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
 

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