++++++++++++++++++++God's timing is not our timing, but He is never late.++++++++++++++++++++

Layers - in the knowledge of God and the path to holiness

Learning about God is like unwrapping a head of lettuce, pealing back one leaf at a time. Always there is another leaf below. We will eventually reach the center of the head of lettuce; but we will never unwrap everthing there is to know about God.

The path to holiness is like pealing an onion. God shows us what is sinful and convicts us that we have sinned. No matter how sweet the onion, there are always tears in the peeling. No matter how sweet the grace of repentence, there are always the pain of letting go of the sin. As the peeling of the onion reveals another layer, so God shows us what we lack in holiness, drawing us ever closer to "be(ing) perfect even just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48




What I Believe

Why I am and always will be a Catholic. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Tthe living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." John 6:53-58 The words and actions of man cannot sanctify. Only the priest, empowered by his ordination, can invoke the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into Jesus so we can receive Him - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our bodies and souls. This is the core of the Catholic Church; without this there is no purpose or meaning to the Catholic Church. There are other ways to holiness, to grow in grace; there is no better way than union with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Visitation Catholic Church

Visitation Catholic Church

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Barriers

What is the barrier that is keeping us from going to and being in communion with Jesus?

Is it a failure to recognize Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist? Jesus said, "for my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." John 6: 55-56.

Are we not able to commune with Jesus because we do not present ourselves to Him at the altar? "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Exodus 20:8 "And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people." Acts 2:46-47

Is it a failure to put God first in our priorities? In our life decisions do we put our wants and desires ahead of those things that God wants of us? "Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it...how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" Hebrews 2:1,3

Are we failing to keep God's commandments and putting our sin between us and God? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." 1 John 5:3

What things are we doing daily that are against Christ? What do we need to put aside that puts a wedge between us and God? What are we attached to that makes us like St. Augustine saying, "but just not right now," to God? "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ignorance of Church Teachings

I’ve been reading message boards about the Catholic Church. The amount of ignorance about the Catholic Church is almost overwhelming. These people ran the gamut from those who are still Catholics, (some sounded rather nominal), to those who left the Church, (the worst seem to be ex-Catholic priests who act superior in their knowledge and authority), to Bible ‘scholars’, (both those who ‘used to Catholic’, and those who ‘never were’) who knew nothing about the teaching of the Church and from their comments also had a limited acquaintance with the Bible, to those openly hostile to any religion.

Sacraments. Some denominations say all that you need is a personal relationship with Christ, that you don’t need to do ‘things’, i.e. sacraments to know Christ or to get into heaven. One needs to look at the sacraments from a different frame of mind, i.e. sacraments as a manifestation of a personal relationship with Christ.

Most educators today agree that children learn best by combining teaching methods, oral, visual, touch-as in writing. I learn best by the visual. I can hear directions and write them down, but I don’t really know where I am going until I look at the map and see my path. Others do just as well by the hearing or writing method, not getting lost that is.

God made men both spiritual and physical. To reach all of us better, He made our encounters with Him, both spiritual and physical. Think of Moses and the burning bush and sound. God could have just put a thought into Moses’ head, but would it have made the same impact with him? God also thought it necessary to have someone write down the Ten Commandments, or for that matter Scripture. Why not let people pray and have the Holy Spirit lead them?

Some people are able to develop an intense relationship with God by just praying. Most others need to add physical manifestations of God’s presence, like a sunset, a flower, or a church setting, or singing. Sacraments are encounters with Christ and His love and grace. Christ has given us physical actions to accompany the spiritual. In Baptism, the pouring of water engages our senses so that the physical part of us is joined with the spiritual as our sins are washed away. In the Eucharist, Jesus engages our five senses so that our whole being can be in communion with Him. Our ears hear the words of consecration, we see the host and the wine, we touch the host and taste and maybe smell the host and the wine as we follow His command to eat His Body and drink His Blood. Thus, our communion with Christ is not only spiritual, but also a physical communion with His Body and Divinity. (The hearts of the disciples on the road to Emmaus were on fire when Jesus explained the Scripture, but they did not recognize Him until the ‘breaking of the bread’, the early Church’s term for the Eucharist.) The other sacraments likewise are physical actions united with the spiritual action of God’s grace. God gives us every chance to ‘get it’. When we meet with other people we don’t just stand there and stare. We shake hands, talk, kiss, hug, etc. Sacraments are what happens when man meets God; they are not an action that we do to get something, like going to work to earn a pay check, I do this so you give me that.

Don’t assume that someone else, especially a ‘used to be’ or a ‘never was’ really knows what they are talking about in regards to the Catholic Church.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Health of the Soul

Think of the health of the soul in this way. No matter what you do to keep you body fit, it is all for naught if you don’t eat properly. If you have a health crisis, the chances of surviving are diminished. For our souls, if we absent ourselves from God that also negates whatever else we may be doing to be spiritually ‘fit’. If you then have a spiritual crisis, the chances that you would turn to God are diminished. In times of trouble, we turn to the people with whom we have a relationship, not strangers. If we have not maintained a relationship with God, then in times of trouble, He is like a stranger to us. God is always there to help us; it is our own attitudes which block Him since He will not impose His will on our freedom to choose our paths. Mother Teresa once said (paraphrase) “If we weren’t doing it for Jesus, everything that we do would be just social work.” Likewise, if we concentrate on living ‘good’ lives, i.e. volunteering, giving to charities, etc., but have no place for God, all our efforts are just works. Our actions need to come from a base of faith, not from ourselves. Only then will they be of value to us spiritually, helping us to grow in the love of God as we act out of love of God. If we do not have God as the base of our lives, then when trouble comes, all else can just vanish leaving us alone, empty and purposeless. God is there but we don’t even feel worthy to approach Him having ignored Him in the ‘good ‘ times. God wants us to give Him room in our lives. He wants to nourish us, encourage us, help us, love us. He wants to fill us with His love, grace, the Holy Spirit. Filled, we can face anything, endure anything, and survive anything. “God is love, and He who abides in love, abides in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Accepting God's Love

You cannot love what you do not know .

St. John of the Cross paraphrase of Luke 11:9
Seek in Reading and you will find in Meditation;
Knock in Prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation.

We do not make ourselves fit for God, rather we must accept God’s love for us after that every else is possible. (Too Deep for Words)

Paul Tillich on faith - “To accept the fact that I am accepted in my total unacceptability.”

Prayer is a gift of grace to be received from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we do not force ourselves to pray, rather we open up ourselves to pray. God is everything; and thus without God, we are nothing. In opening ourselves to God, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, to change us. The more we accept God’s love, the more we will be able to love Him and those around us. As a flower turns toward the sun and unfolds its petals in the sunlight, so our souls are drawn by the love of God (grace); and in that love we are changed and filled with that love. The flower is naturally drawn and responds to the sun. Our beings are drawn and desire to respond to love - both divine and human; but we, with our free wills, decide not to allow ourselves to respond. We would need to let go of grudges, biases, hurts and other things, that we tell ourselves we need to hold on to, to justify our feelings or actions. Sometimes we fear God changing us, knowing how radical the changes would be, letting go of all of the thoughts and feelings we are comfortable with. Sometimes we are afraid that if we let God in just a little bit the power of His love will cause us to want more and an irreversible process will begin. That is our decision, our conversion, - His will to be our will. Abba, Abba, Father, you are the potter, we are the clay, the work of you hands.