What Reality Are You Living ‘IN’?

Do you ever wonder if your family or people in government, or even your friends on social media are living in the same reality as you? Are you longing for the unity that comes from living the same positive values and reality together? Wishing you could see deeper than the violence and lack of hope around us? Here is one step you can take.         

Acts 17: 22-28 

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For… as I looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, He who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things… so that they would search for God, if perhaps  grope for Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being. [NRSV]     

Reflection

Therese’s first encounter with ‘IN’ was during third grade when this tiny word sat by itself IN a ‘preposition’ jar made of glass. The rest of the words lingered further away on the blackboard –near, around, next to, by, across… But over time her experience of ‘IN’ deepened; until she realized just how often only this tiny, but meaningful, word would do – in love, in trouble, in a hurry, in my car, in pain, INternet, in labor, in a hurricane, in the name of the Father…

The word ‘IN’ can usher us into a most profound encounter with God, when we pray the ‘Sign of the Cross.’  The beginning of this prayer dares us to place ourselves within the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as our ultimate reality.  We can also plunge ourselves into the mutual love of the persons of the Trinity, the source of a life of holiness. And because Christ first became incarnate in our midst, we can experience a full awareness of being children of the Father, continuously plunged into the waters of our Baptism by the Holy Spirit, who stirs up these living waters. When we enter into this prayer, we embark upon an act of ongoing immersion into love. We dare to hope that all the moments of our day and every reality we encounter can be made holy. Our actions can then echo St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles who declares, “IN him we live and have our being (17:28)”.

Faith Sharing Questions:

  1. What favorite place, room or chair do you often imagine or dream about BEING “IN”? Why is that a comfortable place for you?
  2. What is your experience of the Sign of the Cross as a prayer of immersion… in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?
  3. What does being IN a relationship with God mean to you? What does being “IN the world but not of the world mean for you?”
Posted in encounter Father, Son and Spirit, growth for evangelizers | Comments Off on What Reality Are You Living ‘IN’?

Five Steps to Donating with the Compassion of Jesus

People wading through toxic flood waters, babies without clean diapers for days, lost loved ones, hurricane victims, countries struggling with famine and unspeakable horrors… What is your response? Or are you too numb to be moved?

For most of us, such unimaginable images touch us at the core of our beings and call forth a response. Then we feel helplessness, compassion, sorrow and a strong urge TO DO SOMETHING. So many millions have done just that already. Thank God!  Here are some further steps you can take as a disciple of Jesus that will unleash the presence and mercy of God in even deeper ways.

  1. Stand with Jesus, who was often “moved with pity” for the blind, the lame, the broken who crossed his path. He also experienced compassion for whole crowds of the hungry, the lost and the hurting. You can share this inner stirring with him. He understands. And remember that for him, this experience was often the doorway to many healings.
  2. Tap into the presence of God by praying for the people who concern you most. Do this many times. It might be a category of persons, like those without food, the medically needy who are experiencing a disaster, the elderly with pets, or people from a certain city or cities. Make a list to help you keep praying. Add “Lord, Have mercy.” After every name.
  3. Seek the Holy Spirit on behalf of others. It is OK to start with, “Do something, God!” But then it is time to ask for the wisdom of the Spirit about what to give. Should it be money or physical items? Should it be through a trusted organization that addresses your greatest concerns? What is most efficient and immediate? You might consult charitynavigator.org. Then ask the Spirit to unleash God’s power though what you decide to do.
  4. Surrender to the charism of almsgiving and do what Jesus leads you to do. It is a gift to be able to serve others (see Romans 12:8). And when we do so in the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God multiplies our resources in ways we can’t even imagine. Through almsgiving you are doing more than donating. You are participating in God’s divine mercy for all his children.
  5. Use the opportunity to let God redefine what you need. Almsgiving is most fruitful when is accompanied by the gift of fasting. Ask yourself, “What can I do without in order to have more to give? How can I live a more simple life? Do I really need a dozen pair of shoes, two vacations a year, or a new car?” We are inspired by a Haitian hairdresser named Pierre Toussaint (1766 – 1853) who chose poverty as a way of life. As an eighty-year-old, he was asked why he didn’t retire from his lucrative business. His reply was, “I would not have enough for others.”
Posted in growth for evangelizers, the gospel and the world | Comments Off on Five Steps to Donating with the Compassion of Jesus

Moving from Worldly Grief into Godly Grief

At the time we had one of those cars that choked when the temperature went above 90 or lower than 30 degrees. That Monday, it finally did start after four sputtering attempts. Therese made it to the tiny parking lot behind the bank. But no empty spaces! That meant a thirty-minute parking meter in the municipal lot four blocks away. If she walked fast, she would only be a few minutes late for work… Until she opened the door and found seven people waiting in the customer service line as one frustrated teller kept repeating instructions to a frail old woman who was buying several money orders. Therese would definitely be late for work, with the bonus of a parking ticket. She was ready to launch out into full-scale complaining.

WHO NEEDS THIS?

“Who needs this kind of grief?” She muttered to herself and to God all at once.

If St. Paul had been the ninth person in line at the bank, he might have answered, “You do!”  His second epistle to the Corinthians (7:5-13) offers us a choice between worldly grief that leads to death, and godly grief that leads to repentance and faith. Standing behind him are centuries of psalmists who called out to God in laments.

Therese writes, “At that moment I had a choice. I was free to turn to Jesus with St. Paul and all the psalmists. I was free to offer myself and my complaints to the Lord, turning them into a holy sacrifice, instead of fuming until my blood pressure soared.” Jesus himself chose excruciating pain, thirst, and feelings of rejection, as he prayed Psalm 22.

GROANING AND GRIEVING

“My God, my God, why have you deserted me?  How far from saving me, the words I groan!”  He used this Psalm 22 to describe exactly what he was experiencing to his Father, then he moved forward in godly grief.  “Oh my strength, come to me quickly… You are the theme of my praise in the Great Assembly.” Another example is Psalm 139 that portrays a feverish mind riddled with doubts and anguish moving toward awe and trust.

The little band of people waiting at the bank had a very small share in the human experience of grieving. Perhaps you have mourned over grey hairs, bad weather, lost sleep, the price of beef,or a death.  Such losses, however serious, can set us back, or move us forward in faith.

THE HOLY SPIRIT MOVES

The Spirit of God can gently touch a grieving heart, moving it from self-absorption into calling upon God. The Holy Spirit knows our needs and can nudge us to view things through God’s eyes. Praying through our complaints creates “a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.” (Romans 12:2)  This sacrifice literally becomes an opportunity to “make holy,” to bless my car, the bank, and the old woman with the money orders.

Therese had this opportunity when the frail old woman sneezed. “God bless you!” Therese replied. “Amen!” said banking customer three. “Alleluia!” came from customer five. So turn to God with your complaints. And when this is too difficult, turn to a friend. Explain your needs, without blaming anyone. Ask that friend say a prayer with you, remembering, that some people are evangelized through helping others.

Posted in encounter Father, Son and Spirit, growth for evangelizers | Comments Off on Moving from Worldly Grief into Godly Grief