Sunday, May 20, 2018

Come Holy Spirit

   “Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, and in our souls take up Thy rest.  Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.”

   The beginning lines of this traditional hymn express our desire that the Holy Spirit come to us, live within us and help us in our life of faith.  When He fills our hearts He gives to us seven blessed gifts.

Wisdom:  The wisdom to judge right from wrong and direct our lives according to God’s will.

Understanding:  The ability to see deeply into our hearts and souls to better understand God and to gain insight into those truths we need for our eternal salvation.

Counsel:  The desire and willingness to seek God’s counsel in all that we do.  To open ourselves completely to God’s guidance.

Fortitude:  The courage and endurance to seek the good, even when it is difficult.  The confidence that we can overcome obstacles by virtue of our trust in God and His gift of everlasting life.

Knowledge:  The ability to more fully understand matters of faith and to use that knowledge to stay on the path God has planned for us.

Piety:  Reverence of God and the willingness to serve Him.  We are part of His family, His children.  We are the adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus and the adopted children of the Blessed Mother.  Piety is that respect and honor we owe as part of God’s family.

Fear of God:  Not fear of Him in the sense of punishment but fear of offending Him by our sins and shortcomings.  We fear separating ourselves from Him and desire above all else to spend eternity in His presence.

   These seven gifts of the Holy Spirit will guide our lives and take us home to our Lord.  They are to be the habits we develop and they offer us the opportunity to rise above our mortal life and participate in the life of God.

   “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15: 13)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Demons among Us

   We are bombarded at all times by demons.  Those servants of Satan whose only purpose is to turn us away from God in order to rob us of the salvation promised by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  They come at us from all directions.  Many are very blatant in their attempts; many others are much more subtle and perhaps even more dangerous.

   Look around and you will find demons are everywhere.  They are in our schools where teens kill other teens on a whim.  They are in our streets where young men and women are killed each and every day.  The demons dominate many aspects of our government allowing abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty.  Close your eyes and envision an invading force bent on the destruction of our way of life.  This is the threat of Satan and his demons.

   Even more concerning are the less obvious actions of demonic activity in our world.  Most of what we consider entertainment is driven by sex, violence and lack of respect for life or anything else of true value.  The heroes are often those whose actions are the most abhorrent.  Who do the children of today look up to?  How many are worthy of their emulation?  Theft and the killing of others including Police Officers are the objective of many of the games they play.  Sports stars reject and slander the country that gave them the chance to be millionaires.  Musicians have near-naked women writhing all around them in videos designed to inflame sexual thoughts and desires.  Ossie and Harriet are long dead; Dan and Roseanne and their dysfunctional family have replaced them.

   I realize this post is quite negative in many ways.  It is intended to be so.  I fear that we are quickly approaching a crisis of decision.  We must take a stand for right and fight the wrong that is so evident today.  If not, we will lose our country, our society and our way of life.  I honestly believe our situation is this serious.  Look around and you can easily see why I believe this.  There is no earthly force that can defeat this enemy.  Only through God can we prevail.

   Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, the day the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles.  He emboldened them as evangelists and ministers in the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  He gave them the courage to spread God’s word throughout the world.

   Let’s take this opportunity to join them in their evangelization.  Let us pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us to strengthen and embolden us.  Let us join them in their determination to stand for our God, our Savior, our Holy Spirit and our soul.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seeking God

   We were created with an innate desire to know God.  We are intended to have a deep personal relationship with our Lord.  Adam and Eve had such a relationship until pride and temptation took it from them.  At Satan’s urging they desired to become like God, knowing and determining good and evil for themselves.  They lost the blessing that we all seek; a fuller knowledge of God and His will for us.

   Today we still desire to better know God and seek for a return to the perfect relationship shared with Him by our first parents.  Yet we are unable to achieve this goal due to original sin.  We therefore struggle to know our God.  As much as we try we aren’t always certain of our relationship with Him.  Saint Augustine said that our hearts will not rest until they rest in God.  We were created to achieve that rest but are unable to do so in a sinful world.

   There are those who go from church to church in their efforts to find God, seeking one that “suits” them.  Others go to great lengths to better know God by seeking solitude and separation from society.  Sadly there are also those who give up and try to live their lives without God.  In each case there is the desire to know Him.  Even those who give up still have that urging within them even though they may not recognize or acknowledge it.

   Jesus gave us the answer to this dilemma when He told the apostles, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth,” (John 14: 16).  The Holy Spirit was promised to all who believe.  He is the means to better know our Lord and God.  The Spirit will show us the truth.

   When we seek God we need only to look for the Holy Spirit within ourselves.  He is there and will help us find God.  The Spirit will pray for us when we don’t know how to pray; He will guide us in God's ways.  Through the Holy Spirit we can begin to regain the deep personal relationship with God that has been lost to us by sin.  If we look to Him and trust in Him, the Holy Spirit will show us the way home so that we may truly rest in God.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mother Mary

Holy Mary, when God called you answered.
“I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
I ask for your prayers that when God calls I will answer,
“I am your servant Lord.”

Blessed Mother of Jesus,
You nursed Him, loved Him and cared for Him throughout your life.
Pray for me that I may follow Him, love Him
And serve Him throughout my life.

Blessed Mary,
You wept for Him at the foot of the cross.
Allow me to hold your hand in your suffering
And share in your grief.

Holy Mother,
You rejoiced in His resurrection and ascension into heaven
Allow me to share your joy
Rejoicing always in our Lord.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners
Now at the hour of our death.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Enjoy the Journey

   Life is a journey.  As with any journey there will be times of ease and times of difficulty.  As we move along the paths of our journey there will be joy and there will also be unhappiness.  This is simply a fact of life in the fallen world in which we live.  The key is to focus on the joys of the journey and accept that it will not always be as we would like it to be.

   Anyone who has ever taken a vacation by car with children should be able to relate to this concept quite easily.  We see the joy of our children as we prepare for the trip.  They want to know everything about what they will see and do as part of the vacation.  We share in their joy and excitement as we look forward to the good times we’ve planned.

   A few hours into the drive, however, the joy our children knew sometimes becomes impatience with being in the car hour after hour.  They’re tired of sitting; brother or sister is picking on them; they’re hungry.  The old question, “Are we there yet?” arises.  Suddenly we begin to wonder if this vacation was such a good idea after all.

   Life is like that.  The joys can become overwhelmed by the difficulties if we allow ourselves to focus on the negative rather than the positive of life.  We, like our children, become impatient.  We are unhappy with the day to day life we lead.  Our job becomes drudgery.  There seems to be no end to the mundane chores of our life.  Even our family can become a bother rather than a joy.

   Not only do we need to focus on the joy awaiting us at the end of our journey but we need to see the many blessings of the trip itself.  We can complain less about the inconveniences of life and take pleasure in the joys of life if we will only try.  Each and every day we have the opportunity to be unhappy if we choose.  We can also choose to see the blessings of each day.  They are always there if we look for them.

   God created us for happiness both in this world and the next.  However, life in a fallen world will never be all happiness.  Jesus told us on many occasions that there will be crosses to bear.  We can accept those crosses with love of God and joy in the journey or we can complain about having to bear the cross.  My choice is to take joy in my journey knowing that I can bear all things with God’s help.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Do You Love Me?

  I’m always amazed and blessed by the depth of Scripture.  Something I’ve read many times suddenly sparks a thought that hadn’t occurred to me before.  We can learn much both from what the scripture reports and the message it contains beyond the actual event.  To contemplate of the depth of scripture is to better know God.

   I recently had this happen when considering Peter’s denial of Jesus.  After the resurrection Jesus asked Peter to reaffirm his love for Him three times just as he had denied Him three times.  This time I experienced a deeper meaning of these events.

   “And a maid came up to him, and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you mean.” (Matt 26: 69-70)
   “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21: 15)

   Perhaps the first time Jesus asked Peter to restate his love for Him was to help Peter more fully recognize the sin he had committed in his denial.  Just so, we need to acknowledge our sinfulness when we seek forgiveness.

   “And when he when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’  And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.”  (Matt 26: 71-72)
   “A second time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’  He said to him, ‘Yes Lord; you know that I love you.” (John 21: 16).

   Peter’s second reaffirmation of his love for Jesus may have been to deepen his sorrow for denying the Lord before others.  As we seek forgiveness, we must also feel sorrow for the times we have failed to take a stand for our Lord.

   “After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’  Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’  And immediately the cock crowed.”  (Matt 26:73-74)
   “He said to him the third time. ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?  And he said to him, ‘Lord you know everything; you know that I love you.”  (John 21: 17).

  When Jesus asked him of his love for Him the third time maybe it was meant to impress upon Peter that he must change his ways and always seek to serve the Lord regardless of the consequences.  We too, when seeking forgiveness, must amend our lives and strive to live more fully for God.

   How many times have we denied Jesus in our life?  For many of us probably more than three times.  Peter reaffirmed his love of Jesus, not once but three times in his healing process.  We also need to be healed as we seek forgiveness for our sins.  That process includes an honest acknowledgment of our sins, genuine remorse for having failed our Lord and sincere effort to avoid sin in the future.

   May Peter’s experience, through God's grace, lead us to a closer, more loving relationship with our Lord. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Be Not Afraid

   Jesus repeatedly told His disciples to be not afraid.  When He came to them walking on the water and they thought He was a ghost He reassured them, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” (Matt 14: 27).  At the last supper as He was preparing them for his passion and crucifixion He again reassured them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14: 27).

   Jesus brought peace, love and mercy.  Fear had no place in His ministry, only hope and faith in Him.  Fear can destroy our faith if we allow it.  All too often we find fear in the matters of this world.  It almost seems as if we seek it out at times.

   We worry about things that we cannot change; we worry over things we are trying to change.  We fear tomorrow and worry that yesterday will catch up with us.  We let our fears dominate our lives in many ways.  When we let fear drive our actions rather than giving our fears to Jesus we are failing as Christians.  He is there for us and wishes to help us in all things including fear.

   There is no room for fear in our spiritual life.  Satan is the agent of fear and anxiety.  When we fail to place our hope and faith in the Lord and begin to fear worldly things we are falling prey to his ways.  In our fear the evil one hopes to weaken our faith that all things are well because of Jesus.  He wants us to question our faith and wonder if Jesus really does have all things under control.

   If we let the cares and worries of this world bring our faith into question, we have failed to trust in the promises of Jesus.  He suffered for our sins; He died on the cross for them.  He rose from the dead as we are to rise at His coming.  He ascended into heaven to intercede for us with the Father.  He forgives us and makes all things new.

   When we trust in Him fear has no control over our lives.  Fear is replaced with hope and confidence in the love and mercy of our Lord.

   “Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 6)