Nobodies

This past week The Church honored the memory of St. Damien de Veuster. It was said of Father Damien that there was nothing supernatural about him. He was a vigorous, forceful man with a big kindly heart in the prime of life and a jack of all trades. He was a man of determined tenacity to Christ his world, specifically the world of the leper colonies of Hawaii. Ambrose Huthison, who worked alongside him and became a close friend of Father Damien, said that “he loved to work with him in his crusade to put down evil. There was no hypocrisy in him.”

Fellow priests thought Father Damien was too uneducated; they believed he wasn’t up to the task. Yet St. Damien persisted in prayer and study and depended on the intercession of St. Francis Xavier to be chosen for the mission to the lepers. St. Francis Xavier was a priest who served The Church in Portugal, India, Japan, and China. He, as well as St. Damien, died in their service to the people they helped.

The Church honors the memory of Saints of Scripture and Salvation History during Eastertide who continued Christ’s mission of setting captives free. The people they served are the nobodies of history that remain nameless to us, yet they bear the name: Beloved.

***

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The Gospel according to St. Luke 4:18-21

***

We read of the mission of the Early Church during Eastertide and we witness the disciples and followers Christing the world by setting captives free through the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through them.

The readings for today in The Divine Office and the Mass include two events from the Acts of the Apostles that embody the mission that Christ gave to the disciples. We recall Peter and John’s encounter with a nameless lame man in our Morning Prayer readings:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

And then we read about Saints Paul and Barnabas’ encounter with a nameless lame man in our Mass readings:

[There was a] a crippled man, lame from birth,
who had never walked.
He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him,
saw that he had the faith to be healed,
and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.”
He jumped up and began to walk about.

The first saints-in-the-making saw the nameless nobodies and listened to their pleas for help, and they gave them Christ through the Holy Spirit flowing through their lives. Those nobodies, no doubt, had been crying out to other nobodies passing by for a long time, but someone different passed by them in these encounters. The disciples and apostles didn’t hear their pleas as noise; no, they stopped, looked intently at them, and listened. And it made all the difference for those nobodies! There have been multitudes of nobodies throughout Salvation History up to this very day who need someone to look intently at them, acknowledge their pain, and listen to them. And here we are Christing our corner of the world, living beside nobodies who wait for us to look intently at them. Isn’t the Holy Spirit just waiting for us to stop and listen?

The Saints in Salvation History chose to suffer as Christ suffered because of their deep love for God. They were ridiculed, ostracized, maligned, and persecuted, but they remained faithful to Christ’s mission to set captives free. Saints Peter, John, and Paul were martyred, and Father Damien became a leper himself. He chose to remain beside the lepers, and as he continued to fight against the prejudice and ignorance of his day, society gradually changed its mind about the “nobody lepers.”

Today we aren’t surrounded by the extremes of physical disease as our ancestors were, but I submit, that we suffer from the extremes of spiritual dis-ease–the blindness of pride, the lameness of fear, the deafness of pride–it emanates from the nobodies in our lives. Well, fellow saint-in-the-making, who is in your corner of the world just waiting for us to look intently at them and listen to the pain of their lives? How long have they been observing us as we come and go past them? How long have they been waiting for us to stand up for them in the face of prejudice and misunderstanding?

LORD, sometimes it’s not easy to listen to others’ complaints. We sometimes grow impatient with their fear, pride, and anger. Just as you bore our disease, may we love the nobodies that are difficult to love.

Holy Spirit of God, make us self-forgetful. Remove our self-preoccupation so that we may abide with the marginalized and forgotten in our corner of the world.

LORD, our Savior, and Healer open our eyes and ears to the reality of the nobodies in our life that need us to listen to them for you. Quiet our hearts so that we may join you in setting the captives free.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen




Grace and Power

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith...

 Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen.  But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council.  They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts of the Apostles 6:7-15

It is Eastertide! The Church draws our attention to the early days of her actions recorded in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. I like the word Eastertide, for indeed, we witness the tide that changed the world: the Tide of Christ and his Church flowed to the shores of every place the Spirit of God sent the disciples. As the tide flowed, we read of men and women becoming the first saints of The Church. In today’s reading, we witness the courage and wisdom of St. Stephen before he becomes the first martyr of the Church.

Likely, we will not have to endure the extent of subterfuge against us or the persecution and martyrdom St. Stephen faced, but we each face daily circumstances that may be unjust, where gossip and slander against us test our courage as we swim against the tide of gossip and slander. The small sacrifices we make each day for the sake of love for our LORD are sometimes referred to as martyrdom of the self in that we learn to love our LORD more than our self-interest. What can we learn by observing St. Stephen’s character that will spur us on in our swim against the tide of the culture around us?

Stephen was a man of integrity. The Church recognized that he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. When we choose to empty ourselves of every shred of self-interest, we make room for the presence of the Holy Spirit. I’m learning that if I am going to receive the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I have to let go of my notions and ideas of how life should go for me and for those I love. I have to let go of the fear of what others may plot against me for my faith. St. Stephen may have expected life to turn out differently for him, but we observe that he was a man whose inclination toward Jesus motivated his responses and actions toward his persecutors.

LORD, my self-interests are often motivated by my obstinance and fear of rejection. And self-absorption sometimes drives me into overweening pride. I desire integrity so that my inner person prefers you and your will for me.

St. Stephen was wise, and the synagogue officials were envious of him and outraged by the Spirit with which he spoke. He was not attached to his reputation or proving his worth to others or defending himself against lies about him. He knew who he was as God’s child, and his eyes fixed on standing firm in that truth and responding to others from that truth.

LORD, free me from self-protection. Guard my tongue; I desire that all the words of my mouth echo the Truth, Beauty, and Godness of The Faith. I can waste a lot of words on a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. I can use words as weapons for my insecurities. But I desire that you fill me with understanding so that what I say or don’t say is motivated by the wisdom of your Spirit within me. 

We learn from the next chapter of the Acts of the Apostles that St. Stephen, amid the stoning that would cause his death, “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” The testament of those last moments of his life here on earth revealed the LORD’s faithfulness to him; St. Stephen had received the truth of Christ in his heart and mind; he stood up for the truth about Jesus, now Jesus was standing up for him, waiting to receive him into his presence.

LORD, I desire to fix my gaze on your glory. When I am frightened by the threats around me or the pain I endure, will you lift my chin to look you straight into your eyes? I desire to live in the confidence that you receive my spirit as I choose to remain confident in the truth that you are with me always, no matter what causes me fear.

St. Stephen was a forgiver. His last words echo Christ’s words from the cross, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” I’m tempted to cling to injustices and stew in resentments and regrets. I’m tempted to keep mental lists of grievances.

LORD, empty my memories of what others may have done to hurt me; may I only desire to forgive them and will their good. Would you give me emotional amnesia of offenses that can free me to center my heart and mind on you?

St. Stephen, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be world without end.

Amen.

Memorial of St. Anthony the Abbot


Today The Church honors the memory of St. Anthony of the Desert. He is known as the Father of all Monks because of his inspiring perseverance in holiness. It is said that when he heard the words from St. Matthew 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today,” he gave away everything and went outside the village to live a life of praying, fasting, and manual labor. What sets St. Anthony apart was that he wasn’t just a hearer of the Word; he desired to become what Jesus proclaimed; he desired to be another Christ. He told many wanna-be monastics who came to visit him that the key to the ascetic life was perseverance, not to think proudly, and treat each day as if it were the beginning.

We have just crossed the threshold into the new beginning of a calendar year. At least for me, the Memorial of St. Anthony has been divinely planned because I have been examining some of the patterns of my own life that require Holy Spirit-given perseverance to become more humble like Christ. In a frenzied world that has lost its center, I can be whipped around by the tail, or get so caught up in trying to control the beat of my life that I lose my breath in effort and striving. Sometimes my life sounds to me like clanging gongs and crashing cymbals as St. Paul wrote. The asceticism of St. Anthony and other monastics entices me, beckoning my heart to retreat from the noise that surrounds me, even the noise within me! I can’t retreat to the edges of the world, but I can retreat into a solitude of the heart through the monastic understanding that all of life is sacred, and God is present to me as much as I will allow him to be.

The word ascetic has negative connotations in a society that turns to superficialities, comforts, and conveniences to solve the deep hunger of our lives. The thought of denying ourselves anything sends chills up the spine. Nevertheless, the self-discipline and intentional practices of self-denial that Christ proclaimed are true for every age. We can take our cues from the hard-won wisdom of the monastic life as it is modeled after Christ’s teaching.

The common theme in the monastic tradition of reverence toward the LORD is striking. Saint Athanasius wrote of St. Anthony, “Anthony was not known for his writings nor his worldly wisdom, nor any art, but simply for his reverence toward God.” Christine Valters Paintner wrote in one of her many books on Celtic monasticism, [To reverence God] “is to see all of creation as woven together in holiness and to live this truthIn this loving act, we begin to knit together that which has been torn; we gather all that has been scattered.” She writes that when we begin to see the Earth as our monastery no matter where we are, our reverence for the LORD can bring Christ’s healing presence to the world. Oh, I desire that for myself?

On the outside, the monastic tradition looks restrictive and rather tedious. But don’t you ever rail against the restrictions of the dull routine of our lives? I’m learning that the more I’m reverent to the LORD, the more I see life with all its dull bits as an offering to him. I’m becoming more aware that the ground I am standing on is holy ground ablaze with God’s presence. Instead of turning to a distraction like eating too much, drinking too much, playing too much, speaking too much, working too much–I can take an ascetic perspective by simply slowing down and recognizing that the very distractions I run to are leading me farther away from becoming another Christ in my corner of the world.

When I begin to understand this, all of life becomes sacramental as I reverence the LORD, in that I persevere in the knowledge that God is making all things new in each moment. Our Catholic Faith is a sacramental faith, not just in how we worship at Mass, but in how we live our ordinary lives deliberately reverent of the LORD. The monastic tradition of our Faith embraces this intentional way of life: we all can benefit from that example! As I knead the dough for our bread for the week or as I fold our laundry I enter into sacramental worship before the LORD God with the work of my hands. And I respond as Moses and probably many monastics before us by taking off my proverbial sandals for the ground beneath me is holy ground, prostrating myself in the very stuff of earth from which I was created.

My burgeoning desire is to follow Christ in the steps of the monastic tradition where Christ calls to us to live mindful of who we are with more intentionality at becoming another Christ. Just as Jesus lived, monastics unite themselves to the rhythm of God’s providence. Words like reflect, linger, savor–can become the music of our life when we choose to NOT to worry about tomorrow when we choose NOT to distract ourselves with soul-sucking pursuits when we choose NOT to acquire more of the stuff of this world.

How about you, friend? Do you find yourself more agitated by life as you try to keep pace with the world around us? Are there some deliberate steps you know you need to make to slow yourself down, to slow your family life down? As you embark on this calendar year you may want to ask yourself some of the questions I’ve been examining the hindrances in my life to how I reverence the LORD.

What am I distracting myself with that is hindering my holiness and robbing my joy? Jesus answers, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –St. Matthew 6:19-21

Am I allowing this day’s trouble to overrule trusting in the LORD? Jesus answers, “…do not be anxious about your life, … Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin …  seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –St. Matthew 6: 25-33

What peace of mind am I missing out on by delaying my decision to persevere in holiness and wholeness in this particular area of my life? Jesus answers, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” St. John 14:26,27

Oh, Jesus, we long for your transforming grace in our lives. Holy Spirit, teach us how to reverence you, Blessed Trinity whom we adore!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen

The Beloved: Feast Day of St. John, the Evangelist

When I realized that today is the feast day of St. John the Evangelist, and that I am privileged to share my thoughts about St. John, I didn’t know where to start! The Holy Spirit has guided me in my journey into the fullness of our Faith using the incredible gift we have in St. John’s contemplative narration of Jesus’ life as well as his letters to the Early Church. St. John’s gospel is quite different than the other three; it is more like a conversation between friends. Yes, we observe Jesus’ compassion and passion as Jesus spoke his salvation into others, but St. John draws us to see Jesus right here, right now in our daily round. Salvation is a noun, yet as we live our life, it is a verb that unfolds through the extremes and the mundane of our life. I need that reminder so that I will allow myself to be saved from myself through living my ordinary life. Learning to live intimately inclined to Jesus as the Lover of my Soul has been a hard-fought battle. It wasn’t until I reclined in conversation with the Jesus of St. John’s gospel that I saw him beholding me!

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”

Seeing or beholding is a prevalent theme St. John uses throughout his gospel narrative. He begins his gospel with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…What has come into being in him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darknessand the darkness did not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.” St. John proceeds to narrate the fullness of this truth by pleading with us to “come and see”; to behold our Savior through contemplation.

Take a moment to place the palm of your hand close to your face. What do you see? What can’t you see? In essence, what St. John is asking us to do is to pull away OUR palm (our SELF) and see what lies before us. Do you have trouble with your vision? Is it hard for you to see the life our Savior desires for you? I’ve struggled most of my life to look for God with my palm in front of my face. Through tremendous healing, I learned to remove my palm from my vision. Beholding the LORD through John’s eyes was transforming. What I saw in that light was that I am the beloved daughter of the Most-High God. I kindle to that word, “beloved.”

Today’s mass readings include a passage from one of St. John’s letters to the Early Church that begins with the greeting, “Beloved,” and concludes with, “We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.” Isn’t that what we long to know? That we are beloved and that our joy can be complete. Seem’s impossible sometimes, does it not? How do you feel about yourself and your life right now, right this minute? Is there a permeating understanding that you are God’s beloved and that joy is complete because of it? Or are you still waiting for some next thing to make you feel Beloved and joyful?

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,

what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us— 
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

I John 1:1-4

Eugene Peterson wrote that the two most difficult things to get straight in life are love and God. Do you agree with that? I’ve come to believe it to be true in my own life. I know how messy my understanding of God has been and how that affected how I received his love and gave love to others. Is it just me, or do you struggle to detach “love” from approval and performance from abuse or neglect? For much of my life, I saw God as Judge, period. It wasn’t until these later years of my life that I’ve allowed myself to consider God as Lover, it has and continues to save me!

A turning point for me was a moment I shared with our eldest grandchild when she was eight months old. I was taken up in the wonder of Margot, the dimples on her tiny hands that would one day emerge as knuckles, her blue eyes that were so much like our sons, every detail of her existence swept me up in a love that only a grandparent can know for a grandchild. I adored her as I had never adored anyone else! We sat alone one day on the floor as she watched a Baby Einstein video. Observing her delight in the show caused me to delight. She would turn to me and look at me and smile and giggle, then point back to the television as if to invite me to watch the show with her. Into those moments, I dropped that proverbial palm from my face, and the LORD spoke very clearly to me, “Lois, I know that you could gaze at Margot for a long, long time, you would move heaven and earth for Marguerite to remain safe and secure in your presence and your love for her. Lois, I adore you more than you can adore Margot. I enjoy you; you are a pleasure to love; you are MY beloved daughter! Will you adore me as I adore you?” Tears poured from a wound that had never healed, a wound caused by conditional love and harsh judgment, a wound that infected my understanding of God, my Father. What followed was a journey guided by St. John’s gospel and letters.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First, we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

I John 4:17-19 (The Message)

I’ve learned that God desires to dwell with ME! Where once I felt I had to get things just right, say the right things, look the right way, perform in a certain way, I now see him sitting on the floor beside me. He doesn’t reject me; he adores me! There is nothing that would ever change his mind about me.

Friend, do you have a wound that festers in your life? A wound that blinds you to the truth of God’s love for you and infects how you love others. God adores you!

What are the messes you have made because of your fear that God will not come through for you or that you have to earn his love? God still adores you!

Does your fear, your pride, or your anger cripple you? Stand in line. Our first parents acted on their fear but God still loved them. God did, God does, and God will always adore you!

Lover of our Soul, teach us to see you; to behold you; to adore you!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen

WAITING

I have learned to appreciate the posture of waiting over the last decade or so of my life. There are all kinds of waiting, but there is the silent waiting and yearning to see God come through for you. Sometimes our pain or desire is so private that we can’t bring ourselves to voice to the LORD what is so horrible or magnificent to contemplate. That is where I found myself about ten years ago during the Advent season-a tragedy in our family that turned our world upside down. We were robbed of hope and trust, and in exchange, grief so heavy to bear set into our lives for years. St. Paul reminds us that the Spirit of God knows the groanings of our hearts, good thing, for during that time in my life there were no words to form into prayer. Yet the LORD knew and he miraculously brought about healing and restoration, not instantly, but in his good time. Friend, do you ever let out a deep groan of pain over loss in your life? Or do you treasure some dream that you don’t dare put to words for fear of rejection or failure? I believe we’ve all been there from time to time.

I came across this quote a while back, “We can wait empty, or we can wait full. It all depends on what we do with the time. Those who wait empty get irritated or dissipated. Those who wait full get richer as time goes by. Those who wait empty; wait aimlessly. Those who wait full do something that changes them by the time they get what they are waiting for.” I like that! It is a constant reminder to me to take a deep breath, step back, and allow the LORD to reveal himself when he desires so. And he always does, not dramatically, but over time his recompense comes, steadily and surely out of ashes beauty emerges.

Have you noticed how much the Church turns our attention to Isaiah’s oracles during this season of Advent? The Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to deliver the oracles about the coming of the long-expected Messiah with a familiar preamble of “On that day.” Isaiah’s words offered hope for the coming day that the LORD had ordained from the beginning. Isn’t that what we all need when we wait for God’s intervention in our circumstances? Isaiah wrote:

“It will be said on that day,
    Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him so that he might save us.
    This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Isaiah 25:9

About 400 years of suffering in the darkness of the times ensued after the Old Testament period. The waiting was rife with the unremitting hopelessness of the human condition. For the Jews, they endured without a word from a prophet. Some waited empty–embittered by persecution and subjection but, there were a few, a remnant, that refused to lose the gift of expectancy, even when all signs pointed the other direction. They waited full of hope, HOPE in God, to reveal himself as the promised Messiah.

Then, one night in a forgotten town in a forsaken country, the Messiah made his humble entrance into the world in the most ordinary way–a birth. Six pounds of pure flesh filled the emptiness of the world! The scriptures say, “In the fullness of time…,” The Sovereign LORD knew what had to be fulfilled before he incarnated himself into our darkness. I also think he came because of those waiting full; the moment was according to plan, the right humans were in place. They saw hope revealed because they never lost sight of the truth that God is good! How they waited made all the difference for them and the rest of history.

I wonder, friend if during this particular Advent you are facing circumstances where the malignant enemy of despair has you in its clutches. You aren’t alone, many stand as witnesses before you to show that waiting was eventually satisfied and hope eventually fulfilled. Hope sometimes comes immediately, other times it unfolds as the years go by. What seems dreadful to us can come to life through the power of that 6 pounds of flesh incarnating himself into our humanity.

In these days of Advent, a season of waiting and penance, as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s first coming, let’s remember that He waits to be invited into our flesh and into our weakness in, the second coming of sorts. Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

Perhaps the garish display of unforgiveness in our lives hides the wisdom of our Wonderful Counselor as he waits for us to invite him into our relationships. Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

Our Mighty King may be waiting for us to stand down from our pride and fear and fall to our knees in complete surrender to his sovereign will in our lives. You may have a desire that is voiced only to the LORD, he hears your heart. Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

Could it be that the Prince of Peace sits with us ready with his oil of peace to anoint every nook and cranny of our spirits with the peace that surpasses all understanding? Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

Our Mighty God is mighty to save us from ourselves, which can be our worst enemy. He waits for us to stop striving to be junior Holy Spirits for the circumstances and relationships of our life. Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

Everlasting Father, your psalmists so often proclaim that in silence and rest we enter into your presence. You know just how hard it is for us to wait, worse yet, to trust you will come through for us. Why do we doubt what has already been given to us in your incarnation into our flesh? You suffer with us, you celebrate with us, you redeem us. Come, LORD Jesus, we wait for you!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be world without end.

Amen.

“The-Saint-Who-Stocks-Me”

Remain in Me. It is the Word of God who gives this order, expresses this wish. Remain in Me, not for a few minutes, a few hours which must pass away, but remain… permanently, habitually, Remain in Me, pray in Me adore in Me, love in Me, suffer in Me, work and act in Me. Remain in Me so that you may be able to encounter anyone and anything; penetrating further still into these depths. This is truly the ‘solitude into which God wants to allure the soul that He may speak to it,” the prophet sang.‘”

–St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

I was visiting a friend recently, and I noticed a new picture on her wall of one of the Saints of the Church. I commented on it and asked if the saint was her patron saint. She replied, “No, it’s The Saint-Who-Stocks-Me!” She went on to explain how the writings and prayers of the saint had compelled her so many times in her walk with the LORD. I knew what she was getting at because I had had the same experience with St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. I had talked with my spiritual director about how the timeliness of St. Elizabeth’s prayers and letter at a point in my life was a surprise blessing for me. She said that St. Elizabeth had chosen me. My experience confirmed what she said. And now, since hearing my friend’s title for the saint on her wall, I refer to St. Elizabeth as The-Saint-Who-Stocks-Me. Her prayers have so melted into my prayers that, at times, I’m not sure who’s voicing my prayer, me or St. Elizabeth through the power of the Holy Spirit praying through me!

It’s been three years since St. Elizabeth began stocking me. You see I had reached a point in my life where after three surgeries to give me relief from a genetic disease failed to stay the deterioration of my physical abilities. I was in a dark place, unable to see any good coming out of the physical suffering. I was more focused on what I had lost than what I might find. And then came St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, offering me insight and wisdom from her physical suffering with Addison’s disease that eventually took her life at age 26 in 1906. Me, I suffer because of loss of ability and chronic pain, but it is unlikely I will end in a physical death because of it. I had so much to learn and so much joy and hope yet to discover! St. Elizabeth stocks me as a persistent companion along the path of holiness.

The first words recorded from her final days begin with the Latin word, Nescivi–“I no longer know anything.” That’s quite a declaration coming from a nun who consumed the Word of God as breath itself! I think, though, I know what she was getting at. We come to the place in life where we realize all that we thought was sure, dependable, and controllable illudes us. I echo her thoughts, for I no longer know anything that I thought I knew before permanent deterioration set in. Have you been in a place where your spirit screams Nescivi? We can say with St. Elizabeth in response to an altered reality, “I no longer know anything. I do not want to know anything except ‘to know Him, to share in His sufferings, to become like Him in his death.'”

The LORD’s ultimate goal for us is to conform us into the image of Jesus, our LORD with skin on. How he allows life to unfold to accomplish that perfection in us varies, but it will always include suffering in some form or another. According to the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, God redeems suffering: “It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” As uncomfortable it is to take in this truth, it does offer hope. My physical suffering isn’t unique when I consider this truth, and learning from St. Elizabeth’s short life is how the LORD opened my spirit to acceptance of life as it is and freedom from the futile doubting that delays spiritual transformation.

St. Elizabeth prayed, “O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely so as to be established in you as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to disturb my peace…” She desired that every moment of suffering from Addison’s disease carry her into the depths of God. She asked Him to pacify her soul and make it His heaven. When I read that, I regretted the time I had wasted being agitated by what God had allowed in my life. I began to recognize that He chose me as his beloved daughter, and nothing escaped his divine plan for me. I began praying with St. Elizabeth in her prayer, “Come into me as Adorer, as Healer, as Savior. O Eternal Word, Word of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you; I want to be completely docile, ready to learn everything from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all weakness, I want to fixate on you always and to remain under your great light.” 

What about you, friend? Is your spirit bogged down in the miry clay of disappointment and regret? Do you wonder if God is a loving God intimately acquainted with your existence? The Saints of the ages have suffered and questioned God’s love, too. They stand as witnesses to us, sometimes weeping with us, sometimes instructing us, always cheering us on in the good fight of Faith in God. The Saints do stock us because they have eternity’s perspective to offer us if we will but seek the LORD in the Communion of Saints.

Dear loving Father, into your hands we commit our spirits.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

Friends in High Places

The saints have always known that the power of good is something incalculable.

–Sigrid Undset

This month of November is, for Catholics, a month of remembering those individuals who have gone before us into eternity. We concentrate our intercession for their souls as they await judgment. But every day of the year offers moments to join our prayers with the Saints who have gone before us, who are before the Throne of God in worship, praise, and intercession for us. They are our mentors and guides as we make our way to Eternity; they surround us, interceding for us, the Church here on earth! (Book of Revelation 5-22).

There are saints among us, as well; saints-in-the-making. The ordinary people in our lives whom the Holy Spirit has placed there to spur us on and intercede for us. No doubt you can think of the names of the people who the LORD has sent at the right time in the right place to walk with you in our journey in sainthood. St. Paul lists a cadre of people in his letters who were nobodies by the world’s standard but were a part of the community of saints-in-the-making who assisted him.

I have benefited from the influence of a handful of individuals over these last few decades of desiring to know God more deeply. Let me tell you about one saint-in-the-making that came along beside me to introduce me to another completed Saint. I was a water fitness instructor for years, and in those years, I came to know Sister Margretta Doyle, who regularly came to swim during my early morning shift at a local health facility. Sister Margretta’s winsome spirit was contagious, and it wasn’t long before I positioned myself in the pool next to her so that I could learn from her life. The attractiveness of her life and her obvious love and devotion to Christ and His Church was a gift to me at a tumultuous time in my life. I desired stability, order, and purpose. The circumstance of my life had shown me that there are some things in life that simply cannot be easily manipulated. I was in a situation that wasn’t getting better, and the unpleasant realization of this wouldn’t go away. Have you ever felt that way, kind of painted into a corner that you did not choose? The common mentality that surrounded me focused on external solutions for that deep ache of my soul. You’ve been there, I am sure. When you realize that prized comforts no longer bring enough comfort. When you hear the emptiness of constant conversations and cultural noise does nothing but wear you out. When superficialities that once gave you a sense of false contentment now suck the life out of you. That’s where I was at, I was seeking depth and integrity. The Holy Spirit knew this, of course, and that’s why Sister Margretta was appointed to me, a guardian saint-in-the-making for the journey that was ahead.

One day, Sister Margretta wisely asked me if I had ever heard of St. Benedict. I had in the historical sense, but my knowledge of him was woefully limited (I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that accepted the fullness of the truth of the Communion of Saints). What followed that conversation was the beginning of the fulfillment of a spiritual longing I had had for much of my life. I studied the life of St. Benedict with Sister Margretta and a group of men and women who were beautiful examples to me of how enlivening my life as a Catholic could be.

Through the witness of St. Benedict, I learned the LORD’s wisdom on how to live an ordinary life ordered according to God’s precepts. I witnessed how life-giving it could be if I allowed His Holy Spirit to order my life by the charism of St. Benedict’s life. St. Benedict faced the same challenges in the 6th century as in the 21st century–nothing new under the sun! The culture that is antichrist is perpetual and will be to the end of the age. The Rule of St. Benedict is based on the teachings of the Gospel and offered me hope for living in the mire of the antichrist milieu.

As I opened myself to St. Benedict’s example, I noticed a common thread among the men and women who have passed through the scrim of eternity. St. Benedict faced down the challenges of his day by choosing a way of life and an attitude of mind that mirrored Jesus. The dictum to listen as the foundation of spiritual growth threads through the entirety of the Rule of St. Benedict. His rule begins with, “Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” St. Benedict and all the Saints teach us not to base our judgments, goals, or sense of worth on what we see around us. We benefit from the story of their lives that live on in the Tradition of The Church.

When we are tempted to fix our gaze on what we can see, touch, hear and taste, we can study the lives of the Saints whose gaze was fixed on heaven in the midst of poverty, disease, persecution, and even death. Another practice we can do is pray with the Saints of the day. Our liturgical calendar cannot exhaust the many men and women who are, right now, praying before the throne of God for the salvation of the world.

When we find ourselves wringing our hands over the influence of the antichrist culture that we live in, we can recall that Saints lived in antichrist cultures, too. Just as St. Benedict stepped through eternity into my life to walk beside me, there is a Saint whom God desires to draw you to when you need them most. Ask the LORD to choose someone for you from the great cloud of witnesses that surround us.

We are all saints-in-the-making. Like Sister Margretta, whose life inspired my faith, we have observers of our life who the LORD wants us to inspire with our presence. They may be as close to you as a family member or as unknown to you as a grocery clerk. As saints-in-the-making, someone is always observing us. We are placed in their lives to spur them on in The Faith.

Father, you know who and what we need every moment. We thank you for the saints-in-the-making you have placed in our lives. We thank you for the gift of communion with the Saints who surround your throne!

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Jacob, Part I

“Truly, the LORD is in this place and I did not know it…How awesome is this place! This in nothing else than the house of God, the gateway to heaven.”

Genesis 28:16-17

The Church offers up a template for transformation that the LORD desires for all his creation in today’s reading from the Old Testament. In Genesis 28: 11-22, we find Jacob in a place that the LORD will use to initiate His transformation. What is behind him is an angry brother and a disappointed father whom he had deceived. What is before him is a path that will includes pitfalls and pratfalls and the formation of a dysfunctional family that eclipses any reality television. The journey will include deception handed back to him many times over, but in the end Jacob will deserve the title “Patriarch of the Faith” that he is remembered for. The first place of his transformation is at Bethel, a sacred place for his grandfather Abraham. Apparently this knowledge had not been passed down to Jacob. This is a clue about his upbringing and it’s a cautionary tale for us. Moses later records the LORD’s instruction to the people of Israel that was woven into the culture of family life.

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The culture relied on oral tradition and the passing on of the truth depended upon the parents fidelity to this understanding. Perhaps Jacob was forgetful about his family history and the stories that conveyed their faith in God or Isaac had neglected the passing of the baton of faith which included the stories of Abraham’s exemplar trust in the LORD. What we can learn from this is how foundational to a child’s life is the example of faith in the LORD that can be observed in our own lives and in giving examples of the LORD’s faithfulness through the twists and turns of life.

“… And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.  And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!  And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.  He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear,  so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God,  and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:11-22

The encounter that ensues between Jacob and the LORD begins with that “certain place” where decades earlier his grandfather, Abraham encountered the LORD (see Genesis 12) and though Jacob seemed to be unaware of that fact, the LORD chose that place to initiate Jacob into the reality of the LORD’S presence. Jacob was between a rock and a hard place, pun intended, and the sooner he recognized the omnipresent God, the sooner his spirit would be reordered into the man God desired him to be. I believe it is the same for us. The LORD is hounding our tracks as the psalmist puts it, the “greyhound of heaven” who is waiting for us to stop ignoring him and see life as it is, not what we delude our minds into believing.

A stone becomes his pillow and then a memorial. Here is another clue for our own transformation–the needed the rest that we often plow past in our striving as human-doings. The prophet Isaiah puts this truth like this, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Jacob was on his way toward the humility required for transformation, and rest is what ushered him into the awareness of God’s presence, a dream follows.

The dream that fills his sleep is a magnificent theophany where the divine touches the temporal; where the veil between earth and heaven is pulled back and Jacob’s eyes are opened to the presence of the tremendous Lover of his soul. His response, “Truly the LORD is in this place and I did not know it!” What the LORD did to remind Jacob of who he was, where he was going, and what he was to be about is exactly what our transformational moments are like when we recognize the presence of the LORD; when we are humbled by the reminder that God is God and we are not! Jacob exclaimed that that place was the house of God (Bethel); “the gateway to heaven“. I wonder how many gateways to heaven are never opened by us because we are too busy running away from something or running to something or because our fear and pride saturate our life with busy-ness or self-delusion.

Jacob’s response upon waking from that dream brings to mind the experience of getting my first pair of glasses when I was about 11 years old. I was having trouble in school because of the nearsightedness we soon found out that I had. The optometrist’s office was on the 5th floor of the tallest building on our town square. When the time came for me to put on my new glasses, the wise optometrist led me to the window and instructed me to look down on a very familiar street. He placed my glasses on my head, and my 11 year-old brain was blown away by what I could now see that I could not see before It was the autumn of the year and the maple trees were displaying their brilliance, I had always enjoyed observing the change of seasons but now my joy had been increased because of the detail I could see. What before were watercolor images to me became pristine in their texture and detail!

Jacob’s eye-opening encounter with God at Bethel blew his mind. Jacob, who had seen his world with the distortion of greed and deception, had been taken to the window of reality where God corrected his sight to the beatific vision that is forever at play before the eyes of those who trust in the LORD and by faith realize that “Surely, the LORD is in this place“.

How’s it with you, friend? Are you running from something you regret or running to something you dread? Perhaps running isn’t even involved and it’s more like sloth; the insipid spiritual laziness that mires us in the rut of self-preservation. Either way, the LORD is purposefully hounding our tracks desiring to lead us into the divine life that is ours when we are completely abandoned to His sovereignty in our lives.

Do you rest in the LORD? Do you allow yourself to receive His peace by simply stopping in a cease-fire from the striving and dis-ease that pervades our culture. I’m a strong advocate for purposeful silence where we refuse the distractions of what is happening around us so that we may be fully present to the LORD.

Father, teach us to trust in you by choosing to rest in you. Help us to close our ears and eyes to the clamor of the culture. Lead us through our pitfalls and pratfalls into the confidence of knowing who we are and what we are about as a child of God.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

“You Act Just Like your Father!”

Saints Philip and James, Martyrs

Have you ever been told that you act just like your father? What’s it like to hear that? I imagine it is a good thing to hear if you value the attributes passed on to you. A grateful child will often strive to reflect their father values as a way to honor their lives. This thought came to me today as I contemplated the Scripture passages in today’s readings (May 3, 2021) as The Church remembers and celebrates the lives of Saints Philip and James (The Lesser). These early Saints not only acted like Jesus, the Incarnate Father, they gave their lives in honor of Him. They stand with the other 12 pillars of the early Church as inspiration and encouragement for us as we, too, endeavor to act just like our Father in heaven.

Saint Paul writes to the believers in Corinth an admonition to remember that they have received the Gospel because there were men and women willing to reflect the image of Christ to the world and proclaim His Good News. He writes a mini-lesson on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ emphasizing that the resurrected Christ appeared to the faithful before his ascension into heaven. The passage ends, “After that he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.” I wonder why St. Paul makes a point of mentioning the appearance to the apostle St. James. Perhaps St. James had an impact on St. Paul in his early days as a Christian, who knows!

Saint John records in his gospel an encounter St. Philip had with Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father...” We see here that St. Philip is remembered for his desire to SEE the Father. There’s a theme in these two apostles lives that we can learn from as we live in what we know now as the Apostolic Mission of the Church. The age of Christendom that the apostles gave their lives to establish has eroded under the tide of societal ideologies where the Truth of Christ’s Gospel has “died the death of a thousand qualifications” as Antony Flew once concluded. And now, you and I are called to be the saints-in-the-making for such a time as this, this Apostolic Age version 2 so to speak? How can we, as Saints James and Philip impact society with the Truth of the Gospel?

Recently I came across something what Pope Francis said about the the necessity of “white martyrdom” of those living in countries where freedom of religion is restricted. As we consider our own country and the growing restrictions on religious expression and freedom of speech, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that if we just keep our head down and continue to be a good neighbor, it will be enough to turn the tide against the escalating hatred of The Faith and the freedom to express that Faith here in the United States. Our white martyrdom is upon us, some of us on the frontline of public debate endure the “cancel culture” mindset every time they speak up for the Truth of Christ. They join the martyrs in this Apostolic Mission we are in now in the 21st century. The bloody martyrdom of Saints James and Philip came about because they did not waver in bearing witness to the Truth of the Gospel. Currently white martyrs are being marginalized, slandered and maligned, even imprisoned. Are they losing relationships because of their stand for the Truth of the Gospel? Probably. Does everyone around them cheer them on in their faithfulness to Christ and His Church? Certainly not! Will their lives end in a bloody death? I hope not!

I believe what Pope Francis was getting at in his reference to white martyrdom is a clarion call for you and me. We may not be a well-known apologists or public figure; however, we live our lives alongside neighbors, fellow employees, even family members that would allow the Truth of the Gospel to “die through a thousand qualifications.” If we are going to “look just like our Father” by being transformed into the image of Christ we are going to be confronted with choices every day that require a dying to our sense of self-protection. Do those around us know us for our faithfulness to the social teachings of Christ’s Church? Do we have the moral backbone to honor Christ’s image in us if we are threatened by their rejection or marginalization?

The white martyrdom of believers who face repeated trials in bearing witness to Christ, can be terrifying. When we are tempted to despair over the isolation we may have to endure, we need to remember that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of The Church, and now we must stand up for the Truth they died to protect. We join the company of believers around the world as we stand for this Truth, in doing so we can water The Church with our faithfulness and courage.

Father, grant us the courage of Saints Philip and James. May we make our own white martyrdom as a total offering to You where we not only die to ourselves, the world, and its allurements, but we stand against the tide of our culture’s denial of You.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

D.T.R.: Define the Relationship

St. Peter —

“The Most Successful Failure of All Time”

Today’s, April 8, 2021, first reading in the Mass is from the book of The Acts of the Apostles, otherwise referred to as Acts. The book itself appears right after the four Gospels that proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Good news, indeed, for in reading the gospel accounts of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we learn from Jesus, God Incarnate, God with skin on, how to act on the good life our Creator offers to all who will believe that Jesus IS the Son of God. The books that follow contain the acts of The early Church as they proclaimed Christ to the world, they are the sequel, so to speak, about how the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of Jesus Christ begins to take hold in the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. That sequel, however, has no end; it continues through time into eternity. When we read of how The Catholic Church was established through St. Peter and his disciple, we can recognize how the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus yielded the magnificent transformation in his disciples that he had promised. With the descending of The Triune God’s holy Spirit recorded early in Acts, everything changed for his followers. Men and women who were once washed up ne’er-do-wells were filled with the fullness of God’s spirit and emboldened by the Truth. They suddenly knew who they were and what they were about! We recognize it in the action of St. Peter in today’s readings.

Chapter 3 recalls St. Peter’s fearless zeal in declaring that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament on the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, who was sent to bless the world. St. Peter, considered the most successful failure of all time KNEW this because he had had a number of moments that defined the relationship between himself and Jesus. Peter’s transformation from his once fallible, weak, fickle, impulsive, and undependable nature BEFORE the resurrection of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God. His transformation to the bold Peter we hear from in today’s reading was one filled with fits and starts, much like mine I might add. How about you? We can glimpse the beginning of Peter’s transformation with his answer to Jesus’ question on a road just outside of Caesarea Philippi. We read of that encounter in St. Matthew 16:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 

When Jesus Christ declared that apostle Peter was the “rock” (Matthew 16:18) on which he would build his Church it certainly wasn’t on what was visibly attractive about Peter’s faith in Christ at that point in his life. He declared it because of Peter’s answer in their conversation along the road; He knew that this saint-in-the-making would eventually prove his love for Him. We can observe that God’s sense of humor and his consolation settling down on a man with a nature much like ours, fulfilling a purpose much greater than himself. Does this give you hope? It does me. When I fail at representing the good news of our LORD Jesus Christ, I think of St. Peter. When I’m quick to judge, I think of St. Peter. When I fret over sins of my past, I think of St. Peter. When I’d rather hide from a conflict over theological Truth, I think of St. Peter.

Considering the questions that Jesus asks of his disciples and his detractors is intriguing for me. I find that they are questions I myself need to answer. In doing so I am able to define my relationship, to have my own D.T.R. with Christ in as much as I allow the Holy Spirit to probe my heart and mind for the answer to those questions. Try it sometime, I think you will find that as you answer those questions in prayer and meditation you will open yourself up to the transformation Jesus desires to accomplish in your life just as he did in St. Peter’s life.

Here are some of the many questions Jesus asked of Peter and the other disciples, the accounts surrounding the spoken question are a great place to begin your D.T.R. with Jesus.

“Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

“Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:16)

“Why are you terrified?” (Matthew 8:26)

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?” (Luke 6:46)

“If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:26)

Holy Father, our hearts know St. Peter’s heart all too well. Forgive us for our fumbling attempts to follow you in all ways. Fill us with your holy Spirit, exchange our waffling pride and fear with the courage to not only say, but to live out–“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen