Monthly Archives: November 2013

Feast of Christ the King

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christ-and-the-good-thief.jpg!Blog

Why was it that the thief who was crucified next to Jesus recognized him as a king while the religious leaders did not? Jesus gives us the answer when he explains why he teaches with parables. Jesus says quoting the prophesy of Isaiah,

“You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them.” (Mt 13:14-15)

Because the thief recognized his guilt and that his punishment corresponded to his crime, he was able with the eyes of his contrite heart to recognize Jesus as king and Messiah and ask him for mercy. The process is the same for us; we must recognize our sinfulness and our need of Our Lord’s mercy and forgiveness.

There have been many books and articles written in the past few years about loss of the reality of sin and its consequences. This is what we call relativism. Each person thinks they can decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong as if there were no objective truth about what is right and wrong. We can see the consequence of this all around us. Our society accepts as okay, many things we knew to be objectively wrong fifty years ago. We have come to a point as a society that we no longer “Have eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that are willing to be converted.”

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, but the question for each of us is; is Christ truly our King? Is he the Lord of our life? Do we understand that we need his mercy and grace to overcome the sins that want to dominate our lives?

I know I have told you this story before, but I think it is appropriate to share with you again on this Feast Day: Thirty some years ago when I was a hotel manager, the food and beverage manager and I were having lunch when he asked me if Jesus was the Lord of my life.

I don’t remember what I told him, but I do remember that my answer should have been no. I went to Mass every Sunday, but that was the end of my faith experience for the week. I was anxious to get home and watch football or do something else of similar importance. However, that question began to haunt me. I believed in God, but how much influence did he have on the decisions I made; very little?

That was a wake up call for me. Where was I going with my life? What were my priorities? How important was my faith? It was shortly after that when I bought my first Bible and joined a prayer group. Through a series of decisions and circumstances my faith began to become alive and it became a major influence in my life. I thank God for that wake up call because it changed the course of my life. It is the reason why I stand here today. I am truly grateful that God gave my wife Mary Jane and I, at the same time, the grace to desire a personal relationship with Him. There are no words to describe the joy we have discovered these past thirty years because we have made an effort to place God first in our lives. It is only possible to reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity when our life is ordered to God according to the truths He has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures.

Because of our fallen nature, even though our conscience tells us otherwise, we may think that there will be a time later on in our life when we will naturally be inclined to draw close to God.

That’s not true. It will never come naturally for us. It is a decision we can only make with the help of God’s grace when we finally come to the point that we are ready to place God’s will before our will. The sooner we make that decision, the sooner will we experience peace, joy and hope because God is the source of peace, joy and hope.

This weekend is the conclusion of the Year of Faith, which began October 12, 2012 at the request of then Pope Benedict XVI. The purpose of the “Year of Faith” was a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI set aside a special year for Catholics throughout the world to rediscover, and share with others, the precious gift of Faith entrusted to the Church and the personal gift of faith that we have each received from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Was there anything that happened during this “Year of Faith” that helped you to have an authentic and renewed conversion to Our Lord? If so, that was a wonderful thing not only for you, but also for the whole Church.

If not, I am going to give to you the same favor I received thirty years ago: Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is there anything in your life more important than Jesus? On this Feast of Christ the King do you want to call Jesus your King and your Lord and serve Him faithfully? If you can say yes, you are living the best years of your life from now until eternity even if you have to suffer for a time. I want to say this little prayer with you:

Jesus, on this your feast day we ask you to be Our King and Our Lord. Give us the grace we need to draw close to you through the sacraments of your Church, through the Scriptures and through our commitment to daily prayer. Help us to discover the great plan you have for us so that we may be happy now and forever. Amen.

What Is the Reason For Your Joy?

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dancing_nun[1] “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Jesuit theologian

The dictionary defines joy as an intense happiness. We usually don’t ask people “Do you have joy?” – we would rather ask, “Are you happy?”

And when you think about it, joy isn’t experienced in just a moment. It’s a state of being. Many people answer the question by stating concerns or problems they have, rather than thinking about what makes them happy.

Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, Texas, recently delivered a wonderful presentation called the Joy of the Discipleship at the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Annual Prayer Brunch.  Bishop Zurek said that when we encounter Christ Jesus and accept Him into our lives as our Lord, we experience joy and hope. 

Ahh…did you catch the two words, encounter and accept? They are both important – to encounter is to meet and experience; while to accept is to acknowledge, to believe.

I remember a specific time in my life when I encountered Christ through prayer and I experienced healing of an incurable illness.  When I realized it was indeed Christ who ‘touched’ my life, I accepted Him and everything about Him.  That encounter gave me an incredible deep joy I had never experienced, and it hasn’t gone away!

Thanksgiving Day is soon here, a time when we celebrate with family and friends, enjoy a meal and, more importantly, thank God for each other! This can be a reason for our joy – taking time to see each other outside the usual busy schedules, recognize our blessings and raise our voice to God in prayer. God gave Himself to you. Give yourself to God and you will find true joy!

Today is a good time to ponder: what is the reason for your joy?

I want to share with you a great joy in my life – my wonderful husband, Tom.  On November 25th, we will celebrate our 35 years of Marriage!

Fox on Galilee

How God Taught Me about Salvation through a Dream

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Ship

Last week, I had a vivid dream. When I awoke, I remembered it. That’s rare for me, but I think God wanted me to remember it…

The Dream

I’m on a group tour, in an unfamiliar, metropolitan area. We head to some sea ports, and our tour leader announces that we’ll be docking some ferry boats. Each person is responsible for purchasing his or her own ticket. This news makes me panic slightly: Do I have enough money?

I approach the ticket counter and ask for a ticket. I’m told that I cannot purchase an individual ticket. Tickets must be purchased in groups of six. SIX?!? I don’t know anyone else in the group very well. Hmm…Maybe I can find someone with six tickets and offer to pay them for my single ticket. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

I open my wallet and — Oh no! I don’t even have enough to pay my own way! Embarrassed, I look up at the ticket booth attendant and stare at the large total. What am I going to do?

But when I look down at my wallet again, suddenly I see loads of cash. What?? Where did all these bills come from? This is more than enough to buy an entire group of tickets!! Gleefully, I purchase a group of tickets and turn to the large crowd of my fellow tourists. I eagerly search the crowd for someone who needs a ticket; they don’t even have to pay me for it.

The Meaning

So, after having this dream I woke up and understood its meaning. (I’ll get to that soon.) The meaning gave me consolation and peace. Then, I read the day’s Gospel reading, and understood my dream even more:

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27-33)

Jesus here teaches that we should count the cost of following him. Is it worth it? Will what we ‘pay’ (give up) in suffering and sacrifices be worth what Jesus has to offer us?

In my dream, I was told that I had to board a boat, which is a common metaphor for the Church. What’s more, the image of a boat sailing across water to a mysterious place has been used to describe our journey to eternal life. I was told that I could not get on this boat, however, by myself. This, too, is true of our spiritual journey; we can’t go it alone.

After I had counted the cost of group tickets, I realized that I didn’t have enough to even pay my own way. Then, miraculously, I had more than enough to pay for a group of people. This speaks to me about God’s grace. Yes, God calls us to ‘carry our cross’ and follow Him, but at some point in our lives, we realize that is impossible to achieve this on our own. The solution? God generously gives us grace — an abundant gift. When we receive God’s grace, we joyfully share it with others. That’s the only way we will reach Heaven.

Why This Dream Means So Much to Me

For some reason, I’ve always had trouble asking others for help or advice. I’ve always wanted to do things by myself. (No joke: Only after months of counseling did I begin feeling comfortable enough to ask others to pray for me!)

I believe that God gave me this dream because He knows I’m a visual learner. He helped me visualize the truth: I can’t earn my own way into Heaven. I can’t carry my cross alone. Heaven will only be within my grasp when I humble myself enough to accept God’s grace and the companionship of my fellow pilgrims.

So, Lord Jesus: Yes, the cost of following you will mean humbling myself. It will mean allowing others to help me carry my cross. I’ll need to accept that I am not strong enough or equipped enough to continue this journey on my own. But that cost is worth the reward.