Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily Thought For March 27, 2017

Christian Joy
     The Lord wants us to make the effort to overcome our tendency to react badly to things or to hold back an intemperate word. Yet joy is not something we can order up. Joy is the fruit of love. There is no human love that can sustain a lasting joy. It often seems that human love is the source of more sorrow than joy. . . This is not the case in the Christian religion. A Christian who does not love God is a contradiction in terms. A Christian who does not radiate joy because of his love for God needs to take a closer look at his spiritual life. For the Christian, joy is something natural since it springs from the most important Christian virtue —love. Christian life and joy are essentially bound up together. There is also a relationship between sadness and lukewarmness, between sadness and egoism, between sadness and loneliness. 
     Joy can be increased or even recovered, if it is temporarily lost, with true prayer face to face with Jesus. This prayer ought to be personal and selfless. Frequent confession is the privileged source of holiness and peace. Authentic joy is based on this foundation: that we want to live for God and want to serve others because of God. Let us tell the Lord that we want nothing more than to serve him with joy. If we believe in this way we shall find that our inner peace, our joy, our good humor will attract many souls to God. Give witness to Christian joy. Show to those around you that this is our great secret. We are happy because we are children of God, because we deal with him, because we struggle to become better for him. And when we fail, we go right away to the Sacrament of joy where we recover our sense of fraternity with all men and women. 
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez p.154-155. Volume 5

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Daily Thought For March 26, 2017

Never Give Up!

I plead with you--never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.

St. John Paul II

Friday, March 24, 2017

Daily Thought For March 24, 2017

How Big Is My Emotional Footprint?
  I am surprised there are any functioning pedestrian street-crossing buttons in Seattle, considering the way we mistreat 
them. Since I walk to the office most days, I cross a number of streets, often amid heavy traffic, and I make frequent use of those sturdy-looking metal buttons. 
One day, it dawned on me that I often pressed the button twice — for emphasis, I suppose, or in the vain hope that doing so would speed things up. Then I began to notice that other people did the same, and that often they hammer the button with their fists so ferociously that it's a wonder it even works (I read that in some cities the buttons are purposely deactivated) . 
When I realized that my habit of pushing the button twice was irrational, I stopped doing so. I figured a little less violence toward an inanimate object, and a little less insistence on my presence, would do Seattle and its traffic technology some good. 
Years ago I decided that when flying I would always request an aisle seat. I've flown so much that looking out the window no longer holds fascination for me, and I am always uncomfortable asking others to leave their seats if I am sitting by the window and need a break. 
If an aisle seat is not available, a window seat will do, but a middle seat is another matter. I am not typically claustrophobic, but finding myself crammed between two other passengers is an 
experience I never enjoy. Which arm rest should I use? Am I allowed to use either? Neither? Both? Thus a personal rule: Avoid middle seats at all cost. 
How often do I make the world around me revolve around me? 
The way one uses the space around his or her seat on an airplane varies greatly from person to person. One's size is not the determining factor in how much space he or she occupies. Small people using both armrests, leaning erratically from side to side, stretching their legs into their neighbor's legroom, listening to music audible despite earphones, and speaking loudly on cellphones, take up a lot of space. I may be sitting on the aisle, but if seated next to such people, I feel cramped. Do they realize someone is sitting next to them? 
     Much is made these days of one's "carbon footprint" — a calculation of how much carbon dioxide one adds to the atmosphere through the consumption of fossil fuels (driving a certain car, using a certain amount of electricity, flying a certain number of miles, adjusting the thermostat to a certain temperature, and so forth). I wonder what would happen if we also took stock of our "emotional footprint" - the effect we have on others by the bluster of our moods, the amount of space we occupy when oblivious to those around us, the volume and pitch of our opinions and complaints, the weight we give to our very presence? 
I have a feeling that if we took stock of that "emotional footprint;' we might back off just a bit. In fact, taking such an inventory could be a good Lenten exercise. 
How often do I make the world around me revolve around me? 
Would those with whom I live and work, if I gave them the opportunity to speak, say that I am a force to contend with, a physical and emotional presence not easily accommodated? 
Do I say loudly things that would be better said softly? 
Do I speak when silence would be more appropriate and more welcome? 
Do I take up so much emotional space that my family, friends, and co-workers are overwhelmed and intimidated? 
Do I sap the energy and mood from a room by my bad-tempered attitude? 
Do I hang up the phone harshly, slam the door excessively, push the traffic signal button too fiercely? 
I have a hunch that if each of us would ask such simple questions, the mood around us would lighten, and a smile would return to our faces. 
Why is such a simple inventory appropriate to Lent? The Letter of James offers some hints: 
"If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot's inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze" (Jas 3:2-5). 
"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of 
mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace" (3:l3-18). 

This Lent, may we resolve to leave a smaller emotional footprint and cultivate peace: peace in our homes, peace at work, peace on the streets, peace in our hearts. But not our peace — God's peace. 

from A Lenten Pilgrimage — Journeying with Jesus by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain pp.26-29

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Daily Thought for March 23, 2017

Overcoming The "Strong Man"


“… if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Luke’s Gospel recounts the delightful scene of the Visitation, when the Spirit enabled Elizabeth to recognize the coming of the Lord among his people. Here in the doorway of a simple Jewish home, the Good News is first proclaimed between two women! This moment of great joy stands in stark contrast to the response of the crowds in today’s reading. Rather than recognizing that God is in their midst, some accuse Jesus of colluding with the devil, while others seek to test him as Satan once did in the desert. They have not recognized the moment of their visitation—the moment when God has come to dwell with them.

During this Lenten season, I think the Lord desires to remind us that “the Kingdom of God has come upon [us]”—it is not a distant reality, but is present here and now, even as we await the final fulfillment of this promise. Do we recognize the moments of our visitation, rejoicing in the presence of our Lord at work within us and around us throughout our day? Yet for us Christians, recognition is only the beginning! We are called to be people of the Kingdom, making the Kingdom present in our world today as we offer others Christ’s healing presence and love.

In today’s reading, Jesus makes it clear that we each must make a choice in this regard: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Faced with these two conflicting sides, we must choose whom we will follow. We cannot stay on the fence, for if we do not choose Christ, we will be counted against him. Still, it is consoling to realize that for those of us who do choose Christ, the victory is already at hand! If we give our lives to Jesus, he will overcome the “strong man,” casting out the darkness in our hearts and setting us free to love and serve him.


Dear Jesus, I choose you! I want to be all yours, and to spend my life gathering others to you through the witness of my life and love. Like the crowd in today’s Gospel, I know that I have often failed to recognize your presence within me and around me. Help me to become always more aware of the many ways you are at work in each moment of my day so that I can better come to know your great love for me. As this understanding grows, allow my heart to resound with gratitude and love. Help me to bring this love to all those I meet.


I choose Christ.

Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 62–63). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Thought For March 21, 2017

Troubleshooting Prayer
       In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures.     Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone.
     We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of "this present world" can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.
     Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions," we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2726-2728

Monday, March 20, 2017

Daily Thought For March 20, 2017

In Search of the Lost Sheep 

Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost (Mt 18: 12ft). So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, then we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms. 
So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us. And he will not give in! 
This should free us from that crippling anxiety which prevents any real growth, giving us room to do whatever we can do, to accept the small but genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to shoulder the whole burden of our salvation, the initiative and the program are not in our hands: our part is to consent, to learn how to love him in return whose love came to us so freely while we were quite uninterested in him. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Daily Thought For March 19, 2017

The Mind of Christ 
The essence of Christianity consists not in obeying a set of commands, nor in submitting to certain laws, nor in reading Scripture, nor in following the example of Christ. Before all else, it consists of being re-created, re-made, and incorporated into the Risen Christ, so that we live his life, think his thoughts, and will his love. 
“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.