Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Do not refuse to hear

By Nancy Shuman

File:Michelangelo Caravaggio 040.jpg
The Calling of Matthew by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons).

Letter to the Hebrews:  "Do not refuse to hear Him Who speaks."  (12:25)

I am struck by the word "refused" used here.  I mean:  imagine God speaking to me and me not just missing the call - but actually refusing to hear it!

Actually, I can imagine that all too well.

It doesn't take a long memory, on my part, to see myself with head ducked, eyes downcast, pretending I don't know what is being asked of me.  I've never heard a physical "voice" from God, but I have detected the gentle call of One inviting me to live as He asks, to treat others as He wishes, to give Him a moment of prayer.

But gosh, I'm so busy.  Maybe later, just a little later. 

If Jesus were standing right in front of me, would I say "Nice to see you, but you caught me just dashing out the door.  Oh, and I meant to tell you - I had a reason for not doing what you asked the other day... after all, what would people have thought?  And oh... excuse me just a minute, will you?  I think I heard the phone....."

The thing is - Jesus IS standing right in front of me.  Right now.  He is closer than I could possibly imagine. 

How will I respond?

Nancy originally posted this on her blog The Breadbox Letters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A mystical maelstrom

By David Torkington

email large px-El_Greco_-_The_Ecstasy_of_St_Francis_-_WGA10458
The Ecstacy of St. Francis by El Greco
(Wikimedia Commons).

 When Christ came, it was to announce something that no other religion had ever  taught, nor any other religion taught since. Namely that the ultimate power, the ultimate energy the  infinite source of all creation, is not some impersonal super-power, but infinite love, no,  infinite loving.

Love cannot exist without a lover. Before time began, Christ was the recipient of his Father’s love. He was inextricably caught up in a mystical maelstrom of loving that flowed to and fro between him and his Father  from all eternity.

When human beings love, their love is both physical and spiritual, but God has no body, so he loves with his spirit alone. As a mark of respect therefore, tradition has taught us to call his loving,  The Holy Spirit. Jesus not only came to tell us this, but to enable us to receive this loving for ourselves. So when, after the Ascension he returned to where he had enjoyed his Father’s love before,  he returned not just as a divine being, but as a human being too.

Continue reading at David's blog David Torkington.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The journey of love

By Robert Batch

File:72 Mark’s Gospel Z. the empty tomb image 1 of 1. the empty tomb. Smirke.gif

A journey of love is a journey that brings us life.  John 10:10: He came so that we may have life to the fullest.

The Easter Sunday Gospel, describes a journey that Mary Magdalene takes to tell everyone about the Risen Christ.  ”He has been raised from the dead, and indeed is going ahead of you to Galilee.”

Pope Francis mentioned in his Easter Vigil homily last night in Rome, that to return to Galilee means to “re-read everything on the basis of the Cross and it’s victory”  We must take into account all of what Christ did during His earthly ministry, even the betrayal and the crucifixion.

The journey that Christ took on the hill to Calvary was not just a beating, or a act of sacrifice. It was a Journey of Love that gave us life in the resurrection.  During this Easter season let us all discover our Journey of Love.

Let us all experience the Easter Joy, let us all experience a new resurrection, a new life in which the tomb does not have power!

Robert originally posted this as his blog Love is Calling.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where do I stand this night?

By Melanie Jean Juneau

File:Jaume Huguet - Last Supper - WGA11797.jpg
The Last Supper by Jaume Huguet (Wikimedia Commons).

It is Holy Thursday, the night we celebrate the Chrism Mass.Tonight, churches around the entire globe will wait in  prayerful vigil, with lights dimmed, all images covered with the congregation in respectful, sombre silence. The Church is remembering the end of Jesus’ public life as a teacher and healer and walking with Him as He begins His most important work, the work of salvation in His passion, death and resurrection.

Yet today’s Gospel takes us back to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He has just emerged from the desert, filled by the power of the Holy Spirit, astonishing crowds with His words. As He stands on the podium in the synagogue to read from the book of Isaiah, repeating the Old Testament reading which we have just heard minutes before, Jesus summarizes His entire ministry in a few short verses.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to 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.

Continue reading at Melanie's blog Joy of Nine9.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Into your hands I commend my spirit

By Heidi

File:The Denial of Saint Peter-Caravaggio (1610).jpg
The Denial of St. Peter by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons).

"Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” Matthew 26:33

It has been a tough Lent for me, a long dry spell in prayer has continued, though not completely without respite.  Along with that a family situation suddenly came upon us that will continue to demand much prayer, love and sacrifice into an uncertain future.  And here I am with nothing to offer, not a thing. 

One day, as my husband and I were waiting on some news with our loved one, I reflected on how empty I felt, how impoverished I was in this particular situation.  How impoverished I had always been.  I stand at a crucial moment, like Peter at his denial of the Lord, relying on my own store of love and fidelity and I find am empty! In that emptiness, fear, resentment and bitterness were threatening to invade. “Lord!”  I cried, “I have no love!” 

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 
Isaiah 50:7

It was a Thursday, so, since I had nothing to do but wait, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.  Oh, because of my dryness in prayer I tried to distract myself with other things, but in the end I relented to the call to pray. 

I don’t think I ever finished it, because as I prayed the second Luminous mystery, The Wedding of Cana I began to realize that Our Blessed Mother was helping me to ask for His love to minister to this situation, and in fact to overflow into my past failures to endure in love and faithful patience.  In turn, I was being invited to wait on the Lord.  How can one trust such an intuition?  How can one cling to it with nothing to see as proof it will come to fruition?

Continue reading at Heidi's blog Journey to Wisdom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Facing temptations while fasting

By Lora Goulet

File:Robert Kemm Gebet vor dem Stierkampf.jpg
Painting by Robert Kemm (Wikimedia Commons).

Prayer and fasting cause a holy peace to flourish deep within our souls. Therefore, during a fast, it is not unusual for the evil one to attack with external (usually interpersonal) disruptions, provoking an internal "crankiness". Our obligation to forgive others coincides with a necessary examination of our own conscience.

Our hearts must be willing to repent. How humbling it is to confront that for which we require forgiveness! This can be more painful than the struggle against cravings for things of this world. We may even be tempted to give up praying and fasting. The strength to persevere comes from total reliance on Jesus. We are then free to experience the peace that comes from forgiveness and acceptance of God's will.  

"And Jesus said
'Father forgive them 
for they know not what they do.'"
Luke 23:34 
Douay Rheims Roman Catholic Bible

Lora has written a short series on prayer and fasting for Lent at her blog mommynovenas.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mirror, mirror

By Nancy Ward
Julie Lebrun  by Vigee-Lebrun (Wikimedia Commons).

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh,” (Rom 13:14).

The witch in “Snow White” spent a lot of time in front of her mirror, asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” She built her self-image on her attractiveness. Today’s culture takes up this chant, unrelenting in its insistence that beauty and sexual attractiveness are all that matters.  How easily these surface values can become our way of life.

God created our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, sacramentals of procreation and means of holiness. They are fearfully and wonderfully made yet often desecrated by sin or used to tempt others. God meant for us to enjoy our bodies and our sexuality in a holy way. He reveals himself to us through the beauty of our own bodies.

As a temple of the Holy Spirit, there are places I can’t go, movies I can’t see, fashions I can’t wear because they dishonor the human body, and therefore Christ’s body. Good stewardship of my body involves keeping it healthy and strong, and dressing attractively, yet modestly. I am to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh,”< (Rom 13:14).

God created our bodies to translate his invisible spirit into readable terms. We dress in harmony with our inner tabernacle and thus attract others to the Lord, not to ourselves. We decorate our body temple with the same reverence we apply in our churches to inspire worship, not of the temple, but of the God within the temple.

We can love God with our whole being by honoring his will for our body. We can choose to use our body temple to become one body, one spirit with Jesus and not to satisfy a temporary demand of our body, whether it be adultery or gluttony. Yes, with his grace, we can choose to give our body what it needs and not obey our fleeting compulsions. We can choose to glorify God with our body.

God sees your true image reflection of his life unfolding in your body, mind, and spirit. When you look in the mirror he wants you to see him in yourself. Then you can mirror his character to the world from within your body. He wants you to brightly shine his reflection until the day you see him face to face. He meant for your body to belong entirely to him so that you will become more like him in every way possible.

How do you mirror God’s character with your body?

Do you see a glimpse of God when you look in the mirror?

Copyright 2014 Nancy Ward. Nancy blogs at  JOY Alive in our hearts.