THE WAY….. OF SUFFERING

If I look back on my life and even assess the current state of my life, I can not say that it is without suffering. Better yet, the more I become involved in following Christ and living out the Gospels the more heated my life becomes. I can remember a woman from Church, telling me at one time, that I was doing something wrong to experience such suffering. She compared my troubles to her easy sailing and many blessings and told me it was, because she was doing things right and I was doing them wrong. Well…… I’ve learned that she was far from the truth and I’m glad I didn’t take her seriously. The truth is….the closer you get to following Christ the more of the cross you experience. When you’re doing right, you feel the heat like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. shadrach-meshach-and-abednego They refused to follow the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar II  to worship the false God’s. They were buried in the fiery furnace to suffer for their choice and the miracle of Jesus coming into the furnace to protect them scared the King to turn up the heat to max. The three prevailed and when it was over, not only did they walk out unharmed, but they did not even smell of smoke. The Christian way is not an easy road and being a Franciscan is harder still. St. Francis was hard pressed at being a true disciple. The cross and humility are where he felt connected. At his conversion he looked to the Gospels for direction and found:

Rising from prayer in a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart. (Francis) prepared himself with the sign of the holy cross. He took the book from the altar, and opened it with reverence and fear…..The first passage that met his eye was the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that tells of the suffering he was to endure……. He opened the book a second and a third time. Every time he found either the same text or one that was similar. This man filled with the spirit of God then understood that he would have to enter into the kingdom of God through many trials, difficulties and struggles. Reading: Thomas of Celano, The Life of St. Francis  (1C93)

After reading this short synopsis of St. Francis life, how can I/we as Franciscan or Christian followers expect anything less? If we too, mirror Christ’s life we should expect the same as St. Francis “Suffering” and “relational conflict”. Christ lived on the edge and he challenged everyone. His actions took people outside of their comfort zones. When Jesus said, Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood and people left him thinking he was speaking of cannibalism, crisis issued, and Peter when asked if he too, wanted to leave responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.” Which meant, I don’t understand, but I know it is better with you than without you. Isn’t that the way of faith? I don’t understand, but I understand less without you therefore, I will trust in you and endure the suffering. suffering To truly live the Gospel you will  feel the heat. I can recall many times in my life, right before I was going to be a part of something that would impact someone’s life in a powerful way, I would feel intense heat from opposition and conflict. The more heat I felt, the more powerful I knew the bible study, healing mass, retreat, whatever it was I was a part of, was going to change someone’s life for the better. This reality should not deter you from following Christ, on the contrary, it should motivate you for the great reward awaiting you in the end.

St. Francis and St. Paul found joy in their sufferings. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament writings in prison sitting in sewage abandoned by most of his friends.  “Doing God’s will and thus experiencing suffering is still the highest form of faith, and the  most glorious Christian achievement”. The most comforting of David’s psalms were squeezed from his life by suffering, and if Paul had not been given “a thorn in the flesh”, we would have missed much of the heartbeat of tenderness that resonates through so many of his letters.(L.B.Cowman)

Bad things happen to good people, just look at the cross and what happened to Jesus, but remember ….we are resurrected Christians. The end far outweighs the turbulence. Don’t get lost in pride of humiliation from the crucifixion, because we don’t understand it fully. Rejoice in the knowledge that we wear the crown of kingship. Endure with the passion and knowledge that God saves. We are free! free to experience life to the fullest, working our way to the cross of suffering that frees us and those we drag with us (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to repentance and love.

Then find strength in 1Peter 5:9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have. 

Encouragement by Marc Chernoff ~ Life is like a mirror; we get the best results when we smile.  So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems.  Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.  Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there.

Inspiration in Pope Francis ~ “Lord, grant that I might be consistent! Lord, grant that I may never cause scandal, that I might be a person who thinks like a Christian, who feels like a Christian, who acts like a Christian.”

You must remember, that the more trials you endure, the more you know you are on the right track. What about you?

TABLE TALK: please comment below about your suffering and how you endure through your trials and tribulations that may help others.

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HUMANITARIAN CRISIS OF CHILDREN

 

TEXAS

When the news first broke, of the serious problem facing our immigration borders involving the enormous amount of children crossing over alone I was shocked and concerned for their welfare. I couldn’t understand what kind of fear they and their parents had experienced that would allow such a thing. This 2 minute clip explains it very well and I share it with you in hopes that you will become pro-active in helping them. At the very least I hope that you pray for each child to be safe and free from the dangers of evil.

This is very sad and costly to the U.S. tax payer and our president just asked congress for billions of dollars to address the problem. What are we to do? and what is our obligation as Christians? In this little town in Texas, Catholic Charities is doing the best that they can with housing, feeding, clothing and taking care of these children, but how much can they do and when will resources dry up? This is a serious crisis, there are about 33,000 children right now. Please watch this 2 minute video and offer your feedback. There is a 19 second commercial from GE first so please bear with it.

 

PERSISTING THROUGH REJECTION

There was a time in my life that I felt inspired to write and illustrate a children’s book. I was young, about 26 years old and I test read my newly created book on every  kid I came in contact with and they all loved it which only inspired me more. I did my research of publishers, I acquired copy-write, I invested in copies and postage to snail mail my book to numerous publishers and I was rejected by every one. Some were polite, but not one of them would even look at my book without an agent. They rejected it sight unseen.  I knew nothing about agents at the time, nor their necessity in publication probably, because there was no mention of them in my research. This was completely new to me. After the sting of disappointment from so many rejections letters I began researching agents.  I became so overwhelmed by the amount of information and sorting through the steps I needed to carry out in choosing one and then agents having to interview me and reviewing my work to decide if they wanted to accept me (which could mean more rejection) and then dealing with their hiring fees and sharing a percentage of the small profits, that I tucked my little children’s book away and haven’t looked at it since.

How often do we do this to our dreams. We  set  goals to achieve them and then hit a wall of  obstacles and rejection and boom! We give up just like that. I bring this topic up, because it has been 7 months since we made our New Year’s resolution. In five months it will be Christmas then New Year’s again bringing us full circle. January 2014, I suggested we write on index cards 10 goals we wanted to accomplish this year. Have we taken out our list to see how we are doing? or have we lost our inspiration from hitting a wall of rejection like I was talking about? Have you ever heard the lottery saying, “if your not in it you can’t win it?” well the same holds true for your dreams. If you don’t stop talking about them and do something about them they will never happen.

Anything worth achieving is going to have obstacles and be met with some form of rejection. Our dreams are not going to come easy because, we need to believe in them and ourselves in order to manifest our dreams into reality.  We need to be persistent in spite of rejection and the world telling you it’s never going to happen. We can’t throw in the towel and give up, because it has challenges. Did you know that God told Abraham that he would be the father of all Nations before he had one child? and he was getting pretty old, beyond child-bearing years he had to persist in his faith, and the woman who had  hemorrhages for 12 years, believed so strongly, that if she but touch the hem of Jesus garment she would be healed.

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That belief lead her to be persistent enough to squirm her way through the heavy crowd, putting herself at risk by contaminating a holy man by her touch making him unclean. Can you believe in your dreams that much? to be persistent and put yourself at risk? The Centurion believed enough to risk his reputation, his status, friends and family. He traveled night and day to find Jesus, because he believed he could make his dream come true and bring his daughter back from the dead. How far are we willing to go? and have we ever given thought that our rejections were not rejections at all, but delays to God’s promises?

I used to be a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read just about everything he has ever written. He has an enormous amount of books published and I was shocked to hear how many times he had been rejected. His book Carrie was rejected 30 times. It has now sold more than 350 million copies has been made into a movie with many remakes.carrie

J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series was not only rejected 12 times, but she was told rather harshly not to quite her day job. Anne Frank’s diary was rejected 15 times and the famous “Gone with the Wind” was rejected 38 times. When Lucille Ball began studying to be actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor to, “Try any other profession.”

If this isn’t proof enough that you should never give up, check out these rejection letters. These letters prove rejection is just a delay.  Look at Thomas Edison, he failed at inventing the light bulb 1,000 times.  When a reporter asked him how he felt to fail so many times he replied, I didn’t fail 1,000 times the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

Hear are some quotes that may help to motivate you:

“Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe” ~Sumner Redstone

“Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“I don’t believe I have special talents, I have persistence … After the first failure, second failure, third failure, I kept trying.”
Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize winning Physicist

“No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.” ~ Baudjuin

Did you know that Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt and he was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination. Rumor has it that he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World. Imagine if he gave up and stopped trying? Celebration-Disney-World

So what do you think after hearing about all of these failures to success stories? Does it motivate you to go back to pursuing your dreams? It certainly motivates me, I may even search my files and see if I can find that children’s book and finish what I started years ago.

I will leave you with a snippet from L.B. Cowman “Streams in the Desert,” ” The Lord longs to be gracious to you……Blessed are all who wait for him!” ( Isaiah 30:18) The Lord watches over us in all the difficult places and he will not allow even one trial that is too much for us. He will use His refining fire to burn away our impurities and will then gloriously come to our rescue. 

Do not grieve him by doubting his love. Instead, lift up your eyes and begin praising Him right now for the deliverance that is on its way to you. Then you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay that has tried your faith. 

LOST

dawnsfaithconnection:

I thought this post was apropos for today’s feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary.

Originally posted on dawnsfaithconnection:

In 2007, I coordinated a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Croatia; the first time I went, my son Tyler, missed me so much he insisted on joining me the second time. When we arrived Medjugorje visionary, Ivan Dragicevic, extended to us an invitation to join him on Apparition Hill in the evening to be present during an apparition. This invitation extended to many of the pilgrims and all were thankful for the invitation, because during these apparitions, there have been many documented reports of healing, conversions, mystical phenomena, etc., so this invite was a blessing to our group.  After supper, we headed for Apparition Hill.

Apparition Hill is fairly steep, overpopulated with rocks, slippery clay dirt and absolutely NO electricity, so at night it is pitch black. Due to the massive crowds making this climb, the elderly and handicap as well, climbing the hill was at a crawl and for my adolescent boy…

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#4 WAYS TO BETTER SLEEP

restful sleepHow often do we have trouble getting to sleep? The older we get the harder it seems. We fret and fidget about all we have to do the tomorrow and what we failed to do today. Our thoughts jump around inside our head as fast as the energizer bunny on lithium. This is a recipe for disaster, making us toss and turn all night. We awake in the morning feeling tired, anxious and groggy. We’ve begun our day as though we missed a step and spend all day trying to catch it. By changing our routine and adding these 4 habits every night before bed should reduce our sleepless nights.

#1. EXAMINE YOUR SCHEDULE for tomorrow, this will help you prepare your day by knowing what to expect. There may be something your expected to do and you’ve forgotten, by checking your calendar and examining your day you will eliminate surprises in the morning. If you don’t have anything plan something. By writing down a list of goals you would like to accomplish in your day helps to relieve the tension of all the different choices you have and resting on a few. You will feel better just knowing you have a plan and you will enjoy crossing off all the tasks as you get them done.

#2. PREPARE YOUR TOTE OR BRIEFCASE by putting your reports, research and everything you will need for tomorrow in your bag before you go to bed. Pack your lunch, utensils, vitamins, pens everything you need the night before. Place this bag by your front door with your keys on top so you don’t forget it. Taking the time to do this step before you go to bed will take a weight of stress off of your subconscious mind.

#3. WRITE A REVIEW of your day in a journal. When you write down your thoughts on paper or computer,  you get better clarity of your situation, how you feel and what you want. Write your conflicts, mistakes or anything that made you uneasy throughout the day then think of how you could have done better or how you will fix a problem. On the next page write down all the good things that you accomplished, the successes of your day, the people you helped and how this made you feel. You will be amazed at how this practice will put your thoughts to rest. Ending your day with gratitude for the good things will overshadow those bad ones. Thank God for them and pray a blessings on those you’ve hurt (including yourself), those who need your prayers, your family and your friends.

#4. LISTEN TO YOUR FAVORITE SONG OR READ A CHAPTER of a good book. This will take your spirit to a peaceful state of mind escaping to that tranquil place away from yourself.

By practicing these 4 basic steps each night you will help your body, mind and spirit let go and get the rest it needs. You will find yourself more refreshed when you wake and prepared to tackle your day. Who knows you may even arrive to work early and catch that sunrise you’ve always wanted to see. Being more alert and rested will help you be more productive and remove the fog from your thoughts.

If there is a step not mentioned that you have found helpful please feel free to share your comment below. You may have just the remedy for some one else’s sleepless night.

THE TWO DROPS OF LOVE THAT SAVED MY LIFE!

This story I am sharing today,  is one that I hope will touch you as deeply as it has me. Working with orphaned children, I often hear people say the problems that exist in the system today is largely due to the fact that we did away with orphanages. Bring back the orphanage and these horrors are erased. I wonder what they base that on, is it actual facts and statistics or something else? I am often perplexed and never know what to say after such a statement, since I have no knowledge or education about orphanages and religious institutions, that was until I met Dan (not my Dan) and he told me his story. 

When I was a young boy, age 4, my mother and father were heroin addicts and had the absence of love and God. They also had 5 children and we were all sent to an orphanage called, St. Dominic’s. This orphanage gave my siblings and I the necessities of life, food, shelter and basic care, but no love. There were too many children for them to give any love, the basics at least allowed us to survive and move forward. There were at least 100 kids at the orphanage, it is hard to fault them.

At the orphanage, I was separated from my brothers and sisters, we were all sent to different facilities. I was one of two Caucasian kids and the rest were either African-American or Hispanic. It was really hard for  me to fit in and love didn’t ever exist among us kids. The other failure I saw was lack of education, instead the focus was discipline, structure and routine for our lessons.  When I graduated elementary school I went to my next home, St. Pius the XII school. Here was even less love than I felt before. It was a juvenile detention facility with a mix of trouble kids and orphaned kids with the same ethnic group. I was still one of the few Caucasian kids, I was the minority and treated as such, but I thought I was African-American in a Caucasian body. I got beat up on a daily basis and needed to blend in to survive, so I dressed like them, I talked like them, I walked like them and acted like them, because I had no other choice.

At St. Pius the XII the name of my unit was “Ding Dong,” I need not say no more. My preparation up until age 15 was probably that of an 8-year-old. The absence of love and education was a formula for dysfunction. The school took a picture of me without my knowledge and used me as their poster boy as the young, attractive white boy, to gain more funds to continue helping young troubled boys. I found my picture on one of the posts and it impacted me tremendously I took it down and kept it ever since. Mesmerized with my photo and inscription, I became aware of how much trouble I was in and how low my self-esteem was.

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I take this photo out frequently, to remind myself of where I’ve been, how far I’ve come and it motivates me to do better. Soon after this picture, they decided to send me to the local public school one hour away. Try to imagine and uneducated white/black kid who never was around girls or normal people in normal circumstances…..I had no chance to succeed or to be understood. I was often expelled and after exhausting all local options they sent me to this group home. This group home was run by an older retired couple who made it their mission to take care of 10 boys. Imagine going from a facility that housed 100 boys my whole life to living with 9 other boys in a regular house. I had a culture shock and these caretakers actually cared and showed every one of us love. This was my first love drop of unconditional love. They helped me to cope with a real home and a real school where people were not dysfunctional and gave me a chance to actually learn. They gave me new life. God sent me to a place where two people gave unconditional love to all they cared for. This was powerful and life changing. THANK YOU GOD! AND THANK YOU MR. AND MRS. MULLER!

After receiving this first love drop, I soon began to be accepted in my new school, I felt welcomed and enjoyed many loving experiences. Remember I was never around girls until now and a whole new world was open before me my life was changed forever. I had enormous challenges to catch up in school and miraculously I did. I found out I was athletic and before I knew it I was in college. Unbelievable as it was, the Muller’s made me realize for the first time that despite my difficulties and challenges, I was blessed and God thought I was special and he would take care of me.

At college when Holidays came around everyone went home for a visit, everyone but me, because I had no home. My time at the Muller’s was over and new kids had their turn. I decided to visit my sister at the group home in the Bronx. There I met my second drop of unconditional love Sr. Marie Rose. She was like an angel from heaven. She couldn’t let me stay at the girl school for obvious reasons and took me under her wing introducing me to her family. They let me stay with them during the Holidays. This love drop sent from God was the biggest and longest unconditional love I ever experienced. I have been in their lives now for 38 years and consider them my permanent family. I adopted them. Through their love and continued support, I was able to get married and have a beautiful daughter. Sr. Marie Rose took on the role of my mother and her family became mine. At 30 years old, I legally changed my name to theirs. They were the love drop I needed to change my life from dysfunctional to a functional man, they taught me to believe in myself and understand that I was a child of God. They are the reason I graduated college, got married, held a full-time job and raised a beautiful child. I am forever grateful.

I think we all have to experience pain and absence of love to prepare us for the many miracles that come after, because only then can we see and experience the true love and power that God has to offer us all. In one moment, after all that pain, a miracle can happen and God smiles. This smile and spirit is without a doubt present in my heart today and my responsibility is to share it with others. Love is the bridge to the other side of pain, where life can be changed from surviving life to living a beautiful life made from love drops.

You can probably feel by now, the power of Dan’s story. He is one of close to 500,000 in the United States. I bring this story to you in hopes that it motivates you to actively pursue the many human rights issues we face today. If you are involved in pro-life groups in your churches, please consider the many woman who choose life and for various reasons can not take care of them. These children are poor and merciful and too often become victims. Let’s find ways to protect and nurture them becoming the love drops of unconditional love that they need and deserve to live as God intended. 

 

#7 STEPS TO BREAK THE CHAINS OF EMOTIONAL BONDAGE

Our thoughts can often become our obstacles, blocking us, from achieving true happiness and spiritual growth. We can become stuck in negative patterns, saying negative things about others and ourselves. We begin to grow angry and bitter, lashing out on the very ones we love. In essence, we are our problem, but the good news is, we are our answers and God heals. Here are 7 simple steps to help you break the cycle of emotional bondage.

 #1 MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR PAST~ We all have wounds from our past and by repeated thinking about them, connect us to the pain and unfairness of the incidents. This recalled pain, keeps our wounds open and our thoughts focused in the past not the present. Forgiveness is about the forgiver and by forgiving what has happened, you allow the door to open again, cutting the strings that bind you to it and move you forward. In Isaiah 43:25 God reminds us that he takes away our transgressions and remembers our sins no more. So why is it, we have such a hard time doing the same? People can be more forgiving that you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go and move on. ~Bill Cosby

#2 GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO HEAL~ For some reason we tend to think that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness and avoid it like the plague, when in actuality, it is a sign of strength. We all have wounds from our past and some go deep and if we do not stop and take the time needed to heal those wounds, we can’t turn them into battle scars of victory. Pretending that your wounds don’t exist, is damaging to your mental health and prevents you from being true to yourself. Emotional wounds can sometimes hurt more than physical ones, and they are just as important to take care of. “Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”China Mie`ville “Only time can heal your broken heart, just as time can heal your broken arm or leg.” ~ Jim Henson.

#3 DON’T CONCERN YOURSELF WITH WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU~ Everyone wants to fit in and be liked it’s part of our nature, but to pretend your someone your not, out of fear you won’t be accepted or liked, sets you up for a standard you can never reach and a price you will ultimately pay. This is called, people pleasing and by doing this you give your power to someone else and you will exhaust yourself, continually looking outward instead of inward. Living without integrity will make you miserable and depressed.“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem be sure that you are not first, in fact, surrounded by assholes.” ~William Gibson. Remember you were made to shine not to hide your light under a bushel basket Matthew 5:15,16.

 #4 BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS~ The only person that can make you happy is you. Don’t look for someone else to complete you or make or break your day and effect your moods. Don’t wait on situations to make you happy either. Love yourself unconditionally, by accepting yourself right where you are, mistakes and all. Isaiah 43:4  “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the- scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~ Steve Furtick

 #5 DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS~ We all have issues and situations in life and no matter how good someone else’s life may appear, the grass is not always greener on the side. You may find, they don’t have grass at all, but plastic sod. We all have different talents and gifts, don’t envy those of others, appreciate and value your own. It’s by these different gifts, that make us members of the one body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 Surround yourself with people who are aware of your greatness. Believe in yourself and let your faith anchor you. 

#6 STOP THINKING NEGATIVE~ You believe what you tell yourself and there is serious power in your thoughts and your words. They become magnified. If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.~ Abraham Lincoln. That includes you. Catch yourself in your negative thinking and reverse the pattern by replacing the negative thought with a positive one. By doing this regularly, you will begin to break the cycle and change your stinking thinking.

 #7 BE GRATEFUL~ St. Francis of Assisi, lived gratitude and saw everything as a gift from God and he was able to accomplish many great things, so great of things, that we are still talking about him and following his ways even today. Pope Francis is an example of following Francis’ way, by simplifying his life, living joy and serving others. He is living gratitude and you can see it by the joy that he exudes. Being grateful for your blessings on a daily basis changes you. Some would go as far as to say, that it changes you to the point that others can notice the change. The more we focus on our blessings, the more blessings we see. This is the secret behind writing a gratitude journal. You start with one blessing and increase it by one each day and before you know it  you’re writing off of the pages.

 Following these 7 steps and you will begin the process of breaking the chains of emotional bondage. Over time, by consciously repeating the steps, you will begin to see small changes that will increase every day.   You will  become more aware of your behaviors, bad habits and responses, which means your on your way in the process of change. Keep stepping into your best self and enjoy the freedom of being who you were meant to be. 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

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WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?

This Sunday, is the Feast of Pentecost, the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It is also the Jewish festival called Shavuoth. We celebrate this feast not only to remember what happened at Pentecost, but to remind us that the Spirit has fallen on each of us baptized in the Church and like the apostles we too, are meant to go out and change the world. This feast is personal to me, because I was professed a Secular Franciscan and by that profession I am attempting to live out that Pentecostal call through my vocation and the roles I continue to take on in and out of the Church. But, I think it’s personal to each individual and everyone lives out that call in their own special way because, the Spirit connects us to our creator and showers us with different spiritual gifts making us unique as St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12:1,4-6

 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

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We can see these different gifts at work all around us. You may have noticed that you are strong in one area and weak in another. You may even notice that someone else has a gift you don’t think you have. This is because, we each have something special and those special gifts are meant to be shared. If we all had the same gifts at the same time we wouldn’t need each other as much and life would be boring.

I do believe that we are given all 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit even though it doesn’t seem like it and some are stronger and some and weaker, depending on what we need at the time in our lives. I think this because, at my pentecostal profession, I was immediately submerged into a leadership role and began exuding gifts I didn’t realize I had before. That additional anointing of the Holy Spirit helped strengthened in me the gifts that I needed to carry out my role. Scripture eludes to this with King David, he was anointed as a child by Samuel to be the future king. His gifts helped prepare him and position him. Years later his elders anointed him again as king of all of Israel. To rule affectively  he needed certain gifts strengthened. You may be thinking to yourself, but Dawn he was anointed and the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, did not come yet, so how did the spirit work? That is a good question and I’m not sure I have the answer but, scripture tells us the Holy Spirit was in John the Baptist when he was in the womb, the Holy Spirit came to Mary at the Annunciation and it is found in some other Old Testament writings, suggesting to me, that since Jesus was with God from the beginning of time, He could send His spirit down to prepare for Jesus arrival but, after Jesus Ascension the Spirit is attached with an unseen anointing to complete Jesus’ mission making Pentecost more powerful. At least that is the interpretation of Dawn Rusinko. Understanding the Spirit as an anointing can be difficult and I thought this quote from The Catechism of the Catholic Church might help,

 Jesus is Christ, “anointed,” because the spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the incarnation on derives from this fullness. When Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him:

The notion of anointing suggests…that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son’s Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith. [1]

anointing

This explains how and why the anointing works. It unites us and gives us life in Jesus and happens immediately covering us entirely with his anointing. If you really think about it, Jesus was anointed king and Lord which makes us a  part of his Lord/kingship so we are essentially baptized into royalty. When I am feeling down and in spiritual dryness, I imagine that I am wearing that invisible crown of royalty united to Him and His promises and my spirits are always lifted.

The Holy Spirit in the Hebrew language is defined: Neshamah meaning wind, spirit. Its translation into English is Ruach, meaning spirit and both words are equivalent to each other. This spirit is associated with breath and there are about 31 scripture verses that reference the breath of God. I will not list them all ( I can hear you sigh with relief) I will remind you though of Genesis where God creates all of the earth and life with his breath and in Ezekial 37:4-14 where breath gives life to dead bones.

holy-spirit-best-best

Rob Bell gives further insight into the power of God’s breath by the very definition of God’s name. On Mount Sinai God tells Moses His name is LORD, spelled with all capitals and mentioned in the scriptures 6,000 times. In Hebrew the name is four letters Y, H, V, H pronounced: “Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.” Some pronounced it ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Yahveh,’ but in many traditions the name is considered so sacred and holy they don’t pronounce it at all. Ancient rabbis believed that these letters function as vowels in the Hebrew language and are a form of breathing sounds and unpronounceable. This traditional belief and custom makes a clear visual understanding of the connection between the breath of God and its all-powerful, transforming abilities and uniting them into us. This helps to understand the Trinity better.

On retreat, I was given this picture of a rare statue of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel is breathing the breath of God into Mary creating the life of Jesus in her womb. This is one of my favorite pictures of the Annunciation and it expresses the Hebrew understanding of God’s spirit in the breath. It makes you think about the air we breath a little differently doesn’t it?

 

photo

I recently  found this picture with the similar concept by Fra angelico tempera on wood c.1432 museo diocesano, cortona

photo

 

In conclusion, this Feast Day means, that the baptized of the Church are to extend the mission of God. We are equipped and Jesus prepared us as disciples to bring the kingdom of God to all corners of the earth. We are not to leave our families and go on a crusade to become saints by being martyred although some may have that calling. Most of us are marked to be saints by breathing that Spirit of God like the angel Gabriel on our families, our co-workers, and leaders in governments, the poor, the sick and the widowed. In John 14:12 Jesus says,

 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

Pope Francis recently explained that Jesus goes to the Father with his wounds to remind Him of the price He paid for us, then God generously showers down the life force of the Holy Spirit to give us all that we need.  Sunday ask for another anointing of the Holy Spirit for your mission ahead of you. Refuel, recharge and renew those gifts and fan the flame.

For those of you interested in a Pentecostal Rally and Retreat Day with Bishop David M O’Connell, C.M., Fr. Bill Halbing, Fr. Jeff Kegley, Bob Bursley and many others on Saturday June 7th, there is still time http://www.dotccr.org/aimages/CR.pdf

fire and holy spirit

 

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, United States of America 1994, The Profession of Faith 1.THE JOINT MISSION OF THE SON AND THE SPIRIT 690

 

EXPOSING THE TRUTH OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

It’s been about 8 1/2 months, since my cousin SherryLynn was murdered in domestic violence by the father of her four children. It’s hard for me and our family to cope with this reality of Sherry’s life. It’s an unimaginable fate, that no one wanted to believe would happen, although her sister’s feared the worst and did all they could to offer her a safe haven, she kept returning. There are millions of questions that have run through my mind. The last time I saw her, she shared with me that she left him and was not going to return. She asked for my prayers, because she was scared to have to face him in order to see her children. I believe that Sherry knew what most women victims of domestic violence know, which is, the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is after you leave. I have recently learned that 70% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has left.

The biggest question we all keep asking ourselves and each other is, “why did she stay in an abusive relationship?”  and “why did she keep returning?”I further asked myself, “what is it in us that makes us fall victim?” I came across this testimony of a woman who answers every question and then some. I ask you to please take the time to listen to her, because you may be able to save the life of your daughter, cousin, son or stranger.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/10/opinion/steiner-domestic-violence/

As you heard Leslie tell her story of crazy love, I hope that it made you aware of how vulnerable we can be. I also hope that it opened your eyes to see that it doesn’t affect only women. I have witnessed a few men being mistreated as well and I believe it is even more difficult for them to get out of their situations due to the stereotyping of our society. We view women in abusive situations very differently than we view men. If your unclear as to what I mean watch this short clip

There are so many areas of abuse that happen all around us and my goal by writing this blog post is to make you more aware of them and to be an active agent in breaking the cycles and heal. Heal yourself or someone else. I remember in my early twenties, I witnessed a man/father verbally and physically abuse a toddler in an umbrella stroller at the park in broad daylight. The park was fairly crowded that day and every one of us, was so stunned, we stared in horror and disbelief “paralyzed.” I mean seriously “paralyzed” like a dream when you are in a panic and you try to scream and nothing comes out. That image will be imbedded in my memory forever. To this very day, I am disappointed in myself for not being able to do anything. A few of us called the police and talked briefly to one another when he had left, giving a description of the car and license plate number, but we were all so freaked out, that we left feeling empty and wounded as though the abuse happened to each of us.

Words are damaging beyond our wildest imagination. Verbal abuse is often overlooked as a form of domestic abuse and should not be. If we knew how much power we held with our tongues, perhaps we would choose our words more carefully. Words scar in a way that are not visible. Take a look at these pictures to see what I mean, the pictures are silent, but they speak volumes.

http://www.viralnova.com/deepest-scars/

If you have clicked on all of my links above, you have a lot to absorb and digest and I thank you for taking the time to do so.  If you have any words of wisdom to add and share that may help someone reading this, please comment below. I will end with this powerful picture quote.

be-careful-with-words

PEACE, PEACE AND MORE PEACE

 

 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY !

Memorial Day is a time to remember all those who have sacrificed to protect us and bring us peace and with that in mind, I wanted to share with you a person I believe is trying strongly to bring about peace at the exclusion of war. That person is Pope Francis, whom I like to refer to as the “kissing Pope” as this picture clearly defines.

(Please note all pictures of the Pope, the letter below and all news sources are from News. va English and Vatican Insider I’ve included their links at the end)

at it again

 

As Pope Francis was preparing for his trip to the Holy Land he asked for prayers and said this trip was personal and spiritual. I didn’t expect to read much about his trip in the coming weeks due to this statement however, he surprised me as usual. News via English printed a letter he wrote to the muslim community leaders in Jerusalem that read:

Pope Francis visits the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem: 
Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Your Excellency,
Dear Muslim Faithful, Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with you in this sacred place. I thank you for the courteous invitation you have extended to me and, in particular, I wish to thank the Grand Mufti and the President of the Supreme Muslim Council.
Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, and in particular the historic visit of Pope Paul VI fifty years ago, the first visit of a Pope to the Holy Land, I have greatly desired to come as a pilgrim to the places which witnessed the earthly presence of Jesus Christ. But my pilgrimage would not be complete if it did not also include a meeting with the people and the communities who live in this Land. I am particularly happy, therefore, to be with you, dear Muslim faithful, brothers.

At this moment I think of Abraham, who lived as a pilgrim in these lands. Muslims, Christians and Jews see in him, albeit in different ways, a father in faith and a great example to be imitated. He became a pilgrim, leaving his own people and his own house in order to embark on that spiritual adventure to which God called him.

A pilgrim is a person who makes himself poor and sets forth on a journey. Pilgrims set out intently toward a great and longed-for destination, and they live in the hope of a promise received (cf. Heb 11:8-19). This was how Abraham lived, and this should be our spiritual attitude. We can never think ourselves self-sufficient, masters of our own lives. We cannot be content with remaining withdrawn, secure in our convictions. Before the mystery of God we are all poor. We realize that we must constantly be prepared to go out from ourselves, docile to God’s call and open to the future that he wishes to create for us.

In our earthly pilgrimage we are not alone. We cross paths with other faithful; at times we share with them a stretch of the road and at other times we experience with them a moment of rest which refreshes us. Such is our meeting today, for which I am particularly grateful. It is a welcome and shared moment of rest, made possible by your hospitality, on the pilgrimage of our life and that of our communities. We are experiencing a fraternal dialogue and exchange which are able to restore us and offer us new strength to confront the common challenges before us.

Nor can we forget that the pilgrimage of Abraham was also a summons to righteousness: God wanted him to witness his way of acting and to imitate him. We too wish to witness to God’s working in the world, and so, precisely in this meeting, we hear deep within us his summons to work for peace and justice, to implore these gifts in prayer and to learn from on high mercy, magnanimity and compassion.

Dear brothers, dear friends, from this holy place I make a heartfelt plea to all people and to all communities who look to Abraham: may we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace! Salaam!

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This letter and meeting to me is beautiful and shows me a humble man that has emptied himself of ego allowing room for the Holy Spirit to dwell and lead. This is peace making in the works. He met and prayed with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew attempting to end a 1,000 year schism between Catholics and Orthodox at eh “Holy Sepulchre”. Is this beautiful or what? Can you imagine the thoughts of those watching such a monumental sight?

2

 

He attempted to bring an end to the war in Syria. Pope Francis, at the end of Holy Mass in Bethlehem, just said: “I invite President Mahmoud Abbas and President Shimon Peres to raise together with me an intense prayer to invoke to God the gift of peace. I offer my house in the Vatican for this prayer meeting.”

peres

 

He prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with a Jewish Rabbi and a Muslim

JEWISH RABBI & MUSLIM AT THE WAILING WALL

He paid tribute and respect to Holocaust survivor Sonia Tunik- Geron at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem memorial and prayed at the tomb of the ashes of victims.

KISSES HAND OF HOLOCAUSE SURVIVOR SONIA TUNIK-GERON

 

 

Let me remind you all that this all took place in just “three days!” This is peace in the making peace by healing with a gentle kiss, words and gestures. This is a model for us to follow and I felt apropos for sharing on Memorial Day. This to me represents peace, peace and more peace hopefully to come.

Resources at https://www.facebook.com/news.va.en

and at http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/francesco-terra-santa-34357/

 

 

 

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