CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 2, 2017

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

Ezekiel 37:12-14

So, prophesy. Say to them, “The Lord Yahweh says this: I am now going to open your graves; I shall raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am Yahweh, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people, and put my spirit in you, and you revive, and I resettle you on your own soil. Then you will know that I, Yahweh, have spoken and done this — declares the Lord Yahweh.” ‘


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


APRIL INTENTION PRAYER

The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. 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.

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The Twelve Steps to being a Spiritual Writer

lrosarykeyboardStep Nine – Make direct amends to fellow writers, publishers, illustrators, family or readers that I may have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

During our last step, I asked you to make a list of all those you may have harmed or sinned against with your work, writing or writing career. It isn’t an easy thing to do. None of us want to admit that we may have harmed or sinned against another. Sometimes the sin we commit has become so much a part of our sin pattern or personality that we don’t even recognize it as a harm. I hope you took time in prayer to discover things done, said or undone that may have hurt others. All too often it is easy to hold grudges and grievances of wrongs that people do to us while forgetting the sins we have committed against others.

Now comes one of the hardest steps. We need to make reparation for the things we have done. It is one thing to go to confession and ask for forgiveness for a sin. If it is a venial sin, the penance may be just a prayer, service or alms-giving. However, if we go to the priest and confess that we robbed our mother’s purse and stole $1000 out of her wallet, we cannot receive forgiveness unless we make restitution. We would have to return the money and confess to our mother the harm we had done to her. I think that the easy part is returning the money. Left to my own conscience, I would slip the money back into her wallet and consider my part done. The hard part is letting my mother know that I am a thief. That I placed my own needs above hers. However, true reparation requires that I humble myself, admit my wrong and ask for forgiveness.

“Satisfaction – Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order repair the harm (e.g. return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2468, 1459)

This is the moment to look at your list and decide what you should do to make reparation for your past. It may be as simple as writing that review you promised or making that call you said you would.  However, if you slandered someone you are required to go to them and let them know what you did, ask forgiveness and then make moves to restore their reputation. This is not an easy process. There are times when you will lose a friend or not be forgiven. Whether the person forgives you or not is none of your business. They have their own spirituality. Your spiritually demands that you live in truth.

If you plagiarized another writer or even stole a casual idea, you need to go to that person and confess, ask forgiveness and possibly face financial restitution.  Maybe you discouraged another writer. Ask forgiveness and then resolve to give that person who may be struggling encouragement and help.

None of this is easy. It is easier to try to forget or hide – trying to save our own reputations. However, the only relationship that really counts is our relationship with God and with our own conscience.

Most of the reparations we need to make will not be as harsh. Again the hardest part is admitting our wrongs to those we have sinned against. Many of those are people we don’t care for, which is the basis for the sin to begin with. It doesn’t matter. Our own soul requires we mend the tears we have made. I have even had to make restitution with writers who have passed on. How? A Mass said, a letter written and prayed, a gift to the family left behind. Our souls are eternal and even death cannot destroy the need for justice.

The funny thing is the way this step makes us feel. We lighten our burden. We free ourselves from guilt and worry. And we find it especially hard to commit that harm ever again. We may lose friends, but can also find friends we never expected. The biggest benefit is becoming friends with Jesus, and yourself.

There is one precaution. As the step says, we can never ‘unburden’ ourselves if to do so would harm the other person or others. For example: To confess to someone’s wife that you had an affair with their husband may make you feel great, but it would harm the wife and possibly destroy the family. You cannot resolve wrong by creating another. However, be careful that you don’t use this as an excuse not to tell the truth or to ask for forgiveness when it is appropriate.

Take your list and have courage. The courage of Christ will make you the spiritual writer, person and soul you were meant to be. We will explore more on this subject in our next post.

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: March 26, 2017

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

Ephesians 5:8-14

You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; behave as children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and uprightness and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, take no part in the futile works of darkness but, on the contrary, show them up for what they are. The things which are done in secret are shameful even to speak of; but anything shown up by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated is itself a light. That is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


MARCH INTENTION PRAYER

Ezekiel 34:11-13

For the Lord Yahweh says this: “Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness. I shall bring them back from the peoples where they are; I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country.”

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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Rejoice! Gospel Meditations, by Louis Evely

Lent invites us to refresh our souls, to refocus our lives, to set things right. Rejoice! by Louis Evely, has a way of growing us out of our comfort zones into the light. It challenges us to lift our crosses and follow Jesus. Evely writes: “There were times when Jesus was frightening in his logic, frightening in his relentlessness. He went beyond what was said of him; beyond the half-measures at which the Law had reasonably stopped. Jesus allowed nothing to stop him. He knows only one law: love. And from that law, he draws consequences with logic, which must either electrify or repel his followers.”

Consider the tax collectors and harlots who flocked to the desert to see St. John the Baptist. They asked John, “What must we do?” To their surprise, John told them, “If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.” Luke 3:11.  To approach God who we cannot see; we must first approach our neighbors, especially those in need. The message of John and later Jesus electrified their followers. Imagine the joy among the penitents at finding the path to forgiveness and love. Imagine the community that benefits from their joyful giving.

Consider the Pharisees. Why instead of the Pharisees, did the likes of Matthew, Zacchaeus, other tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes flock to Jesus? Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and angels. They maintained their zeal for the Law and awaited the Messiah. “They should have been Jesus’ staunchest supporters.” On the contrary, many of them joined in the call for Jesus’ death. Evely explains that “The Pharisees were proud of their faith, their knowledge, their good works, and their religious observances. Therefore they were closed to God’s gifts and God’s forgiveness, for they did not believe that they were in need of either.” They believed that they had saved themselves through their rigorous observance of the Law. In their assumption of righteousness, they not only rejected God’s mercy, but they refused to extend mercy toward the unrighteous. Imagine their frustration when Jesus said that they had to change their whole approach to God and that their earlier efforts may have placed them behind the hated tax-collectors on the path to God. The message of Jesus repelled them.

Evely used the Parable of The Prodigal Son to compare the Pharisees to the tax collectors and sinners. The older son keeps the Law, but he does so, resentfully. The prodigal, like the tax collectors, rejects the discipline of the Law, but at least he realizes his sinfulness. He is willing to confess to his father and beg a place among his servants. The father, like God the Father is something of a prodigal in his mercy toward the younger son. God squanders love on sinners and reproves the cold-hearted legalists. God’s ways are not our ways.

Evely observes, “It is one of the paradoxes of human nature that we often find more generosity, compassion, and willingness to serve among libertines and loose women than among our moral rigorists.” To underscore his claim, he cites the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. Those who endured the heat of the day received the same pay as those who worked only one hour. Evely writes that those who worked longer should have rejoiced at the good fortune of the last to arrive. The day-long workers grumbled at their fair wage, but Jesus made the point that the vineyard owner was free to do with his money as he wished, despite how it appeared to the workers. God’s ways are not our ways.

If we proclaim Jesus in our liturgy, we must live according to His teachings by radiating God’s love. “God is no more and no less visible than love itself,” Evely writes. “Other men see it and know that the Spirit of God is present. In the early church, only men ‘filled with the spirit’ were chosen for important missions. And the pagans said of the first Christians, ‘See how they love one another!’ The love of these Christians was such that, through it God Himself was made visible.” The lives of the early Christians proclaimed the Law of Love. In loving, they won the culture war against their pagan environment. Why today, have so many churches closed or serve only the elderly? Why today, do some Catholics fear the lure of the secular culture? Shouldn’t they be more concerned about cold-hearted Church members who lack the compelling love that denoted the early Christians and attracted new Christians?

Wishing you an invigorating Lent, one that brings rejoicing.

Louis Evely also wrote a collection of meditations focused on the Easter-Pentecost season: Joy: Meditations on the Joyful Heritage of Christianity.

 

 

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Are You Twenty-One?

beach-1868471_1280[1]I don’t know about you, but for me there are certain “things” that kind of stick themselves to my recall, my brain.  I can’t get rid of them and they rise in my consciousness over and over until I “do something” with them!  This piece has one of those as its subject.  The incident happened in February 2015 and it’s still in my face as much as it ever was.  I’m all about the moment in the spiritual life and have worked at recognizing those “God shots” when they happen rather than having an ah-ha moment weeks later.  Sometimes that works!  Today is the twenty-first day of Lent!

The story was reported world-wide and people clamored to see the on-line video and join together to be shocked and appalled!  Not me.  I’m the one who would not enter the Colosseum in Rome because this was the location where so many were murdered and so much blood soaked the ground.  I am referring to the savage beheading murders of 21 on the edge of the Mediterranean by the infidels of ISIS.  No need to subject my spirit to that view, the story was more than enough.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that virtually every news outlet that had any kind of coverage of this story went right for the jugular, the violence, the demonic action of ISIS.  For me, though, this story read like a book of the bible complete with symbolism, unspoken images and a mega spiritual challenge.  First of all, the symbolic. It was no mistake that ISIS took those hostages to the edge of the Mediterranean.  They sent a clear message that the blood of the victims would spill into the exact same body of water that Bin Laden was buried in.  Next, the image was what they desired to burn into the Western conscious. They were hoping that the terror would linger.  Last, ISIS was too dumb or inept to hide or delete the most powerful and hopeful element of the story that changes everything if you were not distracted by the violence.  

The heroes who were killed were COPTS, twenty Coptic Christians.  Coptic Christians are from the Eastern branch of our faith.  They hail from Egypt and belong to a branch of the Church that St. Mark himself established around 49 A.D. These guys contracted to Libya to earn a living for family knowing it would be dangerous.  Before each man was killed the captors boldly demanded to know if he would apostate to Islam and thus be saved and safe!  We know that each man declared openly his status as Christian and refused to abandon his faith.  That’s a powerful image in itself.  What if you were ten or fifteen knowing full well that the same gruesome fate that you have been watching with your own eyes would befall you in just minutes?  The lie of safety and the heartbreak of denying the True God did not entice any of them. 

What about twenty-one?  Victim twenty-one was a man named Mathew Ayairga.  He was not of the same ethnicity as the first twenty victims.  Mathew was an African from Chad and worked on the same team as the rest of the victims.  He was a clearly declared non-Christian.  When it was his turn to face the terrorists, they asked if he rejected Jesus?  When push came to shove, his answer was: “Their God is my God.”  Courage, witness, beatific vision, the Good Thief, Paradise.  More images that stir and prick our soul.  Once again God shows us that for him it is never too late.  But, would you have the bravery to be twenty-one?  How’s that for a Lenten consideration? 

 

Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: March 19, 2017

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

Exodus 17:3-7

But tormented by thirst, the people complained to Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt,’ they said, ‘only to make us, our children and our livestock, die of thirst?’ Moses appealed to Yahweh for help. ‘How am I to deal with this people?’ he said. ‘Any moment now they will stone me!’ Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, taking some of the elders of Israel with you; in your hand take the staff with which you struck the River, and go. I shall be waiting for you there on the rock (at Horeb). Strike the rock, and water will come out for the people to drink.’ This was what Moses did, with the elders of Israel looking on. He gave the place the names Massah and Meribah because of the Israelites’ contentiousness and because they put Yahweh to the test by saying, ‘Is Yahweh with us, or not?’


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


MARCH INTENTION PRAYER

Ezekiel 34:11-13

For the Lord Yahweh says this: “Look, I myself shall take care of my flock and look after it. As a shepherd looks after his flock when he is with his scattered sheep, so shall I look after my sheep. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered on the day of clouds and darkness. I shall bring them back from the peoples where they are; I shall gather them back from the countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the inhabited parts of the country.”

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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The CWG Book Blast: Cathy Gilmore and Carol Benoist’s “Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day”

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Cathy Gilmore’s book with Carol Benoist (a Sister duo), “Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day.” It has an imprimatur. Easter’s iconic bunny becomes a beloved disciple of Jesus in this beautifully illustrated hardcover children’s book.

book-blast-03-2017

Summary: Easter’s iconic bunny becomes a beloved disciple of Jesus in this beautifully illustrated hardcover children’s book. Children and adults relate to the tender love of Jesus that takes “all our fears away.” Also available as an enhanced e-book. Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day will be a treasured addition to your family Easter traditions.

Cause: Purchasing Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day helps in a small way to support Cathy’s mission to renew popular culture that is currently saturated with entertainment toxins like greed, envy, laziness, lust, anger, gluttony and pride. Her new ministry, VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA, will assist families to recognize, enjoy, understand and practice virtues like: humility, selflessness, generosity, contentment, purity, peace and more. Cathy is striving to make VIRTUE the new standard in culture and entertainment. Contact virtueworksmedia@outlook.com to find out how you can donate directly and be a part of this spiritually vital effort.

Website: http://catherinecgilmore.com/virtue-for-your-event/

Excerpt: Watch this adorable video of a little girl “reading it” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQD-FU7Qxx0

Bio: Catechist, speaker, published children’s author and VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA ministry founder, Cathy Gilmore, is a virtue advocate who promotes entertainment that affirms faith and cultivates virtue. Cathy considers herself a “bionic Catholic.” As a passionate revert, she sees that God did not just restore her to her original factory settings, but God’s grace has given her strength she never dreamed possible. Cathy’s earthly affections include 3 wonderful children, a husband of over 30 years, a gigantic golden doodle named Buddy, and chocolate.

Buy Link: http://www.liguori.org/easter-bunny-s-amazing-day-new.html

Tweet: Add #EasterbunnysAMAZINGDay to your #EasterBasket .This author’s #EasterBunny brings kids the #holy #JOY of #JESUS http://catherinecgilmore.com/virtue-for-your-event/

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A Toast to Saint Patrick

saintpatrickshamrock[1]I like to drink. Beer. Good beer. I especially enjoy the ice cold variety in a frosty mug. The presence of good friends magnifies my enjoyment of this activity many, many times. I think a lot of you may appreciate this. Maybe it isn’t beer you enjoy. Perhaps you prefer fine wine or sweet escapes like margaritas or mojitos. Your preferred libation does not need to contain alcohol. Perhaps coffee or cola could be your cup of tea. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Regardless, good beverages and good friends make for a good time.

With this in mind, every March 17th, millions of revelers hit their favorite watering hole to recognize that time when a bearded guy beat up some snakes with shamrocks or something. I find our collective ignorance of the deeper meaning of our holidays both amusing and discouraging. I mean, we all love to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously, but acknowledging the origins of a feast can only heighten our celebration. So, I offer you two things to remember on Saint Paddy’s Day to give your revelry purpose.

First, the briefest of histories on the beloved patron of the Emerald Isle. St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. Oh, the horror! As you can check here, he was born and raised in Roman-controlled England, only to be kidnapped and held as a slave in Ireland. Following a message in a dream, he escaped and went home. In thanksgiving, he became a priest and eventually returned to Ireland as a missionary. As a slave, Patrick had gained firsthand knowledge of the clan structure prevalent on the island. This guided his strategy of converting the chieftains and instructing them to subsequently convert their people. If nothing else, this should remind us that people in positions of power and leadership exert an inordinate influence on their subordinates. Specifically, if a leader acts virtuously, his/her people will be moved to follow more so than if a peer had done the same. Conversely, if a leader disappoints, followers feel abject disillusionment. We must understand that the higher the place of authority we occupy, the more profoundly we are called to be a city on a hill, not easily hidden (Matthew 5:14). Managers in the workplace, those in church ministry and of course, parents, need to be aware of who is watching and what message we convey.

Second, the fruit of the vine, or grain, if that is your poison, has long been celebrated throughout human history. As long as it has been enjoyed, it has been abused. This highlights how the gifts of God can lead to the works of the Enemy. The Incarnation tells us our God wanted to experience our lives in order to teach us how to live. Was it an accident that His first public miracle occurred at a wedding involving wine? In a General Audience, Pope Francis said,

“In Cana, Jesus’ disciples become his family and the faith of the church is born. All of us are invited to that wedding feast so that the new wine will no longer run short.”

In this setting, Our Lord affirmed the goodness of marriage, wine, and the intercession of His mother, while simultaneously foreshadowing the Eucharist. Amazing! “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

So enjoy the good gifts and good company that God gives you, never forgetting that in moderation you can still display the conviviality that uplifts those around you. G.K. Chesterton, renowned Catholic thinker and drinker, said, “Moderation is not a compromise; moderation is a passion; the passion of great judges.”

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That’ll Leave a Mark!

Ash-Wednesday-Penance-300x214It’s Lent not November.  By now you have at least pondered how you will try to alter your prayer and faith life for the good.  You may or may have not been successful up to this point, the first week of Lent.  At this season, though, it might be worth considering something that we, by habit, only refer to in November. This is in spite of  the fact that we are actually at the end of winter and on the cusp of spring.  Why are you here?  Why are you in this place, thinking about faith things at this point in time?  That’s easy, you’ve been marked!

Right, you have been permanently marked. First you were set apart by baptism, then confirmation and then by the circumstances of life.  On a deep spiritual level, there are things that remain with us and mark us for life.  The sacraments do that, love does that, hate does that, sin does that.  There is another factor, though, that will also leave a permanent mark on each of us.  That would be all of those who have ever gotten close to us for five minutes or five decades. During this Lent, though, why not give a “special group” some attention?  If you take some time to look backward in your faith life, can you identify those people who moved you forward, held you up, taught you or were there to pray for you when you couldn’t pray for yourself?  You might even be surprised that this group includes people who you only observed from afar.  If you know anything about big cities and major cathedrals, you probably know that, as a community, they have their own cast of characters. 

In my early life as a young adult Catholic I was involved in ministry at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.  One of our “characters” impacted me every time I simply laid eyes on her.  This was our “character” know as Martha.  Maybe that was her real name, maybe not. When I met Martha, she was elderly and bent over in her way of going.  More than that, though, was the life she had chosen. Rumor had it that at one time Martha had been a successful professional nurse.  At Holy Name, though, she was only “of service”. Her garb was tattered and her hair unkempt in a tangle on top of her head.  Clearly, she was homeless.  But the way she lived was more than impactful.  She occupied the Cathedral 24/7 as a self-appointed anchorite.  She busied herself with prayer, greeting guests and keeping things in this enormous space tidy. She would clean and pick up stuff left behind.  If you greeted her she would engage in a soul searing conversation with you where you knew, she knew you in a away no one else did. I never spoke to her for more than five minutes.  I am still marked by her.

 As a young teacher, I taught in some of the tougher schools of the inner city.  Principals in these situations are doing their best to keep body and soul together as well as serve the kids and adults in their buildings.  My first principal was a good guy.  We never really had any extended conversations but he did one thing that I still think about.  He gave me a nick name.  When I would approach him for assistance or a question, his recognition of me always included: “What can I do for you ‘little one’”?  It was always full of affection and gave me a comfort that I simply could not explain. Now I am FAR from even being close to petite and at 5’7” could hardly be classed as a little woman.  None the less his call of me always filled me with assurance. He marked me!  To this day, I ponder his choice of that nick name and that was well over forty years ago!

At an inner-city parish, I had become deeply involved in ministry despite the fact that it was a dangerous place to be.  This parish was being held together by a great Benedictine who had been there for forty years.  The person who was the glue for the congregation, though, was a Sister of Zion who was just “around” all of the time.  She ran an outreach and was always present at liturgies. We became friends and when a new pastor came in and made it very difficult for her to stay I was enraged and depressed.  I would speak with her and brainstorm about how to “fix things”.  As a lifelong religious, though, she refused to get involved in the drama.  No matter what kind of unfairness, injustice and lies were perpetrated against her she would not utter a single cross word, insult, protest or complaint.  She would always come up with a positive counter to the situation and/or my protests.  It was remarkable.  I’ve never seen anything like that.  To this day, she has nothing negative to say about the crazy situation.  She marked me.  Whenever I am asked to think of a holy person or example of a living Christ, I immediately think of her.

Because we are believers, we have powers that we don’t even know we possess.  Whoever we are will leave a “mark” on people we come in contact with.  This carries with it great responsibility.  We also have responsibility, though, to hold up those who have marked us. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us* and persevere in running the race that lies before us. (Heb. 12:1)

Besides being accompanied by the “great cloud” we are also part of that same cloud.  As we persevere, we depend on as well as support others.  Hebrews teaches us this is our legacy. During this Lent, perhaps you could recall those who have marked you in a great or small way.  Give them the gift of prayer or thanks in person.  Better yet, maybe you could ponder the “mark” that was left on you and use it as a tool to grow in the spirit as well as make you mindful of who you are.

 

Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham

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A Chalice full of talents

Chalice with wine, piece of bread and open Bible.

Chalice of wine (DollarPhotoClub.com)

As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. –1 Peter 4:10

The Deacon gave his homily on Mt. 24:14-30, the parable of the talents. He presented the talents as the presence and grace of God, given to us in different amounts.

At the sign of peace, I realized there weren’t enough Eucharistic ministers so I went up to the altar with my heart open to whatever the Lord wanted to do through me. I received the hosts to distribute, and when Fr. Bob and the Deacon choose stations on the side, I positioned myself at the center aisle.

Toward the end of Communion distribution, Fr. Bob came up behind me singing the communion hymn. Gracefully, between communicants, he took a big handful of hosts from my chalice. I could see 20 or more people in my line and I counted a dozen or less hosts left in my chalice. Would God multiply them? Then the line next to mine ended and the minister dumped a dozen or so hosts into my chalice. I ended up with more than enough.

Chalice to chalice

After the last communicant, I went to the side table by the altar where Fr. Bob was busily cleaning up. I offered him my chalice but he immediately handed me his and directed me to collect the extra hosts. I combined his and mine, looked around but found only empty chalices. As I held out the chalice with the remaining hosts to Fr. Bob, the head minister took it out of my hand and started toward the choir, leaving me holding his empty chalice.

Back in the pew I knelt in thanksgiving and asked the Lord to help me understand the meaning of the confusing emptying and refilling of hosts from chalice to chalice. Was this an illustration of the talents as the presence and grace of God, offered to us in different amounts? I now saw the hosts as his Eucharistic grace and presence. In our openness and flexibility to the will of God, we find ourselves receiving and giving away his grace and presence in exciting and unpredictable ways.

His mysterious presence

We can rethink our attitude toward all our talents and resources and see them as gifts of grace and presence. We are imbued with a particle of God’s presence unique to who we are in him. We can’t ever understand this mystery of how we receive and give away his presence within us, but we carry it in the sacred chalice of our hearts, ready to share it as we are directed.

Some are given talents for big jobs as evangelists, priests, politicians or theologians. Others use their talents in less visible jobs, confined to a household of children and their local circle of influence. For all of us, the mission is the same: to carry his presence into the world with joy.

Look around and see how his presence abounds. How have you experienced his grace and presence in the chalice of your heart?

(© 2012 revised 2017 Nancy HC Ward)

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