Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Credible Witness

At Mass one day last week, Father asked the school children what a witness does.  They came to the conclusion that a witness gives testimony (hopefully to the truth.)

We are called to be witnesses for Christ and His Church.  Are we credible witnesses?  Do our lives show others that we love God?

In the Gospel of John chapter 10 we read:

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? 
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me."

 "The works I do in my Father's name testify to me." 

What works did Jesus do that testified for him?  He fed the hungry, cared for the widows, preached the good news of the kingdom of heaven, cast out demons, cured the sick and gave His life because it was God's will that He do so. 

What works do we do that testify for us to the world that we are Christians? 

Do we love our neighbor as ourselves?  Do we feed the hungry? Take care of the widow and the orphan?  

More simply, do we not speak poorly of our neighbor?  Do we take care of our aging parents?  Do we set a good example with our words and actions?  

Whether we know it or not (or believe it or not) all of our actions are being watched by someone.  Others who do not know God, but may be searching, are watching us to see how we behave differently than others who do not claim to be Christians. 

There is a story that I cannot take credit for nor give credit for because I only remember it, I don't remember who told it to me.  It goes something like this: 

A young man, looking for a place to stay for a while, came to the home of a couple who claimed to be Christian.  He stayed with them for six months.  He took note of how they lived and learned from them.  After six months he told them he needed to leave. They asked him where he would go, knowing that he did not have the money to pay for an apartment.  He told them that he was now going to spend six months with a non-Christian and see which way of life he liked better. 

If that young man had come to stay with you, would you have felt that he saw true Christianity in action when he was in your home?  Would you have been thrilled to find out that that was what he was searching for or would you have wished that you had done a better job being a credible witness?  

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Remaining Faithful

Today was an interesting day.  There are many aspects to the story I'm about to tell so I hope this doesn't get too long.

My mom and I have been walking for the past week. We go about two miles a day and so far the weather and my muscles have cooperated beautifully!

We decided to take a break over the weekend because by Friday my legs were a little stiff (still haven't made time to go get those new shoes that I need!)

Last Sunday I began a 54 day Rosary novena.  This is a 27 days of petition, 27 days of thanksgiving prayer.  It has a few extra prayers, and a meditation between each decade about the mystery one is going to pray.  It is beautiful.  Since it was early, and I was feeling chipper, I decided to kneel to pray.

With the extra prayers and meditations the novena takes about a half an hour to accomplish. When I got off my knees, I was starting to hurt a bit.  My already stiff muscles were tightening and starting to cramp.  Within a few minutes, the cramping had moved from the muscles around my sciatic nerve, up my back to my shoulder blade, and into my shoulder so that moving my head was very painful.

Today was my Dominican day.  I was determined not to miss the meeting but after taking one Aleve and driving to Mass, I was pretty sure driving all the way to my meeting (35 minutes away) was probably not a great idea.  I hemmed and hawed with the idea of staying home but was determined to get there.

I took another Aleve and my dear one used a rolling pin to loosen my thigh muscles, and then rubbed my shoulder and back so I could move a little better. He then said he would drive me to my meeting.  What a great guy I have!

On the way to the meeting, I quickly re-read the email that our formation director had sent to us.  I misread the location of the meeting.  I thought our meeting was changed to the church that is about 3 miles from the school where we usually meet.  So, I had Wayne drop me off there.  By the time I realized my mistake, Wayne was on his way home.  So,  I decided I was going to walk, and called Gwen to see if she would send someone to come and get me.

Obviously, she was running the meeting and not going to answer her phone but I was persistent. To no avail.

I knew it was a long walk so I took it at a peaceful pace and just left it up to God to get me there.

About a 1/2 an hour into the hour that it took me, I was getting tired and a little discouraged. I decided to think about Christ's walk to Calvary.  Lent being in the not too distant past, and Stations of the Cross still pretty fresh in my mind, I contemplated what our Lord went through.

 I came up with all they ways I was blessed that my walk was so much different:

  • I was wearing shoes
  • My skin was intact
  • I was not wearing a crown of thorns
  • I was not carrying a heavy cross
  • No one was spitting on me
  • No one was whipping me and yelling at me to get up and keep moving
  • I was fed
  • I was not thirsty
  • I had had a good night's sleep
  • I was not cold
  • I was not hot
  • It was not raining or snowing
  • And the most important difference:  I was not going to be nailed to a cross when I reached my final destination.
Was I tired at the end? Yes!  Was I grateful that I had spent the week "training" for today? Yes!

When I talked to Gwen about all that had happened, she had a pretty profound insight.  She said that once we make a decision for Christ and follow where He is leading us, we will come up against opposition from Satan.  I was grateful that I had chosen to be peaceful about the situation and keep Christ in mind during this trial.
 A few weeks ago, my mom gave me a copy of an inspirational quote she has taped to her bathroom mirror. I have mine tucked behind my crucifix.  It reads:

 "God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle, and a gift for your faithfulness.  Don't give up!"  

Maybe this was supposed to be a deterrent from the evil one, or maybe it was a test of my faithfulness. 
I'm not sure. 

I know this; since I'm pretty sure the Aleve wore off hours ago, and since I only have a tiny little bit of tightness still in my back so I can't turn my head as far as I normally can, and I don't hurt anywhere else, that God did give me a gift for my faithfulness.  

Plus, I got to my meeting eventually and that was a great gift as well. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Ultimate Goal

May you be as intentional in attaining heaven, 
as you are in reaching your other life goals. 

Most of us have goals.  In order to reach those goals we have to make plans. 

When our goal is vacation we make plans: where to go, when to go, how long to be gone, what to pack.

When our goal is an education for ourselves and eventually, perhaps, for our children, we make a plan:  how far to travel, how much we can afford to pay, what to study. 

When our goal for adult life is looming, we make plans: whether to stay single, get married, become a priest or religious or have a career.   

When our goal is getting through today, we make plans on a smaller scale as well: what to wear to work, what to have to eat, with whom to have lunch.

What about our ultimate goal, heaven?  If your ultimate goal is not heaven, nothing else you do in life will matter.  You can be the best accountant, basketball player, doctor, or teacher in the world, but if heaven is not your ultimate goal, your life will not be lived for its intended purpose.

If heaven is your goal, how intentional are you in reaching that goal?

Being baptized and confirmed is not enough.  You have to live intentionally for God.

You have to follow the Commandments: love God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself.

That is being intentional.

As intentional as feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, sheltering the homeless and burying the dead. Sound familiar?

As intentional as instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving offenses willingly, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead.  These should sound familiar as well.

When we do these works intentionally, we are living with heaven as our goal.
 (See Matthew 25: 34-40)

So, I repeat:

May you be as intentional in attaining heaven, as you are in reaching your other life goals. 

One day, you'll be glad you did.