Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Prayer for Courage to Pray

Some things have happened the past couple of weeks that reminds me that, even though there is much at stack this election, this election does not define our lives or how we live them.
Our lives and how we live them are what defines us.
Keep walking the good walk and living the good way.
There is not much else one can do.
Except pray...
My friend Cindy shared this St. Jude Novena on FB.
Our spiritual prayer group just finished a St. Jude Novena but it was different from this one. One of our prayer warriors passed out an election prayer at co-op yesterday but it was not this one.
This one...for me...sounds so right.
This one...for me...speaks to my heart.
This one...for me...speaks from my heart.
This one...for me...addresses everything I wish to address.
This one...for me...says it all.

Yours might be a little different...or a lot different...
I'm offering it here incase it also speaks to you as to what you would pray if you could only find the right words and haven't been able to do to...
* * * * *
I ask for the eyes to see others as sons and daughters of God. I ask for help in forming my conscience according to the Gospel so that I may both vote and act for the common good.

Give me the courage to stand up for the weakest members of society. The poor, the weak, the unborn. Give me the courage to re-examine my political loyalties and to be first a faithful follower of Jesus before I follow.

Remind me that my only true hope is in Jesus and that political power can never replace the the will of God and the mission of the Church.

For my own vote, help me to cast it in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Help me to do it reverently and with a well formed conscience.

For these elections, Oh God, please bless us with the best leaders possible at all levels of government.

My vote is a small but important part of my Christian life. Help me to both vote and live by the Gospel putting my trust in Jesus alone.

St. Jude, Pray for us!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Year of Faith: Step One

Last week the Year of Faith was welcomed to a world that has a fading faith in all things spiritual and holy. We have looked to men, to priests, to preachers, to weathermen, to our fathers, to our teachers, to our doctors, to bloggers, and others for the answers. Time and time again they have shown their humanity and let us down. Time and time again, our generation and those before us have been disillusioned and disenchanted with having faith in anything.

That is because we have placed faith in all the wrong things.

Faith is simple...it is not of this world.

This Year of Faith was introduced because the Church and our Holy Father sees this, knows this, acknowledges this dilemma and embraces the challenge of renewing that Faith to a cynical world.

We are all called (invited really) to open the Door of Faith. Faith in the only one, the only thing, the only Being who will never let us down or disappoint us.

Last week, in my own meager way, I likened it to Finding Faith in a Mirror for those who don't trust or are uncertain of entering unknown doorways. Most people don't know what they believe nowadays but they do know what everyone else believes. People allow technology, movie stars, sport figures, and media to think and decide for them. They are content to hide behind closed doors.

But there is a constant knock on their heart that they hear, often find irritating, and will not be quietened, no matter how much noise, gossip, news, and technology they use to drown out the constant knock.

In mentioning that Door of Faith (though I still plan to focus on the mirror that the Church provides and that I mentioned last week), I wanted to draw everyone's attention to this picture today.

This is an allegorical painting by artist William Holman Hunt titled "The Light of the World". Click on the title link to read more about it.
 
It is an allegorical painting of Christ (the Light of the World) knocking on the door of our hearts. Constantly knocking. Annoyingly knocking, Persistantly knocking. Irritatingly so.
It's cruder, rougher than other images I'm familiar with but that is part of its beauty.
Life is not glossy or perfectly symmetrical. It's often crude, rough, earthy.
This rustic, earth-tone image is more lifelike.
We might not always, especially in this virtual reality we live in today, like things being truer to life; but we do appreciate its honesty and truth.
 
The years pass. The vines and weeds grow around and over our Door, choking the locks and rusting the hinges. That is truth. It's happened to all of us. None can deny it.

Fr. Jason Smith has a thoughtful piece on this painting:

"It is only after noticing Jesus and the locked door that our attention is drawn to the secondary elements of the painting: The brambles, the bat, and the lantern.
The brambles represent vice and sloth which have taken over the unkempt garden of virtue because of neglect. Flittering around in the darkness, above the door, is a bat, a natural symbol of darkness, of ruin, evil, and neglect. Fruit has fallen to the ground and lies uncared for and unattended. Yet Jesus towers over the brambles and the bat, and one feels that with a simple invitation he will crush them underfoot effortlessly, “All things are under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8). Perhaps it is his presence which has quietly kept the fruit from rotting.
Making the painting a night scene allows Hunt to use Christ’s lamp as the primary source of light."
 
* * * * *
 
One thing I liked about Fr. Hunt's allegory is that the lack of a door handle or knob represents "the obstinately shut mind" representing that Christ will not open the door of our hearts. It is our choice. We are on the other side of the door and only we can open the door.
 
This Year of Faith invites us all to do that.
That's Step One.
 
Jesus knocks. He knocks incessantly.
The Church provides us a mirror to the other side. It hands us the keys.
Will we? Do we? Answer the call?
Talk about having choices?
 
The choice to accept Christ or deny Him is our ultimate choice.
It defines every other choice we make.
 
It is a call of faith.
It is an act of faith.
 
I am ever conscious that the decision is ours.
 
So your first task for this Year of Faith is do you want to gut away the brambles that cover your Door of Faith?
Do you want to see the beauty behind the door?
Do you want to see Christ, study Christ, and share Christ?
 
That's what this Year of Faith is all about.
 
Let's reclaim the slogan of our brothers and sisters in Christ:
Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
 
You do?
Good then!
Step One is Complete.
That little misconception can be done away with and we can move on in our Life of Faith because, really and truly, accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior really does imply a lot and it explodes our responsibility for living a life of faith.
 
The Church Christ left here on earth with the Holy Spirit to guide it forth, leads us forward.
Come!
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finding Faith in a Mirrror


Creating a Faith Experience

I've been reading and reading so many neat articles and ideas on how to observe and celebrate this Year of Faith, looking for ways to embrace what's out there while fully making it my own faith experience.

I'm excited. The goodness is there. And it's beautiful.

One of the things God's Shepherd asks us to do is find the beauty and joy in our faith so that we can fall in love with the Gospel message.

A Consuming Love

Something that often draws people together as they begin a relationship is the beauty they see. It might be beauty in the facial features or beauty in the eyes or beauty in the example one sets or beauty that is found in the soul.

We all wish to be loved, accepted, admired, and loved again. We all want people to see the beauty which God the Creator has placed inside each of us.

People will disappoint us. Christ never will.

His is an all consuming Love.

"The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for..." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#27)

He even loves, and always will love, those who find themselves in the bottom grim of Hell because...

He did not put them there. He wanted them forever with Him. He desired only the best for them. Even the thief dying on the cross next to Him was, at the hour of his death, welcomed into Heaven because, at the hour of his death, he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Yes, I am a Catholic writing this...a Catholic who does not believed that her brothers and sisters in Christ hold the copyright on this pat slogan.

Catholics can and should accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Catholics can and should be proud to have a walking, breathing, living, lovig relationship with their Lord and Savior.
Catholics can and should be brave enough to open their Bibles and preach the Good News. Afterall, we wrote this massive missive.
And Catholics should be in love enough with this God-Man to turn the mirror of His image to a doubting world and show them how stoically handsome He is.

Door of Faith

And so He knocks.

This is the year to open your Door of Faith to that Someone.

"The 'door of faith' is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church." 

So many are timid to enter that Door of Faith. They are nervous to answer the knock. Some are sceptical and rightly so. To cross the threshold into any unknown is scary. But this Door of Faith need not be scary. Perhaps the lens of a mirror can help us to see beyond this door and to understand what we have been asked to know and believe in, sight unseen.


Finding Faith in a Mirror

For a universal church, the Catholic church is this mirror.

Catholic is, in fact, all of us who love Christ and those of us who seek to know Him better. So whether you profess yourself as Catholic or not, now is the time, this is the year to look at that Man in the Mirror and see what He desires for you.

If you'll just take a glance in the mirror, I'm sure you will find something of beauty, something that appeals to you, something you desire.

...Someone you can talk to.

Keys to Faith

To enter any door, we need keys. They do not hinder us, they help us. In this case, Christ left the keys in the hands of Peter, our first Pope.

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." ~ Matthew 16:18

Let's begin this Year of Faith with keys that unlock this Door of Faith. We need to begin with an acceptance for this mission, a call to accept this faith by name. To do this we must fall in love. We begin by looking at the beauty and love that is found in the image of Christ. Then we need to look anew at documents that meant so much and caused so much, namely Scripture, the Catechism and Vatican II documents. Our year must be steeped in prayer as well.

Are you ready to answer?
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Coming Clean

I thought I needed a cleaning lady.

 
I decided to tackle one problem spot in my home instead...the top of the refrigerator.

 
 
I thought my child needed a better teacher. 

 
I set out a simple science project for her to work.
Checked a lesson in math.
Listened to reading book and history in the vehicle.
Went to the park.
All good.
 
 
I thought I needed a fairy godmother.

 
I turned to my God instead.
 
Some days all we can do are baby steps.
And be kind to ourself first.
 
Some days that's all we can do.
Some weeks even.
Sometimes even the whole month demands that we take baby steps and be kind to ourself first.
 
 

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