Posts Tagged 'Catholic'

Living for the Lord

“For if we live, we live for the Lord,” says St. Paul (Rom 14:8) in this Sunday’s Second Reading. This is quite an examination of conscience for me. Is my living really “living for the Lord”? Is the way I choose to act, think, speak, and believe such that the Lord would want to say, “That’s mine!” Is the motivation and goal of my day-to-day living focused on God and what he had in mind when I was created in his image and likeness? And how in the world do I approach an answer to those kinds of questions?

I asked a six-year-old, “What do you think it means to ‘live for the Lord’?” He answered, “It means you should get a job in a church.” I asked a ninety-six year old, who answered, “It means, darlin’, that he’s your everything.” I asked a college student: “It probably means more than I care to think about right now.” I asked someone who has been hurt by the Church: “It means God is bigger than any mistakes I or anyone else might make.” I asked someone who’s given her life in service to the Church: “It means rising above the fray.” I asked a friend: “Living for the Lord is trying our best to live in love.”

So…with all the data in, I am challenged to answer the question myself. What does it mean to “live for the Lord”? I suppose it means receiving the gift of life God gives me each day, and spending it freely on whomever it is I encounter on that given day, transmitting to them the gift of life and love so freely given me.

What does it mean to you?


Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus

For as long as I can remember, the Sacred Heart has been a part of my life. When I was growing up (even though I didn’t notice this until I had come back home to visit as an adult), there was a framed image of the Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart in a very prominent place in my house. I was educated by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a high school named Cor Jesu. I joined a community whose charism is entwined with Sacred Heart devotion. And I have uttered the phrase “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you” more times than I think would be countable if they had been recorded. Certainly, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been near and dear to me for the entirety of my life.

But what, exactly, is the Sacred Heart? Probably artistic images come to mind…or prayers…or even a vague sense of the love God has for each of us. I was having a conversation yesterday with a few people about what their understanding is of the “Sacred Heart,” and our discussion was relatively profound, I think. One person described the Sacred Heart as fire…that which enkindles, inflames, and ignites us into loving action. Someone else described the Sacred Heart as the image that in itself contains all the love of God and all the pain He endured out of love for us, and the mysterious unity of those two realities: love and pain.

What is the Sacred Heart for you? Or, more accurately: who is the Sacred Heart for you? Today, we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May the love of His Heart reach out to you, reach out through you, and be a blessing for all.

Thou Rushing Winds That Are So Strong

How many different names we have for the Holy Spirit: the Advocate, the Holy Ghost, the Breath of God, the Paraclete. These name but a few, and as we celebrated Pentecost this past weekend, I sat with the image of the Holy Spirit and tried to pinpoint just exactly how it is that I understand this Third Person of the Trinity. I sat praying yesterday morning in our small chapel during a Eucharistic Holy Hour, and since the windows happened to be open, the wind chimes outside occasionally offered their gentle reminders of a light summer breeze gracing the morning. It occurred to me that those wind chimes and the song they sing are the perfect illustration of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.

When I pray to God, speaking my heart and listening for the beating of his, it is sometimes easy to wonder if I’m just talking to myself or if my imagination isn’t creating the “insights” I would like to attribute to the Divine Being. Those temptations of doubt and skepticism can easily lead to discouragement, distrust, even depression. But then, the gentle sound of those chimes wafts through the air, reminding me that “the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going,” and just so it is with the movements of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:8) There may be no explanation, no predictability, no scientific rendering of the pulses of that wind, but those chimes wait in readiness to “catch it” when it comes through and ring out their conviction that “Yes, he is here! Yes, he is real!” And although he may be gone by the time I notice his presence, I can never doubt that his presence is real…for music of that presence continues to echo through my ears, even long after the last note has sounded.

Always near

I had a very strange set of circumstances happen last week: I got stuck in the Resurrection. Not a bad place to be, but I bet you’re wondering what exactly I mean. It goes like this. Last week, I found myself in St. Louis, an archdiocese that celebrates the Ascension on Sunday rather than Thursday. I returned on Saturday to my home diocese of Hartford, an archdiocese that celebrates the Ascension on Thursday rather than Sunday. So technically, I never had the chance to celebrate liturgically the feast of the Ascension—getting me “stuck” in the Resurrection, or more technically, getting the Resurrected Christ of my spiritual life “stuck” on earth without ascending to Heaven!

I spent quite a bit of time in those “interim days” pondering the Ascension readings and considering what would happen if Jesus had never “returned” to Heaven, but rather remained with us here “even until the end of time.” Part of me thinks that would be a pretty incredible reality—that every living human person from the moment of the Incarnation would have an opportunity to meet, touch, hear, see, and experience the risen Jesus “in the flesh.” Certainly the entire population of the world would believe in the Christ if we had the opportunity to experience him with our own eyes and ears. Right? Well…let’s think about that.

We do have that opportunity. He didn’t ascend and abandon us. He ascended and remained with us. The risen Body of Christ remains in our midst, both sacramentally in the Eucharist and incarnationally in us, the people of God who are His Body. Right there in the Ascension Gospel we read: “While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?’ ” Why are you looking for Jesus up there? Instead, look inside. Look around. You can’t miss him if you know what you’re looking for.

A friend of mine recently made an inadvertently comical statement as she tried to explain why she is sometimes difficult to reach. She said something like, “If I’m not here, I’m somewhere else. But no matter where I am, I’m always somewhere.” Funny, right? Maybe…but not if we consider it from the point of view of the risen, ascended, always-present Christ. He’s always somewhere nearby—nearer to us than we are to our very selves. Happy Ascension.

May 15 – World Day of Prayer for Vocations

What a tremendous encouragement we receive from Pope Benedict XVI in his Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which we will celebrate this Sunday, May 15th! The Holy Father reminds us that “Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life are first and foremost the fruit of constant contact with teh living God and insistent prayer lifted up to the “Lord of the harvest”…” Its so true…everyone who has a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life has realize their vocation through prayer. Personal and liturgical prayer help us grow in familiarity with Christ because we are listening to God’s word.

When God’s call to the priesthood or consecrated life is realized in a person’s heart, often there can be fears or resistance to accepting and doing God’s will. But again, the Holy Father encourages us, “entering into God’s will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepst truth about ourselves…” This truth is realized most clearly in our personal relationship with Christ. It is also realized in relationship with others, for in being generous and fraternal in relationships with others, we become open to and share with others the love of God. And in doing so “we discover true joy and the fulfillment of our aspirations.”

Let us continue to invite young men and women to open their hearts to God’s will and prayerfully consider His call.

More Company for Holy Week

Along with drawing strength from his Heavenly Father (see post “Who is your company for Holy Week?”), Jesus had other company during his journey from Palm Sunday to Easter.

It’s subtle, but it’s significant.

As you read the Scriptural accounts of the passion and death of Jesus, she is not mentioned much, but I think Mary played a huge role. What mother would not be there for her son? Especially in the toughest moments of his life, while others abandon him. I think he drew a lot of strength from her.

There are times when doing what God wants is greeted with great fanfare, and there are times when it is very difficult. Jesus certainly experienced this. His miracles attracted great multitudes, and yet he sweat blood in his struggle to accept his Father’s will in Gethsemane. He accepts that cup, and as he struggles to carry the cross, Mary is with him every step of the way.

Spend some time with Mary. She always helps her children in their struggle to accept God’s will and carry it out. No matter if the crowds are thick or thin, you can count on her company.

Mixed Emotions

I don’t know what Palm Sunday means for you, but for me it’s a little bit of a jumbled combination of things. It means the proclamation of the Passion during the Gospel at Mass, it means the reception of new palms to be brought home and placed behind the crucifixes all around the house, it means the beginning of Holy Week, and it means somehow that it’s time to “turn toward Jerusalem” and consciously ready myself for the celebration of the Paschal Triduum beginning on Holy Thursday.

But Palm Sunday has many other meanings as well, particularly if we look carefully at what exactly happened upon Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict tells us that the acclamation “Hosanna!” had many different connotations for first-century Jews. He says it was “an expression of the complex emotions of the pilgrims accompanying Jesus and of his disciples,” namely joyful praise of God, ardent hope that the coming of the Messiah was imminent, and fervent prayer that the arrival of this King would be the definitive beginning to God’s everlasting reign over Israel. As I read this, I ask myself, “What are the complex emotions of this pilgrim—myself—as I accompany Jesus today?” Yes, there is much joy in the praise of God and all the ways He continues to bless me, there is certain hope that He will fulfill all His promises to me and to our world, and there is indeed fervent prayer for all that requires His power, His grace, His touch. There are a few other emotions mixed in there, too, as I’m sure there are for you. A bit of fear about all that is uncertain or painful in my life, a bit of anxiety over all that is stressful, a bit of negativity that I’d rather not own up to. But all of these put together make up the “me” that celebrates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and I shout with all other pilgrims of “complex emotions” down through the centuries and even down through the pews, “Hosanna to the King of David!”

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