Monday, February 12, 2018

Wisdom

Who wants the treasure of wisdom? 

"Happy is the man who has found wisdom. Even more happy is the man who lives in wisdom, for he perceives its abundance." These are words from a sermon by Saint Bernard.

And here are three ways he shares "for wisdom to abound in you":
     First, "if you confess your sins";
     Second, "if you give thanks and praise";
     Third, "and if your speech is edifying."

This morning I was struck by this reading entitled "On the Search for Wisdom". How simple it seems to abound in wisdom if we follow St. Bernard's instructions rooted in the Word of God.

1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
James 5: 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

So, sisters and brothers, let us quickly confess our sins that we may be forgiven, cleansed and healed. What I do spontaneously is cry out, "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!" I believe it's one of the most powerful prayers ever.

     Psalm 106:1 Praise you the Lord. O give thanks to the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever. 
    1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances;...His praise shall be continually be in my mouth.
     Psalm 100:4 I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter his courts with praise.

Truly we can enter the Lord's holy presence through praise and thanksgiving. Let us resolve that this become a daily habit in our lives. Is this not where we wish to dwell forever--in the house of our Lord? And so, I cry out also, "Praise you, Lord, thank you..." and just let that spontaneously flow.

     Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

This instruction is a helpful reminder that we have the power to bless or curse with our mouths--to build up or to tear down. Let us choose to be blessings to each other--to speak life!
A Prayer
Lord Jesus, we ask you for the grace to abound in wisdom. Give us your merciful grace to humbly confess our sins knowing we are forgiven by you and knowing you have paid the price for our sins. Give us a wellspring of thanksgiving flowing from our hearts for all the good you have done for us and a song of eternal praise ever on our lips. Bless our mouths that we may have enlightened conscientiousness and self control to speak words that are life-giving and edifying to one another. Amen.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Still Small Voice

I awoke with an eagerness to sit in the presence of the Lord and a sense that nothing was more important. The curtains were pulled open as the morning sun rose and I marveled at His faithfulness.

sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

An old familiar song was still resounding in my mind. One that we sang at a good friend's funeral recently--Surround Us Lord. Quietly I sang the song as the sun rose further; its rays bursting upon the horizon. "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people..." And I felt surrounded by His presence.

Thankfulness welled up inside for his presence and his protection.

Yes, nothing is more important than to hear his voice. So I quieted myself to hear that still small voice. Not in a strong heavy wind, nor an earthquake or fire, but in a tiny whispering sound. 1 Kings 11-12

Sometimes there's a sense of urgency to "Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call to him while he is still near." Another song's refrain resounding through my mind in the early morning hour. And the verse continued on "Today is the day and now the proper hour, to forsake your sinful ways and turn to the Lord." Isaiah 55: 6-9

Cry out for mercy, if you cannot hear. "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

That tiny whisper of his voice within my soul's like sugar--the more I eat it, the more I crave it. Of course, sugar is not very good for us. But the Lord is good all the time and His Word delicious to our souls! Let us taste the sweetness of his Word--devour it, chew on it, ruminate like a cow chews its cud. The more we do that, the more we hunger and thirst for oneness with Him. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1: 1 Jesus is the Word.

Give us, Lord, the desire to seek you first each new day. To sit quietly in your presence and listen for your still small voice. Then, Lord, give us courage and strength to act on it for you have the words of everlasting life.

Monday, October 30, 2017

70 X 7 Times

70 X 7 isn't just math. It's a condition of a heart. When Jesus instructs us to forgive "70 X 7" in the gospel of Matthew 18: 22 that's because he wants his disciples' hearts to be--big, soft and open.

So many things come at us--mean people, hurtful remarks, rude people, wounded people, bullies, and we can recoil and say, "No one's ever gonna break or wound my heart again." Or, "I'll never have anything to do with that person again."

But we gotta keep opening up. It sets us free. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves and can remain in bondage.

Big--living this Word for a bigger purpose. It's not just about me and someone else--it's about how I affect the whole world by my choices. I choose to forgive and I keep the love flowin' within me. Or I choose not to forgive and build a dam within myself. I'm creating my own misery by this choice.



Soft--I sit in the presence of the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to melt my heart. Melt any areas that have hardened and need His touch. Living with a hardened heart affects everything in my life negatively. Maybe especially attitude and vision. Unforgiveness can blind me from seeing God's vision for my life. And attitude has to do with the mind. The Word in Romans 12: 2 encourages us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." So I use good reason and surrender once again (70 X 7) to commit to His will, instead of letting my emotions overtake me.

Open--Once I make a constructive choice to forgive each time and rely on the Holy Spirit to touch my heart, I trust God will work it all together for good as He promises in Romans 8: 28 for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. I don't look back or have any intention of drudging that issue up again. I've removed the barriers by being honest with myself about what needs to change within me. I recognize I can't change anyone else. And I rejoice that I've had another breakthrough--a new passover into the land of freedom. The land of milk and honey--sweet because the river of life, the love is flowing again.



Come, Lord Jesus, into my heart and give me the grace to transform it into yours. It's not about me but You!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Go Into Your Room

I was struck this morning while reading a treatise by St. Ambrose. He was reminding us of how Jesus urged us to "pray earnestly and frequently...with perseverance."

And how Jesus tells us to "Go into your room" to pray.

Ambrose explains, "by 'room' you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you."

Let us remember today, the Kingdom of God is within us. Lk 17: 21 And our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 6: 19

So, indeed, as Ambrose says, "every place is a place of prayer."

in a garden

on an airplane

in a chapel

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I'm Not Perfect

I'm not perfect. I sure wish I was. :-) And sometimes at my age, which is older now, I think I should be. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5: 48) That is my goal--my life-long goal since it will take the rest of my life.
Recently, I heard a wise priest speak about saints who have gone before us. He reminded us that they were not perfect either. They strove for holiness as we are called to do, but they also failed. They had their share of weaknesses and character defects, like us. They were human. The difference in them is that they bounced back up fast from failure, from mistakes and did not let it discourage them.
We can learn to do the same as we surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Pope Francis preached today about how "God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness."
Thank God for this because aren't we all sinners who God loves and forgives, especially as we seek his mercy and forgiveness? I know I am and He has shown me his mercy time and again so I can no longer deny His great love. He has the same love for all people.
This unconditional love of the Lord cannot be taken for granted. We must remember "the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross," so that we too can be resilient like the saints who became holy as He is holy.
Encouraging everyone, the Pope stated, "Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices"...He "offers people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love." 
How comforting that is!
I pray today you may believe that for yourself or someone you know and love who has lost hope.
Believe for the new life Jesus proclaimed, "I have come that they might have life and that they may have it more abundantly."  (John 10:10) 
This abundant life I now experience is entirely possible for all. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find..." (Matthew 7: 7)



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mustard Seed

"Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”…      Matthew 13: 31-32

So how does that happen? Do you want to be like the mustard seed and grow beyond what you ever thought possible?

I do!

Some may think the answer is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And that is a good answer and highly important. But, I heard a very wise man say, " it is not of primary importance."

Others may say, "It is to love your neighbor as yourself." "But that is not of primary importance either," he said.

Although they are the two greatest commandments the Lord gave us, first things first. To grow like a mustard seed he proclaimed, "is to first accept the love of the Lord."

"Could it be that simple," you ask. Yes! That's the mustard seed of faith.




It is the primacy of acceptance, that is my acceptance that God loves me in Christ Jesus--to acknowledge and accept what has already been achieved by Christ Jesus.

If you want to open up and receive more of this grace of acceptance, just ask for it. Pray, "Lord, give me more. Help me to fully accept the love of the Lord for myself." And trust like a child he has heard you. Expect the grace.

Don't forget the God who has saved you. Remember all he has done for you. And you will grow and blossom like a small mustard seed.



Reflections by Fr. Paul Murray/Spiritual Advisor to Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Patti Mansfield

In 1967, fifty years ago, by some miracle of grace the Holy Spirit was poured out upon Patti Mansfield while she was on retreat with other Duquesne University college students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Ark and Dove Retreat Center.



Patti did pray for a miracle and she certainly received one. It was a current of grace that eventually moved across the world.

To prepare for her retreat she prayed, fasted and was docile to the Holy Spirit. She and all the other retreatants were instructed to read the first four chapters of the Book of Acts in the Holy Scriptures and also the book The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.

Patti's prayer was, "Lord, ... I believe I already received your spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, but if it is possible to receive more, I want it."

She and those on the Duquesne week-end retreat invoked the Holy Spirit with the hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus".

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.
Amen. 
In addition, they also had a penance service at the retreat where they repented of their sins. This opened them up to receive the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 
Patti continued to pray, "Jesus be real to me." She told the Lord, "I give my life to you, whatever you ask of me, I accept it, and if it means suffering, I accept that too. Just teach me to follow Jesus and to love as He loves." 
Patti's example is one to follow. Invoke the Holy Spirit, pray and fast. Repent. Ask for more. Expect a miracle. And see what happens.
You may enjoy reading Patti's book: As By A New Pentecost.