Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5: 4-5 Darkenss and Light

1 Thessalonians 5: 4-5
But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for the day to overtake you like a thief.  For all of you are children of the day.  We are not of the night or of darkness.

We are children of day and of light, blessed with the Lord's goodness and truth.

So why do we so often mope around, complain and always see the worst in a situation?  Why do we act as if our life is doomed when we know that the Lord has plans of greatness for us?

We have the joy, the truth and the goodness that many people around us don't have but yet on the outside we often look like we are in darkness.  We have the light and we need to share it with those in darkness.  When we act gloomy and depressed instead of spreading the light we are spreading the darkness.  

This can be as simple as finding and sharing the positive sides when something goes wrong at work to cheering someone up when they receive bad news.  

What are some other ways that we can spread the light in a world with a lot of darkness?

Dear Lord, Help me to always have a positive attitude and to share that with others.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Third Commandment- The Lord's Day

I have been thinking a lot about how to better follow the third commandment to keep holy the Lord's Day.  This has gotten me to reading articles about this topic, reading about this topic in the Catechism, and finding this topic in scripture and I realized that there was a lot more that I needed to learn about how to follow this commandment.  This lead me to my first question:

Why don't we observe the Sabbath on Saturday?
(More questions to come!)

Join me as I farther explore this beautiful commandment.

Why don't we observe the Sabbath on Saturday?

Exodus 20: 8-10
Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.  Six days you may labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God.

Deuteronomy 5: 12-14
Take care to keep holy the sabbath day as the Lord, your God, commanded you.  Six days you may labor and do all your work but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God.

According to the Catechism "A Traditional Catechetical Formula" of the 3rd commandment is:
Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.

It is clear that we are meant to keep one day holy but which day is it?  According to Exodus and Deuteronomy, the sabbath is the seventh day or Sunday.  This was they day that the Lord rested after creation and this is the day that the Jews still observe as the Sabbath.  But we know that as Catholic's we now celebrate Sunday as the Lord's day and a day of rest.

When did this change happen?  How did it happen?  Is this change ok?

In the old testament the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day (Saturday) because that marked the day that the Lord rested after creation.  The focus changed after the Resurrection of the Lord.  Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week or Sunday.  Celebrating the Lord's day on Sunday represented the new creation that the Resurrection of the Lord brought.  Just as Jesus brought new life to many of the teachings from the Old Testament he also brought a new creation and a new day to celebrate that creation; Sunday.

Dear Lord, Help me to keep holy your day.

Here are some really good resources on why we celebrate the Lord's day on Sunday instead of Saturday:

Joining in with Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Romans 12: 2

Romans 12: 2
Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

The beliefs and actions of our society are often times not aligned with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  How do we handle that?  Do we change our way of thinking and sacrifice some of our beliefs to fit into society?  Do we conform as a result of the pressures that are placed on us?  Or do we transform ourselves and those around us with the truth?  

There are so many examples of this in my daily life.  I am at work and everyone is sharing funny stories and jokes, most of which were either gossip or simply inappropriate.  I could conform to this situation; listening, laughing and even sharing stories myself.  Or I could be transformed by truth to remove myself from the situation or say something to stop it from happening.  

But it is so much easier to be conformed by what is around you then to transform it.  

There are countless ways that our society needs to be transformed but that is not going to happen if we continuously let ourselves be conformed to what is wrong.

What are some times when you have let society conform you?  How can we stop this from happening and cause a transformation?

Dear Lord, Help me to not be conformed by society.  Give me the strength and the courage to transform myself and those around me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Matthew 4:2

Matthew 4:2 
He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.

First of all I think to say that "he was hungry" was quite an understatement.  But on to my point...

Why did Jesus fast for all this time?  Why did he put his body and him mind through all this?  Was there some purpose to it? 

For this lets look at what occurs right after he fasts.  In versed 3-10 of Matthew chapter 4 Jesus is tempted by Satan three times and each time he is able to resist Satan.  

Jesus prepared to be tempted by fasting and praying.  After 40 days and 40 nights of discipline he was able to resist the temptations that were placed before him.
We also need to prepare for the temptations that are placed before us.  If we practice a life of prayer and discipline we will be better prepared to withstand the temptations that we come across in our daily life.

Often times there are sacrifices that we make that might not seem like they have any purpose (like abstaining from meat on Friday's in lent.)  But are they really without purpose or are they helping to prepare us for temptations?

Dear Lord, Help me to live a disciplined life so I can better withstand temptations and serve you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Praying when you don't want to

The past few days I have found it hard to pray.  I have found it hard to read scripture.  I have no problem going through the actions of praying or reading scripture but I feel I am not getting any joy out of it.  I am distracted and constantly thinking about something else that I could/should be doing that would bring me more joy or comfort.  For example I could be struggling through prayer and I think to myself that I could better use this time to go for a run.  I feel like I'm not getting anything out of praying and if I went for a run I would feel better and get some exercise.  According to this way of thinking it makes perfect sense.

But is this the way that I should be thinking?  Do I pray just so I can feel better?  Should I only read scripture so I can feel joy and comfort.  Am I Catholic just because it makes me feel happy?  

This is not the way I should be thinking!  I should not be living by the rule that whatever feels good must be good for me!  

Sometimes it is hard to pray.  Sometimes it is difficult to read scripture.  Sometimes it feels like you don't need to build a relationship with the Lord, you are doing just fine on your own.  These are the times that you need it the most.

Even when I feel like my praying is not important or fruitful I need to remember that my relationship with the Lord is the most important part of my life and not just because it brings me joy at that moment.

Any advice?

Dear Lord, Help me to find joy and comfort in prayer but also to continue to pray even when I don't want to.

Joining in with Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Matthew 16: 17

Matthew 16:17
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

"Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you," Peter did not come to realize who Jesus was from other men.  He didn't learn this through his own accord.  He came to this understanding through the heavenly Father.  He needed the graces and faith from the Lord to be able to make the statement that Jesus is the Son God.  He had to have faith he could not come to this answer on his own.  

Just like Peter needed faith from the Lord to truly follow Christ, we need the Lord to help us follow Christ's teachings today.  We could just go out on our own and try to be good people and follow all Christ's teachings but it will be awfully hard.  But we don't have to do it alone.  We have the help and guidance from the Lord to support us along the way.
If we try to understand everything on our own we are neglecting the amazing gift of faith that the Lord has given us.

Dear Lord, Help me to trust in you even when I can not understand on my own.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Matthew 3:3

Matthew 3:3
If was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: "A voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'"

John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord.  He prepared the people for the coming of Jesus.  He did this by preaching, telling the people to repent and by baptizing them.  These preparations help them be able to welcome and accept Jesus when he arrived.

We need to prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into our hearts as well. 

How can we do this?

We need to pray and read scripture.  We need to keep ourselves pure and holy.  We need to learn about the Church and her teachings.

We can't just assume that Christ is going to be able to enter our lives and change us if we don't prepare ourselves for him.  

How do you prepare yourself for the Jesus to enter your life?

Dear Lord, help me to prepare myself for you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yarn Along- Something different

I love the idea for this Yarn Along from Ginny at Small Things.  I am trying to get back into knitting and maybe this will help motivate me to knit a little more and maybe finish something. 

What I am knitting?  I am currently working on the second of a pair of thick socks.  Although I didn't originally intend for this it turns out that they will be for me.  I guess I didn't quite get the size right and they don't fit their intended owner so they will be for me instead.  I hope to finish these soon because I already have plans for a little girls sweater.

What I am reading?  Every Man in this Village is a Liar, by Megan Stack.  A great book.  Megan Stack is an American journalist who reported in the Middle East for the past 13 years.  She tells a story about her experiences and what she saw.  It is making me a lot more aware of the issues in the Middle East and giving me a different perspective then what I would hear in the news or read in the paper. It is definitely worth reading.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matthew 2:12 and World Youth Day

Matthew 2:12

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.

I remember hearing this verse 6 years ago at the closing mass at World Youth Day in Germany.  I had just spent the past week in Germany with people from all over the world who were passionate about Christ.  I had had experiences that I have never had before and may never have again.  And now I was going home and was about to start college.  How could I leave behind everything that I had just experienced.  I had seen true joy and truth and now I was going home.  But I couldn't just go home.  This had not just been a vacation that I will think back on and smile.  

I knew that I could not just go home the same way that I had arrived a week earlier.  The past week had changed me.  It changed my priorities, they way that I looked at the world and other people, it changed my relationship with the Lord and it changed the way I thought about my role in the Church.  I knew that I was departing for my country by another way.  I may have been still taking the same route home but I was definitely going home in a different way then I arrived.  I was taking my life changing experiences from the past week and bringing them back home to share.

Then I realized something even more powerful.  I realized that I was surrounded by what seemed like a never ending crowd of people who had just spent the past week doing the same things that I had.  Over the next few days they will all be returning home to all corners of the Earth.  They will all be bringing the message and the joy of World Youth Day back to their homes.  They will all be leaving a little differently then they arrived.  They will all be departing to their countries by another way.

World Youth Day is not just about spending a week in a foreign country, seeing the sites, trying new food and making new friends.  It is not even about having a week long religious experience.  It is about building a lifelong relationship with Jesus and sharing that with the world.  It is about empowering the youth to build a stronger and more passionate worldwide Church.  The fruits of World Youth Day should not end with the closing mass but should be brought back to all corners of the Earth.

Just as the Magi were changed from their trip to Bethlehem and I was changed by my trip to Germany for World Youth Day in 2005, I pray that the people currently in Spain for World Youth Day will return to their countries changed.

Dear Lord, I pray for those attending World Youth Day,  that they will be changed by their experiences this week and return to their country by another way.

Joining in with Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday Psalm 67:5

Psalm 67:5
May the nations be glad and shout for joy;
for you govern the peoples justly,
you guide the nations upon the earth.

Just a quick thought about this psalm verse from yesterday's readings.  With all the problems that you hear about with the governments and human suffering both in our country and in so many other countries around the world this just seems like the perfect prayer.  Sometimes when I think about so many of these problems I can't even see a solution even if everyone would agree.  I feel frustrated and helpless.  This seems like the perfect simple prayer for those times.

Dear Lord, May the nations be glad and shout for joy; for you govern the peoples justly, you guide the nations upon the earth.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lost Keys

I have noticed that the same pattern often occurs when I have something to worry about.  I worry and worry and worry and worry (and probably upset the people around me quite a bit) and then just before the problem is worked out and I can stop worrying I turn to God in prayer.  Why does it always work this way?  Why do I always turn to the Lord at the end?

I think it might be a little like when you loose your keys.  No matter how long you look for them they are always in the last place you look.  Why?  Well, because when you find them you stop looking.  

When you pray to the Lord about your worries and your problems he helps you through them.  With him you can work out your problems.  With him you don't have to worry.  I don't think it is a coincidence that I always turn to the Lord just before my worrying comes to an end.

While recognizing and understanding this can not help us find our lost car keys any faster it can help us with our worrying and our relationship with the Lord.

It should not take hours and hours of worrying before we turn to the Lord.  When we have a problem, praying to the Lord should be one of our first thoughts not a last resort.  We should be working towards having a relationship with the Lord like we have with our best friend.  We don't have to call our best friend up to tell them about a big event because they are already there or you are already talking to them.  We should be praying to the Lord constantly when we have a problem and when things are going great.  

I have found that without help, strength and directions from the Lord it is very difficult to workout or solve any problems that I run into, but when I pray to the Lord and ask for his assistance I am able to work through my problems or at least the problems don't seem as big anymore.

Dear Lord, help me to turn to you in everything that I do.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Psalm 32: 1

Psalm 32:1
Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.

This verse says it so simply- we are happiest when we don't have sins separating us from the Lord.

We are all sinners.  Our sins separate us for the Lord.  We need our sins removed to grow closer to the Lord.  We can not do this on our own.  We cannot remove our own fault.  We can not forgive our own sins.  But we are all sinners.  Luckily He gave us the sacrament of reconciliation in which Jesus, through the priest, will forgive our sins if we ask for his forgiveness.  This is such an amazing gift that he gave us.  Through reconciliation we have the opportunity to ask for the Lord's forgiveness for our sins and be wiped clean of our sins.  The things separating us from the Lord.  Separating us from our happiness. This is truly amazing!
Then why do we as Catholics often times not take advantage of this.  Yes it can be difficult, intimidating and inconvenient but I feel that the reward is worth it.  Yes you might have to stop what you are doing on a Saturday afternoon and drive to your church.  But having Jesus forgive your sins seems worth it all.  As Catholics we need to make this more of a priority and a routine.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation needs to be a regular part of our lives.

I know I find it very hard.  The only time that my parish offers this sacrament is on Saturday afternoons.  This should work out great since I am never working on a Saturday so I should be able to go to reconciliation often, but there are always other things going on.  It seems like by the time each Saturday afternoon comes around I am doing something.  It doesn't seem worth it to stop what I am doing or schedule it earlier or later, after all I can always go next week, or the next, or the next.  This sets up a bad situation.  Part of me wishes that the sacrament was offered one evening during the week but I'm sure I would find excuses then also.  Maybe when more parishioners start to go to reconciliation my parish will offer it more.  I will make this my goal for the weekend.

I feel if Catholics really understood the power of this sacrament the Church would be packed on Saturday afternoons.  Parishes would start offering the Sacrament throughout the week as well.

Dear Lord, help me to ask for your forgiveness for my sins in the sacrament of reconciliation.  Help me to make this a regular part of my life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deuteronomy 1:17

Deuteronomy 1:17
In rendering judgment, do not consider who a person is, give ear to the lowly and to the great alike, fearing no man, for judgment is God's.

This is something that we all think we know.  We know that we shouldn't make judgements on people based on how they look or where they come from.  We know that we shouldn't jump to conclusions about people based on what we see about them.  But knowing that we shouldn't do something is different from not doing.  
When I start to think about this I realize that I do this everyday without even realizing it.  I may not act on my judgments, the judgments might not even be negative but I make them constantly.  I make judgments (good and bad) about everyone I see throughout the day.  I make judgments about a person's life based on how they look and act.  This will prevent me from ever getting to know them and move beyond their outward appearances.  This can be harmful for me and for the people that I am judging.  It is something that I do subconsciously with out thinking about it. 
It is especialy harmful when the person judging is in a position of authority.  If I find this so hard to do in my own life, I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for people who are in a position that they must act on and enforce their judgment like a police officer or a judge.  It seems like it would be so easy to be influenced by the way a person acts, the way that they dress, their age or a million other factors.  It is so important that they can render their judgment fairly without consideration of who the person is.

Dear Lord, Help me to not render judgment on others.  I pray that those in positions of authority are able to render their judgment with out consideration of who the person is.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The anticipation

Over the weekend I read an article about what makes a happy person in a Sunday insert in the newspaper.  There was nothing in the article about having a meaningful faith or spiritual life but that's another point altogether, what can you expect from a newspaper insert.  

But one point really made me think.  It said that people are happier before they go on vacation, not when they are on vacation or when they come back.  The simple anticipation and planning for the vacation can make you happier the the actual vacation.  I completely agree with this.  I love planning trips.  I love thinking about what I will see, deciding where I will go, reading travel reviews online, reading guide books and planning what I will pack.  I usually enjoy the trips but sometimes it feels like a little of a let down after all the planning.  It upsets me that I enjoyed the planning more than the trip.

This seems to be true in other aspects of my life as well, not only vacations.  It is still the middle of summer vacation and I am already thinking about my classroom for the fall.  I have all these ideas about things that I want to do to get ready for the fall but I feel that I should be enjoying my summer and not spending my time preparing for the fall, I can do that at the end of the summer.  Well today I gave in.  I spent a few hours working on lessons and ideas for the fall.  Is that so bad.  If I get a little work done now I will have more free time during the school year to plan for the next vacation.

If I find more happiness in the preparation and anticipation why should I fight it.  Maybe I need to embrace it.  

On the other hand I feel like if I embrace it I will always be living in the future.  

Do you find this true in your own life?  Do you embrace it or fight it?

I think I need to work on finding the perfect balance.

Joining in with Soli Deo Gloria


Matthew 14:16

Matthew 14:16
Jesus said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves."

At mass yesterday when the gospel started I quickly recognized the story , the loaves and the fish, and thought that I have heard this story a million times.  But during the homily the priest gave me a whole new way of thinking about this miracle.

The disciples came to Jesus and told him that the people needed to eat so he should let them go into the villages to eat.  Jesus is not going to send the people away but instead of feeding them himself he tells the disciples to feed them.  The disciples gathered the food that they had, brought it to Jesus and then distributed it to the people.  Jesus did not feed the people by himself but through the actions of the disciples.

There is so much that we can learn from this.  There are so many people who are hungry in the world.  They are hungry for many things; food, shelter, knowledge and most importantly (but often forgotten) love.  God is calling us, his disciples, to feed these people.  We have his graces and his blessings.  He will work through us but he is calling us to do the actions. 
So often I pray to God for someone who is in need of something.  In today's gospel I heard him call me to feed them.  We have to continue to pray because it is through God that all things are done and we have to hear his calling for us to feed those who are hungry through him.

Dear Lord, Help me to feed those who are hungry.