Don’t Break the Bowl: Straight Talk for a Busy Soul — Even the Sparrow

We pulled into the school parking lot and swung open our van doors to let in the kids pile in, fresh from school and ready for snacks, sports practices, and all the activities of each evening. My friend smiled as they scurried around us, backpacks and water bottles flying. “How are you?” she asked, and…

Don’t Break the Bowl: Straight Talk for a Busy Soul — Even the Sparrow

An excellent piece shared from Claire Dwyer’s blog – Even the Sparrow.

Loving and Serving People-The Only Real Path to Contentment

Several of the daily Mass readings recently were from 1Timothy which have always had much meaning for me. The publication Word Among Us had an excellent piece on 1Tm 6: 2c-12 recently and is presented here.

Catholic Meditations 

Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:2-12 

Religion with contentment is a great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6) 

Are you content? It’s a surprisingly complicated question. We love Jesus, but sometimes we feel unfulfilled. We have heard, “The love of money is the root of all evils,” but it isn’t always about money (1 Timothy 6:10). Sure, material things like our possessions, food, or recreation can compete for our love. But the desire for recognition, status, or fame can also make us feel dissatisfied. 

What are you longing for? Each of us probably has something that feels just out of reach, and we think that if we had it, we would finally be happy. For some, it’s money or material possessions. For others, it’s recognition, popularity, or respect. Whatever it is for you, know that if it becomes a focal point, it can ensnare you. You can become envious of those who have what you want. Still yearning for something more, you can stray from the foundation of your faith and mistakenly think that you need Jesus and something else. 

Banish this fiction from your mind! All you really need is Jesus. He alone can give you true and lasting contentment. As you learn how to place everything else in its proper context, you will find yourself receiving more from Jesus. 

The best way to find this kind of contentment is to bring your attachments to the Lord and ask him to set you free. Remember, you didn’t bring anything into this world, and you won’t take anything out of it. The only thing that will stand the test of time is knowing Christ and knowing that you have loved and served his people. If you dedicate yourself to advancing these goals, not only will you please the Lord, but you’ll also become more and more content. 

Jesus doesn’t condemn anyone for having riches, for taking pride in their accomplishments, or for enjoying their possessions. But he does warn people who find their security in these things more than in him. He wants all of us to set our hearts on things above, not on earthly matters. This is the best way to keep our possessions and our reputations in the right perspective. It’s also a great way to build the kingdom. 

“Lord, help me to overcome the attachments that keep me from you. Jesus, I want to find the contentment of knowing you!” 

Psalm 49:6-10, 17-20 

Luke 8:1 

#FaithAlive

And The Rich Man Turned Away Sad

It has been a busy but good summer that has slowed down my posting. Most recently spending four days with my two sisters and their families and my mother in Colorado. A time that really rejuvenates the soul.

Now that I am back, there have been several good Daily readings in August. One of them was the story about the rich man who asked Jesus several questions about what he should do to gain eternal life. We usually focus on how he was saddened by Jesus’ final response and went away sad. We do not hear about him again but was that really the end of his story? Here was a man who realized that he needed to grow and that is why he approached Jesus. Isn’t this what we should be doing as followers of Jesus i.e to ask questions of ourselves and seek asnwers from God? The meditation by Word Among Us on this reading was excellent and is included below.

Meditation: Matthew 19:16-22 

What do I still lack? (Matthew 19:20) 

When we read this story of the rich young man, we often focus on how he “went away sad” (Matthew 19:22). But we don’t always give him enough credit. He knew enough to realize he needed help—and to ask Jesus for it. His question was sincere too: “Teacher, what good must I do?” He wanted to be a better man, and he wanted the “eternal life” that he saw the disciples enjoying (19:16). 

This is a good question for us to ask Jesus every day as well. In fact, the Church encourages us to do it. Every day, we can ask Jesus to help us see how we are doing in our walk with him and how we can do better. In the sixteenth century, St. Ignatius of Loyola developed a way for us to do just that. He called it the “Daily Examen.” Here’s a version that consists of five steps. 

The first step is to thank God for all the blessings you’ve received that day. What are you thankful for? 

The second step is to pray to the Holy Spirit. It can be hard to recognize God’s presence in the course of the day. So ask him to help you look back with spiritual hindsight to see where he was with you that day. 

Third, review what happened today. Whom did you encounter? What situations and emotions arose? How was God speaking to you through them? And how did you respond? Don’t worry about every circumstance; just look at what stands out. 

Fourth, think about when you felt closest to God. Perhaps it was as someone helped you in the grocery store or as you admired a beautiful sunset. When did you feel further away from God? Maybe you felt impatient when someone asked you for help. Perhaps someone cut you off in traffic, and you got angry. Be sure to ask the Lord’s forgiveness for any sins and for his help to change. But remember, don’t go away sad! Jesus is inviting you to follow him on the path to heaven. 

Your fifth and final step is to look ahead to the next day. Think about the people you’ll meet, the situations you’ll face, and invite Jesus to be part of them. Remember, he wants to walk with you every step of the way. 

“Lord, open my eyes! Help me to become more like you.” 

Judges 2:11-19 

Psalm 106:34-37, 39-40, 43-44 

#IgnatianSpirituality

Don’t Be a Lone Ranger!

Even St. Paul needed a community of believers to shore him up

Today’s reading in Acts talks about Paul’s inspiration when he sees an altar to the “Unknown God” in Athens. The article in the today’s publication of Word Among Us is excellent and follows here.

Meditation: Acts 17:15, 22–18:1

6th Week of Easter

They came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him. (Acts 17:15)

It’s easy to see St. Paul as a “lone ranger” hiking alone down Roman roads, single-handedly establishing new churches. Today’s first reading might even cement that image in our minds, as Paul goes into Athens on his own to preach—except for the fact that he’s eagerly awaiting Silas and Timothy’s arrival. In reality, the picture of a lone, independent St. Paul is far from the truth.

From his conversion onward, Paul tried to surround himself with believers who supported him. Some of their names are familiar to us: Barnabas, Titus, Luke, Priscilla and Aquila. Others are not so well known: Sopater, Gaius, and Sosthenes. At one time or another, these brave men and women (and more) accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. They proclaimed God’s word alongside him (Acts 13:5). They comforted him when he was crestfallen (2 Corinthians 7:6). And they energized him with their witness (Philippians 2:20). What’s more, most of Paul’s letters were works of collaboration, written with coworkers in ministry.

Far from being a lone ranger, Paul was a team player who saw the value in community. Consider one of the metaphors that Paul used to describe the Church: a body composed of many members, each of which was vital to the body’s functioning (1 Corinthians 12:12).

If Paul needed a community of believers shoring him up, so do we!

Are you a part of a group of other Christians who help support you in your faith? Maybe you’re involved in a parish renewal organization. Or perhaps you serve beside other Catholics in your community. If so, that’s great. Is there any way you can strengthen these relationships? Perhaps you could set up a monthly lunch gathering or start a text message thread devoted to praying for each other’s petitions. Or maybe you can just simply express how much they mean to you.

If you don’t belong to a group like this, how about looking to join one? You might start by looking at your church bulletin for a listing of existing groups. And you can always ask the Lord to open doors of friendship for you. Remember, you are not meant to be a lone ranger. You are a member of the body of Christ.

“Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship.”

Psalm 148:1-2, 11-14

John 16:12-15

#CatholicLiving #CatholicWay

Looking for More Unity in Your Life?

The readings the past several day have been very inspiring.  The writers at Word Among Us have also been inspired and one of their pieces from April 30th is presented here.

 

Mass Reading & Meditation for April 30, 2019

Acts 4:32-37

The community of believers was of one heart and mind. (Acts 4:32)

Why did the early Christians decide to share all that they had with one another? The short answer is the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, the followers of Jesus decided to place everything in common—property, possessions, and money—so that no one would suffer from lack. Motivated by love, they wanted to make sure that personal possessions posed no stumbling blocks to their unity.

God wants us to live in unity as well—in unity with our spouses, in our families, and in our parishes. We know that this can be hard to attain, even when we earnestly desire it. It can be so easy, even if we don’t intend it, to place our needs and wants above other people’s or to see things only from our own perspective.

That’s why it’s good to ask ourselves, Where can there be more unity in my life? Maybe an estranged relationship with an adult child or a coworker comes to mind. It could be that you have a gnawing issue in your marriage. Maybe you see divisions at work or among the people in your parish.

Once you have settled on a situation, take a few moments to pray for unity. Even a simple prayer such as “Come, Holy Spirit; bring us together in unity” can make a difference. Then, quiet yourself and try to listen to what God may say to you. Maybe he’ll encourage you to be more attentive to your spouse’s concerns. He may give you a fresh perspective on a troubling relationship at work. He may even prompt you to do something to bring two parties together—over a meal or in a conversation. He is creative, so just try to be open!

We probably aren’t called to live the way the early Christians did, but we can still strive to have “one heart and mind” with one another (Acts 4:32). We will never achieve perfect unity in this life, but as we pray, the Spirit will give us a greater desire for it—and show us what we can do to help make it happen.

“Holy Spirit, show me how I can be an instrument of unity in the lives of those around me.”

Psalm 93:1-2, 5

John 3:7-15

Published by Word Among Us.

#HolySpirit

#Pentecost

Christmas is Over. What Now? How to Love Your Brother

A Meditation: 1 John 2:3-11

Whoever loves his brother remains in the light. (1 John 2:10)

It’s four days after Christmas, and the warm feelings we associate with the holidays are beginning to fade. So what now? What difference will Jesus’ coming to live among us make in our lives? How will it help us to love each other and remain “in the light” (1 John 2:8)?

For one thing, because Jesus became one of us, we now know what love looks like in real-life situations. On every page of the Gospels, he has shown us that love is about making concrete decisions to put other people’s interests before our own. He showed this by dining with people no one else wanted to associate with (Luke 19:1-10). Or feeding people who were hungry (John 6:1-15). Or asking someone suffering in silence to articulate what he needs (Luke 18:35-43). Or forgiving someone who has sinned grievously (John 8:1-11).

If this list makes it sound as if Jesus has set the bar too high for you, don’t worry. Jesus knows your strengths and weaknesses, and he is ready to help you. You don’t have to figure out how to love on your own. Jesus’ own love, his creativity, and his compassion can become your love, creativity, and compassion. Slowly. Gradually. Over time and through trial and error.

Do you want to become more loving toward the people around you? The best way to do this is just . . . to do it. Take one step closer to the ideal that Jesus has set, and ask him to bless you for it. Every step you take brings you more fully into “the light” that John wrote about (1 John 2:8). Every time you turn away from indifference or resentment and perform an unexpected act of kindness or generosity, the darkness diminishes a little bit more, and Jesus’ own light and love fill you a little bit more.

Today, think of one person in your life whom you find challenging to love. Picture Jesus sitting with that person with his arm around their shoulder. Linger there until you can feel the love that flows between them. Let it soften your heart and move you to take the next step toward loving them yourself.

“Lord, I am so grateful for your love! Come and help me to show that love to the people around me.”

Published by Word Among Us, December 2018

#LivingOurFaith

#FaithAlive

Living Advent with Mary ‘In Haste’

L

COMMENTARY

Edward Sri

Two words about Mary from the Bible describe most of our lives in December: “in haste.”

We run in haste to the mall, post office and grocery store. In haste, we rush to office parties and pageants.We pack the bags and the car, or race to get the house clean and ready.

There are only 24 days in the month to fit everything in, soall must be done with haste. While the month of December has moments of joy, for many, words like “stressed” and “overwhelmed” more adequately describe the norm.

But if there were ever a woman who had an excuse for feeling overwhelmed and needing to be “in haste” in the days leading up to Christ’s birth, it would be Mary.

No Pressure?

Think about all she had on her shoulders. The angel Gabriel just announced that she’s having a baby. That alone would be big news! But Gabriel goes on to tell her that this baby will be not any ordinary child, but the Prophesied One — Israel’s long-awaited Messiah-King. And that’s not all: Mary will conceive this child not by natural means, but as a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. There’s never been a conception like that before!  Her child will be the holy Son of God.

That’s a lot to take in from one short conversation with an angel. It’s fair to say Mary has a lot going on in her life in the days leading up to Christ’s birth. Even if she were living by today’s standards, everyone would have understood if she didn’t get Christmas cards out that year or if her house were not spotlessly clean or the gifts arrived late in the mail.

Still, Luke’s account of the Visitation reveals that, even with all she’s now responsible for, Mary doesn’t turn in on herself. She remains focused on God and on other people in the midst of the sudden turn of events in her life.

Mary’s Eagerness

After hearing the angel’s astounding message, Mary goes “inhaste” to the hill country of Judea to serve her elder kinswoman Elizabeth during her pregnancy with John the Baptist and to share in the joy over all that God is about to accomplish in Israel (Luke 1:39).

I know when I have much to do I’m not always like Mary. I can be tempted to close in on myself — focusing on my projects, my problems, my concerns — and not be as attentive to those around me. But Mary was not like that. Luke informs us that right after receiving this message, Mary goes “in haste” to serve Elizabeth.

This particular phrase can be translated as “with thoughtfulness” or “with eagerness,” which may get more to the heart of the matter. She’s eager to help Elizabeth; eager to be with her cousin. She does not allow herself to be so “busy” and “overwhelmed” that she misses out on what matters most: the people in her life and her relationship with God.

What Matters Most

A young girl woke up on Christmas Eve excited to come downstairs and share this special day with her mom. Only one more dayt ill Christmas! But Mom was in a flurry of activity, cleaning, cooking, baking and wrapping.

Relatives were coming to town for the annual Christmas Eve dinner, and there was a lot of pressure to have everything just right. There was no time that morning to play with her daughter, read stories and make the Christmas cookies as she had hoped.

“Maybe this afternoon after I get everything ready,” the mom told her daughter. But the day quickly passed, and Mom was still too overwhelmed. Each time the child asked for some attention, the mom increasingly got frustrated. “Things aren’t ready yet — you’ll just have to wait!” she said with a stressed-out tone of annoyance.

But when snow started falling and she noticed her daughter staring out the window with tears in her eyes, the mom stopped what she was doing.

She took off her apron, put on her coat and boots and spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the snow with her daughter.

When the guests showed up two hours later, things were not as prepared as she had hoped. She never got to that second dessert she was hoping to make. And there were several rooms left unvacuumed. She didn’t have time to set out the nice china, and some of the last-minute presents had to be placed into gift bags instead of being wrapped. It was not a failure for a Christmas Eve dinner, but it certainly was far from her best performance. She only got a “B-minus” on her hosting that night, in her estimation. But in the end, she got an “A” on what matters most — spending time with her child.

This Advent season, we all will run “in haste.” But the crucial question God is asking us is this: Will we run in haste after what matters most?

Will we run in haste to truly encounter the people in our lives? To make time to talk to them? To take time to listen to them?

Will we run in haste to the chapel, to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Will we run in haste to Mass? Will we run in haste to make sure we have quiet time each day for prayer — to be like Mary, keeping and pondering the mystery of the Advent season in our hearts?

Edward Sri is a theologian, author and speaker.

His newest book is Rethinking Mary in the New Testament (Ignatius Press). 

More about his work can be found at EdwardSri.com.

Published by National Catholic Register Dec. 2018

#AdventCatholic

#Advent