Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Life Beyond Broccoli



We can go through life--and many do--without thinking about God.  Your life is running relatively smoothly, you have what you want out of life--fun, prosperity, health, freedom--so why, you wonder, would you even need to give any thought to God?  That religion stuff is for other people.  I'm doing fine just the way things are.  I'm not so sure I even believe what all of those church-going people believe anyway.

This thought trail, while popular, especially among Millennials, can be a trap that is very limiting.  They would be wise to open their minds, just a bit, to entertain the possibility that Boomers, who run just ahead of them, might have learned something along the way that is worth listening to.

Of course, this is true at any age.

I have always tried to listen carefully to those who are older and wiser than me.  I appreciate that someone who is 70+ has a perspective that I don't have.  If you are 90 years old, I can learn a lot from you.  I was thinking about this during my prayer time just the other day . . .

An awareness came to be that was both a consolation and a new perspective that I likely would not have had the time to explore, nor the life experiences needed to benefit from, in my young adulthood.  That's why I'm saying that if you have not yet included God in your life, trust me when I say that doing so will open up a whole world to you that will add richness (not as in money) to your life. Take it from someone who knows, who has lived it.

Look at it this way.  When our grandchildren come over, there have been times that we have encouraged them to try something new.  I'm not even talking broccoli here, but maybe something tasty.  Our argument for trying it is that they might discover a new favorite food and how do they know that they don't like it if they never try it.

When we are successful at convincing them, there have been times that they have been surprised by how good it is.  Then, of course, they want more and say Yes! the next time.

It's sort of like that with God.  You cannot know what your life with God will be like, if you are not willing to give him a try!  You may think your life is okay now, but I'm here to tell you that it is nothing compared to what it will be when you open yourself up to the possibility of God's existence, intervention and love.

I can say that because I have seen God in action in various ways, but especially through people I have worked with who want to become Catholic.  The conversion and transformation they go through is remarkable.  God has shined a light on them that they were willing to accept, and their eyes were opened.  This is a tangible experience that they really could not imagine until they experienced it firsthand.

Moving forward without knowing where you are going is what faith is all about.

It is hard to say yes to something you do not understand, or have never experienced, I get that.  But I encourage you to trust those who have gone before you, who have had an experience of God.  Someone who is worthy of your trust and of good balance.

Really.  I'm serious.  We're not just making this stuff up.  God is real and he loves you more than you know.  Give him a try!

Janet Cassidy

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

When the Boat is Sinking


I was reading a scripture reflection from through the Laudate App. "On the Way There" (January 28, 2023) and a point was made that I hadn't considered before.

Referring to the account of Jesus sleeping in a boat that was getting tossed around by a storm, where his disciples woke him up in a bit of panic, we learn of Jesus' power to calm the sea.  He says to the sea, "Quiet! Be Still" and it immediately calms down.  (Mark 4:39)

I never really considered that Jesus was directing what happens, rather than simply responding to a situation.  The reflection raises the question we should be asking ourselves: "Do I take Christ into my boat and let him indicate what I must do in my life?"

"When life hurts and it makes no sense, we need to deepen our faith in the One who has conquered sin and death.  He will write the final chapter in our life.  He will bring us to the safe harbor."  

Like the disciples in the boat, if your confidence in Jesus slips when you hit rough water, all you have to do is call out to him.  He is there, as both Savior and guide.

A good way to pray when you are feeling lost or afraid is to simply ask Jesus for protection:  "Lord, I need you. Protect me from the evil one. Show me the way in which I should walk. Never let me be separated from you."

Janet Cassidy


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Nobody is Listening to You

As a Lay Dominican, one of my favorite things to do is give talks (contact me if your church/group is interested).  If and when I get the opportunity, I take it, because, well, it's just fun.  

Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of work, but it's work I don't mind doing.  It is a great feeling to sense the Holy Spirit coming over you, igniting the passion within to talk about Jesus.  I suppose that's because faith is such a wondrous thing and it is hard to resist the urge to share it.

Obviously, sometimes people go too far in the sharing department.  In-your-face Christians of any denomination who yell scripture at you or push, push, push against your thoughts and beliefs, are just irritating, even to a devout Catholic like myself.

Nobody is listening to you.  Nobody is going to be converted by you being obnoxious.  At least that's what I think.

We were in Chicago visiting "the bean" at Cloud Park (click the link to see what I'm talking about) and there was this guy standing nearby.  Apparently he had the idea that if he talked non-stop--and I mean literally non-stop--he would somehow attract people to Jesus.  Pretty much the opposite was true, except for me.  I stood there for a few minutes, curiously watching his approach to his idea of evangelization.  It appeared to be totally ineffective, unless his actual goal was to attract attention to himself

Anyway, if you have been turned off of religion because of one of these, loud, irritating people, please come back and let us help you recover your lost interest.

I remember going to see a past President (prior to his presidency) at a train depot.  Our kids were a little young, and there was a guy that had an abrasive pro-life placard that matched his personality.  He nearly found himself removed from his post because of how disruptive he had become. I've never been a fan of scaring little children, so we moved moved past him quickly, even though we are unwavering pro-life.

I'm betting he didn't make any conversions to life that day.

I'm not saying there is not a place for street ministry, but it shouldn't look like that.  Legitimate street ministry makes prayer or conversation available to interested passersby.  It shouldn't be argumentative; the street is not a courtroom.

So I repeat, if anyone has turned you off to having a relationship with God and a life of faith, please do not think they represent all Christians.  Make the call and reach out.  Find a sound, legitimate guide in your favorite church.  You will not regret it.

Janet Cassidy   (Don't forget to subscribe!)