Saturday, March 29, 2014

PnP - we are not the thing


PnP - we are not the thing, but God often uses us to make the thing happen. };-)
Conduit: a pipe or tube through which something (such as water or wire) passes
: someone or something that is used as a way of sending something (such as information or money) from one place or person to another.
Connector (social): people with wide social circles. They are the "hubs" of the human social network and responsible for the small world phenomenon.
Linchpin: a person or thing that holds something together : the most important (but often unnoticed) part of a complex situation or system.
Hinge or hinge pin (social): person, point or circumstance on which subsequent events depend.
Hmmm, maybe there are spiritual gifts there? ��������
(Patti being more the latter two, Pat the first two?)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free in Christ, and free to others too . . .

We are not famous. We have not published any best sellers, (our stories are written on the pages of our lives together, and that of our family.). And no, we are not in big demand on the Christian or motivational speakers circuit.
That said, we can by God's grace offer the wisdom He has grown in us. And we try do so with love and laughter, speaking to hearts as He guides.
Our desire is simply to share the gift He's given us, motivated by love and gratitude. Best of all, it's all free because we don't believe we should make a profit from His gift freely given. We do this mostly with individuals as "anam cara", but we will speak to groups now and then as well. If this interests you, contact us.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Joy of not living the joy of faith? Absurdity or Grace?



“Therese of Lisieux underwent profound changes in her experience of faith during the Easter of 1896: Before that time she thought that atheism was a haunted position, a sham. ’I could not believe that there really were godless people who had no faith at all, it was only by being false to their own inner convictions that someone could deny the existence of heaven.'
Finally, her eyes were opened to realize that unbelievers really exist. She experiences the sense of the darkness, such impenetrable darkness, a darkness which cannot recognize the King of Light. ‘But here I am Lord, to whom Your divine light has made itself known.'  She finds herself in a situation which seems absurdly contradictory. She does not cease to participate in the light of the faith and at the same time she participates in the darkness in which unbelievers live. She is immersed in suffering never experienced previously and in joy greater than she ever felt before. She thinks that if Jesus has made her see the reality of unbelief and has made her participate in the night of unbelief, it is only so that she may turn the tables, so that she may live this state of darkness for the sake of unbelievers themselves. And, consequently, for her it is a new joy that she had never experienced until then.  A joy of not living the joy of faith so that precisely these 'others', these unbelievers who do not know this joy, might finally attain to it: 'What does it matter, that I should catch no glimpse of heaven's beauties, here on earth, if that will help poor sinners to see them in heaven.'”
Jean Francois Six (abridged)

In my own time, I often have similar feelings for those who either claim to be atheists outright, or those who simply live as if there is no God.  Where I used to view people through the lenses of society and media, in my old age I’ve tried more and more to surrender to God and trust He will give me His “eyes” to see others as He does, with lenses of LOVE.  Instead of reacting with shallow shock and disgust (the old me) at the myriad of young, screwed, glued, tattooed, crazy shorn and colored I see daily, or the old and cranky too, I see only those His Son called the “lost” who He came to save, to redeem for His Father’s Kingdom.  I encounter lesbian friends who I would’ve thought would desire anonymity in our culture, yet, they draw attention to themselves with outrageous looks and dress?!  Yes, I now “see” only people who are hurting and in search of true love and contentment.  I don’t know the “answer” to the entire world’s searching specifically, but I do believe it lay at the foot of a cross, and in the plans of a loving Creator.  I’m not a brilliant theologian or pastor, nor even a saintly old monk for that matter, but I sense my own feeble, humble presence has meaning in His grand scheme, His “divine conspiracy” as Dallas Willard would call it?  I do all the things a Christian is supposed to do, including attend church, etc., but I believe the real mark of a disciple of Jesus is simple presence in the world and to others on a daily basis, in love, grace and humility with a heart that desires only to impart the HOPE I’ve already come to know deeply.  A HOPE that gives me contentment beyond any the world or another person ever could.  That is why I live; as a father and husband, as a grandfather, and as a sinner saved by Grace who desires only to be a friend along the way to others.  While I’m still alive it is a divine calling.  Should I die today, I gain that “new heaven and earth” He has promised . . . I can’t lose!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Running away from God?


If you are running away from a wrong picture of God, does that take you further away from Him, OR, closer to Him?

Two people please God; one who serves Him with all his heart because he knows Him, and one who seeks Him with all his heart because he knows Him not. The former must help the latter in the journey.
};-)

Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 6:16 "This is what the Lord says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."
John 10:14, 27-30 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’
Psalm 23:1-6 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Excerpts from James Barron: “Free From Religion” –

Religion is of this world.  Jesus is from heaven.


Religion is all about the outward and seen.  Jesus is all about the inward and unseen.


Religion tries to repair and fix the old creation.  Jesus made us a New Creation!


Religion’s yoke is hard work.   Jesus said His yoke was easy.


Religion uses fear to manipulate people to act.   Jesus’ love compels people to act, with joy!


Religion is proud.  Jesus is humble.


Religion is boring.  Jesus is an unexpected journey and adventure!


Religion is insecure.  Jesus is confident and secure.


Religion is competitive and envious.  Jesus is a rest.


Religion thinks itself wise.  Jesus thinks Religion is foolish.


Religion is a dead end.  Jesus is an open door to endless possibilities!


Religion is man-centered.  Jesus is God-centered.


Religion wants to control other men.  Jesus wants to set men free to live by Him.


Religion is death.  Jesus is Life!


Religion is depressing.  Jesus is joy unspeakable and full of glory!


Religion keeps people in a boat that is sinking.  Jesus empowers people to walk out of the boat onto the water to Him!


Religion needs money to exist.  Jesus’ life needs no silver or gold to live and prosper!


Religion is mean to you when you do not agree with it.  Jesus is kind even to those who nailed His hands and feet.


. . . for the most part, we have found this to be true, so we choose Jesus.  }:

Monday, January 20, 2014

"What is God's Will for my life? What is my ministry?"



First of all, we cannot know the mind of God, nor His Will. But be not discouraged, because we can know His heart. Therein lay the secret to life in Him. As we surrender all and abide in His Son, Jesus Christ, we become one in heart with the Father, Son & Spirit. Yes, it is a mystery, but one of Truth and Love that we can "know" and experience in our heart and soul. As we spend time in His Word, seeking Him in quiet, His Spirit will begin to transform us, and He Who begins that work will see it to completion as we abide in surrender.
So then, you ask, "What next, what is my 'ministry'?" From experience and age, I have this simple question in reply; what do you wake up to each morning? Wife, children, roommates, just yourself? Begin there first of all. Get that wrong and you will not "be" in His Will, nor one with His heart. Then, what or who is immediately outside your door, in your neighborhood? Go there with an open heart and mind seeking Jesus; neighbors, institutions, businesses, people in all those places, especially the ones you hesitate to engage; homeless, dirty, odd and even a bit crazy.
There you are, not "rocket science" or deep theology, just LOVE.
One last recommendation, seek wise counsel in trusted mentors and disciples. The road will be more smooth as they help you "see and hear" God. The true ones will simply and lovingly "direct" you to Him and diminish themselves in humility.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pope Francis New Year’s “Resolutions”:



1. Don't gossip.
It's one of our hobbies. For Francis, it's also one of the most evil activities.
The Catholic leader denounces gossip as “murder.”
He feels so strongly about it that in less than a year as pontiff, Francis has preached against gossip in at least 6 different instances. Read the following homilies by Francis as well as a recent speech:
He says when we gossip, we “are doing what Judas did,” and “begin to tear the other person to pieces.”
“Every time we judge our brother in our hearts or worse when we speak badly of them with others, we are murdering Christians,” Francis says. “There is no such thing as innocent slander.”
FOR THE POOR. Voicing concern for the neglected, Pope Francis slams the 'culture of waste' that leads to the 'globalization of indifference.' Francis speaks with migrants during his visit to the island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, on July 8. File photo by Alessandra Tarantino/EPA/Pool
2. Finish your meals.
No leftovers, please.
Named after a 12th-century saint who lived in poverty, Francis slams a “culture of waste” that neglects the plight of the hungry. (READ: Pope: Wasting food is stealing from the poor)
Nearly 870 million people suffer from chronic malnutrition, says the Food and Agriculture Organization. (VISIT: #HungerProject)
The Pope says: “We should all remember... that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.”
WISH GRANTED. Pope Francis invites and chats with Leandro Martins, a non-Catholic biker who randomly requests a meeting with him. Photo courtesy of Leandro Martins
3. Make time for others.
Tending to 1.2 billion members, Francis seems too busy for anything else.
That is, until he calls up strangers. Or entertains a random biker. Or sends a handwritten letter to a Jesuit he has never met.
FROM THE POPE. Fr James Martin gets a handwritten 'thank you' note from Pope Francis. Photo courtesy of Fr James Martin
The Jesuit who got the letter, Fr James Martin, says Francis inspires him “to be more generous in my own life with my time.”
Martin says: “If the Pope can find time to be kind to others, if he can pause to say thank you, if he can take a moment make someone feel appreciated, then so can I. So can we.” (READ: Making time for others: the Pope's way)
'HUMBLE CAR.' This handout picture released by the Vatican Press Office on September 10 shows Pope Francis speaking with collaborators next to a white Renault 4L offered by Fr Don Renzo Zocca (unseen) on September 7 at the Vatican. File photo by Ossevatore Romano/AFP
4. Choose the 'more humble' purchase.
Take it from the head of state who rides a 29-year-old Renault.
In July, he warns against luxurious lives that seek “the joy of the world in the latest smartphone, the fastest car.” (READ: Pope hits priests, nuns with brand-new cars)
“Cars are necessary,” he says, “but take a more humble one. Think of how many children die of hunger and dedicate the savings to them.”
The Pope preaches against materialism. “Certainly, possessions, money, and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. ‘Put on Christ’ in your life, place your trust in him, and you will never be disappointed!” (READ: Pope warns youth against materialism)
He calls for a “sober and essential lifestyle.” (READ: Pope: Choose 'sober' lifestyle, share wealth)
'IN THE FLESH.' This handout picture released by the Vatican press office shows Pope Francis (R) kissing the feet of a young offender after washing them during a Mass at the church of the Casal del Marmo youth prison on the outskirts of Rome as part of Holy Thursday. Photo by Osservatore Romano/AFP
5. Meet the poor 'in the flesh.'
Sure, we donate to charity. But this is not enough for Francis.
Commitment to the poor, he says, must be “person to person, in the flesh.” (READ: #ReliefPH: Pope Francis on disaster, charity)
Known as pro-poor even when he was archbishop, he explains more in the book On Heaven and Earth, which was published 3 years before he became pontiff. “It is not enough to mediate this commitment through institutions, which obviously help because they have a multiplying effect, but that is not enough. They do not excuse us from our establishing personal contact with the needy. The sick must be cared for, even when we find them repulsive and repugnant. Those in prison must be visited.”
He calls for long-term commitment. “Hospitality in itself isn't enough. It's not enough to give a sandwich if it isn't accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn't enough.” (READ: Pope Francis and Zamboanga's refugees)
'DON'T JUDGE.' Pope Francis reminds priests and bishops to avoid prejudice. File photo by Antonio Lacerda/EPA
6. Stop judging others.
In the same way he denounces gossip, Francis condemns prejudice.
He reminds “intolerant” Catholics, for one, to respect atheists. “If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.” (READ: Pope to 'intolerant' Catholics: Good atheists exist)
He also says of gays: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” (READ: Pope Francis is gay magazine's Person of the Year)
Francis urges us “to keep watch over ourselves.” “Let us not forget that hatred, envy, and pride defile our lives!” (READ: Pope's 1st clarion call: Protect creation)
CHARISMATIC PONTIFF. Pope Francis even prays for one of his worst critics. File photo from Luca Zennaro/EPA/Pool
7. Befriend those who disagree.
What can we do to our worst critics? We can take our cue from Francis.
In November, Francis surprises Mario Palmaro, a traditionalist who wrote the article, 'The Reason Why We Don't Like This Pope.'” “He just wanted to tell me that he is praying for me,” says Palmaro, who is gravely ill, in an article by the Catholic News Agency.
Francis does this in line with what he calls a “culture of encounter.”
He says in July: “When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return. Others always have something to give me, if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice.”
FRUIT OF MARRIAGE. Pope Francis holds a baby, the fruit of a sacrament that he says is not 'out of fashion.' File photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
8. Make commitments, such as marriage.
Don't be afraid to say “forever.”
Francis advises the youth, for instance, not to fear marriage. (READ: Pope: Marriage not 'out of fashion')
The Pope says: “Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of ‘enjoying’ the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, ‘forever,’ because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
“I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide.’ Have the courage to be happy,” he says.
SEEKING THE LORD. Pope Francis leads the global day of prayer and fasting for Syria in September. File photo by Alessandro di Meo/EPA
9. Make it a habit to 'ask the Lord.'
Bothered about the future?
Pray, the Pope urges us especially the youth.
“Dear young people,” he says, “some of you may not yet know what you will do with your lives. Ask the Lord, and he will show you the way. The young Samuel kept hearing the voice of the Lord who was calling him, but he did not understand or know what to say, yet with the help of the priest Eli, in the end he answered: 'Speak, Lord, for I am listening' (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-10). You too can ask the Lord: What do you want me to do? What path am I to follow?”
'JOY OF THE GOSPEL.' Challenging his flock to share joy with others, Pope Francis embraces a disfigured man in November. Photo by Claudio Peri/EPA
10. Be happy.
The true Christian, says the Pope, exudes great joy. He says keeping this joy to ourselves “will make us sick in the end.”
So important is joy to him that his first apostolic exhortation, the first major document he wrote on his own, is titled "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel).
“Sometimes these melancholy Christians' faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life,” Francis says in a homily. “Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path.”
Francis says, “The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy."
This joy, he reminds us, should translate to love of neighbor