hope

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

All Souls’ Day

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Today we remember those who have passed from this life with faith, hope and trust in the promise of eternal life. Life is a gift from God and nothing that God gives or does is ever wasted. And let us always remember that each of us is a beloved child of God.

Our lives are a reflection of God and his love. Those who have passed whom we remember today somehow reflected that love. Sadness, sorrow, and grief may fill us today, but that is a reminder of their presence and love in our lives.

While we still mourn, we are confident that our loved ones are enjoying the peace, comfort and joy of eternal life. All Souls’ Day is a great reminder for each of us that we are given the gift of life.

So we pray today for our deceased parents, spouses, children, relatives, and friends. We want them to be capable of receiving the full bounty of God’s love; so we pray for them in our daily prayers.

All Souls’ Day touches us personally. Yes, it is a day of mixed emotions. It is our day to remember, to miss, but also to be joyful. We also reflect on our own existence. Each of us is a soul…a soul on a journey. We are still walking on that journey to become all that we were meant to be – a child of God enjoying eternal life with him.

“I will not reject anyone who comes to me,” the Lord said in our gospel today (John 6:37-40). We trust in the God who loves us – to care for us and our loved ones in life and in death. And so we pray, “May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.”

Fear or Faith?

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More than 19 million Americans have this, and it causes difficulty in some area of their lives. What is it? It’s a phobia. A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear, whether it is of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific. Here are a few of the most common phobias:

  • Altophobia: Fear of heights.
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of confined spaces.
  • Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Theophobia: fear of God.
  • Ecclesiophobia: Fear of church.
  • Homilophobia: Fear of homilies. (Maybe even Deacon Allen’s homilies!)
  • Testophobia: Fear of taking tests.
  • Phalacrophobia: Fear of becoming bald.
  • Chaetophobia: Fear of hair (other people’s hair).
  • Xenophobia: Fear of the unknown.
  • Ephebiphobia: Fear of youth (teenagers).

There is an old proverb that goes something like this:

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things will be yours.

Notice, “Fear less” is at the top of that list of what needs to be done if all good things are to be ours. Moreover, “Fear less” was high on Jesus’ list of things you need to do in order to experience wholeness of life.

Jesus wants you to know beyond all doubt that you and I are important to God; that God wants to be in a relationship with us. You may turn on the busy signal if you wish, but God never will do that. We can always count on God’s constant care for us.

Each one of us is called to go out and serve those in need, the most vulnerable in our society – and that can be scary. We are often afraid to speak the truth, to stand up for what is right, or afraid of those who might try to hurt us. We might be afraid to try new things, or meet new people who are different than us. But Jesus promises us that God is in control: “Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” Jesus reassures us of the value that God places on us. You and I are worth more than many sparrows; and we are also precious in God’s sight. With God by our side, we have nothing to fear.

And Now, I Wait

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I am one of the disciples of Jesus. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am in hiding because of the events that have recently taken place. After what had happened to Jesus, I feared for the worst. All I could think about was could this possibly happen to me as well? I was terrified, and I fled for my life. Here I thought that my faith was strong enough to withstand anything; but man, was I wrong. I abandoned my Lord, and I feel awful. He told us to trust in him, but I didn’t. But can you blame me? I’ve never been so frightened in my entire life.

And now, I wait.

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Worth the Wait

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Last Sunday, we experienced something that hasn’t happened in quite some time; something that may not happen again anytime soon. Our three young adult sons were all home at the same time! Due to work schedules, college schedules, and the fact that each resides in a different state, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have all three at home together. So we took this opportunity to plan an early family Christmas celebration.

As we were watching the weather reports for the impending snow storm, we were very hopeful that all would be able to travel home safely. So we patiently waited for their coming. Despite snowy roads, all arrived safe and sound and we had a very enjoyable day together as a family. It was certainly worth the wait!

Today’s readings instill within us a deep and passionate desire for God. Just as we were anxious for our boys to come home, so must we be anxious for Jesus’ coming with that same desire and passion. But often times we find our patience being challenged during our waiting.

We are challenged in so many ways, and we often find that Advent (that season of hoping and waiting) is not always an easy thing to live out. In our world, we face the threat of war, terrorism, and violence. In our society, there is a lack of respect for life and for the dignity of all people. In our own lives, we struggle with family issues, work stress, illness, and trying to do the right thing. Our patience often runs thin when we are forced to wait for an answer.

But there is some good news: regardless of our hardships, Advent cultivates hope for each of us to carry on. We know as a people of faith that Jesus is always with us; both in our joys and in our sufferings. We are never left alone.

In these remaining days of Advent, let us prepare the way of the Lord. No one is greater, and no one is more worthy of our praise. Jesus is coming, and he is certainly worth the wait!

St. Leo the Great

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Today, November 10th, is the Roman Catholic Church’s memorial of the fifth-century Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great.” Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions. Read More

Are You Living Upside-Down?

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two-toed-slothA sloth is a strange looking animal, isn’t it? Whenever I look at a sloth, I say to myself, “I am sure glad that I am not a sloth!”

Who am I to say that a sloth isn’t thinking the same thing about me? A sloth might be glad that it’s not a human being. I guess what you think of others depends on who or what you are. But since I am a human and not a sloth, I think sloths are kind of weird looking.

A sloth has almost no tail and no ears, a short snout, and only has two or three toes, depending on the species. And sloths are slow moving animals that live in trees. But by far the strangest thing about the sloth is that it is an upside-down animal. If you want to look at a sloth straight in the eye, you have to turn your head upside down. Sloths live upside down. They eat upside down, and they spend their whole lives living upside down in trees.

I don’t know about you, but I would certainly not want to live that way. I would never want to walk upside down, eat upside down or even sleep upside down. It just sounds uncomfortable.

Yet, strangely enough, this is what many people do. They live upside down. Not really, of course. They don’t walk on their hands or eat hanging upside down from the kitchen ceiling. But they live upside down in another way. They don’t live the way that Jesus wants them to live.

Jesus says that we must seek God first. He says that we must make God number one in our life and ourselves number two. He says that when we do that, we’re living right side up. But many of us do the opposite. We make ourselves number one and God number two. That’s turning Jesus’ words on their head. That’s living like a sloth.

How can we make sure that we are living right side up? The best way is to live every day, with Christ’s help, in the way he has shown us: by loving our neighbor, helping one another, and spreading the Gospel by the way we live our lives. If we can do that on a day to day basis, the future will take care of itself and there will be no need to worry.

God Understands

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A farmer painted a sign advertising puppies for sale and was nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy. “Mister,” he said. “I want to buy one of your puppies.” “Well,” said the farmer, “these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.” The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?” “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” Out from the doghouse ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain-link fence. His eyes danced with delight. Read More

Second Chances

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I was in 6th grade and about to take a big science test. But this test was not with just any teacher. It was with Sister Bernadette – the holy terror of my Catholic Elementary School. There was just something about her that gave me the creeps. I was a fairly average student back then, holding my own in all of my class subjects. But when it came to science, it just didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a proton, a neutron, or a Klingon. I was terrified of this test! My Mom and Dad were always proud of my efforts to get good grades and I didn’t want to let them down. So just before the test, I wrote several of the answers on the top of my desk in barely legible pencil. I sat nervously as Sister started to hand out the tests. I didn’t want to get caught, but I didn’t want to fail either. Read More

Warning Labels

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Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting really tired of those prescription drug commercials on TV. Now I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it seems like when I do, there are more and more of these drug companies advertising their particular drug. And it’s not that I’m bothered by the dancing elderly people, or the guy playing with his grand-daughter and her dog, or the frisky couple sitting in two separate bath tubs overlooking a lake; what gets me is the never-ending warning labels within those commercials. Here is an example of one I recently saw: Read More

I Am So Stressed (Blessed)!

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I am so stressed! I am stressed out beyond belief! In fact, if stress burned calories, I’d be a supermodel. I am being bombarded from so many different directions that it’s beginning to take a toll on me mentally and physically. I am in the midst of moving my mother out of her home into a smaller place; my daily job has been insanely busy and hectic; the band that I play in has been working every single weekend; my responsibilities at church have been steadily increasing; and family and household obligations are thrown into the mix as well. It just doesn’t seem to stop. I am running nonstop. I am so stressed! Read More

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