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.

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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)

©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.

Just Keep Learning

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(A reflection on Matthew 16:13-23)

Poor Peter. Jesus gives him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven for affirming that He is the Messiah. Then, He rebukes Peter for presuming to know more about God’s will than He does. Just when Peter thought he understood, he discovered he really didn’t.

That’s me, too. I think I understand this business of faith but then I get challenged anew and realize I have a lot to learn.

I’m okay with that.

“Lord, You have created in me a clean heart (PS 51:12) on which You have written Your law (Jer 31:33). Lead me, Lord, and help me to follow. Amen.”

(Daily 100: Just Keep Learning 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.

Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

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Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

(A reflection on Micah 6:6-8)

It’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep the older I get. This morning I woke up grumpy (me, not my wife), missed my morning coffee, and waited forever on traffic at a busy intersection. It was not a good start to my day. Kneeling in prayer at mass, I knew I was in a foul mood.

In the first reading from Micah, God reminded me of His expectation regardless of the circumstances: to be just and merciful, and to walk humbly with God. I needed to hear that. It changed the rest of my day.

“Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(Daily 100: Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly 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 Yoke’s On Me

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(Image Credit: Caitlin Bristow – Lettered Life)

You may (or may not) have noticed there hasn’t been a whole lot of posting going on in the last month. I did get inspired and make time for three reflections but, for the most part, my focus has been on other things. Those other things included an almost three week trip to South Dakota and Montana for a family reunion followed by a four day mission trip to Appalachian Eastern Kentucky. Both were fun and filled with “God-moments”, but were chocked full to the brim with activity.

Since returning home this past weekend I’ve been busy catching up on all the stuff that didn’t get done while I was gone, such as yard work and generally dealing with the exigencies of life.

Last night, as I was preparing for bed, the effect that all this activity has had on my prayer life hit my conscience hard. Although I’d made it to morning mass this week, being away from my comfortable place of solitude and silence for so long had suspended my morning prayer, reflection and meditation, and I knew I needed to get back in a groove. But, I asked myself, how can I do that with so much else to be done? I knew the answer was to just let everything else go and spend time with the Lord this morning. So, before falling asleep, I prayed for the grace to be able to do just that.

I made it to 7:30 a.m. mass this morning and heard our priest read from the Gospel of Matthew:

”Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11:28-30 NAB)

I closed my eyes and uttered, “Jesus, You’re talking straight to me! You know what I need to hear. Your yoke is nothing more than making that little bit of effort to spend time in conversation with You.”

After mass I came home and spent time in the solitude and silence that He asked of me, and I decided to share this with you in hopes that it would get me off high-center.

Isn’t Christianity a dichotomy? It’s such a contradiction to the ways of the world. You turn left to go right. You go up to go down. You focus on the present and the future takes care of itself.

The work which needs to be done, and which burdened me yesterday, is now something I look forward to today. The hour I spent with Jesus this morning was the invigoration I needed to begin again.

“Lord Jesus, I ask and You provide. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for being there to lead when I need to follow. Thank you for lightening the load by helping me to focus on You Who helps me carry it rather than on my own futile struggle. Amen.”

(The Yoke’s On Me 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.

An Opportunity for Mercy

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(A reflection on Hos 11:8 and Mt 10:7-15)

This morning I find myself back in Appalachia volunteering with Hand in Hand Ministries, preparing to serve those less fortunate than me. I will be working today to make Sam’s house more livable. But, my real job will be to mercifully bring God’s healing power of love and understanding to help set him free of his weariness and isolation.

“Lord, as I work at Sam’s house today, lead me in your merciful ways; overwhelm my heart and stir my pity; and, as you told your disciples, ‘Without cost you have received’, so, without cost let me give of myself.”

(Daily 100: An Opportunity for Mercy 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 Tree, Good Fruit

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Our hike up the Ingersol Mine trail near Keystone in the South Dakota Black Hills this morning was strewn with schist, quartzite and mica. A couple in our family party of twenty-something found some rocks studded with garnet crystals.

I thought of how my father-in-law would have been in heaven on this hike. Having grown up in Montana, he loved the outdoors, especially the mountains. And, as a geologist, he could have given us a scientific lecture on every rock we saw.

It occurred to me that today is the tenth anniversary of his passing.

As I reflected on today’s Gospel reading, Mt 7:15-20, about the good and rotten trees and the fruit they bear, I couldn’t help but think that Gene was a good tree who bore good fruit. I married his eldest daughter and I like to think that because of her, we have also borne good fruit. And that fruit even better fruit still.

“Gene, we miss you, but I have a feeling you were watching us this morning, pleased that your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are carrying on their love for each other at this family reunion, as well as your love for the outdoors. Thank you for the gifts of good fruit which you passed on. Rest in Peace, Papa!”

(Good Tree, Good Fruit 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 Beam in My Eye

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(A reflection on Mt 7:1-5)

Looking out over the Black Hills of South Dakota on this beautiful sunshiny morning, I’m eagerly anticipating our family reunion beginning today. As much as I’m looking forward to spending the week with family, especially my six grandchildren, I know at times we won’t see eye to eye. And, I know those moments will be ripe opportunities to judge others based on my own flawed perceptions.

“Lord, help me this week to see the beauty in other’s hearts, to love them for themselves, and to recognize the beam in my own eye before I notice the splinters in theirs. Amen.”

(Daily 100: The Beam in My Eye 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.

No Pressure

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King Ahab was evil, more than any king of Israel before him. I’m sure that Naboth knew this when Ahab asked him to give him his vineyard (1 Kgs 21:2). Yet, Naboth steadfastly refused because the Lord forbade him to give up his ancestral heritage.

I’m reminded of the prayer before the Third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns, on my Rosary CD by Fr. Rob Jack, “Let us ask the Lord to give us the courage to do what is right and just in the face of opposition from others.”

There’s no pressure when doing the Lord’s will.

(Daily 100: No Pressure 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.

Father’s Day

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Father’s day is a day of thanksgiving to my dad for his sacrifices to support his family; for his forgiveness which I didn’t deserve; for teaching me right from wrong; and being the person I could trust when I needed help.

It’s also a day to thank God for the sacrifice of His Son that redeemed me of my sins; for His loving care, forgiveness and mercy which I don’t deserve; for giving me the virtues to live right and justly according to His will; and for being the One in Whom I know I can trust.

Thank you both!

(Daily 100:  Father’s Day 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.