Recipe for Holiness: 2 Parts Courage

Pope Francis_Recipe for Holiness

Personally, I am not good with courage or living simply.   My anxieties have me afraid of pretty much everything:

  • lightning storms
  • spiders, snakes, anything that creeps
  • germs
  • being alone
  • injury or illness to my kids

…just to name a few.

As I have well documented in my Money Monday series; my inability to live within my means for the last 30+ years has wreaked havoc on my finances and my peace of mind.  Where was Pope Francis’ message when I needed it? If I’m honest, would I have even listened back then?

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Well, luckily as long as I’m breathing – there is always time to find out.  Here’s the amazing thing about being a believer and a friend of God – “see I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5); today I can make the changes necessary to embrace this message and apply its teaching to my current (and for hence forth) circumstances.

Life requires courage.  That is clear in the horrific events of this year – just making the decision to leave our homes can be cause for pause.  In the case of my dear friend from our parish, stabbed in her own home by a random act by a distraught young man, even home doesn’t feel safe any longer.  There is illness and accidents; and so much beyond our control that can lead our hearts to ache; and fall into despair and fear.   As a person who has battled anxiety her entire life (diagnosed with a ‘nervous stomach’ at age 9); just watching the news or reading social media can send me spiraling into a panic attack.

So what do we do?  …  read more on Reconciled To You 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
Cover photo copyright – Debbie Guadino, Saints 365

Recipe For Holiness – Ingredient #1: Grace

Pope Francis_Recipe for Holiness

The Grace Trifecta

Standing before a room of 30 or so women facilitating my first faith sharing back in 2006, I fumbled around for the proper words as I tried to answer one participant’s seemingly simple question on the grace of God.  What is grace?  While I had this innate understanding, I could not formulate the right words to express what I believed it to be. I realized, I had no definition.

Fast forward a few years, I am sitting in a small chapel in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (aka Jesus in the Eucharist). In my reading I once again face the question, what is grace? This time I open the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit.   That day the Allison abridged version of how I define the grace of God, was born … Read More at Reconciled To You 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Navigating God’s Way Out of Debt

money mondays

Reflection on Week 3 of Navigating Your Finances God’s Way:

Last week, it was time to pull my shopping happy head out of the sand, and make the list I have been dreading – pulling together a list of our current debts (specifically credit card)!

As long as I could make all the monthly minimums (sometimes even a little extra), I never felt the need to add them all up.  Hence, the November disaster of 2015!    We learned in this week’s scripture readings that debt has some stinky consequences (enslaves us*, for one) and that it is NOT what God wants for us (OWE Nothing – Romans 13:8).  As I sheepishly listed credit card balance after credit card balance, I was amazed at how far into the sand I had placed my head.

*Let me just quickly add here – that the Lord made sure I understood this concept first hand this week as I was faced for a few decisions that required me to consider the motives behind why I was or wasn’t accepting an invitation.  It amazed me how many times I have decided not on what I felt I was being called to  but what would bring in some type of payment  –  I have been totally enslaved and I LONG to be free to follow where the SPIRIT guides and not where my creditors require!

I have said it before, spending money is one of my drugs of choice. I know it has addictive qualities by my reaction to when I am in the midst of the behavior (shopping elation is totally a thing) and how I feel as we discuss things such as … read more

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Scripture Verses for Lent

Scripture Verses for Lent

We are winding up the first week Lent, and as I’ve said many times before, one of the best things we can do is read God’s word. One of the best ways to do this is to pray the scriptures that are given to us at Mass. The Liturgy is wrought with meaningful verses to encourage us to deepen our understanding of the Lord’s sacrifice, to open and convert out hearts and renew our commitment to the Lord…Continue Reading

I Love The House Where You Live

Guatalupe

I love the house where you live, the place where your glory makes its home. (PS 26: 8)

Oh Lord, my heart soars with joy, my soul filled with this sublime truth:  I am the house where you live, the place where your glory makes its home.  Oh the wonderful implications of this truth, has me giddy with pure delight.

I have been living in darkness, knowing without understanding.

The veil finally lifted from my eyes, I see clearly your love for me.

Oh Lord, how can I not love the house where you live?  What right do I have to profane your house?  What right do I have to allow others to profane your house?

How long oh Lord, has my house been in disrepair, an unfit place for you to live?

In sublime wisdom you offer a guide, under the mantle of Our Lady. You show us, Oh Lord, in her, the house where you live, and the place where your glory makes its home.

In Mary’s womb, you made your house.  My soul sings out with joy, I love the house where you live, the place where glory makes its home.

How few understand these truths, fail to contemplate you becoming flesh in her womb, the house where you live?  What right do I have to disregard her, to make her insignificant?

Yet, she, your first house, teaches all of mankind to prepare for your arrival.  Cleaning out the dark, dusty, dank spaces of our souls constantly teaching, redirecting and readying us by her constant prayer and example.

Under the guise of bread and wine, you, Oh Lord, enter our bodies making US the house where you live, the place where your glory makes its home.

Oh Lord, never let this thought be far from me.  Understanding all of humanity is the house where you live, the place where your glory makes its home.

I love the house where you live, the place where your glory makes its home. (PS 26:8)

© Voted off the Island 2016

Seven Archeological Discoveries that Validate the Bible

biblical archeologyA charge detractors of Christianity make to cast doubt on the Bible’s authenticity is the alleged lack of historical evidence for the assertions found in Scripture. The Bible employs different forms of literature to covey truths about God and the created world. Skeptics have long denied the facts put forth, particularly in the Bible’s historical books, as contrived and untrue. Modern day archeological discoveries, however, confirm the historical events and persons recorded in Sacred Scripture are both factually correct and historically valid.

1. The story of Abraham rescuing Lot is historically accurate.

Chapter 14 in the book of Genesis tells the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew Lot from the four kings. The famous German biblical scholar, Julius Wellhausen, called the story “simply impossible.” Contemporary archeological research proves the details of the account to be true.  Read more…

Mary the Tabernacle of God

“One of the reasons why Catholic and Orthodox Christians on the one hand and Christians of the Reformation traditions (Protestants) on the other have such divergent approaches to the person of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is because they read the Old Testament in significantly different ways…It strikes me, however, that there is a possible way which allows us to synthesise our understanding to some extent. Even if we grant for the sake of argument that the allegorical method is generally inadmissible there should be no reason why we cannot agree that the use of analogy is perfectly acceptable. By which I mean that if the Old Testament shows God acting in certain ways or upholding certain principles we can assume that He acts in the same way and on the same principles in the New unless Scripture specifically informs us otherwise.

Which brings me to Mary and the Tabernacle of the Lord. The Tabernacle was that structure sitting at the heart of the nation of Israel where God dwelt among His people in a special manner. It first took shape as the Tent of Meeting at the time of Moses and later became the Temple of Solomon. There is no doubt that God dwelt in a special way too in Mary, the mother of the Son of God. I would suggest that the principles which underlay the construction of the first Tabernacle, made by human hands, also underlay the creation of Mary in the womb of her mother St Ann by the hand of God…click here to read more

Bloom Where You Grow

There are a couple of flower boxes on our back deck railing. Anyone who has cats knows what that means – anything growing there has to be pretty persistent or it will be crushed under the furry bellies of our lounging feline friends. In fact, for the past couple of summers we haven’t even bothered to plant anything in them.

That’s where a delicate salmon-colored poppy comes into the story. Even though the parent plants are far below – on the ground below this raised deck – somehow a tiny seed made it to the soil in one of the flower boxes. Not only did it make it, it germinated, set down roots, and has been beautifully blooming for a few days now.

What can we learn from this persistent, lovely little plant?

We aren’t always where we thought we’d be in our lives. Maybe we don’t even want to be where we are at all. It’s easy to focus on an idealistic image of if only. In this imaginary, perfect world we would be saints, may be successful (in a worldly way), or admired by all. Every effort would reap the anticipated reward and failure would only come if we didn’t try hard enough – or didn’t have enough faith.

Yet scripture tells us that we will be tested. That our trials – and how we handle them – will shine a light for others to see. We can become the salt for them and the leaven for their spiritual bread.

Matthew 5:13-16
13“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

It isn’t always ours to choose where life leads us but it is our choice when it comes to how we react. When life hands us an unexpected detour from our search for perfection, we should choose to react with grace. As a sweet little lady used to tell me,

Bloom Where You Grow smaller file size

“We need to bloom where we grow”.

Wherever God has planted us that is our place to shine – to shine with His love and compassion and faithful service. Then we will be headed down the road of success – and toward sainthood!

Fearing God

Isaiah Theophany

For about 1800 years most Christians would have understood the idea of fearing the Lord to mean just what it said on the tin. Over the past couple of centuries or so the tendency has been for many theologians, pastors and teachers to explain away the notion of fear and replace it with something altogether more cuddly. Two main strategies have been employed, to emphasise that perfect love casts out fear and to re-cast the word ‘fear’ to mean ‘awe.’ Both approaches are perfectly sound so far as they go but effectively unbalance doctrine by being deployed as primary explanations rather than as auxiliaries to add to our understanding of the plain meaning of Scripture.

The first argument rests on the words of the Beloved Disciple There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.(1 John 4:18) It is worth noting the contrast between beginning andreached perfection. If every mention of fear is immediately counterbalanced with the effects of perfect love it will have the same effect as telling a child on the first day of primary school not to worry because whatever they do they will get a university degree in due course since perfect education means prizes for all. Perfect love is not our starting point fear of the Lord is, click here to read more 

Mary: Refuge of Sinners

 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
John 4:35

And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.
Ruth 2:2

….Ruth sets out to glean the ears of corn which the reapers leave behind in order to be able to feed Naomi, her mother-in-law, and herself. When, in the Gospels, Jesus speaks of harvesting He usually means gathering in souls to the kingdom of heaven. Since He speaks through the Old Testament as well as the New it is worth considering the possibility that references to the same subject in the one will have the same purpose as in the other. When to this harvest is added the figure of Ruth following ‘after him in whose sight I shall find grace‘ we are irresistibly reminded of the words of St Gabriel ‘Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.’ (Luke 1:30) It seems then legitimate to read this passage as an allusion to the role played by the Mother of God in bringing into the kingdom those who escape from the hands of the reapers.

What Mary gleans are those who have heard the Good News about Jesus but have not benefited by it. They lie on the earth having missed salvation but not yet consigned to destruction….to read more click here