Advent: A Season for Healing Spiritual Paralysis

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Healing of the Paralytic by Harold Copping

As I was driving to town to attend mass this morning I was running through plans for the week, trying to remember what appointments I have, what I need to be prepared for, and, especially, looking for blocks of time when my wife and I can spend some time together. I made a note that our parish has its Advent penance service this Thursday evening, and I looked forward to this being something Melinda and I could do together.

Participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation has always been special for me. In the year before I became Catholic, while I was waiting for RCIA to begin and then throughout the formation period, I would go to Confession for “practice”. My friends would tease me about it but it felt good to make my examination of conscience, admit to my lapses in virtue. and to pray for the grace to get better. Unable at that time to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation seemed to be the best place for me to meet Jesus.

The Gospel for today was from Luke 5:17-26, the Healing of the Paralytic. I listened to our priest read about the healing of the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him from the roof of the house in which Jesus was teaching so that he might meet Jesus and be healed. And, as I pictured in my mind’s eye this man descending on his stretcher, coming closer and closer to Jesus, hoping to be healed, I thought about how it parallels my hope for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What anticipation he must have felt as he was being lowered to the floor! Then, what joy he must have felt when his paralysis was cured and he stood and walked away carrying his stretcher! I thought, “I know that feeling!”

Then, my thoughts turned away from the paralytic and towards the four friends who cared enough to bring the man to where Jesus was teaching.  Their faith was strong enough to not let the crowd obstruct them from arranging for the man to meet Jesus. I knew the true message of this Gospel passage was contained in Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins. Their faith and their love for their disabled friend saved them.

The paralyzed man could not get to Jesus under his own power. Instead, it took friends who loved and cared for him – friends who brought him hope.

I thought about all the people in our parish community, in our country and in the world, who, for one reason or another, are paralyzed in their faith. People who feel their sins are so severe they are too ashamed to admit them to God. Men and women, young and old, who have fallen away from their faith and now don’t think they are worthy of God’s love and forgiveness.

I thought about all these good people, all children of God, who may just need “four friends” to bring them to Christ so they can be relieved of their “paralysis”. More than likely they can make it to church on their own two feet or in their own vehicle, but they just need some encouragement to go to Confession so they can be healed. They might only need to be reminded of the joy that comes from returning to grace and feeling God’s love for them. They may only need someone, like you or me, to rekindle their hope in this Season of Hope.

We may also know someone who truly is “paralyzed” from going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation because they can’t make it on their own steam. Perhaps they are disabled, isolated and lonely, or simply have no vehicle in which to get to church. As faithful friends we are called to reach out, assist, and arrange the means by which they can have their meeting with our Holy Physician.

Every parish in the world is offering a penance service during this season of Advent. I hope that each of you reading this will make it a point to go to Confession to prepare your heart for Christ’s coming. And, I hope that each of you will reach out and be the friend who helps those who are paralyzed, in whatever form, make receiving the Sacrament a reality.

God bless you!

“Lord God, thank You for the actual grace You bestow on us that allows us to come to You for forgiveness. And, thank You for the restoration of our baptismal grace once we do. Lord, help us to be the friends who bring those we love to You so that their loving relationship with You may be rekindled. Amen.”

(Advent: A Season for Healing Spiritual Paralysis was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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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Looking Within

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A couple weeks ago my gracious wife gave me the latest music CD from Jerry Jeff Walker. His mellow baritone voice, guitar style, and heartfelt story-songs have appealed to me since the early seventies. Taking my comment that I’d never seen Jerry Jeff in concert as a cue, she checked and found he doesn’t have a tour.  But, she did find that he recently produced his first album in ten years. As I listened to It’s About Time, I thought it could be his best album ever.

One particular lyric that caught my attention was from the song, The Rain Song. He wrote:

“The hardest thing a man can do / Is look inside and see the truth / About himself”

That line grabbed me not just because of how simple yet profound it is, but because I’d been thinking much the same thing. There were some things weighing on my heart and I needed to work them out. I just wasn’t sure how to do it.

Then, last Wednesday, our parish offered a day of Adoration with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. hour for that day was void of a regular adorer so I volunteered to take it. Later, as I was driving somewhere, The Rain Song came on my stereo and within moments I heard that verse. It hit me that I needed to spend my time with Jesus in reflection looking within myself. And, since I had nothing else planned for Wednesday, I decided to spend not just one hour but a half day before Jesus in a self-imposed silent retreat.

Those hours spent in prayer, meditation and reflection were some of the best I’ve ever spent. The experience was like having a second conversion. As I prayed for the Holy Spirit to enter my heart and reveal to me the “truth”, I invited Christ to help me work through my fears. I asked Him to lead me, to give me direction, and I promised to follow. I laid it all out and then I shut up and listened. He didn’t disappoint.

Over those four hours I learned a lot about myself. And, when time was up, I knew where I stood. I knew that, to get to where I wanted to be, it would require some hard work and a measure of suffering, both born of love, but the fruits would be worth it. I knew, too, that I wouldn’t have to go it alone, that Christ’s love would be there with me every step of the way.

Jesus said, “Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). He convinced me last week that if I knock on His door seeking through prayer the knowledge of the Prudent thing to do, Justice in why it should be done, Temperance for knowing the right measure, and Fortitude to make it happen, He will open that door and provide the right answers.  With His help it wasn’t all that hard after all.

I’m convinced, too, that the best place for this to happen is with Him in Adoration. Give it a try.

“Jesus, I love you and thank you for your most generous love. Thank you for sending your Spirit into my heart revealing to me that which I needed to hear. Thank you for the grace to come to you in prayer and for giving me the strength to do what is right and just. Amen.”

(Looking Within was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

The Eucharist – Nutrition for the Soul

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I’m a bacon and eggs kind of guy. For breakfast that is. Some folks are baffled that I can eat the same thing every day. But, I don’t, actually. Some days my eggs are over medium, some days scrambled. Sometimes I make an omelet and use different ingredients depending on what’s in the refrigerator.

But, sadly, some days, like this morning, I don’t have time to fry my bacon and eggs. I slept in a little this morning and didn’t give myself time to prepare a regular breakfast and eat it by the hour-before-receiving-Holy-Communion deadline. I hate when that happens. When it does, I usually just wait until I get home from morning mass to eat breakfast. But, this morning I had some running around to do after mass and thought I’d better eat something before I go.

Looking in the fridge I found a half gallon of milk that needed to be drank before expiring and I thought it would go well with a bowl of cereal. Checking the cupboard, there was a box of my wife’s bran flakes and a partial bag of muesli. So, I filled a large bowl with flakes, topped it off with a good measure of muesli, and added milk to the point where I could start to see it rise up over the edge of the cereal. I knew I could wolf that down with time to spare.

As I munched I started reading nutritional information on the packages. A serving of bran flakes was a cup and a serving of muesli was a quarter cup. Looking at my bowl, I easily had two of each. The calories per serving count were 110 and 140, respectively. So, I had 500 calories roughly. Considering I planned to eat three meals today, and 2,000 calories per day is the government recommended allowance, I thought I’m still doing okay. But, looking at the nutrients, I calculated I was only getting about 30 percent of my daily value of the recommended fiber, eight percent daily value of fats and a minuscule amount of vitamins and minerals!

“What’s up with this?”, I thought. The math didn’t add up. Am I only supposed to eat one serving of just one of the cereals for breakfast? If I have a serving of each will it ruin my health? What if I had two servings of one and none of the other? And, how do the people who think up these rules know what I’m going to eat the rest of the day to round out my nutritional intake to match their recommendations? I didn’t get it.

I really missed my bacon and eggs. I have no idea what a serving of them is, nor their nutritional value, and I don’t care. They fill me up and make me happy.

I drained the last drop out of my coffee cup and jumped in the car and headed to church.

There wasn’t much out of the ordinary at mass except that today is the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, the first actual dedicated church building to be built since Christianity began, and which church still stands and is the official seat or “cathedra” of the Pope.

At communion, I proceeded to the altar to receive the Blessed Sacrament, the Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus. As I accepted the sacrament I thanked Jesus for filling me with His love, for putting His Holy Spirit in my heart, and giving me the strength I needed to face the challenges of the day. And, as I returned to my seat and knelt, I thought about breakfast, serving sizes and percent daily values. With a smile, I knew that whether I’d had a whole Host or the smallest fragment, a drop of wine or a chalice full, I had received one hundred and ten percent of my daily value of the grace of God. It was true nutrition for my soul!

“Jesus, You fill me up. You make me happy. Amen.”

(The Eucharist – Nutrition for the Soul was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

Daily Vigilance

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Luke 12-32-40

(A reflection on the Gospel of Luke 12:35-38 and Ephesians 2:12-22)

This morning, in his homily on today’s Gospel, our deacon emphasized the need to live our lives in a state of readiness for the day the Lord will come. We don’t know when that day will be but we need to be ready nonetheless. When He does come, those who are vigilant, who have girded their loins (prepared themselves to follow Christ) and lit their lamps (have a desire and a welcoming spirit), will be blessed.

Certainly, I agreed with our deacon. Every time I’ve ever read this passage it has, like for most people I would guess, evoked that same vision. Thus, I had to ask myself if my loins were girded for the journey and whether my lamp was lit to receive Him when He comes. Will I have lived my life such that I will be one of the blessed for whom He has held a place in heaven? I hope so.

But, then, as I continued meditating on this passage, I realized there is more to it than this – more than trying to be ready for the day that I die, or Christ’s second coming, whichever comes first.

In today’s first reading, Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (2:12-22), tells the Gentiles that, through the blood of Jesus Christ, they have become near to God. It reminded me that we are always “near” to Christ 24 / 7 / 365. We simply have to search for Him, leave the light on within our heart, and, wherever we are, He will meet us there. It’s not a one-and-done occurrence nor reserved just for the Last Day. If our search is one based in love, our light will burn brightly enough that He will find us as often as we need Him.

How do we do this on a daily basis? I think we need to look at that word, “love”. It’s my love for my wife that keeps me looking forward to her coming home from a long day’s work. It’s my love for my children and grandchildren that keeps me looking forward to the next time I get to visit them. And so it should be with my love for Christ. It should be a love that is a constant longing for the next encounter with Him.

Many times in my reflections on this blog I have made excuses for month-long dry spells, blaming them on busy-ness and other exigencies which have kept me from writing. But, I know from experience that the most profound and closest moments with Christ come when I’m looking for them, when I truly desire His presence; and their absence is because I have temporarily ceased searching for them.

In my meditation this morning, I noticed a lukewarmness in my prayer life. I sensed that my tunic was a little looser around my waist than it should be, and that my candle wasn’t burning as brightly as it could be.

Why does this happen to me? I don’t love Jesus any less! At least not in the noun sense. But, in the verb sense, in regards to my actions and the intensity of my prayer life, I can see where missing the occasional morning of silence and solitude with the Lord does have an impact.

Still pondering this question, I fell back to the word vigilant and remembered that it’s not just the presence of the Lord whom we have to look for every day, but also the deceitfulness of Satan. If we become complacent and don’t maintain our love for Christ through constant prayer, the Evil One will find a way to loosen our tunic and dim our candle so gradually that we won’t even notice it.

I remember what my priest/confessor said to me two Saturdays ago: “It’s October – the month of Mary – and the Devil, in all his hatred for our Blessed Mother, is working double-time to take advantage of our inattention and complacency, to advance our sinfulness, and to make us do a U-turn away from righteousness.”  I think he was right.

“Holy Spirit, thank You for opening my heart and mind to the Word of God today. Lord Jesus, thank You for recognizing my light as I search for You with love. Mother Mary, protect me, I pray, from the deceit and wickedness of Satan. Amen.”

(Daily Vigilance was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

Martha and Mary

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(A reflection on Luke 10:38-42 NAB)

Martha and Mary

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary – Johannes Vermeer, 1655

Jesus told Martha, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part…”.

Martha thought her service to Jesus was the best thing, only to learn otherwise. Jesus didn’t say her effort wasn’t necessary, just not the better of the two.

Certainly the Church needs us to be like Martha and serve with our time, talent and treasure. The path to holiness includes service.

Jesus referred to our need, the need to attentively listen to the Word of God so our hearts can change to be like His. It is the better part on the path to holiness.

“‘Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love.’ Open my heart to the Word of God each day, and let me serve Your Church by responding to its needs with the time, talent and treasure which, through You, I have been blessed. Amen.”

(Martha and Mary was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

Good Samaritans

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(A reflection on Luke 10:25-37 and Galatians 1:6-12)

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan – Vincent van Gogh, 1890

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the scholar of the law that the greatest commandment isn’t just about loving God with all your heart, being, strength and mind, but also loving your neighbor as yourself. And, in His parable about the Good Samaritan, Jesus defines our neighbor as anyone who is near us, regardless of race, gender, social status, age, and political or religious beliefs. He asks us to be observant of our neighbors, and to look for opportunities to be charitable, especially in their times of need, even when doing so is inconvenient or forces us out of our comfort zones. In other words, He asks us to be merciful as He is merciful.

As I normally do each morning during my prayer and meditation on the day’s scripture, I try to relate to what God is revealing to me through His Word, and then write a resolution to do something along those lines that will help me grow closer to Him today. I pondered, “In what situations will I find myself today in which I can observe others and look for opportunities to be merciful?” And, then I realized my main plan for the day, besides going to morning Mass, was to stay home and work in the yard. I wasn’t going to have much of a chance to observe others.

Falling back into prayer, I asked, “Lord, unless You want me to scrap my plans to weed and spread mulch and go someplace where I can observe others, what else do You have for me today?” As I listened, my mind came back to today’s first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which Paul reaches out to the new Christians after others had perverted his teaching and led them astray. Paul’s mission was to convert souls, never giving up no matter how frustrating or exhausting it was to him. I thought how lucky the people of Galatia were to have had Paul reach out to them as their Good Samaritan, and how they should have been thankful.

Then I remembered a time when some good Samaritans made it their mission to save my soul by bringing me to Christ. At a time when I was hurting spiritually, two couples, in cahoots with my wife, gently but persistently preached the Word of God through their actions and set the stage for me to meet with our Lord through His Holy Spirit. Had they not been the faithful, on-fire disciples that they are, they could have easily passed me by as I lay on my “road to Jericho” struggling for survival.

With prayers of thanksgiving for opening my heart to this revelation, I made it my resolution today to thank God, for the millionth time, for placing these merciful friends, who didn’t steer clear and look the other way, in my life at the time when I needed them most.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for these and all the other Good Samaritans whom You have put in my life! Help me, I pray, to look with love upon all my family and friends, and neighbors who are yet to be friends, and to be observant of their trials so that I will not miss the opportunities to be an instrument of Your mercy. Amen.”

(Good Samaritans was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

One Day At a Time

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This morning I returned to our local YMCA after being off for a couple weeks from a minor surgery. I’d got out of the habit of going in that short time and could easily have talked myself out of it today. But, something told me I needed to go and put in my three miles on the indoor track. Nevertheless, the thought crossed my mind about how nice it would be if I could snap my fingers and the extra weight I’m carrying would simply disappear.

The track at our Y is one-ninth of a mile per lap. I was in my fourth or fifth lap when a man, probably in his seventies, came in, hung his walking cane on the hook by the door and slowly, very slowly started ambling around the track. When I came back around and lapped him, he’d travelled all of twenty-five feet. When I lapped him again, he’d gone about that far again.

I noticed as I approached him from behind how intentionally and carefully he made each footfall. More than once I saw him almost stumble. I wondered if perhaps he’d recently had a stroke and was teaching himself to walk again. He was taking it slow and easy, one step at a time, completely focused on not falling.

After lapping him a dozen or more times, I approached him again as he was reaching for his cane after finishing his one lap. I wondered if he had set one lap as a goal for himself. Regardless, I was impressed with his determination to finish and, as I reached him, I lightly clapped my hands and congratulated him with a, “Well done, sir, well done!” In return he gave me a smile from ear to ear.

In my final mile and a half, I thought back to my own situation. I couldn’t snap my fingers and make the weight disappear. No, I was going to have to do just like this old gentleman, make progress one step and one day at a time. If I keep at it, I’ll reach my goal.

It occurred to me, too, that the goal of holiness can only be reached in the same way. We don’t become holy overnight. We get there one day at a time, each day focused on not falling into sin but carefully taking one right and just step after another. I hope to reach my goal of making it to heaven. And, when I do, I know I’ll be smiling from ear to ear when I hear Christ clapping and congratulating me, “Well done, my son, well done!”

“Heavenly Father, thank You for urging me to resume my good habits this morning, and thank You for the blessed experience of seeing that elderly, determined gentleman make progress toward his goal. Through him, You inspired me to persevere towards my goal and grow in my relationship with You one day at a time. Amen.”

(One Day At a Time was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

God Answers Prayers of Thanksgiving

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Sometimes God answers prayers so profoundly it blows my mind. I had one of those God-moments back on 26 May and I’ve been waiting since that Saturday morning to tell you about it. And now, after several weeks of preparation, I can finally share it with you as it is coming to fruition.

I mentioned in a couple previous posts that I am training to become certified as a Catholic Spiritual Mentor. Through the teaching of the Sisters of The Apostles of the Interior Life, and the Holy Family School of Faith of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, my classmates and I are both growing in our relationship with God and learning how to help others purposefully grow in their relationships with God and their neighbors, as well. It’s an amazing program and I feel blessed to be part of it.

With three semesters down and one more to go, we were told at our week of in-residence training in May that our homework for this last session would be to find a person to mentor. To be honest, all that I’d been eagerly anticipating for a year and a half seemed a little daunting now that it was upon me. This was the real thing.

The Sisters of The Apostles of the Interior Life are an extraordinary community of women who exude a holiness and happiness that can only come from an intimate relationship with God. In forming our interior lives, we are fortunate to be beneficiaries of their relationship with God through daily talks, lessons and meditations.

Sister Michela’s meditation on that Saturday morning was entitled, The Art of Giving Thanks. It was based on Luke 17:11-19, the Cleansing of the Ten Lepers, specifically zeroing in on the Samaritan leper, who, “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice, and then fell at the feet of Jesus thanking Him.” Jesus responded by saying, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

This one leper proved his faith by recognizing Christ’s mercy in healing him. Unlike the other nine, he showed his true gratitude by returning to give thanks. He glorified God in a loud voice, not caring what others thought or said, and indicated his total surrender. He demonstrated his humility by falling at the feet of Jesus. And, his giving thanks was an act of justice that recognized God’s love for him.

It was a powerful meditation which was strategically placed immediately before an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. It would have been impossible to not spend that hour on my knees at the feet of Jesus giving thanks for every blessing ever received, every hurt ever healed, every lesson ever learned, and every loving relationship ever built.

I specifically said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving me the desire to grow closer to Him; the desire to reach out to other men and help them grow in holiness; and for the training I was receiving. I prayed for the grace to recognize the opportunities to help other men that He would put before me. And, acknowledging that all I have is because of Him, I prayed I would be able to repay Him in the only way I know how – to bring others to Him.

At the end of the Adoration hour I left the chapel and walked back to my room to retrieve a notebook in which to write during the half day of silent retreat coming up next. It was less than a 60 second walk to my room. As I stepped inside, I heard my phone, which was on the desk on the opposite side of the room, give a “chirp” indicating an email had just arrived. It was a forwarded email from our deacon back at home saying, “Jerry, I received this email this morning and thought of you.” It was an email from Elizabeth’s New Life Women’s Center in my home town.

Elizabeth’s New Life Center is a faith based pregnancy resource center serving Southwest Ohio. Their mission is to empower individuals to choose life instead of abortion by showing them the compassion and love of Christ . Their life affirming programs strengthen families and save thousands of lives annually. It’s an organization which I’ve gladly supported financially and with prayers over the last few years.

Their email said, “ENLC is looking for a few good men to participate in their new mentoring program for expectant fathers. Some qualifications for the program are: he must be a believer and focused on God…is motivated by his faith…is a man of prayer with a strong dependence on God…has a passion to help young men as expectant fathers, and meet them in their situation…is unafraid to share the Gospel with others…must be an example of a good father…and he must be capable and willing to show a Christ-like love to young men who at times may seem unlovable.”

I could hardly believe what I was reading! I had to support myself on the edge of the bed to keep from falling over. I had just prayed a minute before for God to place opportunities before me to help other men, and He didn’t waste a second. This wasn’t quite the spiritual mentoring I had in mind but the qualifications met all that I was being taught and it was certainly a worthy and desperately needed ministry. And, as I thought about it, it was one that could parallel and would complement the individual mentoring for which I was being trained.

And, as I sat there pondering the possibilities, I no longer viewed future mentoring sessions as daunting encounters. I suddenly had a welcome confidence that, if God was calling me this clearly to work for Him, He would send His Holy Spirit and not leave me hanging.

I replied to my deacon friend explaining what had just happened and confessed that I couldn’t pass this up especially when God, in answering my prayers, placed the opportunity right in my lap.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been volunteering a couple hours per week at the Women’s Center learning their policies and procedures. Finally, this last week, I had the chance to meet with two young expectant fathers who, along with their childs’ mothers, have chosen life for their unborn children. As I get to know them and build relationships with them I expect I’ll have many opportunities to coach them on the responsibilities and the happiness that comes with fatherhood, and possibly, if they choose marriage, on how to be loving, faithful and servant husbands, as well.

But, mostly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus and the eternal love of our God.

Please pray for me and the expectant fathers.

“Good and Gracious God, I shout out with thanks for Your love and all the many blessings You have bestowed on me and my family. Thank You for answering my prayers and for Your confidence in my service to others. Thank You for placing the desire in my heart to serve others and bring them closer to You. Thank You for giving me a loving father from whom I have learned much about fatherhood. And, by Your Grace, I pray that by helping young men learn to be loving and responsible fathers, their love for You and family will perpetuate for generations to come. Amen.”

(God Answers Prayers of Thanksgiving was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

Fishing

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( A reflection on Luke 5:1-11)

I love to fish. I learned from my dad. He taught me that fish don’t just jump into the boat. You have to present them with food that satisfies their hunger. And, sometimes the bigger fish aren’t always closest to shore.

Six years ago I went fishing for more happiness in my life. I met Jesus and I welcomed Him into my boat. He’s been teaching me how to be a fisher of men. He provides the bait and the Holy Spirit tells me where to cast and how to present it. Still, sometimes the deeper water scares me.

“Holy Spirit, help me to trust in You in all things. Give me the courage to venture out of my comfort zone of shallow water into the deep where the catch may be more abundant. Show me in each case, I pray, how to present Your truth so that it satisfies their hunger. Amen.”

(Daily 100:  Fishing was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2018 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.

Tuesdays at Five

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Every Tuesday evening at five o’clock after my Adoration hour, I meet with a small group of two to three other men to share our faith over the last week. This summer when the weather has been nice we’ve met on the bleachers in the shade of the trees behind the baseball field backstop at our parish school. We take turns talking about our progress in piety; the sincerity of our study to learn and grow our knowledge of our faith; any action we’ve taken to help others grow closer to Christ; and to relate any close God-moments we’ve had where we’ve seen or felt God’s presence at work in our lives. We also take this opportunity to help hold each other accountable.

Yesterday, it was my turn to go first. I shared that my prayer life had improved from a couple weeks prior, and, uncharacteristically for me, my study had taken off like a jackrabbit. I’d read four books in the last week – one on meditative prayer, one on life in the Spirit, a short book on devotion to Mary, and Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae – as well as listened to some of my classroom lectures. I had a couple action items worth honorable mention, and concluded that I’ve struggled lately with actively recognizing when God has been working in my life. I simply haven’t had any tremendous revelations to speak of.

Next up was my friend Mike. When he got to his study sharing he confided, with a wink in his eye, that he used to read a blog called Reflections of a Lay Catholic but for some reason it’s author had stopped writing. He added that, in fact, he would often get some of his weekly God-moments from that blog site.

Of course, his comments were intended to be a friendly jab at me for slacking off in my writing and they were taken as such. Nevertheless, I made a mental note to double down on living in the present so that I might better realize, when they come along, those small God-moments about which I often write. After my other friend, Paul, finished his sharing, we, as always, held hands, prayed for special intentions, and then together prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

During the forty-five minutes that we sat there sharing, the parking lot had filled up with the minivans and SUVs of soccer moms and their sons eager to get on the field and play. When the three of us finished our prayer we stood and walked to our own vehicles. Mine was the farthest away and as I neared my pickup truck a young mother caught my attention and told me with a sincere smile, “That was a beautiful display of your faith, the three of you praying together in public. I am so glad that my ten-year old son got to see that! Thank you so much!”

I didn’t know what to say other than, “Thank you!”.  I think, but can’t say for sure, that I babbled something about doing that every Tuesday evening.  I know I said, “Thank you!” more than once and I know at least one of those expressions of gratitude was not just back to the young woman but to the Lord above for creating that special moment and for allowing me to experience it.

Before driving away I sat in my truck and reflected on what had just happened. I thought about the Gospel passages from our daily scripture this week from Luke, chapter 4, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and how He calls us to minister as well. I thought about the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. And, when necessary, use words.” I thought about how I often fail to use words as much as I should in proclaiming my faith, but, in this case, I was grateful for the affirmation that my actions spoke so loudly.

I thought about how, just possibly, that ten-year old boy might remember, years down the road, the moment when he saw three old men sitting on the bleachers praying together, and that he may decide to do the same. I thought about the young mother who’s faith may have been severely shaken in light of the current crisis in the Church, but may have just had that same faith reawakened. I thought I will probably never know but I can hope that good will come from it.

Finally, I took a moment to give thanks again to God for allowing me to experience that moment, for showing me that small acts done with love and gratitude are especially appreciated.

And, this morning, I give thanks to God again for giving me the fodder I need to post again in Reflections of a Lay Catholic so that my friend Mike will have something to read for his daily inspiration.

“Father, I love You and I know You love me. You are there for me each and every time I turn back to You after journeying away. Thank You, Lord, for my faith in You and for allowing me to share it with others. Please, Lord, let this ministry be efficacious in bringing others closer to You. Amen.”

(Tuesdays at Five was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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