Getting Caught in the NET

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In Luke 10:1-12, Jesus sent the Seventy-two out on a mission to visit villages around the country with instructions of how to convert souls and expand the Kingdom by preaching the new Word of God.  They were to enter a house, wish it peace, eat what is offered to them, and cure the sick.  They were to take nothing with them, placing their trust in divine providence. He told them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”  By this, He was asking his disciples to make disciple-makers.

When we read this passage we are naturally brought to reflect on our own efforts and success at being disciples and making disciple-makers – something at which most of us fail miserably.  But, these last couple of days, my thoughts have been more about being on the receiving end of the efforts of these trusting and courageous missionary disciples.  In other words, what was it like to welcome these disciples into your home and receive the peace of the Lord through them?

This week my wife and I experienced just that.  On Wednesday, we welcomed five young women, ages 18 to 20, into our home for two days.  They are part of a team of eight (three young men were hosted by another family) from NET Ministries, a Catholic organization whose mission is to reach out “and challenge young Catholics, through relational ministry, to follow Christ and embrace a life of community in the Church.”

We had never done anything like this before.  But, with our four daughters out of the “nest”, we welcomed the opportunity to offer hospitality to these young adults who are laboring for the harvest.

This team, NET Team 3, is regional to the Cincinnati area.  They cover a territory of Southwestern Ohio, Southern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky.  They travel to a different location and minister to high school and junior high school youths every couple of days, staying with an equal number of different hosts.  They are committed for a year to this life on the road, traveling with only what they can pack in their suitcase, and relying on the hospitality of those in the local Catholic communities.

NET Team 3

They arrived on Wednesday evening with only a suitcase and a backpack each, and two guitars.  After showing them to their rooms and beds we gathered in our living room around a cozy fire in the fireplace and began getting to know each other, swapping stories about life and our personal faith journeys.  Sharing came easily with no hesitation to go beyond superficialities.  There was an aura of peacefulness about them.  Their faith was evident without being in-your-face preachy.  I’m sure they had had a long and arduous day but they gracefully stayed up with us to pray a Rosary before retiring for the evening.

Thursday morning we were blessed to prepare a good breakfast for them before they headed off to a local Catholic high school to hopefully save a few souls from succumbing to the ways of the world.    They returned that evening and we enjoyed a fine home-cooked dinner (if I do say so myself!).  I got the sense that they appreciated not having pizza because they came back for seconds! Throughout dinner and then, again, afterwards around another fire, we continued with good conversation and friendship.  A guitar was uncased and we sang a few songs together.  

On Friday morning we were all up early as the team had to head about an hour south to their next retreat.  We prepared a breakfast for them to take with them.  We exchanged hugs and blessings and wished each other well.  Then they were gone.  But, they left behind the memory of thirty-six hours of peacefulness well spent, and the hope that we might be able to do it again sometime soon.  

Their mission is to grow the Kingdom of God with students and young adults.  But, I wonder if they know the impact they have on us old folks?  The joy they emanate by doing the Lord’s work brings hope to us all that some of the sickness in the world will be cured.  Thank you NET Team 3 for bringing your joy and hope to this house!

“Dear Lord, thank You for inspiring these young women and men to be disciple-makers for Your Kingdom.  Thank You for the opportunity to serve You by serving them.  I pray You abundantly bless Mally, Maggie, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Terese as they labor for Your harvest.  Amen.”

(Getting Caught in the NET was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

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The Sweetness of the Word in a Sour World

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Jesus cleansing the temple

In today’s Scripture there seemed to be a common thread of how sweet the Word of God is to the faithful.  In Rv 10:8-11, we read about the angel handing John the scroll (the Word of God) and ordering him to “Take and swallow it.  It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”  The prospect of heaven is sweet, but the suffering we experience on our way there can be upsetting.  

In today’s Psalm, Ps 119:103, we read, “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  

In the Alleluia, Jn 10:27:  “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Sheep are comforted by the words of a trusted shepherd.

And in the Gospel, Lk 19:45-48, the chief priests, scribes and Jewish leaders sought a way to put Jesus to death after he exercised His authority and cleansed the temple by driving out the money changers – “but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on His words.”  Jesus was feeding the people with something far sweeter than anything the Pharisees had been providing!

A new prophet was in town.  Not just any prophet, but the one the people were calling the Messiah!  Don’t you know this drove the Jewish leaders crazy!  They were being ignored.  They were losing control.  Jesus was a threat to their power.  

Not much has changed in two thousand years.  World political leaders have consistently been frustrated over Christians who choose to follow Jesus, the Word of God, rather than capitulate to the philosophies and cultures they try to impose.  Today, you don’t have to travel away from home to experience the sour stomach effects of what’s being shoved down our throats:  abortion up to and including the moment of birth, rampant promotion of transgenderism and euphoric celebration of the LGBTQA movement, the redefinition of marriage, the erosion of religious freedom and hosts of other misguided policies that tear down accepted morality and the institution of the family in the pretense that government knows best.  

Making it particularly difficult for us Catholics are the various leaders within our government who claim to be devout Catholics yet are on the front lines of promoting these immoralities.  Faithful and humble believers are a threat to their agenda, a pain in the rear to the pride that drives their desire for power and control.  Desperate people do desperate things and theirs are true acts of desperation.  Their level of frustration with all of us who follow the voice of our Good Shepherd must be reaching a crescendo because, from all observations, they are working hard to do the devil’s work. 

We must remember to let the evil born of their frustration be theirs and theirs alone.  As virtuous Christians, the Church Militant, we receive through prayer the grace to take these issues which we don’t like and haven’t chosen and work to peacefully change what we can. But, for those issues out of our control, we need to pray for that same grace to live lives of virtue, maintain interior peace, and hang on His words – the only medicine that will soothe the indigestion of life and transform our frustration into acceptance that all will be well for those who love and trust Jesus. 

Let it be Jesus to whom we listen! Let it be the sweetness of God’s Word we savor rather than the immoral philosophies of the misguided leaders of the world. We will be victorious and it will drive them crazy!

“Lord Jesus, Your sweet words hold the promise of everlasting life.  I pray for the conversion of all misguided souls. And, I pray for the grace to be an effective disciple maker, to help change the world by feeding hungry souls on the sweetness of Your Word.  Amen.” 

(The Sweetness of the Word in a Sour World was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Reconciliation and a Rock

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Yesterday I posted a reflection from my good friend, Bob Magness, and I promised to post a second one from him today.  One of the witness topics on the WELCOME retreat is Reconciliation.  Following the witness, Bob invited all team members to visit one of the two priests on hand for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Once again, Bob’s way with words brings me much joy.

Reconciliation and a Rock

by Bob Magness

The Welcome team formation process culminates with the weekend retreat.  Here, members of the Giving Team give witness to this process.  The miracles that occur every day to every-day ordinary men.  One of those witnesses is about the miraculous power of adding our sins to the burden that is Christ’s Cross. 

Reconciliation and a Rock

There’s an old metal bucket full of rocks.
Take one. Look at it closely.
Hold it in your hand. Rub it with your fingers.

How old is that rock?  How long did it take to form?
Are those broken edges smooth and worn or rough and jagged? 
Maybe a fossil- the mineralized remnants of the past.

What if you had to carry that rock around…day after day…weeks to months…and months to years? 
That weight in your pocket…maybe it’s light enough that you only notice it occasionally…maybe it’s heavier.
Those edges – smooth or do they still cut?

Our sins mineralize and become like that rock – fossils reminding us of that broken past.
Thankfully, we can stake those rocks to the Cross, 
Christ takes those rocks, the weight, the sharp edges,
Healing those wounds.

Reconciled.

There’s an old metal bucket full of rocks,
Each a little different, 
But the same story. 

Let go of your rock.

It can be a powerful weekend.  It takes a willingness to listen, to be present.    The weekend provides a chance to make sure you’re still oriented – to find the proverbial North Star.  Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of the weekend is the realization that on this ship you’re not rowing alone.   In the words of Chesterton, “We are in the same boat, and we are all seasick”.   Everybody has a story.  Everybody.   

I pray that other Team members understand the impact they had on the men brave enough to attend the weekend.  I pray they understand the impact they had on me.  Brothers in Christ… Iron sharpens Iron.

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(Reconciliation and a Rock was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron Sharpens Iron as One Person Sharpens Another

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Today’s guest author is my good friend, Bob Magness.  Bob contributed Random Musings on a Spring Morning back in April. I love the way he assembles his thoughts and turns them into prose.  When I read his words I can hear him saying them in his baritone voice as though he were right here beside me.  

I first met Bob in April 2012 when I attended a Christ Renews His Parish retreat weekend (now called WELCOME) that transformed my life and led to my conversion.  Bob was one of the men who took me under their wing and taught me much about my faith.  He continues to do that today.  We just participated together on another WELCOME weekend.  As always, the experience was phenomenal and we received so many graces!  Two of these Bob put into words and he’s allowing me to share them with you.  The first is below and the second will be published tomorrow.  I’m sure Bob would appreciate any comments you have to offer.  

Sharpening Knives

by Bob Magness

For the last six months I’ve had the privilege of being a part of a Welcome team at our parish.  The process was not new to me – weekly meetings to form each other spiritually with the purpose of delivering a retreat weekend to another group of men that would bring them closer to Christ. 

I had been a part of this process a couple times before and I had seen the positive power of a good team and the destructive nature of a bad team.  Any apprehension I may have had was quickly dismissed as the team gelled almost immediately.  Five minutes into that first meeting and I could tell this team had something special.  Fifteen men: some who were friends, some just acquaintances, and some who had just met.  

It’s amazing what happens when a group gets together with a willingness to speak and to listen.  Maybe the best way to describe those conversations: life – just talking about life – what’s important, what needs addressed, what we can build off of, what we can celebrate, and above all, how we’ve seen God working in our lives. Being a part of this team was an absolute blessing.

We have a tradition in our parish that each Giving Team creates a banner that best describes the Team’s journey.  I had the honor of presenting our banner and explaining its significance to the men of the Receiving Team:  

Proverbs 27: 17- Iron Sharpens Iron as One Person Sharpens Another

Dull knives are dangerous not because they dont cut.  Theyre dangerous because theyre inefficient.  And that inefficiency leads to mistakes.  Those mistakes can be dangerous.  

To sharpen a knife, you need to expose a new edge.  This is usually done by grinding the old blunt steel against something harder than itself.  First one side and then the other until they form a new sharp cutting edge.  That newly exposed edge is then honed by repetition.  Honing takes care of any burrs.

For the last six months, weve met as a Team to find that new edge.  We started as strangers.  We talked as true friends.  We supported one another.  We challenged each other.  Grinding, polishing, honing… We prayed for truth, for wisdom, for each other.  Once strangers and now Brothers.  

Iron sharpens Iron.

Its a continuous process, even the best knife goes dull without proper care.  Keep it clean, hone it, keep it sharp.

Dull knives are dangerous. 

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(Proverbs 27:17 – Iron Sharpens Iron as One Person Sharpens Another was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Respect for Life – The Great Cultural Divide

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October has for five decades been designated as Respect Life Month, a time to call to mind the value of every human life from conception to natural death.  Although the United States Supreme Court this year overturned the half-century old Roe vs. Wade decision regarding federal legalized abortion, we ought not to think any less of the continuing need to respect the lives of all people.  

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Dobbs vs. Jackson turned the legality of abortion over to each individual state.  While this can be considered a victory for our Church, for Christianity, and for our society, it changes the complexion of the abortion issue and presents new cultural concerns.  

A good friend forwarded to me yesterday a video of his parish priest giving his homily last Sunday, Respect Life Sunday.  Fr. Ed Meeks, of Christ the King Catholic Church in Towson, Maryland, delivered his homily with respect to the current state of affairs concerning abortion and respect for life.  Fr. Meeks calls the issue of legalized abortion in the United States “the fault line on the great cultural divide that separates two contradictory and exclusive world views.”  I believe it to be one of the best synopses I have heard of the issues before us and I wanted to share it with you here.  The homily entitled The Great Cultural Divide is 18 minutes long but I hope you will take the time to watch and listen.  It will be worth every second.  Please feel free to share and forward this to everyone you know.

God bless you all!

“Heavenly Father, we thank You for the grace to persevere and patiently endure in our struggle to combat the evils of abortion and euthanasia in our country and the world today. Amen.”

(Respect for Life – The Great Cultural Divide was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Lift High the Cross

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I have had the great fortune to spend this week at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas attending the Catholic Spiritual Mentorship Program as an alumni staff member.  As always, it has been an absolutely awesome week!  I received a text this evening from my spiritual director back home in Ohio asking me how my week is going and that he is praying for me.  I responded that, once again, it has been an amazing experience in an amazing place with amazing people and I still have three days left!  I added my thoughts about why it is that way, “It’s 100 people all seeking the same thing – holiness and the desire to help other men and women to do the same.  It’s the spiritual friendship that is developed from that common desire. It’s communion with God and with each other!  I wish you could be here, too.”

His response:  “Amen!  The Lord’s prerogative!  His words at the Last Supper:  ‘I pray for them, that they may be one…me in them, I in You, and You in Me, that we may all be one!’”  

Did I tell you I love my spiritual director?

I wish each and every one of you could be here!  We receive so many graces and feel the presence of Christ in so many ways, especially through our interaction with the students and staff.

Yesterday I posted Recognizing Miracles:  How You Can Resurrect the Dead in which I suggested that the dead or lukewarm spiritual lives of people we know can be resurrected by our witness to the presence of God in our lives.  I want to practice what I preach by passing on to you a special moment from yesterday.

Wednesday was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a feast that was first celebrated in Rome before the end of the 7th century.  It commemorates the recovery of that portion of the Holy Cross which was preserved at Jerusalem, and which had fallen into the hands of the Persians.  It was recovered and brought back to Jerusalem in the year 629.

At mass yesterday morning in the chapel we sang the hymn Lift High the Cross.  The song’s refrain goes:

“Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim

’Til all the world adore his sacred name.”

The cross, that instrument of death which the Romans utilized to put fear in anyone who might think to counter their authority.  The cross, upon which Jesus died for our sins so that we might have eternal life.  The cross that, because of His resurrection, became a symbol of victory to all believers and, ironically, was used by Christians to thumb their noses at Roman persecution.

As I sang those words I thought how it explained our mission perfectly, to proclaim the love of Christ so that the world will adore Him.

Later in the day we were gathered in the chapel for Adoration and Reconciliation.  At the end of the Holy Hour I lingered for a few minutes as the others processed out.  When I bowed to take my leave, I looked up at the crucifix behind the altar and froze in wonder.  I took this photo so that I could share it with you.  

The shadow behind Jesus on the cross, which isn’t visible most of the day, struck me as an image of God lifting the cross high as if to say, “Here is my only Son Who gave His life for you!  Adore Him and proclaim His sacred name!”  Can you see it?

This is how God works in your life when you are open to receiving His love and reassurance that He is with you at all times!  You see and feel His presence in so many and unexpected ways.  

Ask our Lord to open your heart so that you may readily feel His presence, too.

I would love to hear of how you’ve seen or felt God working in your life lately.  Please feel free to share by adding a comment.  Thank you and God bless!

“Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to feel Your presence in my life.  ‘I adore You, O Christ, and I bless You, for by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world’.  Amen.”

(Lift High the Cross was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Recognizing Miracles: How You Can Resurrect the Dead

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“Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain” – Mathias Gerung, 1500-1570

(A reflection on Lk 7:11-17)

In Tuesday’s Gospel, Jesus performed a miracle and raised the son of a woman from the dead.  He showed compassion and mercy for the woman, a widow, who, without a son to care for her, would be left destitute and begging for sustenance.  Many people witnessed the miracle and were struck with fear, and they glorified God for what they saw.  They couldn’t contain their amazement and so spread the word across all Judea and the surrounding regions.

God works miracles of different degrees in all our lives.  They usually aren’t as profound as bringing someone back to life after they have died and are already in their coffin, but miracles nonetheless. We may recognize miracles when our prayers are answered, or when we receive some special grace or blessing which we feel we have not earned and don’t deserve.  The birth of a child is certainly a miracle.  Our guardian angel performs a miracle when we are saved from  a near death experience.  In smaller ways, we can consider the geometry and symmetry of a perfectly formed flower, or the beauty and iridescence of a hummingbird’s plumage when seen in a sunbeam, as miracles given to us by God.

Sadly, it seems, many miracles go unnoticed.  They aren’t recognized as miracles because they’re considered too commonplace, or they’re written off to science, or to simple good luck.  But, mostly, miracles aren’t recognized because people don’t look for them.  They aren’t open to receiving them.  They’re too caught up in the thick of thinner things to see God working in their lives.

Last week I posted in Is Your Faith Contagious? a reflection from my daily meditation wherein I asked myself whether I actively make the effort to reach out to bring people to Jesus for healing of their spiritual and emotional brokenness.  Today’s reflection is similar yet different.  Today, I was struck by how often I do see God working in my life, how I receive unexpected graces which sometimes I don’t feel I deserve, and how, like those who witnessed Jesus’ miracle, I absolutely need to bring Jesus to others by telling of the miracles (large or small) I experience in my life.

My wife and I marvel over and share with each other the beauty of the flowers in our garden, and the hummingbirds which frequent those flowers.

Each month I relate to my spiritual director, and the men with whom I am a spiritual mentor, how I’ve felt the Holy Spirit working in my heart.  And, I meet with two or three small groups of men for the explicit purpose of sharing our God-moments and encouraging each other to keep our hearts and minds open to receiving them.

The main purpose of this blog is to share inspirations and close moments with thousands of people around the world in hopes that they, too, will learn to see the presence and goodness of God in their lives.

I participate on a parish ministry team with other men in leading retreats where we give witness to the many ways in which various aspects of our lives have been touched by the Holy Spirit.  

Unlike the people who witnessed this miracle in the Gospel, we may have to heighten our awareness and pay closer attention to the smaller miracles God works in our lives.  But, just like them, we are all called to glorify God and spread the news of His good works to others.  When we do, we find that miracles beget other miracles as men and women are spiritually “raised from the dead” and given new life when they see how God has truly blessed them.

How have you seen God working miracles in your life recently, and how have you witnessed to others so that their spiritual lives might be resurrected from the dead?

“Dear Jesus, thank You for the grace to recognize Your presence in my life, especially in all the miracles that confirm Your love for me.  Thank You for the desire to share Your love with those who need to know both You and Your love for them more deeply.  Lord, I resolve today to sow the seeds of this reflection by reaching out to friends and ask them to share how they have seen God working in their lives recently.  Amen.”

(Recognizing Miracles:  How You Can Resurrect the Dead was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Is Your Faith Contagious?

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Jesus, the Divine Physician – St. James Catholic Church, Duluth, MN

In today’s Gospel, Luke 6:12-19, Luke tells of the great multitude of people who sought out Jesus to be healed of their diseases and to be cured of the torment of unclean spirits.  Luke doesn’t elaborate on how this great multitude of people learned about Jesus’ healing.  But, I suspect it happened by word of mouth, by those who heralded the healing and curing power of Jesus to their family and friends.

Reflecting on this passage, I related to the poor tormented souls as I recalled a time when I was overwhelmed by stress and the exigencies of life which brought so much unhappiness.  I wasn’t looking for Jesus to cure me, but I let friends who knew I needed Him carry me to His emergency room, an ER with zero wait time!

So, I ask myself today, have I been one of those friends who, after being cured, or having witnessed His healing, made the effort to tell others who need Him?  I can say “Yes”, but reservedly.  This blog is one way I get the word out.  I evangelize through spiritually mentoring other men to develop their interior lives and their relationships with Jesus.  I share my faith in small groups with other men who already have a strong faith.  But, do I reach out effectively and proclaim the Good News to those who have not heard it or are indifferent to it?  Is my faith contagious?  I think I can do better.

How about you?  Is your faith contagious?  In what ways do you tell others about Jesus and His saving grace?  How might you do better?

“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your constant presence in my life.  Lord, open my heart to new ways to bring others to You, and, through Your grace, help me to realize the virtue of fortitude I need to be outgoing in bringing Your Word to others.  Help me, Jesus, to live my life in a way that others want some of what I have.  Amen.”

(Is Your Faith Contagious? was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

St. Anthony of Padua – Patron Saint for the Recovery of Lost and Stolen Items

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Monday was the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, a Portugese Franciscan friar who died at the age of 35 in the year 1231 in Padua, Italy.  He was a holy priest, loved by everyone and known for his preaching, knowledge of scripture, and care of the sick and homeless.  He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in less than a year after his death.  He is considered the patron saint for the recovery of lost and stolen Items.  

Yesterday I decided to invoke his assistance.

There’s been some strange and mysterious stuff going on around my house lately.  Too many things have come up missing.  I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it but something’s going on.  I need St. Anthony’s help.

Monday night we had a tremendous storm roll through our area with intense lightning, heavy rain, and unbelievably strong straight-line winds.  It only lasted a half hour or so but it knocked out our power and downed one large maple tree and broke two others in half.  I do not own a generator so we ate dinner by candlelight and then went to bed when it got dark.  

We awoke yesterday morning with still no power.  I wanted to reach out to friends to see how they fared but my cell phone was almost dead and, with no power, I had no way to recharge it.  So, I went to my vehicle to plug my phone into the car charger but it was nowhere to be found.  I have an identical charger in my wife’s car so I went to plug it in there.  Again, no car phone charger.  Both gone.  An hour later I picked one up for $30.00 at a department store which fortunately had power.

Monday, I was sanding down a table top in preparation for refinishing.  There was a small crack in the oak top which needed filling with a little wood putty.  I went to my storage cabinet where I thought I had a tube of putty purchased last year for another project but it was nowhere in sight.  I’d used a quarter teaspoon of putty out of that tube and now it’s gone.  Six dollars later I had a new tube.

Last week I lost two pair of reading glasses.  I have searched every room in the house and garage to no avail.  I have (had) about six pair laying around but these two were my favorites.  

The week before I lost a fairly new pair of sun glasses.  They were in my truck and I moved them to my wife’s car and now they’re in neither place.  Gone.

That same week I lost a spoon and fork that belonged to a friend who left them at my house.  One day I had them and was going to take them to his house but something else came up and I didn’t get to deliver them.  The next day when I went to take them to him, they were gone.

A few days before that I changed the oil in my truck.  I have a long-nozzle funnel which I need to add new engine oil.  I use it for this one purpose only and keep it with the other items I need for changing oil but it, also, had disappeared.  

I don’t know what’s going on but it’s getting frustrating.  I don’t have any children at home to hide my stuff, and nobody’s asked to borrow anything.  Maybe I’m losing it?  As you read this, does it sound like I’m getting feeble minded?  Is forgetting where one puts things the first phase of dementia?  I’m at my wit’s end.  It’s time to invoke St. Anthony.

“O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me the return of the above mentioned items. O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.”

(St. Anthony of Padua – Patron Saint for the Recovery of Lost and Stolen Items was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Ask and You Shall Receive

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(A reflection on the Gospel of John 16:23-28)

One night a week or so ago I didn’t sleep well and I woke up groggy and too late to go to 7:30 morning mass.  In fact, I barely had time to get my act together and make it to 9:00 mass at another parish.  I didn’t have time for my morning meditation and, because of the slew of errands i I had to run during the day, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit it in until my Adoration hour that evening.  So, my resolution for the day was the standard I use in situations like this:  “Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to recognize and act on the opportunities you present to me today to be charitable to others.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

My first stop after leaving mass was the grocery store.  As I pulled into the parking lot the skies opened up and it began to pour down rain.  I decided to wait it out and lay my seat back and take a little nap until it stopped raining.  I checked the clock to see what time it was and then closed my eyes.  Three minutes later, just as I was about to doze off, I heard a knocking on my window.  There, looking me in the eyes with her nose almost touching the glass, with either rain or tears running down her cheeks, was a young woman asking, “Sir, my car won’t start, would you mind giving me a jump?”

I immediately replied, “I don’t have any jumper cables” (which was the truth), to which she responded, “I do!”.  I couldn’t very well say we should wait until it stops raining since she was already soaked to the bone, so I agreed to help her.

The shopping cart corral was between her car and mine so I pulled out and maneuvered my truck close to her little sedan.  By the time I got my hood opened I was already sopping wet.  The young woman pulled her jumper cables out of her back seat and they were the shortest set of cables I’d ever seen, only about three feet long and they wouldn’t reach my battery.  I repositioned closer to her car, reopened the hood and connected the cables, which barely reached, and soon we had her car started.  As I disconnected the cables and closed the hood, she politely told me, “Thank you.”

I got back in my truck and pulled back into my parking spot.  As I watched her pull away I realized the extent of my sogginess.  I started to complain when it hit me that I had received exactly what I’d asked for, a chance to be charitable to someone else.  I looked upwards and, with a chuckle, prayed, “Lord, you didn’t waste any time, did you!”  In my imagination I could hear God, with a chuckle in His voice saying, “You asked for it so I gave it to you.  Thank you, my son”, to which I replied, “You’re welcome….and thank You!”

This memory came back to me as I read today’s scripture.  In today’s Gospel, John 16:23-28, Jesus tells us that “whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you….ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete.”  This was nearly the last thing Jesus said to His disciples before He was arrested.  It was His last request to His friends.  He had told them He was going away but He would send the Advocate to be with them in His absence.  He wanted them to know that He wasn’t leaving them alone and if they trusted in Him they would still find joy no matter what.

Jesus wants us to trust Him, too.  He wants us to know that His Spirit is with us all the time and all that we have to do is call upon Him and ask Him for what we need.  We please Him immensely when our request is for something good, something that is in line with making us like Him, something that leads us toward holiness.  

If our request is for something that is not good, we might get what we ask for or we might not.  We might get it to teach us a lesson, or we might not get it because we’ve sold ourself short and He’ll give us something even better.  The important thing is to ask Him, to include Him in our daily lives, to trust that His generosity will provide the best for us and that it will complete our joy.

How often do you ask Him for help?

“Lord Jesus, I know that I don’t ask You for Your help nearly enough.  You’ve told me that, without You, I can do nothing.  I need to take that to heart and spend more time asking You for the good things in life like:  loving my family and neighbors as they deserve to be loved, being more virtuous, and loving You more dearly by spending quality time with You in prayer.  Come, Holy Spirit!  Amen.”

(Ask and You Shall Receive was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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