strength

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Slow-Roasted for Christ

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Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out in the year 258, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The Pope answered, “I am not leaving you, my son. In three days you will follow me.” Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.

The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. Lawrence said he would – in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor, the sick, the blind, lepers, widows and orphans. When he showed them to the Prefect and said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”

In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. Lawrence was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but he was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side!” And just before he died, he said, “It’s cooked enough now.” Then he prayed that Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic faith might spread all over the world.

Today, St. Paul tells us that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (Corinthians 9:6-10) . St. Lawrence understood this and it led him to realize these two simple truths: that God is able to make every grace abundant for each one of us, and that God loves a cheerful giver.

May each of us burn with the fire of Christ’s love so that we can readily serve our Father and others with honor, joy, and holy humor.

Hanging On

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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.

The imagery behind this quote was that of Jesus on the cross.

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.

What is God Like?

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

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.

3 Things You Need When You Pray

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How is your prayer life? Is it improving day-by-day, or are you stuck right where you stand?

I always suggest to people that if they are struggling with their prayer life, or if they find themselves stuck in the same-old, same-old, to shake things up a bit. It is always a good thing to try out different prayer forms to get your creative and spiritual juices flowing once more. I believe that it often helps one to re-connect with their Creator and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. 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

I Am Tired!

Posted by | Emotions/Feelings | No Comments

2015070995114515Last week, I was with a group of teens from our parish on a mission trip in Detroit, Michigan. There we lived in community and helped the people of Detroit with various acts of service and charity. What a fulfilling way to put our faith into action and truly experience Christ in those we served. What a blessing it was for our teens to have such an awesome experience.

But during that one full week of hard labor – of long days and short nights, I have to admit that I was really tired. My body ached, my muscles were sore, and my head throbbed from the heat and exertion. And suddenly I recalled an old proverb that I came across long ago: One can go a long way after one is tired. And that became my mantra for the week. Read More

Like a Rock

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Have you ever had a song just pop into your head out of the middle of nowhere? And it was a song that you haven’t heard in years? Well, that happened to me a couple of days ago when the song “Like a Rock” from Bob Seger entered my brain. And what a great tie-in with today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:21, 24-27). Here are some of the lyrics:

My hands were steady; my eyes were clear and bright.
My walk had purpose; my steps were quick and light.
And I held firmly to what I felt was right. Like a rock.
Like a rock, I was strong as I could be. Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me.
Like a rock, I was something to see. Like a rock. Read More

The Power of the Power

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power outletIt’s Thursday morning: I’m working from home as I always do. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I’m on the telephone with a very important customer. Suddenly, the lights begin flashing, my computer monitor flickers and goes black, the lights go out, and my telephone disconnects. Yes, we just took another power hit. (This has been a frequent occurrence lately, primarily due to some road construction that is happening at the end of our block.) So I quickly grab my mobile phone and redial the customer. I was saved by technology after technology nearly did me in. And that got me thinking. Read More

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