Saturday, November 20, 2010

Was Jesus having a meltdown?

What does it mean that Jesus went into the temple where they were selling things and threw everybody out? (Gospel of Luke, Chapter 19, Verse 45+) Was he just in a fit of rage? Having a meltdown?

To answer this question, it helps to ask, Who was in charge of the temple that he cleansed?

Naturally, it would have been the religious leaders of the time. So the cleansing of the temple by Jesus reflects his authority over those leaders who were constantly trying to trap him. In a number of passages following this one, we often hear it described that he was “teaching in the temple.” His actions reveal his rightful place as a teacher, and especially as one who teaches with authority.

A more personal application can be helpful to us, though, as we reflect on the state of our own “temple.”

Do you allow Jesus to come into the temple of your body and cleanse it? Do you cooperate with him as he tries to unburden you of any self-deceptive tendencies weighing you down? Sometimes we are dishonest with ourselves and rationalize away things that need to be faced.

One of the best ways to cleanse our temple is to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is an encounter with Christ, where he gives us his grace and absolves us from our sins.

But even beyond our sins, cleansing our temple can be in our best interest—and that of others. If I strive for purity of heart, self-less love and a deep relationship with God, there simply will not be a lot of room left for the lesser things of life, those things that attract us, and deceive us, into thinking they will satisfy.

Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to show you what you need to throw, where you need to grow, and where you are getting it right.

God bless,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lay Ecclesial Ministry, the Roman Catholic Church, and YOU!

(On November 6, 2010, I was one of six people commissioned in the Roman Catholic Church as a Lay Ecclesial Minister for the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. Below are my thoughts on this commissioning.)

What does it mean to be commissioned as a Lay Ecclesial Minister? Does it mean a job promotion? A pay increase? More, or different, work?

If none of these things are the result of being commissioned, it might be easy to wonder why anyone would bother, but what you have to keep in mind is that the genuine spiritual work of the church cycles outside the realm of position and power. Its true focus is spreading God’s Word and drawing others to Christ.

That work can take place within a variety of ministries. Some people work in religious education, others in pastoral ministry, and often the two overlap, but no matter the ministry to which one is called, one thing is definite: their authenticity comes from the Church.

The significance of being commissioned as a lay minister in the Church is the public acknowledgment that the authority of the Church is the body sending us forth, because it is the Church that holds the responsibility of passing on the teachings in truth. To protect the integrity of the truth, it is necessary to be assured that those who formally teach and minister live faith-filled lives, are passionate for the Gospel, and reflect by their formation and experience, the capacity for ministry.

At a time when independence seems to reign and so many people are turning away from organized religion, it is important to be reminded once again that God revealed himself in scripture and tradition and the passing on of the faith is not something we do apart from the Church. So many people today identify themselves as “spiritual” but have no connection to a teaching body. Left to their personal interpretations, it is easy to fall off track.

But just think how unreasonable this is! For example, how many of us would go to a doctor who is unconnected to any medical association, or is untrained in foundational diagnostic skills? That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? So why then, do so many people assume that it is beneficial to their spiritual health to separate from those who are the spiritual equivalent of their doctor and move forward on their own self-proclaimed expertise? Why is it so hard for us to admit that, maybe, we are not a scripture scholar, a moral theologian, or even a historian on church history? Isn’t it important—as we typically do in secular work—to acknowledge that others may be more informed than us?

The teaching authority of the church is the Magisterium—the Pope and the Bishops in union with him. From that authority comes authenticity, great integrity for the truth of the teachings passed down through the Apostles by Jesus. That is important and especially needed today.

So why become a Lay Ecclesial Minister today? Because it is time for lay members of the church to step up to their responsibility for spreading the Gospel, for living lives worthy of emulation and for re-connecting to the church that leads unwavering by the cross of Christ.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will continue to call others—even YOU—to ministry and service in the Church.

God bless,

P.S. I welcome your comments or questions . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Kingdom of God is coming--Make your decision!

In the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 12:54-56) Jesus is speaking to the crowds about reading the “signs of the times.” This portion of the Gospel falls within Luke’s travel narrative as Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem where he eventually faces his destiny.

Jesus has been warning people along the way that the Kingdom of God is coming and in this particular passage he continues his cautionary proclamation.

He tells the crowds, if you can read the clouds and know when it is going to rain, and you can see that the wind blowing from the south is going to bring heat, how are you missing this? The Kingdom of God is coming and you simply need to be paying attention.

He goes on to tell the crowds a story about taking your case to a judge to make a decision. His point is that you should settle your case now. In other words, make your decision about me. Are you going to follow or not? Don’t wait until judgment day to make that decision.

If you have been lukewarm in your faith and only sort of following God (or if you have abandoned Him completely), today would be a good time to think about this. While none of us knows when the end will come, we do know that we have the power in our lifetime—at this moment in our life—to decide how seriously we want to take our faith.

Pull out your bible today and take a look at the rest of this Gospel. Ask God to help you finally move forward. Drop the excuses. The time is now.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Paul, the Galatians, and Us

In Paul’s Letter to the Galatians he addresses a problem within the community—someone has been telling them that they need to give greater emphasis to the Law and that Paul hasn’t told them everything, that he’s watered down the message.

His response in this letter is power packed. He makes his point that while there is nothing contrary to God in the Mosaic Law (the Law of Moses), salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Hundreds of years before the Law was given, God made a covenant with Abraham. The covenant(the promise)came before the Law. That covenant is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and that is where our focus should be.

The problem of the Galatians is relevant for us today in a couple of ways. First, too often Christians criticize each other, implying that if they do not do this or that act of piety, then they must not be real Christians. Catholics are growing in this philosophy as well.

Devotional practices such as First Fridays and praying the Rosary are good things that should be encouraged, but external practices such as these should never be a cause of contention, causing brothers and sisters to raise judgments against each other.

Secondly, we do not have to wonder what Paul might say to those in our own community who have accepted what others are telling them. Paul told the people of Galatia that they knew what he taught them, yet they allowed themselves to drift away. We, too, imitate those in the Galatian community, when we let others lead us into thinking that abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, co-habitation and a whole host of other contemporary sins are acceptable.

We must remember that it is the cross of Jesus Christ that brings salvation to all. Nothing else. The Law is significant, but Jesus is the door through which we are raised to eternal life, the narrow door through which we must pass and the wide open door that is available to all who choose to walk through it.

Faith in Jesus, not strict observance of the Law which he fulfills, must always be our desire. We move in the Spirit of the Law.

We want to do good works and practice acts of devotion because of the love we have for Jesus. That is faith in action and it goes far beyond external, pious acts done not out of love and charity, but obligation.

Remember, in our humanity, we may more easily be tempted to contemplate God's Divine Mercy rather than practice it by loving our neighbor. When we can accomplish both, we will begin to understand how to practice our faith.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Forming your children in faith

Tony Danza of television fame is starring in a reality show where is he testing out his teaching skills. In the September 3, 2010 issue of PARADE, he is quoted as saying: “As a teacher, you’re supposed to “model” things for the kids—show them the ways that education matters in the world.”

When I read this, I translated it in light of my own work in catechesis, and it makes perfect sense. For those of us who attempt to pass on the faith to children in religious education programs, we understand the idea of being a model for children, but that last part is worthy of further reflection . . .

You see, one of the keys to helping children catch on to faith is the ability to show them how it matters. How it matters to them, and to the world.

Too often adolescent children do not see how belief in an unseen God, prayer and the practice of going to church, is significant. As applied to them personally, it is somewhat understandable in that they typically have not had enough life experiences through which to discover God. Of course, that’s not true for all children, but generally speaking.

The second part—how education matters to the world—and its Christian parallel—how religious education matters to the world, is interesting to consider.

If we take for granted the formation of our children in religious matters, and we do not seek instruction for them, nor practice faith in our home, how can we expect the Gospel to spread?

Forming children in the practice of faith can influence, and alter, really, the lives of generations of people—and society overall—as we strive for peace, morality, and the common good. Forming our children in the faith—teaching them about the Gospel and the salvation that we have through Jesus Christ—brings hope. It is life-giving, not only for us, but for others as well, who may be introduced to it through us.

Stir into flame the Gospel of love in your children. Help them see its relevance—or seek it for yourself—if it is unfamiliar to you.

Do not trust the world to offer faith to your children someday, for it may never happen. They need you to talk to them about God. Take them to church and see that they discover what worship is like within a community. Give them the opportunity to learn from the greatest model of all—Jesus himself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Old Farmer's Words--from

Your fences need to be horse high, pig tight and bull strong.
Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered....not yelled.
Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway...
Don't judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life... Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain Dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with,
watches you from the mirror every morning.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience,
and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin' the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
If you get to thinking that you are a person of some influence,
try ordering somebody else's dog around...
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Live in the Father's Love

We were singing the song We have Been Told the other day in Mass and the words “as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you” jumped out at me. My reflections over the past few days were brought to life in these words.

I had been sitting in front of the tabernacle as I usually do before work each morning and I didn’t have the usual ramblings in my head. I sat there quietly, without a thought or a petition. Usually that is my time to pray for the members of the parish where I work, but that particular morning I just sat there, empty-headed.

Then, it occurred to me how Jesus calls us to rest in him. Sometimes we are so busy doing things for and on behalf of God, that we forget that God doesn’t need us to work like crazy. What he needs is for us to rest in Him, to have a relationship with Him, to know that He loves us and to receive that love.

He gave us His Son, Jesus, because he loves and cares so much for us—not because we are worker bees.

What happens when we rest in him is that we discover His great love and we experience a greater relationship with Him. That is where the song fits in . . .

As the Father loved Jesus, he loves us. Isn’t it clear now, that as Jesus loves us, we love others? That love is to be shared. It’s really that simple. Know the Father. Live in a relationship of love with Him, and then share that love with others.

How we do that will vary, of course, but our work or ministry is nothing if it does not first live in the love of God.

“Live in my love with all your heart” the song says. I have found the best way to do that is to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, resting quietly, letting the freshness of God’s love fill me abundantly.

A beautiful scripture passage related to this is 1 John 4: 7-21.

(Partial inspiration for this article comes from The Leadership Labyrinth.)

God bless,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why go to a Catholic school?

The National Catholic Register reported in it's June 6-19, 2010 issue that a Catholic school in Boston, Mass. denied admittance of a student whose parents are lesbians.

We might be tempted, at first, to think that the school is being uncharitable. Even Jesus ate with those who rejected his teachings, so why should a Catholic school deny a student based on the sins of his parents?

The thoughtful article "When a Student Has '2 Mommies'" which had additional information about the unfortunate response of the superintendent of Catholic schools (she "insisted there had been a mistake") and the threat by the Catholic Schools Foundation to withhold subsidies "from any school that discriminated against such students", made one final point which erases any doubt about the Pastor's denial.

The Register states:

"James Flynn, vice chancellor of the Denver Archdiocese and a canon lawyer, said that two canonical principles shaped Archbishop Chaput's response: 'The pastor is the administrator of the parish and, with some exceptions, it is his prerogative to decide these issues. Second, the parents are the child's primary educators, and the school is their partner."

Flynn went on to say that "if that partnership isn't going to work out because the two aren't aligned on human sexuality, human dignity or doctrinal teachings, that partnership can't continue."

The response of Archbishop Chaput as reported in the Reigster from a published statement in March, was that the "main purpose of Catholic schools is religious; in other words, to form students in the Catholic faith, Catholic morality and Catholic social values."

Although Catholic schools may seem to some to simply be a quality alternative to other public or private education choices, clearly, it is much more than that. Choosing a Catholic school for one's child is only reasonable if the Catholic doctrine taught there is not opposed within the student's home.

God bless,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I opened my prayer book to a reading from Philippians (2:2-4,14-16) and these words jumped off the page:

"In everything you do, act without grumbling or arguing: prove yourselves innocent and straightforward, children of God beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation--among whom you shine like the stars in the sky while holding fast to the word of life."

And then it hit me. This is not a suggestion. These words of Scripture are not suggesting that we "act without grumbling or arguing," but they are telling us to "act without grumbling or arguing."

How can we do that? I asked my husband. We're human, not perfect. Grateful for the beauty of Reconciliation, I at once realized that you cannot stay in a place where you act contrary to Scripture without immediately considering the mercy of God.

But that being said, isn't it interesting how often we think of the commands of Scripture as nice suggestions--something we should do, something that would be good for us, if only we could?

I find that when I take these Words of Life to heart and try to employ them, I reach higher than I thought possible. This passage in particular makes me try to withhold words that are uncharitable, act more generously, and certainly grumble much less!

Wouldn't it be amazing if, as Christians, we really were to become like shining stars? How great an evangelization tool we could become!

Look up the passages I have cited here and see if they might influence you as well. Do not miss the opening passages where we are to be of "one love, united in spirit and ideals." How might you work toward that as well?

If we open our hearts to God and take his words to heart--not as mere suggestions--we may be amazed at how beautiful our lives can become. Let us ask God for help in embracing his words and learning how to live by them.

God bless,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Discernment of work

Here is a quote I read recently that I think speaks volumes about discerning one's work:

"There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren't helping your patients much either. Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (emphasis added)

Frederick Buechner

Friday, April 2, 2010

Attitude of a Servant, Luke 17: 7

This passage, Luke 17:7 came to mind the other day when I was reflecting on something that I think is not uncommon among Christians as they grow in their faith . . .

Seems like the more you desire holiness and begin to embrace various faith practices, i.e. prayer, devotional reading, Mass, it is easy to be fooled into thinking you are ALL THAT when it comes to being a Christian. The more we do, perhaps we secretly hope others will notice and think of us as being holy.

If you have fallen into that trap--caught between the recognition of your imperfection and a growing awareness of righteousness--this passage in Luke is the perfect solution to counter your growing pride.

Jesus gives us the bigger picture when he tells the story of a servant who comes in from plowing or tending sheep. As he continues to tell about the servant, it becomes very clear that the servant is just doing what he is supposed to be doing. He's not getting a lot of credit or special attention for it. It's just his responsibility and he is fulfilling it.

When we begin to fight pride as our faith practices grow, we would do well to remember this story. For, as disciples of Christ, any movement toward God--in our speech or our practices--are what we are supposed to be doing. And the motivation and capacity to do them comes from God, not ourselves.

Spend some time reflecting on this if your pride is being puffed up. If you secretly like being noticed for your growing holiness or you act in certain ways just to get noticed.

It is good that you are moving toward God, but do not let yourself be fooled into thinking you have become outstanding--above others--in your holiness.

Everyone is called to holiness and God is opening the door for you. Walk through it. Cherish it. Be grateful for it and most of all, appreciate it for the gift that it is.

God bless,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Miley Cyrus on faith

Ugh. I was reading in Parade (March 21, 2010) the young actress/singer, Miley Cyrus' take on religion. Popular from her Hannah Montana television series and her famous father, Billy Ray Cyrus, this 17 year-old gave her opinions about faith.

Here's what she was quoted as saying in Parade on this subject:

"My faith is very important to me, but I don't necessarily define my faith by going to church every Sunday. Because now when I go to church, I feel like it's a show. There are always cameras outside. I am very spiritual in my own way. Let me make it clear, though--I am a Christian. Jesus is who saved me. He's what keeps me full and whole. But everyone is entitled to what they believe and what keeps them full. Hopefully, I can influence people and help them follow the same path I am on, but it is not my job to tell people what they are doing wrong."

Okay, being 17, I'll give her a break, but I think her viewpoint is one which has been adopted by many young people in our culture today--and it is not good. Not at all.

If you are a Christian--a follower of Christ--than you pay attention to what he did when he walked on this earth. One of the things he did was leave a model for us of community. He spent time in community with his followers. He never indicated that a "me and God" attitude was the rule. He never talk from a relativistic viewpoint that said as long as you are satisfied, than all is good.

Jesus taught about suffering. He showed us what it means to love. His life revealed sacrifice. He certainly did not live with a "me" mentality, separated from others in worship and prayer.

I could say a lot about this, but I really can't say it any better than my sixteen year old--If she really wants others to follow her in following God, then she should go to church. Then, when everyone sees her there, maybe they'll go to church as well.

God bless,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

No need for church?

I came across this great quote of St. John Chrysostom in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraph 2179):

"You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests."

This quote is a great reminder for anyone who is tempted to think they do not need to attend church. For anyone who thinks it is just between "me and God." When we attend church, we do indeed cry out to God "as from one great heart." How important it is to join our brothers and sisters, in our "union of minds!"

Together, Christians praise and worship God. May our voices continue to become one, beautiful, harmonious offering to God!

God bless,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trust in God

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the temptation of Jesus by Satan, saying: “Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act.”

It is an interesting interpretation to consider that Satan tried to force God to act. The clarity of that statement struck me as I began to wonder if we, too, at times, try to force God to act.

Perhaps when we try to make deals with God so that an outcome will go our way, we are trying to force God to act.

Maybe when we use our prayer time to try to manipulate God into doing our will, we are trying to force God to act.

The Catechism (2119) goes on to say that when we try to tempt God, it “wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.”
Ask yourself where you have doubted God’s love, providence or power.

If we completely trust God, then why would we try to force God to act in accordance with our own designs?

It becomes very clear that when we try to force God to act, we are revealing a lack of trust in Him, for if we have full confidence in Him, then we will submit to that, rather than think we know better.

Lent is a good time to ask ourselves just how much we actually trust in God and His love and compassion.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Isaiah 1: 16-18

I was reflecting on this passage in Isaiah and what a call to conversion it is!

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds!
Make justice your aim
Redress the wronged
Hear the orphan's plea
Defend the widow
Set things right

Then, scripture tells us:

You may become white as wool

If we spend some time on these words, we can hear God's call for us to change and we should be able to truly celebrate the possibility for conversion that comes through the power of God.

Whatever your sins, whatever evil you may have done up to this point today, the possibility that you can change your ways, be forgiven by God, is great. He tells us what we must do: take care of those who plead for help. Bring justice to those who have none. Quite simply, just set things right.

We can all do our part. Seek to convert from your old ways and God will reward you greatly.

God bless,

Monday, March 1, 2010

How can we love like this?

Paragraph 2074 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church ends with this quote from the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, Verse 12:

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

I literally, could not turn the page after reading this. My reflection began with the question How does God love me/us? and ended with How can we possibly love like that?

First, God loves us so immensely, so tenderly, so selflessly, that he carries us as his sheep, enfolding us in his arms, without any care beyond the fact that we have returned. When he welcomes us back, our sins are not an obstacle, because we are ready and willing to accept his divine love and mercy.

To love as He loves us, then, requires a divine love. But, we have a human love. So, our human love, overshadowed by His divine love, makes loving as He loves us possible. It is true that for this to take place, we must decrease and He must increase. Our self-interest, our judgmental tendencies, our unforgiving, grudge-holding ways must diminish--disappear really--if we are to love as He loves.

For this to be accomplished requires us to have a deep, intimate connection with God. Through prayer and silent listening, seeking and the Eucharist, not to mention Reconciliation, we can find hope.

Take time this Lent to reflect on God's love and grace poured out on you. Forgive yourself and accept God's forgiveness. Love, as He has loved you.

God bless,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great Quote!

In The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, there is this wonderful quote by St. Augustine:

"Give me, Lord, what You command, and command what You desire."

Where are we, in this prayer? We are there, sitting in humble silence, wanting nothing other than what God wants to give us. Wanting only what He desires and not seeking anything extra.

What purer form of humble prayer could one imagine?

Together with this should be our plea to God that He will put the desire on our hearts to seek only what He desires. Why? Because we know that God knows what is best for us. He knows what we really need at any given time. That is enough for us. That is all we need.

God bless,

Monday, January 25, 2010

On the Conversion of St. Paul

On the Conversion of St. Paul . . .

I was praying the Divine Office on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle and I was struck by the words—so familiar, yet so fresh: “Paul, my grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness.”

And the second Antiphon following it, “God’s grace in me has not been without fruits; it is always at work in me,” also raised my awareness of just how much Paul’s life in carrying on the mission of Christ was dependent on God.

When you reflect on these two passages together, what simply cannot be missed is a sense of humility before God. It is just such humility that each of us would be blessed to embrace.

How often do you go through your day, imagining that YOU have accomplished this or that, when all along it was God? Do you recognize that whatever good your actions or words produce is a result of God’s grace in you as well? Do you hear the constancy of God’s presence in the words, “always at work in me?”

Yes, God is with us always, pouring out his grace on us, perfecting our weaknesses and producing good fruits through us. This connection with God in our lives is tangible. It is something to marvel and we must be careful not to ever take it for granted.

God’s grace is indeed sufficient for us!

Monday, January 11, 2010

As we begin this new year, are you among those who have made a resolution which has already been broken, or have you been diligent in your attempt? I hope that if your resolution was to pray more or attend Mass during the week, that you are successful, because this is truly the best thing you can ever do for yourself.

Of course, resolutions that involve smoking, weight and other personal improvements are always a good idea, but underneath any of these--dare I say even more important than any of these--is becoming more connected to God. Why? Because it is through the grace of God that we are able to become all we can be. We simply cannot do any of this on our own.

It is through God's help that we are able to continue when we fall down. It is through God's help that we are motivated to get started in the first place.

When we live with a healthy dependence on God, we know and understand the great blessings that are available to us. God is always present in times of trial and in times of joy.

Stay connected to God and you will find success in all things.

God bless,

Monday, January 4, 2010


Sometimes it can be difficult to discern God's will. I think that is because we often try to "sort things out" using our intellect. We consider pros and cons, the logic of our choices. Basically, we try to rationalize our way to a decision.

This is not a bad thing, however . . .

Any discernment we make must also be a discernment of heart. That is not the same thing as a discernment through emotion. This is not to say that our decisions should be led by our feelings.

Discernment of heart is an opening up of ourselves to God. It is prayer to God, asking for help. It is submission to God's will when we recognize our stony heart is unmoved because our logic is hardening it.

Sometimes difficultly with discernment comes from interior debate in the absence of a desire for God! It is our own logic vs. our personal wants, and that is not the debate that will help us reach a decision!

If you want to know God's will, ask him to remove your wants and your rationale and replace them with the desire to follow Him. Although you may need to patiently wait for a nudge as to what you should do, you can be confident that your personal wants have either been set aside, or are at least in line with God. This will bring you to a good decision.

And that's the second part of discernment. We want to line up our desires with God's plan for our life, rather than try to fit God's plan to ours.

God bless,

Friday, January 1, 2010

To know is not to understand

I am reading Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's latest book, Mother Teresa and Me and I came across this quote by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:

"To know the problem of poverty intellectually is not to understand it. It is not by reading, taking a walk in the slums, admiring, and regretting that we come to understand it and discover what it has of bad and good. We have to dive into it, live it, share it."

A parallel to our prayer life jumped out at me when I read this quote.

How many of us surround ourselves with a complicated prayer ritual? Maybe we have two or three devotional books or styles, i.e., Rosary, Divine Office, Examen, etc., when prayer can and should be very simple. That's not to say we shouldn't be active pray-ers through these methods, but think about it . . .

To know Jesus intellectually, is not to be in a relationship with Him, actually. And to create a multi-dimensional approach to prayer does not mean that we accept the love He offers us, rather, perhaps one-sidedly, it implies it is our activity that makes the difference.

Let the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ pour into your open heart and you will know and truly experience the depth of prayer.

Happy New Year!