Saturday, July 6, 2013

Devotion for today: Come! Live in the Light

 Micah 6:8: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I have had a song running in my head for several days now. I am not sure where I first heard it, or why it is playing now in my mind, but I do like it. The words are so great and so very good for the call to evangelization. I truly believe if we lived Micah 6:8 every day of our lives, we would be bringing many many people to God.

Here is this lovely song. Spend time on each verse and let it fill your heart. It is the call to evangelization.

We Are Called

Come! live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!
We are called to be light for the kingdom,
to live in the freedom of the city of God!

Refrain: We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

2. Come! Open your heart!
Show your mercy to all those in fear!
We are called to be hope for the hopeless,
so all hatred and blindness will be no more!
Refrain: We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

3. Sing! Sing a new song!
Sing of that great day when all will be one!
God will reign and we'll walk with each other as sisters and brothers united in love!

Refrain: We are called to act with justice.
We are called to love tenderly.
We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Devotion for today: Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. Albert Einstein

Devotion for today: Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. Albert Einstein

Matthew 25:34-36…Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:  Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. …”

My cousin Kathy died on Thursday. She was one of my favorite cousins, and that is saying something, because I truly have many, many cousins. Kathy was special in many ways.

 Being an Army dependent, I did not grow up knowing my family very well. To remedy that, my mother, sister and I would spend the summers in the Pittsburgh town where most of my relatives lived. It was fun to learn what went on in big extended families, but I always felt a little lost, a little like an outsider. They were all so close to each other and shared birthday parties, school activities and holidays. I saw them once or twice a year. My cousin Kathy, however, never let my loneliness last for too long.  Although she had a world of her own friends and close relatives, she would take me into her life every summer. She would invite me to all her activities and have me spend endless days on her front porch playing jacks, marbles, or making up stories about her favorite TV dog, Lassie. Kathy had a good heart and I benefited greatly from it. At an early age, she was living the command of God to take in the stranger.

In her adult life, Kathy spent many years caring for her ill mother, even though she was married and had two children. When her mother passed, Kathy began caring not only for her father, but for her father-in-law at the same time. She and her husband built a wing on their home so the two “Dads” could live their last years in comfort and care.  I don’t know too many people like Kathy. It is difficult in today's world to give up everything just to make sure the lives of aging parents are comfortable, safe and secure, yet that is what Kathy did. Kathy never placed herself ahead of others. She saw Christ in the stranger, in the sick, in the aged. When Christ called her home yesterday, I can picture Him saying to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Now enter into My kingdom.”

May we all take a minute to learn from my cousin. God will ask many things of us in this world, and some are just plain hard. Some we may not want to do. But if we see Christ in others, and live to serve Christ in others, we will have discovered what Kathy knew from a very early age… “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

My dear cousin, may you rest in peace, you highly blessed and favored daughter of God.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Devotion for today: Please, God, bless America

Prayer for Religious Liberty  

Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus. We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.

Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
 We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC)

“He who disbelieves in even a single article of the faith 
is justly held guilty of disbelief in the whole faith.”
- St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester
Martyred June 22, 1535 by order of King Henry VIII

I marvel at the death of outrage among Christians in general and Catholics in particular. It used to be that if an indecent movie would come out, people would actively protest. If a politician slurred the faithful, he would stand a very good chance of not getting re-elected. If a TV network would show promiscuous material on TV, the sponsors would be boycotted. Now, we roll over and play dead. Too many of us have listened to the mind gurus of today who say that to stand for God is to be a bigot, a moron (what did Nancy Pelosi recently say about those of us who are against abortion? “ It’s like something ancient, medieval.” )

 So we find ourselves in the unenviable position today of being eliminated piece by piece until the Church will not be able to be a visible, active part of society. Start with HHS in August, and Catholic Charities and true Catholic Colleges can no longer survive. Catholic business owners must break their faith or go out of business. Start with ideas like the one in Canada where it is illegal for anyone, including priests, to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is now labeled hate speech and cannot be taught in the Catholic Schools. There will be a Catholic Church in America; it is poised and ready to take over: The American Catholic Church. They will be like the politically accepted Church in China today and the politically accepted Lutheran Church in Hitler’s Germany. The true churches were driven underground as they were no longer acceptable to a society which had turned its back on God and His teachings.

Wake up, those of you who will celebrate freedom today. Yes, thank God for the freedoms we do enjoy. Our country has been richly blessed, because we were “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” ALL. That means pre-born babies, the elderly, the sick, the Catholic who says he cannot support abortion inducing drugs. I want those who tolerate the kind of new thinking, which says we must keep our beliefs to ourselves, to stand up and say "No! I have a right to religious freedom in this country. I can and will visibly live my faith and all its tenants". We have, as Mother Teresa so clearly stated many years ago, become a culture of death. We are the poorest nation in the world, as she said, because we value man’s ideas about life and not God’s.

It is time to stop this insanity and decide what we believe. I read recently that only 4% of Catholics in the pews on Sunday actually feel dedicated to their faith as it truly exists. Most of them don’t care and don’t want to care. They will celebrate baptisms and weddings and funerals because they are traditions or family affairs but not because they are opportunities to profess the faith. They will come to Mass on Sunday out of some feeling of obligation, but complain if the music isn’t bouncy or the sermon is too long or the priest is too old fashioned. Forget coming to see the King of Kings, the Lord and Savior of the world, to partake of His feast, to say thank-you, I love you, bless me and help me to live my life as you designed it to be. 

Let freedom ring, yes. God bless America. Please. God. Bless America. 

"Freedom consists not in doing what we like but in having the right to do what we ought." Blessed John Paul II

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Devotion for today: I believe in the Holy Spirit

John 14:24-26: He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 14:15-17 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I love the first Bible passage sited here today. Jesus reminds us that to love Him is to follow what He taught us. I am amazed at how many people insist that as long as they are “good” people God will love them. Good is a relative term, of course, and in this age of relativism, it can mean anything from not killing people to loving animals. It is also carte blanche to do and believe whatever one wants, as long as we are “good.” I always want to answer this commentary with a few simple questions. “How do you show your love for God? I am so happy you are sure He loves you, but does He know you love Him? Do you worry about showing Him your love?” We have societies today that tend to be a bit narcissistic, and this kind of thinking goes along with that tendency. God will love me no matter what. I am free to live as I please as long as I throw Him a crumb and go to Mass every once in a while (He doesn’t care if I don’t do it every week. After all, I am a good person). I think He does care, and the first line of this passage proves it. If you don’t keep God’s word, you don’t really love Him. It is like knowing what your spouse has asked of you in the relationship and just not caring if you do it or not. Is that love? No way. That would be a selfish concept of love, one where you get what you want and your spouse gets whatever you feel like giving him.

You need to get to know God in order to love Him and serve Him in this world. Jesus tells us how this can happen. He will send us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to teach us all things.

Remember, the words of Jesus are for us today just as they were for His apostles. He is saying this to us. If you really want to know God the Father, and if you really want to understand what I, God the Son, have taught you, then you need God the Holy Spirit. He will teach you how to understand and live in God’s presence every moment of your life. That is called the “Spirit-filled life.”

The second passage is the same as the first. Jesus tells us to follow the commandments. He tells us that we can only receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, if we are living in the truth. The world tells us that many things are ok even if they go against God. No so, my friends, not so. Either you live in God’s word, or live in society’s word today. They do not go together.

If you want to know God, so you can love Him and serve Him and be happy with Him in the next world, you will have to pray to the Holy Spirit. He is the gift Jesus promised us before He returned to the Father. He is known by such titles as Wonderer, Counselor, Comforter, Spirit of life, Advocate and Teacher. He will lead you to the truth, and the truth will set you free. But you have to want to know the truth, which means you have to admit that the worldly tenants you may be following are wrong, and you will have to give them up. You may have to stop reading certain types of books, or stop watching certain types of shows, or playing certain types of video games. You may have to start to go to Mass every Sunday, read your Bible, join a Faith Community and find out what it is you need to know in order to truly know God. I have three lawyers in my immediate family. They will all tell you that ignorance of the law is no excuse. It will not hold up in court. Well, it will not hold up in heaven either!!

Begin today, and do this every day for the rest of your life. Pray every morning to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to come into your heart and fill you with wisdom and knowledge of truth. Ask Him to show you where you have sinned and what you need to confess. Ask Him to reveal to you God’s plan for your life. Ask Him to give you the courage and strength to face the battles of the day and fight them in God’s way.
Then, ask Him to teach you through the Word, the people you meet, and the whispers you hear in your heart to truly come to the beauty of a loving, truthful relationship with God. Amen, alleluia!

Counselor is a legal term for one who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Enrich your heart

"Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you NOTHING that you have received only what you have given: A heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage."  - St Francis Assisi

Here is a beautiful presentation for our meditation today. I think it sums up pretty well what we talked about last week. Watch it with an open heart and mind, and then ask God what His plan is for you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Devotion for today: Let’s be brave!

Revelation 3:14-22:“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

I think it is easy to get scared today. We make a comment that we think is based on truth, and we are quickly attacked for being insensitive or incorrect. We find people afraid to discuss religion with us for fear they may seem too religious! Around the world, societies are headed toward freedom of worship, which means you can practice your religion all you want to behind closed church doors, but don’t try to bring your beliefs into the workplace or schools or even into your decision making if those beliefs don’t jive with whatever the current political climate is for now. It is easy to become afraid. It is even easier to give in and act as neutral as everyone else.  God tells us how He feels about the neutral. He vomits them out of His mouth.

It has always been difficult to follow God, especially when societies in various times in history were wealthy. Notice in our Bible passage that the wealth of the people is specifically given as the reason for their demise. When we are in a pitiable state, we turn to God for help, having nowhere else to go. When we are thriving and “have it all” we tend to turn to money and all it can buy for pleasure and happiness. When we have many things, we fear losing them.  We become afraid. What if I make it known I am a devout Catholic and then I apply for a job at a university and they won’t hire me because of my conservative stand and beliefs? All I worked for is gone. What if I apply to a pharmaceutical company and get the job and then discover they make abortion inducing drugs? Do I have to quit? I mean, I am not making them! What if I own a very large company and must supply my employees with health insurance I feel is wrong in its coverage. I cannot go out of business, can I? This, my friends, is the world we live in.

 It was the same in the days of the Old Testament and in Jesus’ time. If Daniel and his friends refused to worship the king, they would be killed. If others refused to eat meat which had been offered to idols, they would be killed. If Lutherans in Hitler’s Germany did not support the Church Hitler restructured, they were sent to concentration camps and many died.  We cannot buy into the belief that the world today is worse than ever. It simply is morally worse than any of us can remember. So what to do?

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. God gives us the answer so clearly and sweetly. Just listen to Me, He says. I am asking you to let Me into your heart. I am asking you to choose Me, so that you may overcome those who oppress you.

See? We have to choose God. We have to choose to stand firm in our belief. We will die, all of us. We do not take our possessions or public recognition with us. We simply take the little report card of our lives, and stand before God with it outstretched for Him to see. If we have lived for man and his crazy ways, we will be poor in the eyes of God, but if we have lived for God and stood firmly for Him  here on earth, we will have been refined in the fire and will appear before God rich in splendor! The world is a tough place today for Catholics, but do not become weak in the face of adversity. Be tough, be bold, be brave and be true to your faith, and remember, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.” 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Devotion for today: Don’t fly solo

Romans 12:10: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

I remember sitting on the beach when I was 16 years old. I lived on Okinawa at the time, and my friends and I would go to the beach to “do our homework”. At this point I was watching several guys surf. Suddenly one of them writhed in pain and began screaming. One of the horrible jelly fish looking things that were in the waters had wrapped itself around his leg in a strangle hold and was emitting poison into his body. Those closest to him got the thing off of him and rushed him to a hospital. We did not have cell phones back then, nor would we have used them. We happened to be on an off limits beach, pronounced thus by the authorities because they knew the waters on that part of the island were filled with these dangerous creatures and would cause great harm to anyone frequenting them.

This leads into my points for today. Do not do what you are told not to do. You will get hurt. You can die from your mistake. I am talking here, of course, about feeling you don’t need to listen to the authority of God and His laws. He gave them to us so that we would understand that the world is a wild place and that we need to follow His instructions to navigate it safely. My friends and I scoffed at the signs that told us to stay away from these waters. There was a thrill in proving the authorities wrong. Besides, it was beautiful here, pleasant and fun. The waves were high and crashing, perfect for some dare-devil living. And it could have cost my friend his life. So it is with sin. It is tempting because it is something we want to do, and the devil knows our weaknesses. If you cannot resist chocolate, and the doctor tells you that it is off limits to you, you will probably spend many days thinking of nothing but chocolate. It is the same with sin. If God says to avoid pornography because it is harmful to you and to the women in the industry, and you have the tendency to crave this kind of thing, you will be tempted at every turn to engage in viewing and reading it. We must see sin for what it is: dangerous and deadly to our spiritual health. We can pray for strength; we can go to confession, but most importantly, we can get a friend or spiritual director to whom we are accountable.

Rule #3 for evangelization: Be a friend to those in spiritual need. Seek a friend for your spiritual needs.
My friend would have died that day if he had been surfing the dangerous waters alone. It took several people to get that thing away from him. He could not have done it alone, for he was already succumbing to the poison. It is like that with sin. We jump into it because it brings us some kind of pleasure, or we wouldn’t be doing it. I doubt too many confession lines would be very long if it were a grave sin to eat brussel sprouts. But once the poison of that pleasurable sin enters into our bodies, we begin a slow spiritual death. We begin to justify our actions; we begin to operate in darkness and alone. We must have a band of buddies to help us out of the addiction, whether it is gossip or sex, and we must call on them when we are tempted. To be a warrior for God, we must be willing to be the safe person for a friend trying hard to avoid temptation. Don’t be an enabler. Be a savior. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Heaven is waiting for you, and Jesus is counting on you!!!