Mini-Olympics Quiz: Are You an Athlete?

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First, choose a statement.

Yes. I jog, step or whatever gets me points on my Fitbit or keeps me in shape.

Sort of.  I was when I was a kid.

Yes. I run in the rat race.

No. I am a couch potato cheerleader.

No. I exercise my brain (or knife and fork) instead.

Now, choose one of the above statements about your spiritual life.

Why? because the Bible challenges us to be trained athletes in living and sharing our faith, no matter what our physical and spiritual condition. The Letter to the Hebrews challenges us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1) But how do we train to be spiritual athletes?

  1. Consider heavy lifting. Open that big Bible. Call out loud to the Holy Spirit. Stand, then kneel, then sit, while you talk to Jesus. Spend a little time in God’s presence every day.
  2. Use those fingers to text, email or call a friend who is willing to share faith with you. Consider driving to a bible study or a Mass, because training works better when you gather with other spiritual athletes. And while you are at it, walk around the parking lot a few times.
  3. Leave your house each day on a search for someone who needs mercy, encouragement, or just a smile. Spiritual muscles atrophy unless we put them in the service of loving those around us.
  4. Take you spiritual skill set out in public, not to compete but to move in the Spirit, who synchronizes our talents. Open your mouth and your heart to share words of faith like, “GOD bless you!” or “I know God wants to help you!” or “May I pray for you right now?” Here is an example.
  5. Move toward the prize of eternal, pulsating life in God. Heaven is not a static, boring fairy tale. It is a dynamic participation in all the energy between Father, Son and Holy Spirit that has already spilled out onto our world and sweeps us up into a new creation.

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians sums up your call to be a spiritual athlete, “Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”(3:13, 14)

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A Lament in Times of Terror

It was a treacherous time during the late sixties. Half a dozen burly college men marched down the hill with torches, hell-bent on burning the ROTC building. We were next door at a faith sharing meeting. Four of us, mostly conscientious objectors, ran out to defend the building. Two stayed behind to beg for God’s help. That’s when it started pouring buckets of rain. God had arranged a standoff…

How do you respond to yet another violent attack, whether near of far? What about political mayhem or family emergencies? Do you feel like screaming or crying? Or do you feel numb? The book of Psalms is chuck-full of responses to terror that are called ‘laments’. This word comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to howl’ or ‘to mourn loudly.’ Some psalms literally groan and wail. Some whimper. And even though some sound like a feverish mind gone awry, they are also acts of faith because they are addressed to God. Are you ready to give God all the terror and human rubbish that disturbs you?

Step One: Choose one of these laments: Psalms 13; 22:1-11; 42:1-5; 130; or 142. Pray this psalm aloud and slowly. Then pray it again.

Step Two: Recall a difficulty that disturbs you. It can be anything, large or small, personal or global, anything that absorbs your thoughts and moves you to the edges of worry and fear. Now bring this difficulty into God’s presence by writing your own lament.

Greeting (or title for God):   _________________________

Describe the threatening situation in a few words: ________________________________________

Step Three: Step back and state God’s point of view (a scriptural image or a statement from the Creed might help): __________________________________________________________

Step Four: Ask God for help. Then add a surrender prayer:

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

Step Five: Choose a psalm of trust and thanksgiving—Psalms16; 23; 34:1-10; 91:1-10; or 124. Pray it slowly. Then finish by reading this passage aloud:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, (terrorism, political mayhem, extreme weather) or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.      (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

Adapted from Praying for our Adult Sons and Daughters

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Jesus Answers Us –Even When We Whine

IMG_0553 copyOur good friend, Lorene Duquin, author and gifted Catholic evangelizer, is putting together a book of stories from everyday Catholics whose prayers have been answered.   “It can be any kind of prayer experience… an earth-shaking revelation or a smaller event that made you recognize God.”

Here’s a story we are thinking of submitting:

John was whining to his spiritual director, Sr. Nancy, about family finances AGAIN.  “Whenever I ask the Lord for the money we need I get no answer!” he complained.

Sister Nancy stopped him in mid-sentence. “Do you remember a few years ago when you asked Jesus to help the last of your children with the money for college? And didn’t all five of your children receive scholarships for the colleges of their choice? Did you ever add up all the financial aid they received?”

“No,” John sheepishly replied.

She handed him paper and a pen to start a tally. After a few minutes, he had figures next to each of our child’s name. Then came the moment of revelation: their scholarships and other financial aid totaled over $500,000!

Sister Nancy took the list and whispered, “Your prayers have been answered!  And just imagine if you and your wife had not followed Jesus into full time ministry in the Church. Imagine that you had worked in business? Do you suppose you could have saved that much money to send them to college?”

“No!” he gasped.

How about your answered prayer? Think of the simple formula for witnessing: 1. The need. 2. Jesus answered me. 3. Now I can see… Send your witnesses to Lori Duquin at LDuquin@aol.com today! And if she wants to include yours, she will I will make arrangements to interview you. There is no stipend but you will get a copy of the book!”

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