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There is only one way to deal with Mondays: with our eyes opened!

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Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the day:

When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?”
16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” 
17 Then Elisha prayed, “LORD, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the LORD opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  1 King 6:15-17  HCSB

 

26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:26-29 (NLT)

404    You say you’ve failed! We never fail. You placed your confidence wholly in God. And you did not neglect any human means. Convince yourself of this truth: your success—this time— was to fail. Give thanks to our Lord, and try again!

There was a great desire to sleep in this morning, to pretend Monday didn’t exist. While Mondays are a study day, I have to admit Holy Week exhausted me.

And while I didn’t feel like a failure yesterday, today I am not so sure!  (This is called the Elijah syndrome – after major spiritual victories we want to hide!)  But I’ve often dealt with failure, especially on Mondays. Not just the feeling I’ve failed, but the knowledge I have failed, or I am actively experiencing failure.

In those moments, I feel like Elisha’s servant, all I see around me is pressing in on me, and there is no escape.  “Oh no, it’s Monday, what are we to do!!!”  And the sake of being alone, and without hope rises like the tide and we fear it will drown us.

At least that’s how my Mondays and several other days a month often feel.

It’s as if I’ve forgotten the promise in Romans 8:28, that all things work for good, including Mondays.  That I can’t picture God doing something in the present circumstances, so I can’t understand my success is found right in the midst of the failure.  Just as the time between the cross and the resurrection was not a failure in the true sense of the word, neither is this time or failure, or anxiety about it, a true failure.

We need to have our eyes opened to this, just as Elisha’s servant did.  We need our trust in God rekindled until we can go through the dark times, and trust that the good times are coming.

For God is with us, Jesus is risen indeed, and that means we are given life and a life where the plan all works together….

His plan, not mine.

This is why I adore Him (when I can remember this!) This is why I praise Him, for He is our God, and we are the people whom He loves.

Just need to remember that on Mondays…. and every other day that has a d in it.

Let me pray for you ( and please pray for me)
As our Lord opens your eyes to His presence today, may you rest, as you dwell in His peace!

Question of the day….. how does knowing you are loved help you through the hardest of days?

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1013-1015). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Why Mondays Feel So….Empty….

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Devotional Thought of the Day:
68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!”  John 6:68-69  HCSB

4  I have asked the LORD for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the LORD’S house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance. 5  In times of trouble he will shelter me; he will keep me safe in his Temple and make me secure on a high rock. 6  So I will triumph over my enemies around me. With shouts of joy I will offer sacrifices in his Temple; I will sing, I will praise the LORD. 7  Hear me, LORD, when I call to you! Be merciful and answer me! 8  When you said, “Come worship me,” I answered, “I will come, LORD.” Psalm 27:4-8 (TEV)

The pure in heart shall see God.  The seeing of Him will be the sign that we are like Him, for only by being like Him can we see Him as He is.  But when shall we be fit to look at Him in the face, God only knows.  That is the heart of my hopes by day and by night.  To behold the face of Jesus seems to me to be the one this to be desired.

Whenever we speak to God, whenever we open ourselves to God, we ourselves are renewed. Conversely, whenever the world closes itself to God, whenever it turns away from him, it is like a planet broken loose from its field of gravity and forever wandering aimlessly through nothingness. When a person loses God, he can no longer be genuinely himself because he has lost the fundamental norm of his existence. When we cut ourselves loose from our proper norm, there remains only excess or reversion. Some theologians suggest, as a precaution, that theology be so worded that it will still be functional “etsi deus non daretur”: even if there really is no God. But if God does not exist, we will have lost more than just an ornamental bauble on the periphery of our existence. If God does not exist, nothing will be as it is now; everything will proceed from emptiness and will revert to emptiness.

Part of my daily time I spend in prayer, talking to God, trying to listen, meditating on his word includes the two Bible readings above. There is a pattern, an order for morning prayer I use that includes them both.

And every Monday these words hit me in the face, and I feel like a hypocrite. I know God’s words are the words of life, I know how wonderful it is to be in His presence, I know how special it is to be in God’s presence.

Yet Mondays seem so empty of all of that, so distant.  Even in this holy week, it’s MONDAY!

So there is a part of me that feels convicted, even judged and condemned as a hypocrite when I say these words.  It’s not that I don’t want to feel this way, I want to, but it seems like I can’t. I feel like the theologians who imagine theology to be able to functionally exist if God doesn’t exist.

Monday’s seem empty, which is ironic because the day before was so full of His presence I would think my joy would never fade or fail.

So as I start my time dedicated to being in His presence, it starts out as a struggle, (it doesn’t help that the first reading was also in my readings today,)  Or the McDonald reading, or that from Pope Benedict.  Each reminded me that this is how I should be.  Each reminds me that my reality is not what I want it to be.

Each reminds me of how hungry I am for life to change.

I guess over the years, I’ve realized that these feelings could so easily betray me, these feelings that I am the worst hypocrite, these feelings that I am just going through the motions.  The dissatisfaction with my own faith and practice could cause even more of a spiral into guilt-ridden apathy until my cold heart no longer cares.  It’s easy enough to stagger down that road.  Will I ever be fit to see Him face to face?  That is my question on Mondays, when my heart lies, and tells me, no.

I need to read these words of scripture and ask God for help to make them mine.  I need to find that desire, and the only way to do it is to depend on Him to renew me, something that happens when I enter His presence as I am broken, tired, empty. For then I do see God as McDonald desires.  I do become who I am, as Pope Benedict points out.  Because God is the one who renews, who revives. It is His love that draws me into His presence, that makes me aware of it

It seems counter-intuitive to need God to provide the desire, the strength to desire to be in His presence. But it is the reality I’ve come to learn to live with.  I have to dive into my pattern, for there, Mondays lose their emptiness, the meaningless.. or perhaps, they have no meaning, because meaning is all wrapped up in being in God’s presence, and the day doesn’t matter.

He is the Lord of Life.  I need to know that on Mondays… and He makes sure I do…

So let’s pray together, that on Monday’s we would encounter our Lord, and know we can confidently cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!’

He will, that is what He does.

 

Daily office Meditation for 3/26 (quoted from George McDonald) Celtic Daily Prayer: Book 2 

Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

An Invitation to Restful Peace… on Monday will you come?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. 30 The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30 CEV

853      Use this prescription for your life: “I don’t remember that I exist. I don’t think of my own affairs, because there is no time left.” Work and service!

Don’t stop reading this post after the next paragraph. Keep going, it will be worth it.

The word submission has taken on a very negative tone in the last few decades.  Especially the idea of submitting to God, to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of your life.  I could give twenty or thirty examples of why, including the fact that some people abuse the idea of submitting to God, in order to get people to submit to them.    Men have done this to get women to submit, parents have done this to get children to submit, some in government, and even in church leadership want their people to submit.

But they don’t understand what submission is, they don’t get the paradox.  And they don’t understand that submission isn’t about wielding authority and controlling others, it is about freeing them from things that shouldn’t bind them, that shouldn’t oppress them, that shouldn’t such life and joy from them.

Instead, this paradox of submission is about freeing them to live life, to know God’s love, to experience peace.

You see this in Jesus words above in red, quoted from Matthew’s gospel.  Submitting to God means giving Him all the things that wear you down, that stress you out, that cause anxiety.  The things that burden us, that tire us out.  The stuff that leaves us exhausted, because they are out of our control.  Jesus would have us submit our lives, where we get so fixated on our life that we don’t ever really live it.

Worry’s about family, friends finances, health or eve facing death.

Guilt and shame from past sins we struggle with daily.

Resentment and anger from those sins that have been committed against us,

All this stuff Jesus asks us to give to Him, to submit to His care.  He would free us from these concerns of life.  Which is why St Josemaria talks the way he does, saying I don’t remember that I exist, I am not concerned with my own affairs, I am free to just live, to do and to serve others.

Biblical submission is not about recognizing someone’s authority over you, it is not about becoming their robot.  It is about realizing God’s care for you, HIs love, and allowing Him to do what He has promised.  It is about trusting Him, depending upon Him, knowing that He cares.

And living in the freedom of not worrying about, not hyper-focusing upon those things we cannot change.

But instead to live in peace… unexplainable, glorious, restful peace.

Even on Monday!



Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3021-3023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Surviving Cloudy, Dark, Hopeless Mondays

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Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day

24  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 25  Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.     1 Peter 2:24-25 (NLT)

241      If the outlook in your interior life, in your soul, is darkened, allow yourself to be led along by the hand, as a blind man would do. In time the Lord will reward this humble surrendering of your own judgment by giving you clarity of mind. (1)

I took a class a year ago on the text of St John of the Cross’s spiritual classic called Dark Night of the Soul. It was a hard read, not because of the language, but because it opened parts of my life where I need to let the Holy Spirit bring comfort and peace, cleansing them and helping us find God.  Yes, even there we can find Him.

As the Apostle Peter says, He is the Guardian of our souls.

In these days where everything seems broken, we need to understand that role that Jesus has in our lives.  It doesn’t matter whether the brokenness that clouds our Mondays is global, national, in our community or our church, or simply in the depth of our heart and soul, He is there.

Despite our sin, despite the injustice that oppresses us.  He is there.

It doesn’t matter if it is 2:30 AM, and we can’t sleep, or Monday morning when caffeine doesn’t seem to help us overcome our…. Mondayness.

He is there, guarding us, protecting us, providing for us, caring for us and bringing us the healing our souls so desperately cry out for, whether we allow them to do so audibly, or bury it and let it cry through our bodies.

He is there. He is caring for you, for me.

St Josemaria explains this using the idea of our being blinded – and there are times where surely I am spiritually.  The spiritual equivalent to the wasteland of a Monday, where nothing makes sense, nothing motivates, nothing is hoped for or planned for in our lives.  Where we might be in that wasteland, and so deprived of hope that we don’t care it is Monday. The key then is to allow Him to shepherd us, to guide our steps.

This is faith, the trust, the dependence on God.  It requires knowing those promises He has made us, that nothing can separate us from Him, that He will complete the work He began in us, that He will never leave us, never forsake us.

Here He is, guarding our hearts, our minds, our souls.  He is guiding us, and as we feel the warmth of His glorious mercy and love, we find peace….and hope.

Even on a dark, cloudy, Monday….

Lord, have mercy upon us, and reveal Your care and work as our guardian!

(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1021-1023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Don’t Waste a Monday: It can be glorious!

Sunrise at Concordia

Devotional Thought fo the Day”
1  So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2  For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3  So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?
Hebrews 2:1-3 (NLT)

7      A day of salvation, of eternity, has come for us. Once again the call of the Divine Shepherd can be heard, those affectionate words: Vocavi te nomine tuo—I have called you by your name. Just like our mother, he calls us by our name, even by the name we were affectionately called at home. There, in the depths of our soul, he calls us and we just have to answer: Ecce ego quia vocasti me—here I am, for you have called me, and this time I’m determined not to let time flow by like water over rounded stones, leaving no trace behind. (1)

It is Monday morning, and the temptation is to simply outlast the day.  To go through work and life on some kind of automatic pilot, to ignore the boredom, or monotony, to survive the stress and anxiety it causes.TO just moan about the impact of the time change and on top of it, the normal Monday grind.  We can, to use the phrase from St Josemaria – just let Monday pass us by, without leaving any trace…

There is an option.

We can hear His voice.   We can hear Him call our name, and transform our Monday into something greater, a journey with our friend, the Lord who loves us and cares for us. Hearing His voice, letting it resonate within us, makes Mondays (and everyday ) a time of awe, a time where His work leaves us breathless, as He transforms everything around us.  On Mondays we have the opportunity to radiate His glory, to share in His mission, to realize as Jesus was sent by the Father, so He has sent us.

For while He has saved us for eternity, He has also sent us back into this world to help save it, as we journey through life with Him.

Why would it make sense to waste this?  Do we value our life in CHirst so little that we would rather walk into the darkness without being by His side?

Or would we rather see this as another day for salvation, another chance to see the masterpieces God creates as He calls to others through us?

May we not neglect this day, and the Lord who calls to us in it!

AMEN!

(1)Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 257-262). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It’s Monday, Are You Ready for a Good Cleansing?

Devotional thought of a Monday

 And this is what he (John the baptist/cleanser) proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 8  I have cleansed you with water; he will cleanse you with the holy Spirit.”  Mark 1:7-8 – my paraphrase

Faith, hope, and charity will come into play in your professional work done for God. The incidents, the problems, the friendships which your work brings with it will give you food for prayer. The effort to improve your own daily occupation will give you the chance to experience the cross which is essential for a Christian. When you feel your weakness, the failures which arise even in human undertakings, you will gain in objectivity, in humility, and in understanding for others. Successes and joys will prompt you to thanksgiving and to realize that you do not live for yourself, but for the service of others and of God.  (1)

It’s Monday, and many of us on Monday’s are suffering from the toxicity of life.

Maybe it is because we overdid it on the weekends. Some have a tendency to enjoy some things a little too much, and what is good in moderation affects us when we move past the line of moderation into levels of excess.  It can become toxic.

Others aren’t enjoying their weekends, the dynamics of what might be called their “home life” is the source of the toxicity.  Broken families, broken relationships, broken lives.  Or maybe those we love, are suffering from this, and we spend our free time anxious on their behalf.  Our inability to do anything we consider tangible leads to a toxicity that is paralyzing.

Or maybe the toxicity is what we spend our weekends dreading, the return of Monday and the toxicity of our workplaces.  Maybe our work situation forces us to be too competitive, to unethical, or to take on burdens and scars we are tired of facing.

I have a bunch of people who are into various cleansing diets.  They purge the bad stuff from their system with shakes or drinks that basically cleanse their digestive tracts, and maybe their bloodstream as well.

I think we see our baptism as such – a spiritual cleansing – a purging of all the sin and unrighteousness that oppresses us.  Confession and Communion, as sacraments, have a similar effect.

Oddly enough, my devotional reading this morning lead me to believe a similar blessing is found in that dreadful thing known as Monday.  For in the suffering, in the toxicity, we find the cross, we find a reason for prayer, we find the need to depend on the Holy Spirit’s presence.  For the Holy Spirit, often through the oddest people, brings comfort and cleansing to the toxicity.  The Spirit enables us to know peace, unexplainable peace, that comes from being assured of the presence of God, and His cleansing, the power of His blood poured out for us in death, and his body, in which we are raised to life. Abundant life.

This is the work of the Spirit in our various vocations, the roles we take on, often just for physical survival, yet which the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, uses to bless us, and those around us.  For in exercising our faith our trust in God, we come to hope, to expect, that His love sustains us, even on Monday.

For if in the midst of all the toxicity that surrounds such a day, we can know peace, then we realize His presence is with us, not just in church on Sunday, but in the moments of every day.

So rejoice, it is Monday!  God is with you!  The Holy Spirit is drawing yo into the glory of God, intoHolinesss, into that moment of peace!

And remember – when you are given food for prayer because of the incidents and problems, when the suffering helps you be aware of the cross, and the need for Christ’s love, cry out Lord Have Mercy on Us!

Know He will!

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1477-1481). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Refuge for A Tiring Monday…..

Devotional Thought of the Day:
Featured image2  For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3  I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling….. 5  I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2,5 (NLT)

19  So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead—killed by the Law itself—in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, Galatians 2:19 (TEV)

We live in a world where mental ability is rewarded.  But the heart is not trained.  It just muddles along.  Soon we know more and more, and understand less and less.  (1)  (emphasis mine)

770      When you walk where Christ walked; when you are no longer just resigned to the Cross, but your whole soul takes on its form—takes on its very shape; when you love the Will of God; when you actually love the Cross… then, only then, is it He who carries it. (2)

It was a long, busy weekend, and I am very tired, and thanks to some allergies… wiped out more than usual.

Monday is the longest day of the week for me, most of the time, and I while I love what I do, this day will tire me more.  I know it, even as my aging body groans…..

No amount of knowledge will make it easier.  I won’t find the strength to endure in my knowledge of Greek, or in being able to discuss the communication of magisterial attributes of Christ.  Both things are blessings, but as my prayer book notes, there is a difference of knowing things, of acquiring data, and knowing something, or someone.

I loo around my office, and see the crosses, one painted by a friend, another some fancy hand stitching.  Crosses from Ecuador, from the Ukraine, from Rome and Estonia.   The latter one where Jesus’ body and ornately molded details have been word away from hundreds of years of people holding it close while they prayed.  People who probably could quote the great preachers in history, or the theologian whose works line seminary library walls.

But they knew where to find comfort and peace, in the midst of pain, or anxiety.  They went to the cross, and laid out their lives to the One who loved them. It’s why Paul modeled knowing Christ crucified alone, that they would place their trust in God, in Jesus with who they were crucified.

This goes so against the models of the world, which seeks knowledge for the mind, and allows the heart to struggle and barely survive. Even in the church, the focus is again moving towards a unbalanced focus on knowledge, of getting every aspect of theology, even the minutiae known.  We see a pursuit to explain the mysteries that are unexplainable, and are meant to be that way.  We don’t want to build the tower of Babel, rather a theological equivalent!

But what we need it not knowledge of the material of the cross, or the effective distance of the words of Institution.

we need our souls to live in Christ.  To know the height and depth, the width and breadth of His love, of His mercy, of His desire that we would all become His people.   That can’t be known with the mind alone.  It must be known in our soul, in our heart. That is where the Holy Spirit transforms us (see Ezekiel 36 and 37), as the Breath of God begins our life, and sustains it. (the mind is also transformed, but not just the data storage, but the ability to use that data)

St Josemaria words so resonate here… as do the Celts with Paul.  The cross, the place where suffering can make sense, the place of life….that is where we survive Monday.  It is where our heart, our soul, our mind find the love of God, and find Him carrying all that afflicts us, indeed, it is where He carries us.  For we dwell in Him, in His precious, sacred heart.

So it’s Monday.  You may not want to be where you are, you may be dragging, so much so that your pessimism can’t be overcome with three Trente coffees….. that’s okay…

Run tot he cross… cling to the Lord who died there… that you may live in Him forever.

AMEN

(1)  Celtic Prayer Book – Finian Readings for January 25th.
(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2768-2770). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It’s Monday, and I Don’t Want to Be a Holy or a Hypocrite, so ….

Devotional thought of the day:Featured image

4  “Israel, remember this! The LORDand the LORD alone—is our God. 5  Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (TEV)

1  So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)

485      At times, someone has told me: “Father, I feel tired and cold; when I pray or fulfil some other norm of piety, I seem to be acting out a farce…” To that friend, and to you, if you are in the same boat, I answer: A farce?—What an excellent thing, my child! Act out that farce! The Lord is your audience—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity is contemplating us in those moments when we are “acting out a farce”. Acting like that in front of God, out of love, in order to please him, when our whole life goes against the grain: how splendid, to be God’s juggler! How marvellous it is to play one’s part for Love, with sacrifice, without any personal satisfaction, just in order to please Our Lord! That indeed is to live for Love. (1)

It is Monday, the day after a long work day.  Church was phenomenal, but then a meeting at another church drained me, and knowing that this week is booked absolutely full, I started on my research for this week’s sermons.  One of my best friends I woke up early to pray with, as he faces surgery, and I am concerned for several others facing trials. I also have some pounding going on above me, and other issues of frustration.

It’s monday, and my devotional time is dragging. Let me be honest, I am to tired emotionally, I am to anxiety laden, I am overwhelmed and I don’t really feel like writing this blog, or spending time in prayer, or doing my devotional reading.  (which happened to be on confession and absolution…. gee thanks God!)   I don’t really feel like being holy today.  I don’t want to just go through the motions either, and pray, and read and worship. If I don’t feel like being holy, setting apart my time and my life to God, I really don’t want to just fake it.

Maybe I should skip it my devotional time.  After all, it’s only one day.  I’ll be in a better mood on Wednesday, or maybe Friday.  My blog hasn’t been read much anyways  (writing this is part of my discipline ), and I’ve got a ton of work to do.  Three extra services, picking up some of the work my friend would do, people recovering that I need to visit.  I could so easily justify skipping this once….

Then of course, as I drag through my devotions, I found the above quote from St Josemaria.  Tell you something – sometimes I really dislike how much a Catholic Saint who died nearly 40 years ago knows me.  I feel like a farce, a fraud a hypocrite, even as I highlight things in my reading, and the meditative thoughts the word of God kicks into motion.  I warm to some of it – but Leviticus?  Really?  And the part about worship was awesome, but the paragraph upon paragraph that drudged on through the book of concord…. sigh

Escriva notes that there is an option between doing this enthusiastically, and doing it as a hypocrite.  It is doing it, admitting the struggle, but knowing the love and mercy of God the Father that will become more and more apparent.  Being a living sacrifice is an act of love, even when I am not sure why I keep going.  To strive to keep interested, to strive to see how Christ is revealed, to wait and the blessing He has for us.

To adore Him enough to trust Him that this time together will be cleansing, refreshing, empowering, but most of all peace-filled, glorious rest in His presence.  To drink deeply of His love.

it is in the dead times, even perhaps more than the rebellious times, that I need to offer myself to God and keep moving with Him.  That I need to realize His presence, His promises, His comfort.  The kind of things that are apparent in His word, that the saints who’ve gone before us lived and died to pass down to.

It is such time when saints are made…. and sustained.

So cry out Lord, I trust you, help me to trust you!

And know His answer… come, follow me.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1858-1866). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Task of Ministering to Others ( For pastors, priests, deacons, elders, and all who serve in the church)

Devotional Thought of the Day:The church, is always in the midst of a storm... but safe in Him

1  I, who am an elder myself, appeal to the church elders among you. I am a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and I will share in the glory that will be revealed. I appeal to you 2  to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. 3  Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care, but be examples to the flock. 4  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness. 1 Peter 5:1-4 (TEV)

1  So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)

The Good Shepherd does not demand that shepherds lay down their lives for a real flock of sheep. But every spiritual shepherd must endure the loss of his bodily life for the salvation of the flock, since the spiritual good of the flock is more important that the bodily life of the shepherd, when danger threatens the salvation of the flock. This is why the Lord says: The good shepherd lays down his life, that is, his physical life, for his sheep; this he does because of his authority and love. Both, in fact, are required: that they should be ruled by him, and that he should love them. The first without the second is not enough.
Christ stands out for us as the example of this teaching: If Christ laid down his life for us, so we also ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
From an exposition on John by Saint Thomas Aquinas, pastor   (Cap. 10, lect 3)

I received the quote from Thomas Aquinas from a friend who I have never met, yet we feel towards each other like brothers.  He is an older priest in Sicily, just about to turn 80, who still serves a parish.  With the help of google translate, we communicate as we can.

Maybe he sent this to me because of my sermon yesterday, on the passage from Romans above.  Maybe it was his reading this morning at Mass, or in his private prayer and devotional time.  I don’t know.  But on Monday, it is a good, no a very good reading for all of us who serve parishes, whether we are volunteers or paid, ordained ministers or lay ministers.  As we call our group of pastors, deacons, elders at our parish  – the diakonos, simply meaning the servants.

We are called to live sacrificially, yet, eventually we find it is not so sacrificial.  We give of our time, our talents, and our treasure (or give up the opportunity to obtain these things for our own use) to those whom we serve, those who become our children in the faith.  My friend, Fr. Giuseppe, has spent his life as a celibate priest, and yet the pictures of his parish show him with his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren in the faith.  Those pictures show a love and care for my friend that is incredible.

But still we are called to sacrifice, our all, our lives, our hearts, Paul would even have sacrificed his own soul ( if he could have) , in order that these people know Christ. In order that this is not just book knowledge, but deep intimate knowledge of His love.  The kind of knowledge that in awe leads to worship, that leads to adoration.

It’s a challenge and blessing because in sacrificing these things, we have to also give up our pride, our vanity.  We have to remember that they and we are broken people, needing Christ’s healing.   We have to be slow to anger, quick to forgive.  Quick to apologize and make things right, long-suffering and patient to guide them toward the repentance they so need.   This is the laying down our lives that Aquinas talks about – perhaps not being physically nailed to the cross, but spiritually, and emotionally, and often figuratively, as we work until we are exhausted and more.

It is an impossible task, this being examples to our flocks. Impossible save one thing.  We have a God who answers our cry for mercy, who is our example, who doesn’t lord it over us, but serves us in love.  That is why the task is all gospel, not law, because we encounter and need Christ in every moment, in every sacrifice.

May we follow the examples of those who have served before, who followed the examples of Christ.

The Key to Faith, Peace and Joy….on a Tuesday which is actually a double Monday!

Devotional Thought of the Day:photo(35)

1   LORD, I have given up my pride and turned away from my arrogance. I am not concerned with great matters or with subjects too difficult for me. 2  Instead, I am content and at peace. As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me. 3  Israel, trust in the LORD now and forever! Psalm 131:1-3 (TEV)

268 If you are convinced of your “poor quality”—if you know yourself—you will react to events supernaturally. Joy and peace will take a firmer root in your soul, in the face of humiliations, being despised, calumnies… In these cases, after saying fiat—Lord, whatever you want—you should think: “Is that all he said? He obviously does not know me, otherwise he wouldn’t have left it at that.” Being convinced that you deserve worse treatment, you will feel grateful to that person, and rejoice at what might have made somebody else suffer.  (1)I

it is Tuesday morning, but not a normal Tuesday.  It is more like a triple espresso version of Monday.

I could go into why, but each of us has our challenges, our crosses, our burdens to bear, The secret is to bear them with great joy, because of the peace that we have, that surpasses all understanding, a peace that comes to all who trust in God.

But that trust isn’t easy, having faith in God is something itself that is miraculous, that is supernatural because it simply isn’t natural to us.

There is a point in life where the world so overwhelms and oppresses us, that we want to emotionally crawl into a corner and go into a fetal position. To find a place where we can find security, where we can find peace, where we can find healing for our souls.

As I read this passage from Psalms this morning, as I looked at St Josemaria’s words in Furrow, something came to mind.  When we are so spiritually exhausted, when we are so tired, so beyond our abilities, focusing on being humbled isn’t an issue.  We simply are, and when we call out to God in such despair, we somehow, miraculously hear His voice, we recognize His presence. We find that we are embraced by Him, that we have found the rest and healing our souls so long desire.

All of a sudden, the supernatural becomes the natural, the work of God becomes our norm, and we walk through life, frazzled and joyous, oppressed and yet peace-filled, harried but trusting in a God who has proved His love for us at a wretched torturous cross, and proved to us that we dwell in Him. It is hard to explain, but it comes down to the simple humility that is described in the first commandment,

5 “The LORD said, 6  ‘I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. 7  ” ‘Worship no god but me. Deuteronomy 5:5b-7 (TEV)

It is that simple, humility is recognizing that we aren’t gods, that we aren’t in charge, but that He is.  He is our God, the One who has promised us peace, mercy, joy, because of the love He has for us. Living simply in that, we find something beyond, something supernatural, something that should become more and more natural.  That is why reading and studying (they are different disciplines) God’s word is crucial to our lives, it is why the sacraments, Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) are blessings that should be received frequently.  These means of grace bring us back to that level of humility, that place where we are curled up in God’s arms… that place where we simply know His presence, and His love… and that, that is enough for incredible peace, mind-blowing joy, and a strengthening of our faith as we walk humbly with Him.

Amen.

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1320-1326). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

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