Category Archives: Poiema

Blog posts here were inspired or include quotes from St. Josemaria Escriva.

The Church Can Endure this as it does ALL Challenges.

Nothing else mattered! Just being with Jesus, and knowing His love

Devotional Thought of the Day

7  If your servant comes in from plowing or from taking care of the sheep, would you say, “Welcome! Come on in and have something to eat”? 8  No, you wouldn’t say that. You would say, “Fix me something to eat. Get ready to serve me, so I can have my meal. Then later on you can eat and drink.” 9  Servants don’t deserve special thanks for doing what they are supposed to do. 10  And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then say, “We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10 (CEV)

We come now to the taproot of our surefire program: intimacy with the indwelling Trinity. To put it simply: the main source of deep conversion is to fall in love with endless Beauty. A genuine person will gladly sacrifice for real love. Christic martyrs are in love. Jesus tortured to death on the Cross is the icon of perfect love, unconditional, selfless love. All the saints imitate him in their heroic virtue because they too are in love. Their concern, determination, and motivation are rooted in and arise from their intimacy with triune Beauty who is purest and endless love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8).

1025 You will have as much sanctity, as you have mortification done for Love.

When you love someone, truly love someone, you are willing to embrace pain and suffering if you know it will help them. I know a husband who gave a kidney to his wife, or couples who have endured hardship to stay together. I don’t know if children of any age ever realize what their parents give up, so that they can have things the parents never had at their age.

That is what love is!

It is the same as the servants, who have cared well for their master. It is just the way things are supposed to be. We are just who we are – nothing special here… just doing what we do….

We need to grow in this as the church. Whether it is in trying to help the poor, or train up more people to serve in ministry, here or abroad, whether it is in giving of time or treasure, or letting someone else learn to serve in our place and coaching them in it, we need to learn to sacrifice our preferences in view of the love we have for God, and the people He’s created.

It may be even sacrificing our preferences, in order to work with the government during times like this. ( I hate saying this… but hey – gotta preach to myself as well as to you!)

The key to this is the cross, to being drawn to where Jesus is lifted up, not just as an observer, but being transformed into His image, as we are united to Him on the cross there. There everything is so based in a love so incredible, so deep, that everything else, including the work to help others be drawn there… is nothing.

Being loved by Him becomes everything. – other challenges… – what challenges… God is with us!

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 99.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Saul, David and the American Political Season

God, who am I?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

3  At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! 4  “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the LORD is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. 5  But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6  “The LORD knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The LORD forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the LORD’s anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him.” 7  So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul. After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 1 Samuel 24:3-7 (NLT2)

You became a bit frightened when you saw so much light, so bright that you thought it would be difficult to look, or even to see. Disregard your obvious weaknesses, and open the eyes of your soul to faith, to hope and to love. Carry on, allowing yourself to be guided by God through whoever directs your soul.

I have to admit that I am more than a little hesitant writing this blog this morning. Yet I have seen to many people who believe in God who struggle to live in the peace God has given them.

Fear, anxiety, anger, even hatred have done this damage to people’s souls. And as I see those emotions pouted out on social media, my heard aches. People look for scapegoats to blame for hurt they even struggle to identify. We look for that one person, or that one group that causes our pain.

David knew that pain. Heck, it wasn’t just projecting his problems on King Saul, Saul was out to kill him. He was hunting him down, and David had to live off the land, and dwell in caves. People who helped him were punished, and rewards were out for his life, and those who served beside him.

And yet, as he tweaks the king, (when he could have assassinated him) he feels guilt. He knows the pain, the betrayal, and et, part of him knows he should not have even tweaked the king….

As I read this, I wondered what it would be like, if we had that much respect for our leaders, that we bathed them in prayer rather than mocked them, or critiqued them and spewed hatred at them behind their back? What would happen if we treated them as we wanted them to treat us? If we didn’t use their actions to justify our own.

What would happen if we loved them as Christ loves us?

This is the kind of light we struggle with entering , this glorious love of God that takes away sin… This is the glory that realizes God’s at work, somehow, in all of this. This is the kind of trust, that comes from knowing God. Not just knowing about Him, knowing Him.

That will change us, even a it impacts the country.

For if we enter into a time of revival, it will not matter who wins the election.

Lord, reveal the work of the Holy Spirit in this world, Help us to trust you more than we fear, more than we are hurting, more than we have learned to hate…and heal us . AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do We? Do We Really?

do we know what “sin” means?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”? James 4:4-5 CEV

1002      To save mankind, Lord, you died on the Cross. And yet for one mortal sin you condemn a man to a hapless eternity of suffering. How much sin must offend you, and how much I ought to hate it!

I have to wonder, do we hate sin?

Do we hate any and all idolatry?

Do we hate it when people use God’s name (or titles) as cuss words, or damn others with it, or just don’t call on Him?

Do we hate it wen people don’t take time to find the rest and recovery they need, for God is their fortress? Do we get righteously angry when others steal that time that others are supposed to spend with God?

Do we hate it when people dishonor their parents, or rebel against any parental authority over them?

Do we hate it when people hurt others? What about when they refuse to help others in need? Others that God put in their life, so they could help them?

Do we hate it when people try to break up marriages, or say that marriage isn’t needed, that it isn’t a gift? Or take advantage of others for personal gain?

Do we hate it when people become victims of others, when their livelihoods are taken?

Do we hate it when people have their reputations damaged, either by lies, or by a presentation of their faults that was specifically meant to hurt them?

What about when people are envious, when people want what others have, more than they are happy that God entrusted them with that blessing?

These are hard questions, but what happens if we don’t ask them?

And one final question,

If we don’t hate sin, how can we truly rejoice in the mercy that forgives them at the cost of Christ’s death?

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Secret to Getting Close to God

Devotional Thought for our day:

We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. 19 This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place. Hebrews 6:18b–19 (CEV)

969      We Catholics have to go through life being apostles, with God’s light and God’s salt. We should have no fear, and we should be quite natural; but with so deep an interior life and such close union with Our Lord that we may shine out, preserving ourselves from corruption and from darkness, and spread around us the fruits of serenity and the effectiveness of Christian doctrine.

Thus all the curses pronounced after the fall are a blessing in disguise. They direct us back to God. Like the curses in Hosea 2 (read it!), they are God’s whisperings of love to us in our wilderness exile, enticing us back to Him, our first and true love, by the hard way of suffering and death and the failure of our million little idols

I get a lot of advertisements, all telling me how to grow my church, or be a better pastor, or to be a more dynamic Christian. On occasion, I will look into them, even interact with them. On even fewer occasions, I manage to turn off my cynicism. You see, as I have done this, I have never asked how my church was spiritually. Whether people were reconciling with God, and with each other.

Never been asked whether my people were being drawn closer to God…

That is the key point… that is the question we need to be asking ourselves, are we being drawn closer to God, are we more aware of His presence, for then we can take a hold of His promises, confident of His faithfulness. This is the interior life that St. Josemaria speaks of, linking that life to the not only a less anxious life, but our ability to be seen as God’s special people.

The challenge is how God draws us to Himself. which Kreeft (in green) speaks clearly to, our being drawn closer is out of desperation. That is the unique benefit of the disciplinary curses God places on those who rebel, who sin, who worship and have faith in other things, rather than entrusting their lives to His care.

You want to be drawn closer to God? Then let Him remove the idols, let Him strip you of your sins, removing the grip they have on your life. It will not be easy, but these curses that we live under, when we turn from Him are there to drive us back to God. They are there to remind us of His care and His love.

These curses aren’t blessings, they are used to draw us closer to God, to help realize we need our Creator.

We need to be thankful for such discipline, for a God who loves us enough to call us to repentance. That is how He will preserve us from corruption, correcting us, burdening out consciousness so that we run to Him. The more mature we get in the faith, the less time it takes to start running back into His arms. The closer we draw to Him, the more His word, and His sacraments mean to us.

This flies in the face of most spiritual growth practices, where we are told what to do, and how to do it, and the promise is made that if we do, we will become holier, we will become stronger in our faith, because WE have exercised it. If it depends on you and I, our faith will not grow stronger, we won’t run to God, our pride and narcissism will prevent it.

Spend time with God, let Him call you to repentance, and delight in His mercy. And when you find yourselves being disciplined… don’t run and hide, unless it is running back to Him.

God is with you! Remember to let Him be God! AMEN


Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 120.

Be Real with God…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Shout praises to the LORD! Praise God in his temple. Praise him in heaven, his mighty fortress. 2  Praise our God! His deeds are wonderful, too marvelous to describe. 3  Praise God with trumpets and all kinds of harps. 4  Praise him with tambourines and dancing, with stringed instruments and woodwinds. 5  Praise God with cymbals, with clashing cymbals. 6  Let every living creature praise the LORD. Shout praises to the LORD! Psalm 150:1-6 (CEV)

5  Your anger lasts a little while, but your kindness lasts for a lifetime. At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate. Psalm 30:5 (CEV)

965      I have been thinking of all the priests throughout the world. Help me to pray for the fruitfulness of their apostolates. ”My brother in the priesthood, please speak always about God and, when you really do belong to him, your conversations will never be monotonous.”

The individual’s interaction with God is never dull or routine. At least, it should not be.

There are going to be times of great joy, and times of sorrow and grief. There will be times were we lash out in pain and anger, and times were His comfort will be all we have, for we are crushed by despair. Every emotion that we feel can and should be revealed by us to God, for He knows how we feel.

He even knows how we feel when it becomes necessary for Him to correct us. The hurt and pain we feel, when we admit we have sinned, the grief and shame that comes with the guilt.

If this is true for the individual, it should be true for the church as well.. We are to laugh and cry together (see Romans 12:15), therefore our worship services should have true emotions in them.

That is why we should be emotional as we speak about God, the God we know, the God in whom we are not afraid to cry or laugh, for we know His love. That is why we plead with be to let Him reconcile them to Himself. Growing comfortable in His presence is not about taking God for granted, but letting Him see us as we are….

And knowing He loves us.

Allowing our emotions to show doesn’t mean putting on false displays, or manipulating the congregation. It means simply living life, comfortable in the presence of God.

Let’s be real with Him, and in our communities… Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

An Intense Faith

Devotional Thought for this Day

7  Our LORD, punish the Edomites! Because the day Jerusalem fell, they shouted, “Completely destroy the city! Tear down every building!” 8  Babylon, you are doomed! I pray the Lord’s blessings on anyone who punishes you for what you did to us. 9  May the Lord bless everyone who beats your children against the rocks! Psalm 137:7-9 (CEV)

896      At this time—and always!—when the Lord wants his seed to spread in a divine diffusion among the different surroundings, he also wants the extension not to lessen in intensity. And you have the clear and supernatural mission of helping to ensure that this intensity is not lost.

The passage in Psalm 139 bothered me for decades. To an extent, it still does. The retribution, the revenge the psalmist proposes seems over the top, it seems beyond belief. How could a follower of God write such a horrid peace, how could they wish that kind of pain on someone else.?

How is this loving their enemies and praying for someone who persecutes them?

The intensity of the faith is some good, the way it ovices itself, perhaps not so much?

Then I see the power of addiction, the brokenness of those who have been abused, the heartache of those betrayed by a close friend, and I want to use that passage to justify praying for revenge, asking God to crush those who cause such damage.

And am I wrong?

Yes, if the enemy is another human.

No, if the enemies are the demonic forces that tempt, that kill, that try to blot out the image of God created in mankind.

I need to be praying for those who seem to be the cause of such, praying for God to reach their heart, to circumcise their hearts, even as I need mine to be. To free them from the enslavement to sin that creates the havoc in their lives, which spreads like a virus, affecting all around them.

This is the intensity we need in our faith, that dear Josemaria speaks of, that focuses our battle where it should be, crushing the gates of hell which tries to stop the power of the gospel.

This is the seed which must be sowed, in more and more places, but not with any less intensity.

May we increase in our intensity, may we realize the damage the powers of hell try to create in life, and may our hearts be set on seeing God’s love free and heal those who have been so damaged.

Lord, Lead us into this battle, and protect us, we pray. AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Learn to Know God…. intimately

Devotional Thought of the Day:

8  “So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. 9  “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10  So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:8-10 (NLT2)

865      He came on earth because omnes homines vult salvos fieri, he wants to redeem the whole world. While you are at your work, shoulder to shoulder with so many others, never forget that there is no soul that does not matter to Christ!

David’s words to Solomon are worth looking deeply into, they are the words he gives, as he hands over the Kingdom. Of great importance to David is the building of the Temple, the building of the place were God would put His name, that people may know they are forgiven, where they may find they are still His people. Not just the people of Israel, but people who are foreigners, who are strangers, who are…different.

When David talks of God’s commands, he is not talking merely about the “do” and “do nots” found in Scripture. He is talking about all that God established, all the God called into existence. He is not just talking about the covenant terms, but the promises. He’s not just talking about the curses, but about the blessings, especially the blessing of God making us His people.

That is why David talks about us knowing God intimately, for only in that relationship can we understand that God is about far more than obedience to the laws, that He is about knowing us, and us knowing Him. It is then that the laws slide away, that our brokenness is laid into His hands. THat every soul matters to Jesus, that He would, through His church, draw all people to the Father.

Walk with Him, let Him draw out of you everything that has poisoned your life, that has turned you away from Him. As He draws you to Him, seek Him, knowing His love will see you through, even as it cleans and heals you.

This is why David so badly wanted to build the temple, why it was his son’s greatest duty and work. Not for the edifice, but that people could know God the Father, drawn to Him by Jesus. May we see the same done today!
Amen!



Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The King, the Missionary and the Priest walk into…

Devotional Thought for Today:
1  First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2  Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. 3  This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. 4  God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5  There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6  God showed us this at the right time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (CEV)

“I think more of the place where I was baptized than of Rheims Cathedral where I was crowned.  It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a Kingdom.  This last I shall lose at death but the other will be my passport to an everlasting glory.” (St. Louis IX, King of France)

746      From there, where you are working, let your heart escape to the Lord, right close to the Tabernacle, to tell him, without doing anything odd, “My Jesus, I love You”. Don’t be afraid to call him so—my Jesus—and to say it to him often.

In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and noting more should be vut on his gravestone:-
WILLIAM CAREY, BOTRN AUGUST 17th, 1761.: DIED-
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm…on Thy kind arms I fall.”

The king and the missionary knew the same thing.

They understood what truly mattered in life. Both had amazing successes, and failures beyond imagination. They were known and loved by some of those they served, and hated by others. Neither was perfect, yet both knew what mattered in their life, to the extent that I would hold their words up to you, and ask you to come to similar conclusions.

The same conclusion that St. Josemaria urges us, even as we work diligently, to let our hearts escape into God’s presence, and declare boldly, “my Jesus…”

You see that is what the great missionary to India meant, as he fell into the arms of Christ. Nothing else in his life was worth recognizing, save that. The King, choosing more important the moment where the Father unites him to Jesus, in the death and resurrection of Christ, (see Romans 6, Colossians 2) says the same thing.

Everything that is critical in life boils down to to that point, where Jesus makes us His people.

This is what we need to pray, that as God is revealed to people, that they know His love, and His mercy, so shown to us at the cross.

It is the presence of God that we need in our lives. That is where everything changes. To realize that is what Jesus gave up to gain for us, to be welcome there in the presence of the Father, to be drawn into the glorious love in which the Trinity dances, this is everything.

That is the point of the religion we call Christianity. Not to just explore where we have come from as humanity. Not just to reign in behavior, teaching people how to be good to each other.

Our purpose is that everyone, from people in France and India, clergy and politicians and those they lead, know the miracle of being welcome into the presence of God!

This is why we pray for people, surely asking for God to help them in their times of being challenged, but that they might now Him as well.

So my friends pray for all… and pray they come to know the living Lord Jesus, and then together with Louis, and Josemaria, and William, find the peace that passes all understanding, as we experience the Love that goes beyond explanation.. and know I pray you know this too!.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening – Morning, August 29, Logos Edition

Hope For Those Who Weep for the Lost…

Devotional Thought for This Day:

15  In Ramah a voice is heard, crying and weeping loudly. Rachel mourns for her children and refuses to be comforted, because they are dead. 16   But I, the LORD, say to dry your tears. Someday your children will come home from the enemy’s land. Then all you have done for them will be greatly rewarded. 17  So don’t lose hope. I, the LORD, have spoken.
37  Can you measure the heavens? Can you explore the depths of the earth? That’s how hard it would be for me to reject Israel forever, even though they have sinned. I, the LORD, have spoken.
Jeremiah 31:15-17, 37 (CEV)

743      If you put your mind to it, everything in your life can be offered to the Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk with your Father in Heaven, who is always keeping new illumination for you, and granting it to you.

Maybe it is a once dear friend who loved the Lord in a way that inspired others. Maybe it was a cherished mentor in the faith, a professor who taught you more than you ever realized. Maybe it is a parent, a child, a cousin, even a spouse.

Most of us have someone who has rejected God, or is struggling with His way, and so rejects the gifts of forgiveness and mercy, who rebel against God. Perhaps there is a reason, a church, a pastor or priest who has caused them pain.

WE all have a person who has wandered, even as many of us have. Our reaction is usually the same as grieving the loss of physical life, for we realize that eternity is at stake… We may not want to say it is the difference between heaven and hell, yet our heart fears that consequence.

The words of the prophet Jeremiah are so appropriate for those who watch with tears, those who attempt to wander away. The need to hear God say “dry your tears, they will come back” is real, to allow God to comfort those who worry, who deal with anxiety over those they care about.

The second part of the selection, where God reminds us of His power, and the inability of man to completely reject them is even more comforting. It tells us how much God is willing to pour into calling the people back. Despite their sin, God will continue to work in their hearts.

So then, how do we deal with the trauma we see in their lives? Josemaria’s words comforted me this morning. We talk to God about it, we spend time offering the person, and the situation, and our hearts, batter and torn, to Him. It seems counter-intuitive to offer such to God as a sacrifice, but it is the best we can do. We are His children, and our Father wants to fix what is broken in our lives. He wants to recreate, to show the craftsmanship He finds joy in…and as we give into His care those we love, whom we worry about, we can realize peace. He died for them, that they may live.

Lord, help us give you our brokenness, help us place in your care those we would see return to the joy of your salvation. For Your love for them is even deeper than ours, and You can reach them. Help us to trust You, and in Your love and work in all our lives! Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do We Make Church Boring?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. 3 Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. 4 Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible. Col. 4:2-4 CEV

736      Your life cannot be the repetition of actions which are all the same, because the next one should be more upright, more effective, more full of love than the last. Each day should mean new light, new enthusiasm—for Him!

God designed all finite things to be eventually boring because He designed our heart with an infinite hole in its center, a hole that cannot be filled even with the whole enormous but finite universe. There is a Black Hole in our heart analogous to the physical Black Holes in intergalactic space that can suck all the matter in the universe into themselves. This spiritual black hole is the restless heart that will not and cannot rest anywhere except in God, its home.

Gracious souls are never perfectly at ease except they are in a state of nearness to Christ; for when they are away from him they lose their peace. The nearer to him, the nearer to the perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to him, the fuller the heart is, not only of peace, but of life, and vigour, and joy, for these all depend on constant intercourse with Jesus.

There is a challenge in leading worship, and in leading a church. It is all to common to get in a rut, to try to do the same pattern of worship faithfully. But as St. Josemaria points out, we can’t just be repeating everything, over and over.

Please be careful, I am not advocating changing the church service every week, but to engage in it better every week, To be more effective and build the enthusiasm in the service. Not just an upbeat sense of enthusiasm, but an enthusiasm, a desire, a will that is focused in on being in the presence of Jesus. For in His presence, together, being cleansed by His blood, by being fed on His word, by being united together in Him, each week can be the same thing, done in a way that continually draws people closer.

This is the same for private life, as the black hole is filled with the presence of God, the only thing that can fill it. It is no different to say “never give up praying” as it would be to say, “never stop being aware of being in the presence of God” for both are the same thing.

The way to keep from getting into a rut in either your devotional life, or in church is to remember Who you are talking too, Who you are walking with, to realize what happens as you draw nearer to Him. Pray for your pastor and worship leader to help you realize that you are in God’s presence, not just in theirs! (They should be like waiters in a restaurant – you should know they were around, because of Who has been brought to your attention – but Who is brought to your attention is the focus, and the reason you are there!)

Let God fill you! Let God bring about your healing, as you realie He is forgiving and sanctifying you.

Sing, pray, listen, with the knowledge of His presence…

Church and private prayer will never be boring then… you will desire it more and more. And the day you don’t, just refocus on Jesus.

AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 89.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

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