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The New Testament: According to Me February 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 3:05 pm

How rich and beautiful Scripture is! The Old Testament that grounds us in our covenential existence with our Creator God. The New Testament with the fulfillment of that covenential relationship through Christ. Our human existence is profound; who we are and whose we are is well defined. Our path is well lit for us back to our Father’s loving arms; from our creation to our eternal existence. It is all laid out before us like a bountiful banquet. We are invited to feast on the variety and richness of it all.

So how’s that going for you? A good question to reflect on during this Season of Lent. A good place to be in our pondering what we will be celebrating on Easter Sunday. And, Lent is for just this purpose. So, we give things up (that we probably didn’t need in our lives anyway), or do things (most of which we should already be doing) in an effort to develop or enhance a discipline in ourselves that brings us a step closer to a fuller relationship with our God.

I was reading a book today and found a very interesting exercise. One that can be done any season of our life, but which struck me as being very Lenten, so to speak. It is a creative alternative to examining one’s conscience. The meditation involves you writing a ‘new testament’. That is, writing of our experiences in this beautiful existence we each share; our lives. Here is the exercise which comes from, “Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesus”, edited by Michael Harter, SJ, and published by Loyola Press. This meditation is wrtitten by Anthony De Mello, SJ.

“I imagine that today I am to die. I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends a sort of testament for which the points that follow could serve as chapter titles.

  1. These things I have loved in life; things I have tasted, looked at, smelled, heard, touched
  2. These experiences I have cherished
  3. These ideas have brought me liberation
  4. These beliefs I have outgrown
  5. These convictions I have lived by
  6. These things I have lived for
  7. These insights I have gained in the school of life; insights into God, the world, human nature, Jesus Christ, love, religion, prayer
  8. These risks I took; these dangers I have courted
  9. These sufferings have seasoned me
  10. These lessons life has taught me
  11. These influences have shaped me; persons, occupations, books, relationships, events
  12. These Scripture texts have lit my path
  13. These things I regret about my life
  14. These are my life’s achievements
  15. These persons are enshrined in my heart
  16. These are my unfulfilled desires
I choose an ending for this document; a poem or writing or prayer (my own or someone else’s), a sketch or picture, a Scripture text, or anything I think brings my testament to conclusion.”
My friends, may your life be filled with joy and may ‘the new testament according to you’ reflect God’s great and enduring love for you! Peace.
 

Follow Me and Be Healed! January 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 4:07 pm

In falling victim to disobedience, our first parents, Adam and Eve, lost the original justice that God had ordered for them and heaven was closed to them. The ordered cosmos for humanity was replaced with chaos…order replaced with disorder. That is the lot in life we are all born into.

Born into yes, but not destined to remain in forever. “For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) The chaos of sin was to be, and is, replaced by order achieved through Jesus Christ “emptying himself of the heavenly estate and taking on the form of a slave”. (Phil. 2:5-11) And the instrument Jesus chose to restore order out of chaos was ‘the cross’.

As Jesus went to the cross, utterly helpless to the crucifixion, he went in total humble obedience to the Father. In so doing, the Father raised him up in glory. Jesus entered glory through the cross and opened the way for us to share that glory. In Baptism we die and rise with Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:19-20)

The cross is now the standard by which our allegiance will be judged. In our minds, the cross is a horrendous reality…a reality we are called to and by which our allegiance is judged. But, in our hearts, where the Holy Spirit of God resides, the cross is our “good news”. “Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

If we want to live, we must die. If we want to be free we must surrender our wills to Christ and become like him, slaves; slaves to the Gospel. If we want to be empowered, we must surrender control and humbly submit to helplessness. If we want our burdens eased, we must take Jesus’ yoke on ourselves. If we want resurrection, we must embrace the cross. In the story of the crucifixion there were two thieves. One embraced his cross, and the other rejected it. The one who embraced his cross heard these words, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

We often pray for healing for ourselves or others; and this is as it should be. Understand though that our healing comes through the Cross, and through our crosses. We are invited to embrace our crosses, our afflictions, and offer them to the Cross. We are invited to willingly walk the way of the Cross. In these walks with our crosses we meet Jesus, face-to-face. In these Jesus meets us in our needs, ministers to us, heals us, raises us up, and creates order from our chaos.

My friends, whatever your burden, your illness, your affliction, your need, embrace it. And, as you embrace it and walk the way of the Cross with its burden, expect to meet Jesus; who will lighten your burden and heal you for eternity.

 

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All December 1, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 5:40 pm

 

 It is that season of the year when once again the bell ringers from the Salvation Army take up residence outside many of our favorite shopping stores collecting money to minister to the needy. When, we are bombarded by a wide variety of organizations collecting items of food and clothing to distribute to needy individuals, or collecting toys and clothes for children, or putting on special meals for the needy, elderly, and so forth. This is a season when the happenings around us open our eyes, even if ever so briefly, and beg us to respond with our hearts and excess blessings, to the multitudes of people in great, dire, and very real need of our assistance.

What happens next though? After the season passes. For most, we just fall back into our normal life’s routine and grow less conscious of the needs that were placed in our ‘direct line of sight’ during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Yet, those needs do not go away. And, in fact, there are so many more people and needs that go unmet on a daily basis than we can even imagine; day after day, season after season. The people are real. Their needs are real. They need food, shelter, clothing, employment, medical assistance; yes. But even more importantly they need hope; they need love. Not just during one season, but during every season; on every day of their lives.

“Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward All” is a much used verse during the Christmas season. But, it is more than words. It is the message, the promise, that the infant born unto us who grew into manhood and expired on the cross, came to bring us. And, it is more than words. It is a reality. A reality that ‘we’ are to be integral in bringing about.

Our extra caring, our money in the collection kettle, our donation of clothing, or toys, or food, or whatever else do serve a much needed service. But, there is so much more need and we do have so much more we could give; don’t we?! We each have a great gift from our God; his unconditional love. And this gift we are called upon to share with others. Imagine if we ‘loved’ just a fraction of the way God loves us. Imagine what the result could be.

Pope Benedict  XVI’s general prayer intention for December is: “That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect.” His mission intention is: “That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation.” Pope Benedict XVI is calling, challenging, each of us, especially the young people, and all Christians baptized into the love of God, to live a life of love, and to proclaim a message of love, of hope, to all people…ALL people.

Can you do it? Can you, first, allow yourself to be loved intimately by the Father, and by the Son, the baby Jesus? And can you, secondly, love others in the same manner you are loved by your Father and your brother Jesus?

Ah, if it were but so. Then truly there could be peace on earth, and good will toward all. By the grace of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may our hearts be permanently touched and may our lives be eternally changed, and may we ‘move’ to bring peace and good will to this needy world.

 

 

The Veil of Lawlessness November 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 4:42 pm

On the evening of November 4th I was in attendance of the opening session of  the 2011 National Catholic Charismatic Conference in Baltimore, Maryland where Ralph Martin ( http://www.renewalministries.net/?module=Events&event=Speaker&speakerID=29 ) was the presenter. Mr. Martin spoke to the attendees of the state of our world today and our call to holiness. His words on the state of the world, our world, held power and truth. Mr. Martin referenced 2 Thessalonians 2  ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Thessalonians%202&version=NASB ) where the members of the Church of Thessalonia were reminded that there would be a time during which the ‘veil of evil’ would be removed and ‘lawlessness’ would be ‘set free’. During this time, people would be called upon to make a choice between taking part in the ‘lawlessness’ or living a holy life; living in the truth of a life of ‘love’. Mr. Martin proclaimed that the ‘veil of lawnessness’ has been removed right now; in our lifetime, in our world, in the society in which we live. He reminded us of the “aggressive moves that are prevalent which are being made to silence the voice of the Church”; attempts to choke off the Word, the voice of God.

Today, in the Charleston Gazette, I read an article written by Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press entitled “Catholic bishops prepare to fight for religious liberty”. Read the article my friends! ( http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/52908108-68/bishops-catholic-religious-health.html.csp ) We, you and I, are part of the “Catholics in the Next America”, and will be part of the body who shape the Next America and who help form the next generation who will be living in the New America.

It doesn’t take any stretch of imagination to see that the time spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2, the time of lawlessness – of the veil of evil being removed – of increasing intolerance of Christianity, is now. The bishops will be giving rhetoric to the dilemma and direction to the Church very soon now. In the interim and far beyond our work is to continue to proclaim God’s truth; whether popular or not. The theme of the National Catholic Charismatic Conference was “Standing on Holy Ground”. Ralph Martin, through the power of the Holy Spirit, opened our eyes to a twist on that theme. Yes, we are standing on Holy Ground for ‘God is here, in this place’, but the twist begs a question rather than proclaiming a truth. The question: “Will you stand firm on the Holy Ground? The Holy Ground that is the ‘truth’ of God’s love and our salvation through Jesus Christ?

Mr. Martin reminded us that being holy is, in essence, loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and body. He reminded us that we ‘can’ be holy; for we were created to be one with God, one through Jesus Christ. We must say ‘yes’…now! Yes I will be holy. Yes I will stand firm. Yes, I will love you God with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul; and I will love others! The veil is off. Lawlessness is on the loose. For us to say less than a wholehearted ‘yes’ would be asking Catholics less than they have to give. And, the Church must continue to give us all that the Gospel has to give for it is this truth upon which we must be standing firm. Mr. Martin spoke powerfully when he said that “the battle lines” have been drawn, and we must choose on which side of the line we will “stand firm”. Of these will come the “New Evangelization” all around us.

As we can see in 2 Peter 2 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Peter%202&version=NASB ), God surely is vexed at what is happening, and his judgement will be on ‘all’. My friends, on which side of the ‘judgement’ line do you wish to be…wish to be with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and your whole body?

 

New Life…End of Life November 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 4:27 pm

I just finished reading two on-line articles. One was regarding new life and abortion issues. The other was regarding end-of-life issues. I will make no comment of my own on either articles. You read them and let your heart speak to you. God’s message of his love for us, of our love for God, and our love for each other surrounds us and permeates us, if we allow it.

New Life article   http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/abortion/ab0107.htm

End-of-Life article    http://www.fathersforgood.org/ffg/en/big_four/life_issues.html

My message to you after you have read the articles is simplistic: Love! Love often, love always, and love unconditionally; just as you are loved by God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Will You Live? October 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 1:35 pm

I recently read a magazine article that was titled, “How long will you live?” The article was aimed at looking at genetic predictors, health profiles, life style, nutrition, and so forth to gain insight into predicting life span and possibly maximizing the life span.

Interesting. The article made no mention of the myriad of unpredictables that determine longevity…accidents, life changes such as jobs, having children, taking care of elderly parents, etc. The fact is, the question, “How long will you live”, is unpredictable and in God’s grand plan is meant to be. There is really only one reasonable answer, “Until I die!”

I know, I know, we all try so hard to fix this or that and be in control of so many things; including how long we will live. In reality we have to some extent extended life ‘expectancy’ through science and medicine. But also in reality is the fact that there are many variables that are totally out of our control.

We love to be ‘future oriented’ people. Yet, the fact is that we will die; at an unknown time, unknown place, and unknown circumstances. So, we do not have a guaranteed future. A future that we tend to put a great deal of stock in. Tomorrow I will… I’ll save for my retirement… I’ll put that off until tomorrow… I’ll call my mother (father, sister, brother, son, daughter, etc.) tomorrow… There is no tomorrow! Not unless you make it through today…then the tomorrow you thought was tomorrow is really your next today. (Take time with that one)

Rather than the question, “How long will you live?”, from our spiritual nature we would be much better served asking: 1.) If I knew for certain I would have a tomorrow, what would I do today? 2.) If If I knew for certain I didn’t have tomorrow, what would I do today? They really amount to looking seriously at our lives; what we do, what we don’t do, what motivates us, etc. We have a great gift given to us by our creator God; time. Time; the gift though is ‘this moment’. No more, no less; than this very moment. Our past is irrelevant; gone and done with. Our future is…well not a ‘reality’. What is do have is now.

God may well ask you at any second of any day, of any month, of any year…I gave you a great gift, time, what did you do with that gift? What were you doing in the moment of time when I interrupted you to call you home to me?

Time is precious. What we do or do not do with our time is our choice. We can never recapture time. We cannot bank on having more of it. We do have now. And in the present we live in we have God’s presence. I believe the old adage, “Live each moment as if it were your last”, is pure wisdom. You are alive! Thank God for the gift, and praise God with what you do…every moment!

 

Forming Consciences October 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deacon Gary @ 7:11 pm

Such a complicated world we live in. So much good surrounds us. So much need surrounds us. So many issues exist for which we need to find resolution. Yet as adult Christians it is more than a moral or ethical human responsibility we owe in giving thanks, in addressing needs, or in resolving issues; rather it is a responsibility born out of our baptism. To define ourselves and our lives as Christian, for through baptism we are, we must respond to the world around us, to our brothers and sisters and all life situations, with a conscience for the common good developed through love. The document promulgated by the Catholic Bishops of the United States titled, ” Forming Consciences: Faithful Citizenship- A Call to Political Responsibility”, engages us in our rights and responsibilities to humanity through our political system. As November 2011’s elections approach and we move ever closer to November 2012’s National Elections, I urge you to read this meaningful and useful document.

We cannot, in good conscience, and as American Christians, sit by apathetically as our secular leaders are elected. It is our responsibility to become educated voters. It is our responsibility promote our Christian values. Integral to our forming our consciences is prayer. For what we cannot achieve, God can; for with God all things are possible.

The above referenced document can be found at  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/Forming-Consciences-for-Faithful-Citizenship-2011.pdf

God bless America. God bless you, my brothers and sisters.

 

 
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