Devotional Thought of the Day:
But there will be a Sabbath of complete resta for the land in the seventh year, a Sabbath to the LORD: you are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You are not to reap what grows by itself from your crop, or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. It is to be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 Whatever the land produces during the Sabbath year can be food for you—for yourself, your male or female slave, and the hired worker or alien who resides with you. 7 All of its growth may serve as food for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Leviticus 25:4-7 CSB
Then our Lord rose from the dead and we have what we call the period of the preparation.… They had stopped their activity at the specific command of the Lord. He said, “Tarry! You are about to receive that which has been promised.…” Sometimes you are going farther when you are not going anywhere; you are moving faster when you are not moving at all. HTB024–025 O, my heart, be still before Him!
And here the Church has introduced the custom that the faithful should give one another the kiss of peace, to remind them that their hearts should be united in charity. Before giving the kiss of peace, the priest kisses the altar, to show that he cannot give the peace unless he has first received it from Jesus Christ, who is represented by the altar.
In these days of COVID, we no longer shake hands or hug each other during the passing of the peace. ( I am not one for giving others a kiss – but other acts suffice!) It was a very meaningful time in my church. One which I struggle with in every service…
Given all that, I was struck by the instructions given to my brothers who are Catholic priests, to first kiss the altar. The reason makes sense; we can only pass on the peace we are given, we cannot create that peace within our own lives, never mind between us and those we’ve squabbled with during the week.
So the priest pauses, and kisses the altar… on behalf of all of us. I like the imagery, and the slight pause, the realization that God is here… and from Him come all the blessings that create a life of peace!
It resonates with Tozer’s words, about a period of preparation, a moment to remember the role of God. Even as we look upon the Body and Blood of Jesus, we realize the peace that comes, as we realize our need for it, we are doing what Tozer says, progressing in our faith; while letting our heart before Him find stillness and find peace.
When we take a moment, or a day, or a year to realize that when we rest before God (the idea of a sabbatical – not to write a book or do a different job) we find ourselves resting in Christ, and we find ourselves at peace.
The side effect of that peace is being able to share it with others, It is not the primary result, but it is there. The same is true for being able to minister to people. All of these activities, all of these things we are gifted and called to do are side effects of our time with Jesus. We need to realize that, and we need to spend that time, paused, adoring the Lord.
Even it is just taking a moment, and kissing the altar.
Heavenly Father, help us to always realize Your presence, to acknowledge it, to embrace You. Help us to take the time to know we dwell in Your presence, in Your peace. And then, secure in Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, show us how to live. AMEN!
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 54.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Genesis 6:9 (NLT2)
All of us, in this era when public life is being more and more Americanized, are in the grip of a peculiar restlessness, which suspects any quietness of being a waste of time, any stillness of being a sign of missing out on something. Every ounce of
You can suffer from a desperate hunger to be loved. You can search
long years in lonely places, far outside yourself. Yet the whole time, this
love is but a few inches away from you.
It is at the edge of your soul, but you have been blind to its presence.
We must remain attentive in order to be able to receive.
Our primary goal, then, is not just to hear the voice of God but to be mature people in a loving relationship with God. This will result in our living a certain kind of life—one
As a child, my favorite times were when I was alone. Alone to read, along to wander the woods behind our home, alone especially in a church, an hour or two before mass.
Something happened as I was growing up, somehow, I turned into an extrovert, which is kind of awkward, because socially, I am pretty awkward. I can’t find contentment, or satisfaction, or peace easily when I am alone anymore. Which is pretty good considering my vocation as a pastor, but not okay really, because spiritually, there is a huge need to be alone.
Well, not really alone, for in Christ, we never area.
The quote from O’Donohue above (from the Northumbrian community daily devotions at https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/) struck me first this morning. How often
For as Pope Benedict notes, there is a mystery that occurs as we are still, we grow and become, we find our reality, we relate to God.
Willard reinforces this as well, as he notes we aren’t just made to listen toGod, to hear His voice, to praise Him in unison with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. We are
Which means we have to find the quiet times, not to be disciplined, but to
So set the time aside, learn to love the moments of peace that finally set in…learn to leave all the distractions behind.
Meditate on the fact that He
Lord, may all those who read this,
 Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 386–387). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
 Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.
A devotional thought for your day:
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NLT)
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NLT)
659 If you had presence of God you would remedy many things that have apparently “no remedy”.
You need to hear these words.
They are critical for you to hear, not just with your ears, but with your heart, your mind, and into the depth of your soul. They make the difference in your life….
“The Lord is with You”
If you’ve ever attended a Lutheran liturgical serve, or a Catholic Mass, or even some Anglican or Orthodox services you will hear these words repeated several times throughout the service.
Do you ever wonder why? Are we just saying this as a form of greeting, or in order to mark a transition in the service?
Or is this what church is supposed to be doing, helping you realize you dwell completely in the presence of God! That the Holy Spirit has brought you to that place, in that moment to realize you aren’t alone, That God wants you there, and will do anything to make it possible for you to be there in His presence.
It might be that it is a time to be still and know God is your God.Maybe it is time to celebrate the freedom of Jubilee, when God erases every debt you incurred by your sin and unrighteousness, maybe it is time to offer a cup of water to someone who is physically or spiritually thirsty and dehydrated. Maybe it is to receive that cup of water.
As St Josemaria notes, it is this presence of God that remedies that without remedy, that heals relationships to shattered to be healed. It is the fulfillment of the greatest of prophecies, the very name attached to Jesus, Immanuel – God with us. It is the promise of the last words He tells the apostles as he ascends to heaven.
It makes the difference in our lives, and incomparable difference, for the peace that comes realizing and depending upon it is beyond anything we can express.
A peace that is there and starts to impact you, as you realize their truth.
The Lord is with You!
(and yes – and also with m)
Lord, have mercy upon us, reveal to us the presence of your Spirit, cleanse us of sin, and help us dwell in your peace! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2767-2768). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day :
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. Psalm 27:4 (TEV)
11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
857 Someone we know well told us sincerely, in confidence, that he had never been bored, for he had never been on his own, without our Friend. It was late in the evening, and there was a great silence… You felt very intently the presence of God… And, in the knowledge of that reality, what peace! (1)
Each morning that I find myself in my office, I start the day with the morning liturgy from “Celtic Daily Prayer”. Each morning I do so, after remembering my baptism while making the sign of the cross, the very next thing is Psalm 27:4. I read the words and often ask myself a question.
Do I really want only that – to live in His house all my life, for all eternity?
Let me confess, I struggle with that, as I imagine you do.
And if I struggle with living with Him here, in this time and place; I also struggle with seeing that which Solomon mentioned, that God has planted eternity in my heart. For often my heart and mind are not centered there. Some things I desire may be good and beneficial, like seeing people given the gift of faith, and the promises that come from Baptism and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I desire the church to grow, to find reconciliation where it is so needed. But anxiety over making that happen.
Is my first desire God’s presence, to be where He abides?
There are times it is, and I can think back over the years and long for those times again. The quiet sanctuaries of my youth, the incredible retreats I’ve been on, the baptisms, the putting into people’s hands the body and blood of Christ. The holding someone’s hand while they passed away, just silently praying. Praying again with my son, when he fit in the niche of my arm, praying that God would bless him, and through him many people. They are my treasured times, they are the best moments of my life.
Yes I do desire this, and I cannot but help look forward to eternity, because of promises like this:
9 However, as the scripture says, “What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (TEV)
The times are precious, when I can sit and meditate on this, when I contemplate my baptism, or the Eucharist, or receiving the incredible news that my sins are absolved.
It is then I realize the peace the Josemaria’s friend new, the silence, the presence of God. That which we do desire the most, if we take a moment to realize it.
Be still, my friends, and know there is a God, and you are His…..
It is worth every micro-second. For there eternity, the eternity planted in our hearts is revealed.
For eternity is yours already. He is with you…
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3511-3515). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the day:
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. Philippians 2:14-16 (TEV)
738 I will never share the opinion—though I respect it—of those who separate prayer from active life, as if they were incompatible. We children of God have to be contemplatives: people who, in the midst of the din of the throng, know how to find silence of soul in a lasting conversation with Our Lord, people who know how to look at him as they look at a Father, as they look at a Friend, whom they love madly. (1)
One of my favorite writers in David Morrell, who weaves tales of intrigue which happen to include a lot of soul searching. Often his heroes flirt with monasticism and the need for sanctuary and refuge.In one of my favorite stories, he starts in a monastery, located in one of my favorite places in the world – the mountainous forests of New England. The monks live separately from each other, in three room cells – a work room, a bedroom, and a small prayer room in between. Part of me craves that kind of life, only to come out of my cell for worship and communal prayer.
My work room would be musical and a library, my time spent writing, and dare I dream, composing music on guitar. Solitude, peace, quiet, . If you know me well, you are porbably thinking that I would never stand it, the extrovert I am would be driven nuts in a place like that. No electronics, no interaction with others? Are you really kidding Dustin?
No, I would fill the time with music and plunging the depths of writers that it takes that kind of solitude to comprehend. Pascal, Chesterton, Luther, Augustine, the Shepherd of Hermas, Douglas Adams. ( I could keep going…) To just play my guitar without thought of time, but focusing on playing to God.
I would love it – even as I realize it would take a week or two to get used to it. Our need for refuge, for sanctuary seems to be growing exponentially, even as we face information overload, even as our lives become complicated by gadget, even controlled by them. Even as communciation and agendas and pressures overwhelm and confuse us.
Unfortunately, that is not my reality. It is not my call. I live in the “real” world. And I thrive in helping people – especially helping them know God’s love.
So the question becomes… can I make the world my monastery? Can i live life in such a way that it is my monastic workroom? Where I invest myself, as I would in music, or in reading/comprehending, but with people? Can I see these things as sacred and holy as spending time on my knees. I am not like Luther, who saw little value in monstacism, I see a great benefit to the monastic lifestyle – but can we live our lives with such intent, with the peace that is found in such sanctuaries in the real world? Can we live, shining like stars, reflecting the glory and love of God in the midst of the darkness, the chaos, the stress?
That is one of the reason I would love to sit down with Josemaria, for 40 and 50 years ago, he seemed to be able to accomplish this. Surely he had his struggles, he freely admitted them in his writings. But somehow, from many different accounts, he was able to see the world as one complete work of God – that it was in the midst of the anxiety and stress where we shine brightest, where we can find the stillness of the soul, and the presence of God.
The world is my monastery? Yeah – it is, when I am in coversation with God while in the middle of it all.
It is my sanctuary – when I realize I live in Him in it.
God’s peace is with us….an amazing, undescribable peace….
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2671-2675). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.