Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Suffering Turned Into Blessings

Communication can sound one way coming out and another way being heard. Old habits of reacting seem to appear immediately when you think you are experiencing déjà vu in a given situation. As much as I like to think I have come a long way in offering everything up to Jesus, every once in a while I don't seem to quite get it up to Him quick enough. But now, instead of being hurt or angry, I clarify. Sometimes I misinterpret the meaning behind the words. When things are explained in a clear manner with no malice interjected, it is a healthy exchange and everyone walks away understood and understanding. Alas, there are times I have impeccable comprehension and realize it's time to offer it up . . . walk away. I can do that now. I can leave toxicity behind and continue to serve.

Today's Gospel (Luke 12:35-38) shows us the importance of service to our Lord Jesus:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants."

In Volume One, Anne a lay apostle describes how vigilance in service can turn our suffering into blessings:

"The Blessed Mother, the Mediatrix of All Grace, takes our little offerings and uses them to buy mercy for souls, despite the horrendous behavior of us in this modern world. Let me put it this way. There is an alcoholic. He is steeped in sin, both with regard to this addiction and in general. Recovering alcoholics will tell you they got a tap on the shoulder at some point and their life changed. They were given the eyes to see their addiction, their selfishness, their sinfulness. They then got sober and became some of the greatest servants of Christ. Truly motivated now, these humble souls commit themselves to helping others to see. Where did the grace come from, to get them the tap on the shoulder? From our suffering, united to the Passion of Jesus."

Lay apostles, be vigilant in your service to Christ. And that means serving others, even when they make it difficult to do so. Sometimes the message is completely different when we listen with our own ears and not the ears of Jesus.  If you are misinterpreting something as offensive, stop and clarify. Show others the Light of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to ask questions and communicate when I'm not seeing things clearly. And, for the grace of calmness when I slip back into old thinking patterns.

God bless,

Monday, October 22, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Spiritual Wealth First

The "God" hole. Something we are always trying to fill with everything other than God. For some, it's alcohol; some sugar; some accumulation of wealth and material things. But the more we buy or consume, the heavier the weight we carry around on our shoulders. What can a bigger house, fancier car or heftier bank account do besides look good on the outside when the inside is barren? Build your spiritual wealth first. Build the Kingdom of God. The inheritance waiting is more valuable than anything on earth.

In today's Gospel (Luke 12:13-21), Jesus warns of acquiring too many earthly possessions:

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, 'Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!'" But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

In Anne a lay apostle's book Lessons in Love, she lovingly describes why we need to lighten our load:

"In order to truly enter into the heart of Jesus, we must serve Him in the way He needs us to serve. This is another way of saying that we must reduce our commitment to self-will and replace it with commitment to divine will. Often we pay lip service to this but do not really abandon our own plan. Jesus says that the door is narrow. I think that means that we cannot get through it if we are carrying too much of our own stuff. If we are laden down, we are bulky and we simply cannot squeeze through. What makes us bulky? I believe that things like attachment to the opinions of others, addictions, materialism, pride, greed, anger, holding on to hurts . . . carrying things like these add weight and girth to us. I believe that we all spend time standing outside the door knowing that we are called to enter but remaining unwilling to let go of some things. Many of us, I think, are squeezing through a little at a time, making wonderful progress by gradually letting go of the things that prevent complete entry into the Lord’s Sacred Heart. A pertinent part of that passage is the Lord’s encouraging us to make every effort."

Lay apostles, take a look at your life. What extra baggage are you carrying around on a daily basis? Anger? Greed? An oppressive relationship? How can you lighten your load today? If you start with baby steps, eventually you find yourself in a fast sprint to Jesus. And, He is waiting for your arrival in His loving arms!

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to fill my void with only You, letting go of baggage too heavy to carry.

God bless,

Friday, October 19, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Truth vs. Dishonesty

Years ago, in the pharmaceutical world, I worked as a Medical Science Liaison.  I was responsible for marketing a pain medication and educating physicians on speaking points for the product.  Prior to this my only contact with the pharmaceutical world was distributing medications as an RN and then in oncology clinical research.  Boy did I learn fast how the competition would say (and even do) anything to get a physician to write their product instead of ours. Lies upon lies. But, the truth would always debunk the myths the competition created. Kind of reminds me of the political battles raging these days.  Rabid lies being spread about people who only want to make America great again . . . to see her prosper. In the end, the truth will always prevail. And as Jesus tells us in the Gospel today, There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Dishonesty is born when poor choices are made for the wrong reasons . . . self-indulgence or celebrity to name a few. When we tend to overlook what is honest and good, the end result will almost always be worse than the right choice made in the first place.

Today's Gospel (Luke 12:1-7) reveals this: be brave and speak the truth:

At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, "Beware of the leaven--that is, the hypocrisy--of the Pharisees. "There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."

In Volume Ten, Jesus instructs us to ask one simple question to determine what is from Him and what is from evil:

"Children, when you are concerned about the many misleading powers in your world today, ask this simple question. 'Does the power for the alleged claim come from God the Father who sent His only Son into the world?' If the answer is no, then the power is being obtained from the enemy. Does this sound confusing to you? It should not sound confusing because it is clear. If you are still confused, it is because you do not want to relinquish some habit that has gotten hold of you. Be vigilant here, brothers and sisters. There are impostors everywhere and the impostors do not seek the good of your soul. The enemy, in the form of these powers, seeks the destruction of anything that is holy in you. The enemy seeks your soul."

Lay apostles, base your decisions on what is right with God, not society.  Stay focused on heaven and climbing the mountain. Bring Light to those around you, not darkness.  You know in your heart right from wrong. Beware the traps set forth by the enemy . . .

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to base all my decisions with Your Eyes, not mine. I'm far from perfect, but I am getting there!

God bless,


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Labor In Love

Over four years ago, my youngest daughter Taylor moved back home for a few months to save some money for her move out west to California. As you can imagine, along with my beautiful daughter came "stuff" from being on her own for the previous 6 years. One bedroom was completely filled with boxes and random items. The room she was sleeping in held all things needed on a daily basis . . . clothes, computer, etc. Well, the room she was sleeping in looked like a hurricane hit, to say the least! One day when my grandson Colton came over, I took him in to wake up Auntie TayTay. Colton had a thing about messes as a young toddler (now he is pretty much oblivious to messes as a 6-year-old!). He didn't like them. If there was even a fuzzy on the floor from a stuffed animal his dogs Jet and Molly happened to be shredding, Colt would begin shouting, "Mess! Mess!" desperately looking at me to get it cleaned up. It was adorable!! So back to Auntie Tay's room . . . after he gave her a kiss hello, I set him down on the floor. He walked straight over to a laundry basket, and noticing multiple items all over the place, began his "Mess!" pleas looking right at me. We laughed as Tay promised him she was working on it! Messes are usually only temporary, lay apostles, and with a little faith and hard work, everything turns out cleaner in the long run.

Colton (age 2) helping Tay clean her room! It was going to be a big job so he brought in the lawnmower!

In today's Gospel (Luke 10:1-9), Jesus tells His disciples to dust off and move on when it is time to head out:

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’

In Heaven Speaks About Divorce, St. Anne assures us Jesus is the answer to any mess:

"It is like standing in a big mess. When you bring it to Jesus, He pulls you away from the mess, and, with a glance, reduces the mess to nothingness. He is your Healer. He is your trusted friend who will not make your cross heavier. He will make it lighter and manageable."

Lay apostles, sometimes our circumstances seem so disorderly . . . even chaotic. We all have a choice. Either we buy into the chaos becoming just as angry, fearful, entitled, or (you fill in the blank). Or, we go to prayer and let Jesus take care of anything we experience causing us unrest. He is ultimately in control . . . something I have to tell myself all the time. We may feel we are in the middle of a mess, but truly, He is working behind the scenes to create a pathway for us to climb the mountain of holiness to His Sacred Heart.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me despite the mess and chaos, laboring for You draws the ultimate Peace.

God bless,

Gospel Thoughts Today: Live By Example

(A day late on this post . . . forgot to hit "publish" yesterday!)

Three teenage girls + Sunday morning Mass = several prompts to get out of bed; approaching time warning signals; several honks of the horn while in the car waiting; stepping out of the car to make "it's time to go now" shouts; and relief when they would finally come out of the house and get in the car, usually with make-up bag in tow. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the annoyed looks as they slid into the back seat! The good 'ol days . . . long gone now as they live out their adult lives! But, they knew a rule was a rule. In our home, we go to Mass on Sunday mornings.  It's still the rule today.

Over the years, I have had the girls tell me stories of friends whose parents let them make the decision whether or not to go to Mass on Sunday morning.  How is a child supposed to learn the value of faith if it isn't valued by their parents? How is a child supposed to learn kindness when they see their father screaming at a waitress over spilled coffee?  And, how is a child supposed to learn thankfulness for what they have when their mother complains of wanting more/better (you fill in the blank) purely to "keep up with the Joneses?"  Others are continually watching to see if we live by what we preach.  So, live by example, ignore the groans, and continue on your way.

In yesterday's Gospel (Luke 11:42-46), Jesus lectures the Pharisees and scholars to practice what they preach:

The Lord said: "Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk." Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, "Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too." And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."

In Volume Six, Mary (an unknown saint) asks us to pray to Our Lady to help set a good example for our children:

"I want to tell you that when you attempt to introduce family prayer to those children who have not prayed together in the past, you may experience resistance. Expect this. Also, when you say “no” to a child who has previously been given many material things, you will get anger. It will pass. Your child will object to being forced to pray and having material things taken away. Be brave, mothers. Be strong. Do not think for a moment that your decisions should be based on the anger or resistance of your children. Make your decision, and then impose it. Your children will come around if you are firm. Pray to Our Lady to help you turn your household into another holy family that serves the Kingdom. She will hear you and she will help. Set an example of calm holiness yourself and I promise you that all will be well."

Lay apostles, don't have expectations for others that you don't have for yourself.  If you want others to be kind, be kind to others.  If you send your children to Christian schools (or you are a Christian), live a Christian life inside and outside the home.  Remember, there are many eyes watching our every move.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me the guidance and motivation to live by example.  I am so very thankful my daughters turned out loving You so much despite some of my not so stellar choices along the way!

God bless,