit of kindness that comes from the holy Spirit that is dwelling in me.  I know that God loved me enough to send his Son to die for me on the cross, and hopefully I am able to love my brothers and sister’s in Christ with the same sacrificial love.  It should be easy to show kindness, in light of the fact that God is love.

Prayer: 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

An obstinately impenitent fellow Christian…

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the Gospel of Matthew

Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  “Do not give what is holy to dogs, 4 or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.  6 “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. 7 8 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.  (Matthew 7:6,12-14)

Observation:  When I first read the gospel reading in the context of the rest of the chapter, I was at a loss about why the church would have chosen to put these four verses together to make up our gospel reading today.  However, once I reflected on the footnotes for these four verses that I included in the copying and pasting of the reading, I realized that this was meant to be read in the context of my life.  I mean I know that all scripture is meant for us to read and apply to our own lives in some way, if God gives us the discernment to see how to do it.  However, today I specifically see God telling me to stop acting like a obstinately impenitent Christian and start following the Golden Rule in my life, and stop worrying about what others are doing or not doing.

Personification:  Kindness  It was between love and kindness today, and I chose kindness because I feel like if I could display this fruit today, I would be well on my way to treating others the way I would want to be treated.  I must remember that the narrow gate is not the one getting in to heaven, it is the one getting to enjoy the fruits of the holy Spirit, here on earth.

Prayer:  Lord, please allow me to lose myself in your holy Spirit today, and cause me to follow your will with reckless abandon.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

I set out to make it about me, but it is not about me…It’s about them!

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Infant Jesus and John the Baptist, Museo del Prado

Gift: Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading:  I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.  (John 16:4)

Observation:  As I read the gospel reading this morning, I was hearing the story as if it were being said about me.  However, the truth is that I post about my faith to the world and I am not harmed at all.  So, my hour has certainly not come, but the Christians that John was writing about, who were listening to the words of Jesus that day, their hour has come.  This revelation that I had about this scripture is leading me to realize that HIS mission is still not done, there is still work to be done.

Personification:  Love  This is a kind of softball for me to hit today.  I mean no disrespect to softball players, but the ball is bigger and a little easier to make contact with.  I am focusing on the fruit of love to display today, because Jesus told us yesterday in the gospel reading to love one another.  It is my intention to not just talk about it, but take some action that displays that love to others today.

Prayer:  (Saint Francis Prayer)

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.
 

Still dying…not dead yet…Let me say, “I died today!”…Amen?

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Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
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Scripture:  As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, 9nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, 10 nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:36-39)

Observation:  It is my belief that this journal is in response to all those people who think they know the time or at least the day that Jesus will return.  My response is to get busy dying now, because I am still trying to die to my selfishness after over 15 years as a Christian and I still feel tempted to give in to the flesh.  If you wait until that last moment before you think Jesus will return, how do you even know that you will be able to see him beyond your sin?

Application:  Today, it will be my choice to continue to try to die to sin with the grace of God that will come to me because of my willingness to give up my will in favor of his.  It is not because of anything that I will do, rather my death to this world will be as it always is, a free gift, that will free me to follow his will.

Prayer:  Lord, it is only by my complete surrender and understanding that if I was left alone I would be involved in sin now, that I can see that your power and grace are enough to bring me under your protection.  Please keep me in this protection today and forever.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.