Repent…Change your heart!

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Prepare the Way of the Lord

Prepare the Way of the Lord (Photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC)

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  He went throughout [the] whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  (Luke 3:3)

Observation:  As I read the gospel reading for Mass today, I was thinking about the way that I would pray for the President to repent of the evil that he has put forth in his HHS mandate that forces men and women of good will, in the United States, to violate their consciences.  At the same time, I was thinking that I should pray that we all repent of the evil in our own sinfulness.  By the grace of God, both of these things will be done for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

Personification:  Self-Control. Many times when I choose to try to personify the fruit of self-control, I write that I will only be successful if the grace of God saves me from myself.  God’s grace has saved me this morning and I just want to thank Him for it.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for saving me from my flesh and preserving me, by your grace, to follow your will and not my own this morning.  Please continue to shine your light in my darkness and allow me to follow you, Jesus, with the continued intercession of Our Mother Mary, even more closely.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Is the master going to find me doing so…or?

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7am sharp - First light.

7am sharp – First light. (Photo credit: http://www.ruffrootcreative.com)

 

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

 

Reading:  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  (Matthew 24:48-51)

 

Observation:  So, as I read the gospel reading for today’s Mass, I was left with the feeling that if I really can’t leave my sinful ways behind, I will not like the reaction that Jesus will have when I see him.  It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks is the right and proper way to act, if I know that God forbids something, I should forbid myself from doing it.

 

Personification:  Joy. I am going to focus on the fruit of joy again today, and I will try and find different ways to share that joy that comes from God’s grace.  If I can avoid falling into sin by following only the things of God and not of this world, I will be filled with joy that flows freely from the mercy of God.

 

Prayer:  O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you in the past, and I detest all my sins, because of your just punishments, but most of all because you are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to repent of my past sinfulness, and avoid the near occasions of sin…I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!!!

 

 

Today is officially, “Let your parents off the hook day!”

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English: The Prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 14:1-21) Рус...

English: The Prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 14:1-21) Русский: Пророк Иезекииль (Иез. 14:1-21) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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:  For all life is mine: the life of the parent is like the life of the child, both are mine. Only the one who sins shall die!  (Ezekiel 18:4)

 

Observation:  I don’t know about you, but my family has a lot of skeletons in our past, oh and in the present too…LOL…Anyway, I thought I would focus on the book of the prophet Ezekiel is saying today that we are judged by our own merits today.  So, whatever Sin we were holding on to, because we felt like we deserved to suffer with it, because it was passed down from our family, that’s over.  We should let go of our attachment to sin, because we feel some responsibility to pay for what has happened in our family.  If Ezekiel’s words are not enough, remember Jesus came to release us from the prison of sin.

 

Personification:  Joy. It is with great joy that I will share this reading with certain members of my family today.  They like to say that the punishment for sins of the father will pass down to many generations, and this reading today stands in opposition to that understanding of old testament laws.  I have always said that the punishment for sins that was passed down was meant for the old testament fathers to understand that the sin that they committed would have lasting effect on future generations.  This is still true today, but we will be judged on our own following of God’s will in our own lives, with the help of God’s grace.

 

Prayer:  Lord, reveal to me and my family those things that stand in the way of our own salvation, and help us to let go of any guilt we carry for sins of our families’ past.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

How do I become a new creation?

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Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane), oil painting by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Heinrich Hofmann). The original is at the Riverside Church (Riverside Church, New York City). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Brothers and sisters: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. (Eph 4:17, 20-24)

 

If I didn’t see an answer in the second reading for Mass today, I could read the verses that were not used in this reading between verses 17 and 20 that spell out the path that I would normally take without the grace of God leading to so much more than that.

 

Thank you Jesus for saving me from my own selfish desires and I am truly sorry for my past sins and I hope my life now can be all for your glory.  Please help my family members and friends that struggle with giving up their worldly desires and lead us all to a more authentic and real relationship with you.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

 

 

Jesus is our peace?

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English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, ...

English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, Geneva, Switzerland. Top: God the Father; middle: Dove of Holy Spirit in trefoil; lower: Annunciation scene. Français : Vitraux de la basilique Notre-Dame, Genève, Suisse. Deutsch: Fenster in der Liebfrauenbasilika, Genf, Schweiz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Gift: Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

 

Reading:  For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  (Ephesians 2:14-18)

 

Observation:  I tried to title my journal entry for today, “If Jesus is our peace, why don’t we rest in Him more often?”  However, I think my title is a little more direct, because it begs the ultimate question, “Is Jesus our peace?”  If we want to have access to the holy Spirit and the Father, we must recognize Jesus as the one who can keep the peace, not just in the world, but in our hearts.  The world is creating turmoil in our hearts, through our families, we must rest in Jesus and tell Him what we need for peace.  If we go on trying to make peace by our actions, we will only create more unrest. (IMO)

 

Personification:  Joy  I have been the embodiment of fatigue lately, rather than joy, especially to my family.  I will focus my attention on displaying the fruit of joy today, with the grace of God making it possible.  I am especially joyful for the birth of my best friend David’s new baby daughter, and can’t wait to see her later this morning.

 

Prayer:  Lord, please give rest to those that need it this morning and help me remember to rest in You today.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen

 

 

 

 

Release me, a prisoner doomed to die…

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Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the former Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  Let this be written for the next generation,

for a people not yet born,

that they may praise the LORD:

*“The LORD looked down from the holy heights,

viewed the earth from heaven,

To attend to the groaning of the prisoners,

to release those doomed to die.”  (Psalm 102:19-21)

Observation:  I recognize that the Psalmist is talking about all of us who are doomed to die here on earth, to continue groaning to God because we know that he will hear our groaning and answer us.  It is only through the recognition that it is not after death that God will save us, but rather during our life that we can be saved, if we only remember that we are doomed to die and keep trusting in God’s grace to bring us to eternal life.

Personification:  Love  It is the fruit of love that I hope to display.  The fruit of love that brings with it truth of God’s grace to everyone that I meet today.  It is only possible for me to display this fruit because of the grace that comes from the church and my willingness to take part in the activities in the church to bring God’s grace to me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to stay faithful to you, no matter how unwilling my flesh may be at times.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart. (Psalm 19:9a)

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3rd quarter of 16th century

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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:  * He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”  (Mark 9:29)

Observation:  It is by God’s grace that I made it to Mass this morning.  I assumed that since there is a holiday at the office, there would be no Mass this morning, but I was pleasantly surprised to be called to let some people into the chapel, and once I got there, Father was in the chapel and they were singing the opening hymn in Spanish.  I don’t understand all the prayers and readings in Spanish yet, but it is still Jesus present in the Eucharist and I still love to be in his presence while there is a room full of people praising him.  It is the prayer that comes from Mass and a life focused on God that will save us from evil.  This may not be exactly what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel today, but it is what I am hearing.

Personification:  Joy  I can think of no better way to personify the fruit of joy, than to smile.  As now, Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York,  said in his address to the Consistory on the day before he was appointed Cardinal with the other 21 other Cardinals, that he heard when he was in the seminary, a homily that consisted of a call to smile when they were walking around Rome, to show the joy that comes from their experience of faith in Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, I hope that the joy that comes from your sacrifice on the cross will be ever-present in my face and my demeanor, so that everyone who meets me will know that I have faith in you.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

When it comes to repentance of my sins, I consider this the end times…

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Fig Tree
Image via Wikipedia

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:  He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’  (Luke 13:8-9)

Observation:  When I look at my life, I don’t see any fruit that would be worthy of being picked from my fig tree, because none of it is ripe and full-grown yet.  As I read the gospel today, I am reminded that my life and this world will not go on forever, and I consider the parable that Jesus tells of the fig tree being left for one more year, as my call to repentance and a call to preach the good news with a renewed sense of urgency.

Personification:  Generosity  Since it is the grace of God that is saving me from acting out my sinful nature, I must be willing to let that grace pass through me to others.  It is only when I act out of the generosity that comes as a fruit of the spirit that I can be sure of receiving continued grace to fight off the evil that resides in my flesh.

Prayer:  Lord, please help me to live in your spirit that you have given me and turn away from my flesh.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

The wicked turn from wickedness…

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Prophet Ezekiel, Russian icon from first quart...

Prophet Ezekiel

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:  But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives; since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die.  (Ezekiel 18:27-28)

Observation:  Today’s first reading is a good reminder to me that in order to gain eternal life, I must be turning away from the wickedness I did and do what is right and just.  It is not just for the promise of eternal life, but because the wickedness leads to more wickedness.  I am hearing that we must be in a constant state of turning away from all of our sins, and the grace of God will help us to do that.  However, I must be willing to plug into it at all times, even when it seems impossible.

Personification:  Love  I will display love today that comes as a direct result of being plugged into the source of it, God.  My wife is a great example of selfless love and I will try and follow her example today and be willing to love those who may not love me back.

Prayer:  Our Father, who is in heaven.  Holy is your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Paul doesn’t say ask for forgiveness today, he says put your sin to death!

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c. 1632

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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;  Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:c immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.* Because of these the wrath of God* is coming [upon the disobedient].d By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away:* anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.eStop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practicesf *and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.g  (Colossians 3:5-10)

Observation:  It was ironic how when I read this first reading this morning, I immediately knew it was about me but then thought about how many others should really hear this message.  It’s true that I would rather be fully convinced of the rest of the world’s need for a savior, while I am not hearing the message myself.  Paul does not say, we are forgiven for our sins here, because he already said it earlier in this letter.  However, he does say that we must put all of these sins to death.  I know it will take the grace of God to help me put away my sinfulness, even right in this present moment, but I know that Jesus already conquered my sin and paid for it on the cross, so I don’t want to add to his pain at the sight of my unrepentant heart. 

Personification:  Joy  The opposite of an unrepentant heart is joy.  That is probably not theologically or even by the dictionary definition correct.  I feel that if I continue to live with an unrepentant heart, it will lead to sadness. which is the opposite of joy.  Therefore, I will display the fruit of joy today for all to see, so that the grace of God will flow through me to keep me from relying on my own understanding.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.