Today, Jesus teaches that we should pray with persistence (Luke 11:5-13). Of course, the question comes to mind: if God is such a loving and caring parent who will only give “good” things to us, why do we have to persist in asking? Why do we have to ask at all? The reason is not because God needs persuading. Persistence in prayer is for our benefit. Read More
On the Inside; On the Outside
During deacon formation, I was required to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church for one of my classes. While reading this document, I came across a beautiful prayer from St. Nicholas of Flue. It is a prayer that has become one of my favorites and it is one that I often use when I give talks at other parishes. This is the prayer:
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.
This prayer continues to touch me every time I read it. It is very simple, yet hits me where I need it the most. It’s about transforming my thinking from being about “me” to being about the One who made me. It’s about placing our focus on serving the Lord without getting caught up in the distractions of our world.
This is an extremely powerful prayer and yet it’s a very difficult prayer. Why? Because we tend to make things about ourselves – and we often get wrapped up with our own drama. When we place all of our thoughts, actions and energies toward ourselves – everything about me and what I want, there is simply no room for God. We in fact become our own God.
But when we take the time to center ourselves and refocus on our one true God, our perspective slowly begins to change. We become less self-centered and more Christ-centered.
When we allow God to “re-become” the center of our lives, everything simply falls into place. It’s just like St. Teresa of Jesus wrote:
Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you.
Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all.
Whoever has God wants for nothing. God alone is enough.
Just the other day I was flipping through TV channels and came across a show about a guy who picks up road kill for a living. I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to watch this?” And then, of course, I couldn’t turn it off! That show was called “Dirty Jobs,” and Mike Rowe was the man who became famous for trying some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet. He has waded through sewers, castrated horses, farmed worm poop, and sorted through medical waste, just to name a few. He goes out and learns about the jobs that none of us would ever want to do, and gets coached by the people who do these jobs every day for a living. It’s not just for entertainment, because Mike goes deeper in order to pay respect to the men and women who roll up their sleeves and do these challenging jobs every day. Read More
I was sorting through a bunch of papers recently when I came upon a quote from a silent retreat that I had taken a number of years ago. Here is that quote:
What do you do when everything is going wrong and there’s nothing else you can do?
You hang on – just like Jesus did.
Jesus did everything that He could do in order to show people how they should live, how they should serve those in need, and how they should love everyone. Now, Jesus finds Himself heading towards His death – and there’s nothing more He can do about it, except hang on.
This is a beautiful, symbolic gesture of how we should accept the challenges that we face everyday. When we realize that things are out of our control and not going the way we had hoped, we just need to hang on. Things will eventually get better. (They always do!) After all, Jesus hung on in order to save us. And everything got better after that!
Jesus, give us the strength to hang on even when it seems impossible to do so. Let us feel your constant presence so that we may know that you are right here beside us, especially during our struggles. Free us from our burdens and lead us to the power of your saving love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Johnny. Johnny was always coming home late from playing outside.
One day his mom and dad had enough of it. They said, “Listen, Johnny! You never come home in time for supper. Your supper is always getting cold. We always have to warm it up for you, and this has got to stop. The next time you come home late, we’ll give you bread and water. That’s all. No butter, no peanut butter, no jelly; just plain bread and water.”
Well, the very next day Johnny came home late for supper again. He walked into the house and sat down at the supper table. His mom and dad, who had plates with meat and potatoes and vegetables in front of them, didn’t say a thing. They quietly gave Johnny a plate with some bread and a glass of water.
Johnny was crushed. He never thought his mom and dad would do such a thing. How could they? But he was wrong.
Johnny’s father waited for the lesson to sink in. Then, silently, he took his own plate full of meat and potatoes and vegetables, and put it in front of Johnny. Then he took Johnny’s plate and put it in front of himself.
Johnny is now a man. And not long ago someone asked him, “Do you know what God is like?” Johnny said, “I’ve known it all my life. I’ve known it ever since that night when my father switched plates.”
Each of us is called to love and serve God with all of our being and direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God. We are to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which then enables us to see more fully God’s presence in the world.
If we can love God with our whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength – everything else in our lives will flow forth from there.
Imagine that you’re sleeping soundly in your bed, comfortably snuggled up in your blanket. You are in a dream-like state, and you feel secure and rested. Then your alarm goes off; and suddenly, you have a choice to make. You know that if you get up, there are things to do and people to see. Or you can stay right where you are and just give in to the peace and comfort that you’re feeling. Even though the outside world is calling, in your mind you know that there is no other place that you would rather be than where you are now.
Each of us has experienced this feeling of wanting to remain in bed where we feel great peace and comfort. While we do not always have the luxury of staying in bed and sleeping in every morning, there is a good place that we can remain in every moment of every day; and that place is in God’s love.
Every day, we have the opportunity to remain in the love of our Father. While we can all agree that sleeping in is a pretty nice every once in a while, it is nothing compared to the peace and comfort of knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. God is love, and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved.
I heard it said the love of Jesus is like an electric current. If the current does not pass through you, it cannot enter into you. Similarly, if the love of Jesus does not pour through us to others, then that love is not really in us. The love of God has to be recognized, responded to and passed on. It is not just a ‘given’.
We have a chance to remain in that source of that love, but we cannot just hold onto it for ourselves. We need to find a way to share that love with others, giving to others what God has given to us.
By remaining in God’s love, and sharing that love with others, we will experience a life like we have never known; because His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete.
May the peace and joy of the Lord be with us each and every day!
It seems evangelism has become a scary word for us. In general, it is a word with which we do not want to be associated. For some, it comes from being on the receiving end of someone else’s evangelism, often coercive, even threatening. For others, it may be that religion isn’t something people talk about; or that one’s faith is private; or simply the desire not to be perceived as one of “those” people.
Whatever the reason, most people not only have little experience in evangelism but are downright frightened of it. And that, of course, cripples our ability to reach out to others with the good news. Today’s story of Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29-34) might be the perfect reading to invite us not only to admit our discomfort with evangelism but also begin to overcome it. Read More
The Witness of the Candymaker
How can a candy treat be a birth announcement? Many years ago a candymaker had an idea. He wanted to show, through the candy he made, that Jesus Christ was born among us, lived and died to save us all. So, through the use of color and shape, he created a piece of candy that told the story of Jesus from Christmas to Easter. He created the candy cane!
The white stripes on the candy cane stand for the fact that Jesus was sinless and pure. The three small red stripes stand for the scourging Jesus endured before he died. The large red stripe stands for Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross.
The candy cane is shaped like a shepherd’s staff, reminding us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Turn it upside down, and it is the letter “J,” the first letter of Jesus’ name.
We can learn a lot from the candy cane – both to look at it and see Jesus, and, like the candymaker, to share the story of Jesus in whatever we do.
May the peace and joy of Christmas fill you, complete you, and overflow into everything you do and everyone you meet.
We are Emmanuelites…God is with us!
We used this call and response in Youth Ministry many years ago. And it had two purposes: first, to gain the attention of the teens so they could focus on what was about to happen. And second, to remind them to trust in the fact that God is with us at all times.
We are Emmanuelites…God is with us! Read More