Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice, Rejoice

Friends of Faith:
Rejoice, Rejoice!

If I think about Christmas the way the world has come to know it my first instinct is an anxiety attack. I have shopping to do, gifts to wrap, cards to write, cookies to bake, a tree to set up, a house to clean and the list goes on.
But if I think about Christmas with a sense of rejoicing in the reason for the season I turn to giving thanks for all of the gifts I have received, the greatest of which is Jesus himself.

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thes 5: 16
When I realize the true reason for Christmas and begin to rejoice in the reason for the season it is because I am giving thanks for the gifts of our health, a warm house, family and friends, a full cupboard, the opportunity of being able to go to church and the list goes on.

And instead of an anxiety attack I look forward in anticipation to a house full of kids and grandkids, singing Christmas carols, driving around to see the sparkling lights and the opportunity to see relatives and hear from friends that I don’t see or talk to often enough.
“My soul rejoices in my God. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant. …..My soul rejoices in my God. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” Lk 1: 46-53
I think it is the very reason that I am hearing expressed more and more –“I wish we celebrated Christmas in the same way we celebrate Thanksgiving”….only the gift of ourselves, plenty of time to enjoy each others’company and most importantly truly rejoicing in thanksgiving for all what we have that is spiritually and emotionally lasting rather than material and fleeting.

The “ah ha” moment! To give thanks, rejoice, anticipate through the lens of Christ instead of through the lens of the world: in the wisdom of thanksgiving instead of the desires brought on by competition, comparison, and materialism.
How can I make Christmas be more like Thanksgiving? Yes, I still have to cook, but now it is a time of new and shared memories and a time to get in the way of all the other cooks.

How can I rejoice more, appreciate more and do less? What will I really give up if I just sit back and enjoy friends and family instead of trying to impress them with “perfect” gifts? When will we realize that we already have the perfect gift, each other—exactly what is realized when we express our desire to make Christmas more like Thanksgiving?
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel. Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, rejoice, Thou wisdom from on high. Who order’est all things mightly, to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in the ways to go. O come, desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; bid thou one sad divisions cease, and be thyself our Prince of Peace. Amen. (O Come, O Come Emmanuel)

In anticipation, in thanksgiving, in rejoicing for the season – May each of you find hope and seek peace, share joy and profess love as we await the coming of Christ.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, December 8, 2014

Missing the Reason for the .....

Friends of Faith:

Hindsight is often 20/20. Looking back we can often see why or what we would have done differently.
Yesterday Father Mike pointed out that in many, maybe most of the events where Jesus was present, only Mary, Joseph and an occasional apostle or follower were present: The Annunciation—only Mary gave an unconditional yes; the Nativity, only Mary and Joseph were present—the inn keeper put them in the lowly place of the animals, the stable; Jesus’ Preaching in the Temple at age 12—Mary and Joseph lost Jesus, and the Jewish doctors of the church (Rabbis) didn’t really understand what Jesus was preaching or asking questions about—they just thought he was a “smart” kid; the Crucifixion—many were present, yet only Mary and the disciple, John, had any realization of the importance of the event; and immediately after His Resurrection – those who met Jesus on the path to Emmaus missed who he was and again the importance of his rising. Each of the disciples at some point MISSED the message of Jesus in their lives.

Not until the Spirit was breathed into the apostles on Pentecost and they looked back at many of these events did they begin to understand what they had missed, what they should have done differently, and why: the reason for the season.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Mk 1: 1-8

God gave the gospel and biblical writers open ears, open hearts and the ability to see the reasons—to write them down for the Church to pass on so that we might be able to do things differently and that we would not miss their importance.
Yet, just like those present in Christ’s time I have missed the reason for many of the suggestions, many of the instructions I have received over the years. I have failed to pay attention to my parents, mentors, events, even sometimes, the wisdom of my children. I have often been “present”but missed the reason or the opportunity of my presence in a particular moment at a particular time. I have come away saying, “I wished I would have,” or “I’m sorry I didn’t” listen or do differently whatever it was I did in that particular time.

“The blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened.” Mt 9: 27-31
Sometimes it is a matter of not taking the time to pray and discern God’s will. Sometimes it is a matter of thinking I know best. Sometimes it is a matter of not asking the right question at the right time. And sometimes it is a matter of my being so busy that I am only paying attention to my own purpose rather than looking around at what else is happening, or the intention (and heart) of the other people present who are offering their help, their knowledge or their better understanding of the situation.

Often someone looking at my situation from the “outside” has a better perspective of my overall dilemma. So when I miss the reason for the….. season, it is because my heart, my ears, my eyes were closed to the dilemma itself.
“Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” 2 Pt 3: 8-14

Heavenly Father, You are all knowing. Help me to listen. You are all powerful. Help me to obey. You are the reason. Come Holy Spirit, open my eyes, my ears and my heart to do Your will and to be one with your purpose. Help me allow Your presence to change my life. May Your reason become mine. Amen.
What am I being told? Who has God sent to tell me? Am I missing the reason? Will I say yes to this season?

Christ Jesus sent the Spirit to us, to guide us and to give us knowledge, courage, patience, wisdom and understanding—and God gave us Jesus Christ as the greatest present ever.
Don’t miss Christ’s presence. Make Him the reason for every season by celebrating and obeying His presence in your life.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, December 1, 2014

High Alert

Friends of Faith:
We have been placed on high alert! “High alert” that Christ is coming. Being Christian this shouldn’t be a surprise, but yet sometimes we act as if we have either forgotten, or as if the fact that Christ has promised he will come again is new.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to be at a Circle of Saints mass this weekend this message will sound familiar as it comes from Archbishop Jackels homily – hopefully you will place it somewhere nearby during the season of Advent as a reminder of his message to us. For those of you who for any reason were unable to attend know that while it was his homily – it wasn’t really “his”message but rather he was giving us a personal plan to put today’s gospel into action.

"Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Mk 13: 33-37

Archbishop Jackel’s said that “while this particular scripture places us on “high alert”it is impossible to remain in this state of high intensity for very long. Rather we should continually live our life as if Christ is watching” (see Nov 14 reflection.)

And just as we wouldn’t ask Grandma or another treasured guest to come back at another time because we are not yet ready for their presence in our home, we should always be ready and willing for Christ’s second coming; for him to enter the home of our heart and lives—for Christ to be with us and we with Him fully and eternally.

God loves us but God hates sin. Likewise He doesn’t wait for us to make a mistake, rather He wants us to make an honest attempt to live our life as the holy person he designed us to be. He asks us to be willing to admit to our mistakes, to have a forgiving heart that makes amends, and to make a commitment to try our hardest to do better. He knows we don’t have the power to come to Him on our own, so He promises that He will come back for us—either at our death, or at the end of this world.

While we are called to be on “alert” we won’t and can’t in our human nature ever be “perfectly”ready. Just as sometimes our guests come a little early, or even completely surprise us with their visit we should want to have a willing, accepting, and spiritually ready mind and heart and to be ready with “a clean house.”

He suggested that we build a habit of praying the Act of Contrition each evening:

God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Or to build our own prayer based on the principals of 1) confessing and admitting to our faults; 2) telling God that we love him and 3) making a firm commitment to seriously try to do better to live in obedience to God. (And it occurs to me that just as I was taught this at a young age, so should parents continue to teach a simplified version of this to their children—no matter their age.)

I am asked to do this day after day, moment after moment, again and again…. 70 x 7—especially in the covenant of my vocation, my marriage, in the promise of chastity, obedience, and service to each other through the mission of bringing each other to holiness.

Be alert. Be ready. Be willing. Make the commitment to try, try, and try again and forever, for yourself, for your spouse, for your children and for eternal life,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Harvest of Plenty

Friends of Faith:
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving—a time to give thanks for the harvest of our plentiful blessings.

Liturgically this is the end of the Church year and our readings have been from the “end times:” Revelation which speaks of God’s harvest of His blessings—us; and Luke chapter 21 which foretells of the destruction of the temple, persecution, tribulation and the second coming.
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Lk 21: 25-28

These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit* has been found; they are unblemished.Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with everlasting good news to announce to those who dwell on earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship him who made heaven and earth and sea and springs of water.” Rev 14: 3-7

As I complain about the time required to do something I would rather put off until tomorrow I wonder if I am truly giving thanks and glory to God for the blessings OF a job, the blessings of a household to clean and food in the refrigerator that needs preparation.

And I think about the time I make to go shopping, or watch a Hallmark movie.

God doesn’t call me to make time for myself, God calls me to help others. God doesn’t gift me with a job and food so that I can complain, he gifts me these treasures so that I can multiply them for his glory in serving His kingdom. I have been gifted with plenty – do I give thanks with the same intensity?

I am reminded that we are all called to be “farmers” – to raise, to multiply and to harvest the crops of God’s gifts. One day God will call me home. Will I be as “unblemished”as a virgin – not complaining about the jobs he has asked me to do; and will I follow Him in THANKSGIVING for all that He has blessed me to bring to harvest? Will he be able to harvest what He has planted? Who will be worthy enough to ransom as His first fruit?

“Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations.” (Rev 16:3) Thank You for the blessings of health, family, friends, a job, a warm house and of plenty of food this day. May I be reminded to turn these blessings into a harvest of plenty for Your glory. Help me to patiently and graciously give of myself so that others who suffer and others who have much greater needs than I may be decreased. Amen.

May each of us be reminded this Thanksgiving that we are not fulfilled by what might land in our shopping cart (in fact I hope many of us will protest the intrusion on this activity on our day of Thanksgiving for God’s blessings), but rather that we find time to give of our talents so that others may see God’s peace and joy in their lives – that God’s harvest will be plentiful.

May your harvest of plenty be spent with family and the treasures made by the sharing of time and talents with others,
Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving,
Charlotte
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

God is Everywhere

Friends of Faith:

“‘Tis the season” where we remind our children: “Be good, Santa’s watching.” Or, “you know, Santa can see when you are mean to your sister or brother, or when you don’t pick up your toys.”

It struck me that while Santa may see many things, as adults we have someone much more important to answer to than Santa. Santa may know if I have been naughty or nice, but it is God who knows what is in my heart and it is God who gives us the eternal gift, life everlasting.
And while Santa may have more than one set of eyes through us as parents; God, as the supreme parent, needs no eyes, and yet He can see everything, everywhere.

I recently heard a Christian business owner talking about what might correct the faults within the business economy, he said: “nothing in this world will change as long as we obey man’s laws” – and then he pulled out a piece of worn paper from his pocket and said: “this is the only thing that will change our outcomes – obeying God’s commandments.”

He proceeded to read:  I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain ….  You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Ex 20: 1-17‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great­est and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two com­mandments’” (Mt 22:37-40).

(“Have I treated people, events, or things as more important than God? Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people? Have I harmed another through physical, verbal, or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind? Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself? Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another? Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another? Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I com­pare myself to others unnecessarily?”—USCCB exam of conscience)
Wouldn’t this world, our economy, businesses and relationships be different if we all obeyed these commands?

And it made me immediately think of Father Larry Richards in one of his talks with the comment that “not many of us ever confess to doing something against the very first commandment—that our “strange gods” are not statutes and idols as they were in the Old Testament, but rather that our gods have become the greed of materialism.” Exactly the reason the business owner reminded himself each morning before he started work, that his JOB wasn’t about money, but about serving others and about acting towards others as if they were the Samaritan who was ignored, or the sinners who were made first through the ministry of Jesus Christ.

So regardless of what my “job” is today or tomorrow it is important that I remind myself that God is everywhere and that God is supposed to be in charge of my work, that there is no “one,” no “thing,” and no event more important than fully loving, fully serving and fully knowing him. And that every choice I make should be directed to the choice of Jesus—to know, love and serve others.

So much more concerning than Santa knowing if I have been naughty or nice…. is that God knows my heart and as an adult I have a much higher standard to live up to than do our children and that includes teaching our children what it is that is truly important – God’s laws, not man’s.

Heavenly Father, You command goodness and give us your unconditional love. Help me to strive to behave in the manner in which you created me – willing to obey You, willing to serve others, and willing to be satisfied with all you have given me. Thank you for the constant reminders that you are everywhere. Help me to keep my eyes and ears open to your word. Purify my heart so that even when I fail, I will never be afraid to return to the love of your waiting arms. Amen.

So the reminder that children are to be good for Santa is also our reminder that we are to answer to the God who is everywhere,
Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Spirit Alive

Friends of Faith:

It seems appropriate that we gained an hour yesterday – an extra hour as nature changes seasons to allow ourselves time to adjust to a new temperature and climate—to remain naturally alive.
I often wonder what would happen if we truly allowed ourselves to live and change in our daily lives as nature does: if we more closely followed God’s design for life – coming to life, living fully, winding down and sleeping—morning, noon, evening and night—spring, summer, fall and winter— birth, childhood, adulthood and death.

It is human to want to take control of nature, to try to form it into some fashion that better suits my own purpose. Instead I should daily pray that God will be and remain my controlling force so that I will do his will rather than my own.
The recent Synod on the Family allowed us to see the Church alive—as it educated itself and sought wisdom and understanding within God’s nature. ‘The work of the synod focused on “the desire to strengthen and reinvigorate the pastoral practice of the church.”’ Its purpose is not and was not to change Church teaching, but to brainstorm Christ’s message in today’s current culture and to find ways to better evangelize Christ’s message to all.

The Synod showed that the Church does not sleep but remains vigilant and alive to protect us within a world of individualism, materialism and relativism, while understanding Christ’s message of healing and mercy for each of us in our human sin and weakness. synodonfamily.wordpress.com
Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night….For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. For God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. 1 Thes 5: 1-11

I have heard lately the terms “pagans in the pews” and“spirits outside the doors of the Church.” This is what each of us could become if we do not stay “fully alive” by seeking education and constant conversion from Scripture and His Church, from never going into or beyond the church door. It is not enough to just say we are Christian, it is not enough to go to church only when we can or only when we “have to,” and it is not enough to just soak it in without any intention to live it and share it, because Christ calls us to be more – to be Spirit Alive!
As Paul taught the early Christians we are to remain vigilant and ready. While nature may seem to want to let us go to sleep, even in rest there is a restoration and growth. Faith, conversion and evangelization should never fall completely asleep and just like the Synod of Bishops we too should instead seek continuous education for a deeper understanding of Christ’s message through His Church’s teaching of that message.

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. Amen
And I offer an additional prayer for each of us as we participate by voting tomorrow:

Heavenly Father, May we abide by your control, forming our conscience not for our own benefits but for yours, and for the greatest good of all those around us—protecting every life and seeking liberty, not necessarily equality, but dignity for all. May those we elect strive to do your will not theirs, to strive for truth and peace so that justice may be given freely to all. Amen.
May I not be complacent in my faith, but rather seek further learning and understanding in His name,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wisdom of Age

Friends of Faith:
Wisdom of age says to “Know Him, Love Him and Serve Him.”

Marriage is the core reflection of God’s wisdom because He created marriage with a purpose to unify and procreate—to know each other, to love each other and to serve each other within a family.

Beyond this core are all other relationships – especially those of our neighbors and the “stranger.”

The wisdom of God is handed to us through Scripture and the 2014 years we have known Christ in our world.
 

So I found it interesting how the wisdom of 153 years of marriage (4 couples) without planning and yet profoundly developed the same theme in our Date Night panel discussion last night for our relationships—to know, love and serve each other in marriage.

The parallels from the following 6 wisdom of age “pointers” tie directly tied to our personal relationship with Christ – to know, love and serve each other AND Him.
1)Life isn’t about me – life is about we! When we marry we can no longer think just about doing something for ourselves, but rather if we are going to strengthen and build our relationship we need to make each decision based on the WE – how will this decision impact us, and how this decision serves our mutual purpose and each other. Likewise if we truly believe in Christ’s presence in our lives, then we will make our decisions based on how it impacts our relationship with Him—making our decisions based on Him, loving one another as he loved us.

2)Make Time for Each Other: You don’t build a bond with someone without taking time to be with them, physically, mentally and spiritually, so take and make time to continue to date your spouse for a lifetime. Likewise if we don’t make time for Christ for a LIFETIME then at some point our relationship with Him will falter. How much quality time do we spend with our spouse? And is spending time with God a priority?

3)Know Them—Communication and Education: In any relationship, but especially in marriage, we need to learn what matters, what impacts, and what is important to our spouse through continuing education and constant communication. By paying attention to details we learn what is important to each other because it probably isn’t the same as what is important to us because of male female differences and our life experiences. Likewise we need to grow comfortable with Christ to build a lasting relationship with Him. If we don’t know what He/She/They/Christ wants and needs from us then serving and loving them/Him is almost impossible. Knowing, loving and serving our spouse will bring us peace and joy, just as knowing, loving and serving Christ brings peace and joy to the world.

4)Let God lead you: Prayer for and trust of the circumstances God places us in. Marriage mirrors and strengthens our bond with God because it is the very bond that God initiated in Genesis to teach us about His love for us. When our faith is our stronghold then we are allowing God to take charge of our lives and through him all things are possible. Do you value the opinion of your spouse? Does God lead you in prayer together?

5)Expect Good: Too many times we blame, don’t take responsibility, or forget the reasons and purpose of our marriage. Likewise it can be in our faith or lack of it. We may blame God for our circumstances instead of looking to Him to help us make our choices in life. We can try to do marriage and life on our own, but without God our focus will become blocked by life’s circumstances instead of revealing to us the beauty God has created. If we have faith in God and accept Him and His creation as good, then he must have a purpose for the spouse and family He has given us.

6)Support of Others: Every couple who spoke of hard times in their relationships (illness, broken dreams, accidents) spoke of the faith and family communities who supported them and made those difficult times not only bearable, but true learning and enriching experiences. That is what Church is all about – a community of support—of knowing, loving and SERVING each other.

"Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” 1 Thes 1: 1-5

Heavenly Father Your wisdom is beyond all ages. Grant us Your mercy when we fail to know You, love You and serve You, especially when we fail to know, love and serve you through our spouse . Give us wisdom to learn through our marriages and our relationships the reasons for which you have created us. Thank you for the blessings of the bonds of marriage, family and the Church who You created as our community of support. Amen.

God is all knowing so it makes sense that He would teach us about Himself through others. Allow us to show our love for Him by the way we know, love and serve others.

Reflect upon what the wisdom of all age looks like—know him, love him, serve him,
Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com