Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Suffering

The Elders say that if you want something good, you have to suffer for it."

People sometimes have a misconception of sacrifice. This is a strong word for Indian people. On the other side of sacrifice is another whole world. During sacrifice, our beliefs are tested. We may all have good beliefs but if you test a good belief, then you get real beliefs. Real beliefs make new people; real beliefs make new self images. Real beliefs allow determination and desires and faith to come true. Good is always available to us but we often can't bring it within until we let go of the old ways. We let go of the old ways by suffering. Suffering is only letting go of things that don't work anymore. On the other side of suffering is a new world.

Creator, help me to let go of old ways. Let my old thoughts and beliefs be abandoned. Every change is preceded by struggle. Help me go through the struggle today.

From “The White Bison”

Monday, September 16, 2019

Minor Decisions

A married couple was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. At the party everybody wanted to know how they managed to stay married so long in this day and age.

The husband responded, "When we were first married, we came to an agreement. I would make all the major decisions, and my wife would make all the minor decisions."

At which point the wife took up the tale, “And in 60 years of marriage we have never needed to make a major decision.”

Walking in a way that honors Christ may sound like a major decision ... to walk in a way worthy of your calling. But in a sense, this major decision is made with a long series - a lifetime, even - of minor decisions. You just make ‘em one at the time, like one little step at a time, and pretty soon, you're walking in a brand new way, right into heaven.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Value of a Rocking Chair

It's hard to believe, but in April, 1996, a used rocking chair sold for more than $440,000. In the same auction, a partial set of golf clubs brought more than $770,000, and a few salt-and-pepper shakers that cashed out for $11,500. All in all, this amazing garage sale brought in more than $34.5 million! No, none of the items were encrusted with diamonds, or covered with gold. The items weren't overly special in any way . . . except one. They had all once belonged to John and Jacqueline Kennedy.
The value of an old rocking chair isn't always in the way it rocks. Sometimes, the value is there because of whose chair it is. Likewise, the value of your calling isn't in what you can do in your own power, but in what God can do for you once you accept His calling.

September 15 - Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows


The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows commemorates the seven great sorrows which Mary lived in relation to Her Son, as they are recorded in the Gospels or through Tradition. Today we are invited to reflect on Mary's deep suffering:

1. At the prophecy of Simeon: "You yourself shall be pierced with a sword - so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare." (Luke 2:35).
2. At the flight into Egypt; "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt." (Mt 2:13).
3. Having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; "You see that your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow." (Luke 2:48).
4. Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
5. Standing at the foot of the Cross; "Near the cross of Jesus there stood His mother." (John 19:25).
6. Jesus being taken from the Cross;
7. At the burial of Christ.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, there were two feasts devoted to the sorrows of Mary. The first feast was instituted in Cologne in 1413 as an expiation for the sins of the iconoclast Hussites.  The second is attributed to the Servite order whose principal devotion are the Seven Sorrows.  It was instituted in 1668, though the devotion had been in existence since 1239 - five years after the founding of the order.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Four Wives

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate, and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone."

Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No way!", replied the wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.

The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No!", replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!" His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!", replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only send you to your grave." Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go."

The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect.

Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!"

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives:

Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.

Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.

Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul, often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. So cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us who will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity.

When the world pushes you to your knees......
You're in the perfect position to pray.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

If someone asked you to describe God, how would you do it?  In today's readings, we have five vivid images of the nature of God.  God as portrayed in Exodus, the God of Moses, is scary.  This description presents God full of wrath, ready to strike down the errant Children of Israel because of their sinfulness and depravity.  It is only through the intervention of Moses that God spares the people.  Jesus, in St. Luke’s Gospel, presents three distinctive images of God: God as a good shepherd seeking one lost sheep, God as a persistent woman searching for one lost coin and God as a loving father who rejoices at the return of his prodigal son.  Finally, St. Paul gives us his personal witness about the loving mercy he experienced when he encountered God through Jesus Christ.

The message in all of today's readings is that God does forgive us.  Not only does God forgive us, God looks for us, God waits for us, God wants all of us to share in the kingdom.  And, God loves all of us unconditionally. Many of us find the overwhelming acceptance, patience and love of God difficult to accept.  We tend to encumber God with our own human frailties and limitations.  My friends, God is bigger than us.  As God told Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We all want mercy, love, forgiveness and acceptance.  With the gifts of love, mercy, acceptance and forgiveness we receive from God there is an expectation that we will share these gifts with others.   This is our challenge.  We are called to love unconditionally, to forgive unendingly to show mercy constantly and to welcome everyone with “full acceptance.”

What do you look like, O God of compassion?
    A shepherd who carries home the lost sheep:
    a woman who sweeps the whole house to find a single coin:
    a father who never gives up hope that the child who hurt him
       will come home to be loved.
So in Jesus you have come searching for us.
May we never forget how much we are loved.
May we never refuse to love others as much.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
AMEN.

September 13 - Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom


“If the Lord should give you power to raise the dead, He would give much less than He does when he bestows suffering. By miracles you would make yourself debtor to Him, while by suffering He may become debtor to you. And even if sufferings had no other reward than being able to bear something for that God who loves you, is not this a great reward and a sufficient remuneration? Whoever loves, understands what I say.”
-St. John Chrysostom

Born in Antioch, c. 347, Saint John Chrysostom (Golden-mouthed) was perhaps the greatest preacher in the history of the Church, thus the name given him, and the most prominent Greek father of the Church.

He grew up in Antioch, received an excellent classical Greek education, and upon meeting the holy bishop Meletus, he decided to devote his time to the study of religious works and the Sacred Scriptures. He received Baptism after three years of study and set out for the desert to live the ascetic life of a hermit.

His extreme mortifications left him in fragile health, and he thus returned to Antioch after two years of recovery, and devoted himself to studying for the priesthood. He was ordained in 386 and served in the Cathedral of Antioch for 12 years, winning widespread fame for his sublime preaching.

In 398 he was forcefully appointed Patriarch of Constantinople, and fast became very popular with his flock through his example of preaching and courage in front of the imperial power, whose corruption and decadence he never shirked from criticizing in public.

This attitude naturally made an enemy of the empress, Eudoxia as well as Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, who had him condemned on false charges in 403. He was exiled to Armenia where he continued to be a great presence in the Church of the East through his many letters. He was exiled from Armenia to an isolated place along the Black Sea. He died during the journey in 407 in Pontus, his ill health unable to endure its rigors. 

In 438 the Emperor Theodosius II of Constantinople had John’s body returned to Constantinople, and did penance for the sins of his mother Eudoxia.

Chrysostom's many writings, especially homilies and commentaries on the Gospels, are still extant and have exerted great influence over the centuries.

“When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.” 
- St. John Chrysostom