Monthly Archives: August 2014

When Boldness Bears Fruit

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Christ-and-the-Canaanite-woman

“Christ and the Canaanite Woman” by Jacolpo Palmer the Elder (1480 – 1528)

There is a story of a woman from Canaan that heard about Jesus. In her desperate concern for her daughter’s healing, she ran after Jesus calling out “Have pity on me, Lord, ..! My daughter is tormented by a demon!” Jesus doesn’t respond immediately and others around Him were ‘bothered’ by the woman and asked Jesus to send her away. Jesus appears to be harsh at first (you have to read the entire passage in Matthew 15:21-28), but he does so in order to strengthen the woman’s faith.

Her perseverance is recognized by Jesus and he tells her “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

This story is a good lesson for us all. The woman’s confidence in Jesus whom she believed was the Messiah, and her boldness bore fruit – her request for her daughter’s healing was answered.

The woman’s boldness came from her deep humility, her love for her daughter, and her trust that Jesus could heal her daughter. This is a good formula for our prayer as well. We must recognize our insignificance in our relationship with Almighty God, and that God who is almighty still desires us to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him.

We begin by recognizing that we need God, not only for our own well being but also for the people we love and share our lives with. Humility will lead us into obedience to the Word of God, and obedience will be the source of the hope we long for and the peace that only Christ can give.

Let us remember this story of this woman from Canaan; our faith and trust in Jesus will bear fruit. 

“Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem barren. Prayer is always fruitful.”
(
St. Jose Maria Escriva, The Way, p. 101)

Becoming Human the Catholic Way

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FirstSteps

“First Steps, After Millet” (1890) by Vincent van Gogh

Learning what our Catholic faith teaches does not always have to mean trying to figure out on our own how to put deep theological insights into our everyday lives.

Why?

Because we are blessed with many Catholic thinkers and authors who figure it out for us.

I discovered this recently for myself. You see, my life has become exceptionally busy. My schedule has multiplied with many good things, so I am not complaining . . . . too much.

But it became apparent, as weeds started sprouting in my garden beds and dog hair accumulating along the baseboards with not a minute to spare to pull and sweep, that I needed a plan. Things were out of balance. So because I learned through my Catholic reading the importance of balance for a Godly life, I went about finding a way to remedy the situation.

I hired a landscaper and housekeeper, my thirteen year old son. I knew it would not be long as school floated into summer that he was going to start asking for money. So, I decided I could use some of the tips from Catholic parenting books on raising virtuous children and teach him the value of work and money while benefiting myself in the process.  

It has worked out beautifully except for one thing. A few weeks into this new arrangement, I began to feel strangely disjointed. I would not have been able to explain it before, but now I realize that what I was missing was a connection I once had and no longer enjoyed.

It was in reading a book by one of this year’s Catholic Women’s Conference speakers, Emily Stimpson, that I discovered why. She writes in her book, These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body, that humans need to move their bodies in participation with God’s creative plan in order to be fully human. She says it does not have to be anything extraordinary; we just need to use the bodies God blessed us with to create a ‘good’ on a regular and consistent basis.

It made me wonder if this was true in my life and I realized that I was not moving my body parts as much as I had before. And even though the writing I am producing and the conference I am coordinating do participate in God’s creative plan, the sitting and staring at the computer screen is not the motion that completes the deal.

I decided to test her theory by giving myself one do-able project each week that I could complete from beginning to end that would:

  1. Move my body
  2. Participate with God by creating a ‘good’ for others (my family, the world, or both) and
  3. Fit into my very busy schedule

My first project was to weed the garden beds. I told myself, no going to the nursery to buy more plants, no trimming hedges, no getting distracted and piling on more than I have time to handle. It took only an hour and the beds looked clean and beautiful. The next weekend, I cleaned out one closet and put clothes we no longer wear in a bag for St. Vincent de Paul. An added ‘good’ was when my husband came home thrilled that our walk-in closet once again lived up to its name.

What did I learn?

That disjointed feeling I was experiencing disappeared. What I had missed was using all of me: soul, mind AND body. Yes, it is a little thing, but it is a little thing with Eternal perspective. And in a world that loves to complicate, I learned a simple way to live for God by being fully human in the very everyday circumstances of my life.

So as you make your summer reading list, do yourself a favor and add a few Catholic authors to it. It is very possible you will find the answers to whatever is just not quite right in your everyday life.

“What If We All Prayed for Just One Person?” + Radio Prayer Service for Middle East

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I am tempted – and perhaps all of us in the U.S. are tempted – to allow headlines regarding tragedy in the Middle East to “go in one ear…and out the other”.

There is just so much tragedy.

Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed by life’s events — whether in distant lands, or in our own homes and offices. In those times, I’m reminded of Mother Teresa’s words: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” That goes for everything — clothe just one person, hug just one person — and pray, too. If you can’t possibly pray for all the suffering people in the world, pray for just one.

In fact, it was only after my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, that I realized the Christians there are not just statistics. They are Johnny the tour guide with a sharp wit, Hanan the gracious relief worker, Rabab the singing English teacher.

Today I received an email from Brother Stephen, who works at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. He was passing along the news that one of the university’s graduates, Hashem, a husband and father of two little girls and a boy, was killed while peacefully protesting the violence in that region.

There are many stories like Hashem’s — of one person who is in need of prayer.  What if we all joined together and prayed for just one person?

For Hashem…
or for Ayham, his 11 year old who is now ‘man of the house’…
or for Sharna, the 23 year old pregnant mother killed in Gaza…
or for her baby girl, who was delivered by emergency C-section…

As Mother Teresa said, “Do not wait for leaders. Do it… person to person.” So we will. Please join in a special prayer service this week:

Live Radio Broadcast: Prayer for Our Brothers and Sisters in the Middle East
on Catholicism Live! hosted by Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Central Standard Time)

We invite you to have a crucifix or image of Christ with you, as you listen and participate. Together, let’s follow the example of our shepherd Pope Francis, and these holy bishops:

“Let us pray much for peace in the Middle East: please pray!” – Pope Francis

“We cannot be Christian but to be for the other.”
– Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash, Syriac Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance

“I believe in the effect of prayer even though in the immediate moment we don’t feel any result. We have to continue tirelessly to pray for peace.” – Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

“The whole church of the Middle East is a church of Calvary. Do not leave us alone.”
– Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal

“Pray for us.” – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako (Iraq)

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