Monday, April 20, 2015

Organic Truth

Friends of Faith:
Many of us have heard “we are what we eat.” But where do we get what we eat? Does it come from McDonalds, Olive Garden or some other restaurant, or does it come direct from the farm? Is it organic or processed; in its original form or a product of the world?

And just like food that we feed our bodies, so too is the truth which feeds us emotionally and spiritually both manufactured, processed and/or organic. So, not only are our bodies what we eat; so too is our mind and our heart what it is fed.
Matthew Kelly puts it this way: “I can tell who a person is by the books on their bookshelves.”
 
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children* walking in the truth just as we were commanded by the Father. But now, Lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing a new commandment but the one we have had from the beginning: let us love one another. For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense. Anyone who is so “progressive”* as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works. 2Jn 1: 4-11
 
So what and where does our truth come from? Are we getting a“healthy” dose of the truth directly from Jesus’ teachings, Scripture, the Church and directly from those who witness service and mercy of Jesus or by those who are being of service? Or is our truth coming from something that the world has humanly manufactured or processed?

How true is the 6 o’clock news? Is what we are listening to a true reporting of an event? And is our reality based on the percentage of time given to what is reported on the nightly news? Think about a 30 minute news program—15 minutes of which is advertising, business propaganda that is manufactured so that we will believe what they want us to believe; 1 or 2 minutes to an accident or tragedy (probably real, but often nothing that will teach us how to become a better citizen or servant); 1 or 2 minutes to human interest (only occasionally about someone who has done a good deed; more often about politics or entertainment); 3-5 minutes of weather (someone’s prediction of what they think will happen in the next 7 days, about which only 50% actually happens) and 5 minutes of sports reporting which while it may be real, is truly “just a game.”
How about reality TV? How many of us will “Dance with the Stars;” be the “Voice;” date 25 men or women at the same time to be the “Bachelor”or “Bachelorette;” or run the “Amazing Race” in some foreign country? And does CSI really reflect the court system or have anything to do with helping our neighbor?

How much time do we spend reading opinions, gossip or and watching reposted videos on Face Book? Yes, occasionally we may be able to congratulate a friend’s achievement, wish someone a happy birthday or offer our condolences to someone who has lost a loved one but does the time we spend browsing Face Book really allow us to serve others as Jesus served us? And how much of what is posted or reported is actually perpetuating harmful or cynical gossip, someone’s opinion, reality TV, or sensationalized news stories?
And are the opinions posted on Face book becoming “the truth”and accepted social norms? Do we believe something is right because we saw it on TV or social media, or because “everyone else seems to be doing it (because I can prove it by what is posted and reposted)?”

Heavenly Father, you gave us two commands, to love you and to love others. Help me to do more than just read and watch others who spread what appears to be the truth, but rather to be motivated and inspired to share your truth and to be your servant with my hands and my feet. Help me to open my eyes to Your truth, and to be ready with a listening ear and a willing heart so that my time will be spent sharing and caring with original truth—Your truth. May I see in others as the organic face of You. Amen.
Is my truth organic or processed? Will I take the time to be the organic hands and face of Jesus this week or will my reality be manufactured and processed?
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter: More than a Day

Friends of Faith:
Happy Easter! Can I say that today, for it’s been more than a week since we celebrated Easter by dressing up and going to church with our families?

Have you ever thought that Easter isn’t just one Sunday of joy or that Christmas isn’t just about giving or sharing gifts for one day?
I’ve asked and been asked this before: “If you believe what you say you believe, then do you act as if you believe what you say you believe?”

“Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him,“We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jn 20: 24-25
Most of us forget easily. We constantly ask for “proof.” We stop doing what we know needs to be done because we don’t see the results, the results don’t last, or because the results aren’t fast enough.

We don’t act like it’s Easter or Christmas every single day. Even things that are “easy” like getting dressed up to go to church with the entire family, or enjoying a family meal together are done only once in a great while. And even though we know the commandments we fail to speak kindly to and about our spouse, or to take the time to spend with them or do something for them, yet that was what we promised and believed on the day we said “I do.”
And like Thomas who walked with Christ through his 3 years of ministry, we still “ask” for proof to see what we already know, and to “feel”what we quit actively participating in.

Think about the forgiveness and allowances (peace) we see members of a family make on a holiday, at a funeral, or at a special family gathering. Or the difference in the way we act with our spouse in public vs how we treat them at home.
Heavenly Father, you are always present, always forgiving, always loving. I ask that the Holy Spirit will bless me with the gifts of patience, tolerance, perseverance and fortitude so that I may think less of myself, treat others with more dignity and forgive others their faults more readily. Thank you for giving me the chance to see You in another Easter Day. Amen.

Being Christian is more than celebrating a couple of special days in a year. It is about acting Christ like; it is about being able to say: I forgive, I’ll share and I’ll proclaim EVERY day of the year.
Because isn’t every day called to be a special day. Isn’t Christ always sharing by being present (Christmas)? And didn’t Christ restore us by dying for us so that our sins would be forgiven (Good Friday)? And didn’t He rise and proclaim the Good News (Easter)?

Believe for yourself that today is Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. And then act so that those around you may come to believe also.
Make today and everyday a day to give, forgive and proclaim His blessings,
In faith,
Charlotte

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's Not about Me!

Friends of Faith:
It’s not about me. Why Me? Or is it about me?

These are interesting questions to ponder, and sometimes difficult ideas to accept because what I want is not always what God wants, or wants for me.
He has a divine plan for each of us, we were created in His order and “God saw that it was good.” Gn 1

I am supposed to do HIS will, not mine.
Christ knew what God wanted. Christ did as he was asked. And Christ knew it wasn’t about Him. And yet even Christ didn’t “want” to suffer. ‘He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Mt 26:39

I know this is the attitude I am supposed to have, but sometimes even thinking about accepting the challenges of day to day life means I feel like turning and running the other direction.
So, why is doing His will so difficult? Because there is one being left here on earth who wants it to be about anyone other than God, who is still actively trying to make it about me, who is actively and purposely trying to convince me that IT IS about me-- and that is the devil. The devil wants me to believe that it IS about me, about my happiness, about how I can get the best for me, about how I can maintain control or take charge, and about “what’s in it for me.”

Last week I had one of those weeks and several of those moments – when I asked: “Why me?” “What’s in it for me?” and I thru myself a little “pity party.” And like many who complain I even found a friend or two who sympathized with me and said, “you don’t deserve that” and “Go for it you deserve better.”
But in actuality I don’t “deserve” anything. “For the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Ps 23 Yet the devil is always out here tempting me that somehow I need more that I "deserve" more and that I shouldn't have to sacrifice or suffer in any way.

And in some ways I suppose my friends are right—‘I don’t “deserve”bad,’ but I don’t necessarily deserve the very best either. Rather I am called to accept the gifts I have been given, to make lemonade out of lemons, to find the silver lining and to react not with selfishness but rather to use whatever circumstance to show my faith and give back to others—even when doing so means my own wants have to be set aside: because God will make it “good!”
So how do I make it not about me? How can I do my best to react with a more Christ like attitude in whatever situation I find myself? 

The best example is Mary –today on this the celebration of the Annunciation of the Lord – 9 months
before the birth of Jesus. And, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Lk 1: 26-38 Mary was not without fear or without questions, but Mary said, “it’s not about me.” And God made it very good!

So, it’s not about me. Or is it?

In a way it is about me, it’s about my choice, about my obedience to God and my discipline to living the commandments, about taking the gifts God gives me –even if at the time I don’t see it as a gift.

Every choice I have is a choice to choose Him. Every choice I make affects others directly or indirectly. Even the choices that seem to make myself and another “happy,”the seemingly personal choices affect others I don’t know, they have a ripple effect.

Think about movies like “A Wonderful Life” where the main character gets to see what the world would have been like without him. One decision today, good or bad, can affect a multitude of future happenings.

Heavenly Father, You have given us the world—everything in this world is your gift to me. Help me to use it wisely. You have given us free choice – but you ask us to be Christ for each other. Help me to do your will. Make my day not about me, but about those around me. Help me to accept the difficulties in my life because they may be placed there to help another. Help me to make choices with the attitude that it’s “not about me.” Amen.
Try on God’s truth: not “why me?” but “why not me!”
 
Make your choice be about someone else. Make your choice be to accept God’s will by walking in Christ’s path and being led by the Holy Spirit,
Blessings,
Charlotte
 

Monday, March 9, 2015

By Death We Grow

Friends of Faith:

Which came first, dying or growth?

In the world of plants, first the seed must die before the flower can grow and fully bloom.

How true is that of humanity? When do I as a person grow? When do I as a person grow closer to God?

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom 5: 5-8

I have seen untimely deaths and I have witnessed the growth that took place in the people closest to the one who died. I have seen children give up careers to take care of their parents and through the response of their faith they are blessed with strength and courage to respond with love while having their own needs fulfilled by the blessings of others.

I have witnessed those affected by illness and hardship. When there was hope and faith, God’s love poured out through them – growing not only those directly affected, but inspiring others to become more, and to grow in their own faith. I have seen friends and neighbors receive the blessings of tears and smiles of joy while helping one another recover from natural disasters or an untimely death. (It is better to give than to receive, or, we receive more in giving than we do in receiving.)

As spouses (or faithful friends) the love we have for each other grows when we give up something of ourselves FOR the other: when we sacrifice our time and our energy to help one another without anger, jealously, or envy. We grow when we build the other person up, when we rise to the responsibility of becoming parents, and when the needs of our spouse or family member becomes our own concern, like sacrificing a personal career goal for taking care of a family member.

In each of these instances some part of our selfish person dies. In each of these instances some part of our selfish personality dies – to become less of ourselves, to rely more on God, and to grow in faith.

Heavenly Father, in hope we ask for the courage and strength to die to ourselves and accept our sufferings and sacrifices as Your Son, Jesus did when He died on the cross for us. “O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” (Prayer of St. Francis) Amen.

Without Christ’s death our sins would not be pardoned; without Christ’s death there would not be new life. Without the death of a seed the plant cannot grow. Without the death of my selfish desires I will not grow to receive the love of another.

In the middle of this Lenten season, may I learn to find greater hope through the experience of a death of self, so that I may grow deeper in faith, gain a greater love for God and have peace in the knowledge that Christ’s death was given so that I might live.

In faith and hope, dying to grow,
Blessings,

Charlotte

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

God's Divine Design

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