Friday, July 31, 2015

Prayer Changes Everything

Friday afternoon, in the office of the Superintendent of Schools in Marshall County, I saw a mug on his shelf with this saying, "Prayer Changes Everything."  He had just been telling me of some "impossible situations"  (broken sewage lines, newly arrived, but damaged windows for a school), and how they suddenly were resolved through prayer, not anything he was able to do.  What was his prayer?   "Lord, I put all these things in your hands; without you I am helpless.  I trust you will take care of them in your way and your time."  And so they were.  This is the prayer God want to of total trust over and beyond everything we can do physically or mentally.
There's no need for worry or fretting, for God is a God who knows the details and is more than happy to take care of them.  We simply need to put them into his hands and let him show us (and the world) how much he cares for us.  In this way prayer does change everything:  needed outcomes, and, more importantly, our deeper faith-filled outlook.
Bro. Rene
Note:  The road trip presses on to Indianapolis Saturday and Sunday...No promises ... we'll see what the Lord provides!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Discerning Hearts

It seems like we are always making choices and decisions, some easy, like planning the evening meal, some not so easy, as in seeking a new job, dealing with a medical or addiction issue.  What's the best thing to do?  Often we cannot make these decisions ourselves and seek a friend or some outside party to help us see more clearly what would be best.  Naturally, we turn to God and ask his guidance.  The thing to remember is that our choice is not simply a "head issue", but the heart must be involved too:  what is our heart, our "gut" telling us?  There's usually where we find the truth of what we really want to do, what we really would LOVE to do.  "Where your treasure  is, there also is where your heart will be" (Mt 6:21), yes, and there is our truth.  Let's pay close attention to our hearts, the inner voice that only we can hear.
Bro. Rene

Note:  An early flight at 5:55 am tomorrow and a full day and evening will interfere with tomorrow's slice of daily bread....Not sure about internet access for the next week..."On the road for Mission Appeal talks.  Indianapolis, here I come!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Small Beginnings, Greater Ends

In 1972, Donovan, the British song writer composed several songs for the Zeffirelli film, BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, which were incorporated into the sound track...One spoke of "small beginnings, greater ends," and provided the sage advice of taking time to let things grow slowly. When Jesus speaks of the mustard seed or the leaven in the loaf, he conveys the same idea:  small things eventually, over time, yield larger, in this case, trees where birds take refuge in branches, or loaves of bread from a bit of dough....Jesus reminds us that no matter how small we think our contribution might be, as in yesterday's five loaves or two fishes, with his power, and over time, it will surprise us how much our little effort or contribution can turn out to be.   No excuses for not being able to add large amounts of time, talent or money to a project or even to our daily activities:  small amounts will do, and greater ends will result.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Lord Feeds Us

We hear of Elisha giving bread from 20 barley loaves to hundreds of people and sure, enough, there were left-overs.   Jesus feeds a large crowd of 5,000 with five barley loaves and two fishes, and twelve baskets of fragments are picked up when they are finished.  (See 2 Kings 4:42-44 and John 6:1-15).  In the psalms, we read of God's desire to fee us with the best of wheat. (Ps 81:17).  We feed weekly on the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, and the Bread of the Word of God is available to us daily. Indeed God feeds us, nourishes our faith, encourages our hope, deepens our love through this "bread", so readily available.  With diminishing numbers of Catholics attending Sunday Mass, where it seems, mainly the elderly whose faith over the long years of their lives has remained constant and as strong as a rock, it is becoming a matter of great concern, that younger Catholics are not taking advantage of this great source of "food for the soul."  It is discouraging to see, and be rebuffed when an attempts is made to bring people back to the Lord's table.   We are left with the challenge of good loving example, and our prayers for them.  Living our faith publicly, boldly, even courageously, along with faith-filled prayer are the tools that can be effective.  It would be nice if we could multiply loaves and fishes, and say, "See, it's for real.  Come and eat." The story needs to be proclaimed and lived.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, July 25, 2015

El Camino de Santiago

A popular pilgrimage from the Middle Ages, the trek from southern France to Compostela in Spain...and then on to the Mediterranean, seems to be gaining more pilgrims than ever.  It seems that anyone who can, hopes, plans, or actually walks the 500 mile, month long "way".  Tradition has it that James, the brother of John, called James the Greater, evangelized part of Spain after Pentecost but later returned to Jerusalem where he was ordered killed by Herod Agrippa in 43 or 44 A.D., the first of the Apostles to give his life for our faith. James was part of that "inner circle" of  Peter, and John, who were present when Jesus brought the daughter of Jairus back to life, and  cured Peter's mother-in law.  He was also present at the Transfiguration and during the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.   His mother, Salome, approached Jesus to ask if he and his brother John could sit at Jesus' right hand when he came to power...
Because of El Camino and the beautiful church in Compostela,always full of pilgrims, St. James is an exceedingly popular saint today whose life serves as a blueprint for ours, for we are all on a pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, as Pope St. John Paul II  spoke.  "It is a path of prayer and penance, of charity and solidarity; a stretch of the path of life where the faith, becoming history among mankind, also converts culture into something Christian."  May we all walk El Camino de Santiago wherever we are.
Bro. Rene

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blocking the Seed

When Jesus spoke of the sower and the seed, he described it falling on the path, on rocky ground and among thorns.  In all these cases, nothing grows.  We can understand the path where feet trample it, or the rocky ground where it cannot take root, but in the thorns, there is a little budding, however, eventually the tender plant gets choked out and withers.   How often do we hear the readings at Mass and because of thinking of other things, we can't recall what was just read?  We really didn't hear it, it didn't sink in.  Our thoughts, our planning for the day, blocked it from finding  the good soil of our hearts.   The same happens in our personal prayer.  How do we  cut the "weeds"?  We lead such busy lives that our daily clutter is bound to remain with us.  We can begin Mass or our prayer by asking God to help us cut the weeds and throw them into the mulch pit where later on they will do some good.    Another simple way is to simply let the thoughts drift by as a sailboat on the water without giving them too much attention.  Soon they are gone and the mind is clear again.  Our limited prayer time is too precious to allow anything to block our reception of God's seed.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Patroness of Failures

Did you know there is a "patroness of failures".  There is:  St. Bridget of Sweden.  For most of us this is likely the best news of the day so far.  I'm surprised this has not been publicized all over the world.  If not in fact, most of us see ourselves as "failures".  We start things and don't finish them; we plan, we try, we hope, we work, we wait, and it seems that little is actually accomplished.
A brief look at her life reveals that we are not alone; she experienced a similar pattern.  Born in the early 14th century,  she lost her mother and two sisters at the age of 10.  Married at 13, she brought 8 children into the world, one of them, St. Catherine of Sweden.  When her husband died, she received a vision to start a new religious order.  She laid the foundation for it in a double monastery, one for men, one for women.  Before that was done, another vision called her to Rome to plead with the Pope to return from Avignon.  That did not happen.  Bridget died before her monasteries was built, but  Catherine finished the job. The Pope returned to Rome after Bridget's death. With these major tasks incomplete during her lifetime, she entered eternal rest and left us with the example of the sowing of the seed, rather than the harvest, as the important thing. We all like to see things brought to full completion and "closure", the catchword of our day.  But no, it seems God is not as interested in closure as much as we.  He wants fidelity, trust, hope, love.  The rest is in his hands....or someone else's who might finish what we began.  In God's eyes, our "failures" are not failures, but only part of his larger plan.
Bro. Rene