Friday – June 11, 2021
And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach God must believe that God exists and rewards those who seek the Lord.
Words of Hope
Faith is a funny thing for me. It is hard to define, especially when speaking about God. I must have a God I can believe in and that means finding God in my heart and my mind.
The God depicted in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel has become the default image many people have of God. An old guy on a throne. Though it is a beautiful image, I can’t take it seriously.
An old man, no matter how buff he is depicted, cannot embody the God of my understanding. That image only reduces something far too grand for human understanding to an icon and as such becomes inconsequential. Images of God can all too soon become idols and we all remember the problem Moses had with that.
The God of my understanding is shaped by my life experience as well as scriptural references. A God who is omnipotent and permeates all things is not the kind of divine presence that has a human form. In Genesis, God refers to himself as “we” and creates humankind in God’s image. Male and female. All loving and all present.
Jesus comes to us as an embodiment of God in human form, and as such he brings a more tangible experience of God to us. But He is only one aspect of the divine and the mystery of the Trinity alludes to something much greater.
That word “mystery” is the best definition for the God of my understanding. Something far greater than mortal and yet living in every one of us. That is a God I can believe in. That is the God of my faith.
May we all find a God of our understanding even if that God is somewhat beyond our full comprehension. May we find faith in something greater than ourselves and find the rewards that await us as we seek God.
Thursday – June 10, 2021
Shine through me and be so in me, that every soul with whom I come into contact may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see not me but only you, Jesus, and give you glory.
-John Cardinal Newman
A Word of Hope
What does being a witness for Christ mean to you? The Christian witness is not egocentric, and she does not wish to magnify herself by the action of her witness. Rather, she hopes that the loving care with which Christ has graced her life, will be evident to the needy person and provide an experience of God’s loving presence to others. As a Christian (Christ in and through us), our witness should reflect the Christ presence which blesses our life. The more we allow God’s Spirit to fill and enliven our lives the more clearly God will be reflected in us. When others experience your love and care, may they see less of you as a person, but more of Christ Jesus reflected in your act of witness.
Cardinal Newman also says, “Stay within me and then I will begin to shine as you shine; so, to share as to be a light to others, and that light, O Jesus, will be all from you. It will be you shining on others through me. As we meditate on that part of the prayer we can understand that it speaks about the nature of our witness which allows God’s loving presence to be reflected through us. Let’s concentrate on the phrase: “stay within me”. A bold and effective Christian witness must be consistent!
The light from a lighthouse is not turned on intermittently nor does its brightness vary. It is consistent in its brightness and motion. Its electric power source stays on! We best witness for Christ if we “keep the power on”. That requires us to keep “plugged in” and fully aware of God’s voice and desires for all of our life. We must be attentive to God’s presence in the big events of life and the little, mundane things of our daily routine interactions. This is what God desires of us. The Spirit wants to stay with us and empower us to reflect the Divine in our witness to others. May we keep the Christ light shining consistently in our lives today!
Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may be only a radiance of your life. It will be you shining on others through me.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Wednesday – June 9, 2021
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses them and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
A Word of Hope
A friend recently posted this on Facebook: “I have watched people throw guilt around a lot this past year. I am at the age where I don’t care anymore. I make my decisions based on my research and what is best for me. I assume others do the same. Living a guilt-free life is awesome!”
When I read this, I was flooded with anger. I am at the age where I have learned that I am responsible for my actions and reactions so I turned to prayer, to God, to figure out why I had such an intense and visceral reaction to these words. First I thought about what guilt is. One explanation is “Guilt is a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes or realizes-accurately or not-that they have compromised their own standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation.” After reading this, I realized that the parts of my friend’s post that upset me most were “…I don’t care anymore” and “I make decisions based on…what is best for me.”
Yes, we all have a natural instinct that pulls us toward self-preservation.. And yes, guilt, like most human emotions runs a gamut between healthy and unhealthy, but to come to “the age,” to a place in life, where you give up all moral emotion seems both sad and scary. The reality is that we all make mistakes, small ones and big ones; and with them sometimes comes guilt. This too is part of our human nature, an important part because without it, we lose a moral compass.. The good news is that our growth as humans and as Christians comes from regular self-examination, from looking honestly at our hearts, minds, and actions and acknowledging our transgressions. We can then turn to Jesus with prayers for forgiveness, and, with a clean heart, accept the mercy that is freely offered to us.
I suspect that in writing these words my friend was searching for a way to find more joy in life. There is a cliche phrase, but one that I find meaningful, that explains joy as a life that puts Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last. Seen this way, true joy becomes elusive to those who always put themselves first.
Ultimately, I chose not to respond to my friend’s post. I didn’t want to say something that I might feel guilty about afterward. My prayers left me meditating on the words in James 1:2 (from The Message). “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” And so, I continue to pray.
Most loving God, help me to find joy in this life by always turning to you first, by lifting up others, and by accepting my flawed self as your beloved child. Amen
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Tuesday – June 8, 2021
1 Samuel 8.19-20:22
So, Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them. ’Samuel then said to the people of Israel, ‘Each of you return home.’
Word of Hope
Today some of us marvel that Israel would demand a king. We believe that God will rule through the hearts of people and that justice will flow from within us through that of God which is in all of us.
Today some seem to think an absolute human ruler is what we need. They seem to think that a king will be led by God to bring justice. Authoritarian command is what they feel is needed. It is almost a return to the Divine Right of Kings philosophy. The passage from Samuel teaches that monarchs will act absolutely if given the command. They will see the people as resources to use in whatever what necessary. And the results are devastating.
Notice what God tells Samuel: “listen to their voice”. Not something a monarch would say.
History would back up this position about which humankind was warned all those years ago. Look to the Caesars, Romanovs, Bourbons, or Bonapartes. More modern times brings up the disasters of Hitler, Stalin, Banda, Mussolini and others; who though not kings in title were monarchs in actions.
But when people walk a path to God and listen to that of God within they can rest assured that God will listen to their voice. And God will answer. Not as a cruel dictator but as a parent, as mother, as father. Authority flows from love, not fear.
God of love, God who listens, God who answers, awaken within us. Hear our voice and speak to our needs as only you know best. Guide our leaders to be mindful that You are within each of us. And whatever path we choose to You, guide our footsteps to You.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – June 7, 2021
Psalm 108:1- 4
My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Word of Hope
Nothing is so amazing as seeing your children and grandchildren succeed! The last few weeks have been grandparent paradise for our family. After 15 months of being away from family because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we devoted several trips to see great-grandsons and granddaughters and our daughter.
God has amazing lessons of patience to teach you when you attend little league baseball for a four-year-old and a seven-year-old. You learn that your idea of a baseball game is quite different from that seen through the eyes of a young child! They each got hits we got to witness. And they each had a meltdown (or two, or more) that are all part of baseball at those ages. But we loved seeing them play! And we loved seeing their mother, our granddaughter!
Baseball for four years old is like herding cats! And for the seven-year-olds it is that painful stage of life when trying to coordinate mind, eyes and muscles is a true miracle! How many times in our life have we gone through those stages either physically, in our careers or in our spiritual lives?
After two trips of 3 hours each way in one week for great-grandsons’ baseball, we got to travel 5 hours the next week to see our granddaughter graduate from college! How quickly they go from Little League or Ballet to graduation! God’s creation and the miracles of birth and growth and the accomplishments of life are so amazing to witness. We were thrilled to visit with our daughter and granddaughter and glow together in pride as she graduated. She captured a great teaching job the week after graduation. We feel so blessed by the growth and accomplishments of our offspring!
God guides us each step of our lives. It is wonderful to have experienced the joys of motherhood and being a grandmother and a great-grandmother! I have cried with them in their sad times and rejoiced with them in their good times. We cannot see how all of life will unfold. Having lived this long I can see glimpses and know how God has worked amazing things in my life! I know God will be there every step of the way for our children and grandchildren. I will try to remember in the dark times all the places God has led me before and see the wonderful family God has given me and know how wonderful God is!
God who gives us blessings and lessons in our life, we thank you for guiding us through the times of lessons and giving us songs of joy in the good times. We are grateful for our lives and for the lives of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are thankful for our family of choice that you give us, as well. You give us all the best blessings! We praise your many names!
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