Category Archives: Poiema
Blog posts here were inspired or include quotes from St. Josemaria Escriva.
Devotional Thought of the day:
15 Work hard so you
538 A terrible person is one who is ignorant but at the same time works tirelessly. Take care that even when you are old and decrepit, you keep on wanting to be better trained.
One of my favorite sports teams has a motto, “No Day’s Off!”
And it doesn’t mean 7 days in the office, 10 hours a day. As St Josemaria says, it is a terrible thing for
You could say the same for a surgeon, whose hands are precious. He wouldn’t engage in activities that would
The same would be true for a pastor, a minister (in our synod, a Director of Christian Ed, Director of Worship, Deaconess or Deacon) any lay leader or really anyone in the church. Our lives need to be not just balanced between work and rest and time spent in devotional reading of God’s word, prayer, and adoration/worship of God, in receiving the sacraments (all of them!)
But we have to understand what our primary vocation is, what we need to focus and work on, and what are the things that support that work.
What is it? Something we have in common…
Being the Church, being the bride of Christ. Finding our rest and peace in Christ as He mercifully heals our brokenness, as our sin is forgiven, as we are made alive as we are joined to Him in baptism. Our vocation is our being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Those things I mentioned as part of the balance that
It is that walk which the rest of our “life” (our work, our family, our roles at church and in our community) needs to resonate. Depending on God, realizing that He is involved in every part of our life, He sustains us, this is our primary role in life – our relationship with Him.
And as St. Josemaria points out, we need to continually be guided in this and to be trained by those who walk with Jesus as well. (that is another post perhaps) We need to work hard at it, for depending on God takes intent and focus, things easily lost in this crazy world and time.
This is our core, the experience of the love of God that is beyond our ability to explain. To spend time realizing that love, and learning to depend upon it.
Know you are God’s family and spend time experiencing and learning what that means. Celebrate it with others, and realize, this is your life!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2327-2330). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day
10 Moses heard all the people complaining as they stood around in groups at the entrances of their tents. He was distressed because the LORD had become angry with them, 11 and he said to the LORD, “Why have you treated me so badly? Why are you displeased with me? Why have you given me the responsibility for all these people? 12 I didn’t create them or bring them to birth! Why should you ask me to act like a nurse and carry them in my arms like babies all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Numbers 11:10-12 GNT
479 “Pray for me,” I said as I always do. And he answered in amazement: “But is something the matter?” I had to explain that something is the matter or happens to us all the time; and I added that when prayer is lacking, “more and more weighty things are the matter.”
It’s the thought of the mom as she picks up after her children or her husband. It’s the thought of the manager after he sends his workers home for the day, It’s in the mind of the secretary who has to deal with unreasonable people, guarding her boss from them. It’s the thought of the nurse, who has to care and clean up patients, who cannot care for themselves. it’s the thought of the pastor, burnt out after the holidays and yet still having to meet the needs of people in crisis. The denominational officer, trying to figure out why another church is struggling.
And we cry out to God, why have YOU stuck us here?
Why did you give these people into my care?
Why can’t these people be “normal”, why are they so needy, so unaware, so irresponsible, and why do I have ot work them, clean them up, get them back healthy, and teach them to play well with others?
If St Josemaria is right. we are going to deal with those people all our lives. There is always something broken, or some relationship that is breaking. There is always another mess to clean up, another person or church in trauma, another friend caught up in sin.
So how do we survive? How can we keep our strength
Fellowship with God, deep, intimate fellowship, and sharing that with others, so we develop a burden to pray for each other, to bring the other before the throne of God, knowing that is where they will find the peace, the rest, the healing they need.
And that includes those people we have to serve, whether those in ministry with us or those we serve.
And it is where we need to be ourselves. Because life is like a boxing match, and sometimes it seems like the bell will never ring, ending the round.
So please pray for me… and let me know what I can pray for you!
may you know you dwell in His peace!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2100-2103). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10 (NLT2)
507 You tried to belittle somebody else’s work by mumbling: “He has only done his duty.” And I said, “Does that seem so little to you?” The Lord gives us the happiness of Heaven for doing our duty: Euge serve bone et fidelis… intra in gaudium Domini tui— Well done good and faithful servant, enter into eternal joy! (1)
The things that challenge me the most in life are the most mundane. The times in life where I am supposed to go through the motions, the moments were the tasks are simply boring, where the actvity is bland..
How do i trudge through those days, eager for the oppostunity to do something new! And I am not the only one, and it is not just about taking out the trash, or cleaing the gutters, or more data entry, or mopping the bathroom floors after a toilet was clogged int he preschool restroom.
It happens in the church as well. For it takes persistence and patience to see a church impact its community, to become a community of faith that the community knows it is alive.
Maybe that is why the focus is on planting new, and the experts claim the best growth happens in new churches, and why we take our most dynamic and driven guys and send them for church planting training before we see that they can shepherd people?
And so in the church, we simply mimic the culture again. And give up on the hard work of doing that which is the fun, the flashy, and the presumed high rate of return!
But how do we do our job, how do we do our duty with zeal and a strong focus when it seems like we can do it, with the same effort it takes to snore? How do we stay with it, day in and day out? How do we stop ourselves from doing things in a simply rote manner?
Can we learn ot put all our effort, all our focus into the mundane?
The only way it is possible is to realize Who entrusts us with the work and spends the time with us, as we work. One who would wash our feet, the One who listens to our complains, to our whining, the One who patiently comforts and cleanses and heals us.
he is with us in the mundane, the boring and the bland, He is with us strengthening us, empowering us, helping us realize what we do is not done alone, and that it actually
Lord help us to see the normal everyday life as a gift we share with You. Help us to do it well, so well that others will give glory to You. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2209-2213). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” 22 When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away
498 You are writing to me in the kitchen, by the stove. It is early afternoon. It is cold. By your side, your younger sister— the last one to discover the divine folly of living her Christian vocation to the full—is peeling potatoes. To all appearances—you think—her work is the same as before. And yet, what a difference there is! It is true: before she only peeled potatoes, now, she is sanctifying herself peeling potatoes.
The rich young man couldn’t see his goal of eternal life gained because he couldn’t change how he defined himself. And so he walked away, saddened, gloomy, dejected.
The younger sister, doing such a menial task as pealing potatoes, was able to do so, she didn’t see herself as peeling potatoes, she saw her work as being with God, nseeing the work He was doing in her, making her holy.
So is the difference between the young man and the young lady simply economics, that those who are poor find it easier to respond? Or is there something else at work here?
Could it be the same question that assaults so many people today, the question that betrays our hollow lives?
“does who I am matter?”
The young man had locked his identiry in, he was inable to define himself in relation to Jesus, even though where he was in that moment could have continued eternally. Many of us do that, whether we are rich or not. We lock our identity into our jobs, our relationships, our status in society. And then, evaluating that idenity, we find it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make any lasting change.
We see this more and more, as people jump
People want an identity that matters, they want to make a difference. They want to have a significant role in life.
And a girl found such peeling potatoes. Not because of the work, not because of the significance of any role she had, but because she found had meant something to God.
That makes all the difference.
You and I matter to God, He values us, and desires that we spend time with Him, time now, and time for eternity.
He loves us enough to make sure this is possible.
So sit back for a moment, and think about the fact that you actually matter to God.
And then, go about your day, letting this define you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2163-2167). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
You have six days in which to do your work, but remember that the seventh day, the Sabbath, is a day of rest. On that day do not work, but gather for worship. The Sabbath belongs to the LORD, no matter where you live. Leviticus 23:3 GNT
“Ever since he was a child,” he replied. 22 “Many times the evil spirit has tried to kill him by throwing him in the fire and into
23 “Yes,” said Jesus, “if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith.”
24 The father at once cried out, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”
25 Jesus noticed that the crowd was closing in on them, so he gave a command to the evil spirit. “Deaf and dumb spirit,” he said, “I order you to come out of the boy and never go into him again!”
26 The spirit screamed, threw the boy into a bad fit, and came out. The boy looked like a corpse, and everyone said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him rise, and he stood up. Mark 9:21-27 GNT
445 If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves… and after that, by cheating.
So, as the holidays come to a close, as Advent’s focus and the joy of celebrating Jesus coming into the world begines to wane, a number of people have asked me what my plans were.
Actually, they phrase it like this, “go get some rest pastor!”
Then they ask, where I will go, to get the rest! What plans do I have, what will my family and I do.
As if rest is a synonym for travel and vacation. As if spending all day getting tired doing “fun” things provides what our souls need. Please note, I am not saying we shouldn’t take vacations, but rest is something very different.
Rest is what the boy and his dad gained, as Jesus freed them from the grip of demons. It is the time when we step aside from life, ot remember God is with us, to celebrate His presence, to remember His mercy, to let Him free us from the demons that afflict us, and the trauma that so assaults our hearts and souls.
That is what rest is, a time for our lives to relax, and leave everything in the hands of God Almighty, (and not giving him instructions and timelines!).
It enables us to truly pray, which enables us to truly live, and to know that God is here, with us, right now. That allows us to set aside the masks that hide our brokenness, the hypocrisy that everything is perfect in our lives, and the idea that we are saints, by our own power.
Taking this rest in Christ allows us to be human, forgiven, healing from the brokenness and even the demonic activity around us, as we depend on God, who has promised to care for us.
That’s the rest we need, and that is why I believe the place of greatest rest is at the altar rail, as we feast on the Body and Blood of Jesus, as He strips us of our sin, and heals us..It is there I am most aware of His peace, of the presence of God where He pours out all His love on us.
So I had my rest, and maybe we’ll sneak in some vacation time as well…. after I get past my traditional new years cold.
May you allow God to grant you the rest that your souls need!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1975-1977). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
34† When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw this large crowd, and his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34 GNT
404 The good shepherd does not need to fill the sheep with fear. Such
Over the years I have worked with a few churches looking for a new pastor, and I still do. I’ve also worked with pastors and those studying for the ministry, enough that these two passages resonate with me. They help explain this wonderful world of pastor and people.
They also describe the needed component, that changes a preacher/lecturer in “their pastor”. It is seen as Jesus gets out of the boat, as He looks at the crowd, and His heart aches for them. I believe it aches because these people are so hungry for help, they are so in need, so desperate for hope, so directionless.
They need a shepherd, and they find one in Jesus, and they find the promise seen in the twelve, that God will provide that Spiritiual guide, even as God is developing them, in their midst.
But the reason they need shepherds is because they don’t have them! Those entrusted with the task were experts in the law, in making sure Israel didn’t do the things that they thought would lead to God’s wrath. They wanted to protect their people by instilling in them a sense of judgment, a sense of fear.
The shepherd doesn’t instell a sense of fear in his people, rather, he fears for them, for what will happen if they don’t experience the love of God, if they don’t have the knowledge of God’s love and mercy, if they don’t understand the relationship God wants with them is based on His love for them, not their fear of Him.
Jesus sits the people down, He teaches them, He feeds them, He makes God’s love for them real and tangible. He meets the needs of their souls.
For pastors, this is your calling, it is why you were given the responsibility of word and sacrament ministry. It is why you are entrusted with the means of grace. It is why you are given a heart that resounds with Christ’s love for His people, as you are given a portion to care for.
For people, let your pastors in, allow them to minister to your soul. Allow them to see your hunger, your needs, your brokenness, and trust them to bring healing there, Christ’s healing. Make their job worth the sacrifices and suffering your brokenness demands of them.
You are in this together, the compassionate shepherds, and the people that need them. For you dwell together, in the mercy of Jesus. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1821-1823). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the day!
15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (ASV)
365 You became very thoughtful when you heard me say: I want the blood of my Mother the Church to run in my veins; not Alexander’s, or Charlemagne’s, nor that of the Seven Sages of Greece.
When human time is no longer tuned to God’s time, it becomes repetitive, boring, unbearable, infinitely long or too short and, what is worse, deadly “times.”
Economic deadlines, for instance, do not consider hunger or the lack of schools for children or the unhappy situation of the elderly. Technology produces a kind of time so instantaneous and full of images that it does not let the hearts and minds of young people mature. Political time often seems circular like a carousel where the free-ring ride is always taken by the same people.
As I read the words of Pope Francis this morning (the words in green) the phrase “redeeming the time” came to my mind.
Too often we lose time, worrying about things like our personal economic situations, or by those in the world. By political maneuverings, by wasting time on technological pursuits.
Our time isn’t tuned to God’s time, and I don’t think that Pope Francis is exaggerating when he talks of such time becoming deadly. Such time lost is dead, whether it is stolen by anxiety, or wasted in pursuit of some escape.
It’s gone, we can’t get it back, and even if we did, would we make the most of it this time?
Most modern translations don’t talk about “redeeming the time”, they talk about making the most of it. But looking at the word in greek, it is definitely redeeming, of buying it back, to pay the ransom to see it returned.
That may seem impossible, we can’t go back in time, we can’t purchase the time machine. It seems more logical, what the modern translations advising us to make the most of the time we have in front of us.
Except that isn’t what it says. It talks of redeeming the time, not just the present, or preparing to do so for the future, but redeeming the past. And in context with the light of Christ, His glory shining upon us, revealing all.
And in that glorious light of Christ’s love, we can find our pasts redeemed, the sin and unrighteousness that cause our brokenness touched and healed. We begin to see that even there, in the past, God is able to use that past for good, because that is what He does. Redeeming the time isn’t about our making the nest of the future, it is about letting Christ has our past, our present our future.
FOr He is the God of Abraham, and Issac and Jacob, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the end. And as we allow Him to redeem the time in our lives, free of what haunts us, we find an amazing thing.
He is with us, now
I added in the comment by St Josemaria, this idea of the blood of the church running through our veins, rather than the blood of leaders, or the wise. But rather the blood of the church, Christ’s blood, poured out to redeem everything, to create everything anew. That is where we begin to realize this, in those moments of sweet communion, when God simply reminds us that Jesus died…for us.
So redeemed the time… let God have it, and watch what he does with it.
Even last Monday.
God’s peace flow over you my friend…know He is with
question for you to consider (and even answer)
What is the challenge of letting God bring healing to your past?
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1677-1679). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought off the day:
28 “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” he demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” 29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven.
Acts 5:28-31 (NLT2)
383 In governing, after considering the common good, one must
I have often heard those in ministry talk about the pressure to please others. It is one of the things that contribute to clergy and lay ministry burnout.
Sometimes, we get so tired of being there for others, of trying to meet their expectations, that we decide to only please and look after our own needs. with a similar attitude, I have heard pastors and others justify their own attitudes that precede and accompany such burnout. I am going to please no-one – just be faithful to the scriptures, using a passage like the one above from Acts. In reality, the attitude is not one of a shepherd, but one of a scribe, using the law to condemn, rather than an agent of reconciliation
Let me be blunt, most of the times I have heard, or even said such a thing, the idea of pleasing God was not on the mind of the one spewing it forth. They might have been in burnout, they may have been overwhelmed, or tired of feeling attacked. But we weren’t trying to please God…
We were trying to find some respite, perhaps a little peace, and in a perverse way, the pleasure of telling someone off. We want karma (…err… God’s wrath) to bite them in the … well you get the picture
If we were trying to please God, we would hear the rest of the passage and realize what pleases God.
People being transformed, people having their minds renewed, for this is what repentance is. His goal and greatest desire is to see people forgiven and to be drawn into a relationship with Him. A relationship based in love, not fear. That is God’s end-game, it is His desire, it is what pleases Him.
One more thought, if we are patient and strong enough in our faith to strive for their reconciliation, if we depend on God for the words, the wisdom, the heart to see their redemption through, then we will have provided them with what will please them more than anything else we could ever do.
So work to please everyone, working not for the false pleasure of the world, but the real pleasure that is the result of God and His people, rejoicing together! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1747-1750). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
37 The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men, not counting women and children. 38 A large number of other people and many sheep, goats, and cattle also went with them. Ex. 12:37-38 TEV
If a foreigner has settled among you and wants to celebrate Passover to honor the LORD, you must first circumcise all the males of his household. He is then to be treated like a native-born Israelite and may join in the festival. Ex 12:48 TEV
342 The salt of the earth. Our Lord said that his disciples—you and I also—are the salt of the earth: to render immune to infection, to prevent corruption, to season the world. But he also added: Quod si sal evanuerit…—if the salt itself becomes tasteless, it will be cast out and trampled underfoot by men. On seeing the many things happening which we lament, are you now beginning to find an explanation for what you could not explain before?
As I was reading the account of the Exodus again, I saw them, almost hiding in the background. And I realized they have long been forgotten in the histories, they have long been forgotten in the stories of the Jewish people.
“A large number of other people,” these people that were not Israel, yet left Egypt with them. Not related to Abraham, Issac or Jacob, this large crowd went with them anyway. We don’t for sure know all the reasons for this, could it be they were impressed by the miracles of Moses, could it be that they were in fear of Pharoah, could it be they actually believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob?
And yet ten verses later, they are mentioned again, and the transformation that takes place when these foreigners become people of the covenant. They become as one with the people of God as if they genetics did tie back to the Jewish Patriarchs.
I would think, that without thinking about it, that Moses and his kinsmen were salt in the midst of Egypt. That they had such an impact on their neighbors, because of the simple faith in God, the “I AM”. Their lives brought hope and healing to the people that couldn’t stay behind! That helped them deal with the brokennes of Egypt!
So I would ask you, who would go with you if you were to move? Who would want to stay close? Who lives would you have wanted to touch in such a way that they would want to follow you?
It is something to think about, for you are salt and light, and your work in this world is to point to the amazing love of God and demonstrate that love to those around you…
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1589-1594). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
What do you think a man does who has one hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep. 13 When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. 14 In just the same way yourq Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost. Matthew 18:12-14
312 You should not want to make the world into a cloister, because this would be a disorder. But don’t convert the Church into some earthly faction either, because that would be tantamount to treason.
One of the great challenges facing the church today is sin, not its existence, but how we are to deal with it, and the damage it causes.
St Josemaria points out the two different dangers in our response to sin.
The first is when the church tries to isolate itself from the world, for instance, when we create all our own options so our people don’t have to mix with the world. Our own schools, our own fraternal clubs, our own coffee shops, and even stores and social media. When we try to create a community that isolates our people from the world, creating a victual cloister. You see this as well in the attitude that the church is here to minister to its own, and those like them.
The second seems like the opposite, when the church, trying to “reach” people and bring them into the church, allow sin to convert them. We then bring into question what God really meant by sin, and was it only in that context, or since God will forgive all sin, why do we bother with telling people to stop, and just focus on healing the symptoms, trying to teach them to live a symptom free life, without getting at the cause itself, sin.
These two approaches aren’t really that different. They both shy away from dealing with sin. They try to avoid the appearance of sin, not by avoiding it or finding ways to absolve it, but rather just bury it, or hide from it, or try to justify it, because if it isn’t sin, we don’t have to confront it.
And in both cases, we betray the sinner, by denying them the grace they need, by blocking them from the healing and the restoration they need.
Dealing with sin and the brokenness it causes is brutal. Whether it is our own sin, the sin we have committed; or the sin people commit against us, or the sin we witness and are entrusted to help bring reconciliation to God to those who commit the sin.
And we have too often, afraid of being contaminated, or being labeled as accessories, as Jesus was mocked and berated for hanging out with sinners, the tax collectors and prostitutes of his day.
It is time for the church to start going out after the sinners, to bring them to the place where they can find healing, and hope, and be restored. It won’t be easy, we will have ot deal with both anger, and even being sickened by the sin and the damage it has caused.
The church must commit to helping people heal from this brokenness. We can’t leave people out in the darkness anymore. We have to do this cautiously as Jude warns, and aware of our own inability to deal with sin, depending on the mercy of Jesus. That is the key to dealing with sin, to be so aware of Jesus presence, of His intimate role in our lives, in the place He dwells in our heart, soul, and mind.
This is our vocation, the true role of the church in this world, to go after the one, the broken. Let us pray,
Heavenly Father, strengthen our relationship with You, through Jesus, as the Holy Spirit draws us close to you. Give us the courage to honestly address sin, our own, and the sin of the world, turning to You to be healed, to be absolved, to be made complete. We ask this in Jesus name, depending on Your love, revealed to us at the cross. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1484-1486). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.