10.28.2010

The Right Perspective

Readings for Friday October 29, 2010

First Reading: Philippians 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111
Gospel: Luke 14:1-6


On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question. (Lk 14:1-6)

How great are the works of the Lord! Creation of the heavens and the earth, delivering Israel out of Egypt, turning water into wine, feeding 5,000 men with a few loafs and some fish, His glory and resurrection; the list could go on and on about all of His great works! Throughout the bible we are told of the great works of the Lord, and each of us could tell of the great works that He has done in our lives as well. Today's readings show us one of His greatest works in our lives ... giving us the right perspective. Since the beginning God has provided for us; and all that He has asked from the beginning is for our love and loyalty. But as is our nature since the fall, we rebel, find ourselves in terrible situations and come crawling back to God; and how does God respond? He takes us back with open arms, and He tries to give us the same perspective that He has always tried to give us: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus tells us that this is the greatest of all commandments.

In today's gospel, Jesus reduces everyone around Him to silence by giving them a new perspective. He challenges their old way of thinking, into a new way of thinking, and thinking that puts God and others first. This new perspective provides freedom from the law of man, and freedom through Christ Jesus. This challenging of a new perspective is kind of what happens in our lives when God or someone else challenges us in a way that we are living or a direction we are headed; this is God's way of giving us a new perspective for our lives, and reminding us of our mission, which is to get to heaven. God puts things on our hearts, or events in our lives, or people around us to help us to refocus on Him. He uses these things to make sure that we are seeing things as we should, and that with every decision, there are thoughts of God's will.

To really have a good perspective on our lives, then we need to be seeking the Father's will. Saint Paul understood this need for the right perspective when he told the church at Philippi; "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ ..." (Phil. 1:9-10)

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for the many gifts in our lives and we ask for your forgiveness for all the times that we turn away from you. Lord, be on our hearts and minds at all times so that we may make every decision with thoughts of you and your will for us. Lord, increase our faith so that we may follow you no matter what. We pray for all those who are seeking you. We pray for all those who are suffering from addictions, may you deliver them from these dangerous habits that lead them away from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saying Yes to God

Readings for Thursday October 28, 2010

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

First Reading: Ephesians 2:19-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Luke 6:12-16


Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)

This is the message that we are sent today from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Before I came home to the Church, I am still bewildered that like most protestants, I never questioned what the early church was like. What did the apostles do after the ascension? What did they do during the services of the early church? When was the new testament written? It is questions like this that I had never even thought of, I guess that like most Christians I just kind of took it all for granted.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles of the Church, men who literally followed and knew Jesus as He was on earth. I cannot begin to imagine what this was like. I am sure that these men had questions racing through their heads constantly. We have so much to be thankful for to the Apostles; for their passing along the faith, for their helping to build the foundation for the Church today; but most of all we should be thankful for their saying "yes" to God. Not only did their saying yes help to provide the foundation for our faith, but it is their example of saying yes to God (and no to themselves) that gives us a powerful example of what it means to follow Christ. Following Christ means surrendering our lives to Him, picking up our crosses and following where ever He leads us to. Simon and Jude, while there is not much said in the scriptures about them, their titles as apostles speak loudly about who they were as servants of God.

May we have the faith and courage to say yes to God in our lives. Saints Simon and Jude, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for the examples of your apostles and for the foundation that you have set for our faith. Lord we praise you for the lives that we are called to and pray that through you we can continue to persevere. Lord, guide us and protect us on this journey. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.26.2010

Responsibility of Spouses

Readings for Tuesday October 26, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 5:21-33 or 5:2a, 25-32
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128
Gospel: Luke 13:18-21


In the Sacrament of marriage, man and woman form the one flesh union. It is also in this Sacrament, that man and woman both have awesome responsibilities. Both husband and wife are called to live out this responsibility for Christ. It is not so that husband and wife are burdened or bothered with the other, but rather so that they can grow in love. Wives are meant to be subordinate to their husbands so that they can learn to love them better, so that they can grow in that marital love. Husbands are called to sacrifice for their wives so that they too can grow in their marital love. This is not to burden them, but rather to help the couple grow in a love that can only be found by following God's plan for marriage.

Today, reflect on Paul's words to the Ephesians about the responsibility of spouses. If you are married, ask yourself, how can I become the spouse that God created me to be? How can I live out these responsibilities better in my own marriage? IF you are not married, ask yourself, what things can I do to support marriages today?

Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church, he himself the savior of the Body. As the Church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his Body.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Eph. 5:21-33)

This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.



Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we pray for marriages around the world, that spouses may seek to please you by living out their great responsibilities according to your will. Lord, you had aperfect plan for marriage from the beginning, help us to be the spouses that your created us to be. Help us to grow in this great love, and may the love of spouses affect many genereations to come. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.24.2010

Love and Thanksgiving

Readings for Monday October 25, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 4:32 - 5:8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Luke 13:10-17


Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Eph. 4:32)

How do you respond to misfortunes and adversity? With resentment? With self pity? With apathy? We all respond many different ways, but how many of us respond with thanksgiving? How many of us respond with love? Many of us have moments in our life that are joyous as well as times that are very trying; and sometimes there are moments that are a combination of the two. Today's first reading reminds us that we do not need to not respond with anger, jealously, self-pity, or resentment ... but rather we should be responding with love, thanksgiving, and humiliation. This is certainly not an easy task, but remember, as Christians are always called to more. Christ always responded to others with love and compassion, and by God's grace we too can imitate Christ in our own lives.

For today, let us reflect on the following passage from Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

"Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God." (Eph 5:1-5)

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and for the gift of our lives. Lord, increase our faith so that no matter what you bring us we can always respond with love and thanksgiving. Lord we pray for all of us on our journey to you, may we all keep focused and continue to grow deeper in love with you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.22.2010

Paying the Debt

Readings for Friday October 22, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Gospel: Luke 12:54-59


Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponenet before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. (Lk 12:57-59)

Debt. This is a word that haunts most of us everyday. It seems as though we are always owing something to someone. Some to our mortgage, some to our credit card, some to our bills ... it seems as though we are always owing something. And we should not dare be late in paying our debts due to the fact that those that we owe will certainly come after us for our lateness and inability or refusal to pay. The consequences of not paying our debts can be very grave, this can have a negative impact in our lives. Not only are our reputations tarnished, but our credit score drops, our interest rates may change, we can even lose the things that we are paying on.

There is a great debt that we must constantly be striving to pay for, that is the debt for our lives. Jesus payed the ultimate price for our lives ... He paid for our lives with His. We need to remember this always and be eternally grateful and forever in His debt. We need to remember to constantly be striving to serve Him and surrender to Him for the great price that He paid for us. In the gospel today, Jesus speaks about before being taken to the judge, and how we should settle our debt peacefully with our opponent along the way; so that way we are not to pay the negative penalties for our refusal to pay. If we settle the matter along the way then we can avoid these negative consequences. This gospel today reminds us to settle our debts while we are on our journey in this life. Saint Paul tells us today to "live in a manner worthy of the call that your have received." God calls us to live according to a higher purpose, not for our own selfish purposes, but for His glory and for His right and good purposes.

Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of our lives and of all that we are given. We praise you for your glory. Lord give us the strength to serve you with all that we are and to not hold anything back from you. You are our God and we are your servants. We pray for all those seeking you and all those struggling in their journey. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.20.2010

The Earth Is Full of the Goodness of God

Readings for Thursday October 21, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Lk. 12:49-53)

I remember a conversation with a co-worker a few years ago. She told me about her sister who had passed away from cancer. She told me how she just didn't understand how this could happen to her sister because her sister was such a religious person. She explained how her sister was so kind and involved in her local church. It seems that when tragedy of any sort befalls a person of faith, it is hard for others and us to understand. Many people think that once you have a conversion and begin to follow the Lord that you live a life of ease, and that nothing tragic will ever happen to you.

In today's gospel Jesus tells us that He has come "to set the earth on fire!" Our lives of faith, not only bring us a life of joy and peace in the Lord, but it also brings us into many confrontations and even division amongst those who do not believe. In fact, many times that division can even be among those who we are the closest with. Many of us know the pain that comes with feeling divided amongst family and friends. While it is certainly not an easy situation, this is what we are called to ... not a life of ease, but a life of faith. Jesus makes it very clear that we are to follow our Heavenly Father above only, and by following Him, we can earn our eternal life in heaven.

Today's psalm reminds us that the earth is full of the goodness of God! It is through Him that we are given life and all that we are blessed with. Saint Paul tells us to know the love of Christ, so that we can "be filled with the fullness of God." The fullness of God, I can only imagine how much different my life would be if I opened myself up to God every minute of every day in order to be completely filled with Him. I pray that we all can have the courage and strength to surrender to Him and constantly seek to know the love of Christ, so that we too may be filled with the fullness of God, for God is good all the time.

The earth is full of the goodness of God!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise your name and give you glory for all that we are and all that we do. Lord Jesus we thank you for your great sacrifice for our lives, may we have the strength to sacrifice for you in our lives. We pray for all the youth and families out there seeking holiness, may they be brought closer to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Don't Forget God's Plan

Readings for Wednesday October 20, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 3:2-12
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12
Gospel: Luke 12:39-48


Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Lk 12:41-48)

I always enjoyed the diligence of the the dwarfs from the famous fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They really took such a positive attitude towards their work (except for grumpy, he wasn't exactly the most positive dwarf). But they always went out doing very hard labor and singing along the way in perfect harmony. Now how many of us do that on our way to the office? I know that I do not exactly skip along the way to my desk. But I imagine if more of us went about our work with the positive attitude and diligence, then we would actually find joy from our work and not think of it as such a burden.

In today's gospel we are are challenged on the work we are doing in our faith journey. We are told of two servants, one who does the work of his master, and is thereby rewarded. The other abuses his lack of supervision, and when the master returns finds the servant abusing his role, he is punished severely. This parable teaches us that it is not enough to just show up to do the work of God, but we need to stay active while working. We do not know when the master will come, but we should be ready at all times from when he does.

What sort of work should we be doing? Are we spending enough time in prayer? Are we giving enough of our money to the church? Are we giving enough of ourselves to others? Are we at the right place of employment? God has a plan for us, and He has things that He calls each of us to do. The point is to ask God, He will always show you the way and the plan that He has for you. It is during these times of discernment that we must have great patience and trust in our Lord. Saint Paul tells us today that we have "access through faith in him," and it is through this access that we can have "boldness of speech and confidence."

Many times in our lives, we get so consumed with our own plans, we tend to forget about the plans of God and the plans of those close to us. God's plan is for us to join Him one day in heaven ... but if at the time we are called we are not working, then we will not be granted the eternal blessing of our heavenly father, instead we will be like the servant who abused his role and was greatly punished.

So who's plan are you following ... yours or Gods?

Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and the gift of our lives. We praise you for your glory and we pray for your will to be done in our lives. God, you are the make of all that is good, and we ray for that goodness in our lives. Help us to cast off the things of this world that try to hold us back from you. Lord, you are our God let us follow no others in our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.18.2010

Vigilant and Faithful Servants

Readings for Tuesday October 19, 2010

Memorial of Saint John de Br├ębeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions

First Reading: Ephesians 2:12-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Luke 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”

As a young boy one of my favorite things to play with was legos. Oh man ... the things that I would create; castles, forests, cameras, houses, etc. You name, I probably tried to make it. There were so many times my parents came in to check on me only to find me working so diligently on my project. I think that this idea of creating something from our imagination is something that tends to capture us all. We all have things that we like to "build." For one person it may be building a bookshelf, for another it may be building a stronger family. It seems as though we are always building.

Saint Paul tells us today that: "So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the capstone. Through Him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." It seems as though even in our faith lives we should be trying to grow and build ourselves into the faithful children of God that we are all called to be. Praise Jesus for being our rock and our salvation!

At the end, what will God find you doing? Building, while being the vigilant and faithful servant that Christ talks about in today's gospel? Jesus tells us that those who are vigilant and faithful servants will be blessed. May God grant us the strength to persevere in our faith journey ... vigilant and always building.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith so that we might go out and serve you better, as you plan for us. Lord, help us to continue to surrender to you so that we might be built into the temples that you created us to be, so that your Spirit will dwell in us. Lord we pray for all those suffering, may they be brought ever closer to you through their experiences. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.17.2010

Saint Luke

Readings for Monday October 17, 2010

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

First Reading: 2 Timothy 4:10-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Luke 10:1-9

Beloved: Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments. (2 Tim. 4:10-13)

Today, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Luke the evangelist (or gospel writer). When most people hear of Saint Luke, they know of his work in writing one of the gospels, but that is typically where knowledge of him ends. He also wrote the book of Acts, where he described how the Church first grew and spread, as well as some the mighty deeds worked through the Apostles. We can imagine that Luke, like the rest of the evangelists, was blessed with special insight for he knew and spoke to many of the apostles of which he recorded many things. He traveled with Paul on his journeys spreading the gospel message. He probably heard all about Paul's conversion and encounter with Christ. It is also believed that Luke had the opportunity to personally spend time with and talk with the Virgin Mary; who I am sure gave him amazing personal accounts of things like the Annunciation, the visitation to Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus, about Joseph, and many more things. (To be honest with you, I am not sure how Luke did it, I think that I would be too in awe of the mother of God to even write anything!)

We also know that Luke was a gentile and a physician. Luke certainly knew a thing or two about physical healing. But it wasn't until he met Paul and came to know Christ that he began to learn about spiritual healing. And like everyone else, we can naturally assume that Luke was just as in need of spiritual healing as any other gentile or Jew. Luke teaches us a great deal about the importance of loyalty and of sacrifice. I can guarantee you that it would be very difficult to follow around the Apostle Paul, I am sure that it was a very grueling journey, and I doubt that Paul ever slowed down. But we read today that Luke was loyally by him, and journeyed with him because he wanted others to come to know God's loving and healing hand, just as he had experienced. Along with loyalty, Luke also teaches us about sacrifice. It is safe to assume that as a physician Luke had a pretty good living; but instead of staying where he was comfortable, he decided to sacrifice everything and follow Christ. By choosing to follow Christ, he was blessed to be on a journey that brought him to meet many other fellow Saints, and especially a chance to spend time with his mother Mary!

Saint Luke, pray for us as we read your gospel. Pray that we can come to a deeper relationship with the good physician, Jesus, and that we may be led closer to our Queen and Mother, Mary.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Help us to not be afraid of the path which you set before us. Lord, your plan is perfect, help increase our faith so that we might trust in you in all that we do. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, may we never stray from your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.15.2010

Secret Identities

Readings for Friday October 15, 2010

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Ephesians 1:11-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Luke 12:1-7

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Lk. 12:2-7)

Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne somewhat ordinary names ... but in actuality these were the secret identities of a few of my favorite superheroes as a kid. In case you are wondering who is who: Clark Kent is Superman, Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and Bruce Wayne is Batman. For these superheroes secret identities seem like a very trusty thing, hide one's identity so that way the bad guys cannot hurt those that they are close to. While secret identities may seem like a good thing for a superhero, it is not however the way of a Christian.

Do you know how many hairs are on your head? Well, our heavenly Father knows, He knows everything about you and me. He even knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus warns us in today's gospel about secret identities. Jesus tells His disciples: "whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops." (Lk 12:3) We cannot be two different people, and do one thing out in public while doing a different thing behind closed doors. Some people get very confused about who they really are, this is especially a difficult thing for teenagers to deal with. Around one set of friends they may act one way, but around another set of friends they may act totally different. Sometimes we hide our faith for fear of people finding out, and risking ridicule and tough confrontations. But as Jesus continues today; "... do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast in Gehenna (hell) ..." (Lk 12:4-5)

While it will be tough, we should always strive to be the same person no matter who we are with and where we are at. Let us make no mistakes about who we really are ... we are children of God, that is who we are here for and that is who we serve. God has been the same to us since the beginning, loving and merciful. Let us go out and continue to serve God with courage and without fear, for it is not other people that we should fear, but the consequences of not reaching God in heaven that we should fear.

Remember, secret identities may work out great for Superman, but not for us as Christians.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and give you all the glory for our lives. Help us to serve you without reservation and with complete trust. Lord let your light shine through us no matter where we go and what we do. Help us to go where needed and help those who you call us to. Lord we pray for all those searching for meaning in their lives, may they be lead to you for peace and joy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.14.2010

Chosen

Readings for Thursday October 14, 2010

First Reading: Ephesians 1:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Luke 11:47-54


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. (Eph. 1:3-6)

Did you know that you are special? No, it's not your hair or your eyes ... no, it's not your fantastic fashion sense ... it's not even your athletic ability. You are special because you are one of God's great creations, and He wants you to join Him in heaven after this life on earth. You are chosen, that is what makes you special.

Saint Paul tells us today in Ephesians that we are chosen, and He speaks of God's great love for us. Saint Paul tells us that, "as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will ..." (Eph 1:4-5) Paul tells us that it is through God's love, that He has chosen us through Christ. He has a plan for each of us, and although we may not understand it at the time, we need to trust in God. God's will is that we reach Him in heaven, knowing that, we must trust in the path that He sends us on, and believe that it is all a part of a plan to get us to Him.

In the gospel today, Jesus brings some harsh truth to the pharisees and scholars of the law, for they have taken their positions and God for granted. They forgot that they are on earth to serve God, and not themselves. Let us always remember that we are chosen out of love, and to never take for granted what God gives us. For it is not what we do that makes us special, but what we are given through Christ our Lord.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for the many gifts in our lives, and thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord, increase our faith and lead us deeper in love with you so that we may serve you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Lord, we pray for all those searching for you now, may they soon find the joy and peace that comes from a life with you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.12.2010

It's What's Inside That Counts

Readings for Tuesday October 12, 2010

First Reading: Galatians 5:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Luke 11:37-41


After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” (Lk 11:37-41)

As a kid growing up, I was always told that I should not judge people on how they look because it is what's on the inside that counts. This phrase is completely opposite to what our culture teaches. Our culture teaches that if you are not pretty, thin and/or muscular, with stylish hair, or have the latest fashionable clothes; then something is not right with you. Our culture tells us that we should hide what is on the inside and be like everyone else.

Our culture places little importance on the inside, but our Lord Jesus tells us that it is what's on the inside that counts. In today's gospel Jesus sits down to eat with a pharisee, the pharisee notices that Jesus did not do the prescribed ritual washing before the meal. Knowing their minds, Jesus sets them straight on what is important and what is not. Jesus knows that although they may take care of the outsides of their bodies, or may pay tithes of herb' their hearts and minds are filled with judgement, pride, and selfishness. Jesus knows that they are like this because they only take care of the outside, while what is inside their hearts and minds goes bad and rots away. They don't realize it is what's on the inside that counts.

St Paul reminds us that it is because of our faith we should not be bound to the law or to the the culture, we have freedom through Christ's selfless act of love for us. Paul tells us that it is not the observance of the law that counts, "but only faith working through love." (Gal 5:6)

Let us today, ask God to take away all the things in our hearts and minds that prevent us from loving God, others and ourself as we should. Let us ask Him to take away all the anger, judgement, bitterness, hate, pride, and selfishness that hold us back from Him, and to put in our hearts the Love of Christ. Let our faith work through love, and let us always remember that it is what's on the inside that counts.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for helping us see today what is important, and what you call us to do everyday. Lord, we pray for increased faith so that we may do good works through love. We pray for all those who are having trouble letting go of whatever is keeping them from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.11.2010

Freedom!

Readings for Monday October 11, 2010

First Reading: Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 113
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32


But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children; break forth and shout, you who were not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the deserted one than of her who has a husband. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman. For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. (Gal. 4:26-5:1)

My favorite movie of all time is "Braveheart." Ever since the first time I saw this movie (and still today), I am so inspired after I watch it. For those of you who have not seen it and are planning on it, a word of caution - the action and violence is not suitable for younger viewers. This movie is based on an actual historical figure, William Wallace, who was a Scottish Patriot who led a revolt against the tyranny of the English king. In the movie, Wallace fought for a higher purpose, for the freedom of his countrymen, and not only did he have to fight against the English, but he had to fight against the greed and the corruption of the Scottish Nobles. Wallace believed so strongly in Freedom, that he gave his life for it.

Throughout human history it seems as though we have been fighting for freedom. America was started under the idea of freedom, slavery was abolished in the name of freedom, tyranny is typically overthrown in the name of freedom. Freedom is something that we all want and desire. Nobody wishes to be bound and under the control of someone or something. Something that we do not think much about is that it is this fight for freedom that we will need to keep up the rest of our lives. Since the fall in the garden we have become slaves to sin and to ourselves. We fight our very nature every moment of every day. It is only through Christ's great sacrifice and through grace that we can overcome our nature. As difficult as it may sound, if we surrender ourselves to Him, then we can find our freedom. If we give up our lives totally to Christ, then we will truly find our lives and ourselves.

Paul talks in great detail to the Galatians about freedom, and how "we are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman." (Gal 4:31) Paul reminds us that through the promise of God we have life through Jesus Christ. Let us remember that because of our faith, we no longer have to live in slavery.

Let us pray to the Lord to increase our faith and for His will to be done in our life, so that we too may experience FREEDOM!

Our Father, the Lord of our lives, we give you thanks and praise for all the blessings that you bestow upon us. Lord, please increase our faith so that we can follow you without hesitation and with confidence. Lord, let your will be done in our lives and let us give glory to you in all that we do. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.08.2010

On God's Side

Readings for Friday October 8, 2010

First Reading: Galatians 3:7-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111
Gospel: Luke 11:15-26


"Who ever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." (Lk 11:23)

This is the message that Jesus makes clear in the gospel today. After being accused of driving out demons in the devil's name and being hounded for a sign from heaven, Jesus sets the people straight and then concludes with this message: "Who ever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." It is very easy to find ourselves on the wrong side of an issue, a battle, or any sort of conflict. It is in these moments that we must ask ourselves not whether we are for a person or group or not, but if we are on the side of Christ or not. If we always strive to be on the side of Jesus, then we will always be on the right side.

So how do we make sure that we are always on the side of Christ? Two very simple ways. The first is to ask Him through prayer. Think about this; how often do you put your decisions in front of God and ask Him what to do? Wouldn't this make since, since He knows us better than anyone (even ourselves) and He actually has a plan for our lives? Many of us are guilty of not praying for guidance enough, we are more likely to tell God what we want than ask Him what we should do. We need to get out of this mindset and start serving God, instead of trying to make God serve us. If we put on a servants mindset and chose to do the Father's will instead of our own, then we will certainly see our lives change for the better.

The other thing that we should be doing is asking ourselves that very popular question that is on so many bracelets: WWJD? WWJD = What would Jesus Do? I think that this is a fantastic question that if we asked before each of our decisions we would see a significant drop in those behaviors that lead us away from God. Cheating on taxes ... WWJD? Littering ... WWJD? Downloading music illegally ... WWJD? Lying to a friend ... WWJD? I think that we could spend all day naming examples, but the point has been made. If we are behaving in a way that our Lord would not, then what makes it okay for us to act this way?

If we constantly ask for the Lord's help and keep Him in our minds throughout each day, then we will not veer off the path. May the Lord use us all to help gather, and not be people who work against Him.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for all the gifts in our lives, and we ask for your forgiveness of our sins. Lord let us praise you this day with all that we do and give all the glory to you. Lord, help us to be mindful of you at all times and to act as you would. Send us your Spirit so that we may walk in this world with courage and confidence that comes from you. We pray for all those seeking you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.06.2010

Knock and the Door Will be Opened

Readings for Thursday October 7, 2010

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

First Reading: Galatians 3:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:69-70
Gospel: Luke 11:5-13


Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Today in the gospel we are told that if we "ask, then we shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." How many times do we lack in faith that God will provide for us? How often are we unwilling to go to Him when we are in need? Many times there seems to be something that keeps us from seeking His help. Sometimes we think that we can handle things on our own. Other times we think that our problems are too small and that God doesn't care. I believe that there is great danger when we think that God doesn't care or that He is too busy to deal with our problems. Because when we do this, we begin to put limits on God, and this is a dangerous mindset to be in. Our God is so awesome, we should never think that He doesn't care or is too busy. He loves us more than we can imagine, and I am willing to bet that He is a pretty good at multitasking.

When we put limits on God, then we put limits on His work in our life, and limits on our faith. When we put limits on our faith, then we begin to hold back, and this is not what God intends. He wants us to give of our self totally to Him, as He gives so abundantly to us. God wants to give us the things that we ask for through prayer and wants to give us His Spirit to guide us, but we cannot receive if we do not ask or have faith. Paul makes it clear to the Galatians today that it is through faith in Christ that we receive the Spirit.

How is the Holy Spirit working in your life right now? What things in your life are you struggling with now, that you need God's guidance?

Always remember, "knock and the door will be opened."

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for giving us your love and mercy. Lord, increase our faith so that we may be more willing to be led by you in our lives. Show us you will for this day, and may all that we do glorify you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.05.2010

The Right Path

Readings for Wednesday October 6, 2010

First Reading: Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117
Gospel: 11:1-4


And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal. 2:11-14)

Have you ever gone hiking and walking along a path only to find yourself in unfamiliar territory? Or have you ever gone to the grocery store with the intent of only getting a loaf of bread, but find yourself getting sidetracked down the ice cream isle? It is funny how when we are on a journey or a mission, how easy it is to get distracted and veer off the path we were on.

Today Paul tells us of an example of someone who got a little sidetracked on his journey, and it was none other than Peter. Even Peter still got a little sidetracked on his journey, and found himself going down the wrong path. That is why Paul "opposed him to his face." This is what being a part of the body of Christ entails, building each other up and helping each other back on the path when we veer. When people challenge us or if we get caught doing something that we are not supposed to, it can be very easy to become angry. But instead of being angry, we should be thankful because He loves us enough to put someone around to help us off that path we are heading down. I know that there were many events and people in my life who have helped straighten me out, and while at the time I was very bitter towards those people; I now realize that God put those people in my life to get me off of the path I was heading down.

It is often very difficult to navigate the waters of our life. A lot of times we lose sense of direction and can look to other guides. Many times these false guides lead us to places that are not the best for us, and ultimately down the wrong path. We must, as Paul says; be "in line with the truth of the Gospel." Let always look to Christ as our only guide in our lives, let us ask for His wisdom and guidance for us, so that we may go down the right path.

Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test. Amen.

10.04.2010

Hold Nothing Back

Readings for Monday October 4, 2010

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious

First Readings: Galatians 1:6-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37


There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Before every football game that I ever played all of my coaches had one resounding message: "hold nothing back." I was always taught to go out every game and give it everything that I had. We were always told to "leave it all on the field." This meant that when we played a game we should play our hearts out; with all of our strength, courage, passion, energy, desire ... everything. So by the end of the game when we walked off of the field, we hadn't held back a single thing. We were told that if we did this, then we would be winners.

The same is true with our faith life. Today in the gospel we are told that in order to gain eternal life we must love God with all our heart, our being, our strength, and our mind; and we must love our neighbor as our self. This requires us to love God with all that we are, and to not hold back anything from Him. It is not enough to just say that we love God, we must show it. In our faith life, we need to "leave it all on the field." God does not hold back His love for us; He never stops loving or caring about us because He is too busy or too tired. No, God always opens His love up to us, but it is we who hold back and do not fully accept it. If God never holds back on us, shouldn't we work to love Him the same?

Let us pray for the holy Spirit's guidance in our lives to help lead us to heaven; and to help us remove any barriers that prevent us from loving God with our whole being and keep us from being loving and merciful to our neighbors. For if we leave it all on the field with God and hold nothing back, then we too can inherit eternal life.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and for all that you give to us. Lord, help us to love you with all our heart, mind and strength from now until the end of our days on this earth. Lord we pray for the compassion to love our neighbors as ourselves and pray for the strength to love. Lord, be with all those who are struggling on their faith journey and all those seeking you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

10.02.2010

Christian Center for Youth and Family Health

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to take this opportunity to share about a new organization that My wife and I have started. It is called the Christian Center for Youth and Family Health (CCYFH for short). The main goal of this organization is to help build up youth, marriages and families. The CCYFH is a non-profit organization that adheres to the teachings and guidance of the Catholic Church. We are currently located in Dayton, OH, in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

We would also like to announce that our website is officially up and running! Please stop by and check it out at www.ccyfh.org. (Don’t forget to bookmark this page!) Please feel free to submit any comments or feedback that you have about our site. We would love to hear your thoughts!

Over the last year, we have been busy planning different programs that will help support youth, marriages, and families. Here are some of the things we are working on:

* We have developed a chastity presentation to give to youth groups and have several presentations scheduled for this fall.
* Our five day Chastity curriculum for Catholic schools is nearly complete and we will be getting information out to local Catholic schools in the near future.
* We are planning on offering a marriage enrichment program at a local parish beginning January 2011.
* We are currently working with the Diocese of Cleveland to get trained to teach Natural Family Planning (NFP). We have recognized a need for online NFP training as there is little to none available for couples. We will be designing and implementing an online format based off of the Diocese of Cleveland’s Sympto-Thermal method.

As you can see, we have a lot of things in the works, with many more ideas to come. We hope that you will pray for us as we continue to strive to do God’s will with this organization. In addition to your prayers, we would also like to ask you to consider making a financial contribution. We are trying to raise money to get these programs mentioned off the ground and to obtain our tax exempt status. We have set an ambitious goal of raising $5,000 by the end of the 2010. We know this is a challenging time economically for everyone, but we would greatly appreciate anything that you can give. No amount is too small! Go to the Support Us page on our website and click the “Chip In” button to the right: http://www.ccyfh.org/support-us.html . Also be sure to check out the other ways to help out.

We thank you in advance for your support. Please share this email and our website with anyone that you think may be interested. We look forward to keeping you updated on what’s going on with the CCYFH.

God bless,
Jimmie

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