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On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Whispers of God

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A successful young executive was driving his brand new Jaguar down a neighborhood street when he noticed a kid darting out from between parked cars. As he slowed down, a brick smashed into his car’s door. He slammed on the brakes and drove back to the place where the brick has been thrown.

The furious man jumped out of his car and began shouting at the kid, “What the heck did you do to my car? Why did you do it?” The young boy was little scared, but was very polite and apologetic. “I am sorry Mister. I didn’t know what else to do. I had to throw the brick because no one else would stop to help.” With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, “It’s my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell off his wheelchair. He is hurt and he is too heavy for me. Would you please help me lift him back into his wheelchair?”

The young man was moved beyond words and tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the other kid from the spot and put him back in the wheelchair. He also helped him with his cuts and bruises.

When he thought that everything would be ok, he went back to his car. “Thank you, sir, and God bless you,” said the grateful kid. The young man was too shaken up to say anything, so he simply watched the little boy push the wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk.

It was a long and slow ride back home for the man. When he got out of the car, he looked at his dented car door. The damage was very noticeable, but he didn’t bother to repair it. He kept the dent to remind him of a deeper message: Do not go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.

Each and every day, God whispers to our souls and speaks to our hearts. But most of the time, we do not listen to it because we are too consumed with the noise of our own needs, wants and desires.

My sisters and brothers, the Lord is always speaking to us. Therefore, we have a choice to make: do we listen for the gentle whisper or do we wait for the brick?

Unrecognized Identity

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Has this ever happened to you? You are in a grocery store, the mall, maybe even taking your dog for a walk, and someone comes up to you all smiles and beaming eyes. They say “Hey! How have you been? It’s been such a long time. You look great.” You look deep in their eyes and you think for a second and the truth begins to sink in….you have no idea who this person is. This is truly embarrassing to say the least. Unfortunately, this happens to me more times than I care to admit. I have met so many people through the church and sometimes the face looks familiar but the name escapes me. I think we’ve all had a case of an unrecognized identity at one time or another in our lives. Read More

Prayer is a Powerful Thing

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Photo courtesy of RGBStock.com.

Photo courtesy of RGBStock.com

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No, who are you?” “I’m the new priest at your church,” he replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the priest shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, “Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now. So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.” The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, and returned to the church. Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked. “Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange – kind of weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed.”

Prayer is a powerful thing. But we need to remember that prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things. That’s why we need to be able to integrate prayer into our daily schedule. It’s not difficult to do. We just need to get into the habit of doing it.

Let’s make a commitment, starting right now, to pray throughout our day. Let’s praise and thank God for all that we are and for all we’ve been given.

My sisters and brothers, Jesus is sitting right next to you. Let the conversation begin.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

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There’s something strange in the neighborhood. Who Ya Gonna Call?
There’s something weird and it don’t look good. Who Ya Gonna Call?

Most of you probably know the song and the movie quite well. Ghostbusters was a huge hit back in the day and the new version is doing quite well in theaters now. If there was ever any dreadful danger or spooky situations, the Ghostbusters were the best at saving the day. The song is still great and the movies are still funny, but spooky ghosts and goblins aren’t real. Proton packs and ghost traps don’t exist. There’s nothing spooky to be afraid of. Read More

Undesirable Prayer

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Once again, I find myself going through some old notes that I had taken on a prior retreat. And behold, I found this anonymous quote:

“The more words in prayer, the more undesirable the prayer is.”

So what exactly does this mean? Well, let’s be honest with ourselves – sometimes, we pray with too many words. We find ourselves going on and on to God about all that is happening in our lives, what prayers we want answered and what intentions we want to be granted. We deliver a long list of requests, needs, wants and desires – and we expect immediate action on every one of these.

prayer
Often times, we make our prayers too complicated. Simplicity is often needed in order to pray. Otherwise, we are just telling Jesus about ourselves. When we approach prayer, we need to have the simplicity of a child. If you’ve ever listened to a child pray, there is both a beauty and an innocence to their words. They are not weighed down by negativity, but are lifted up in positive spirituality. Their way of praying is simple, to the point, and from the heart.

One of the best ways to experience God in prayer is by forgetting yourself. Ultimately, if you want something, you must experience nothing. Our prayers should not be filled with meaningless words or just going through the motions. We must come to prayer  with a simplicity of speech and a willingness to listen to God. Always remember that prayer is a two-way dialogue with God. The challenge is to forget ourselves and to let our prayer be a loving experience with God our Father. We must be willing to let the Lord speak to us and to be open to receive what he has to say. If we can find a way to truly listen with our heart, we will then be able to experience desirable prayer.

Prayer is the most concrete way to make our home in God. ~Henri Nouwen

You Are Special

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I recently came across some notes that I had taken while on a silent retreat a number of years ago. There’s something special about finding little nuggets of information from past moments in life that bring back not only fond memories, but often times new-found joy. It’s like re-learning something you already knew – but kind of compartmentalized far back in the recesses of your brain.

man_silhouette_clip_art_9510One of the things that I had written down from our retreat master was something that he told us to remember: I am special, and God has plans for me. This is certainly a statement that we need to keep repeating to ourselves each and every day. It needs to be a part of our core values as Catholic Christians. It needs to be spoken by us when we are struggling with the stresses of our lives. It needs to be a part of our daily language.

We so often forget that we have been uniquely created by God and that each one of us is a major part of God’s plan. Yet, here is something to reflect upon: How often do I try to interfere with God’s plan? How often do I try to do what I think is best for me instead of first asking God? Sometimes, we get so stressed out trying to figure out what we should be doing with our lives that we forget that it’s really not up to us in the first place. God has destined us for greatness.

We truly need to feel and believe the fact that God knows what He is doing. We need to stop second-guessing God and simply listen to His directions for us. This can only happen if we take time each day for prayer. We need to be able to voice our questions and concerns to our Creator, but then we have to be able to be silent and listen.

Try repeating this phrase each morning as you arise from your sleep and several times throughout your day: I am special, and God has plans for me. You’ll be amazed at how your perspective on life will change.

Do I Trust God?

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Having spent three days this week with our parish teens at Youth Ministry talking about vocations, you can imagine that this topic is still fresh on my mind. The very fact that each one of us is called to a vocation is a powerful thought; but to be able to discern your vocation and live it out is an entirely different story. Read More

Consider Your Ways

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This reflection is based on today’s reading from the Book of the Prophet Haggai (1:1-8)

We live in a materialistic world today.  Enough is never enough.  More than enough is never enough!  But this is nothing new.  This was the state of affairs in Judah 2,500 years ago.  It’s not as if the people of Judah didn’t have what they needed.  But instead of seeking after the Lord’s house, they were only concerned with their own.  Instead of looking to the Lord’s will, they were only concerned with their own.  As a result, they were never really satisfied. Read More

The New “Me”

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There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting. ~Buddha

It’s funny how the voice of the Lord is heard in different ways by different people. But what’s most important is that we are able to actually “hear” that voice, and act on it. 

Over the past several months, I have been moving toward following that voice. So far, I have avoided the mistake of not starting. That is why that you are viewing this blog on my new website. I took that leap of faith in following my calling to go out and become “available” to the world. It was a calling to go out and evangelize by using my God-given gifts to serve the Lord by serving others. It is an opportunity to share my stories, songs, and teachings with my fellow Catholic-Christians.  Read More

Listen Up!

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As you may have known from my previous posts, I had taken a retreat a couple of weeks ago to spend some time with the Lord. I needed to sort things out, and the best way to do that was through silence, solitude, and prayer. With all of the stuff that is going on in my life, I needed to stop what I was doing and listen for the voice of the Lord and to find where God was calling me.

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