Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pass the Grace

You know how during dinner the salt and pepper gets passed around the table; well wouldn’t it be nice if grace got passed along too?


A dash of salt and pepper can change a bland meal into something divine. This is especially true at my dinner table.

Seriously, think what a meager amount of extended grace could do to satisfy the cravings going on inside our souls, cravings for restoration and healing.

“I have so many things to work on, and so many ways that I fail. But that’s what grace is all about. And I constantly wake up every morning trying to get better, trying to improve, trying to walk closer to God.” –Tim Tebow

Grace, it can be a delicate matter, an offering we often tip toe around, unsure of, often doubting. Maybe we don’t feel worthy, or think we could never make amends for something terrible we’ve done in our past. 

One of my favorite Saints called himself “the worst of sinners.” If you know anything about Saint Paul you know how he can say that.

Saint Paul’s past involved tracking down innocent Christians, and having them stoned to death, simply because they called themselves Christians. He would stand by and watch, making sure death had occurred.

How did he get redeemed from these sins?

Some call it grace.

He shared his testimony, never forgetting his past, but he was able to move forward because he was able to say, “I was a sinner.”

Saint Paul became a changed man by the grace of God, and faithfully served God in the present, and furthermore he let God’s plans shape his future.

We too can say, “That was my past, I now live in the present moment with Christ.”

And, if we are lucky enough, while we still have the chance we can ask, “Could you please pass the grace, I’m in dire need.”

Grace…pass it on, and receive your share as it comes around.

I’m sure, like me, you’ll find it simply amazing.







Friday, December 12, 2014

Know for Certain

There’s no questions, no doubts, and no matter WHAT someone else claims, you just know for certain.

Ever have that feeling?

Today, December 12th is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, a day to honor Jesus’ mother Mary, who is Mexico’s patron saint.

It is believed that Our Lady appeared twice in December of 1531, to a man named Juan Diego, living in what is now called Mexico City.

These are some of her spoken words:

“Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth.”

Oh my! Our Lady appears! And the words she speaks! So clear, so specific, and so very loving, spoken as a mother who loves her children dearly.

…“I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”

At the time the apparitions took place, Juan Diego was considered nothing more than just a poor man who had a dying uncle to care for; he was a practicing Catholic, a minority living in a place surrounded by others who worshipped false gods. If that wasn’t bad enough, their so-called “priests” claimed these false gods demanded human sacrifice – mostly children.

A miracle happened that 12th day of December in the year of 1531.

Our Lady had told Juan that she wanted a church built on site and he was to inform the Bishop. To prove that this request was coming from Heaven Our Lady told Juan to pick an assortment of roses for the Bishop on a hill that usually did not produce roses, let alone in mid-December. Juan put the roses inside his cloak as instructed. He then went to the Bishop thinking he would hand him roses, but instead of flowers being inside his cloak a beautiful picture of Our Lady was imprinted on the fabric.

Stunned at this miracle the Bishop fell to his knees and had the church built.

The church brought much conversion in a place where much was needed.

Today, (483 years later) her miraculous image still appears on Juan’s cloak, which after undergoing all sorts of scientific studies should have deteriorated in about 20 years. No scientific explanation can account for the origin of the image; no artist can duplicate the true colors.

When studied closely it is said that her eyes reflect what was in front of her in 1531.

How can we question? How can we doubt?

She has told us: “I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me.”

“I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God.”

“Know for certain.”


 
Statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe
 Windsor, Ohio




Monday, December 8, 2014

Blue Book Value - Priceless

I’m reading a new book, it is Little and it is Blue, but don’t go thinking I’m referring to the Kelly Blue Book that gives new and used car prices. As long as my vehicle gets me where I need to go I’m pleased with its value.

This Little Blue Book is about anticipation, long awaited expectations, and the unveiling joy of things to come.

It is a book on Advent, the coming of Christ into the world and into our hearts.

I’ve read previous Little Blue Books that are provided by the Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, Inc. This one I grabbed from a table in the gathering space of our church. The first page gives instructions on “How to use the Little Blue Book.”

Here I quote from page one:

“Each 24-hour day has 1,440 minutes.
You’re asked to give six of those 1,440 minutes to prayer for the next 43 days.
You can give more than six minutes if you wish. But the main thing is to pray every day.
People who pray regularly will tell you that it works best if you do it at a set time every day. The main thing is to make it part of your schedule, not something you try to squeeze in whenever. It can vary at times, but you need a basic pattern. You can’t simply say, “I’ll do it when I get a chance.”

I love the simplicity of this idea.

Giving six minutes out of 1,440 minutes a day to prayer is not asking much. It leaves 1,434 minutes to do what? Eat, work, play, shop, fix things, clean, eat more, relax, watch sports, talk to your mate, veg on the couch, worry about things you have no control over, text and talk on your phone, mull over the past, walk the dog, throw out junk mail, pretend you spent hours preparing a frozen dinner, give up present moments as you set your mind to fret over tomorrow’s possible dilemmas, eat one last thing, then plop into bed and hope sleep comes because tomorrow is a busy, busy day!

How hard would it be so to find six minutes out of 1,440 minutes available in each day, and to use those six minutes to sit and meditate in prayer?

1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 tells us what God wants us to accomplish.

“See that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but at all times make it your aim to do good to one another and to all people. Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”

If we were to accomplish six minutes of prayer each day for 43 days we will have prayed for 258 minutes, which equals four and a half hours.

That is a nice block of prayer. I’m anticipating a great change, I’m betting on good expectations coming from this endeavor.

Even if you don’t have a prayer book of any sorts, you have a heart, what’s stopping you from opening up and spending six minutes every day with our Lord?

I love my Little Blue Book. I plan to follow the instructions, six minutes at a time.





For books, contact: Little Books of the Diocese of Saginaw, Inc. P.O. Box 6009, Saginaw, MI 48608-6009, or by phone 989-797-6653, or web site at: www.littlebooks.org.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

So Help Me God

Throughout the world, in different languages, from the Far East to the Far West, nonstop words flow, echoing pleas and petitions, asking God for Help.

Our God hears, He takes pity, He reaches out to us, and He tenderly soothes our hurting hearts. 

“So Help Me God.”

“Please.”

“Help me get through this…pain…cancer…stack of unpaid bills…prison sentence…divorce…parenthood…(and all other daily struggles.) Help me pick up the pieces of my life – help me God, please.”

God is but a call away. Psalm 34:4 – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me; He freed me from all my fears. The oppressed look to Him and are glad; they will never be disappointed. The helpless call to Him, and He answers; He saves them from all their troubles. His angel guards those who honor the Lord and rescues them from danger.”

Oh Yeah! He answers! He saves! He rescues!

“So Help Me God.”

“Please.”

Have you made the call?

Our God, He hears us, He helps us through the good and the bad in life, and He saves us from ruin.

No matter what life throws at you, God is there, waiting.

"Draw near to God and
He will draw near to you."
James 4:8










Sunday, November 30, 2014

Calling all Sinners

We love you!

As Christians, we are told to love you. I’m sure you heard this before: “Hate the sin…love the sinner.”

How about this one? “Saints are just Sinners who fall down and get back up.”

Love those Saints.

They do amazing things. Have the strength of steel that can plow through anything. They are our role models. A Saint believes in God’s will, always. Saints will gladly die before compromising the truth. They are Holy and joyful. They are God’s servants. A Saint will keep on walking the walk.

Wishing for sainthood, I recalled this tidbit of wisdom someone once told me; everyone sins, there are saved sinners and unsaved sinners.

Maybe it is God who is calling out “LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU!” to all us sinners. I recently read this Bible verse, “Sin must not be your master; for you do not live under law, but under God’s grace.” (Romans 6:14)

Which makes me believe, “Saints are just Sinners who fall down and get back up.”

“Hate the sin…love the sinner.” Only by the grace of God can this be done!

 
"If you are what you should be,
you
will set the whole world ablaze!"
St. Catherine of Sienna














Monday, November 24, 2014

Pray and Hope

Ok, if you are thinking things are hopeless, you need to start reading the tweets Pope Francis sends out.

Let this one in particular occupy your thoughts for the rest of the day.

“There is never a reason to lose hope. Jesus says:  “I am with you until the end of the world.”

“Never a reason to lose hope.” Sure we all have problems, all face difficulties, all live with disabilities, all will have a cross to carry, but all have Jesus who says: “I am with you until the end of the world.”

I’m liking it.

Right about when I’m ready to give up, throw in the towel, admit defeat, and succumb to a lesser me, a message of hope pops up.

Like I said, “I’m liking it.”

“Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” (Romans 12:12)

More… “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

And, if you’re still not quite feeling it… “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Pray and hope.

No reason to ever doubt.