Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blog # 280 The Year of FAITH (2012 - 2013), 2

BLOG # 280  The Year of  fAITH  (2012 - 2013) , 2

Pope Benedict's proclamation  of a Year of Faith beginning Oct 10. 2012 and ending November 1, 2013 gave me special joy. As I see it, the agenda for the Year focuses for the entire Catholic Church at this particular moment of history the condition of our seven billion fellow human creatures and our responsibility and relationship toward  ourselves and  them in the light of our Baptismal commitment to  God as beleiving Catholic Christians.  It should be a time for examining renewing and strengthening our awareness , understanding, and proclamation of our personal individual and worldwide community response in faith to the message that Jesus brought from Heaven of holiness leading to justice love peace joy and eternal life for all people.

 My hope is we will be inspired and directed by the attitude and strategy Pope John Paul II called for under the title given it by him as the ' new evangelization' of the world. We will recognize more clearly and explicitly the holiness and presence of God in all of creation and become more aware of the sincerity of others who claim and experience a faith and relationship with God different from our own.  Rather than seeing and emphasizing religious experiences that are different from our own  as evil or wrong, we will see the good that is present in them and recognize it as good, genuine faith, and God-given, but for the time being as incomplete.   

All of this reminds me of a story I presume is imaginary but can be effective in illustrating what I see as our real and serious responsibility as baptized Christians toward our Catholic faith, and the command of Jesus to share that faith thrughout the world. 

The story is of a famous tight-rope walker.  He set up a tight rope across the  Niagra Falls and proclaimed he could push a wheel-barrow across the Falls with any man or woman who would volunteer for it sitting in the wheel-barrow. He announced the date and time for his performance and a huge crowd gathered on both sides of the River to watch. He asked for a volunteer from the crowd.  A man climbed the ladder going up to the starting point to stand along-side of the performer who shook the man's hand and said "Thank you, get in". The man believed, trusted, and acted upon his faith. He crossed the river safely,

In real life Jesus is the 'Performer'.  The same Jesus who called James and John away from their fishing business and who changed the name and identity of Simon Bar-Jona to Peter the Rock , the same Jesus who claimed to be the promised Messiah of Genesis , God the Creator's Beloved Son, one with the Father yet now born among us as one of us and like us in all but sin, is the same Jesus who calls us to Himself in our particular moment of history, not just someone who is honest and tells the truth but The Truth, not just someone who can talk about where we are going with our lives and  knowledgeable about how to get there, but The Way, not just guesssing or hoping there is life beyond the grave but  BEing The Life each of us is called to desire seek and eventually share , the same Jesus who invites us to receive in Baptism a new identity and a new relatonship in Him with the Creator of all that exists, and promises  for us the value and experience for which all of us hunger and thirst whether we realize it or not, the gift of eternal happiness, through, with, and in Him.    

The only way any and all of this can be ours, real, understood ,and accomplished by us is by faith.  With living active faith  we can be more assured of its reality and more confident in the fulfillment of the promises upon which it rests than we can be assured and confident the sun will rise tomorrow mornng in the east.  This is true becuse God never promised the sun would rise tomorrow but He did set his seal on Jesus and promised eternal life in Him.

We will contiue with further insights into the meaning and experience of faith in  hope that such a review will help us appreciate more fully  and derive more benefit from our experience of our current year as The Year of Faith.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog # 279 Blessings

# 279   Blessings  

I wanted to get another blog out today dealing with the Year of Faith but after working on it almost all morning I had very little on the page. So rather than take the chance of not getting a blog out today and leave another large gap between them I looked into some notes I had typed back in 1986 and found what I will share with you now. I don't know where I got it in the first place but it is not original. May the Lord bless the person who gave it to me, whoever he or she may be! It was a blessing for me back in '86 and again today as I am sharing it with you.
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Holy One, our God, giver of all life and beauty,  You love us into being every moment of our lives. Thank You for calling us - alone and together, into the journey of life. Bless us with the gift of vision ...to see your beauty around us and within us, to delight in the lavish gifts of your wonderful creation. Bless us with vision!  

Bless us with the gift of courage ...to understand the meaning and value of the darkness and pain of the journey, to stand with those who suffer and ache.     Teach our minds and hearts to receive and share your faithful love. Bless us with courage !  

Bless us with the gift of  gentleness ... to walk through our joys and pains, especially the growing times,  with your gentle love.  Teach us to be gentle with our sisters and brothers as we share the wonder of living. Bless us with gentleness !

Bless us with the gift of creativity ... to help us brave new grounds, to test new horizons , to risk and trust being co-creators with You, transforming creation according to your vision of peace and justice.  Bless us with creativity ! 

Bless us with the gift of compassion ... to see the interconnectedness of all life, to celebrate with warm hearts your healing presence in and through us.
Bless us with compassion ! 

And bless us with the grace to recognize your gifts in all that we shall ever have, to recognize and call them for a time our own so that we will have something to give us joy and something of our joy to give to others.  Amen

Blog # 278 A Treasure

Blog # 278   A Treasure

Recently I have been reading some of the many pages of notes I assembled through the years. Blog # 278 is a copy of some thoughts that date back 24 years.  It tells of an incident that I think could have happened yesterday. 
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If, one day this week, while digging in the back yard, I found a million dollars wrapped in a package, you could use a bit of it, right?  Well, actually I found more than a million dollars, and I want to share it with you.
In the case of the million dollars, I would have had to be digging, be able to recognize a dollar, and to be able to count to a million in order to know what I had done and what had happened in my life. So with what I actually discovered . I needed to be looking, searching, working, open, focused, available, and other possible descriptive words in order for the incident to happen. I would have had to be able to recognize a value that was beyond sight, sound, touch, taste and smell to recognize the value I had found. This is just as I would have had to recognize what money can buy to recognize what I had found if I had found a million dollars, in itself just paper, but for someone who knows, a much more valuable realty than paper.

What I found was an egg. A gold egg?  No, just an egg. I found it in a nest I had set up in a coop where six chickens, hatched out just six months ago, lived. I was happy to find it and took it into the house.  The next morning I was preparing to have it for breakfast and I began to think about the whole indicent while waiting for the egg to boil.  What do you think I found when I creaked it open?  Right, an egg, just like so many other eggs I  had for breakfast through these many years of my life. 
But this egg was beginning to be special.

Size, shape, color, texture, and taste were very much the same as any egg. Egg white, egg yolk right in the center. The same. The difference began to show in my response to the egg. I began to ask what it really was, beyond what I saw, the why of it, and how it came to be. The egg was not in the nest yesterday, and the mother hen was herself merely an egg just six months ago . A prefect shape, the color of the yolk  just right, the wonderful taste of a fresh egg. What all went into it was the question on my mind.

Time, merely six months, corn, earth, water, sunshine, and grass all must have had something to do with my egg. But none of these, nor all of them together could explain sufficiently the fact the egg was so much like all other eggs in size and shape, color and taste. None of the chickens in that particular coop had ever laid an egg .

 Who taught the mother hen how to make an egg? Yes, the corn and the grass water and sunshine had something to do with it, but not all, nor in themselves. To think there was not some reality beyond these would have been like receiving a package in the mail from someone who loves you in Chicago and thinking it came merely from the local post office.  So I let my mind be touched by God, and began to imagine and praise the Designer, Gift-giver, Someone-Who-Loves-Me, Creator, Wisdom, Goodness, Presence, My God!

I had discovered far more than a million dollars in that egg. Scripture texts began to come to mind. “Look to the birds of the air”…and to chickens. “The Father cares for them…how much more you!”

May you receive many eggs in your life! May all that you call your own remind you of the Lord and call you to praise and joy. May Jesus, God-Come-Among-Us, God’s Greatest Gift, be your Great Teacher and Friend.  May His goodness, wisdom, generosity, and joy dwell in us always.
I love you!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blog # 277 YEAR OF FAITH- 2012 - 13

Blog # 277  Year of Faith 2012 - 13

A major focus Pope Benedict has designated for the Year of Faith which begins for us next Wednesday,  October 10, is Adult Faith Formation.  Normally when we think of  religious education programs in local parishes our focus  rests upon religion classses in our Catholic schools and CCD programs for our children. But in our particular moment of history , the Holy Father rightly recognizes a real and serious threat to the faith of us all and especially anyone who is not well grounded both in the knowledge and positive experience of the basic truths that have been handed down to us generation after generation back to the origins of the Church and Jesus Himself.

The Year of Faith is a call to each of us no matter where we stand at the present time in our relationship with God and the Church to grow in our awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the content and value of our faith and in our  experience of  a personal love for God and one another.

If we are only willing to remain ever the same as we were, there is no room or possibility for growth.  To grow in faith as I see it we must be willing and prepared to grow in creativity, curiosity, discovery, excitement, wonder, freedom,  and joy.  May we , one by one, and as a faith community ever listen for the Holy Spirit to call us from where we are, emotionaly, spirituallly, physically, to places closer to Himself !

Years ago when I was Pastor of a parish out in Akansas,  in preparation for our four weeks of Advent, to help us in our quest to make the time and opportunity an experience of growth in holiness, the remainder of this blog was part of the content of our Sunday bulletin the week before Advent.  I am using it for myself again this year in preparation for a fruitful Year of Faith and hope it might be useful to  you as well.  It works better when you use it not as a test but as an invitation.                               
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What do I think of when I think of God ? When and how often do I think of God?

Could I explain to someone what it means to pray   Do I pray ?  When ?     Why?   Why not?

If I were looking at myself from the outside or writing a book about myself how would I describe myself ?

What do I like most about myself ?  What do I dislike most about myself ?

Is there anything I would like to have more/less of in my life?  What?  Why ?

Am I changing in any way ?  How?  When ?  Why? Why not ?

What does it mean to belong to the Church ?  Do I care whether my neighbors belong to the Church?  Why?  Why not ?

What 'happens' when we 'go' to Mass ?   Why?

What do I think of when I think of death ? Why ?

Who is Jesus?  Where is Jesus ? How do I know ? 

What part does the Bible play in my life ?

Am I happy?  Why?  Why not ?