Worth Revisiting: Reconciled


 :

Not just a prettier or more approachable  version of confession, the act of reconciling is instead, a richer and more complete description of what transpires in this beautiful sacrament. For, reconciliation means“to walk together again”[1] , to reestablish a close relationship in friendship, peace, and love. Confession is just one part of this sacrament replete with mercy, grace and love.  Reconciliation then more fully represents  “what is most important, what Jesus does”. [2]

Growing up protestant, I have heard all of the following questions and consequent arguments against the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation. Undoubtedly even for those having grown up in the faith, there still lies a temptation to rest on these as a means of justifying ourselves in our walk with God. However, there is also a challenge here to really consider the effects of sin, the grace that is present here and the freedom in walking humbly with our God.

1.“My relationship with Jesus is good..I can tell him anything. Why would I put a 3rd person in the middle since Jesus is the one who forgives me?  What this question begs is a heartfelt response. Yes, there is solid scriptural basis but the person asking this is seeking to know the soul benefit in uttering and entrusting their sins in this way.  They understand the need for forgiveness and may have a very good prayer life. Coming into the faith as an young adult this was a hurdle I myself encountered. I prayed often, went to church, read my bible and asked for forgiveness daily. So what does the sacrament of reconciliation really provide that is different?

  • In confessing our sins we give voice to that which we have privately carried and share it with the community in the priest who is also representative of Christ. The weight of our sins that we have carried is lifted, the slate with our sins wiped clean and we are free to begin anew.
  • Likewise, in both our sin and sanctity we are a community and are called to help one another in the journey. Our sin which has hampered and even damaged our relationships is removed and so, as a community we celebrate.
  • Receive peace and comfort by the grace of Christ to go forth to both amend our ways and to strive for greater justice and peace in our families, communities and world around us. Our penance is an essential first step to express our commitment towards this transformation.

2. “So, where is the need for reconciliation in the bible?

  • “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
  • Parable of the lost sheep- Jesus’ story of the shepherd and the 1 lost sheep among the 99. Jesus leads us to reconciliation with God and others (Matthew 18:12-14)
  • Prodigal Son explores the unconditional love and forgiveness of God, and helps bring this forgiveness into our daily lives (Luke 15:11-32)
  • Great Commandment- Jesus’ teaching about loving God, ourselves, and others (Matthew 22:36-40)

3. “These priests are human too, how can they hear and absolve my sins, aren’t they just as prone to sin?”

  • As Catholics we believe that Jesus intended to give authority to his apostles to guide, teach, forgive and heal the followers of Christ to come. And, that they in turn in succession handed down this authority.

” And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19.

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

  • Yet, this question also points to the need for forgiveness for all of us, as a result of our human condition and our inclination to sin. St. John Paul II went to reconciliation frequently as did newly sainted St. Teresa of Calcutta who is noted for going 2-3 times a week for even venial sins.

“It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation.  Those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives.” St. JP II[3]

4. Finally, “Didn’t they just go to reconciliation? So why are they still  (*mean, rude etc.) ?

First obviously this question implies a bit of judgement of others rather than looking at our own walk of faith. Yet, to address the intended issue, does this sacrament have the grace and power to effect true and lasting change? Yes, but again we have a propensity and inclination to sin and our sins are not always exactly the same. Reconciliation is a sacrament that is intended to be received again and again throughout our lives either individually or with the community. So, it does not “end with the words of absolution”, but “in order to achieve it’s purpose it must take root in their whole lives”.[4]

In Reconciliation we are giving the opportunity to experience and celebrate God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness in our lives and in community. God isn’t as concerned with the “mistakes” but with repairing the relationship that has suffered.

Think for a moment about your relationship with your best friend.

If you think about your relationship with God, how could this be better? Have you made time for your friendship with God in prayer, answered his calls of love and grace? Have you said sorry when you realize that you have chosen to act unloving?

Remember, our choices not only hurt ourselves but effect our relationship with God, and so many others that we encounter daily. Mercy and forgiveness are waiting-take time today to be reconciled.

Peace,

Signature


[1] McKenna, Meagan. (1997) Rites of Justice. New York. Orbis Books

[2] Richstatter, Thomas. O.F.M, S.T.D. (1990) “Ten Tips for Reconciliation: The Gift of Reconciliation”. Catholic Update. Ohio. Catholic Update.

[3] Pope John Paul II,  Conference of the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome. March 27, 2004.

[4] Kane, Thomas. Healing God’s People: Theological and Pastoral Approaches.Rite of Penance 7b.

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In Plain Sight

 : Every Spring my mom, though teaching full time, would find an extra reserve of energy to become attentive to the details of housekeeping that winter and life had placed on the back burner. Make no mistake, however, it wasn’t just her responsibility but mine as well. Cobwebs and dust bunnies had no  recourse but to succumb to her broom, keen eye and swift hand.  What always surprised me in the course of these weeks was not the visible dirt but that which lay hidden in plain sight.

With pails of soapy water, a sponge for each of us, and a strong determination of mission we washed each wall from top to bottom. Not just once, but several times over, removing the unsightly grime that somehow had made its home on ours. And while I longed to stop at the first attempt,  to do so would simply make the dirt remaining all the more obvious. Yet, when the proper time and care was taken the work taken would reveal a well cared for home and the splendid true color of the original paint chosen.

I thought of this today in contemplating the housekeeping, as it were, of our souls. While we might easily recognize the walls that are broken or seemingly damaged beyond repair, do we see the layers of dirt and daily sin that fade the color of love that we are to reflect? Are we attentive only in confessing the obvious cracks or plaster in need of repair, or do we return time and time again to unearth the less visible sin we have accumulated?

For, much like the first pass of the soap on the wall, our awareness of the multitude of sin in our lives becomes apparent only when we begin to scratch the surface of the grime of time and habit. Too much work we say for such a small reward. Yet, this is the convincing deception of the venial sins in our lives. These small innocuous ways that we even unknowingly hide the beauty of God within, and become content to be less than what we were meant to be. If it has been some time since you have attended to this deeper spiritual housekeeping, God is ready and eager to provide the soap and water!

Reflect:

In what ways and areas do I need to attend to most in my spiritual life? What areas do I neglect? What might be revealed in tidying here that will let God’s love shine brighter in my life?

Peace,

Signature

Ethics as Improvisation

 

Image result for samuel wells improvisationWells, The Drama of Christian Ethics: Improvisation. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004. pp. 236. pb. ISBN 1-58743-071-1.

Using the backdrop of the five act play, Wells imaginatively interprets the Christian community as players incorporated through baptism as part of the 4th act. Then the community, in anticipating the 5th act, is invited to faithful improvisation through nurturing trust, and joyful cooperation within God’s larger drama. Christian ethics then becomes that continual improvisational response to the new and challenging situations that arise.

 Common mistakes made within narrative drama:

Only viewing it as one act, seeing oneself as either creator/savior, living in the end of the drama, and failing to live as witness to Christ’s life (pp 55-57).

 Improvisation:

The invitation to faithfully and joyfully respond to our purpose as Christians having been formed through scripture, as a community of faith, and through continual discernment (pp. 65-66).

 Overaccepting:

A way of welcoming a gift without hindering the potential for transformation, or accepting it as is. Instead we look to see the potential usefulness of the gift and importance (p.131).

 Reincorporation:

seeking to reintegrate the events/voices of the story that have been lost or neglected in the past and seeing their potential for renewal and transformation of the future (p.147).

Throughout these readings by Wells, there is an exquisite thread of reconciliation present in every act of his understanding of the theological narrative. We are a people created with a purpose, to be in relationship with our creator, sharing in God’s magnificently creative love story. Yet, inevitably we have misunderstood our role, either underplaying or overplaying our involvement. While Wells, places God center of the drama, he calls us forth to draw on the own participation as well as the untapped potential of the discarded “material” and past experiences of the supposed minor actors. The call to faithfully improvise is not to create something from nothing, or be “original” but to seek as a community to reclaim and re-purpose the gifts and resources that God has given us.

It is with eyes and ears looking towards the past, and open hearts and arms in the present, and feet progressing “backwards” into the future that we as a church are called to await the 5th act. This openness allows us to receive a gift, even an unwanted one and see its potential transformation, as well as our own, through God’s grace. Yet, it isn’t simply the gift of another that is to be overaccepted and repurposed, but the very material and experiences of our own lives. Rather than blocking and discarding these unwanted experiences, or accepting them as a given, we are called to see these challenges as a means for God’s potential transformation and our own growth.

Signature

Be Reconciled


 :

Not just a prettier or more approachable  version of confession, the act of reconciling is instead, a richer and more complete description of what transpires in this beautiful sacrament. For, reconciliation means“to walk together again”[1] , to reestablish a close relationship in friendship, peace, and love. Confession is just one part of this sacrament replete with mercy, grace and love.  Reconciliation then more fully represents  “what is most important, what Jesus does”. [2]

Growing up protestant, I have heard all of the following questions and consequent arguments against the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation. Undoubtedly even for those having grown up in the faith, there still lies a temptation to rest on these as a means of justifying ourselves in our walk with God. However, there is also a challenge here to really consider the effects of sin, the grace that is present here and the freedom in walking humbly with our God.

1.“My relationship with Jesus is good..I can tell him anything. Why would I put a 3rd person in the middle since Jesus is the one who forgives me?  What this question begs is a heartfelt response. Yes, there is solid scriptural basis but the person asking this is seeking to know the soul benefit in uttering and entrusting their sins in this way.  They understand the need for forgiveness and may have a very good prayer life. Coming into the faith as an young adult this was a hurdle I myself encountered. I prayed often, went to church, read my bible and asked for forgiveness daily. So what does the sacrament of reconciliation really provide that is different?

  • In confessing our sins we give voice to that which we have privately carried and share it with the community in the priest who is also representative of Christ. The weight of our sins that we have carried is lifted, the slate with our sins wiped clean and we are free to begin anew.
  • Likewise, in both our sin and sanctity we are a community and are called to help one another in the journey. Our sin which has hampered and even damaged our relationships is removed and so, as a community we celebrate.
  • Receive peace and comfort by the grace of Christ to go forth to both amend our ways and to strive for greater justice and peace in our families, communities and world around us. Our penance is an essential first step to express our commitment towards this transformation.

2. “So, where is the need for reconciliation in the bible?

  • “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
  • Parable of the lost sheep- Jesus’ story of the shepherd and the 1 lost sheep among the 99. Jesus leads us to reconciliation with God and others (Matthew 18:12-14)
  • Prodigal Son explores the unconditional love and forgiveness of God, and helps bring this forgiveness into our daily lives (Luke 15:11-32)
  • Great Commandment- Jesus’ teaching about loving God, ourselves, and others (Matthew 22:36-40)

3. “These priests are human too, how can they hear and absolve my sins, aren’t they just as prone to sin?”

  • As Catholics we believe that Jesus intended to give authority to his apostles to guide, teach, forgive and heal the followers of Christ to come. And, that they in turn in succession handed down this authority.

” And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19.

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23

  • Yet, this question also points to the need for forgiveness for all of us, as a result of our human condition and our inclination to sin. St. John Paul II went to reconciliation frequently as did newly sainted St. Teresa of Calcutta who is noted for going 2-3 times a week for even venial sins.

“It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation.  Those who go to Confession frequently, and do so with the desire to make progress, will notice the strides that they make in their spiritual lives.” St. JP II[3]

4. Finally, “Didn’t they just go to reconciliation? So why are they still  (*mean, rude etc.) ?

First obviously this question implies a bit of judgement of others rather than looking at our own walk of faith. Yet, to address the intended issue, does this sacrament have the grace and power to effect true and lasting change? Yes, but again we have a propensity and inclination to sin and our sins are not always exactly the same. Reconciliation is a sacrament that is intended to be received again and again throughout our lives either individually or with the community. So, it does not “end with the words of absolution”, but “in order to achieve it’s purpose it must take root in their whole lives”.[4]

In Reconciliation we are giving the opportunity to experience and celebrate God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness in our lives and in community. God isn’t as concerned with the “mistakes” but with repairing the relationship that has suffered.

Think for a moment about your relationship with your best friend.

If you think about your relationship with God, how could this be better? Have you made time for your friendship with God in prayer, answered his calls of love and grace? Have you said sorry when you realize that you have chosen to act unloving?

Remember, our choices not only hurt ourselves but effect our relationship with God, and so many others that we encounter daily. Mercy and forgiveness are waiting-take time today to be reconciled.

Peace,

Signature


[1] McKenna, Meagan. (1997) Rites of Justice. New York. Orbis Books

[2] Richstatter, Thomas. O.F.M, S.T.D. (1990) “Ten Tips for Reconciliation: The Gift of Reconciliation”. Catholic Update. Ohio. Catholic Update.

[3] Pope John Paul II,  Conference of the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome. March 27, 2004.

[4] Kane, Thomas. Healing God’s People: Theological and Pastoral Approaches.Rite of Penance 7b.

 

 

Worth Revisiting:Walking a Mile With Another


How often are we quick to judge someone who we see as disagreeable, strongly opinionated or assertive? Feeling our own sense of pride offended, and leaving indignant we frequently proceed to telling others or instead harbor that annoyance within. Yet, neither of these options can be understood as beneficial either to our relationships or to our spiritual growth.

Scripture firmly emphasizes the importance of conflict resolution as a community if we are to be the body of Christ in the world. No pretenses, we are to leave our gift on the altar, and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, we are to speak to that person privately first. “If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (Matt 18:15-17)

In doing so love, and not self righteousness, needs to be the intent of reconciliation. For “if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3)”

Only love connects us divinely with God, unites us in faith, and holds the promise of our salvation.

Yet, how do we walk this path of reconciliation equipped only with love? With humility, leaving our pride and righteous offense at their actions aside and choosing love. We cannot hold both love and pride in our hearts. We must look at ourselves, ask for God’s grace and desire our own conversion of heart. Though it has taken me a lifetime to understand, this is for me the meaning of turning the other cheek. It does not mean that we are to become a “doormat” for others to walk on, but that in following Christ we are to seek to meet all-even those most difficult-with light and love.

With this being said, a few days ago I spoke my goodbyes to a dear friend who had lost his very painful battle with cancer. To many, including members in the family he was commonly referred to in words of frustration, and actions of avoidance. An extremely intelligent man, who had so much to share, he would habitually though unintentionally irritate others. And because those around him seldom found it easier to talk to him than to one another, true reconciliation was difficult. In the months before he died, he asked me to call him regularly while just to chat briefly. He had lost so much in life- his daughter to drugs, his first wife to cancer, and his son still battling addiction. Looking at the end of his life all he sought was forgiveness, acceptance and love.

How is this so different from our own desires in life?

So, today I ask you to unstrap your sandals, step into those of another and walk a spell. How would Christ meet the difficulty in your life today? If you feel challenged to make a change, put your feet in motion and seek reconciliation. The first step towards peace, and forgiveness of others is to make time for the sacrament of reconciliation in our own lives. Only from the depths of God’s love and mercy can we truly understand the steps that Christ has walked and where He is leading us to go today.

Peace,

Signature

An Engaging Faith: 2/8-2/12

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Getting ready for Lent with great invitations for Reflection and Action!

Greg Wolfe with God For Us, Fr. Don Maldari with The Creed, Fr. Albert Haase with Saying Yes!,  Karee Santos, will be joining  us again this time to talk about how to celebrate Valentine’s during Lent…

and Encores Fr. Paul Farren with Freedom & Forgiveness: A Fresh look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Danielle Shroyer with Where Jesus Prayed.



Snowstorm- Greg Wolfe rescheduled for 2/15

 

 

Tuesday: Donald Maldari, S.J. is a Catholic theologian who earned a doctorate and a master’s degree at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and a bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University. A member of the Society of Jesus since 1977, Professor Maldari began his teaching The Creed: the Faith That Moves Evolutioncareer in 1980. Having a keen interest in ecclesiology and spirituality, he has taught at Le Moyne College since 1999. Father Maldari, fluent in five non-native languages, has ministered as a chaplain in a Mexican prison and by teaching and providing spiritual direction in Haiti

Wednesday: EncoreFreedom & Forgiveness: A Fresh look at the Sacrament of ReconciliationFr. Paul Farren a native of Clonmany in Co. Donegal, was ordained in 1997. He studied in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and in the Catholic University of America, Washington DC.  He served as a curate in Derry City from 1997 – 2004.   Fr. Paul has served as Director of Religious Education in the Freedom and Forgiveness: A Fresh Look at the Sacrament of ReconciliationDerry Diocese and the Director of the Catechetical Centre as well as administrator of St. Eugene’s Cathedral and Long Tower Church. He has also been a vocations director in the Diocese of Derry for the last 14 years.  In 2006 he founded The Pope John Paul II Award to help young people become more involved in their parish community. Fr. Paul joins us to discuss Freedom and Forgiveness: A Fresh Look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Thursday: Karee Santos, will be joining  us again this time to talk about how to celebrate Valentine’s during Lent as a family. Karee and husband, Manuel P. Santos, M.D., a psychiatrist, began teaching marriage preparation and enrichment classes in New York City in 2003. Their Catholic marriage advice book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love will be published by Ave Maria Press in 2016. She also blogs aCan We Cana? a community to support Catholic Marriages.

Friday:  Ordained a Franciscan priest in 1983, Albert Haase, OFM, is a popular preacher, teacher, spiritual director and radio talk show Saying Yes: Discovering and Responding to God's Will in Your Lifeguest. A former missionary to mainland China for over eleven years, he is the award-winning author of nine books on popular spirituality and the presenter on four bestselling DVDs. He trains spiritual directors in the diocese of Springfield, IL. He lives in Texas. Visit his website at www.AlbertOFM.org

 

Worth Revisiting: Moments of Clarity

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.

Have you ever looked into water that was crystal clear that reflected each unique ray of light with perfect clarity, revealing also the beauty within? This image for me is analogous to what God desires for each of us- to truly be a reflection of his light and love in our lives in this very moment. Yet, in order to be this reflection,requires looking into our lives continually to see that which is muddying up the water. Reconciliation provides both the lens to see the contaminant but also the powerful agent for transformation. If it has been while since you have celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation..clarity awaits!


7 Quick Takes-Moments of Clarity

1// This week has been a reminder of the glimpses God gives us of his mercy, love and forgiveness.

Those moments whereby we are challenged to move, grow, and reach out to one another in love. The ready invitation to leave our comfort zone and listen, hold,  and  share our hearts and journeys with others.

2// My 7 Quick Takes week began..

by assisting with a women’s retreat on Forgiveness hosted by co-blogger and supervisor Allison Gingras. This as you can see, easily prompted the first of these reflective moments!  “I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive and to be forgiven, one teaches me mercy, the other humility”. (A. Gingras)  What a grace it is to embrace this in our lives! While our hearts must be led by mercy, we need to resist the temptation to see ourselves as blameless without need of forgiveness. How many times have I caused injury, or has someone needed to forgive me recently? I may never know the fullness of this answer, but for those times, Father forgive me.

3// “Forgiveness requires letting go of being right, of justice, evening scores and of an apology.” (Fr. Scott Hurd)

Oh, the thorny brambles we find ourselves in when led by righteousness and the need for validation! Instantly, we begin seeking those conversations and relationships whereby we are the hero and someone else made the villain. In doing so, we cling to the pain and our pride takes hold. Increasingly we find ourselves entangled in its grip. Lord help me to cling to you, the vine rather than the bramble.

4//“Forgiveness is not reconciling, as it takes one person not two”. 

Seeking forgiveness, is about finding peace and while we might wish for reconciliation- that is not guaranteed. Sometimes all that we can offer and hope for is forgiveness. Letting go of the outcome frees us to then move forward in our faith lives to grow in acceptance and give the controls to God. Lord I relinquish all authority to you, may my desire for peace be enough. Lead me because I can’t do this alone.”

5// And my own special sound bite from the retreat, “The Holy Spirit rocks!”

(If ever there was any doubt.) This retreat had an incredible turnout and the feedback extremely positive. The telling moment for me came in tending to the reconciliation line which was continuous and lasted over 2 hours! Within this there were prayerful conversations and moments of conversion of heart. So beautiful! Thank you Father for the gift of your Spirit which seeks to guide, transform and heal our hearts. I just want to praise you!

6// On a more personal note,

however, I received word a few days ago that someone that I am quite close to was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. As he comes to terms with the diagnosis and the given chances for survival, he is seeking greater reconciliation and connection in his life. He has been through so many trials in his life, including a stroke and several bouts of double pneumonia. Yet, I can feel that this is quite different, and he is preparing to die. In speaking with him today, he asked if I would call him to chat for a little bit each week. “Yes, of course!”. What a gift you have given me Father in this time with him.  Please, I pray for your voice and heart to guide me. If I can be of any help, I humbly offer my all.

7// So while clarity at times reveals deep hurt, difficulties, or challenges, I have found that God is there also- reaching out with open arms to embrace.

Why wait for a doctor’s call, or a life crisis to seek forgiveness and peace in our lives? Why hold on to pain when we could take hold of Christ’s hand? Jesus you are the voice of truth. You see us, know us, forgive us and love us in spite of all that we do and fail to do. While I can never repay this gift, I will spend a lifetime trying.

Peace in Christ,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: Seeking Joy Too

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.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). In God alone is where we discover true joy, a wellspring that cannot ever truly be taken away.  Likewise, God’s love does not only prompt joy for ourselves,  but overflows and spills out into the lives of all of our families and communities as they too encounter its beauty in us.  It is a joy that is always new and fully intended to be shared with others!


Seeking Joy1Seeking Joy  2

(originally published on 8/19/14)

1. Seeking the joy of God..

necessitates that we recognize our own unique gifts that God has given us rather than envying the gifts that others might possess.

Each of us has been created for a purpose, though the details of which, we might not be aware of it just yet. When we want that which God has given others, then we fail to appreciate God’s gifts to us. Instead, our aim should be to strengthen the gifts that we have been given, whether it be speaking, listening, teaching, or guiding others in the call to holiness and in the mission and life of the Church. So, too, I would add, God grants additional charisms or gifts, when needed, if we remain open to the Holy Spirit and God’s will in our lives.

2. Making space for God means..

identifying that which seeks to steal our joy, and serves to distance us from God and those we love.

When we shed these things, quite profoundly through reconciliation, we open ourselves up to God at work in our everyday. Then we start seeing God too in the little things that we do that also provide countless joy in the lives of others.

3. This is what God wants for us! We were not created to live in sorrow, though we all experience this at some point in our lives. We all know that with Christ’s birth the heavens rejoiced, so too is God’s joy for each one of us. Yet, the things of this world will bring us but temporary happiness, but God’s joy is eternal. When we surrender our hearts, trust, and allow God to take the lead, we will find true joy at last.

“Let this experience imprinted in the Gospel, be imprinted in our hearts and in our lives. Let the joyous wonder of Easter Sunday radiate through our thoughts , looks, attitudes , gestures and words …” Pope Francis (Regina Coeli address, Apr. 22, 2014.)

Walking a Mile With Another


How often are we quick to judge someone who we see as disagreeable, strongly opinionated or assertive? Feeling our own sense of pride offended, and leaving indignant we frequently proceed to telling others or instead harbor that annoyance within. Yet, neither of these options can be understood as beneficial either to our relationships or to our spiritual growth.

Scripture firmly emphasizes the importance of conflict resolution as a community if we are to be the body of Christ in the world. No pretenses, we are to leave our gift on the altar, and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, we are to speak to that person privately first. “If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (Matt 18:15-17)

In doing so love, and not self righteousness, needs to be the intent of reconciliation. For “if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3)”

Only love connects us divinely with God, unites us in faith, and holds the promise of our salvation.

Yet, how do we walk this path of reconciliation equipped only with love? With humility, leaving our pride and righteous offense at their actions aside and choosing love. We cannot hold both love and pride in our hearts. We must look at ourselves, ask for God’s grace and desire our own conversion of heart. Though it has taken me a lifetime to understand, this is for me the meaning of turning the other cheek. It does not mean that we are to become a “doormat” for others to walk on, but that in following Christ we are to seek to meet all-even those most difficult-with light and love.

With this being said, a few days ago I spoke my goodbyes to a dear friend who had lost his very painful battle with cancer. To many, including members in the family he was commonly referred to in words of frustration, and actions of avoidance. An extremely intelligent man, who had so much to share, he would habitually though unintentionally irritate others. And because those around him seldom found it easier to talk to him than to one another, true reconciliation was difficult. In the months before he died, he asked me to call him regularly while just to chat briefly. He had lost so much in life- his daughter to drugs, his first wife to cancer, and his son still battling addiction. Looking at the end of his life all he sought was forgiveness, acceptance and love.

How is this so different from our own desires in life?

So, today I ask you to unstrap your sandals, step into those of another and walk a spell. How would Christ meet the difficulty in your life today? If you feel challenged to make a change, put your feet in motion and seek reconciliation. The first step towards peace, and forgiveness of others is to make time for the sacrament of reconciliation in our own lives. Only from the depths of God’s love and mercy can we truly understand the steps that Christ has walked and where He is leading us to go today.

Peace,

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7 Quick Takes-Moments of Clarity

 1// This week has been a reminder of the glimpses God gives us of his mercy, love and forgiveness.

Those moments whereby we are challenged to move, grow, and reach out to one another in love. The ready invitation to leave our comfort zone and listen, hold,  and  share our hearts and journeys with others.

2// My 7 Quick Takes week began..

by assisting with a women’s retreat on Forgiveness hosted by co-blogger and supervisor Allison Gingras. This as you can see, easily prompted the first of these reflective moments!  “I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive and to be forgiven, one teaches me mercy, the other humility”. (A. Gingras)  What a grace it is to embrace this in our lives! While our hearts must be led by mercy, we need to resist the temptation to see ourselves as blameless without need of forgiveness. How many times have I caused injury, or has someone needed to forgive me recently? I may never know the fullness of this answer, but for those times, Father forgive me.

3// “Forgiveness requires letting go of being right, of justice, evening scores and of an apology.” (Fr. Scott Hurd)

Oh, the thorny brambles we find ourselves in when led by righteousness and the need for validation! Instantly, we begin seeking those conversations and relationships whereby we are the hero and someone else made the villain. In doing so, we cling to the pain and our pride takes hold. Increasingly we find ourselves entangled in its grip. Lord help me to cling to you, the vine rather than the bramble.

4//“Forgiveness is not reconciling, as it takes one person not two”. 

Seeking forgiveness, is about finding peace and while we might wish for reconciliation- that is not guaranteed. Sometimes all that we can offer and hope for is forgiveness. Letting go of the outcome frees us to then move forward in our faith lives to grow in acceptance and give the controls to God. Lord I relinquish all authority to you, may my desire for peace be enough. Lead me because I can’t do this alone.”

5// And my own special sound bite from the retreat, “The Holy Spirit rocks!”

(If ever there was any doubt.) This retreat had an incredible turnout and the feedback extremely positive. The telling moment for me came in tending to the reconciliation line which was continuous and lasted over 2 hours! Within this there were prayerful conversations and moments of conversion of heart. So beautiful! Thank you Father for the gift of your Spirit which seeks to guide, transform and heal our hearts. I just want to praise you!

6// On a more personal note,

however, I received word a few days ago that someone that I am quite close to was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. As he comes to terms with the diagnosis and the given chances for survival, he is seeking greater reconciliation and connection in his life. He has been through so many trials in his life, including a stroke and several bouts of double pneumonia. Yet, I can feel that this is quite different, and he is preparing to die. In speaking with him today, he asked if I would call him to chat for a little bit each week. “Yes, of course!”. What a gift you have given me Father in this time with him.  Please, I pray for your voice and heart to guide me. If I can be of any help, I humbly offer my all.

7// So while clarity at times reveals deep hurt, difficulties, or challenges, I have found that God is there also- reaching out with open arms to embrace.

Why wait for a doctor’s call, or a life crisis to seek forgiveness and peace in our lives? Why hold on to pain when we could take hold of Christ’s hand? Jesus you are the voice of truth. You see us, know us, forgive us and love us in spite of all that we do and fail to do. While I can never repay this gift, I will spend a lifetime trying.

Peace in Christ,

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