Monday, March 2, 2015

Community of Support

Friends of Faith:
I could say that the past three weekends have been an insight into the meaning of“community of support,” but what I realize is that it isn’t just one day, or one weekend, but rather it is everyday and every hour that my “yoke is made easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:30) by the community of support God has placed around me.

Three weeks ago at the Valentine’s Date Night Archbishop Jackel’s instructed us as couples that it is our vocational calling as married individuals to “do whatever we can to help our spouses become holy.” Over the past two weekends”new CEW (Christian Experience Weekend) candidates were summoned to “go, make a difference.”
 
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ …He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ Mt 25: 31-46
 
Daily I am reminded that I couldn’t be who I am without the help of those around me: Stan, family, my co-workers, customers, neighbors and friends who lend a helping hand and those who I don’t even know that pray for my spiritual, emotional and material needs.
 
God’s original and ultimate call to us as Christians is simple: to help and support each other – in every way possible – no matter what it takes, including our own sacrifice and suffering – just as He himself sacrificed by giving us His only son, Jesus who in turn suffered death on the cross for our sins (not his own).
 
Jesus Christ knew that his words alone would not carry forth without the Institution of the Church, and the Institution of the Priesthood—without the support of community.
 
“Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness….The Commissioning of the Twelve. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Mt 10: 1-8
 
And in nearly every passage of the New Testament it is not just Jesus, or just one disciple who went forth to teach or preach, but rather they went together in small groups to share the message and to help one or another. Jesus is often heard asking the Apostles, “Come, follow me.”
 
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mt 18:20
 
So too are we called to ask so that we may receive: First for God’s help – but then also for the help of the faith community around us – to gather two by two – in His name.
 
I know from not only the recent 10 months but from many times in the past I could not have survived or achieved without the help of God and others: first I call upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit which sustain me; next I have been given the gift of a spouse, Stan, who supports and serves me as much as humanly possible through the vocational calling of our marriage vows; and thirdly I have been placed by my baptism within a community of support—the Church—where together in faith we are joined with each other, and with the Saints and all who have gone before us (Rev 8: 3-4), to support each other in prayer, by listening ears and with helping hands.
 
Heavenly Father, Your creation of “two” is infinitely powerful. Thank you for each and every person you have placed in my community of support. Help me to also become more like you by being willing to give up my time and talents for those around me. May I become yours to serve in this community of support. Amen.
 
God in his infinite wisdom joins us together by our baptism into the Church, teaching us how to become reliant on one other.
 
From the creation of Eve as a helpmate to her spouse, Adam; to Christ’s search for and commissioning of the apostles as Priests; to our Christian community today –without each other we cannot survive (quite literally through the procreation/birth of humanity). And without the love and support of God and those He has created for us to help us we will wither and die.
 
So as individualistic as society seems to want us to be—we survive because of what God (divinely) and someone else (humanly) provides since none of us would be here without at least two others, our parents (so God created marriage).
 
I am called to make it my mission to share and become a part of His community of support by answering God’s call: to know Him, to Love Him and to serve Him (through you) rigorously and continuously.
 
I pray in hope that each of You will continue to grow to become a bigger part of His mission daily,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, February 16, 2015

Families of Faith:
It could be said that the BIBLE is the “Basic Instructions (we must know to live properly) Before Leaving Earth.” Many would say God or Christ wrote the bible. But in fundamental truth – the CHURCH Jesus established wrote the bible, INSPIRED by God the Holy Spirit.
So while the New Testament is written with many “factual” events of Christ’s life as experienced by the apostles, the literal facts lead us to focus on the SPIRIT of each event. Simplified: neither God, nor Christ actually, or physically, wrote down the words that are written there, rather the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church as to what was important in faith to be passed on thru our faith—the Tradition of God’s Divine Design.
 
While the Church is the bearer and holder of the truth of the divine design, each of us personally is called to know him, love him and serve him within the beauty of His design.
 
So what did God tell us? What examples in Christ’s life were important enough to be written down? In what Spirit did the Apostles record in writing God’s design for us? How are we to know Him, love him and serve Him?
 
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit”. Jn 4: 7-13
 
What a different world we would live in if each of us gave it our all to live by this design: To truly love one another as He loves us.
 
A short walk in the bible has God in Genesis creating woman from and for man. He creates for us a perfect helpmate so that we together can recreate His love (human birth) -- children. It shows us God’s power and His promise – from the promise to Noah of continued life after the flood to the depth of that love given by the death of His own Son: a death not for himself, but a death to perfect love by manifesting for us His/God’s forgiveness and mercy.
 
And He continued to teach and inspire through the writings of Paul as to how the benchmarks of a “serving love” should be acted out. The divine design is completed in Revelation with an inspiring picture of heaven—the purpose, the be all that ends all, THE reason for life – to remain in Christ and to return to His love eternally.
 
His divine design, love, is proven in the very gift of life itself, procreated within human families, with the support of the helpmate God fashioned for me (a spouse). It is passed on to our children, in new families, and shown to others around us in a Spirit of community service: whether that community is in my own home, or taken out into the world.
 
A lofty goal, yes; but like Christ, a goal that I should accept freely, totally, faithfully, fruitfully and with great passion. A design in which like Christ, I am asked to give up my own life (my selfish desires) by suffering (not nearly as much as those that are persecuted for their faith) and sacrificing (not nearly as much as much of the world that does not have enough food, shelter and clothing) because the final achievement is the promise of an eternal life of love with the designer of love, God.
 
Heavenly Father, You have created me in Your image and likeness as a product of heavenly love and born out of the bond of love thru my parents marriage. Help me to participate willingly in your divine design for marriage and family by passing that love on to my own family with the help of my spouse. Allow the world to see how you created in me your divine design. Amen.
 
In God’s design of love we are created.
Blessings as you go forth to live and share His love – BE His design,
Charlotte

Monday, February 9, 2015

Truth Decay

Women of Faith:

I read an article this week about a dentist who searched and searched because he wasn’t fulfilled but he didn’t know why.
What he realized was that in his life many of the things he believed in were not true: They weren’t necessarily false or absolutely wrong, they were partially right – they were what he had considered true and what he had learned over time.

BUT the TRUTH had decayed – it no longer “worked” the way it was supposed to (just as a tooth that decays no longer works the way it is supposed to.)
When he began to brush up on his belief system he realized that he wasn’t working with the absolute truth—it was based on his past, his friends, governmental laws, even his own interpretations and thoughts (what he wanted to believe.)

As he went back to the beginning, the very beginning, to the creation of life, to Genesis, and to the life of Jesus Christ and to the Fathers of the Church, he realized his basis, his beliefs were no longer in sync with the teachings of the Church Christ instituted. He joined that Church, became Catholic, and has since been fulfilled by a ministry to evangelize others to search for the truth within the Church.
I started to think about this, and thought: “this ‘truth decay’ must have started at the time of the Reformation.” And then I realized that it had started long before that, because even in Genesis Adam and Eve’s first sin was caused by a decayed truth. And this ‘truth decay’ has followed through every generation throughout time as we see God and then Jesus and then the Apostles (thru the Church) correcting generation after generation, person after person of the partiality of the lies they found themselves believing.

God thru Moses and Jacob told the people not to worship the golden idols (Exodus); Jesus asking the Apostles why they did not trust him when they were in the storm; and Paul telling the Romans to repent of their ways. No one is exempt from “truth decay.”
None of these groups or people necessarily wanted or intended to go against God, or God’s word, or the Church—but all of them had fallen short in their beliefs—their truth had decayed. They believed what they wanted to believe and trusted in themselves (or a person or a government or law; someone other than the Church) rather than the full and healthy truth.

It isn’t any different today: we have placed our trust in the law, government and/or ourselves. We expect and trust that we will be fed, sheltered, even given healthcare and that those who are in authority will look out for the good of all. But I think no matter which side of the political realm we are on we could probably all agree that in most cases government doesn’t have it quite right (or even has it completely wrong), and that some part of the gift of life, compassion and mercy given to us as Christians has been eroded.
This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! Mk 7: 1-13

The truth is Christ left us one holy, apostolic Church—a succession and a body of leaders to guide us to the truth. Yet over the years the truth has decayed and instead of placing our trust in what he left for us to rely on we have tried to make our own churches, relying on our power, instead of His.
Is this honoring the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart?”

And do our actions honor the second greatest commandment to “love one another as Christ loved us?”
The truth is it is OUR responsibility to help others—not the governments. Will we give up everything for our spouse, our family, or our neighbor? Or do we expect the government to take care of everyone that needs help?

God knows what is best for us and promises to “give us this day our daily bread.” Does He have my complete faith? And am I constantly brushing up on my faith so that it doesn’t decay?
How much do I let other people or the government influence what I perceive as true. Is my belief right because it is the law (made by man), or because it is the teaching of Christ and his Church? And am I willing to share the truth with others?

Heavenly Father, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. May I be given the gifts to know you, to serve you and to love you. Thank you for giving me the gifts of the Holy Spirit: awe and wonder, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, courage, reverence and right judgment. Help me to use them wisely to prevent the decay of your truth. Amen.
If I won’t give up everything for Christ (and imitate him by giving up my wants for another’s needs) then I may have it wrong. If my right believes that something (myself, another person, the government) is greater than God, or more important than what the Church of Christ teaches then my truth may have decayed.
Come, Holy Spirit, show me the way to a healthy truth,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ground Hogs Day AND the Presentation of Our Lord

Friends of Faith:
February 2nd—Ground Hogs Day AND the Presentation of Our Lord. What might the two have in common?

Thus says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, Refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD. Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD, as in the days of old, as in years gone by. Mal 3: 1-4
The presentation of the ground hog or Christ: in whom do I place my I trust? In who’s appearance and opportunity do I place my excitement? In which media am I refined: the bible or today’s media: reality TV, Facebook, and YouTube?

The ground hog will either see his shadow or he won’t, he will either go back to sleep or professes to stay awake and present us spring. And he does it year after year, Feb 2nd after Feb 2nd – but regardless of today’s weather, spring always comes whether he actually sees his shadow or not.
And The messenger, Our Lord, was sent to prepare us in a much different way: He came once, He died for our salvation, and then He left us his Church with an invitation--Come follow me. He gave us a choice. Will we endure, will we stand, will we be refined by His message? Is there as much excitement, media and press for Our Lord as the ground hog seems to get each year?

Do we place as much trust in Jesus as we do in the ground hog? Or do we see more opportunity and value in the secular news media—forgetting that it was God who created the seasons, and that it is God who is always present, and that it is God who reveals the truth?
And like the ground hog – how often do I bury my head back underground, saying it’s too cold, too tough to come out and then I miss the true warmth of the sun, the Son of God?

I would like to personally invite each of you to two Christian enrichment opportunities this month:
For those of you who are married or soon will be: Archbishop Jackels will be the presenter for the VALENTINE’s Covenant of Love Date Night on February 15th at 5:00 at St. Pat’s Tama. RSVP’s are needed for both the candle lit meal and daycare. Freewill donation. Reply to me for additional details or to RSVP. askupah@yahoo.com

And the Lincoln Highway CEW (Christian Experience Weekend) (for women Feb 20-22 and men Feb 27-Mar 1) to be held at Pilgrim Heights between Tama and Marshalltown on Hwy 30. Cost $60. (Scholarships available) Again registration is needed—the form may be accessed at http://www.sthenrychurch.com/CEW.htm

Lord, may my eyes be opened to see Your truth and grace. May my heart be warmed by Your loving embrace. May I place my trust wholeheartedly in You. Thank you for sending down the gifts of the Holy Spirit to refine my wants and desires so that I can more fully experience Your love and Your mercy. Help me to come out of the cold, to unbury my sins, to accept your invitation for forgiveness, and to allow myself to grow closer to You each day. Amen.

Christ has come. So, regardless of what the ground hog sees today, spring will also come because the truth will reign forever.
May you be warmed and refined by His loving embrace,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Call to Joy

Friends of Faith:
“Joy is eternal but happiness is fleeting.”
Or as Matthew Kelly says it: pleasure cannot sustain itself beyond the activity producing it.
I often hear, “God wants me to be happy.” But being happy is different in God’s eyes than ours. Pleasure, happiness, joy … God’s call is a call to joy, not to a happiness that we equate with pleasure but to a joy that is sustained eternally.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’S bidding. .....When the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” Jon 3: 1-5,10
God says to each of us, “Come follow me.” He said it to Mary, He said it to Jonah, He said it to Noah, He said it to Abraham, Isaac and David, He said it to each of the apostles, He said it to St. Mother Teresa and to St. (Pope) John Paul II, and He is saying it to each of us.  They all said yes to God’s call. And because they suffered and sacrificed their personal pleasures, they were made holy, blessed, saints. They were called to eternal joy, eternal happiness.
God calls each of us to follow him, to say yes to joy. So when I am asked to follow him, to sacrifice some pleasure to do his will, to stop my day for someone else, do I say, “YES,” or do I say, “wait, I’m can’t give that up now, I’m too busy?”
“Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.” Mk 1: 14-20
So what if I am too busy, take too long and the tomorrow I promised myself never comes? What if I am left behind like the hired men, too busy working to hear and answer the call? Or what if I am too busy listening to what the culture says should be my pleasure instead of listening to and searching for God’s truth which will achieve eternal joy?
“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” Heb 13: 7-9
I know and realize just how much difference there is in my day when I really take the time to pray, to be in God’s presence (vs making prayer just a passing thought). And yet I am pulled by the culture to work, to be busy, to find immediate satisfaction and pleasure by saying “I’ll make time to do it later.”
I know how much better I feel when I give up my time to serve others—with an ear that listens and cares, a voice which praises, or a kind deed which makes someone else’s life easier.
I realize that in my busyness to be happy I only find joy (lasting happiness) when I have met the needs of others before I take care of my own; that the echo of a thank you goes beyond the pleasure of my own temporary fulfillment.  Seeing someone else experience peace, or bringing someone comfort or relief from stress, brings me a joy which I can recall many days later. Seeking pleasure is a constant temptation but unlike joy it never lasts.
It’s why cooking my favorite meal gives me more lasting joy when I give it away rather than the pleasure of eating it myself.
It’s why thinking of “happy times” doesn’t usually include a particular shopping trip or eating a Panera bagel (both which gave me a certain amount of pleasure and happiness at the time), but it always includes those times that were life changing or when there was healing and forgiveness – births, sickness and healing, marriage and recommitment, a retreat like CEW (Christian Experience weekend—see below) –joy, hope, resurrected peace and the comfort of healing.
God calls us to say yes to Him, as he called his disciples. God sends his messengers to us, as he sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh. I am called to listen and to imitate their faith. We are called to be countercultural in our actions – to love and to serve others, to use our riches for the good of others. We are called to inherit the earth, not to simply work to survive in it, or like the hired hands we may be left behind.
Heavenly Father, Your kingdom is far above the richness of this world. Help me to take the time to listen and to see all that you have blessed me with. When I am weak, grant me the patience and the wisdom to lay down my life for others as You did for us. Thank you for every opportunity I am given to be a witness in faith to others. Help me to say yes to your call to joy. Amen.
God is calling us to trust him and be faithful to Him. God is waiting to give us more than just happiness, He is waiting to bring us joy.
Be ready and say yes to His Call to Joy,
Blessings,
Charlotte

PS: CEW is just a few weeks away. Say yes by going to http://www.sthenrychurch.com/CEW.htm

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tied Together

Friends of Faith:
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The simplest of prayers. They are said at each Christian baptism (which is why all Christian baptism is recognized by the Church), but yet associated with Catholics when we make the Sign of the Cross.

I often wonder if we realize just how powerful these words are when we use them to bless ourselves; when we invoke the Trinity into our lives; when we tie together our baptism and Christ’s death on the cross: our birth into the Christian life and our redemption into everlasting life. A sign and a signing that we are given life thru Him.
“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are united to his passion death and resurrection. We take the sign of his cross on to our own bodies. This central symbol of our faith becomes the beginning point of our prayer, and its conclusion. It’s how we place boundaries in time and space that say, “Now I’m praying; this time belongs to God.” Our actual words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” reflect this delineation of sacred time and space, and recognize that all we are and all we do is connected to the mystery of the Trinity.

“In addition to beginning and ending prayer, the Sign of the Cross is used at other times as well, for example, when receiving a formal blessing, receiving absolution, and entering a church and blessing oneself with holy water. Generally speaking, it’s appropriate to make the Sign of the Cross any time you hear the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (from USCCB, For Your Marriage.org)

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. 1 Jn 5: 1-19

Each time I hear this reading I am reminded of a decorative wedding plaque which says: “May our lives be bound together, made stronger when bound together by God, while two can be undone, three cords cannot be easily untangled.”

Three of one accord – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Husband, Wife and God—our unity made stronger, made lasting, and bound together as one in prayer, thought and deed.

May we prayerfully and thoughtfully make our lives stronger, bound together with Christ in all we do,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, January 5, 2015

Epiphany

Friends of Faith:
Have you ever had an “epiphany,” an “ah, ha,” an “I get it moment,” (a miracle big or small) which allowed you to see Christ’s presence in your life?

The three Wisemen did. God was revealed to them, they took action, and they were rewarded by an Epiphany—a manifestation of Christ’s presence to them.

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.” Mt 2: 1-12

I have had problems, big and small, where I prayed really hard making God promises “if only….” and then a “coincidence” happened that was really a miracle.

I have thanked God by resolving to “never again….” I have done God homage by making Mass a gift - wholeheartedly awaited and looked forward to, just so I could say “thank you” as I receive the Eucharist.

Each of these readings are from this week—a week in which I have thanked and received answers to even my unspoken and un-thought of questions. And as usual a week in which God made Himself available – when I asked, and when I failed to ask or to meet my own and/or God’s expectations.

Beloved: We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us….. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. Jn 3: 22- 4: 6

He answers every prayer in His time and in His way—teaching me patience, courage, gratitude, and perseverance along the way. He waits in every moment for my response regardless of where I am at or of how big (or small) my problem is.
Beloved: Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. …. And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming. Jn 2: 22-28
God knows what is best for me and what will in the end make each of us holy – what will change us and mold us into His little children – eagerly anticipating, excited, and ready to be in His presence and by doing His will by serving others. He has confidence in me and I hope I do not disappoint him. I hope I am not put to shame.
I know Christ. I have a relationship with Him. I have seen His presence and experienced His miracles. He has taught me and He has blessed me.

And yet if I would only remember yesterday, I would remember the many gifts he has bestowed on me in only a single day. I would thank him for the miracles I have been given and the grace and love He has revealed to me. I would anticipate every opportunity to put God first and I would share every gift I have been given without thought, without waiver, with the same love as God shared His son, and Jesus shared His life.

The epiphany is real. It is today. It is both big and small gifts from God. May it be yours today and every day,
Blessings,
Charlotte