Monthly Archives: April 2013

Come Holy Spirit!

Today has been a totally awesome day!

The day started with some special reflection time looking over the past week, its challenges and its blessings.  Then, from there, I was blessed to be able to attend a seminar with Jeff Cavins on his program titled “Walking Toward Eternity”.  Jeff is an awesome speaker with so much knowledge, mixed with humor.  This particular seminar wasn’t totally a focus on knowledge (there was definitely some in there), but this was also a look at our goal — our ultimate desire — heaven!  But, how do we get there?  Only through a personal relationship with God, can we even begin to set out on that walk.

This series of talks really reminded me of my favorite passage — that of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  We are all on this walk of life, wondering the same type of why’s and what’s that the Emmaus road disciples were.  So, how did they come to know that it was the Lord?  They realized it through communication along the path with the Lord, followed by sharing a meal with Him.  Then, they finally recognized Him for who He truly was — the Son of God!

How is that any different from our own walks?  We are also asking the questions about what is happening around us and what does all of this mean.  But, are we communicating regularly with Him?  Are we listening to Him explain the whys and whats to us?  Only through those experiences, can we fully recognize Him through the breaking of the bread at Mass.

So, for me, that was THE challenge.  Am I listening to His answers to the whys and the whats?  Am I even looking to the place where His answers are?  I am doing the daily readings, but am I asking God what He wants me to learn from His word?  No.  Not really. So, that is the challenge I am being faced with.

Just when I realized this and decided to take action, I started to get cold feet.  How could I truly know what God means?  It is easy for Jeff Cavins — he studies the Bible and so figuring out what God means would be easy for him.  I’m not anywhere close to that, so what was I thinking?

Then, the next part of my day happened.  I met up with the 6 kids I have been working with through our parish preparing them for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Today was THE day.  Today was their Confirmation day.  Veni Sanctus Spiritus!  Watching and praying for each of them and watching their reactions through the whole experience, I learned one important thing.  I might not know all of the answers, but I know and believe that if I ask the questions, He will guide me to finding the answers.  He is my teacher and guide just as I was for a short time in that role with these kids.  Just as I challenged them to be open to the process and what the Holy Spirit has in store for them in life, the Holy Spirit through that mental challenge earlier in the day is challenging me to be open to the process and whatever is in store for me along the way.

So, Lectio Divina, here I come!  Not just the 1st step of the process, but all 5 of the steps.  Reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation and then the final challenge of them all — action!  You might even see some of it here.  Maybe, maybe not.  Time will tell.

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jumping out of the boat and facing our sin

Today’s Gospel reading at Mass was a well-known story.  The story is from John 21 and is of the disciples deciding to go fishing.  They catch nothing until Jesus tells them to toss the net over the other side of the boat and they caught a large number of fish.  Father John focused on the next section of the story during his homily today and it took me by surprise.  I felt like I could tell this story in my sleep as I’ve heard it so many times!  But, he focused on a line in this story that I don’t ever remember hearing before.  The line is right after they caught the large number of fish.

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.

As Fr. John explained, in the Greek language, that small phrase ‘for he was lightly clad’ would mean that he was in actuality naked.  So, the reality is that when Simon Peter heard that it was Jesus, he put on a garment for he was naked and jumped into the sea.  Why would he do that?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to remove clothing before jumping into water?  But, we are really being taken back in time to Genesis and the Garden of Eden.  When Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of knowledge, they covered themselves because of shame.  They knew that they had done wrong and recognized their sin, felt shame and hid.  Simon Peter does this same pattern.  When he knows the Lord is there, he covers himself out of shame for his tri-fold denial of even knowing the Lord.

But, the thought that crossed my mind went deeper than this.  Jesus had died, the apostles had hid and had seen Jesus several times after the resurrection.  During this whole time, Simon Peter went about life as he usually did.  During this particular passage, he is out fishing and going about his life as if that time of sin, those times of denying Jesus never even happened.  It isn’t until Jesus shows again here that Simon Peter is made aware of his sin and feels shame for this sin.  Isn’t that much the way we go through life?  We go through life wanting to do good.  But, we sin.  When we sin, what do we do?  Usually, go about life.  We may feel bad when it first happens, but most times, life seems to ‘take over’ and we get caught up again in the process of just living.  It isn’t until we are faced with Jesus, face to face, that the realization of what we did followed by the shame for that sin sets in.

So, we live much of our time in a state of sin which is unrealized.  Only through confronting that sin by being face to face with Christ on the cross, can we move ahead into the light of the Resurrection.  Confrontation is never easy.  But, it is necessary.  As necessary for us as it was for Simon Peter.



 


 

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windows to our souls

Tuesday evening, I was able to hear a good friend talk to a group of ladies about spiritual direction.  I have had spiritual directors at several times of my life, but am currently without a ‘formal’ director.  I have friends who have been spiritual guides for me especially in the recent months and trials we are enduring, but nothing formalized.  I kept wondering though throughout the presentation whether it would be possible to do spiritual direction as a couple.  If the two who are married are truly one flesh and have one spirit as our goal, wouldn’t it make sense to do spiritual direction as a couple?

But, then another thought bounced around my head.  Isn’t your spouse already a spiritual director?  Or should he/she automatically be in that role due to the goal of wanting to help you to gain heaven?  Maybe I am wrong in my prayer that as I look into my spouse’s eyes with the love of God and my love for him in my heart, I pray that I can see his soul.

This isn’t always easy to do.  In fact, it is easier NOT to do.  It is so much easier to just close my eyes and ignore his thoughts and feelings.  To take a quick glance and when seeing his tiredness, just back away rationalizing that you are really just letting him rest.  Are you really doing the right thing though?  NO!  Even when we are tired, both of us dog-tired after running in this race we call daily life, we NEED to connect emotionally and spiritually.  How else can anyone truly live that one flesh union that marriage calls us to?

So, I am issuing a challenge to all of my married friends, male and female (yes, even those of you who have newborns and are barely surviving due to sleep deprivation), take a few moments each and every day to look into your spouse’s eyes.  Put aside all other thoughts, concerns, worries, schedules etc — anything that takes you away from the moment — and look into your spouse’s eyes.  Look into their eyes and look for their soul just as you used to when you were just dating.  Find that soul again and reconnect.

But what do you do if your spouse isn’t willing?  What if there is already a barrier that has been built up between you?  KNOCK it down! Get INTO his/her face if needed and make that contact!  Be not afraid!

I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.  (Joshua 1:9)

If we all truly did this and took down the walls that Satan builds between us, walls of doubt, shame, guilt, fear of rejection, and so much more, would we ever need such a thing as divorce in our world?

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my favorite passage — Emmaus!

Today’s Gospel reading is one of my all time favorite passages — the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  In case you don’t know the story, read it at Luke 24:13-35.  Here are these two disciples, distressed and despondent over the happenings in Jerusalem going on about their lives and heading home discussing all that had happened.  Along comes a stranger who seems to know and understand what seems totally confusing to them.  Then, in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened and they KNEW.

This in so many ways is what life is all about.  We hear about this Jesus who has done great things — he taught us, suffered for us, died for us and then defeated death for us.  But, living life today, this all seems so far away many days and so fuzzy and confusing.  What really does it all mean?  Why did he do that?  Now, how is death defeated for me when He did it?  And so many more questions that we discuss with our friends, walking through life.  Then, along comes a stranger, who confidently explains it and VOILA!  my eyes are opened and I can see in ways I never could before.

Then, I travel a bit further in life and other areas seem fuzzy and confusing.  Again, talking with friends as we walk through life until one day a stranger comes along and once again — sight has been restored to the blind!

I don’t know about you, but this has been an almost daily experience for me through life.  Daily I am confused and fuzzy, but through my daily Scripture reading or through prayer, my vision can be miraculously cleared so that it all seems clear again.  At least for a bit … until the next confusion period hits…

I am SO thankful for this story of the journey to Emmaus.  For aren’t we all traveling that same road?  Knowing the story brings hope that understanding will come when we recognize Jesus for who He is in our stories.  He is there.  Usually disguised as a stranger.  We just need to look carefully and we will find Him.  But, until we look, how will we understand?

 

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marriage and the true one flesh union

Marriage, in God’s eyes, is designed to be a small glimpse of heaven here on earth.  But, what happens when one or both of the partners is in a spiritual battle with Satan?   It would make sense that it would affect both partners.

I guess I am just pretty slow on the uptake!  It only took me 25 years of marriage to learn but at least I finally learned this most valuable lesson about marriage that never really hit home before.  You see, I ‘knew’ this all along.  It just didn’t really sink in until now.

We all know the teachings about marriage:

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”  Matthew 19:3-6

This is a very powerful passage that I know well and could probably recite with little problems.  But, the day to day living out of this passage is another story!

The concept here that I am talking about is the “one flesh”.  I have always understood this as the union between husband and wife and how they need to operate as one unit for a successful marriage and family.  I definitely know that when we aren’t acting in this way, life within the family is pretty rocky. But, it wasn’t until the last few weeks, that the true depth of this teaching finally hit me.

You see, one flesh goes so much deeper than I ever thought!  If one or both of the spouses in a marriage are experiencing spiritual warfare, it isn’t my problem or his problem anymore.  Since the spouses are indeed one flesh — what is my problem IS his problem; what is his problem IS my problem.  It is a united battle.  And if one of the spouses doesn’t quite see it that way, the battle might still be won, but the marriage won’t be as strong.  It is only when they attack the battles they are experiencing as individuals as the one flesh union that they truly are, that they have the strength of God.

So, EVERYTHING we battle in life including what is being confessed during the Sacrament of Reconciliation isn’t just that person’s issue to work out with God, it is something you as spouses are jointly learning to work out with God.  At least this is true if you believe in the one flesh union.

I know.  I’m slow.  It only took me 25 years to realize the full extent of this most important lesson of all. *sigh*

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