The coronavirus causes us to confront, yet again, the problem of evil, and to ask why God permits such suffering. Read more of Ryan Bilodeau’s Catholic thoughts here …
These days it seems like we are undergoing as much of a sacramental recession as we are an economic one. At a time when COVID-19 has rendered our priests’ public appearances relegated mostly to television, debates about how to deal with this crisis are being waged among Catholic bloggers and Bishops alike. Has COVID-19 resulted in a sacramental as well as economic recession? What is the relationship between the sacraments and our salvation?
Letting friends and family know our wedding ceremony this June will now have to be private in light of the coronavirus has been a sad and disappointing undertaking. But it has also put for us the sacrament of marriage in perspective. The reality is that matrimony isn’t ultimately about the pomp and circumstance humans create, but what God divinely creates in us as a couple. Read more from Ryan Bilodeau here
This past Sunday, the Gospel reading was Luke 16:1-13. In this reading, a steward, (a trusted servant responsible for the household of his master), has wasted his master’s goods. He is told to prepare an accounting, as he will be removed from his position. In something of a panic, he calls in his master’s debtors and reduces their debts to curry favor with them that he might have some recourse after losing his position. On its face, he appears to continue to mismanage his master’s affairs, again for his own benefit. And then we have this odd reaction from his master:
“The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence…” Luke 16:8a
This is followed by Jesus saying to the Pharisees: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.” Luke 16: 9
So, am I the only one that was ever confused by this? Looks to me like Jesus is telling us to lie, cheat and steal to gain heaven. I’ve never been particularly enlightened by any of the homilies I’ve heard on this either. Most times the focus is on the earlier reading from Amos, which talks about how the people “observe the Sabbath” by not selling and cheating in the marketplace, yet, their hearts and minds are focused on when they can resume their dishonest lives instead of on the worship of God. Let’s face it, there is a lot of material to work with there, in our time as much as 2000 years ago.
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”James 1:5 Where I lack the greatest wisdom without a doubt is in discerning the Will of God. There are several factors that block my clearly hearing God speak in my life – primarily my own voice and will are often drowning out God’s voice. A very anxious person by nature – I erroneously believe the more of my life I control; the better my life will be. I seem to have this crazy notion that I know better than the creator of the universe what is needed for me to be happy.
God is not in the happiness business – he is in the holiness business. Paradoxical however the more I order my life to holiness – the truly happier I will be. Not the fading worldly happy but a much deeper, “it can’t be taken away from you” joy! His ways are always ‘different and higher’ (Isaiah 55) from any ideas I may hold onto. I see tomorrow, and the next day – he sees into infinity (and… oh come on we have to go there… BEYOND!). My greatest desire is always to avoid pain and suffering – though God did not spare his only begotten Son this fate; why would mine be any different. Jesus willingness to accept the Father’s will, to drink from the cup that was not passed him by – opened the gates of Heaven. Jesus instructions are clear. If you want to follow him – if you want to journey toward those open gates – pick up your cross DAILY and follow him.
A few years ago I was leading a Confirmation retreat – at the end of the day – one young man stood up and began to YELL at me!! Yell… swear… berate — completely misunderstanding and twisting my words, he stirred the entire class into a frenzy. In my arrogance, I fought back.
FIND OUT how this all turned out … read more on Reconciled To You ….
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
Personally, I am not good with courage or living simply. My anxieties have me afraid of pretty much everything:
…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?
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
They were all the rave and everywhere you turned in Christian circles you would hear “what would Jesus do?” It became the snarky answer for everything, mocking the reality that IT IS the answer for everything.
How many of us REALLY know Jesus? Sure a lot of us know about Jesus, but how many can say they know Him? I think knowing Jesus it a life long process. It is not a once and done, now let’s go out and tell everyone about Him. Sure there is a time and place for that but if that is all the deeper yo go, Do you really know Him?
You might be thinking, of course I know Jesus, I read the Bible, I know all the stories, I know Jesus. I say great start!!!
I received a copy of Rediscover Jesus by Mathew Kelly in the mail, maybe you have received on too. I started reading it and could not contain myself to just one day. It is meant to be read each day for 40 days. Hey Lent is 4o days!! I love when that happens. Anyway if you have a copy and are looking for spiritual enrichment this Lent, read along with me.
Starting tomorrow as Day 1, I will be posting thoughts, insights, reflections on the readings. I invite you to join me, feel free to leave comments as we learn best when we share our thoughts and lives with each other. We are relational beings, created to be in relationship not only with others but with Jesus as well.
Let you light shine for all to see.
Voted Off The Island 2106 All rights reserved.
Starting each Lenten journey is in fact a new beginning. It is a chance to slow down re-evaluate, consider and ponder the state of our spiritual life. At least that how it is for me.
I always have such high expectations that just because it is Lent, I will somehow magically be able to overcome the most habitual temptations. Like Frodo and the ring, I somehow become invisible to the all Seeing Eye. The truth is that I become more aware of the habitual temptations and my habitual tendency to succumb.
Like being that poor little mouse on the wheel, running and running and never getting anywhere. At least that is how it seems with some temptations.
I like to humor myself and think awareness is progress! But it’s true….. awareness is progress. Seeing something about ourselves in the stark light of day is a precious grace of God. Bringing that which is broken within us into the light is the grace of awareness.
The question then becomes: what are we going to do with it? We could pretend we don’t know it about ourselves and try to go back into the darkness. Or we could make excuses for it, like: it’s because of my mother that I am like this. Or we could just sit with it for a while, ponder the reality of it all, maybe it was because of your mother, but that’s not helping you now.
Pondering the grace of awareness about ourselves is another grace from God. As it means He is drawing us into relationship with him and the deepest parts of ourselves. The self that only He, who created us can know.
Voted Off The Island 2016 All rights reserved.
When was the last time someone mistaken you for Jesus?
It is Ash Wednesday and this year our Adult Faith Formation group is doing Lent a little different, we are reading Mathew Kelly’s book Rediscover Jesus. It’s a series of short readings, intended to open our heart and minds to the ‘person’ Jesus. We have decided to do it in retreat form. Please feel free, at anytime, to join us.
As I begin reading, I am immediately drawn into the scene. The hustle and bustle of the city, the excitement of doing well, the celebration with colleagues and the anticipation of getting home to share the good news. It looks like God smiling down, you know one of those days where everything seems to being going right and you are top of the world. Your heart is enlarged, everything is possible….sun is shining ….life is good!!!
That’s how it made me feel, I guess that’s the point. God gives us those days to strengthen us, edify us, give us hope, to know that He is near and that all is well. Continue Reading
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.
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,
“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!