The Measuring Stick

sewing-1229711__480[1] So, how’s it going?  Here we are again, Advent is close, Easter follows winter.  The cycle of life goes on and the Church is a mirror to that.  If you are a fairly new Catholic or one who has been part of the cycle for a very long time, what has been your role in that progression?  How are you doing, what are you doing, how do you tell? Are you one of those who obediently went through Catholic School and/or sacramental preparation and somehow got the message that when you graduated grammar school and were confirmed that also meant you were done with your participation in life as a believer.  Perhaps you got the message that there was no more work to be done as far as your spiritual wellness was concerned?  Maybe you were led to believe that religion is confined to Sunday behind closed doors.
If your answer is yes to any of those assumptions all I can do is extend my apologies to you.  You have been cheated on a grand scale.  You have been robbed of the opportunity to have a life full of the richness and the generosity of God.  The idea of a peaceful spirit and a tangible way to deal with grief and tragedy in a manner that makes you better not bitter has been taken from you.
Whether you know it or not your journey through the cycles of the Church as well as the cycle of life is never supposed to settle into the same boring routine. A great saint once taught that if you are comfortable in your faith life, you must be doing something wrong.  What do you actually do, though, when there is no more instructor and you’re not really sure what prayer is actually supposed to be?
First of all, I sincerely hope that somewhere along the way you have gotten the information that you are not of this world.  You are special, chosen by God!  Yes you, and me!  As a recipient of that amazing gift, God’s hope for you is that through your life you aim at being the best you can be.  That includes right now, with your life as a preparation for and participation in eternity, literally!
[W]e … with Christ are being transformed by a newness of mind.  We are not of this world and the world has no affection for us, and for good reason.                    Saint Jerome (†420), hermit.
Given these truths about who we are as believers, then, the question remains:  How can I know if I am doing this successfully or not?  That’s not as complicated a question as you might believe because Jesus has already given us the tools to do this.  They are in plain sight if you know where to look. You might recall the spectacular occurrences at Pentecost when the Church was born.  The Spirit swept in and gave the disciples all the tools they needed to bust a move, go out into the world and shed all their fears that they cowered with when in  the upper room.  He conferred to them: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, faith, healing, miracles, tongues, the interpretation of tongues. They took these tools and evangelized the world.  The bible teaches that not everyone gets all of the gifts but all believers get some of the gifts for the building of the kingdom.
If you are wondering, however, what the tools look or feel like and how you can tell which gift you have or are supposed to use, that’s not as hard as you might think.  Along with the Gifts of the Spirit, He also conferred the Fruits of the Spirit.
All the Fruits are accessible to all believers and because they are straight from God, the Fruits couldn’t be a more reliable measuring stick for the way your spiritual growth is going.  Here are the Fruits:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
As a reliable check for your progress in the spiritual life, take an honest look at the fruits. Are you more patient than you used to be, are you joyful?  Do you choose kindness rather than judgement? Do you have a kind word when it would be easier to complain?  More  than that, compare your behavior to a year or two ago.  When it comes to the fruits are your behaviors and attitudes different than they were?   Have you gained patience, has your critical nature changed?  The Fruits are the perfect measuring stick.  Identify what’s changed and what hasn’t!  Whoop there it is!  Right in front of your face.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
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CWG Prayer Chain Post: October 15, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 25:6-10

On this mountain, the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


OCTOBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Blessing of the Harvest

Almighty Lord God, You keep on giving abundance to men in the dew of heaven and food out of the richness of the soil. We give thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the fruits of the field which we have gathered. We beg of You, in Your mercy, to bless our harvest, which we have received from Your generosity. Preserve it, and keep it from all harm. Grant, too, that all those whose desires You have filled with these good things may be happy in Your protection. May they praise Your mercies forever and make use of the good things that do not last in such a way that they may not lose those goods that are everlasting, through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


OCTOBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Blessing of the Harvest

Almighty Lord God, You keep on giving abundance to men in the dew of heaven and food out of the richness of the soil. We give thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the fruits of the field which we have gathered. We beg of You, in Your mercy, to bless our harvest, which we have received from Your generosity. Preserve it, and keep it from all harm. Grant, too, that all those whose desires You have filled with these good things may be happy in Your protection. May they praise Your mercies forever and make use of the good things that do not last in such a way that they may not lose those goods that are everlasting, through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

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Trust in Princes

hollywoodJMJ

What do Hollywood, the NFL, and the Catholic Church have in common?
They all have fans whose faith has been shaken by the behavior of the heroes they held in high esteem. This happened because they lost focus on what was important about each of the entities they supported, which was the purpose not the people.

If you haven’t followed the news recently you have missed two major stories in entertainment. First, the founder of Miramax films, Harvey Weinstein, has been accused by multiple actresses of sexual harassment or outright assault. Include the revelation that Weinstein paid off several women for their silence in recent years and this story has rocked the Hollywood establishment to its core. Many fans have expressed sadness that their favorite stars seemingly knew of the rumors surrounding the movie mogul or had been harassed by him and said nothing. Some have even vowed to stop going to the movies until Hollywood cleans up its act and all predators like Weinstein are brought to justice.

Similarly, NFL players and teams have come under fire for protests occurring during the playing of the National Anthem. Regardless of your thoughts about President Trump’s involvement, the issues of racial justice, or whether or not players should kneel during the Star Spangled Banner, you should know that fans around the country are burning jerseys and returning season tickets over what they consider despicable behavior by their heroes of the gridiron.

For both Hollywood and the NFL, fans forgot that the institutions that they adored were simply places to get entertainment and a little distance from their lives. The heroes of the silver screen or the football field were only human beings paid to use their talents to provide us “little people” with an escape. Many people lose themselves in these outlets and the faux world eclipses the real.

“Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Psalm 146:3)

Hollywood makes movies to ask, “what if?”, to make you forget about what is, and sports allow us to belong to a tribe and choose a side in a battle where the winner gets bragging rights but everyone lives to fight again. Neither one should determine what we believe or how we think. It is sad that the actions of people hurts the spirit of so many.

We can’t pretend that Catholics are immune to this. We can all probably think of friends or loved ones who left the Church because of the child abuse scandal brought on by depraved priests. In addition to that nightmare, I know many people who still refuse to accept that the popular priest Fr. John Corapi could have fallen from grace the way he did leaving behind broken-hearted followers. In these and similar situations, people forgot that Jesus Christ should be the center of our worship, not the behavior of human beings. Yes, the Holy Spirit should dwell in the hearts of the hierarchy and help them to live in sanctity, but we are foolish to put our faith in them when the Savior will never let us down. Let us look to the Lord to sustain us in our lives.

I have tried to find more solace in my family and church community and diminished my reliance on film, television and sports as an escape from my reality. I often fail in this too. After all, I am human. Pray for me.

Copyright 2017 Mark Andrews

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

Mary and the secret to evangelization

Mary Meeting Elizabeth by Sebastiano del Piombo (Restored Traditions)-

Mary Meeting Elizabeth by Sebastiano del Piombo (Restored Traditions, licensed by author)

“Faith is an encounter with Jesus Christ, with God, from which faith is born, and from there it brings you to witness,” Pope Francis tweeted.

That’s what happened to the Virgin Mary.

Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger changed her life. The Holy Spirit overwhelmed her with such joy she could only respond by telling those dearest to her what God had done in her.

What questions did Mary ponder on her way to visit Elizabeth? As Mary told her faith story the angel’s visitation became more vivid, more powerful, more real. The reactions and questioning that followed her initial experience during the Annunciation made the action of the Holy Spirit clearer in her mind.

Knowing and pondering our faith story helps clarify our thoughts. Like Mary, when we share our story, we see how God intervened and steered us to the path he planned for our greatest happiness. Then our deepest beliefs naturally emerge — like Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-49:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. … The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

A different path

My path was vastly different than Mary’s. When Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and given the life of Jesus in her womb, she hurried to share the news with those closest to her. When I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and given the gift of Jesus’ living in my heart, I kept silent.

From my early childhood, my mother, two sisters and I showed up at our beloved Protestant church every time the door opened. Sometimes Daddy came with us. We were devout but private about our faith — we just didn’t talk much about it.

At 15, I quietly committed my life to Jesus at a mountaintop youth retreat. He overwhelmed me with his love. I was shy and didn’t share that glorious moment with anyone, not even the youth director or my mother. From their questions, I suspected the change in me showed on my smiling face and in my lighter step. Perhaps in a little more patience with my bossy older sister and my tag-along younger one.

I thought talking about how Jesus loved me would spoil something precious between us. I could never find the words to fit the awesomeness of the experience of knowing for sure that Jesus loves me – me! His love was alive in my heart. His love grew in my heart, filling me with new life.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

Mary received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the life of Jesus began to form within her womb. She was compelled to share the Annunciation with those close to her. Unlike Mary, I couldn’t share the new life in me even with those dearest to me. How could I even express what God meant to me? If I could find the words, I feared that saying them aloud would somehow dissipate the fierceness of my attachment to my Savior. I kept my growing faith in Jesus just between the two of us. Although I couldn’t share my secret relationship with Jesus, it fortified me for the shock of my life. Three years later my father died suddenly. Jesus was the only one who could comfort me as I dragged myself through the wretched days and longed for the peace of sleep each night. I knew Jesus would never fail me. As our relationship deepened so did my determination to keep this treasure in my heart for me alone.

Thunderbolt of love

Then God hit me with a thunderbolt of love for Phil, whom I dated in college. He was what I prayed for — a strong Christian man to build a Christian family with me. The trouble was, he was Catholic!

Because I didn’t talk about my relationship with Jesus, it was hard to explain how that relationship intertwined with how I worshipped him. Again, Jesus was there for me, assuring me that he would work it all out. With peace in my heart, Phil and I married in the Catholic Church, but without Mass.

Practicing Catholicism

Soon I was a bride of a few months, newly pregnant and living away from home for the first time. The 2½ years we were required to serve in the military, my husband was at sea more than he was at home. I used that time to practice the disciplines of the Catholic Church, which at that time meant no meat on Fridays and trying to follow the Latin Mass.

Since this was before RCIA was instituted, three different pastors catechized me one on one as we moved up and down the West Coast. I was comforted by the consistency of teachings and liturgies, even while my only connection to parish life was the instruction sessions with the priests.

The last priest stopped short during one session and said, “Nancy, you know enough to become a Catholic. When you get home, have the priest who married you, baptize you.” (He explained that Protestants are conditionally baptized in case the Trinitarian form was not used in their first baptism.)

The finality of his proclamation cinched my deal with God that he would work it all out. The Lord assured me that I belonged in the Catholic Church. Three years and two children after my wedding, I was received into the Church in the same cathedral where I received my first sacrament, the Sacrament of Matrimony. This time I received three sacraments. I was baptized conditionally, confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time.

Renewal ministries

A few years into Catholicism, I went to a Cursillo and found people who declared their faith through the stories of how God worked in their lives. Conversion stories. Miracle stories. Healing stories.

A second dose of this Catholic witnessing came during a Life in the Spirit Seminar four years later. With many role models, I learned to share with others the story of my conversion.

Through the sacraments and these experiences in the renewal ministries of the Church, I have become one of those faithful Catholics that I saw in Phil so many decades ago. I have never looked back except to thank God and my mother for a solid Christian upbringing, which nurtured my personal relationship with Jesus. The tenets of faith I learned and practiced in my childhood enabled me to leave that denomination, but not my relationship with God. And now I joyfully talk about my journey of conversion.

The secret to evangelization

Looking back, I see that Mary was my first example of personal witnessing. She taught me that we aren’t all called to preach to multitudes like the disciples. We are called to share our faith story as she told those closest to her that Jesus was living within her. That’s where evangelization begins.

Unlike Mary, I did not share my story with those close to me anywhere along the way, even when asked about my conversion. I didn’t get the benefit of clarifying my encounter with God through their questions, feedback and support as Mary did.

Mary was the first to show me the secret to evangelization in sharing what God did in her: her own joy during the Visitation with her cousin Elizabeth. That opened the way for me to appreciate the boldness of other jubilant mentors who inspired me. Theirs and my own experiences confirm the St. John Paul II was right. The most effective way to evangelize is through our personal witness.

Always be ready

Through Mary and many everyday evangelists around me I’ve learned the secret to evangelization. Through crises and blessings, surrendering my life to God countless times, and delighting in his healings, my forever song is,

“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15,16)

Mary was the first to show me the secret to evangelization in sharing what God did in her. Her joy at the Visitation and the boldness of others inspire me.

Who inspires you to share how God has worked in your life?

Copyright 2017 Nancy HC Ward

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Inspirational | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Lepidoptera Blessings

IMG_1225-L[1]

 

The day after hurricane Irma, I marveled at a swallowtail butterfly gliding through my front yard; a graceful, welcome reprieve from the harsh winds of the day before. It was huge, soaring and totally unexpected.  This isn’t the first time a butterfly has blessed my day.

Happiness is as a Butterfly

In the early seventies, pastel posters floated around everywhere declaring “Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” One of my best friends gave me a small rock with a stone butterfly atop it because she knew how much I loved the bidding to sit quietly and coax the butterfly.  I kept that rock for over forty five years, smiling every time I remembered the person and the poster behind the gift. A few years ago, when the butterfly came unglued and was lost, I gave up the rock and replaced it with an engraving in my heart from Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” I have come to understand that he is my true happiness.

Monarch Migration

Just prior to starting the fifth grade my oldest son, Jahan, received a postcard from his teacher with an assignment to research and deliver a class presentation on the monarch butterfly. Monitoring my son’s project gave me a great appreciation for the only butterfly known to migrate as birds do to winter homes and fly back en masse for summers.

Together we colored a huge poster with multitudes of monarchs and I began noticing every monarch that ever graced our garden marveling at their trek, sometimes as far as three thousand miles! That such a delicate creature could survive the arduous journey amazed me and I figured there was a lesson in perseverance and trust I should remember.

One of my father’s favorite passages was Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I think he could just have easily been talking about butterflies.

Recent Blessing

Butterflies fight to emerge from their cocoon- without the struggle, they don’t build the strength in their wings to fly when they break free.  Some years ago, I was struggling to get through the weariness and burdens of too much work, not enough time, and feelings that life would always be like this.  But God is so good; he gave me something I didn’t even know I needed.

I was walking out my front door one early morning, reluctantly heading off to work.  As I stepped off my porch, a magnificent monarch hovered in front of me, rested on a nearby bush and took flight again.  I stopped and immersed myself in the present moment, thanking God for the pure beauty and joy of a simple butterfly.  And then, I was peaceful.

“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

A calmness stayed with me as I realized the battle to be free, to soar above weariness will always be present, because we live in an imperfect world. But along the way, we can learn from the butterfly who doesn’t give up the fight to transform, to fly, even if only for a while. I thank God for the struggles that allow the breaking free and the soaring against a vast sky. The prize is winged flight and the reprieve of sweet nectar on the journey.

LepidopteraIMG_5706-L[1]

I long to fly
short-lived though soaring be
from embryo to crawling
then cocoon before the world I see.

Too much to bear,
the daily battle tires me.
Death sure to come if I but pause before
emergence sets me free.

IMG_5766-L[1]

 

This morning, transformation is in grasp
as night skies yield to light of day
and brilliant colors spread their wings at last.
Until they fall,
give me a sip to drink along the way.

 

 

 

 

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: October 8, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Philippians 4:6-9

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


OCTOBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Blessing of the Harvest

Almighty Lord God, You keep on giving abundance to men in the dew of heaven and food out of the richness of the soil. We give thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the fruits of the field which we have gathered. We beg of You, in Your mercy, to bless our harvest, which we have received from Your generosity. Preserve it, and keep it from all harm. Grant, too, that all those whose desires You have filled with these good things may be happy in Your protection. May they praise Your mercies forever and make use of the good things that do not last in such a way that they may not lose those goods that are everlasting, through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

Were we supposed to learn a specific lesson from Irma and Harvey?*

“Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears — of everything that concerns you.” — St. Alphonsus Liguori

Officially, the annual hurricane season begins June 1 and ends on November 30, and every year we Floridians receive our annual Hurricane Preparedness Newsletter

The fact is, most of us who live here are usually prepared and ready for these storms. We know the drill.

By the morning of September 10, Hurricane Irma’s journey was predicted to go from the Florida Keys up to the Florida Panhandle and points north. People the world over had been informed that Irma was the biggest, fiercest, mightiest hurricane in the history of the Atlantic Ocean.

I’d like to say millions of Floridians simply boarded up their houses and waited with élan, but truthfully, most everyone was afraid this time. I know I was. There is not one thing you can do about these storms except get into a secure facility or evacuate; otherwise you do NOT stand a chance. All the models suggested our area would take a direct hit from a Category 4 storm with sustained winds from 130 -156 mph, and that the flooding would be catastrophic.

Amid all the dire predictions, however, there is one thing print and broadcast media fail to mention, that Catholic media does: the powerful and important weapon of prayer that so many of us bring to these storms. For the millions of Americans who have faith, no matter their religious preference, prayer was a key weapon against Irma.

Here’s what happened in my parish, located in Pinellas Park, adjacent to the City of St. Petersburg. Bishop Gregory L. Parkes canceled all Masses for September 10, which was a Sunday. The only Mass available before the storm was projected to move in was the 4 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday. With the winds already starting up, the church was packed.

The Mass was quite beautiful. There was a sense of anxiety that filled the church prior to Mass, but once the liturgy began, you could feel it begin to evaporate. Father Anthony’s homily confronted the impending danger we all were facing and calmed us by inviting us to embrace the fact that Christ was, and always is, with us.

At the Mass’s end, he blessed boxes filled with tea candles, and each household took one. There was a sense of comfort and solidarity in the know that while sitting before the lit candle in your own home and praying, you were connected to all those other folks who also had the blessed tea candles in their homes. During the early morning hours of Monday, 9/11, Hurricane Irma became a Category 1 Hurricane and began moving away from Pinellas County. Aside from power outages, the damage was minimal.

I cannot explain nor do I understand why our area was spared. Much damage and destruction and death have occurred in other places — some communities have been upended — yet I know people were praying everywhere, not just in our parish. The Florida Keys, Miami, Jacksonville, Houston and many other places will be weeks and months putting themselves to rights, and in the Caribbean, entire islands must rebuild. It is a mystery and a humbling one. To paraphrase St. Paul, “Who can know the mind of God; who can tell him what to do?” (Romans 11:34).

All we can do is pray for strength, and then reach out to give aid where needed.

Maybe God lets us see and feel his presence in ways we sometimes do not understand. Maybe these storms are permitted to teach us something about how his handiwork requires our hands. Perhaps the brutality of some storms are meant as a relief from the vitriol, contempt, nastiness, and hatred that has consumed our society recently, and are meant to remind us who we are.

Read more: “Now you are his arms”: Our forgotten role in a ‘godforsaken’ world

We’re only halfway through the hurricane season. Is it possible that these storms, Irma and Harvey (and perhaps others down the line), are being permitted to make refugees of some of us, in order to instruct us about the reality of suffering and loss that refugees encounter, everywhere?

Could it be possible? “Who has known the mind of God …”

Perhaps we are meant to remember the lessons of Job, who said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Is it possible we actually needed these storms? Is it possible that one day people will believe that these storms were actually God’s gift to us? Has the Holy Spirit been helping us to see beyond all the divisive daily ranting — to see each other again as simply people, loved sinners all, who need to help one another?

I guess that is for each of us to decide for ourselves. I have decided.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson

*An edited version of this  article also appeared in Aleteia on Septemeber 19, 2017

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Current events, Prayer | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

CWG Prayer Chain Post: October 1, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Philippians 2:1-11

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


OCTOBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Blessing of the Harvest

Almighty Lord God, You keep on giving abundance to men in the dew of heaven and food out of the richness of the soil. We give thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the fruits of the field which we have gathered. We beg of You, in Your mercy, to bless our harvest, which we have received from Your generosity. Preserve it, and keep it from all harm. Grant, too, that all those whose desires You have filled with these good things may be happy in Your protection. May they praise Your mercies forever and make use of the good things that do not last in such a way that they may not lose those goods that are everlasting, through Christ our Lord.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: September 24, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Isaiah 55: 6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. 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.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


SEPTEMBER INTENTION PRAYER 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

The Distribution of Power and Robbery

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The other day I posted a piece that points out one of the most significant things I learned in graduate school at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  It was a term all the professors used, and I came to understand it in a way that gave me a clarity I had not possessed previously when it comes to our relationship with God.  The term is: “The economy of God”.  For me that provided clarity for the way God’s grace (love) moves in the world and how I am a part of that. His love ebbs and flows depending on our awareness and willingness to recognize and act on the gifts and tasks he gives us.  It really is a lot like a financial system.
Within the system we are free to accept or reject His gifts, to keep them, give them away or give them back.  Sometimes we completely miss the hidden treasures.  The more aware we become about how God is acting in our life the more powerful we become.  We are not talking about the ability to bring lightning from the sky but, rather, the ability to carry out God’s will and to clearly teach others about Him.  The power really lies in the ability to see God in everything and everyone plus a tangible awareness that He is present with us every minute of every day.  John Paul II had this power.  Saint Teresa of Calcutta had this power.  Francis Xavier Cabrini had this power.  Jesus had this power!  Actor/poet, healer/miracle worker, real estate mogul, Savior.  You and I have equal opportunity to have the exact same power as these.  In your everyday life, you might have observed that the power ebbs and flows for you depending on your state of grace [Church speak].
When you are brand new in the serious practice of the spiritual life, the ebbing and flowing of that power is pretty much a mystery.  As you grow and mature, though, you learn things.  First of all, the power that will blossom as a result of your relationship with God has absolutely nothing to do with others and how they treat you!  Surprise!  People will be people and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes not so much!  In every situation we experience, there is the constant choice to recognize that God is present and we have an ever-free ability to willingly tap into his wisdom or not.
  [Jesus] Whoever is not with me is against me (Lk 11:23)
As with any scenario in life, then, how things go for you and the way you become the face of Jesus in the real world is a matter of choice.  Even in that freedom, you have been given power.  You have the power to choose or not choose God’s will. The idea of this power and how it manifests can be observed at a macro or micro level.  We can see it occurring in economics, trade, politics, religion and pop culture.  There is no really separating the power that God generously gives the world and personal, political power.  It’s all the same source and all the same result depending on its use or misuse.  Even “great” mad men, dictators, abusers and criminals knew that this power was real.  Hitler overturned half of Europe looking for the Arc of the Covenant because there was something in him that knew there was no other true source of power.  The communists knew the end of their “false” power was near when it was plain that JPII had become pivotal in the Solidarity movement!
Like it or not, as believers, we are very much part of God’s power loop and how it moves through the world.  This is probably a scary thought for some but remember the very first words of John Paul II’s pontificate as well as 365 citations in the scriptures: “Do not be afraid.”  Most of us will probably not be world players but we are still each responsible for the divine power that God decides to funnel through us.  Our ability to do that should be taken seriously.  As they say in education circles, “It’s learned behavior.   It’s also the “secret” of life, the “how” in how to be happy.
I suppose that it is easy enough to view fear as a nameless, faceless force that we have no control of.  The enemy would consider it a great accomplishment if he got you to think that way.  The truth is, that’s a lie of the boldest kind!  In God’s power loop all we have to do is pay attention. We can be our own best friends or worse enemies.  When we give in to those things that are easy to succumb to we give away our power.  Don’t let anger, envy, jealousy, and fear rob you of your power.  That’s really what they were meant to do.  It’s like stealing from yourself.  Do keep God uppermost in your thoughts and considerations even when it all seems lost.  Solutions sometimes show up in the most unexpected ways.
“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.” –  St. Théodore Guérin
“We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at his disposal, if we let him use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and our total surrender. Once we really belong to him then he is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases.”
— St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Thirsting for God
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