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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Well folks, it's been a long time since I have posted to my humble blog.  Too long, due to a variety of paths on my journey that took me through joy, suffering, and everything in between.  However, I have come to the same conclusion:  God has been good to me and I thank him for abundant blessings.  In Mass today, Palm Sunday, we had a very positive celebration.  I saw people that I now realize mean more to me than I give them credit for and have taken for granted.

There's a lot more I would like to say, but the above image says it all for now.  Keep reading His word.  Keep your faith in the foreground.  Love more (this is a reminder for me).  Check back again soon and read through the past posts.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Umbrella of Christianity

I came across this term about a year ago reading material that had been written by Pope Benedict XVI.  I recommend his writings and many Catholics have been long term readers of his publications.  When he described this umbrella it rang true:  our world is truly blessed and is encompassed by God's love and Jesus' presence here on earth.  Evidence of God's plan being worked each day is found in the heroic acts of our government and law enforcement, our healthcare professionals, our families and our friends. 

Recent acts of violence have caused all of us to pause and wonder where such evil could have come from.  By focusing on shootings and other tragedies, even the weather, we lose sight of many realities, even the environment in which Jesus came and rose from the dead because he loved us.  The ancient world was not convenient, food not plentiful, and communication was virtually nil not to mention educational opportunities for the masses.  The government was oppressive, seemingly growing pains for the society which has culminated (in the Western World) in what we now so readily take for granted.

After Jesus resurrection, his apostles witnessed the plan of God and began putting it into action.  Since then the teachings of Jesus and that of the bible as a whole, along with the inspired traditions of the Church, have guided us to a very high level of cooperation, love of neighbor, and altruism (relative to other centuries).  Yes unbelievable acts of evil and crimes can and do occur.  And large segments of the population will be apathetic, apostate, atheistic.  But Jesus is calling us to faith in God and to act on this.  We have a very hard task as Christians, but I am thankful that the umbrella of Christianity is above, shielding me from much of what man's fallen nature is capable of.  God has truly blessed us all.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Is God present in my Sunday Mass?

I have presumed to ask this question and to discuss it because of its importance to me.  How do I arrive at the answer (which one would assume will be yes, but can I be persuasive in this topic)?  The fact is, I don't look forward to going to Sunday Mass.  I have tried to become enthusiastic.  I tried printing the readings ahead.  I have started this blog, over a year ago. I have studied a few lectures from an on-line seminary.  I have attended small Catholic group sessions.  All of these efforts have been extremely fruitful to my spiritual development.  So why don't I look forward to Sunday Mass?

I think I want God to be present at Mass.  I want my soul and spirit to be spoken to.  I want to feel enthused, connected, loved and protected.  My part of the bargain: showing up.  God's part:  inspire me.

Well, I am learning that God's part of the bargain doesn't depend on my showing up.  He promises to be present, wherever 2 or more are gathered in his name.  There He is.  He doesn't require red satin stoles, gold chalices, marble, brass, candlesticks or pipe organs.  He merely requires us to be present in his name.

I am grateful for my faith because it has strengthened me on many occasions and been a great comfort.  Through my faith, I have tried to do God's will in my interactions with others.  God's obligation to us was fulfilled three times, first in man's creation.  The second time was the covenant of Moses.  And finally with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My feelings about Mass reflect where I am and who I am.  I am not a leader (yet!).  I am not together, or with it.  In fact, I am tired.  But when I step foot in church today to attend Mass, I will give glory to God.  I will thank him for what he has done for me.  I am so blessed.  Because God has a plan for my local priest, for my parishoners, and for me, I will pray that all of us, together, will praise God's name and do his will.   I will partake of the sacraments.  And I will open my life for God to do his work through me.  That will be my pledge.  May I make a difference in my church family for the glory of God!  AMEN.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Are we fallen from grace?

I cannot give the doctoral level answer to this question.  With the knowledge I have accumulated while writing this blog I think I have made this assumption because I have heard it so often and it seems so plausible.  After all, man's relationship to God has been tumultuous over the centuries, as documented in scripture.  The answer was established in the first books of Genesis when Adam and Eve committed original sin, and became aware of the knowledge of good and evil, after eating fruit off the tree of the same name.  Their descendants have had the spot of the fall on their souls ever since.

Sometimes I'm not so sure that man is a fallen race when I hear the beautiful voices of the evangelical singers that sound so inspirational and so angelic.  I attribute my listening to their craft as one of the major things that continues to influence me in my worship.  Also my family is generally a group of not just good people but truly loving, committed, and positive people that would take the shirt off their back for anyone.  How are they fallen?

The answer is that the grace of God, praise be to Jesus, has permeated my life, my community, and my country.  This is thanks to generations of faithful people who have made daily sacrifices and focused their lives to the praise of God.  Yes they have made mistakes and they have sinned.  But many of them have listened to the calling of Jesus and put him first in their lives.  Then when they went about their daily lives the faithful have been a light to the world second only to Jesus Christ himself.  So don't be surprised if you sometimes wonder about man's fallen nature.  Believe me our perfection has not been achieved. 

I pray that I not take for granted the grace that God has shown the world that has built the kingdom of heaven that we see, feel and hear constantly but fail to recognize.   May we be acceptable to God in our individual lives, may we accept him, learn more of the scriptures and involve ourselves effectively in the community to further the development of our Christian brethren on a daily basis.  Amen.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Simply, salvation

2 Corinthians 1
12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

Do you understand God's plan for his chosen people?  Are you one of them?  How do you defend your Christian faith among nonbelievers and others who challenge your beliefs?

My position is that Christianity is understandable and straightforward for those who seek its truth.  Jesus himself reduced the laws of God's covenant with man to a few sentences in Mark 12:30 - 31.  Although He was a scholar of the Jewish law and a teacher, he did not contradict people who believed in him and followed his teaching.  He did not pigeonhole his followers based on their past.  He often showed love for his enemies.  He showed love for all of us and saved us from sin and damnation by his sacrifice when he was crucified.

When you are examining the finer points of Christianity, and make the fine distinctions that separate men and women in the body of Christ (the church), I would ask that you answer one question:  do the theories that you espouse serve the purpose of God and of Jesus Christ, to bring the message of salvation to all the world?  Or do they serve to elevate you or members of your organization with a sense of pride and piety?  I think you can use a simple rule to judge for yourself the righteous and loving path that Jesus would have us walk each day: to love God and man always.  May I remember the tremendous power of God's grace and not be burdened by the division wrought by the earthly wisdom that was prevalent even in the days of St. Paul.  Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The questions of life

If you are like me you question things.  When I do I find that it inspires me to think things over, to get more information, and to ask others for their opinion.  And a lot of my inquiring pertains to observing others and wondering about their welfare.  Are you happy?  Do you believe in God?  If not, how are you better off?  These are questions that are so fundamental that they are to some extent taboo.  That's where a blog is handy, to explore in a neutral communication medium, maybe for me to explore angles that I wouldn't in conversation because it could be a turn off for me or the other party.

If you are reading this because it is part of your journey, consider the following questions that Christianity addresses:  What is the meaning of my life?  Why am I here?  How should I treat other people?  Why do some people respond negatively in unpredictable situations?  How much do I know, and how much can I learn?  What I have learned is that I cannot assume I know the answers to these questions.  This is my journey to humility.  I cannot express to you the comfort of being humble - it is great.  What I believe is that Jesus is my strength, my knowledge, and my life.  His love for me props me up.  Yet he was humble and showed greater concern for mankind than for his own human life.  He died and was raised from the dead, to the witness of his disciples and family.  The miracle of this is indeed the answer we all seem to seek.  It is the ultimate.  And the way to live is clearly spelled out in verses of the books of the Bible.  Following the Word doesn't create an army of automatons and zombies.  Truly the world that God created can always amaze me, excite me and challenge me.  Read the word and find out for yourself what God asks of us.  "Will you love me, and your fellow man?"  How will you answer God?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Where is God?

Do you have the kind of relationship with God that you should?  I would answer this question no.  Still it is growing.  I want to talk to God, and more experience His presence and hear His voice.  Maybe I have a hard heart, I am too busy, or do things too often that harm this relationship (sin).  For a relationship to grow I must be an active participant.  God is remote only when we do not seek Him and read His word in scripture.

Why did God set up a world where His presence can be sensed in every living and inanimate thing, every day, at any time.  But in this world He cannot be seen, directly heard, or physically touched?  We can't answer this question since we don't have insight into God's reasons for doing things.  A good assumption would be that this was not an act of capriciousness, and that there was  a very important reason that benefits each of his children in this world.  Maybe the disobedience of Adam and Eve does play a part in this separation.

For me the experience of God's presence comes directly from my interactions with people.  Some of the most simple of interactions can be so significant.  A smile, a friendly gesture or greeting.  These convey love and concern from others.  Although we are born with sin and cannot fail to fall into its diabolical realms, God sent his son, Jesus, to redeem us.  I like to read about Jesus and all of his contrasts and paradoxes.  Mild and bold at the same time.  Casual and stern at times as well.  He was man and was also God.  As a Christian I strive to place Christ in the center of my religious focus.

In my daily life hundreds of people seemingly cross my path each day.  The interactions may be brief or more prolonged.  I pray now that I can more cherish the times that I spend with my coworkers, friends, and family as well as clients and be more observant of the presence of God in these interactions.  I believe that as my faith in God grows, so will my ability to act in concert with the will of God and help represent His presence to others.  I also pray that I may spend more constructively the time I have alone to study the Word of God and learn of His works among the prophets of ancient times, the disciples of Christ, and Godly depictions from more recent Christian authors.  Maybe God chooses to show himself mainly through the face of man, who was made in His own image, so that man would revere his brethren greatly and in showing love, respect, and concern for each other, man would honor God and more closely experience His presence.