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REFLECTION in the garden – Pruning and weeding…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

My intent was to sew tomato seeds, but instead, our Father drew me elsewhere.  The flowering Clematis vine, climbing over an archway, needed cosmetic work.  Many of last year’s withered growth were still attached to the  vine and their presence, mixed with new growth, was an eye sore.   Snipping away wasn’t easy.  Periodically, I would snip what appeared to be a dead branch, only to realize that higher up, growth had already began.  Sadly, that entire branch had to be pulled off because it was no longer connected to the living vine.

With the sun overhead, the work on the vine became difficult and so I moved on to the mulched area underneath two tall cedar trees.  Multitudes of wind blown Laurel seeds had dropped from else where, taking root in a large area that should have been protected by mulch.  Painstakingly, I pulled one seedling after another and then it was time for the weeds.  These had taken root last year and many were now the size of dinner plates.  Uprooting them took much effort, but because of the  previous night’s heavy rain fall, the mulch released the roots more readily.  Pulling the weeds was back breaking in itself, but that chore became more challenging as I worked through the area surrounded by prickly blackberry vines.

Despite my intent, the tomato seeds weren’t sown that morning.  Instead, our Father had other more valuable lessons to teach.  He explained…   the garden represents the life of each individual.  The seeds can’t be sewn to bear fruit until we clear off the debris from previous years.  Like the vine, we have much pain, worry and concern of yesteryears which continue to cling onto us.   Many of us fail to realize that although we attempt to move forward, we are sluggish because of the dead weight we continue to carry.

Didn’t Jesus come “to bring (us) life and have it to the full”? (John 10:10)  Then why are we heavy laden with burdens?  Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…? (Matt 11:28-29)  And yet, so many struggle!  There must be some miscommunication along the way.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus stepped down from Heaven and was born of woman.  He willingly chose to be crucified and to die on the cross as the unblemished sacrificial Lamb of God in order to take away the sins of the world.  On the 3rd day, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He rose again, overcoming eternal death which entered the world when man first chose to disobey the Father.  This IS the Good News!

You’ve heard the Good News, haven’t you?  Did you know that as you chose to believe, you were immediately transferred from the kingdom of darkness and lies of the devil into the Kingdom of God?  With that choice, you were given a new identity, a new life and a new purpose!  You no longer are a nobody, but you ARE a child of God!  Together with Jesus, you are invited to call God, Father… your Papa!  And as a child of God, you are given the power like no other, through the Holy Spirit, to obey and follow the will of God.  Did you know that?  Sadly, many don’t.

Run to Papa God!  Tell Him about your heart aches and sorrows.  He’s been waiting for you to share it with Him.  He invites us to take off our yoke, together with all our grief and sorrows, and to leave them all at the foot of Jesus’ cross.   He whispers, “Take up My yoke”… His teachings and His way of life and to learn from Him.  He reminds us that He is “gentle and humble in heart” and when we turn to Him, “we will find rest for our souls.”

Do you remember the Laurel seedlings and the weeds I had pulled out?  He reminded me that each could not be pulled out as a bunch, but each one required individual attention.  Similarly, each problem that we have, be it big (mature weed) or small (seedling), needed His undivided attention.  He then reminded me that the heavy rain that poured the night before were the tears of each one.  As each one reaches rock bottom, we cry profusely and when we do, we are more willing to relinquish our pride and our self-reliance to him.  He then said, “As a gardener, your desire is to pull out the root system of each weed in its entirety. But if you are the weed, your goal would to be to ensure that some roots would remain so that you would have a chance to grow again.”  The enemy usually allows us just enough time with God to have our problems solved superficially.  He then attempts to distract us away from the Father so that only the surface hurts are healed, but the root problems are still intact and capable of growing once again.  The choice is ours.  We can run the treadmill of a busy lifestyle but go no where OR we can spend time with God.

Jesus said, “The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.  I have come to bring you life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10  Will you come and take the full life Jesus is offering you?

God bless,

Melissa – April 26, 2016

p.s. – Proverbs 16: 9  “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

 

REFLECTION – Not to be taken lightly…

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

“Did you hear about it?  Did you hear about the man called Jesus who was crucified last Friday?  They say it was brutal.  Not only did the Romans force Him to carry the crossbar, but He was forced to carry the entire cross which they crucified Him on.  That’s 300 pounds!  They say He was barbarically flogged just short of death and verbally tormented.  He fell three times and He was forced back up again!   That poor man.  I wonder what He did to deserve that brutality?”

“That was last week’s newsflash.  We were impacted by the strength and valor of this man.  What He endured was difficult to swallow, but that was yesterday’s news.  The memories will soon fade and something else will surely take its place.”

Really?  Can we readily dismiss what Jesus did?  Many do…  They may have heard the story about Him, but to them, it’s just a story.   No big deal.   It doesn’t affect them… or so they think.

Prior to His crucifixion Jesus asked His disciples,  “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  (Mark 8:27-29)

Oh, just a moment!  Don’t read on!  You haven’t answered His question.  Jesus is asking YOU, “Who do you say I am?”

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)  

Paul writes the Corinthian Church, reprimanding them for their indifference to sexual immorality.  He reminds them of the sacrifice Jesus made, and he encourages  them to let go of their past lifestyle puffed up by malice and wickedness, and to begin again with sincerity and truth.  

Why did Paul remind the Corinthians of Jesus’ sacrifice?  Surely they would have remembered…  Perhaps just like today, the memories of Jesus’ sacrifice were short lived in the minds of the Corinthians.  Life carries on and old habits rise back to the surface.  Perhaps the impact of what Jesus died for had barely sank in and they remained spiritually immature.

Did you notice that Paul referred to Jesus as our Passover?  In the process of releasing the Israelites from the torment of slavery by the Egyptians, God had given instructions to Moses and Aaron for the first Passover…  “Tell the whole community of Israel:  On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.  If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.  The lamb must be without blemish… With the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.  They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. (Exodus 12)

Do you recall what happened then?  “It is the Passover of the LORD.  For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!  But the blood will mark the houses where you are.  Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”  (Exodus 12)

Jesus, our Passover.  Pass over… does this mean that God’s executing judgement on man will be passed over because of the blood shed by Jesus?

When John the Baptist first saw Jesus he proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

I will quote directly from BibleAnswers.ie (http://www.bibleanswers.ie/short-bible-studies/64-jesus-christ/158-lamb-of-god) as the site explains perfectly…

“God gave Israel a sacrificial system around which most of their religious activities revolved. The offering of animal sacrifices by the priests was inseparably linked with the sins of the people. Yet these sacrifices, which lasted for 1,500 years, were ineffective in securing a pardon for sins committed.

Then why were they offered? The sacrifices served the following purposes: (1) they showed how serious sin is in that sin required the sacrificial death of an innocent victim, (2) the sacrificial system pointed to a time when God would provide his own Son to be an effective sacrifice for sin.

Jesus Our Substitute

The book of Leviticus, chapter sixteen, speaks about ‘the scapegoat.’ The priest would take two goats, one would be killed as a sacrifice for the sins of the people and the other would become a scapegoat. The priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat over which he would confess the sins of the nation. He would then chase the goat away into the wilderness. In a symbolic way, the innocent goat became a scapegoat for the people and his being chased away symbolised the removal of the sins of the nation.

In Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb of God, we have a scapegoat provided by God. Our sins were laid upon the Lord and his atoning death took those sins away. Isaiah the prophet foretold the sacrifice of Christ in terms of him being our substitute: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) The apostles Peter and Paul express the same truth: “God made him who had no sin to be sin on our behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his boy on the tree …” (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus did for us what we could never have done for ourselves: he took our place; he became our substitute; he became our sacrifice and his death satisfied the holy justice of God. For this reason he is called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

It is only the Holy Spirit who can help us appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice. “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)  Are we to scoff and look down on those who have not yet believed?  I don’t think so.  Weren’t we in the same position not too long ago?  Instead, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to pray for them and for ourselves.  And as we wait for this victory, let us ask for the desire to draw closer to God and spend time conversing with Him and reading His Word.  Isn’t that the least we should do?  

God bless,

Melissa – March 30, 2016

p.s. – Gethsemane sang by a 3 year old…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWIx24J00Wc

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION: But My people didn’t listen to My voice…

Monday, March 28th, 2016

 

“But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me. “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices.”  Psalm 81:11-12

Have you wondered what it would be like if God left us to our every whim?  I shiver at the thought of it…

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonoured among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;  and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them Romans 1:24-32

The book of Romans was written in 57-58 a.d.  Had it not been mentioned where this passage was taken from, one could have readily assumed it was referring to today’s society.  It’s difficult to fathom that these activities took place in Rome even in those early days, isn’t it?

But wait!  If Romans was written in 57-58 a.d., then that would mean these took place merely 34 – 35 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection!  Somber thought…

It was only yesterday that we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and now this?  Sadly yes.   This is what our reality offers.  If only the spiritual eyes of each one were open to the truth that Jesus took on the sins of the world while on the cross and He died as a result of it… and then to realize that He rose again, through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that sin and death would no longer have a hold on us.  If only…

God loved man so much that He didn’t force man to love Him in return.  Instead, He invited man.  He gave man the choice to freely choose to receive that invitation to love… the invitation of salvation.  Jesus freely gave, bad sadly, many have freely rejected.

For even though they knew God, they did not  honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.   Professing to be wise, they became foolsand exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  Romans 1:21-23

Father God, thank You for revealing Your presence and splendor in creation.  Our failure to believe does NOT diminish the truth that You exist nor that You created the world and man… in Your image and likeness.  Have mercy on us and forgive us Lord, for choosing to worship and serve the created rather than You, our Creator.  It is only by Your grace that we can believe.  Lord, help us with our unbelief.

Father God, thank You for loving us so much that you sent Your Son, Jesus, down here to earth… down to our level to take on our human form so He could walk among man.  Mother Mary, thank you for your yes, your fiat to our Father, giving birth to Jesus here on earth.  Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing our Father’s love.  In spite of knowing the pain, anguish and the indescribable torment that You would endure while You prayed in the garden, You chose to do the Father’s will.  Oh Lord Jesus, our hearts and our minds cannot fathom what You endured because You loved.   We thank You with all that we have for taking on our sins and for dying on the cross to bring us salvation.  Our dearest Holy Spirit, thank You for raising Jesus from the dead.   Lord, because of Your resurrection,  the shackles that bind us to sin have been broken and we are set free from the ways of the world and eternal death.

And now Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us the grace to freely choose to invite You into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour.  We pray for all the others who have chosen to turn their backs on You.  We plead for your mercy over each and we ask that You open their eyes so each one may see and then to choose to believe.

Lord, send forth Your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

 

God bless,

Melissa – March 28, 2016

p.s. – Father God, thank You for being a God of second chances…

Israel to Be Renewed for His Name’s Sake

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not[j]bring a famine on you. 30 I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!”

33 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. 35 They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken and will do it.”

37 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like the flock[k]for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”’”  Ezekiel 36:22-38

REFLECTION: onk, onk, onk… (busy signal)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

“Onk, onk, onk….”  I’m not sure if this is the best representation of a busy telephone line, but I’m sure you get what I mean.  Sadly, this is the response God often gets when He tries to connect with us.

In his book, Thirsting for Prayer, Fr. Jacques Philippe mentions that it is God, himself, who invites us to respond to his call.  I assume many don’t realize that God seeks man out more actively than man seeks God.  But what good is man to God anyway?  God can create whatever He wants out of nothing, so why does he continue to seek the very ones who turned their backs on Him?  Because “right from the start, He ardently desires to enter into communion with us.”  If the latter is true, that would actually mean that we really mean something to Him, doesn’t it?

If we are honest with ourselves, I believe many would shamefully admit that they haven’t seriously considered having a relationship with God.  “What for?”  I’ve managed without him.  Prayer is just a waste of time.  I don’t get anything out of it.”  And yet, God continues to call…  Many won’t bother picking up because they’re too busy running on the treadmill of life, running for reasons they don’t know themselves except, perhaps, to keep up with what the world is doing?

God asks us to pray.   “In asking us to pray, he knows what He is doing.  His plans are infinitely beyond anything we can glimpse, desire or imagine.  In prayer there is a mystery that absolutely surpasses our understanding.  What drives a prayer life is faith – faith as trusting obedience to God’s proposal.   And we cannot even imagine the immense positive repercussions of this humble, trusting response to God’s call.”

“If we pray for the sake of the benefits we hope to obtain from prayer, we risk becoming discouraged at some stage.  The benefits are neither instantaneous nor measurable.  If we pray in an attitude of humble submission to God’s word, we will always have the grace to persevere.”

“This attitude of loving, trusting obedience is the most fruitful thing of all.   Our prayer life will be rich and beneficial to the degree that it is inspired, not by a desire to obtain anything, but by this approach of a confident, obedient response to God’s call.  God knows what is good for us, and that should be enough for us.  We ought not to take a utilitarian view of prayer, reducing it to questions of results and profits; that would distort it completely. We don’t have to justify to anyone else the time we spend on prayer.  God invites us, so to speak, to “waste time” on him, and that is enough…  The more our prayer is gratuitous – done freely, not to get something out of it – the more it will bear fruit.  What we need to do is entrust ourselves to God to the extent of doing whatever he asks of us, without feeling any need for further reasons”

Philippe quotes John Paul II”  “Prayer makes us into friends of God, introduces us into intimacy with Him and draws us into the richness of his life, bringing us to live in Him, and bring Him to live in us.  Without that reciprocal exchange of love which prayer brings about, the Christian religion is merely empty formalism, the announcing of the Gospel is just propaganda, and charitable commitment is just social work that does not make any fundamental change in the condition of mankind… Prayer enables us to draw from God a life that is ever new, to let ourselves be continually reborn and renewed.  Whatever our trials and disappointments, harsh situations, failures, and faults, prayer makes us rediscover enough strength and hope to take up our lives again with total confidence in the future.”

Have you spoken to God?  That’s prayer!  You don’t need to run to another who appears more versed in praying to connect with Him.  All He wants is you, just as You are.  As you come to Him and share what’s been going on in your life, you’ll gradually begin to understand why He invites you for a chat.

Do take a look at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLVzV9n69UY  It speaks volumes on its own.

He’s waiting…

God bless,

Melissa – March 23, 2016

REFLECTION: Do I express the joy of the Lord in my life?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

“I’m gonna take it all,
I, I’m gonna be the last one standing.
Higher over all,
I, I’m gonna be the last one landing.
‘Cause I, I, I believe it,
And I, I, I, I just want it all…
I just want it all…
I’m gonna put my hands in the air!
Hands, hands in the air!
Put your hands in the air!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying AYO! Gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life,
Saying AYO! Baby, let’s go!”

These are the lyrics of the last song Fr. Rob Galea chose to sing for his concert on Sunday.  His choice of song was there to challenge his audience to stop being so serious all the time and to enjoy life!

Dynamite is the title of the song he chose and its lyrics brought a smile to my face.  Fr. Rob related of a time when he had  two Christian concerts to perform, one after the other.   The first group were from Australia and the other from Canada.  Having lived in Australia for a while, he was able to relate to the relaxed, party attitude of the Aussies.  Evidently, the concert was a blast.  The atmosphere of the second event was stringent and reserved.  To break the rigid atmosphere, he sang Dynamite!

Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be explosive like dynamite?  I remember a visiting Priest ask why there are many Catholics sitting on the pews with funeral faces.  Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but He rose again and is ALIVE!  Do we proclaim that truth in our lives?  I don’t think so.

Many carry on their lives with long faces and they walk with a distinct heaviness on their shoulders.  Yes, they have endured hardship and many are still undergoing hardship, but do they not realize that Jesus came so that we may have life, to the full?  (John 10:10)

Have they not experienced the chains being broken and been set free?  Have they not received the crown of  beauty that has been exchanged for their ashes?  … the oil of joy instead of mourning… and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?  We were promised that we would be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  (Isaiah 61:3)

A portion of last Sunday’s second reading resonated with me...”Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come...  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,  not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. 2 Cor 5:

I’ve always wanted to ask new adult converts what it means to be baptized.  Cradle Catholics are, more often than not, baptized in infancy.  It is such a blessing to be brought into God’s family at an early stage, but then we fail to recognize that we have become new creations.

In my mid-teens, I had a physics lab partner who loved singing Christian songs.  She had such a beautiful voice, but because the lyrics were all about God, they didn’t sit well with me.  I kept asking her to “change the channel” and she would change “it”, but that merely meant an alternate Christian song.  Through her love and persistence, I finally attended the youth group at her Evangelical Church.  It was there where I learned about having a personal relationship with Jesus and about sharing my faith with others.  Undoubtedly, God began to transform me and my Catholic friends recognized it.   They, too, joined the Youth Group and eventually, when we learned as much as we could to run one, Fr. Kenny allowed us to set up our own youth group at Holy Name Parish.  Thankfully, he brought in Paula, who supervised and counselled us through.

We were young, but we all were so hungry for God’s love.  A spark was lit in each one of us and we ran with it.  One of us became a Priest (Fr. Lawrence Donnely) and another a nun… and then there’s me.

Unfortunately, while each of us followed varying career paths, we all lost touch.  I’m not sure about the others, but God has faithfully kept that spark alive in me even through 3 severe bouts of clinical depression which lasted about 7 months each, an overdose of my tranquilizer and other life trials.  I noticed that each time my head would come up to the surface, I gasped for more of God.  It was He, alone, who kept me alive and who gave me the many graces and blessings to stay alive.

The tune of a song resonates in my mind and so I share  We Are The Reason (lyrics by David Meece)..

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys we knew we’d find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason that He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by we learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves and what that means
On a dark and cloudy day a man hung crying in the rain
Because of love, because of love

And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

I finally found the reason for living
It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I’ll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

He is my reason to live

Lord, we ask for the grace to know You as our personal saviour and intimate friend.  Yes, You came into this world because You loved us so much and You could no longer bear to continue to watch us go astray.  We are all sinners; I am a sinner Lord Jesus, and I ask You to forgive me,  I am sorry for all that I have done and failed to do.  Come into my life Lord Jesus.  Dear Holy Spirit, You are the very power that raised Jesus from the dead and thank You that together with Jesus and God , our Father, You now also live in me.  Open my spiritual eyes so I can recognize Your presence in my life.  I give you the liberty to act in my life, guiding me, leading me and giving me the freedom to live the FULL LIFE Jesus came to give.  Thank You for opening my spiritual eyes dear Holy Spirit.  Thank You that I have my life and I am able to live my life to the FULL.  Thank You Lord Jesus for setting me free!  In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 9, 2016

p.s. –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrPAZbD6fG0 <- please click, watch/listen to WE ARE THE REASON

 

REFLECTION – an aboriginal, Veteran’s funeral…

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

The ceremony began with the ringing of a hand held school bell while the elder of the Indian Shaker Church sang in his aboriginal mother tongue. His hand gestures  translated the song, but later,  he continued  in English.  As he raised his hand towards Jesus on the cross, he sang “Creator God, call your son back to You.  Send your water down to him (his coffin) so he can return back to You.”  As he sang the latter part, he used paddling gestures, indicating the last journey Susan’s late father would take on his canoe back to the Father’s heart.

The coffin was draped with the Canadian flag and cedar branches were laid beneath the coffin.  I soon learned that he was a veteran who fought in the Korean war.  He was born in Newfoundland, but later moved to Vancouver where he met Susan’s aboriginal mother.  Although he was not a native himself, the community treated him as one of their own.

The elder continued, “You have  the memory of your father in your mind.  Release him from your mind so he can enter into your heart.  Let his presence in your heart draw you all together as a tighter community.”

A tall aboriginal man with sharp features and weathered skin was invited to play 2 songs on the flute for his friend.  He mentioned that he couldn’t come this way without dropping in to pay his respects to Bernie.  The two songs he played fluttered in the air, but each stanza would end in a sad wail.   With his drum made of stretched hide, his son-in-law chanted a song in his mother tongue.  A funeral tribute by the Royal Canadian Legion was read followed by TAPS played on a bugle with the aid of google.  And then it was time to say goodbye.  The memorial leaflet indicated that sunrise for Bernard Murdock LeMoine was on February 15, 1933 and sunset on February 27, 2016.

As they rolled his coffin out of the Parish, dear Susan said goodbye and she began to sing Bernie’s well loved song…

Skinny marinky dinky dink
Skinny marinky dinky doo
I love you
(Repeat)

I love you in the morning
and in the afternoon
I love you in the evening
and underneath the moon

Skinny marinky dinky dink
Skinny marinky dinky doo
I love you

Bidding a final farewell to this war veteran, guests were invited to remove their poppies and to lay them at the foot of Bernie’s coffin.

God bless,

Melissa – March 6, 2016

p.s. – Inscribed on his memorial bulletin… “Dad, I remember on Wall Street Ralph Kettle slept over and at 8 o’clock in the morning, Ralph woke me up telling me I needed to see something.  It was my dad in the kitchen singing “Oh Skinny marinky dinky dink, Skinny marinky dinky doo, I love you.” but he was singing it to our cat, Sid.”

 

REFLECTION: Who can separate us from the love of God?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

I’ve been wondering… Why are there individuals who sense the love of God while there are those who don’t?

Romans 8:38-39 declares…”For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  In essence, scripture says that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus.  Declaring that truth has brought comfort  and peace to many in times of fear.  And yet, why are there still those who don’t know the love of God?  

Have you noticed that God remains out of the lives of many while life is flowing smoothly?  Many continue on without Him when they encounter a hiccup or two, but when a major trial strikes and every personal effort achieves nothing, God is finally sought… by some.  His existence is questioned and He is often bashed and blamed for not doing anything… but He is sought!   Even if it begins in anger, at least the communication channels have opened!

It is understandable why people eventually seek God when, what looks like a sinking boat, is tossed violently back and forth and the blustering wind doesn’t appear ready to dissipate.  Despair rather than victory is triumphant, while hope is no where to be found.  Fatigue, confusion, fear and agony appear to be the only emotions left.

“God?  You out there?  We’ve never spoken before.   I’ve never really needed your help, but I’m in real trouble now.  Everyone has turned against me and I’m at my wits end.  I’ve done all I can and I can’t fight anymore.  I am so tired.  I can’t even lift a finger to type another text.  I’m done God.  If you are really out there, I need your help.”

I’ve seen miracles like these take place.  The feet that once slipped in all directions are steadied, the individual that was once tossed topsy turvy has learned to ride the waves;  and the hands, which once would not let go of the cell phone, are now held securely by the Father’s hand.

One could say that these individuals have finally come to their senses.  Their spiritual eyes have been opened and they realize that only God can help them through.  Just as with the prodigal son, pride is finally set aside and humility is put on.  Reality is finally faced and a contrite heart is ready to ask for forgiveness and for help.  I can imagine God running with arms open wide saying, “I’ve been waiting for you to return home!”

Do you recall the older brother of the prodigal?  He refused to have anything to do with the celebration of his brother’s return.  In fact, he is spiteful.  When his father comes out to invite him in, he replies…Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’  Luke 15:29-30

The older brother had remained faithful and yet, not once did he experience the father’s love.  Based on the father’s response to the younger brother, one would assume that the father loved the older brother just as much.  But what was it that prevented him from experiencing the father’s love?

Do you recall the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector?   “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  Luke 18:10-13

Of the two, which one would you think was ready for an intimate, personal and loving relationship with God?  The humble and contrite one!  I am of the opinion that the arrogant, self righteous one was offered all the love of the father right from the start, but he freely chose to remain aloof and distant, preventing him from recognizing and blocking the path of  the father’s love.

In his Lenten talk, Fr. Craig Scott accurately stated, “Heaven and Hell cannot separate us from our free will.”  Although they had everything under the sun including God’s friendship and unconditional love, Adam and Eve exercised their free will.  Rather than remaining obedient to Him, they chose to turn their backs on God.

Father, forgive us for the choices we make that distance ourselves from You.  We often pride ourselves in our self-sufficiency and in our ability to control our lives and others.  Father, forgive us for not immediately running to You.  We can only imagine the sadness that arises as You watch us run to those that mask the pain (ie: alcohol, drugs, food or pornography) rather than to ask for Your help.  You have given us the gift of free will, but we so often use it to choose the things of the world rather than You.  Thank You for loving us so that even if we don’t seek You, You still remain with us, waiting for us to realize that we cannot live without You.  Open our eyes Lord, so that we will recognize how much we need You. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 2, 2016

 

REFLECTION:  Memories are seeds for hope…

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Yesterday, our parish community joined in celebrating the memorial service of a dear friend’s husband.  Although he had a lingering heart problem, his passing was sudden and unexpected.  His family and friends knew his time would come, but no one expected him to go without having a chance to say goodbye.  Michael passed in his sleep.

Msgr. Greg began his homily by mentioning that this would be his second homily at a funeral service within 24 hours.  His long time friend, Sr. Josephine Carny had passed and he mentioned that she was in her 90’s.  Michael, on the other hand, was 58.  Regardless of their age difference, Msgr. said that we would be asking for the same thing.  “God, forgive his/her sins.  Show him/her Your mercy.”

Michael died in the Year of Mercy.  God’s mercy is the aspect of His very nature and His plan.  Michael’s family was very aware of God’s mercy.  The scripture text they chose are par excellence.
What did the criminal do to earn his way to Heaven?  He asked.  For Michael, we ask that he, too, will be in paradise.

Memories are seeds for hope.  This message is particularly for Michael’s children.  The scriptures read are the memories of God’s love by his chosen people.  Undoubtedly, the memories of the shock of Michael’s death Saturday morning has not worn off.  Friends gathered in the family home, planting seeds of hope.  The Gospel is the seed of hope that now needs to be watered with faith so that it will bear the fruit of peace.

When my father died, Sr. Josephine wrote this on her card…”Memories are seeds for hope.”  Annamaria, I say to you, and especially to the children, ponder all your memories of life with your husband and father.  Every memory is surrounded by God’s love.  Let this love be a reflection of God, your Father, who will be with you today and the years ahead.”

In Christ Alone by Chris Townend
(sung by the children choir)

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ExMwj9Efw <- click to listen

BIG SIGH…

God bless,

Melissa – February 27, 2016

p.s. –

Lamentations 3:22-25 (First Reading)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Psalm 103:1-18

1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul,and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Second Reading)
 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Luke 23: 39-43 (Gospel Reading; Jesus’ crucifixion)
...39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.d ” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

REFLECTION:  God’s Word!

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

We did Sybolon at our Bible Study session today and it was good!  The topic this week was the Bible.  As she was being interviewed by the host, one of the guests mentioned that, to her, BIBLE stood for the acronym“Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”.  We all laughed, but I wondered how many knew how to apply that to their lives?

I wonder how many truly believe the Bible is God’s love letter to man?  The Bible is God’s revelation of who He is to us.  Through time, God employed various authors, giving them the freedom to apply their own writing styles and personalities, while inspiring them to record His messages… no more and no less.  What the author affirms in scripture is exactly what God wants to affirm.

Another guest mentioned “Scripture was written so a mouse can wade in it while an elephant can bathe in it.”; the mouse representing a new Christian while the elephant representing a well versed theologian.  No matter where we are in our life journey, each can glean from the Bible!

Dr. Ed Sri, the DVD host, closed the session with …”God wants to write His word in our hearts.  Will you listen to Him?  Open the Bible, pray with it, use it.”

My heart’s desire has always been to teach others what the Father has taught me.  He has brought the Bible to life for me and my heart yearns for others to experience the same joy and strength that I receive from it.

While in the garden this afternoon, I asked our Father, “How can I teach them, Lord?”  I didn’t sense an answer, but not too long after, I began to sing On Eagle’s Wings

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in his shadow for life,
Say to the Lord: “My refuge,
My rock in whom I trust!”

Refrain
And he will lift you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of his hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under his wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.

Refrain…

You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

Refrain…

For to his angels he’s given a command
To guard you in all of your ways;
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Refrain…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrLafWZxczI <- cover by Josh Groban

As I sang, my mind and heart began to realize that many knew scripture through song, but they didn’t realize it was scripture!

Psalm 91 Security Under God’s Protection
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,[b]
    who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,
    my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
    from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you may take refuge;
    his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
    nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
    the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the Lord for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
10 No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
11 [c]For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.

12 With their hands they shall support you,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
    trample the lion and the dragon.
II
14 Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
    because he knows my name I will set him on high.
15 He will call upon me and I will answer;
    I will be with him in distress;
    I will deliver him and give him honor.
16 With length of days I will satisfy him,
    and fill him with my saving power.
 

Thank You Lord for answered prayer!  Help all realize that as we sing this song in times of trials, we are declaring  Your Word back to You, to ourselves and to the enemy and his adversaries; declaring who You are and what You do in the lives of Your children. Father, teach each one to pray the promises You have given us in Your Word.  Father God, thank You that we can securely proclaim that “You ARE our refuge, our very rock in whom we can trust!”  Help each of us realize that as we sing and declare Your Word, we are doing battle with Your Word, just as Jesus did when He was tempted in the desert.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the golden thread that connects every book of the Bible to You.  That golden thread is You, dear Holy Spirit.  Thank You that Your Golden Thread also runs through each of us, Your children, so that Your Word can come to life in our lives.  Thank You that the stories of our lives are part of Your story (His story).  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – February 25, 2016

p.s. – Today, one of our participants had shared a vision which she received at our parish sanctuary this morning.  She had mentioned that each Christian is a “beating” cell of our Father’s beating heart.  Together, we beat as ONE with the Father’s heart!

A prayer for our Priests

Monday, February 15th, 2016

 

Father God, we lift all of your Priests to You; the young and the seasoned, and all those who are studying to become Priests.  We thank You for giving them the grace to sacrifice themselves from the world, consecrating themselves to You alone, so that they may serve You with their whole mind, body and soul.  Lord, protect them and shield them from the fiery darts of the enemy.  We, the laity, forget that these ones whom You have hand picked to be Your shepherds are constantly under the attack of the enemy, more so than the laity, so that IF they stumble, many will fall with them.  Protect them Lord.

Although many of us see them only for an hour each Sunday during the celebration of Mass, we do not realize the hours they put in counselling and praying with others, be it during the Sacrament of Confession or the time spent edifying and encouraging those who are struggling with their families and with the world.  Lord, grant them the many graces they need… the strength and endurance against fatigue, wisdom and discernment, compassion and understanding, and the gentleness of Jesus, so that those who come to them for guidance will be lifted up by You, as these Priests encourage and redirect each one’s focus back to You.

Lord, we ask that You give them time to spend alone with You.  Jesus never failed  to take time away from the business of the world.  We ask for your grace to give our Priests, with such busy schedules, the strength to break away from the call of the world to refresh themselves and to regain their strength in You.  Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on your faithful servants.  It is You alone who can equip each  to fulfill the will of the Father.  We ask that You open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of each Priest so that they will hunger for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Fill them with Your fire Lord.

And Lord, as we pray for our Priests, we also pray for ourselves, their congregation… we ask for patience and understanding so that we can appreciate the busy schedules they have.  We ask that You plant the daily desire in each of us to intercede for our Priests who are at the forefront so that they can continue to do Your will.  Father, help each of us laity realize that we are a team with our Priests and without our prayers, our Priests go forward with limited artillery.

Lord, we ask for sound and restful sleep for each and that they will awaken refreshed.  May each Priest be strengthened daily by Your body and blood in the Holy Eucharist so that they can continue to go forth in Your victory.

Lord, help us not forget our retired Priests.  We thank You for their service and dedication.  We ask for your continued protection over them and continue to bless them with a fulfilled life until You bring them back Home to You.

Thank You Lord for our Priests!

In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – February 5, 2017

p.s. –

There was something that struck me from the readings last week.  I believe it was about Jesus and the Apostles hoping  to go to the other side to rest, but when they arrived there, they were greeted by a crowd.

As I heard that, I suddenly realized that this is what often happens to Priests.