Worth Revisiting: Walking the Road of Peace

This was written a year ago as the Scotus decision on the redefinition of civil marriage was first issued and with tensions at their peak. Perhaps today we have attained a measure of distance from the issue- to listen better and speak less and to witness through our lives rather than instruct through a sharp tongue.

For as long as I can recall, God has placed deep within me a compelling summons to see and walk the road of peace in the midst of heated disagreements, and to mediate when necessary.  Yet, not a diplomat in a shallow sense, I see the people behind the conflict, and the far reaching consequences of the steps we take today. It is not an easy path, and at times diplomacy entails being disliked by both parties, but the cause of peace and respect for the human person within the human family is worthwhile enough to pursue.

As some may have noticed this past week, I have been noticeably silent as the Scotus decision on the redefinition of civil marriage was proclaimed.  While unwavering in the sanctity of marriage as a sacrament in our faith, I also understand the real need for compassion and active listening. This polarizing issue, which has turned our Facebook profiles rainbow, and overlaid with the Vatican flag for Catholics and non-Catholics alike is a visible expression of the division we have been experiencing as a people of faith.  Many have felt that the need to take this visible stand, and though I understand your need to do so, please consider why I have not.

Most notably, with emotions on the issue at an all time high, a majority of people are responding reactively. Finding ourselves in a position of either defending our beliefs, or asserting alternative ones few seem to be in a position of listening. The immediate consequence that I see is that we begin to alienate whole groups of people by our actions that we choose going forward. I have personally witnessed people selectively removing others that have chosen to bear either flag from their contacts. Where do you go from there, if there is to be true dialogue possible?

I am not arguing for a compromise in values, but instead a time of prayerful discernment in choosing our words and actions. So many things are being spoken from positions of fear, judgment, and righteous indignation without full consideration of their effect. When the dust settles from all of this, we as a people of faith will be truly in want of reconciliation and healing. Given the long breath of our church history, we have been here before as a Church.

Still there may soon come a time when there will be a need to consciously and conscientiously attend to a line drawn by secular intrusions on the practice of the right to religious freedom. That is why this time is so very important. Before we speak, pray. Pray for our shepherds who have been called to lead, that they do so attentive to the teachings of our faith, and pastorally to the people they are to tend to. Pray that everything we do is with the eyes of Christ, and everything we say is spoken with love.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Can I hear my Father’s Voice?

Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

With the approach of Lent, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could see beyond himself to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously he then answered God’s call to make a transformation not only within himself but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

Even so, Lent gives us a period of time to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Do you feel a spiritual dryness in prayer? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy and time in short supply? Like Jesus, we need this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space this Lent to do just that. It needn’t be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!

Peace,

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To Honor the Innocents

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“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”                         Matthew 2:16-18

 As Augustine noted these “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief”. In remembering them, I cannot help but also be reminded of the countless martyrs that have given their lives long after them.

This Christmas,Pope Francis spoke to the “brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis. These are “our martyrs of today,” those brothers and sisters, he said, “who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith…”

ABC News on Dec. 23, 2015 reports that Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from 1.3 million people in the 1997 census to about 650,000 now. Lebanon, who has taken on many of Syria’s refugees, is an area where according to the NY Times Christians in 1925 constituted 85% of the population now constitute less than a quarter. The recent bombings in Beruit and Paris, as well as the attacks in Mali, and Tunisia this November show little regard for unarmed or innocent citizens.

What can we do?

Pray and…work – with courage towards promoting change, real substantive change. This means having a goal that involves more than just eliminating Isis, for as history has proven, there are others that will merely step into their place. Looking at the underlying problems of poverty, unstable governments with recruitment of child soldiers, not to mention human and drug trafficking we see that there is fertile ground for violence. Are we ready not just to fight but to witness God kingdom in the world? Are we prepared to get to the work of education, justice and peace?  Then, there is also a true need for dialogue, and reconciliation.

My mom, a high school math teacher in a very poor area of the south, understood this well. Her classes consisted of students who others had already given up on, those who were absent due to fights, arrests, drugs or early pregnancies. An expected typical day or life for a student, or child was not typical for them. Many were living the only life they knew, in cycles of violence, dependence and poverty where few had ever taken an interest in their potential. That is, before my mom. Meeting with students before and after school to mentor, she also created homework and make up for long extended absences and most importantly…let them know she cared. Years later, on innumerable occasions she would be stopped by a former student, all grown up who would tell her the difference she truly had made in their life.

Though a seemingly small step, these are the actions that each of us can do in promoting peace, and justice in our communities, in living out our faith with courage. In serving as spiritual mothers and fathers we too can nurture the children we encounter and give voice to Holy Innocents whose lives ended too soon.

Peace,

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Beside Still Waters

Anyone close to me knows that despite sometimes bemoaning my busy schedule, I am indeed blessed and appear to thrive on chaos. On my already full plate there’s been ample room to take another helping of “Would you be able to join us?” , “Oh, and another thing”, or “I cannot be there.”  Yet over the last few weeks ,   I have felt the pressing need for a break -a respite to  gather my thoughts and silence to find my peace in the midst of the all that I am being asked to do. With my head swimming with service commitments, recordings, preparations, and conversations, the question of just when I would take this break was weighing on me too. That is until the answer came to me in prayer once again.

What began quite simply as a bodily sigh, gave way to a petition, and then to a surrendering of my very self.

“Lord, I need you… You have graced my life with so many wondrous opportunities to love and serve you. And while I cannot believe that you have called me, and given me the gifts necessary to answer that call, I am in need of some time with you alone. I want to be joyful in all that I do, not just simply go through the motions. I want to be close to you, so that others can come to know you through me. Come Holy Spirit..”

Then closing my eyes, I sat in silence in recognition of  that which had kept me busy, my deep desire to serve  and God’s ever presence through it all. Suddenly, I became aware too of the missed moments I had failed to take advantage of, glimpses of God inviting me to sit a spell and simply be.  No sooner was this acknowledgment expressed, than was God’s beautiful gift to me revealed. The vision that now lay before my still closed eyes was that sanctuary that I had pleaded for. Waters so tranquil and glassy that they could not help but reflect the beauty of the heavens that stretched across the bright blue sky.  There was truly no separation between the two, and I understood that this was his lesson as well.

You are my vision..

As St. Ignatius of Loyola’s own experience has shown, if we are to reflect God’s love, joy and beauty in our world this time of contemplation with our Creator and loving Father is essential.  In our surrender, the ripples of fear and doubt are dispelled , and our self reliance gives way to a peace that can only come from the One who has created and ordered it all. So, yes the One who set the sun and stars in motion also set aside for rest and serenity. And, this time need not always be extensive but as was the case here, just a cursory foretaste of what awaits when our time here on earth is done.

For the remainder of this week, whenever I have needed a short break, I have returned in prayer to find God ‘s invitation still present. So much so, I know that the smile and joy that breaks forth has been more than visible to others.  If this were not enough, God whose generosity is not to be outdone, has spoken to me again in Word and song. No surprise here, the responsorial psalm that I led with the children for this Sunday’s liturgy  was …

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul… (Psalm 23:1-6)

The invitation is there for you as well..to be led beside still waters. Are you in true need of a break in your life? Have you found God calling you to spend some quality time with Him today? He’s there..already waiting for you!

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Hearing My Father’s Voice

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Lately, it seems, there has been much talk of violence.Violence in the streets of our major cities , and violence in the hearts and minds of those who see this as the only path to end injustice. Yet, I cannot help but feel that in our desire to change things in the world without we must begin by changing ourselves within. Thomas Merton once noted that, “There can be no peace on earth without the kind of inner change that brings man back to his “right mind.” (from Gandhi on Non-Violence). Yes, there is much work to be done and dialogue to be had. However, for lasting change to occur that work must begin within each one of us. 


Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

As this season draws to a close, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could better see beyond the limitations and boundaries of our humanity to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously answering God’s call to make a transformation,not only within but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

This is but one way, I believe, that God continually invites us to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Have you felt a spiritual dryness in prayer lately? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy, time and temperament in short supply? Like Jesus, we require this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father. Only then can we then extend that love, healing and renewal out into our families, neighborhoods, and cities that are in such desperate need for all of these.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space today to do just that. It need not be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!