Friday, January 10, 2014

Devotion for today: 10 resolutions to live in love

1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Did you ever hear a homily that hits so close to home, you swear the priest crawled right into your soul and found out what you are hiding, and what you need to set you free? That is what happened yesterday when I casually turned on the Mass (EWTN). Fr. Wade Menezes, a Father of Mercy, gave a homily on the freedom which comes from love. He explained that God does not want slaves, people who love Him because they are afraid of the consequences if they don’t, but He wants sons and daughters who love Him freely and confidently. He explained that problems we have in life are based in fear, and that the perfect love of Jesus for us is the way to release ourselves from the fear that we are carrying, fear that we are not good enough or that we cannot change the situations in our lives. He then gave the following 10 Social Resolutions that will help us live out the beatitudes and commandments without fear and with love.

1)      Listen without interrupting. God could be trying to speak to you through the words of others. Proverbs 18:2: Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
2)      Speak without accusing. Just state the facts. James 1:18: In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth
3)      Give without holding back. Be generous. 2 Corinthians 8:13-15: For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness  your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
4)      Pray without ceasing. All activities, including work and recreation, can be forms of prayer if we offer them up to the Lord. Colossians 1:9: for this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
5)      Answer without arguing. Stay calm. Proverbs 17:1: Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.
6)      Share without pretending. Don’t tell “little white lies” or exaggerate to make yourself seem more than you are. Be honest. Speak the truth and only the truth. Ephesians 4:15: but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head
7)      Enjoy without complaint. Always find the good. Philippians 2:14:  Do all things without grumbling or disputing
8)      Trust without wavering. Jesus, I trust in You. 1 Corinthians 13:7: bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
9)      Forgive without punishing. Desiring to somehow punish those who hurt you is the work of Satan, causing you to stop any spiritual growth. Colossians 3:13: bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
10)   Promise without forgetting. Be honest. Keep your word. You are as good as your word. Proverbs 13:12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Always remember: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Devotion for today: Life is good

Psalm 27:4
 One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

In my family we put up the Christmas decorations close to Christmas day, and take them down at the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is this coming Sunday. It is a practice that I really like, since the glow of Christmas lasts for me way past the Hallmark movies on TV and the rush of shopping, wrapping, writing, and baking. Now I can sit and peacefully gaze at the star on the tree and the baby Jesus in the manger. I can study the figures in my nativity set and the angels on my buffet and wonder about that blessed event so long ago. I don’t know about you, but I find such peace when my home is decorated and the only lights I have on are the little white ones in the tree and in the garland. I just can imagine being surrounded by the stars in the calm sky on Christmas night. No, I am not in any hurry to get it all down and get back to normal. I like bringing my troubles to the infant Jesus and laying them at his feet. I like looking at the Magi and identifying with them as they finally arrive at the Lord’s dwelling after an arduous journey with many twists and turns. I feel at peace with Mary and Joseph as the gaze upon their newborn son in wonder and awe.

I feel the same way in church. I like to arrive about a half an hour early for daily Mass. The church is sparsely populated at this time, and it is very peaceful and quiet. The lights are still dimmed and the sanctuary candle standing vigilantly next to the tabernacle serves to draw my attention to the host for this day’s meal. I always begin my holy half-hour by thanking God for inviting me into His home for this banquet, for surrounding me with the people who love Him so much, for giving me the opportunity to partake of the only food I will ever really need in life. I rest in His presence and allow my thoughts, worries and prayers float like incense to His altar on high.

I know, too, that the people who surround me in my quiet church and in my hectic life are also the means by which I can gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. He is present to me in them, hard as it may sometimes be to believe,  just as He was present to the shepherds and wise men in the form of a helpless baby, hard as that was for them to believe.

One thing I truly ask of the Lord, and this is truly what I seek, to live every day of my life in such a way that I can spend eternity in His presence.  One thing for which I am constantly thankful is the gift from the Lord of Himself in the Eucharist, present and available to me every day of my life. Yes, I love to dwell in the house of the Lord here on earth, and to imagine an after-life in His heavenly temple.

The decorations will come down next Monday and my home will become normal once again. But for now, I think I will pour myself a cup of hot cocoa, play some Christmas Carols, not holiday tunes, and visit with the holy family for a few more days. Ahhh, life is good.

One Thing I Ask, performed by Vineyard:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Devotion for today: I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace…

1 Corinthians 2: And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Resolution: noun
1.       a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: noun
1.       the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result: going to law school has become the most important goal in his life
2.        the destination of a journey
3.        a point marking the end of a race. (Oxford Dictionary)

Goals and Objectives
·         Goal: Broad spectrum, complex, organizational, indication of program intentions.
·         Objectives: Measurable, defined, operational, simple steps, and specific. Objectives contribute to the fulfillment of specified goals. Complete with a beginning and an end. (

My friend Frank and I had an interesting conversation the other night over dessert and coffee. We were discussing the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions. I complained that I have never really been successful at this practice, and he explained that he never does it. He sets yearly goals and then develops short but achievable ways to attain his goal. At first I thought we were talking about the same idea in different words, but a quick trip through the dictionary proved me wrong. After much pondering, I can see how both fit into our disciplined lives.

That is, after all, what it is all about isn’t it…discipline? If I resolve to cut back on the amount of time I spend playing video games, for example, it is going to take discipline and will-power to change an event in my life that gives me pleasure and relaxation. If I resolve to stop talking about people behind their backs, the same principle applies. In both cases, I will need to walk away from the situation of temptation and do something else.

I think that is why, in the case of sin, it is a resolution. We don’t say we will set a goal of not viewing pornography by the end of the year, and decide how much we can view every month until we achieve our goal. No, we have to stop it. We have to find support groups or programs or good reading or a spiritual adviser or a personal confession buddy who will hold us accountable and strengthen us in our resolve. It is sin and it must stop.

For the betterment of our lives, both physical and spiritual, however, I really like Frank’s idea of setting goals. If my goal for 2014 is to increase my morning prayer time from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, then I can set the clear objective of adding 2 minutes every month until I reach my goal. If I never attend daily Mass and want to do so, then my objective could be to go once a week for a month and then increase it by one day every month.

St. Paul tells us that he resolved to know nothing but Jesus, Christ crucified, while he was with his followers. That is probably the best resolution I can think of. The old Baltimore Catechism told us the true purpose of life: to know, love and serve God in this world so that we can be happy with Him in the next. Let’s put our time and energy this year into achieving that goal by resolving to make God first in our lives, and then by setting clear and attainable objectives to reaching the finish line. Sounds like a plan to me!!

St. Paul, pray for us.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Devotion for today: Just a little becomes a lot

 Luke 21:1-4: And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Andre Bessete, one of my favorite saints. He was a very humble man who was a member of the Holy Cross Fathers in Montreal, Canada. He began his service to them in 1870, and because of his poor health was assigned to be a door keeper and a barber. He had a vision, however, of building a beautiful shrine to St. Joseph, to whom he was greatly devoted. Although he received permission from the Archbishop and his order, he was told he could only build what he could afford without going into debt. He had a few hundred dollars which he accumulated from his haircutting and from a little pot he placed next to an outdoor statue of St. Joseph, so he built a little wooded structure for devotions to St. Joseph. He dreamed of more, however, and again received approval but with the stipulation of not going into debt. Soon he was able to earn the money to put a roof on his shrine, add heat and windows for the many pilgrims who were coming. Long story short, if you visit Montreal today, be sure to visit St. Joseph’s Oratory, one of the most beautiful Shrines to St. Joseph you will ever see. And it exists today because St. Andre had a dream, and wasn’t afraid to start small and trust in God.

One of the most fascinating parts of the St. Andre story is that people came from around the world to be healed at his little shrine. He would take oil from a lamp and pray to St. Joseph to bless it, then apply it to the sick people or give them bottles of it to take home. Miraculous and documented healings began to occur, and today the Shrine is filled with crutches, braces, etc. testifying to the miracles which occurred from St. Andre’s “St. Joseph Oil”.

When I was in Montreal visiting St. Joseph’s Oracle, I purchased some of this oil. Several months ago I developed a large walnut sized growth in my mouth between my cheek and gum. It was painful, and the doctor thought that it was the location of an abscess she had no luck in locating up to that point. I was very sick and in great pain. Upon lancing the walnut, however, she discovered that the abscess was not located there (she eventually found it and I am fine today) but after repeated draining it did not go away. Those dreaded words, “You may just have to learn to live with it” were uttered more than once. My husband decided to take matters into his own hands and began applying the St. Joseph Oil to the walnut every night before I fell asleep, asking for the intercession of St. Andre and St. Joseph to heal me of this deformity. Sure enough, it disappeared. I went back to the doctor to show her what had happened, and being a Catholic, she was not afraid to simply state, “I think it is a miracle.” I think so too.

My point in telling you this is simple. Do not be afraid to pray for physical healing, and do not ever become so cynical that you do not believe in miracles. God honors our requests, and if they are beneficial to our salvation, will answer them with a miracle such as mine. It also helps to have friends, relatives and spouses whose faith is strong and can take over when we are weak. Also, never be afraid to start small and dream big. St. Andre had nothing, yet with God’s help, he made his dream come true. St. Andre, pray for us.

For more on St. Andre, visit

Monday, January 6, 2014

Devotion for today: I came, I saw, I stayed

John 14:9: Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.

Matthew 2:1-2: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

I am so happy my kings have finally arrived at my nativity scene. I put my set up a few weeks before Christmas, but leave the manger empty. Just as my father taught me to do so long ago, I ceremoniously place Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning, and to be honest, I still feel the excitement I did when I was a little girl and it was my turn to do the honors. The next step is to place the kings far off on the side of the display area. My dad would bring the kings up on Christmas morning and place them at a distance from the shepherds and the stable. Little by little they would make their way across the buffet until finally, on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, they would arrive at the stable and get close to the baby Jesus. How thrilling! I was always so happy that they made it! To be honest, I still am!

Now that I am somewhat older and hopefully wiser, I can see so much meaning behind the kings’ slow yet deliberate trek across my family’s buffet, or in the real story, from the “east” to Bethlehem. They were seekers, men of great knowledge who knew that all the words they had read and all the facts they possessed were not enough. There was still something missing from their lives, and they were determined to find it. They followed the star, which they knew from their readings meant the birth of a great king, and they stayed true to their purpose, never taking their eyes off the point of light which would bring them to the truth, the ultimate wisdom, the ever-loving and powerful God of the universe. They found a little baby, but they knew, and they fell to their knees in worship. They were gentiles, foreigners, unwelcomed in the land in which they traveled, yet they were welcomed and loved by the baby.

We are the kings, the seekers, the searchers of the world. We know a good deal about a lot of things today, but as Christians, we are wisest in knowing that we will never possess all the knowledge there is to possess about God. And so we fix our eyes on the light of our faith, on the scriptures and the sacraments and the holy men and women God has given to us to lead us to Him. And when we find ourselves in front of Him in the Blessed Sacrament, in the manger in our nativity scenes, and in our hearts, we fall in adoration and awe that such a mighty and powerful God deigns to come to us in swaddling clothes, in a host, in the rays of love which fill us and make us whole. We are the magi, we are the foreigners in a world that understands us not, and yet we keep to our path and continue our journey, no matter the cost. Unlike the magi, however, we do not need to return to our homes. We have found our home in Christ, and it is with Him that we will stay for all eternity.