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Needing a Sanctuary… because we know He is there…

This was the church of my parochial school... a beautiful sanctuary in Lawrence, Massachusetts..

This was the church of my parochial school… a beautiful sanctuary in Lawrence, Massachusetts..

 Devotional thought of the day….
In God is my safety and my glory, the rock of my strength. In God is my sanctuary! 8  trust in him, you people, at all times. Pour out your hearts to him, God is our sanctuary,. Psalm 62:7-8 

 18  “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! 19  Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you. 20  May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. 2 Chronicles 6:18-20 (NLT)

Think about this carefully: being transparent lies more in not hiding things rather than in wanting things to be seen. It is a matter of allowing the objects lying at the bottom of a glass to be perceived, and not trying to make the air visible.” (1)

I have never so wanted to go into to a church building as I did last Sunday, to just go in an pray, to feel at home, to find myself calmed as I sat in the back and took the time to have God revealed to me.   Until perhaps today…as I received a text from a very close friend, whose dad past away today, 34 days after mine.  

I want to run back to the church where I grew up serving, where I grew up finding a peace and comfort not known in any other place.  Too many people affected by death recently, even as I have come here to relive memories, and the past.  

I feel a but disjointed, for the place I would run to here….. the place is not here anymore… and I need that sanctuary to be able to weep, to be able to pour my heart out – just like I can back in Concordia’s sanctuary, or Shepherd of the Valley’s… or St Francis here in Lawrence – just a few miles from where I sit at the lake.  It’s not that other churches wouldn’t work, or that I can’t do it here, sitting at the lake, looking out at something more beautiful than anything a artist’s brust or a camera can capture..  But… there is something special about the places we call our home parish, our home church.  I hear it in the voices of the people who cry when a church closes, or consolidates, or for whatever reason.  It is probably why I’ve spent most of my ministry working in smaller churches – churches that might close if they aren’t given hope.

There is something about the sanctuaries that we call home. The place we know God’s put His name – because we’ve experieced it over and over.

I’ve heard from other ministers that writing such stuff isn’t “manly” – that it will turn guys off, that it will drive them away.  Don’t admit your weakness – and really don’t expect us too either!  Not that I want to do so in front of you, or in front of them, heck in front of anyone.  Guys don’t like that stuff. it’s not manly enough, it’s not for those who admire strength.  I think it is just the opposite – for it takes some strength to trust God enough to pour out your heart… if takes strength to risk that transparency, to be His Kid.  I think that is what St Josemaria’s talking about – about letting our pains and our sins be seen to God – not trying to hide them anymore. To say,  yeah, it’s time to pour out my heart – to let my God be my God, to let Him be my Comforter,  to know He is here…lakeside…for He dwells with us.  


The Lord is with us.. the Lord is with my three friends, who are dealing with the death of loved ones this week…

With me… as I place them in His hands… for mine are not up to the task today ( even if I was back in Cali – which tomorrow I will be.)  …catching my own tears…as I mourn my own Dad’s death, as I mourn the loss of places I knew in my youth… as I see my old church, my old sanctuary, where i served as an altar boy and played organ and pulled pranks…where I found God’s peace so many times… (tomorrow I will be back in Cali – and back to my norm – I know this as well – for I know God’s strength)

With you…. for He is your sanctuary…. so trust in Him… pour out your heart to Him….so give Him all your burdens..let Him be your God, let Him be your sanctuary!

And then you will find revealed again, His wondrous peace that passes all understanding, the peace in which we dwell, the peace in which Christ keeps us!

Please keep my three friends in your prayers tonight – an their families… thanks!
(and if you have a spare moment… pray that God would find away to reopen the church of my youth!)

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1555-1557). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Love Them, Love Them, Love Them: Discipleship lessons from the gym…and Coach C

The 100-Meter Run

The 100-Meter Run (Photo credit: Government Press Office (GPO))

Devotional THought of the Day:

13  We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. 14  And we have seen and tell others that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15  If we declare that Jesus is the Son of God, we live in union with God and God lives in union with us. 16  And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. 17  Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. 18  There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. 19  We love because God first loved us. 20  If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. 21  The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also.  1 John 4:13-21 (TEV) 

7  It is a difficult thing for someone to die for a righteous person. It may even be that someone might dare to die for a good person. 8  But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! 9  By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God’s anger! 10  We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God’s friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ’s life! 11  But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends.  Romans 5:7-11 (TEV) 

194         You have to be a live ember that sets fire to whatever it touches. And, when your surroundings are incapable of catching fire, you have to raise their spiritual temperature. If not, you are wasting time miserably, and wasting the time of those around you. (1)

I was at the gym this morning, working out when I thought of one of my PE coaches from high school.  As we used to work out, he would “encourage” us with a constant mantra…. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!.

It pumped us up – enabled us to run a bit farther, lift a little more, grind it out.  But I don’t think many of us loved it.  Matter of fact, a few of us didn’t like it or Coach Carter (during class) all that much. But the results across a semester in the weight room and on the track showed us the benefit of being trained and “encouraged.”  And because Coach Carter had been there before himself – he knew how to discipline those willing.   I am leaning on those lessons a lot as I return to working out.  With a genetic disorder that affects my heart and spine.  For my heart it has resulted in two heart valves being replaced and internal defibrillators, and a limited lifestyle – so starting to work out again is a challenge.

Yesterday, there was a discussion online about our enemies, about those who verbally attacked a Roman Catholic Cardinal who seems to be a pretty good guy.  My response was, knowing of him, he was probably praying for those attacking him.  One lady didn’t quite get that – and over a number of posts told me to mind my own business, and not talk to her about the concepts of self-defense and faith.  I didn’t, but I’ve thought and prayed for a bit since then.  Wondering what issues prompted a response that wasn’t where I was going at all.  I thought as well about our attitude towards those people who are the thorns in our life, those who are incredibly difficult to love and forgive. Those who test our ability to live life trusting in God, like that extra 20 pounds tested my endurance on the calf press this morning – and that .2 of mph faster made the difference on the treadmill.

These people, hopefully, are a burden we will embrace – or as Coach C would say – LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM!

For in doing so, we have to that which is extremely difficult, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and walk with Jesus.  We have to have no fear (for love casts out such fear – see above) and even if our lives are sacrificed as martyrs… (which few of us will face) we must love them anyway.   (Many, many saints serve as great examples of this.)

Whether we realize it or not, these people can be those in our life that help our dependence on God, our faith and trust in Him grow the most. And in loving them, wholeheartedly, even as they are our enemies, we begin to see how great God’s love is for us.   We find the strength in Him, in HIs cross, which we are united to, to love them, to be patient with them because we want them to be transformed by God and not perish, to be our brothers and sisters in Christ, feasting together at God’s table.  As St. Josemaria noted – sometimes we have to turn up the heat — sometimes we need the heat turned up on us…

It’s not easy.  It is significantly harder than getting up an hour earlier to get to the gym, or being embarrassed by realizing how weak we’ve become over the years.

Even so, as John said, we are loved…so Lord in your mercy, help us to

LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM!!!!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1022-1025). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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