Tag Archive: Faith


Spiritual But Not Religious, Really?

I meet so many young adults who are “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It is like saying I love coffee but I don’t drink it. I love to experience nature but I don’t leave my house. I love God….but I can’t imagine actually going to church and worshiping him.

What we keep in our heads ONLY, what we keep in our hearts ONLY, what we keep private and between me and Jesus ONLY; is NOT faith at all. It is laziness. Sound harsh? It may be.  But let me put something out there for you to think about.

Faith requires action!

God is faithful. God is always at work in his creation and with his children. ALWAYS! What’s our problem? If God kept his faith to himself, it would be a very bleak and dark world.

Faith requires action!

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Spiritual but not religious is a cop out.

Our world is degrading morally at an increasing rate. Imagine if those who claim to be Christian actually lived their faith out loud, fed the poor, clothed the naked, spoke openly with love about Jesus Christ, shared how God works in their lives AND worshiped together weekly.

Imagine!

Listening to Christian songs, getting a big tattoo of a cross on your body, claiming Christianity without actually living Christianity is one thing. Doing Christianity is quite another. Its messy. It requires an integrity of word and deed, it requires courage in the face of a world that screams “keep it to yourself!”

The world will change for the better when we Christians are authentically following Christ. When we are not hypocrites and privately hiding Jesus from the world. Nine out of ten couples I meet do not even pray together. They don’t talk about their faith to each other, they don’t practice their faith.

Lent is a great time to practice that faith you have forgotten about, ignored or hidden away. If you only know a little bit ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t KNOW Jesus it may be more difficult. Prayer is a great place to begin.

God is always listening, always reaching out to us, always waiting to have a relationship with each of us. Simply say, “God, I want you to come and wrap your love around me. I want you to show me who you are, what your plans are for me, and the wonderful relationship we can have together.” That’s all. Say it everyday. Heck, say it a hundred times a day!

Your life will begin to change in a wonderfully surprising way. I promise. Be diligent, hopeful, expectant! This great little clip speaks more about prayer in context of the mass and how you can begin to live that faith out loud with others.

 

Glad You Asked

“Why do you bring God into every conversation?”

This simple question was posed to me recently by someone I love dearly. Let me attempt to explain.

How do you not bring the Author of Life into life itself? How can I speak of the reason for my joy, my hope, my strength without naming its cause? What is the reason for oxygen if not to breath, or for water if not to cleanse and satiate?  How do you describe a rainbow without using color?

How can I not give recognition to the One, who animates all things and brings everything into existence? Without God there would be no bird to sing a melodious song, no leaf to sway in the invisible wind, no eye to glimpse untold beauty or ear to hear boisterous laughter.

Through His great love we all came into being, and it is His immeasurable, inexhaustible, unconditional, and infinitesimal love that helped me find my beloved and together in love, incarnate five unique,  unforgettable, exquisite human beings we call sons and daughters.

How does one speak of conquering mountains and surviving floods without mentioning the lifeline that pulled them up or saved them from drowning? God is the blood that courses through my body, and the air that fills my lungs.

God is the lens through which I see the world and even if I should lose my eyesight it would not dim nor alter how I interpret the world around me. He is the glue that holds everything together, the stream connecting every water way, the thread that binds, assembles, and weaves all matter.

He is at once the question and the answer, the reason and purpose, movement and motion itself.

Because of God I am here and so are you. I am able to listen, respond, love, laugh and cry with humanity.

In a world that constantly shifts, betrays, disillusions and deceives, He is the objective truth that I anchor my existence to as storms thrash and attempt to overwhelm me. I may get beat up, pulled under, and resemble death more than life, yet God is the tether that holds firm, keeping me safe and steadfast through it all.

God is light in the darkness, joy in hardship, hope in disaster and the answer to every human cry for help. He is love, forgiveness, mercy, justice and so much more. Only He can make sense of the senseless, or bring good out of evil.

So, my sweet friend, I can only say with conviction and certainty that it is nearly impossible for me not to bring God into my conversations. I am hopeful that because of this fact, that deep down inside, you realize this, and it is why I am worth speaking to at all.

May you one day find this inescapable verb to be inseparable from any sentence uttered from your lips and fondly remember this question, you posed so long ago, and now equipped with greater knowledge,  wisdom, and understanding do the same.

 

Published on: http://catholiclane.com/glad-you-asked/#sthash

Kind of rhym-mie isn’t it? It is part of the “Come Holy Spirit Sequence” said each year on Pentecost. It sounds wonderful and mysterious in Latin, Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

The rest of this particular sequence is this: “Where you are not, we have naught, nothing good in deed or thought, nothing free from taint of ill…”

That little piece packs so much wisdom!

Where you are not Oh Lord, we are blind and lost. On our own we wonder off the path, into the unknown dangerous darkness. Without your light we stumble and fall and get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. Our pride gets in the way, we refuse to ask for help we remain in our sinfulness, ignorance and shame.

We have naught.  “Apart from God, you are nothing” Jesus says. Apart from Him we are cut off from life-giving water, nourishment, aid. Can a branch that has fallen from the tree continue to grow and produce fruit? Christ doesn’t say without me you just won’t do as good as you could, or get as far as you hoped. He says we can do “nothing.” Is He being harsh, exaggerating, or just trying to scare us? Those Christians can be such downers. Jesus is simply telling it like it is. Reality right between the eyes. Not sugar-coated, rolled in chocolate and sprinkles and dressed up pretty to fool us. Nope! Just the whole truth, nothing but the truth and wrapped up in love. The truth sets us free. We recognize the truth. We yearn for the truth to be told. I think we are getting tired of deceit and games.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Nothing good in deed or thought. Only God is good. No God, no good. Think empty wasteland. Zero life, dry, parched producing nothing of worth or value. If we do not have God’s goodness in us we cannot produce good. We lack a key ingredient. No substance that makes the deed worth doing or the thought worth thinking.

Nothing free from taint of ill. Defective, stained from its very origin. Tainted, blemished, without purity of intention or effectiveness. Ruined from the beginning. Sure we can cover the stain,pretend its not there, but it won’t withstand the process and will come out twisted, perverted. Doomed from the start if you will.

It doesn’t end there on this hopeless note.

“…Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray. On the faithful, who adore, and confess you evermore. In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtues sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen”

Yes, give us joys that never end.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Never forget us, never give up on our stubborn wills. Never ever Lord, we need you!

Peace, Is It Possible

Today I am away from all my usual craziness and in my own little corner of paradise which makes this time so sweet.

I believe with all my heart  that God wishes to pour his peace on us. It couldn’t have been more evident than when we read the account after the resurrection when Christ first appeared to his disciples in the locked upper room, “Peace be with you.” He didn’t reprimand the disciples for abandoning him or denying him. He just breathed on them and wished them his peace. Wow! That is so unlike any human response I might give in the same situation. Jesus goes on further to say, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus reminds us again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”

Is there a reoccurring message there we might need to hear?

It is very possible to have an inner peace where it is still, and calm. This is the peace Christ wishes to extend to us. Fr. Jacques Philippe gives us this example, “In order to understand this we can use an image that can be illuminating. Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of a lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly it will be reflected. If on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it. It is like this with our soul in relationship to God. The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it…the more his grace acts through us.”

This imagery makes total sense. We have all seen this.

God’s Word is meant to be for us a source of strength, encouragement, recollection, hope, inspiration, education, and empowerment…need I go on?

Do we “feed” on the Word of God to mine all the treasures God has planted there for us to discover and rediscover?

Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel writes, “…we do not know the great heights at which our holiness lies… we shouldn’t try and hold back this sort of free-fall of the Word into our depths.”

Free-fall? That evokes both sheer terror and sheer exhilaration at the same time. That however, is what we need to do. We need to jump, let go, and freely unreservedly give ourselves over to God who desires to do amazing things with our lives.

What are we afraid of?

Why won’t we let go?

These are questions we must ponder and ask ourselves?

Do we believe and trust God?

Do we live in the fear of what if?

God’s open palms are right there to catch us. Do we believe that?

Will we consent to be the great saint God imagined in us? Are we willing to persevere in the difficult but immensely gratifying work of the Kingdom? Glory, honor, great joy and peace beyond all telling is there waiting for our yes.

New Year Nostalgia

What is it we do most in the New Year? Make resolutions, right? Like everyone else, I think the new year is a great time to start again, do over, and reboot. Why I think the new year is a better time than say tomorrow morning or this afternoon is a mystery. Maybe I like how January 1st sounds? Maybe I wait through the whole year thinking that it is best to wait until it all begins anew? That is ridiculous really, and procrastination at its very best.

When it comes to excuses, I’ve got them. I remember reading “Body for Life For Women” about ten years ago, one statement in the entire book  really rang true for me, “Don’t let your brain hold your butt hostage.” (I think that was pretty close to what it said). My brain has excuses for why I can’t work out, eat healthier, or get more disciplined. In fact, it has a vault of excuses in reserve just in case I go through the ones I have been saving up for  three decades.

Sometimes at the end of each year I peruse my journals from the last couple of decades, there is a repeating theme;   losing weight, exercising more, increasing spiritual reading. Can you shake your head and say PATHETIC? So what gets in the way for me? What stops me from stepping forward and making the beneficial changes that contribute to the best version of myself?

Proper planning, discipline and follow through.

That is pretty much it in a nutshell. What I have to gain spiritually, physically, and  mentally far outweigh choosing laziness. So why do I choose to be lazy?

Motivating forces grow as I age. I do not want a stroke (or worse), to be the kick in the rear I need. We have a brand new granddaughter to enjoy, who is I pray, the first among many more. I want to be around to make a difference in this world and for my family and future grandchildren in particular.

So what will I do differently this year?

Well, alone I will do nothing different. On my own I will pretty much do what I have done for decades- fail. This year, it begins with a lot more help from above. Prayer, petition, sacrifice. If I connect my human good intentions to the supernatural strength of God, then I might just be onto something. I find I am most successful when I unite my efforts to a bigger cause and source of strength. So I intend to begin and end with prayer, discipline and uniting my sacrifice with Christ, through the intercession of His Loving Mother. To some, it may sound totally ridiculous, to call on God’s help for something so earthly and minuet.

I disagree.

Our relationship with  God is intensely personal and intimate. He created us out of love and cares so deeply for us in all of our daily doings. My intentions are not hedonistic. I am not seeking to idolize my body and mind, but rather be a good steward of the gift given to me. So we will see how things work out this time.

Have a blessed and amazing New Year. Live each day one at a time. Practice giving it all up to the One who can transform pain into gain both physically and spiritually. Trust more, love harder, practice joy. Get into His Book, and meditate on the Word. Give up favorite things now and then just because you can,

St Daniel the Prophet stained glass in Ouray

St Daniel the Prophet stained glass in Ouray

offer that up. I trust that those little things, compounded with God’s amazing generous love will produce new fruit in all of us.

Here’s to a great year of growth.

Prayer, Faith, Hope and Love

“Faith and hope are given to us in prayer. So without prayer, we are unable to love.” (S.O.G. Madeline Delbrel)

I never thought of it in this way and yet I know it to be true. When we pray we tap into the single greatest source of hope- the Lord. Our faith might be a step into the unknown, but not the Unknowable.

We know God, we really do deep inside. We came from Love itself, our hearts know this at their very center. We march through this world day in and day out, searching, yearning, filled with desire… an insatiable desire to taste again that supreme Love.

We can’t re-cognize something we don’t know, but only something we have known before. We know it when we feel it, sense it, experience it again. It is Divine Truth, Divine Love, an experience that cuts to our very center and we KNOW unequivocally and recognize it.

Prayer is the pathway. It is the reaching out, the step forward, the new breath. “Speak oh Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9)

Like a spider waits on the web, attentive and sensitive to even the slightest movement, we too must be to the whisper that our Lord may wish to impart to us in prayer.

“It is our faith and hope, growing through prayer, that remove the obstacle that most blocks the road of our love; namely, a concern for ourselves” (Delbrel)

Faith then, I believe, is a surrender of myself, a letting go, a falling back into the waiting arms of my beloved Lord. A free fall in the truest sense of the word. A free fall into the safety of the hands of the One who will never let go, never leave, and never give up on us…even when we give up on ourselves and Him.

Trust that Divine Love awaits, thirsts for you, pines for you and desires to be in conversation and relationship with you. This is our hope, our faith, and ultimately our prayer.

The “Y” Cord

I would like to think that it all started with the “Y” cord, but I know that is not so. Maybe it would be more accurate to state that perhaps it started with the words, why not.

We were presenting a marriage preparation class to thirty-five couples the other day, and wanting to give them the best experience possible we had all the latest presentation tools lined up, well almost anyway. We had hoped to show the newest USCCB video, “Saying I Do” but a simple little cord was needed to get sound to the whole room. My mission, get the “Y” cord.

After waiting forty-five minutes for the guitar place to open, I confidently strolled up to the counter and asked for a Y cord, to which the tattoo laden, half asleep young man answered, “which one?” This was not a question I was prepared to answer. Silly, old lady, she thought there was only one. Using my spiffy camera phone I took pictures of the various possibilities and sent them to Rob our techno-wizard/youth minister. As the minutes clocked by, I wondered why the delay in his response and looked at my phone. After all we are all trained with the new technologies to get instantaneous world wide information in seconds. The little blue spinny thing indicated that it was still trying to send the pictures. I walked outside and held my phone up high hoping this would get it a little closer the satellite for faster sending capabilities.

That didn’t work and I looked like an idiot to the other tattoo laden, gauge incrusted young folks having their morning smoke outside.

Plan B was go inside and take a stab at the possibilities, as time was of the essence. I made my purchase feeling pretty confident that I had the right pluggy things to go in the correct receptors. At the break we anxiously plugged all the right cords into the right places and we still seemed to be missing, one simple little cord. This was beginning to feel like feeding a mouse a cookie.

We ended up just sticking a microphone by the LCD projector to pick up the little bit of volume coming from there. It sounded muffled and dull, so much for wowing them.

If technology is supposed to make our lives so much easier, why does it feel so difficult?

I found myself thinking of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Unavailable were Power Point, or Prezi, a sound system or sound tech. He didn’t have the Apostles set the mount with special effects to dazzle the crowd in the preconcert show. Lacking were the huge jumbo-trons with giant images of Christ while he spoke.

He just spoke.

The Apostles had a hard enough time figuring out where to get enough food to feed everyone, imagine if they were sent out to find a Y cord.

So much today we rely on technology when we do our presentations to blow the minds of our audience, tickle their gray matter, and titillate their senses. Mostly I think, they get lost in all the fanfare and completely ignore what is being said…or worse we lull them into a coma like state.

This all leaves me in a bit of a quandary frankly. Jesus I am not.

I imagine the kind of hold Jesus had on His listeners. They hung on His every word, let it sink in, roll around in their minds and produce a response. Sometimes it was positive, and transformative. Other times, negative and people picked up stones. That means He got their attention, because they were listening. So what will we do in the future as we have many more classes to teach and couples to impact?

I think I will try and minimize the effects and maximize the message. It means I need to know my message and more important know Who it comes from. Do I trust that the Holy Spirit can work in these fickle modern times when we depend more heavily on gadgets and gimmicks to get people’s attention than on the words themselves?

Jesus is after all, the Word.

That Word, His Word, has the power to cut through to the bone and into the marrow; to pierce hard hearts, to plant seeds on fertile ground, and to set souls on fire.

It will take prayer, lots of prayer. It will take surrender to the Holy Spirit to be lead, to trust, to guide. It will take courage beyond measure to entrust our audience over to God and let ourselves be His conduit to bring His electrifying message home to darkened hearts.

Frankly, while the task sounds daunting, and scares the crud out of me; it is also a grand relief. The unbelievable stress that malfunctioning, nonfunctioning and crashed equipment has caused me over the years has aged me a decade. If it can go wrong, I have found…it does. I am tired of placing my trust in manmade material and it is time to plug into the Divine.

Pray for me. Pray for us, and pray that our listeners will open their hearts and ears to the Good News God wants to share with them for their marriage.

Let the Fire Fall

“Just about the worst thing we can do with Jesus is to domesticate him, to turn him into a nice, harmless figure, simply a teller of tales and wise spiritual teacher. He announces himself as an arsonist: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” ~ Fr. Robert Barron

Why do we humans settle for “lukewarm” when it comes to faith?

I see people on game days dressing up in jerseys and sporting team colors, spending countless hours and dollars on following a team and when it comes to faith or participation at mass can barely utter an audible AMEN.

I see people spending millions of dollars on the latest clothing trends and for church they look like they have barely given more than a seconds attention to what they wear to God’s house.

What was Christ talking about when he stated His desire that we were already blazing? Do we possess a single heart for Him? Do our hearts burn with love? Do they have the ability to set the world afire?

What images arise in your mind when you hear these words of Christ?

Regret? Anger? Disappointment? Passion? Energy?

For myself; all of the above.

Regret, that it isn’t happening already and it is 2000+ years later.

Anger, that we let temporal things get in the way of the eternal realities, and are easily distracted, defeated, and discouraged.

Disappointment, because we lack focused discipline and determination for the things of God.

Passion and Energy, for all the wrong things; diets, politics, sports, material things, excessive exercise, gastronomy, celebrities, clothing, shoes; need I go on?

So what will it take to transform our hearts, refocus our lives, and realign our priorities? God knows a little secret that has worked for as long as humans have walked the planet; suffering.

Nothing gets our attention like pain. It seems to cut through all the BS and get right to the heart of the matter. We tend to look up when there is no relief in sight. We tend to bend the knee when answers are not forth coming. We tend to bow our heads and surrender our wills when we have no one else to turn to.

Yes, God knows what it takes to get our attention. What we have to remember is that it is not out of spite or malice but out of love. Suffering can purify and cleanse away impurities. It can help us detach from harmful habits and unhealthy attachments to earthly things and more importantly it can assist us making the necessary adjustments to fire up the furnace of love.

Let us beg for the fire of the Holy Spirit to fall on humanity and set our hearts on fire for Christ– a transforming fire, a fire of love… a cleansing fire that purifies hearts and souls!! Come Holy Spirit come, set us a blaze!

Chivalry is Not Chopped

By: Barbara Lishko

I got the rare chance the other night to watch the Food Network show, Chopped. I have seen the show maybe two or three times. It’s an interesting premise. Professional chefs challenge each other to create something delectable and wildly authentic using the most ridiculous combination of ingredients, in a constrained, high pressure feat of culinary excellence.

Being a mother and generally nice human being, I consider everyone a winner that participates by giving their best effort. I don’t much like that someone is “chopped” in a close race because their radicchio is askew or that they didn’t use enough pastrami in the chocolate mousse.  These professionals who already excel in their fields are made almost pawns in a cruel game of the petty, subjective tastes, of their distinguished judges. Maintaining ones composure as some pompous, so-called expert sneers and quibbles about the crispness of your crepes, is a feat all in itself. I imagine it takes an iron will, not to wield your filet knife and make tongue sausage.

In each episode we get to meet the competitors and hear a little bit about their story. Chef Lance has piqued my attention and is returning after losing a previous show. What intrigued me as he described himself was that he “used” to be a total jerk before he found God, and would not hesitate to walk over any one in his way. Well, let’s see what the competition brings out, shall we?

In the second round, one of our chefs was running with a pot of boiling water, not recommended in any kitchen, slips, and douses her legs receiving second degree burns. True to her character however, she does not stop and continues onward to advance to the final round and compete against Chef Lance. For her this competition is about winning so she can take the money and go see her grandmother in the old country.  My sincerest apologies, I cannot remember her name.

In this final round, the competitors have to make a dessert out of grasshoppers, squid ink and duck eggs or the like. After each concocts something edible out of such bizarre but apparently gastronomic delights, we are ready to reveal who will be chopped; but not before we get to listen in on the chefs back stage. Chef Burned Legs, not her real name, is saying to Chef Lance that no matter who wins, they are both winners. The long awaited moment has arrived and wha-la Chef Lance has won. With poise, the other chef gives him a hug congratulating him and starts to walk away.

The producers could not have scripted what came next.

Chef Lance thanks the judges and says he did not expect to win and would like to give the $10,000.00 prize money to the other chef so she can go and see her grandmother. Clearly everyone is taken aback and visibly shocked, most especially the recipient of his generous gift.

Here we see a very rare and poignant display of true Christian manhood. Chef Lance is truly what he says he is. He is not about the prize money, he is well grounded in who he is and whose he is. That is satisfaction enough for him. I have to tell you I was surprised to see such an authentic demonstration of generosity…on TV no less.

Will I stay tuned for next week and see what clever culinary cookery the chefs will come up with using wildly exotic ingredients like spider eyes, wild Jamaican oats, and yak honey; I don’t know.

This I do know, it is nice to be amazed, to see real live Christians in various situations quietly,(and sometimes not so quietly), going about doing good. Well done Chef Lance.

Extraordinary Time

“You just don’t understand.” she told me in exasperation. “No”, I sighed. “I guess I don’t.”

We had just finished this amazing day and a small inconsequential occurrence, that any other time would have been easily dismissed, caused her to rethink everything as the day dissolved into sadness and self loathing.

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