Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Spiritual Life is Natural

Conscious Contact!  Coming into what is clearly a spiritual program, we may have been fearful that our own unworthiness would hold us back.  We may have believed that a spiritual life and a “conscious contact” with God are reserved for a few people with saintly qualities.

What we must know is that the spiritual life is every person's right.  It includes the human qualities that have brought our greatest progress.  “The spirit of the thing” is an ordinary phrase, but it expresses the presence of a Higher Power in our lives.

What's most useful to know is that we can contact our Higher Power at any time, in any place.  This can be extremely important when we are in very bad situations.  We always have a Higher Power to pull us through and to set things right in our lives.  That's our birthright as human beings.

I'll turn to my Higher Power frequently throughout the day, if only for a few moments each time.  This will keep me on the right path.

~ From “Walk in Dry Places” by Mel B


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Love Between Imperfect People


Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it.  Hate needs no instruction, but only waits to be provoked.  ~ Katherine Anne Porter

We often enter into our relationships believing there is one perfect way to act, and if we can only find that way, we'll be successful, accepted.  But there is no such thing as one best way to be with another person.  The wonder of any relationship is that it involves two imperfect people.

Believing that perfection will ensure love is addictive thinking.  Love is a gift that must be given freely, there is nothing we can do to control someone else's choice to love us or not love us.  All we can do is our part by learning each day to love as best we can.  It may be difficult to find within ourselves such qualities as emotional maturity, separateness, honesty, forgiveness, patience, and self-respect.  But those are the very qualities we must cultivate to love someone else.

It can be frightening to trust another person enough to take risks and let go of the outcome.  But love is a risk that's worth it.

I am learning that I don't need to be perfect to be accepted and loved by others.  I'm also learning that I don't need to expect perfection from others to love and accept them.

~ From  “Answers in the Heart” by Anonymous

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Love

Even if I can speak in all the tongues of earth—and those of the angels, too—but do not have love, I am just a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophesy such that I can comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge, or if I have faith great enough to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own to feed those poorer than I, then hand over my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, and it is not snobbish; it is never rude or self-seeking; it is not prone to anger, nor does it brood over injuries. Love doesn’t rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.

Love never ends.

~ I Corinthians 13:1-8

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Everybody

This is a story about four people named: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it!

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  This feast is the third in a series of divine manifestations of Jesus that we commemorate during the Christmas season.  The first is the nativity of Jesus on Christmas day, the birth of Emmanuel, God with us.  The second is the Epiphany when God revealed his plan for salvation to all the nations as represented by the Magi.  And today we see Jesus revealed as God the Father's “beloved son” in whom God is “well pleased.”

We heard the first part of today's gospel, Luke 3:15-16, four weeks ago during Advent when we focused our attention on expectation and preparation.  The people of Judea sought the messiah and they thought John the Baptist "might be the Christ."  In the text we hear today, St. Luke makes clear to us that the Christ has arrived.  And it is not John the Baptist.  The Christ is Jesus, God's son, filled with the Holy Spirit and anointed to “bring glad tidings to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).  The time of expectation and preparation is finished.  Advent and Christmas are over.  Now the real work of Jesus Christ begins; Jesus is launched into his mission. 

With baptism, we become beloved daughters and sons of the Father.  When we receive baptism, we are launched into the mission of Christ.  At our baptism, God the Father grasps us "by the hand," and makes each of us "a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness" (Isaiah 42:6-7).  Our baptism is a lifelong commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ continuing the good work he began until he comes again in glory. 

God our Father,
with your whole people reborn in baptism
we give you thanks.
In Jesus, each of us has become
your beloved son or daughter.
Fill us with the fire of the Holy Spirit
who guided Jesus in life and death.
Let this Spirit set us free
to serve you and one another
with unselfish, grateful love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Amen

Friday, January 11, 2019

I Didn't Have Time

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day!
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn’t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me
And heavier came the task.
“Why doesn’t God help me? I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”

I wanted to see joy and beauty.
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak,
I wondered why God didn’t show me.
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”

I woke up early this morning
And paused before entering the day,
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Be Still

I have noticed that the best way for me to get a few minutes of solitude at the end of the day is to start washing the dishes. And a few minutes of solitude is something I need frequently. A time to be alone. A time to reflect.

There is a difference between alone-ness and loneliness. Aloneness is necessary for the soul to thrive -- even to come alive!

German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested and eventually hanged for opposing Hitler. While in prison, he wrote letters to his fiancée. The last letter she received was dated Christmas 1944. Speaking of the war that separated them, Bonhoeffer wrote this:

"These will be quiet days in our homes, but I have had the experience over and over again that the quieter it is around me, the clearer do I feel a connection to you. It is as though in solitude the soul develops senses which we hardly know in everyday life. Therefore I have not felt lonely or abandoned for one moment."

We can be alone without being lonely. In fact, those times of solitude are necessary respite for our beleaguered souls, set upon by the pressures of life. We need to take those moments to "get away" and just be still. "Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted," says Hans Margolius. "Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world."

Be still....

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Serendipity

Be aware of wonder.  ~ Robert Fulghum

We have days when we experience the small coincidences in life -- our car breaks down and we run into an old friend at the service station; we're thinking about someone and she calls just because we've been on her mind; we ask ourselves a question and the answer appears on the side of a bus or out of the mouth of a stranger at the bus stop. These serendipitous events usually leave us with at least a bit of awe.

The more serendipity we have in our life, the more spiritually connected we are. We're turned in, attentive, aware, and detached. We're getting responses to questions and meeting the people we need to be with at just the right moments. We couldn't have planned it better. We couldn't have planned it at all.

Serendipity is a sign that we're letting the universe organize the events that lead to answered questions and fulfilled dreams. Life becomes a process of unraveling a mystery.

Today I will recognize the serendipity in the day's events.

From “Letting Go of Debt” by Karen Casanova


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Take Time

Take time to learn,
It is a sign of greatness.

Take time to think,
It is a source of power.

Take time to plan,
It is the first step to fulfillment.

Take time to work,
It is the price of success.

Take time to dream,
It is the fountain of achievement.

Take time to act,
It is an expression of belief in oneself.

Take time to give,
It is a symbol of maturity.

Take time to smile,
It is the window of the soul.

Take time to love,
It is a gift of God.

Epiphany of the Lord


Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the manifestation of Jesus as Lord and Savior to the Magi.  St. Matthew's account of the Magi has all the elements of a great story.  There is a heavenly sign, a dangerous quest, priceless gifts, a wrong turn, a nasty villain, intrigue, deceit, and, ultimately, triumph when the Magi reach their goal, the opportunity to pay homage to the child Jesus.  And just to keep the story interesting, St. Matthew ends it with a miraculous escape. 

We know this story so well.  Images of the Magi cover Christmas cards; they have their own Christmas carol, and they have a special place in our Christmas crèches. In many parts of the world, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is the day people exchange gifts.  For most of us, however, this feast marks the day we take down all our Christmas decorations and put them away until sometime in Advent 2019 even though for us Catholics the Christmas Season does not end until next Sunday when we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord.  We have a good excuse to enjoy our decorations for another week!  

The Solemnity of the Epiphany deserves more of our attention. It is a special day for us.  It is the day when God made clear that salvation was not just for the children of Israel, His chosen people, but for everyone in the world.  This is the day when God revealed Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (us).  This is the day when we became "coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Ephesians 3:6).  .

This great Solemnity of the Epiphany is a good time for us to contemplate our own quest to find Jesus and to consider what gifts we have to offer Him. It is a day to thank God for including us in His plan for salvation. And it is a day to recognize how our lives reflect the radiant light of Christ to the world in which we live. 

God of all nations, peoples and cultures,
this is the day you have made bright
with your light and your love
destined for all.
Guide us in the new ways of your Son.
Open our eyes that we may recognize you
in all the signs that you send us.
Let your kindly light shine everywhere,
that all peoples may praise you
in their own language
and enrich your Church with their own gifts.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
our Lord and Savior for ever.
Amen

Friday, January 4, 2019

Does Prayer Change Things?

They say that prayer changes things, but does it REALLY change anything?
Oh yes! It really does!

Does prayer change your present situation or sudden circumstances?
No, not always, but it does change the way you look at those events.

Does prayer change your financial future?
No, not always, but it does change who you look to for meeting your daily needs.

Does prayer change shattered hearts or broken bodies?
No, not always, but it will change your source of strength and comfort.

Does prayer change your wants and desires?
No, not always, but it will change your wants into what God desires!

Does prayer change how you view the world?
No, not always, but it will change whose eyes you see the world through.

Does prayer change your regrets from the past?
No, not always, but it will change your hopes for the future!

Does prayer change the people around you?
No, not always, but it will change you - the problem isn't always in others.

Does prayer change your life in ways you can't explain?
Oh, yes, always! And it will change you from the inside out!

So does prayer REALLY change ANYTHING? 
Yes! It REALLY does change EVERYTHING!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Broken Resolutions

Most of us, I suspect, have our own long history of broken New Year's resolutions.

How many times have we begun a new year with the sincere intention of ending some bad habit and of finally setting ourselves to living life as we should have been living it all along and, after a very short time, have found ourselves again solidly embedded in our old habits and ruts?

Hence, most of us live lives not so much of quiet desperation as of quiet resignation . . . "This is the way I am! This is the way my life has always been! This is the way I will always be!"

The belief that things can be different, and for the better, is a crucial part of our Christian faith. To believe that there can be "a new heaven and a new earth" (and that we can be paragons of virtue and delight within it) is not something that takes its ground in natural optimism (for example, "I always see the positive in things.") but is something that is rooted in the belief that "nothing is impossible with God."

How to change? As Psalm 96 puts it, "sing a new song to the Lord."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

At the Start of the New Year

Hope smiles on the threshold of the year to come, whispering that it will be happier.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

At the start of this New Year, we look back at what has been and we look forward to the future.  Our path has been filled with healing and hope.  Rewards have come to us each day.  Now, looking toward the year ahead, we can't know much of what will happen, but we can recommit ourselves to our Healing and Spiritual Life.    We can have renewed comfort and optimism that we will not be alone and that we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.

The start of a new year is a good time to make lists of the things we fear, the things we hope for, and the things we are grateful for. These lists serve as a kind of snapshot inventory of our attitude toward the world and our relationship with our God. They point a direction for us today and for the year ahead. We can put these lists in a safe place until next year when we will bring them out as a reminder of where we were and a measure of how far we've come.

Today I once again turn my life and will over to the care of God.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year to all of you - May you have a blessed 2019

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastroenterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber, and the I.R.S.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs, and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count, and your mortgage interest not rise.

May next New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. 

May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.

May what you see in the mirror delight you and what others see in you delight them.

May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.

May the telemarketers lose your phone number, may the commercials on TV not be louder than the program you have been watching, and may your check book and your budget balance - and include generous amounts for charity.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings and your friends.

May The Promises in the Bible all be true for you.

And may we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God's love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.