Saturday, November 22, 2014

JFK

November 22nd can't roll around without memories of the fatal day in 1963 when the world was shocked. We have had many similar shocks since then, but this one seems to stick out above all others. Life stopped until JFK was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery.
We have learned more about the man as the years have unfolded, some deeper insights into his personal pain, and the pain of wrong decisions, but still he stands as a man who united the country and inspired us (who were the youth of the day). Such a charismatic leader we have not had since. Let us pray that another "new generation" will arise, pick up the torch and carry it on.
Bro. Rene

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Presentation of Mary

Today's Memorial, The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is not found in Scripture but appears in the apocryphal Gospel Of James, (apocryphal meaning non-canonical) but it is appropriate as another parallel between the life of Mary and that of her Son, Jesus, who was also presented in the Temple.  The story of Mary tells of her presentation at the age of three; evidently it did not last her whole life, but just for her pre-teen years,  There she learned the psalms and other Scriptures which prepared her for her generous response to the invitation to become the Mother of God.  Her presentation was a joyful event, a step toward holiness, even at such a young age, but as time unfolded, she learned to live up to the meaning of her name, "bitterness".  "Call me not Naomi, that is, beautiful, but call me Mara, for the Lord has quite filled me with bitterness."
As we begin each day,  we present ourselves to God with joy (Morning Offering), but little do we know what "bitterness" might come our way in the course of the day.  Not to be morose or fearful, let us try to maintain that love and joy, but be prepared for a sharp turn in the opposite direction, and even then with Mary as our Model, maintain that joy and optimism.
Bro. Rene

Note:  I'll be visiting some former Rwandan students this weekend...not sure about internet access (again)...we'll see...but the next slice might appear only on Monday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Rights of the Child

Today is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and a celebration honoring that event is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Palais Wilson.  Since the signing of that document, religious orders, churches NGO's and other non-church affiliated agencies; and individuals have been trying to raise awareness of the exploitation of children around the globe.  In some areas there has been success, especially with regard to child labor and unhealthy, unsafe working conditions and trafficking,  but the problem persists, even in our own country, in dysfunctional families. Child abuse is notorious and seems to be in the headlines constantly, not to forget the ultimate disregard for the rights of the unborn aborted child. No matter how much we protest "it's for the children", gross abuses continue.
Our prayer today might center on global enlightenment regarding the rights of children, and inspiration for ways to help reduce it in our local communities.  Our Social Awareness and Justice classes have a prime opportunity to raise awareness of the problem and motivate students to do what they can to alleviate it.  Church and community agencies can do the same with adults.  As I examine my own life, I can ask myself how much I know about it, and look into what I as an individual can do.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Psalms of Praise

Yesterday's thin slice of bread, reminding us of the  power of the tongue, brings us to a thicker slice today: using our tongues to praise and thank God.  Psalms 145-150 give us the script for these powerful prayers or praise which draw us away from ourselves, our aches, pains, petty complaints and inconveniences, or the more drastic woes springing from self-pity or despair over the evil we see in the world or in our own hearts.  These beautiful and energizing psalms lift us up and direct out attention and the power of our tongues to our  Almighty and all-loving God, praising and thanking him for his works of creation, his saving intervention, his fidelity, power, compassion and love.  Psalm 150 completes the Psalter with music from trumpets. harps, lutes, tambourines and clanging cymbals, which transforms  into sound what our words fail to express, and entices us to dance.  If you are looking for something to make the sun shine on a cloudy day, pick up the Bible and turn to these inspiring and positive uses of the gift of speech.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Power of the Tongue

NB:  An impromptu planning meeting forces me to be most brief today.

What good and what harm can be done by the tongue:  false stories, rumors can be destructive; yet a good word of praise or humor can make the difference in another person's life.
Bro. Rene

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giving to the Poor

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, solicitations for the poor are multiplying:  The annual Salvation Army bells ring at  supermarket entrances, appeals come through the mail, canned food drives in parishes and schools are already underway.  It is evident that in this land of plenty, there are plenty of people who do not have enough food.  Requests are as overwhelming as the need.
Back in the 13th century in Hungary, such was the case as well.  Born of a royal family, the princess Elizabeth,  now known as St. Elizabeth of Hungary, married the nobleman, Louis of Thuringia, and using their wealth, took direction action to alleviate the needs of the people, selling her wardrobe and jewels to buy provisions, and emptying the castle storehouses in time of famine.  It is said that at one point, she was feeding 1,000 people a day.  Because the castle was on a high promontory and inaccessible to the sick and elderly, she built a hospital at the base of the mountain and worked in it herself. Her husband was died of the plague while on a crusade, leaving her in deep grief, but she continued "emptying herself and her coffers, until she too was among the poor.  Her  service ended abruptly when she died at the age of 24.  Her holiness was so apparent that she was canonized four years later and she continues to be a model for us. When we are annoyed by the ringing bells or the "junk" mail that clogs our mailbox, we might reflect on the life of this totally devoted woman and find inspiration to be compassionate and generous to those who have less.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Burying the Coin

The Parable of the Talents is meant to energize us to use whatever gift God has given us so that it multiplies, bears fruit, and in a sense, by its effect on others, doubles its value, brings joy to the Master, and reward to the "good and faithful servant."  But what of the servant who buried his coin, out of fear and laziness?  Wow!   Would I want that to be me? He had no motivation, no love for his Master to "take a chance" as did the others. He took a simple but cowardly approach and hid it in the security of doing nothing with it at all.  Is that how we use our talents?  We say, "NO".  Yet, when we look at WHY we pray, help others, or hesitate to step into the unknown, we might find that same fear and laziness, and not the LOVE which should empower us to risk, to trust, and do whatever we can, the best we can to use the coin that God has given us.  Lord, let me reflect on my motives and actions during these 24 hours you give me on this Sabbath, and see more clearly where I stand with the talents you have given me.  Increase my love that I may use them boldly and fearlessly  for you and others.
Bro. Rene