Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Peace on Earth

Friends of Faith:

It’s probably not often enough that I pass on the writing and intellect of someone who  speaks so eloquently the truth of Catholic teaching. I hope many of you will take the time to read this in it’s entirety.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
July 6, 2015
“Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years' time. He may come to be counted the greatest Englishman, or at least the greatest historical character in English history. For he was above all things historic; he represented at once a type, a turning point and an ultimate destiny. If there had not happened to be that particular man at the particular moment, the whole of history would have been different.” -- G. K. Chesterton, 1929

Catholics celebrate the feast of St. Thomas More, the great English statesman and martyr, on June 22. But the actual date of his execution was 480 years ago today, July 6, in 1535. Henry VIII had him beheaded two weeks after the judicial murder of his friend and bishop of Rochester, St. John Fisher. Both men died for refusing to accept the king’s debasement of marriage in divorcing his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and adulterously “marrying” Anne Boleyn – who later followed them both to the execution block.

The difference in their deaths, of course, is telling. More and Fisher died for principle and kept their integrity. Boleyn was simply disposed of.

It’s easy to sentimentalize More’s life. Robert Bolt’s great play, A Man for All Seasons -- later a wonderful film – captures much of the saint’s humanity, intellect and warmth. But he was also a tough public official in a bitterly conflicted time alien to the modern temperament.  More did not die, as Bolt suggests, for the sovereignty of personal conscience. That idea would have been foreign to him. Rather, More died for the sovereignty of Christian truth as taught by the Catholic Church, which he saw as accessible to all persons and obligating all consciences. In that, he very much remains a saint for our times.

Others have already done a good job of deconstructing the Supreme Court’s June 26 Obergefell v. Hodges decision forcing “gay marriage” onto the nation. Legally incoherent and impressive in its abuse of judicial power, it will have huge implications for the way Americans live their lives. Anyone who wonders what “marriage equality” really means need only watch the fallout in our laws, courts and public policies over the next decade.

Persons innocent enough to imagine that the Church might be allowed to continue her social mission without growing government interference will have an unhappy encounter with reality.

Christians have a privileged calling to respect the God-given dignity of all persons, including those with same-sex attraction. That’s fundamental to Christian love and justice. We are accountable to God for the way we treat others.

But Christians also have a duty to think clearly, and to live, teach and work for the truth about the nature of human sexuality, the purpose of marriage and the integrity of the family. No court ruling can change that. And the last thing we need from religious – including Catholic – leaders in the face of this profoundly flawed Supreme Court decision is weakness or ambiguity.

Half a century ago, during the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII – now St. John XXIII - - wrote a powerful text on the nature of peace. In his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), he stressed that “peace on earth -- which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after -- can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order" (PT, 1; emphasis added).

We need to consider his words carefully. No political power can change the nature of marriage or rework the meaning of family. No lobbying campaign, no president, no lawmakers and no judges can redraw the blueprint laid down by God for the well-being of the children he loves. If men and women want peace, there’s only one way to have it – by seeking and living the truth. And the truth, as Pope John told us more than five decades ago, is this: "The family, founded upon marriage freely contracted, one and indissoluble, must be regarded as the natural, primary cell of human society. The interests of the family, therefore, must be taken very specially into consideration in social and economic affairs, as well as in the spheres of faith and morals. For all of these have to do with strengthening the family and assisting it in the fulfillment of its mission" (PT, 16).

We cannot care for the family by trying to redefine its meaning. We cannot provide for the family by undercutting the privileged place in our culture of a woman and a man made one flesh in marriage. Nations that ignore these truths -- no matter what their intentions -- are laying the cornerstone of war and suffering. And this is not what God seeks for anyone.

It’s a good day, this July 6, to remember Thomas More and his witness. In the years ahead, may God give us a portion of his integrity, courage, and perseverance. We'll need it.” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. July 6, 2015

May all of us draw strength and courage from knowing and sharing the truth to others—so that we may find true “Peace on Earth.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Life is About Relationships -- Thank You!

Friends of Faith:

Life is about relationships – the relationships, the people, and the lives God creates in each of us.
Today that life, those relationships are wholeheartedly thanked for their prayers, love and support over the past year that have made us truly grateful, more fully aware and appreciative of our faith and yours.

Over the past couple of weeks we have moved the USS Polaris business back in to a new building at our old location and reopened that building to the public. This would not have been possible without each of your friendship and encouragement, because without your support it would have been much easier to simply take the insurance proceeds and moved forward in a much different way.

So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Cor 5: 17
God has told us all along that we are not in this for ourselves, but for the relationships and the community that we build – for “where two or more or gathered…..”

And as our video witnessed: “Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help.” Ecc 4: 9-10
This idea within our business did not just happen with the fire, but rather it has been our mission since the very beginning – our goal has always been to serve our customers, to be a part of a community, a family.

Being “two together” is not a new idea. The first relationship in the bible was a gift of two—“male and female he created them,” and from that gift of two came a family and a community which continues to grow.
“The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” Gen 2: 18

Stan & I share the marriage God created and it is a relationship we hope everyone else will be able to experience within their families—either as a spouse or as a child of a loving relationship. It is not perfect, it has its ups and downs, even its disagreements. But it is our hope that we can and have witnessed why and how to live within the beauty of the most important relationship God created –marriage.
My job, my purpose in the life God has created for me here on earth has been to share with Stan, to support him and to work with him. And as goes our marriage, so goes our community. For the strength of our marriage is carried through in the community we live in, and the stronger the marriages within the community, the stronger the community is as a whole.

It is the relationships we have with people that have made the business and it is the people that we share with that make us a community. And it is life itself, given to us by God that allows us to be with each other – in good times and in bad.
The building, the place, is really irrelevant… a fact we have very much learned by the new friendships shared with the Zimmerman’s and all who have been so gracious in their hospitality and assistance during our recovery. The only way we can thank you is to continue to pray for your own successes, happiness and joy through a stronger faith.

The building is only a byproduct of our relationship with God. The building is only an outward sign that shows we can overcome, with his grace, and the help of the lives he puts in this place, whatever obstacles, whatever sacrifices we are called to make here on this earth.
Our obstacle was only a fire, only a building. Many others have obstacles much greater, sickness, injury, unforgiveness, pride and selfishness. But together, working in his grace ALL can be overcome to a greater, newer, more glorious life together with him in heaven – the greatest building of all.

Heavenly Father, we praise you and thank you for the relationships in our lives, for our very lives. We thank you for each other, for our family and for the friendships we make along the way. May we never forsake you by destroying our bodies, our heavenly created purpose, or the creation you have given us to treasure and to use as our daily bread. Amen.

As we are thankful for the relationships we share, we hope that you too will find a way to treasure the relationships God has given you.
In His name, may you be as richly blessed as we are,
Charlotte & Stan

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mystery of the Trinity

Friends of Faith:

I think Ascension and Pentecost rival Easter and Christmas as Holy days – or maybe I should say I realize that it is as necessary to celebrate them in order to fulfill the Christian Church’s very existence and God’s gift of eternal life for each of us.

Jesus’ birth, death and rising give us the promise of eternal life. His ascension into Heaven and his sending of the Hoy Spirit guides us to the fulfillment of that very life. Without any part we would have lost a piece of a puzzle without which we could not be completed.  They are the fulfillment of the mystery of the Holy and Divine Trinity.

Just as Jesus took care of us, we are called to take care of others—to care more about each other than ourselves, to live not to gratify me, but to gratify and support each other.

“Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. Gal 5:16-25

Our human nature makes us sinful, and yet through God’s infinite grace and mercy he gives us the example of Jesus and the guidance of the Spirit to complete us. He knew even in creating us in his likeness that we would need both example and gift so that we could eventually come back to Him—the example of selfishly serving each other through the grace and gifts of the Spirit.

“But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5: 16-25

Wow—can’t we as Christians see these faults in others, aka society (in law, in politics, in the culture.) And I don’t have to look very deeply into myself to see my own faults. No one person or culture is “exempt” from the temptations. All of us at some time or another have failed to keep our tempers, have told a lie or have done something that is more about what’s good for me than about what’s good for society as a whole.

It’s not a "judgment" to look around and realize our faults and the faults of others, it is more of a review of what is and what should be, of determining right from wrong, good from evil, of how we should change our daily lives to help others and to help others learn the truth. (We cannot however judge God’s mercy, forgiveness or condemnation.)This is the Spirit working within us, allowing us to evangelize and live our Christian faith, values and morals as an example to others.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.” Gal 5: 16-25

The Holy Spirit is what guides us to discern what is from God and what the temptations of the world are that lead us away from God. The reward of the fruits of the Spirit may be given to us personally or because of our example the entire Christian community may grow when it sees how our faith helps us to overcome the sacrifice and sufferings of daily life.

I think the Saints (apostles and modern day disciples like Dorothy Day, JPII and Mother Theresa) are most “rewarded” when we follow their example and study their lives—when we strive to learn and live as they themselves did by living with less and giving more of our time, talents and treasures to others.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

We are called to live in the Trinity, in the reception of the Spirit, in the mystery of living and dying through faith by protecting and treating with dignity every life (born and unborn) (legal and illegal) (sinner and saint).

God’s law cannot be enforced politically—rather we must each strive to live not for ourselves but for the common good of others.

Renew in us our faith,


Monday, May 4, 2015

Remain in Me

Friends of Faith:

Simply put: Remain close to Jesus.

“Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”” Jn 15: 1-8
After Jesus was born, died and rose he commissioned the apostles to form the Church and elected Peter to lead it as the first pope. Apostolically the Church has continued despite many dissensions and divisions brought on by the sin of human nature. The sin of greed which cause some to want to keep the Church to themselves; the sin of selfishness which may cause someone to make themselves greater than God; the sin of pride which cause some to form their own church; and/or the sin of anger and hatred which cause some to leave or deny the Church.

Yet the Church remains as do its many followers. And we are constantly being pruned (reminded that we are sinners and granted mercy); and asked to bear fruit by being evangelists for Jesus Christ by learning and spreading His truth in word and deed.
Do we constantly seek the wisdom to learn and understand His truth and teachings so that we remain attached to the solid branches of Christ? Do we allow him to lead and prune us so that we too can bear good fruit?  

By my baptism I have been attached to the vine and I continue to grow despite my own sinfulness which could distance me from the roots of my faith. In those times and times of suffering I have the choice to wither, or to remain in Him, so that I may come back even stronger and hopefully bear His fruit by my witness for Him.
Heavenly Father: The trunk, Your tree, the Church, is far reaching. May I remain attached and with You always. Help me to remain strong in my faith, constantly growing, so that I may bear fruit for You. Thank You for allowing me Your forgiveness and healing so that I may be pruned by You. And when I grow weak, in times of suffering or stress, help me to remain in You so that I may be strengthened by the nurturing roots (grace) of Your life. Amen.

My hope is that you are next to me and joined with me in His Church to bear fruit, or that you are the next fruit which will be born and joined so that together we will remain with Him.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Do Something, Be His Sheep

Do Something, Be His Sheep Monday Morning 298                          April 27, 2015

Friends of Faith:

We are called to DO something, because we believe something. Just saying we believe isn’t enough. We are called to put our faith into action.

And who leads us? Who do we follow? How do we know that what we are doing is right and that who we are following is leading us on the right path?

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” Jn 10: 11-18

Are we following Jesus Christ or is our shepherd the hired man who runs when the going gets tough?

And where are all the sheep? Why do so many say they believe in God, yet so few seem to honor that belief? What is so difficult about the institution of Church and the authority of following a leader whom Christ put in charge?

In His death and resurrection Jesus has already done my work for me, IF I would only follow His lead. If like a sheep I would allow Him to take on my difficulties and challenges. Then my job could be much easier.

What about the hired man who runs when the wolf comes. How many times am I led astray, wandering because I have followed the wrong shepherd, a devil whose interest lies in his own self-fulfillment, or a devil who encouraged me to take it on myself, to become my own leader without regard to His authority or whomever else my decisions might affect? Have I become my own God?

And what about when the hired man disappears after making me a promise that my happiness will come through social acceptance, career success, or material wealth; am I then left scattered, disillusioned and searching for something more without the guidance of God’s truth and mercy?

I think personally that I most often resist the notion of giving up control because I fear that I may follow the hired man and be left wandering. And even though I respect authority by being in control of myself (and of all that happens around me) I will not only get myself out of a situation but I will be sure others also are led a better way. 

And yet it is God’s way that is the best way and His plan and how that is carried out is only known by Him. That is why I am to be His sheep, led and nurtured by Him, with Jesus Christ and those he has given authority to, as my Good Shepherd.

This doesn’t mean that being a Christian (a sheep following Christ) will be easy. On the contrary being a follower of Jesus means I may have to wander in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights so that I come to know who is in control. It may mean that I have to accept and bear a cross that I am given so that others may see my faith. And it may mean sacrificing my wants so that someone else will have what they need. It means serving and loving so that my joy and happiness is found not in my own comfort, but in the rewards of seeing others come into the flock, in being unified with and for Christ.

It means showing my respect and belief in His authority by following Jesus into His home (my home) the Church at least once a week (every week) where I am allowed to receive His Spiritual encouragement in Scripture and physical food in the Eucharist and to share and to be encouraged by others who also believe.

Heavenly Father I am thankful that you have given me Your Son as My Good Shepherd. Help me to see in Him the light which guides my choices and encourages me to be more for Him AND to do more for others. May my reward here on earth be to see more come into the flock so that together we will follow You into the greatest reward, heaven. Thank you for the Good Shepherds, Priests, Bishops and Deacons in my life. Amen.

Jesus the Good Shepherd is continually looking for me and waiting for me to follow, ready to take me in and give me everything I need. His way is the best way.

May Christ lead me to do His will because I believe in Him,


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?

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,