Tuesday, March 13, 2018

God's free Gift of Love

I will never forget the first time my wife told me she loved me. We had been dating each other exclusively for a year when she told me to sit down; she had something to tell me. Not the most encouraging way to start a conversation so I was not prepared to hear “I love you”. I was not expecting it for she had always hesitated to say these words. They meant too much for her to just casually say. For my wife, to tell someone you loved them was an ultimate declaration not lightly said and not to be taken back once said.

Her love gave my feelings value. It was a wonderful feeling but with love comes a great responsibility. My next thought was one of apprehension. I had to be worthy of that love. I had to respond in such a way that conveyed my feelings for her and to the love she has for me.

I cannot make my wife love me nor can my wife make me love her. These are choices we both freely make. God’s love is given to us freely. St. Paul tells us God’s love is a gift. It is not something we can earn. God’s love for us is so great that he gave his only Son for our salvation. Through the Son’s death and resurrection, God has made a place for us in heaven. Accepting God’s love is our choice but it can be hard for some. We may spend too much time thinking of our flaws and imperfections. We may not feel worthy of God’s love. We have to remember that Jesus tells us he did not come into the world to condemn. He came into the world to save us. Jesus knows our flaws, he know our imperfections and still he came; freely.

God’s gift of love can be accepted or rejected. God does not make or demand we love him. We are not forced into a decision to love God. God has given us the freedom to respond to his love. Has God's free gift of love been accepted? How are we responding to the acceptance of God's love? Is it heard in our words? It is shown in our deeds? It is the mercy we show to others? Are we feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and sheltering the homeless? Are we keeping the commandments?

Let this be your prayer today; that your words and deeds be always a reflection of your acceptance of God’s love for you. (Modified version of Bulletin Column dated March 11, 2018)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Quiet Voice of the Lord

We woke up today to snow.  Something we do not experience too often in this area.  The world we normally interact with has changed for a day or two.  To some it is a beautiful time.  To others it can be beautiful but also an inconvenience, for daily duties will require them to navigate through the snow.  Whatever the reason you go outside you cannot help but notice the quietness. There are no automobile sounds in the distant background. The snow is muffling what little sound there is, for even the birds are quiet; hunkering down to preserve body heat. I am reminded of the bible verses about the Lord passing by:

“Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face.”                                                    (1 Kings 19: 11-13)

Below is last Sunday's comic from Family Circus, one of my favorites strips.  It is so appropriate for us today.  Sometimes we let the noise of our life get in the way of hearing God.  In the quietness that is all around you today, listen for the voice of the Lord.  May you be blessed in your trying.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord

Ebenezer Scrooge with Tiny Tim
This Sunday is The Epiphany of the Lord. We read of the magi that followed a star to worship a newborn King. These magi are very important to us and to the world. They represent more than just learned men that have studied the ancient prophets; they represent each one of us. The revelation that comes through the magi is that God is not just calling a chosen few but the whole world. The epiphany is that Christ’s kingship extends to all nations.

The magi gave the baby Jesus gifts. Each gift was probably carefully thought out as befitting a king. Recall the Christmas gifts you gave to those you love. You used time, thought and even expense in considering the gift. It did not matter; the gifts were given out of love. The Christmas season is ending but do not forget those gifts you gave. Remember the effort they required and the love you put into them. We should use that same effort and love to shed the message of the newborn King to everyone we meet. Be the light that shows that Christ’s kingship truly does extend to the whole world and that it does not stop with the end of the Christmas season.

You still have gifts to give. Reach out to others and share the gifts God has given you. Be as it was said of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!”--(This post is also on my Facebook page)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sponsor in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

All catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) are to have a sponsor. The sponsor represents the parish community. The sponsor speaks on behalf of the Church congregation during the different RCIA Rites. The sponsor is someone the catechumen can share their faith with. The relationship between a sponsor and catechumen should develop into a long-term commitment and a lasting friendship. Choosing a sponsor is a very important decision.

The RCIA sponsor should be someone that is a witness to their Catholic faith. This is done by attending the Sunday Mass and daily Mass when possible. The Sponsor emphasizes the importance of daily prayer in their own life and by providing tools to the catechumen to do the same. Sponsors will be joyful for the opportunity to share their faith with others. Sponsors should exude hope. This hope comes from the knowledge that we have been offered eternal life through the resurrection of Jesus.

Sponsors must have love. We must love God, family, neighbors and those difficult to love. Love is shown by the actions and words we have for others. It is the searching for and finding God inside everyone we meet.

Being a sponsor does not mean you must have complete knowledge and understanding of your Catholic faith. The role of a sponsor is that of companionship not teacher. Others will teach. The sponsor walks with the catechumen on their journey into the Catholic faith. Being a sponsor is a commitment but one that will provide many benefits as you grow in your own faith. Call the Church if you feel the role of sponsor is right for you.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New Facebook Page

Lately I have not posted on my blog as much as I would like or should.  I do feel bad about this but I think my focus may have shifted just a little.  I opened an Instagram account since the Cathedral uses this program and I started a new Facebook page.  The new page is for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is at this link:  The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans RCIA  Most of my postings are now on the RCIA Facebook page.  I do this because the RCIA is an active group and I hope the Facebook page will provide them with helpful information and links.   You may want to follow the page also as I think it will be interesting for everyone, not just for those in the RCIA.  I will probably put some of my post on both this blog and the RCIA Facebook page so there could be a little overlap. I hope you will desire to view and follow it both this blog and the the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans RCIA Facebook page.

Friday, September 15, 2017

We read in Luke’s Gospel that when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the presentation, they met a man named Simeon. He was a devout, righteous man and the Holy Spirit was with him. Simeon held Jesus in his arms and knew he was seeing the salvation of the world. After praising God, Simeon told Mary “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

As Jesus hung on the cross, Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled. Mary’s heart was pierced with sorrow at the sight of her son suffering this agony and death. Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Church asks that we recall the sorrows Mary endured out of love for her son. Mary’s silent suffering can be the example of how we endure our own trials and tribulations. We can use our sufferings to demonstrate that same faith Mary had in her son Jesus.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Astros Baseball, Technology and Our Prayer Life

I grew up listening to the Houston Astros baseball games on the radio.  This was a time before cable or satellite television. It was before Internet streaming and the MLB At Bat app.  I remember walking around the house carrying my little transistor radio tuned to the game.  When the Astros played on the west coast, the games would not start until after 9:00 pm so I would tie my radio to the bed rail.   I could not stay awake for the whole game and was afraid my radio would fall off the bed.

Over the years though the radio broadcast of the baseball games were either dropped or carried by a station whose power output at night was so weak I could not pick up the games anymore.  Then the MLB At Bat app. came along.  For one small yearly fee I could again listen to the radio broadcast of the Astros.  Technology kept improving to the point I was then able to receive televised broadcast of all the Astros baseball games. It was offered through the digital television provider I was using.  I was now able to watch every Astros baseball game on television.  That first year I watched every televised Astros game except for the few day games that were played during the week.  Everything was right in the world of baseball.

This past winter though I switch my digital television provider.  It was just better for me and my family.  The drawback: no more Astros televised baseball games.  I went back to using the MLB At Bat app. and listening to the radio broadcast of the games.  Do I miss watching the games?  Yes.  I miss not seeing the great catches, the homeruns and the multiple reply angles that are shown.  What I do not miss was the feeling of being tied down to the television.  I felt if I moved away from the television I could miss some exciting moment of the game.  By listening to the radio broadcast I "see" the game in my mind as I did when I was a little kid.  I am free to move around more and do other things as I listen to the game.

What I have learned from all of this is that sometimes we do not need everything we think we do.  If you feel your spiritual life waning maybe you do not have the prayer life that is best for you.  I did not give up on the Astros just because I could not watch their games anymore?   No, I found another way to keep them part of my life.  God is calling us and wants to be part of our lives.  If one form of your prayer life is not working, find one that keeps God as the central point of your life.  We are all different and so is our prayer life.  What one person may praise as a wonderful form of prayer may not be the best form for you.  There are millions of people following the game of baseball but not every one of them is an Astros fan.  They all though have ways of keeping their favorite team part of their lives.  That same effort should be part of our prayer life.