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REFLECTION: The question…

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Without a  doubt, Pope Francis’ fist visit to the States was magnificent and moving.  It was not that he carried an air of royalty that drew the crowds, but it was his humility and humbleness that beckoned them.   Just like Jesus, whenever he saw the crowds, the Pope looked for the weak, the sick and the young.  The Pope definitely had a good eye for them because the newscasters revealed many glimpses of him stopping his chauffeur driven little Fiat so he could mingle with these special ones.  Like Jesus, this anointed one was given the grace to embrace the sick and to put his face against theirs.  May all  Christians pray that we will have the same anointing to do the same.

Because of his visit, many, both Catholic and of different denominations, have begun to read the contents of his talks.  One, in particular had drawn the interest of someone who wrote to question the intent of the Pope.  The article of question can be viewed on

With no intent to embarrass or offend the one who questioned, I share my response…

This is my take on things.  Jesus took on a human form so that He could dwell with us and so that He could also die for us.  I believe God’s decision, from the very beginning, to have Jesus take on human form is what caused the Angel Lucifer to revolt.

When Jesus walked on earth, he was completely human and completely God. How He managed to keep the two separate is a complete mystery.  Nevertheless, it was only through His human form that Jesus could die; we know this as truth because God cannot die.

So…let’s examine the article again and the context in which Pope Francis had spoken the portion in question…  (NOTE:  I have “highlighted” the words that will be pertinent in the discussion.)

“Yet, if we are honest, we know how easily this spirit of generous self-sacrifice can be dampened. There are a couple of ways that this can happen; both are examples of that “spiritual worldliness” which weakens our commitment to serve and diminishes the wonder of our first encounter with Christ.

We can get caught up measuring the value of our apostolic works by the standards of efficiency, good management and outward success which govern the business world. Not that these things are unimportant! We have been entrusted with a great responsibility, and God’s people rightly expect accountability from us. But the true worth of our apostolate is measured by the value it has in God’s eyes. To see and evaluate things from God’s perspective calls for constant conversion in the first days and years of our vocation and, need I say, great humility. The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds: God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and produce no fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus… and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.”

To me, Pope Francis was encouraging the people not to give up hope in the work God has called them to do.  In the Catholic faith, the works of the people are a reflection of the faith they have in God.  A person cannot truly say he/she is a Christian if he/she rejects to serve the poor or intentionally rejects to love another.  The Catholic faith embraces the fact that faith without action is dead.  Every encounter with Jesus leads to transformation and as we are transformed, our thoughts and actions begin to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

In his address, the Pope mentions that there is tendency to measure one’s apostolic works based on the standards of the world.  He then moves the reader to understand that the best standard of measure is based on its value in God’s eyes.  I will use the Believe Street Meal as an example.  In the earlier years, we have had people drop by to say that our  actions were merely there to encourage others to be dependent on others.  However, if we look at the situation through God’s eyes, we recognize the hunger pangs and the distress of the people we serve and we pray that our service will help them see that God still cares for them in their times of trials and He has called us to share with them the gifts of faith and hope.

Going back to his address, I believe the Pope is showing that in human termsJesus didn’t seem to accomplish anything because he ended up dead.  In human terms, that would have meant the end of everything.  Although He took on all the sins of the world, He was dead just like the other sacrificial lambs.  HOWEVER, Jesus was and is still God and so He was able to rise up from the dead, breaking the curse of death and breaking all the bondages of sin.  It was through His resurrection that Jesus reveals to the world that death (as a consequence of original sin) has no hold on Him.

“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”.…Romans 10:9-10

I believe it is Jesus’ resurrection that distinguishes the difference between the Jews and the Christians.  The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah, whereas we Christians recognize that Jesus IS the Messiah and His death was not futile because the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection gives us victory over sin and death.

You write…”When I die, I go directly into His presence. That is my belief. And when I come to His presence, I will not be judged because God no longer sees ANY of my sins.  I basically have inherited complete righteousness due to Christ’s sacrifice for me. If I have to go through repeated self-condemnation and keep asking for forgiveness, that means Christ did not do a good job. It is, pretty much, nailing Him back on the cross again and again.”

Yes, all those who profess with conviction that Jesus is Lord and Saviour will return to our Father.  However, in Revelations, there is mention of the 2nd death

Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.  Revelations 2:11

Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.  And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelations 20:11-15

In the Catholic faith, although we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we realize that we are still subjected to concupisence (the effects of original sin).


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.  For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?   By no means!  Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?   But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.   You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.   When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin
and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
 Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 6

In this case, I have quoted the entire 6th chapter of the Book of Romans as it clearly explains that as long as we remain here on earth, we are continuously subjected to temptations to sin.  Whether we like it or not, we will continue to sin and hence the verse…

even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;… Romans 3:22-24

This is the reason why it is important to continue to acknowledge and confess our sins because we continue to fall short of the glory of God.  Unless we can honestly say that we are no longer sinning, we do need to confess to God that we have fallen and we ask for His mercy and grace to forgive us and to help us walk faithfully to finish the race in victory. 

Yes, Jesus has redeemed us and He has died for our sins.  Through our faith in Him (which is a gift He has extended to us and which we have willingly accepted) and through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, we daily choose to resist temptation, but unfortunately, until the day we die, we will still continue to fall.

May we all continue to ask our Father for the grace and strength to stand strong in Him and may the Holy Spirit brings us back Home safely and victoriously into the loving arms of our Father.

God bless,
Melissa – October 4, 2015

REFLECTION: A tribute to a blessed man…

Friday, August 21st, 2015

“Harvey was a blessed man.”  repeated Fr. Landry.  I wondered how that was possible when Harvey’s life was shorted by ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.   Harvey was my first encounter with ALS and I was amazed of his strength and courage throughout the years when he still made public appearances.

I didn’t know much about the disease, but I could visibly see how it took away Harvey’s ability to walk.  Harvey was a Sherriff at North Vancouver’s Court House.  The rapid, progressive disease attacked his nerve cells responsible for controlling his legs, arms and face and it stripped away Harvey’s ability to serve his community.  What ALS was not able to do was to strip Harvey of his God given faith and because of that, Fr. Landry was readily able to proclaim that Harvey was a blessed man.

If my memory serves me, I believe Fr. Landry quoted from Hebrews 10:38“The just man lives by faith.”  He continued, “Harvey gave to life what was due to life… to his neighbours, to his family and to God.  He gave a positive respect to all.  Although his job was difficult, Harvey treated each person justly, perhaps extending to them what they didn’t experience in life, even if they treated others unjustly.”

In the earlier years when Fr. Landry visited him at home, Fr. Landry would unknowingly refer to Harvey as “Charlie” (Harvey’s father’s name) and Harvey would laugh.  He thought it was funny.  From time to time, Fr. Landry would purposely call Harvey “Charlie” just to see him laugh.

“Harvey had a sense of truly belonging even if he chose to live life independently, living on his own conscience.  Harvey was a blessed man in the community of faith.”  Harvey and Marisha’s wedding was the first one Fr. Landry performed at St. Stephen’s parish.  “A few years after, Harvey discovered he had ALS.  He came to Mass as his mobility diminished and over time, he felt at home and blessed here.  The Knights of Columbus built him a ramp so he could continue to come to Mass.  His wife, Marisha, challenged him and he was happier for it.  He saw the hand of God in the situation.  He was deeply loved and cared for by his wife.  He was not alone in the illness.  The only time he felt alone was when he periodically felt God’s goodness was not with him, but I (Fr. Landry) encouraged him to look at all his other blessings.”

“Harvey never lost faith and he never looked for any alternative.  He had faith and it allowed him to experience the goodness of God.  Through it, he was able to offer his life daily to God.  It gave him a hope beyond understanding.  He knew God wouldn’t leave him like that.  He was greatly blessed in his faith.  Harvey and Marisha prayed daily and persistently.”  Fr. Landry anointed Harvey several times with the Holy Unction, allowing Harvey to join his suffering with Christ’s.  Harvey made his suffering an offering to God.

“Harvey brought us an awareness of ALS as he endured it, as there is no respite or freedom from that condition.  Harvey’s endurance helped us pay attention to what the disease is.”

” Let us recognize the hope that Harvey lived by.  He was a just man, giving to God what was owing to God.  He was a blessed man.  Harvey had the humility to recognize that he did not have the answer to the needs of his life and He needed God’s help.  Harvey was called to be a just man and He was able to give back to God.  Harvey was a blessed man.”

Rest in God’s loving arms Harvey.  I thank God for giving you the grace and mercy to endure your hardship to the very end.  You are truly an example of living faith.   May God’s grace and mercy continue to shower over you, Marisha.

God bless,

Melissa – August 21, 2015

p.s. – The following is an article that was published about Harvey and ALS in the B.C. Catholic…Taxi023 (2)

Taxi022 (2)

REFLECTION: Love God? What about with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

To my surprise and delight, we had a special visit from the mountain tops one Saturday morning.  Fr. Peter Nygren of Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. and his young seminarians came our way to enjoy the trails of West Vancouver.  I had never had a prior conversation with him, but I referred to him as the tall guy who always had a punch in his homily.  Unfortunately, one has to travel all the way to Mission to have a chance opportunity to listen to one of them.  Nevertheless, two weeks ago, our Father blessed me with his homily, a chat, a little counsel and a warm handshake!

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 cited Fr. Peter.  “This is part of today’s first reading.  But we don’t love God with all our heart, with all our soul nor with all our might.  Many have become lunatics because they don’t love.”

“What is wrong with us?  Love is being poured into us, but we don’t love.  Many are indifferent about offending God because they don’t love Him.”

Did that strike you?  It did with me!  Disrespect for many things, let alone God, is rampant these days.  Human life is no longer sacred.  Look around… infanticide, in the form of abortion, euthanasia, bullying, shootings in schools…killing innocent young ones are taking place in greater masses.  What is going on?  Is it because love no longer exists in the hearts of man?

“In today’s society, pleasure and pain are what govern our thoughts and choices.  We are afraid of pain; we are afraid of pain which love ensures.  We protect ourselves from loving because we fear pain.” 

Is this what’s happened to us? Have we regressed to function as animals, relying on pleasure and pain to govern our direction in life?  Have we lost our ability to think and to rationalize and to look forward to the future, to see that some temporary sacrifices have to be made to gain a little more?  Are we so afraid of pain that we no longer dare to love?  Have we not learned that endurance and strength are gained by experiencing pain?

 “If we are not reflecting on the pleasures and pain of Jesus and Mary, we focus on our own.” 

Sadly, not many reflect on God, let alone Jesus or Mary.  In truth, hardly anyone is reflecting at all these days.  We go on doing things without reviewing what we have done or the consequences of our actions or lack of them.  And if we dwell on ourselves, we normally enter through the doors of self-pity and we dwell there until we don’t have the strength to crawl back out.  Do we fail to see how destructive self-pity is and how it shackles us and how it removes the vision of hope from our horizon?

“When we experience sorrow, we also experience guilt.”  This was one I failed to grasp and hence our brief chat.  Fr. Peter expanded, “When we experience sorrow, many times, we begin to wonder… Had I done things this way or differently, would this have happened?  Could I have done more to prevent this from happening?” 

I failed to comprehend. I had always thought that our sentiments of anger and resentment would normally accompany sorrow.  I had assumed that guilt only came when one was at fault.  By definition, guilt means “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined;  a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct.:  Perhaps I misunderstood the definition of sorrow.  It reads “a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.”

On the surface, what connects “sorrow” and “guilt” is that they are both feelings.  They are emotional states.  And so is “love”.  As I ponder deeper, I ask our Father, “Where is the connection?”  Perhaps our Father was already teaching me something through a disappointment and hurt that occurred last week and He brought Fr. Peter down to help me make sense of it?  As I think about it, I realize this would have taken a lot of foresight and fore planning to get this all to work out, but that’s exactly what God does for each of us…because He loves.

God’s love for each of us, regardless of whether we love Him in return, is so immense. He does everything for us including allow us to exercise our own free will.  It may be difficult to fathom, but it is because of true love that He waits for us to exercise our free will.  Love is a feeling, but love is also a choice.  Unless we freely choose to love Him, it would not be true love.

I am of the opinion that it is when love comes to play that one experiences guilt in times of sorrow.  My oldest daughter had just dropped off a dead bird in a box.  It had flown right into a window where my youngest is staying.  My “not so little one” tried everything she could to resuscitate the bird but she couldn’t.  She was so distraught that she had difficulty breathing.  She felt so guilty that she couldn’t do anything to save its life.  Her older sister came by to console her and she picked up the bird so mom could bury it.

Although she had no previous encounter with this one, my daughter’s loving encounters with our other pet birds brought love into her heart.  If love did not prevail, she would not have taken actions to assist the bird and had love not prevailed, she would not have agonized over her inability to save the bird.

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus, God’s precious Son, took on the punishment and He died for the world’s sin once and for all.  His resurrection brings eternal life to those who believe in Him.

God so loved the world;  God so loves you.  Do you love Him?

God bless,

Melissa – August 17, 2015

REFLECTION: The challenge…

Monday, August 17th, 2015

As I put in one CD disc in after another, I prayed “Lord, please make this one work.”  Finally with great relief, another CD began to play after I previously got one too many “no disc” display on my antiquated CD player.  It was another of Fr. Jim’s Nisbet’s CD teaching, but this time it was on the book of Romans.

REFLECTION:  Break my heart with what breaks Yours…

Friday, August 7th, 2015

“Break my heart with what breaks Yours.”  Have you heard that phrase sung before?  Why would anyone want their heart broken, let alone with one that breaks God’s heart? And yet that is part of the lyrics of Hillsong United’s popular song, “Hosanna“.  Christians sing along, but I wonder how many actually understand what they are singing?  Have they grasped the truth of the lyrics?

Tonight I had sensed God say the phrase was intended for someone in the Prayer Group.  No one claimed the word and so I continued pondering over it as I drove home.  I asked the Lord what He wanted to convey.  It didn’t take long before I began to realize that the hearts of many had been hardened; thousands are dying around the world from hunger, disease and from persecution and war and yet many of us don’t even flinch.  We watch the news with glazed eyes, hardly responding or reacting to the tragedy others have encountered.  Have our hearts turned into stone?

Another portion of the song caught my attention tonight… “I see a new generation, rising up to take their place; with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”  Have you wondered what “selfless faith” means?  I googled it and found this response…”To me, it means that the purpose of your belief in God and Christ is not based upon your desire to go to heaven, but that you believe because you know it is the truth. Also, it means that you don’t act just to serve your own purpose, but for the well being of others.”

I am of the opinion that without realizing it, many Christians have become self-serving.  The world has become too demanding and too engaging and many a times, we have progressively began to focus on ourselves, forgetting about the others.  When was the last time we looked intently into the eyes of the other, recognizing the pain that is hidden beneath the smiling facade they had on?  When was the last time we built up another, recognizing their talents, gifts and achievements rather than pulling them down with one criticism after another?  When was the last time we prayed for the intentions of another not because we felt it was our duty, but because we felt and shared the pain they were experiencing?

We sing “Heal my heart and make it clean; Open up my eyes to the things unseen; Show me how to love like you have loved me.”  I believe that if we sing this stanza with sincerity and true conviction, then what breaks our Father’s heart will also break ours.  It is only then when we can truly sing “I see a new generation (people with changed hearts) rising up to take their place, with selfless faith, with selfless faith.”

God bless,


p.s. – <- Hosanna by Hillsong United

REFLECTION: Eyes to see, ears to hear…

Friday, July 31st, 2015

I have been going to bed each night listening to Fr. Jim Nisbet’s teachings on the Book of Revelations.   On the last CD I was listening to, Fr. Jim had been expanding on the devastating results of the seven plagues.    Learning through listening is good, but key verses are missed, especially when one is drifting in and out of sleep.  Hence, while I was reading the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations, I was both appalled and horrified when I read, The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelations 9:20-21.  An earlier verse just mentioned that a third of mankind had been wiped out by the last plague and yet the survivors won’t repent from their old ways?!?  My heart and mind could not embrace what was written and so I frantically asked our Father, “What is wrong with mankind?  Why don’t they see?!?”  

Our Father has since reminded me that what St. John had written in Revelations was based on a vision he had seen.  And yet, I wonder if what he wrote holds true today.  The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took 230,000 lives from 14 countries.  The world has since experienced one devastating catastrophe after another, causing some to shake and tremble and yet, I wonder if that was enough to cause people to repent and turn to God.  I would imagine that those who had lost family and friends were impacted, but what about the rest of the world?  Have we shrugged and readily dismissed the events because we were not affected?  Lord, have mercy on us.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’  Matthew 13:10-17

Since coming across this verse many years ago, our Father and I have been wrestling about it.  I have been begging and begging Him to open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of those who do not know Him so that they would realize how much they need Him in their lives.  I have pleaded with Him to let them “taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

A brief chat with newly ordained Fr. Paul Goo helped me begin to understand what was going on.  When I asked “Why?”, he halted only for a moment and then he replied, “Each individual still has their free will.”  FREE WILL!  Yes, God has given each of us free will, but isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to fall to begin with?  Fr. Paul reminded me that God didn’t want us to be robots; He doesn’t want to force Himself on us, but He desires us to freely choose to love Him.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the phrase “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”  This reminds me of the parable of the master and the talents.  The first two servants multiplied what was given to them but the third one buried the single talent he was given.  (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28)  As I ponder, I begin to understand. Perhaps many are like the third servant.  Perhaps they do not realize and recognize the treasure that is given to them and so they bury it (keep it out of their conscious thoughts) until they are ready to deal with it.  I would suppose that periodically, they would dig up what was given, but because their eyes are still not open, they continue to fail to see  and so they bury it again.  (It should be interesting to note that although the treasure is buried, it never disappears or deteriorates.  That in itself speaks volumes that God’s truth never fades away.) 

Perhaps the first two servants had a personal encounter with the Master (Jesus) and their time together with Him had revealed the truths of the talents that were to be given to them.  So as they received these gifts (Gifts of the Holy Spirit) they shared it with others, bearing fruits (bringing more into God’s kingdom) and giving glory to God.

In one of his other teachings, Fr. Jim had mentioned that wisdom is not a gift God gives.  Instead, we gain wisdom as we draw close to Him.  The closer we get, the more wisdom we have, but when our relationship wanes, so does wisdom.  To me, wisdom is similar to seeing with our spiritual eyes.  As we draw closer to our Lord, the more we begin to see with His eyes.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, St. Paul writes, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”  For those who have not experienced and accepted the redemptive love of Jesus, the message of the cross is foolish and insignificant, while it is a  stumbling block to others.  Those who do not know God see with the world’s wisdom. 

 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

I then asked our Father, what about “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”?  Doesn’t Your word say, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9  To that I sensed our Father reply, “Yes my child, you know My heart.  I want all to come to repentance and that is the reason why I have shut their eyes and ears.  At the moment, all they want from me is for their own gain.  They want their troubles to be over and they want their aches and pain to dissipate.  That is all they want from me.  Their hearts are not ready; they still lack humility and they are not humble enough to acknowledge that they have sinned.  When the time is right, I will open their eyes and ears.  I am God, remember?

Father God, forgive us.  We admit that we are all sinners and we need the continuous redemptive love of Jesus.  Thank You, that when we stumble, we can run to You and ask for forgiveness and through Your loving mercy, you cleanse us once again, as white as snow.

Lord, there are so many out there who don’t know You.  They do not understand what it means when one catastrophe after another happens.  They do not understand because they don’t know You nor Your word.  But Lord, how will they know unless we become the light of Your world?  How will they know if we, Your children, do not tell them?  Father, when we were baptized, our Baptismal candle was lit from the Easter Candle.  Jesus is the light You sent down to Earth to bring forth light into this dark world.  The lighting of our Baptismal candle symbolizes that we have caught the spark of Jesus.  When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after he encountered You, His face glowed.  Father, when we encounter You each day, let our faces light up too.  Lord, give us the grace, vigilance, endurance and strength to share what You have done in our lives so that one day, when the time is right, those who still don’t know You will truly see and hear You.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,


p.s. – May the lyrics of this song encourage all to pass along the love of God to others…”Pass it on” –

REFLECTION: The boost…

Friday, July 24th, 2015

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He began his talk by describing one of his favorite events when he joins the Grade 7’s at their annual week long outdoor school at Timberline Ranch.  Fr. Garry described the climbing wall and he casually mentions that there is a pulley system that is securely attached to the ceiling and that he, the climber, is harnessed to one end of the rope that runs through the pulley. The rope then runs through a safety belay device that is securely harnessed to an experienced climber, the belayer, who is at the other end of the rope.

Father Garry excitedly tells that the first part of the climb is easy because all the climbing grips are spaced closely together.  However, once he gets closer to the top, the grips are spaced a little further than arm’s length.  He mentions about a specific one where a leap upward and forward was required in order to grasp the grip.  As he pondered this, a dialogue between him and his belayer began.  He was asked, “What is the worse thing that could happen?”  Father Garry’s response was, “I could fall!”  With a little encouragement and reassurance, Father Garry leaped and his leap was true.  He quickly added that it was with the assistance of his trusted belayer, who had stepped back and away from the wall which lifted Fr. Garry up to his destined goal.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
    Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:16-19

Father God, Lord Jesus and faithful Holy Spirit, thank You for being our security.  Thank You for Your faithfulness, loyalty, and Your dependability.  Lord, You know that our journey towards Home is steep and at times, we are so tired and beaten down.  We must confess that there are moments when we want to give up.  Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for that extra boost that lifts us up when every ounce of our strength is gone.  Lord, thank You for catching us when our reach or our grip fails.   And our dearest Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for our sins, because without Your sacrifice we would have had no way back to our Father.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 24, 2015

p.s. – Can you visualize that God our Father is the pulley, Jesus is our rope and the Holy Spirit is our belayer?

REFLECTION in the Garden:  The thieves in the night…

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

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We’ve had a mother bear and cubs, skunks, raccoon, squirrels… come by for a visit, but we’ve never had deer until a few days ago.  The two were a tad shy and hid in the shelter of the trees, but they were here. Undoubtedly they were a beautiful sight, but having heard of the battles others had protecting their plants from the deer, I was a bit edgy.  With that in mind, I scared them off

Over the next few days, evidence of late night visits became evident.  The beautiful white lily that was adored the night before was gone the next morning.  “Headless” stalks of plants have begun to appear and evidence of a hoof in the garden beds have been seen.

I  thought battling slugs and snails were bad; this is a hundred times worse! The deer didn’t take small nibbles like the slugs and snails, they took deer bites, chomping off blooms and greenery within minutes.  To me, it felt as if the enemy had declared war on the garden.

As I reflected in the garden this morning, our Father reminded me of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 24:32-44.  Had I known the thieves were coming, I would have stayed awake, watching and waiting.  But to stay awake every night to shoo those nightly thieves away?  Lord, have mercy on me!  The plants weren’t worth that much sacrifice.

Our Father began to prompt me, hinting that these thieves are like the devil and his minions.  They come when we are not alert, nibbling away at our peace, our security, our faith.  Our Father expanded… the garden represents each of us.  We are exposed to all the elements surrounding us, good and bad alike. The choice plants, shrubs and trees are those values and teachings which we have carefully selected and welcomed into our lives.  Unfortunately, like an open aired garden, we are also subjected to other seeds which the wind blows our way.  Without realizing it, many take root and they become destructive and invasive, using up the space and the nourishment in the fertile soil which are intended to nurture the choice plants.  He reminded me that if we didn’t allow Him to pull out these weeds, the beauty of our gardens would dwindle.

Our Father reminded me that if we continue to submit to His ways, He will continue to pull out those which do not belong.  However, He also cautions… Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Peter 5:8-9  Our Father reminds us to be alert and be mindful of our weaknesses because the devil is watching us, looking for ways to gain a toehold into our lives.  Unfortunately, a toehold can eventually become a foothold and a foothold can become a stronghold.  He calls us to draw close to Him and to learn His word so we can do battle for “our garden”.

God bless,

Melissa – July 22, 2015

REFLECTION in the Garden: The God of Hard Knocks…

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

As I watered the garden beds this morning, I began to notice some things which I may have overlooked before.  Or, was there a possibility that there was a rampant slug attack last night and its devastating reign had left such a worn out and broken remnant of a plant, trying to continue to stand tall in spite of all its injury?  I reached down to pluck off the broken pieces, and while I did, I looked around, searching for any of those slimy slugs which normally hid when day breaks open.  I was so ready to stomp on their heads!

The poor plant.  I believe it is an annual which means that its life span has already been limited to just this summer season while the temperatures are warm enough for its liking.  It was a horrible sight and if I didn’t have some gardening experience, I would have readily pulled it out, believing it had no hope nor future.  However, years of gardening had taught me a lot and I’ve learned that pinching back diseased or broken parts of a plant allows new growth.

I had earlier noticed that I had failed to pinch off the dried up tip of the Clematis vine which I had transplanted a month before.  By now, it should have grown taller and twisted its way around some supporting stake, but because that dried up piece remained intact, the plant remained stagnant in its growth.

As I continued watering, the insights of the Father began to flow.  He reminded me that there was a time when I was not a gardener and I struggled and resisted when I didn’t understand His ways.  He reminded me that our first encounter in the garden was when He had sent me outdoors to pull out weeds that grew wildly in our front yard.  It was there where He told me that from then on, He and I would be pulling out the weeds in my life.  While memories of the hard knocks I had endured came to the surface, He reminded me that He had permitted the slugs and the diseases to come my way so I would realize that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed Him, my personal Gardener, to tend to me and to assist me to grow.

When I asked,  “Why the hard knocks?” he replied, “My Son took the hard knocks for you too.  I sent Him so that you would realize that He, himself, endured the same knocks, if not worse so as to bring you back to Me.”

My thoughts then drifted to a few whom our Father had recently called me to journey with.  It was surprising to realize that I had told one the very same things our Father had told me.  I had also mentioned that if he/she was willing to forgive and to see things with God’s eyes, he/she would come out a stronger and better individual.

A scripture verse comes to mind…”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4

There is no doubt I had a good Teacher and He has taught me so well.  Nevertheless, there were times when I had wished He had sent another human being my way.  He did send some periodically, but He kept them at bay.  It seemed as if He wanted to teach me on His own… perhaps I was a tough one and His “hands-on” teaching was exactly what I needed.

There were times when our Father wanted to pluck off my old ways and my old dreams, but I resisted Him and I wrestled with Him, asking and pleading Him to PLEASE let me keep them.  Just as I now know that pinching damaged and “dead” portions of the plant was the only way to allow me to grow, He went forward and did accordingly.

There were times when He had to pry my fingers loose so that I would let go.  I wailed in grief of the loss, but instead, He offered me His right hand and He gently helped me back up to my feet.

Our Father now reminds me of a poem which often brings a chuckle my way…

Butt Prints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
“But Lord they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life, there comes a time,
when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

author unknown

 Father, thank You for always standing with us through each moment of our lives.  Thank You that You are there in our good times, but especially as we go through life’s trials.  Thank You for Your patience and thank You for your discipline as you tend to our needs so we will grow.  Thank You that you aren’t merely interested in our existence, but instead, you prune us so as to ensure that we bear blooms (fruit) and that eventually, we would have sufficient seed to sow into the lives of those surrounding us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 15, 2015

REFLECTION: When pride comes to play…

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

In his 41st homily, St. Isaac the Syrian, says “The one who has come to a realization of his sin is higher than the one who raises the dead through prayer; whoever has been able to see his own self is higher than the one who has been granted the vision of angels.”

Regardless of how long we have been journeying in our faith walk, when it comes to sin, we are all like every other human being.  “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:22-24

So what’s pride got to do with sin?  Everything!  Pride was one of the factors that led to original sin.  It was man’s desire to be like god; to know all and so they partook of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  It was not as if God had not revealed everything to man.  It was just that the temptation of the devil was too appealing as he planted the seed of doubt in them.  Did they learn anything more beyond what they already knew?  They realized they were naked!

What do we do when we recognize our short comings?  Do we ignore them and rationalize that everyone else is doing the same?  Do we attempt to get involved with the activities in Church in hopes of getting into the good books of God?  Or do we turn to the cross of Jesus, asking for His forgiveness and asking for His grace to change?

When pride comes to play, we can rest assured that the enemy will use it to keep us pre-occupied with the first two, keeping us as far away as possible from a relationship with Jesus.  Pride prevents us from recognizing and acknowledging that we’ve done wrong.  It motivates us to justify our actions and it keeps us away from humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness.  Perhaps in attempt to dismiss the fact that we are flawed and in need of redemptive grace, the enemy tempts us to get involved with religious activities within and around the Church, making us believe that our actions will be sufficient to redeem us back into the good books of God.

Rather than focusing on the redemptive suffering Jesus endured for each of us on the cross, the enemy prompts us to focus on our self-motivated efforts  in serving God so as to gain His approval.  There is nothing wrong in serving the Lord, but it is the self-serving motive of gaining His approval that is oh so wrong. 

We cannot do anything to gain God’s approval.  In fact, we aren’t called to do anything other than to accept His invitation to come to Him “ … when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”   Titus 3:4-6   We are reminded that it is “for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.…”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Father God, forgive us, we have allowed pride to get the upper hand in our lives.  We realize that we have attempted to do things on our own, believing that we can do things to get ourselves back onto Your good books.  Forgive us Lord Jesus because this is an outward offence to the sacrifice you were willing to take on the cross for our sins.  Thank You for opening our eyes and helping us realize that all we need to do is turn back to You with a repentive heart and one that is willing to turn away from the schemes of the evil one.  Please protect us in our faith walk.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 11, 2015