Archive for November, 2013

REFLECTION: Surrender

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

“SURRENDER!!!?!!!!!”  Is that a command or a request?  Playing “combat” just as was portrayed on the TV program (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055666/) in our yester-years, my 3 brothers and I would run around the yard with our machine guns and whatever make believe weapons we had, attempting to massacre and force the other to surrender.  No one wanted to be overpowered and give up control to the other team because it signified defeat.

What does surrender mean in our society today?  Without realizing what we have done, many of us have obediently and have readily given in to the ways of the world without even attempting to fight.  Media, be it in paper form or radio waves, has and is moulding the world… silently prompting our ideals and lives to conform to multiple ways that bring pain and agony to the lives of multitudes.  Sadly, many don’t realize that something…  “someone” has taken control and he goes around stealthily and invisibly, planting lies into our minds and whispering thoughts that prompt us to bring more harm to ourselves.  The bait dangles right before us, promising some form of satisfaction, only to leave us trapped in a cage of self-loath, shame, agony and misery when we reach out and take the bait. (1 Peter 5:8)

Did we surrender?  NO, because surrender requires a free-willed choice, but instead, we were tricked and we often find ourselves shackled, again and again…  to the ways of the world.

“Surrender?… to whom, to what?”  To God.  Many would recoil instantly and say “No way, I enjoy my freedom, thank you very much!” Freedom?  Really?  Or are you actually caught up in snares of heart ache, not knowing where to turn?

There is an answer, a way, but many refuse to listen.  Perhaps many have to be brushed by death to realize they need another way.  Will there be time?  Hopefully, but then years of agony and suffering would have had to be endured and the loss of a healthy and joyful life would have been lost.

But there is still hope!  Even a taste of joy in a lifetime would be worth it.  “But surrender?  NO thanks, I’m still not ready.  Let me try it my way one more time.  I know I can do it.  I’ve changed my ways and I’m so much stronger and wiser…”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”  John 14:6

“No thanks, I don’t need religion.” many respond.  But He doesn’t leave.  He continues to call out, gently whispering your name, waiting for you to realize and say “God, help me!”

He waits… patiently.  He doesn’t intrude nor does He force his way, even when he knows that His ways will help you through.  He waits…  waiting for you to surrender and admit, “I need Your help!”

“Surrender?  What will it cost?”  Give up your way and trust that God’s way is better.  “God loves us more than we can ever begin to love ourselves.  Do we believe that?  Do we live that?” (footnote 1)

Surrender is NOT “Okay, do whatever you want with me.”  The surrender He asks is that of Mary… “Let it be done unto me.”  It is an active desire to seek out and live God’s will.  Mary’s “yes” to God brought salvation to the world.  Our “yes” to God allows us to be instruments of salvation for our families, the world and ourselves.

It is not a surrender of fear or self-interest.  It is a response to a loving invitation to a journey towards eternal life.  It is a life-giving surrender.  As you daily surrender to our Father’s will, you will discover the joy of totally giving of yourself to the One who has totally given Himself to you.  It is a surrender into a relationship of trust and love.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6) He will lead you and guide you (Psalm 32:8) and He promises to give you His peace. (John 14:27)

Will you surrender?

God bless,

Melissa – November 27, 2013; 10:31 a.m.

 

p.s.:

1) Reference:  Introduction to “Surrender!  Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will”
by Fr. Larry Richards

2) Praying through Ephesians 1:16:

Father God, we ask for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of You.  We ask You to enlighten our eyes so that we will know what is the hope You have called us to.  Lord, help us to embrace and use the immeasurable greatness of Your power in us who believe in You so as to make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

REFLECTION: In the beginning…

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

In the beginning, at the onset of time, God created out of nothing.  Out of nothing, He created all that was to be in five days, and on the 6th, He created “man”, male and female, in His image and likeness.  In each living creation, God placed a seed and to each of its kind, He blessed and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” Genesis 1:22  To the ones He created in His image he said, “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.   Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”  Genesis 1: 28-30

Why didn’t God reign over the world He created?  Why did He give man reign over all?  Was He expecting to be too busy or, did He think He would not be able to cope with it?  The Catholic Catechism explains…

“God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by entrusting them with the responsibility of “subduing” the earth and having dominion over it.  God thus enables men to be intelligent and free causes in order to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony for their own good and that of their neighbors. Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings.  They then fully become “God’s fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.” (Paragraphs 306 – 308, Catholic Catechism, Simplified Version)

Although man and beast were created on the 6th day, it is man, alone, who was created in friendship with God.  It is to him that God had given the ability to share, through knowledge and love, in God’s own life.  Man was not created to be something, but he was created to be someone.  He was given the capacity of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving  of himself and entering into friendship with another.  It is to man, alone, that God has given the grace to enter into a covenant with his Creator… to offer Him a response of faith and love.

Adam and Eve, our first parents, were created in an original “state of holiness and justice” and it was in this state of holiness that they were able to share in the divine life.   As long as man remained in the divine intimacy, he would not have to suffer or die.  The inner harmony of the human person, which today’s society so longs for, the harmony between people and the harmony of the first couple and all creation comprised the state called “original justice”.

God’s gift to man of “mastery” over the whole world was realized within man himself… mastery of self.  Man had integrity.  He was given the ability to correctly order his internal powers according to reason and will.  He had self-dominion.  He had self-control.  The first man was unimpaired and ordered in his whole being because he was free from the triple concupiscence, the 3 evils… “sensual lust, enticement for the eyes and a pretentious life” 1 John 2:16

Then, evil crept in.  Evil didn’t happen by chance.  Evil didn’t happen by an over-sight nor an error on God’s part.  Evil entered when angels, who were created good by God, made an irrevocable, free-willed choice to reject God… not in error, but because of pride.

Thrown down from Heaven, the devil and all the adversaries were furious and they wanted revenge.   Not wanting God’s other creations to enjoy His love and His companionship, the devil immediately targeted Adam and Eve, the first humans on planet earth.   Man succumbed to the deceit of the Evil One… exchanging the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.  Since then, man has been subjected to love the world in selfish, disordered ways:  feeding his flesh with pleasures; feeding his eyes with the world’s possessions; and feeding his spirit with his pride.   Until Jesus’ second coming, the devil and his adversaries will continue to prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. (1 Peter 5:8)

”But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

(Angels and…) Men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.  He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:  For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself. “(Paragraphs 310-311 Catholic Catechism)

So was that it?  Did God abandon man, allowing the devil free reign over the world while leaving man with no recourse?  Let’s examine Genesis 3…

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”” Genesis 3:1-8

Did you read that?  God didn’t throw a bolt of lightning to annihilate Adam and Eve, but instead, God walked through the garden calling out for them.

He (Adam) answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” 

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:10-19

Just as the devil and his adversaries were thrown down from Heaven as a result of their free willed choice to turn away from God, Adam and Eve, too, were held accountable for theirs.  Although Adam and Eve were punished, the devil (in the form of the serpent) was cursed for tempting mankind.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

“Genesis 3:15 has a prophetic nature to it, for there is a promise in the future of redemption, that someone (Jesus) will crush the head of the serpent.  God’s judgement upon the serpent contains a promise of ultimate victory through the woman by her offspring. This concept is developed in a spiritual sense throughout Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.”

Just as God walked through the garden calling out to Adam and Eve when they had sinned,  God calls out to us when we, in turn, choose to turn away from Him.  We attempt to hide, but He waits patiently for us to return.  He loved mankind too much to leave us where we were at and so, just as He declared in the beginning in Genesis 3:15, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sin of the world, redeeming each one who welcomes Him into their life and He brings each one back to the heart of the Father.

God blesss,

Melissa – November 16, 2013

References:

http://www.cftministry.org/resources/articles/article_why.html – Why Did God Create
Humanity?
http://biblescripture.net/First.html – GENESIS 3:15 -THE PROTOEVANGELIUM OR “FIRST
GOSPEL”

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm  – The Catechesis of
Creation

REFLECTION: Joshua’s Fight for Life

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

 

At 1:16 p.m. on September 5, 2013, Joshua “Ughchicken” recreated his Facebook page “Joshua’s Fight for Life”.   At 3:49 p.m. he posted…

“Hello everyone my name is Joshua and I am 14 yrs. old. I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, that’s right cancer in Dec. 2009 right after my 11 th birthday. My first chemo was in Dec 18, 2009 by New Years eve I had lost 15 pounds because I could not stop throwing up and was not able to eat so they placed a tube through my nose into my stomach and that was how I was getting all my nutritional intake for the next ten months while I was getting chemo. I was getting four different types of chemo.

I also had radiation five days a week for six weeks with the chemo it made me really sick. I had to stay in the hospital for two months. I was so bored but most of the time I was sleeping because of all the medication they gave me so I will stop throwing up and also for the pain.

I was in remission for 15 months …I was very happy that I would not have to take the chemo again but unfortunately in January 2012 my cancer came back. This time my oncologists did not have cure for me so I had to take different kinds of chemo to see if it made the cancer go away . I had a 14 hour surgery to take it out in June 2012 then I had to have radiation five days a week for four weeks . The surgeons thought they were able to get all the cancer away but again it came back in April 2013.

This time the only thing they could do was chemo to stop it from growing. I get tired easily so I usually stay home which can get really boring so I play xbox and go on my laptop alot. I also like my legos it keeps me busy.”

At 4:47 p.m., in response to his post, Sasha Pemberton replied “Always here josh I wouldn’t want a 14 year old getting upset every couple of minutes bcause of a dreadful disease so always here if u need me mate:)xxxxx”  I am not sure if they knew each other, but it was so good and loving of Sasha to stand with Josh.

Joshua died on October 23, 2013… 44 days short of his 15th birthday.  During his funeral service, Fr. George had mentioned that his family was an example of steadfastness, never leaving Joshua’s side from the onset of his cancer 4 ½ years earlier.  “In the midst of pain and great suffering and in a state of hopelessness, his parents had great faith in Josh and in God… the latter who sustained them through.”

Fr. George spoke of the time he visited Joshua at Children’s Hospital.  He mentioned seeing him curled up and coughing like an old man, with Cheryl by his side.  Unable to bear the pain elicited by what he saw, his visit was cut short.  Angry and upset as he began his 70.6 plus kilometers drive back home, Fr. George mentioned that God began to reveal that Someone else had set a previous pattern for us.  2000 years ago, there was a sinless Son, Jesus, who endured intense and immense pain with His mother by his side.

Fr. George mentioned that “God did not answer our prayers.” as Joshua’s cancer progressed.    Nevertheless, he shared that “right to the end, Joshua came to Mass, even with the cancer protruding from his mouth.  Joshua never failed to receive Communion.  That was a testimony of this young boy’s faith.”

Fr. George recounts visiting with Joshua 2 days after he gave him his last rites.  Joshua was sitting on the couch as if nothing had happened… as if he had recovered.  Fr. George adds, “It makes no sense to humans if we only focus on this world.”  He reminded us of the Scripture reading from Ecclesiastes 3 where there is a time for everything.  It appears as if there is no meaning in life, but in the end, the tone changes.  God has put timelessness (eternity) into the hearts of man.  Jesus beautifies us like gold for the Father.  He prepares us for the time beyond.

Fr. George then referred to 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me — the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.”

“Perhaps his death reminds us of the cancer of the soul.”   He then quoted “…consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18  “We conquer all through Jesus Christ who loves us.  Joshua has conquered all that he has been called to conquer in his life.”

Before we bade Joshua farewell, his beautiful mother, Cheryle, shared the many antics of her shy but humorous youngest son.  She expanded that Joshua attended Mass to show all those who were praying for him that he was fine and when the strength left him, he created his Facebook page to continue to show the others that he was holding up strong.

As if to honour Joshua’s beautiful life and with a twinkle in His eye, as the hearse drove across, what looked like the horizon, we began to hear honks.   God sent 2 sets of Canadian geese to fly over the hearse in V-form,  cheering Josh on as our Father welcomed him into His loving arms! May you rest in peace in our Father’s arm Joshua. It was a true honor to pray for you and your family!

God bless,

Melissa – November 1, 2013; 7:31 p.m.