Archive for October, 2010

REFLECTION: What’s in a name?

Monday, October 25th, 2010

As I drove to Walmart this morning, thoughts for an introduction to this blog In His Time came to mind.  I hesitate referring to it as mine, because in my heart and in my mind, it really belongs to the Father.  I suppose He uses me so He can give it a psuedo-name, to put a face to the fingers that do the typing.  Nevertheless, all the grand thoughts are His and He allows me to add the fillers.

But what’s in a name?  I overheard our girls chatting the other day and one claimed that she would not give her kids common names since she found too many sharing hers, even in her former small Catholic school.  I’m sure it would not have bothered her as much if she was among the popular ones, but I can imagine the rejection she experienced when she answered the call to her name and was told “Not you!”.

In my “world”, it is the definition… the meaning of the name that counts the most.  Although I didn’t know what mine meant for the longest time, many kids living in my neighbourhood and in the school I attended would probably attest that my name suited me well because I stung like a bee.  (I used to beat up a lot of boys in the park/school while I was defending my siblings and friends.  Ooops…I hid this so well for so long and now my Mom’s going to call me on this!)

The prefix “honey” before “bee” seems to be pertinent, possibly to minimize the “sting” (???) and then again, it could also define that I could also engage in good works and produce honey.  (I was actually going to omit this, but I sense the Father saying I should now type it in.  Go figure.)

Do you know the definition of the name your parents’ gave you?  Has your name brought life or has it become a burden?  Would you care to delve with me and reflect on what others, be it family, playmates,  teachers and/or even you yourself,  have called you aside from your given name?  Perhaps out of anger or frustration, “stupid”, “fat”, “ugly”, and/or “looser” have been names thrown your way.  Recognize any?  Identified with some?

In her book There’s Power in Your Tongue, Maria Vadia writes...”Many of the curses in our lives have come through the words that we say about ourselves or the words that others have pronounced over our lives.  Remember, our words are packed with power: for good or evil.  Proverbs 6:2 says that you “are snared in the utterance of your lips, caught in the words of your mouth.” Our words can snare or trap us and form a barrier that prevents God’s blessings from entering our lives.”

“Because our words are packed with power and they have the power for ‘life or death’, what has been negatively “prophesied” over people’s lives actually comes to pass.  Even psychologists have coined the term “the self-fulfilling prophecy!”  Tell a child the same thing again and again and again and you will see it lived out in his life.  It’s difficult for a child, for example, to prosper in school when he’s been told time and time again that he is stupid.  He might even have a good I.Q., but he’s not able to perform; he believes he’s stupid.”

Recognize any of these in your life or in the lives of others?  You don’t have to remain trapped forever, claiming these lies over yourself.  If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can rebuke the lies the enemy has led you to believe and claim the freedom and the full life Jesus had died and rose again to give you.  Claim “greater is He (that is Jesus) who is in me than he (the devil) who is in this world!” (1 John 4:4)  Rebuke the “victim syndrome” in Jesus’ name and command it to go to the foot of the cross for Jesus to deal with.  Rebuke the lies you had once believed in Jesus’ name and ask the Holy Spirit to fill in these empty places with the positive traits that speak truth about you.

Have you chosen a new name for yourself?  I hope so.

God bless,

Melissa

 

REFLECTION: What are you praying for?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

At an Evangelium (footnote 1) gathering at our parish, “Life of Prayer” was the topic of the night.  The study began with what Christian prayer is, but what intrigued me more than anything else  was the teaching of what Christian prayer is not.

  • Prayer is not a mental exercise to an empty mind and it does not seek a mental void as what is sought for in Zen and/or in yoga.
    – Prayer always has God and the things of God as its focus.
  • Prayer is not just in the mind, but it also involves God who creates miracles and transforms the one engaged in prayer and the world.
    – It is not just positive thinking.
  • Prayer is not a ritual technique like magic, simply seeking power or other benefits.
    – Christian prayer leads to the knowledge of God  and the love of God

Perhaps a discussion about the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 69 dark, extensive days beneath the surface of the earth in 2010 was inevitable.   The question “Did the prayers of many change the mind of God?” was asked.  Many quietly said “no” and the facilitator agreed.  God is God and His mind does not need to be changed by man.  He knows exactly when things will happen even before they happen.

“So what is the use of praying if God already knows what and when it’ll happen?”  was then asked.  The response is answered by another question.  What happens when we pray?  When we pray to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we humble ourselves and we admit that we can’t do things on our own strength.  As we begin to voice our thoughts, be it our fears, our pain, our needs, or our joys, we choose to stop running long enough to examine ourselves.  As we do, we gradually begin to know and understand ourselves and we begin to know and experience the presence and love of God.  Because God is God, any encounter with Him transforms us.  We may not recognize the change immediately, but as we continue to persevere and chose to continue our encounters with Him, change happens.

James 1:2-4 says “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various tirals, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

There are times when we pray in line with God’s will and our prayers appear to be answered immediately.  As a matter of fact, God answers all our prayers immediately, but unfortunately, His answer may not be the answer we are waiting for.  God answers with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait”.    We don’t mutter when we get our way, but when He answers with a “no” or “wait”, we often go into a fit.  After the tantrum and after the extensive muttering, we try once again and if we are truly desparate, we may even find ourselves bargaining with God and we find ourselves promising that we will become a better person IF we get what we want.  Been there, done that?

Let’s visit the Chilean miners once again.  The one I have in mind is the second miner who was brought to the surface.  “Mario Sepulveda — christened Super Mario by the Chilean press — was the second miner to escape. He had everyone laughing when his whoops of joy resounded on the surface even before he arrived. “Vamos, vamos,” he shouted as the capsule ascended. He then stepped out of the capsule, opened up a yellow bag, pulled out souvenir rocks from below and began handing them out to the rescuers, even to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. “I’m so happy!” Mr. Sepulveda yelled, grinning, punching his fist in the air and hugging everyone in sight. He then ran over to a group of friends to hug them and lead them in yelling out a classic cheer that ended with the line: “Long live the Chilean miners!” But there was also a darkly serious note. “I have been with God and I’ve been with the devil,” he later said in an interview. “They both fought for me. God won. I seized the hand of God, it was the best hand.I always knew God would get us out of there.” Mr. Sepulveda, the emotional leader of the miners underground who kept their spirits up, asked the press not to treat him as a superstar or artist. “I was born a miner and I’ll die a miner,” he said. ” (footnote 2)

I’m sure Mario had prayed fervently to be rescued immediately and yet God didn’t “give” what he asked.  It must have been a living nightmare down there and he himself had admitted that he had been both with God and with the devil.  Anger, resentment, hopelessness are assumed to be a few of the emotions he experienced, and yet “Sepulveda said his time trapped 2,300 feet beneath the earth has instilled in him a desire to become a “new person,” and he “learned a lot of wonderful lessons about taking the good path in life.”  (footnote 3)

What had happened down there?  We know Mario prayed day in and day out and after 69 excruciating long days, he was brought  up to the surface of planet earth grinning and so happy, with a desire to become a “new person”.

What had happened?  I believe Mario was changed because he encountered God.

God bless,

Melissa – October 20, 2010

p.s. – footnote 1 –  (http://www.cenacle.co.uk/content/Evangelium.htm)
footnote 2  –  (http://www.nationalpost.com/m/story.html?id=3668830)
footnote 3  –  (http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/14/whats-next-for-chile-miners-fenix-super-mario-and-mine/)

REFLECTION: You’ve got mail!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Have you ever received a letter that was filled with deep thoughts that kept you pondering for a while?  I have, but in all honesty, that letter I am referring to was originally addressed to many others which excluded me.  NO!… not to worry, I didn’t steal the letter.  Actually, each of you are welcome to read it and it is readily available if you google the book.  However, you may be surprised to learn that the letter was written almost 2000 years ago.  Now how long would that be in “human” years?  Let’s say I am 50 now.  That would make 40 – 50 year olds put together.  Does that make it easier to perceive how old that letter is?  The surprising thing is when you read it, you’ll notice that the letter appears to have been written as if it was written today.

This morning, I finally decided to stick all my little McDonald monopoly stickers on the game card I picked up.  After opening and sticking several on, I came across one that read “ANY BAKED_MUFFIN”.  Knowing that the game card held spots for property names, I struggled in locating where the  spot for “ANY BAKED_MUFFIN” was.  Because my mind was firmly fixated on my pre-conceived notion that I was to find a property name, my poor brain was trying to make sense of what was written on the stamp.  It was only when I finally let go of the pre-conception that I realized I was an instant winner of a free muffin!  You can imagine how I chuckled when I realized how silly I was.

I sense many of you are wondering why I have suddenly jumped from this mysterious letter to my experience with McD’s Monopoly game.  I believe you’ll understand why when you read the next sentence.  If I now tell you that the letter I mentioned earlier comes from the book of James of the New Testament of the Bible, has that altered your desire to read it?  How many of you would admit that your earlier desire to read the illusive letter has suddenly disappeared?  I knew it!  I was able to guess correctly because many have this pre-conceived notion that the Bible is boring and it does not apply to them.  But what if I told you that in the midst of my first bout of depression, about 21 years ago, I yearned to receive a letter that would promise that I would eventually get better.  I’m not sure what my logic was then, but eventually, I realized that even if I received such a letter, that person did not have the power to heal me.

A few days later, I opened my Bible and as if by chance, I came across a passage that appeared to be in bold script.  It read…Your sun will never set; your moon will not go down. For the LORD will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end.”(Isaiah 60:20 NLT) I was mourning all right.  Suffering from depression felt as if I was mourning for a long, long time.  Shortly after, a friend called and I shared that scripture with her.  I told her that I checked it over and over and I was sure the words were not printed in bold setting, and yet the words looked as if they were and they had caught my attention.  My friend explained that that was how the Holy Spirit worked and that scripture passage was intended for me to claim.  At that very moment, I claimed that the days of my mourning would come to an end and within a few days, the depression lifted.  It was then that I realized that the Bible was and still is God’s love letter to me and His word was alive and it brought healing.

Although the book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 B.C., the translation I read made me feel as if it was written only a few days earlier and it was personally written just for me!  I could not fathom how this old man named Isaiah knew I would be “mourning” thousands of years from the time he wrote it.  The fact that his very words “jumped” right up at me and they applied perfectly to my present situation helped me see that God’s word was truly ALIVE.  I was and still am so blessed to have had enough faith to believe that there is One who loved me so much and whose words could transcend through time and which had and still has the power to heal.

So now, if I tell you that you’ve got mail waiting and you can find it in the book of James in the New Testament, would you consider taking a look at it?  May the Father perk your curiosity enough to click on http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James&version=NIV  and have a read.

My friend, you’ve got mail!

God bless,

Melissa – October 13, 2010

p.s. – This reflection is dedicated to a 21 year old young man who I had met while he was a Grade 7 student at St. Anthony’s Elementary School.  He was a good friend of my daughter and I had given him an Adventures in Odyssey Bible (http://www.aiohq.com/books/merch/bible.html), just as I had given one to each of our children.  Many years later, a teacher who was a friend of his mom asked if I remembered him.  When I spoke to the mother, she said that he had brought along the same Bible when he moved in with her.  She also added that the boy mentioned that I told him the book was God’s love letter to him.  I was so touched that he had remembered.

REFLECTION: Are you a bully?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

This week, the news and talk shows have focused on an anti-bullying campaign.  The reason?  Beautiful young ones have taken their own lives because they believed they had no alternate way to escape the brutality they have had to live through.  What has it cost to fail to stand up against bullying?  LIVES… precious lives who had the potential to become  great leaders and/or potential founders for the cure of cancer and /or other terminal diseases.

I’ve often wondered what goes on in the mind of a bully.  As I ponder, memories of a little kindergarten lad waiting in line for school to begin with a tissue in his hand and tears rolling down his face comes to mind.  He then silently gestures to his mom that he is fine.  Many years later I had learned that this lad was crying because a bigger child in his class had hit him EVEN BEFORE the first day of school started!

My memory now moves to another incident where my own child was punched in the stomach by the same bigger child.  I was surprised this one dared to do it right in front of his mother and me.  We were bidding them farewell after a good play date and so what motivated this one to lunge and hurt my son?  “I felt like it.” was his answer.  What was his mother’s response?  “Oh…that’s not nice.  Say you’re sorry now…” in a sing song tone.  HELLO!!!!????!!!  No wonder her son beat up on others.  And by the way, he never said he was sorry.

There was no serious reprimand nor were there any consequences for that improper behavior.  I don’t think the child even detected he truly did wrong by the tone his mother used.  That child continued practising his punches on many of our school children, but thank goodness for the Father’s mercy, he was eventually pulled from our school.

I wonder whether this lad threw his punches here and there because he was entertained by the reactions of his victims or whether he did it to get a real reaction from his parents.  I have heard and read many speakers and authors mention that young children often want healthy boundaries established for them.  An example was given of sheep grazing closely together when they are in an open field whereas the same sheep were found to spread themselves freely when they were within a fenced area.  The rational was that the physical presence of the fence depicted where it was clearly safe for them to graze openly.  I wonder whether this child yearned to be corrected by his parents rather than be “dismissed’ in the way his mother had.  I wonder if this child had observed other parents correct their children when wrong was done and he realized that parents who really love their children reprimand and correct them when they do wrong.

James 4: 1-3 (NIV) says…”What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Does bullying arise because the perpetrators sees something in another which they want and cannot have and/or cannot achieve on their own?

I have a hunch a lot of bullying begins at home.  Have you noticed how a 2 year old can have his/her family tied around his/her finger?  I believe our tykes begin to test us and eventually they become very skilled manipulators.  Often times healthy boundaries set by the parents can very quickly nip things in the bud.  However, many parents have become so busy that it is often easier to give in to the child than to discipline.  I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

Because of financial strain and other multiple trials, parents begin to turn against each other and/or pass along their frustration and anger towards their children.  I’m sure many have heard of the tale where a father has a difficult day at work and he passes his frustration onto his wife, who in turn passes it on to her child who then passes it on and on and on.  Perhaps some form of bullying arises from that too.

And yet, what would cause a youngster to attack another child to the extent that the perpetrator would even encourage the victim to kill himself/herself?  Have we failed to teach our children proper moral values and have we failed to teach them how to release their anger and frustrations in healthy ways?

May the Father give everyone the grace and the desire to pray for the children of the world and may He give us the strength and courage to take a united stand and say “NO” to bullying.

God bless,

Melissa

REFLECTION: Will you be still?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I rushed to a talk given by author Terry Hershey tonight.  The topic?  “The Power of Pause (Becoming More by Doing Less)”.  Isn’t it ironic to rush to catch someone speak about “pause“?  God has such a sense of humor.

As I type, I am immediately reminded about the dash between the year someone is born and the year of his/her death.  That’s right, the punctuation between the two years is a dash.  Web definition defines dash as “dart: run or move very quickly or hastily”. Was that a pun (play of words) intentional?  Were we created to dash from the time we were born to the time of our death, rushing through and failing to enjoy what was created for us to enjoy?  The pace of life people  live today appears to prove that the latter is true.  However, the truth is that there is no truth in it.  I have always felt as if someone (more likely the devil) whispered DASH into everyone’s ears while we slept.  Unfortunately, many fail to question who the whisperer is and we decide instead to blindly put on our running shoes and run.

Forrest Gump ran and when he was asked why he ran, he replied “I just felt like it”.  And then one day, for no reason whatsoever, he decided he was finished running and he stopped.

If you are running through life, have you pondered why?

Yes, we are on a spiritual journey in our earthly bodies while we live our lives on planet earth.  However, were we instructed to run?  The apostle Paul wrote…“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4:7)  I assume he uses the word “race” to describe his journey because extensive effort and perseverance is required for a long distance race.  And yet, a race is also a competition to see who arrives at the finish line first.  Perhaps we can look at it in a different way and view the competition in terms of whether the devil can stop you from reaching Heaven.

Terry mentioned that we need a paradigm shift, a change in the way we view the world and our life.  We seem to assume that our life begins some place other than where we are right now and we do whatever we can to motivate ourselves to get there.  And so our thoughts embrace the words “if only”…  IF ONLY I had a new car or IF ONLY we had what the Jones’ have, then I would be happy.  Been there, done that?  Terry encourages us to focus on the present moment, but he also challenges us to ask ourselves what is the fear that prevents us from stopping the entertainment of “IF ONLY”.  He quotes Pascal’s statement…”By means of diversion we can avoid our own company the whole day.”  What are our reasons for why we are afraid to stop?  Is it because we are afraid to see the bad things AND the good things in ourselves?  Is it because we don’t know how to handle what is within us?

When we first meet a stranger, we ask for their name and we then ask “What do you do for a living?”  Terry emphasizes that our self worth is currently being measured by what we do and what we accomplish.  But in truth, the key to true fruitful living is to BE.  What if our identity is no longer tied to doing but rather with BEing?

He shares a story of a little boy telling his mom…”Mama, listen to me with your eyes!”  Feel guilty about doing a hundred and one things while your child is speaking to you?  He then shares another story of a man asking his two sons how they know that he loves them.  Their reply was “We know you love us when you wrestle with us.”  The man then says “In the midst of a very ordinary, very boring and very mundane situation, love, happiness, intimacy and joy was happening and I missed it.”  Why?  Because he didn’t give himself PERMISSION to pause and enjoy life.

Terry encouraged us to spend time in our own “wrestling moments” and to stop being afraid of what people think.  He joked about how weird it was that we cared about what “people” think when we don’t even know who they are.  As long as our identity is tied to our future achievement, we will be afraid to celebrate the moment.

In Psalm 46:10, the Father says “Be still, and know that I am God.”  He wants you to be still and to enjoy the present moment.  He wants you to be still and enjoy and be proud of who you are.  He wants you to know that He has made you in a very special way because you will be the only one who will be able to reach and touch one particular other person’s life.  Will you be still?

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – Terry’s website is www.terryhershey.com and his phone number is 1(800) 524-5370.

REFLECTION: Are you testing the spirits?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Today I received an e-mail from Msgr. Jensen.  He had replied to an e-mail I sent out the day before with “very interesting – Where are the dead?” as the subject matter.  Msgr. wrote...“Interesting”, but very misleading; some of these citations are more like paraphrases and incorrect ones at that. They don’t express the truth about death that is found in the Bible.” And then he subsequently added…My last sentence in my email is the key one. The Scriptures speak about death and judgement and heaven and hell and resurrection. There’s much more than the idea expressed in the original email that the dead simply are sleeping in peace.” Not too long after that, my friend Lina wrote...” I still have the Bible in front of me because I did look up the 3 scriptures on death.  It made me feel a little empty…because it didn’t seem like LIFE after death at all just by reading those short little readings.  I am thankful for Msgr. Jensen’s memo.” And then my cousin, Steve wrote…  I was about to respond back to you but have not had a chance….”

I am impressed and ever so grateful that there are others who stay alert and test the spirits.  Because scripture was quoted, I was careless and the e-mail was forwarded without careful discernment.

Why should we be careful?  It is because the devil is aware of and at times, uses scripture from the Bible to lure us into deceit.  Let’s examine Luke 4:1-13

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'”  The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”  The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.   For it is written:  ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ “Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”

Where did the devil quote his scripture from?  It is from Psalm 91: 11-12!

1 John 4:1 teaches…“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” In fact, I urge you to test my spirit in what I forward and in what I write.  I am only human and there will be times when I will fall.  In fact, isn’t this e-mail a living example of how I failed to discern and test the spirits myself?

Revelations 22:18-19 teaches…“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”. (2 Tim 3:16)  What good is God’s Word if it is not quoted properly or if it is twisted as the devil used it in tempting Jesus?  And then again…what good is God’s living Word if it is not read and applied, but is tucked away in the corner collecting dust?

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – Some of you may think I am proficient with the Bible.  The truth is, I am not and when I only remember bits and pieces, I google key words and then I find the complete verse.   Through the years, I have memorized many verses and they have been so very helpful.  When you do, you will notice that the Holy Spirit starts reminding you about verses which begin to apply to your life.  That is when God’s Word becomes a light unto your feet.

Additional reading: (You may want to print these out as they are good teaching.)

1) http://www.answers2prayer.org/bible_questions/Answers/testing/test.html <- How do we test spirits?

2)   http://www.creationists.org/cults-new-revelations.html <- Bible verses that warn us not to add/subract from Biblical Revelations

REFLECTION: Will you serve?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

On Saturday, many lay folk from Vancouver’s Catholic Archdiocese drove an extended distance to the Abbey in Mission, B.C..  What would motivate many to get up early on Saturday morning to drive over an hour to listen to a talk by an Abbot?  I’m not sure about the others, but what drew me there was the fact that he was going to address the role of the lay people in the Catholic Church.  (“from The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People” of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope John Paul II)

Who are the lay members?  They are anyone of faith that is not a clergy, comprising of both young and old alike.

Of late, I have been wondering about the term apostolate.   wiktionary.org defines the term as “a group of people that exists for the spreading of religious doctrine.”  I came across that term several years ago when I was first introduced to Ann, a lay apostolate.   (http://www.directionforourtimes.com/intro.html ; http://www.directionforourtimes.com/intro.html)  I came across the term again when a friend e-mailed and used that term to address me.

An apostolate…  How interesting.  I have wondered why our Christian “siblings” in the Protestant faith don’t use that term.   Is it because there isn’t a well defined distinction between the clergy and the lay folk?  Are the garments used by the clergy in the Catholic faith making this distinction more pronouned?  The answer really doesn’t matter to me, but I think a brief visit in that direction has given me enough satisfaction to my inquisitive mind.

During the afternoon “Question and Answer Session”, one lady had mentioned that she was a convert from the Protestant into the Catholic faith.  She mentioned how the Catholic faith seemed to lack the warmth of community.  She mentioned that there were often potlucks luncheon and dinner gatherings celebrated by our Protestant siblings which she missed.  I must admit that I totally understand what this lady was saying.  I have visited and celebrated with our Protestant “siblings” and there is a definite warmth and a sincere welcome when I have dropped in for a special visit.  I’ve often wondered about this and the only rational I have found that would satisfy my curiosity is that the Catholics have originated from tradition.  Perhaps it is traditional to keep to oneself during Mass.  The presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the altar demands reverence, but I wonder if that would dictate the stoic behavior of some.

When I celebrate with others during a Charismatic Mass, the atmosphere there is ever so joyful and there is so much life and love present.  The spirits of many are high, as we invite the Holy Spirit to come down and feel each of us and to me, it is a true celebration of the living Christ.

<< 1 Corinthians 7 >>
New International Version

Marriage

1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.a 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.

25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

REFLECTION in the garden: What are you feeding?

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

After two weekends filled with a conference and talks, I longed for a break in the garden.  This morning I dug and tilled, attempting to pull out well established roots that had grown through the years.  The larger ones were easily identified, but it was the broken, loose ones that were camouflaged in the rich, dark soil that were harder to spot.

Wanting a change in task, I walked to the little pond I had dug out several years ago and noticed that “Raccoon” had visited once again.  Putting things upright and wondering how many fish were left, I remembered a pet store worker ask what I was feeding.  I replied, “Hopefully nothing, but most of the time, it’s a raccoon.”  Yes, the neighbourhood raccoons periodically feast on the feeder fish I stock my little pond with.  The net that hovers over the pond together with the addition of floating spiked mats that would normally deter indoor cats, are still not the ideal solution and the battle continues.  For a time, the pond remains manicured and it feels as if victory has finally been won.  However, just when I begin to celebrate the extended tranquility,  “Raccoon” returns for a visit.

“What are you feeding?”  That question continues to echo in my mind.  Yesterday, Father Abbot John Braganza, OSB was asked how the Catholic Archdiocese intended to compete with what was propagated in the media.  His answer was profound…”  We need to place media in its proper place.  The vacuum people experience today is the vacuum created by the lack of community life.  People are drawn to the media to try to fill that need, but what is really needed is a true sense of Christian community.  Society is trying to substitute direct communication in flesh and blood with electronic communication.  Our faith must stand above material things.  Until you begin to enjoy the fullness of human relationships, we will continue to drift towards material substitution.”

As I ponder further, I sense the Father ask this time…”What part of you are you feeding?  Are you feeding your mind, are you feeding your heart, or are you feeding your earthly desires?”  I am certain the talks and conferences I have attended aren’t feeding my earthly desires.  Under normal conditions, I have difficulty sitting still let alone staying still.  And so sitting through a conference is a feat in itself.  If my hunger wasn’t as great as it is, I would probably be spending a majority of my time in the garden.  Nevertheless, I recognize a deep hunger within me and at times I wonder if what I hunger for is merely to gain head knowledge.  However, while probing more deeply, I recognize that head knowledge is not enough for me.  What my spirit yearns for is to “transform” that head knowledge into an experiential knowledge with the Father so that my “spirit/soul” will be full.

To me, head knowledge alone does not satisfy.  It is only when I apply head knowledge into my interaction with others and with the Father does the information transform and become heart knowledge.  It is there where the information come to life.

Father Abbot Braganza’s words hold true.  Without true and living communion with a Christian Community, but more so without the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, my soul would continue on a mindless search, perhaps entertained temporarily by the “fantasies” introduced by media…but the search will go on.

May we each find true fulfillment and satisfaction in our own families, our inner most circle of community, and all our other circles of influence and may each of us yearn for a deep, meaningful and living personal relationship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – Often times, many of us fail to search for the root problem(s) for our discomfort, dissatisfaction, and/or problems in life.  We normally work on the (surface) symptoms, but we fail to recognize that it is the root that needs to be worked on.  If we make time and decide to search, the larger roots are easily identified, but it is usually the loose, smaller ones that camouflage and submerge themselves into our daily routine that we fail to recognize.

As with my pond, it is when we experience extended peace and tranquility that we begin to become complacent and we put our defences down.  It is usually then that the devil, our enemy, strikes as he delights in our complacency.