"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—declares the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
How did they do that? The side of the building was a mosaic of stone and bricks. But it wasn't a random mosaic; there was a pattern to it. How did they create the perfect pattern of curved and crisscrossed lines on this vertical plane? Much artistic ingenuity and foresight was necessary to ensure that the lines crossed at precisely the right location when the masonry work occurred.
Having everything in place and executing as planned can result in an amazing feat. God works like that in you. With His plan, and your obedience, you can achieve anything. If you wander from the path sketched out for you, and don't pull yourself back in line, you will not reach the end result that God has in mind for you.
Chart the course. Stay in line. And follow the path laid out for you.
Dear God, thank you for knowing the plans for me and for guiding me along the way of those plans. Amen.
“Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.” - Revelation 4:11
Have you ever seen a dragonfly up close? What an interesting creation by God our Creator! Here's five fun facts about this fascinating insect.
(1) Dragonflies were one of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago.
(2) Dragonflies are expert fliers. They can fly straight up and down, and hover like a helicopter. The flight of the dragonfly is so special that it has inspired engineers to dream of making robots that fly like dragonflies.
(3) Dragonflies only eat prey they catch while flying. They provide a great natural method of mosquito control as a single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
(4) Some adult dragonflies live only a few weeks while others live up to a year.
(5) Nearly all of a dragonfly's head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.
Only God could have mastered such things.
The late Catholic Archbishop of Hartford, John Whealon, (died on August 2, 1991), had undergone cancer surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy when he wrote these very personal words in one of his last Easter messages.
"I am now a member of an association of people who have been wounded by cancer. That association has as its symbol the phoenix, a bird of Egyptian mythology. The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived eight centuries before Jesus was born, wrote about this legendary bird in his poetry. When the bird felt its death was near (every 500 to 1,461 years), it would fly off to Phoenicia, build a nest of aromatic wood and set itself on fire. When the bird was consumed by the flames, a new phoenix sprang forth from the ashes. Thus, the phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. It sums up the Easter message perfectly. Jesus gave up His life, and from the grave He was raised to life again on the third day. New life rises from the ashes of death. Today we are celebrating Christ's victory over the grave, the gift of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus. That is why the phoenix was one of the earliest symbols of the Risen Christ. The phoenix also symbolizes our daily rising to new life. Every day, like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes of sin and guilt and are refreshed and renewed by our living Lord and Savior with His forgiveness and the assurance that He still loves us and will continue to give us the strength we need."
Archbishop John Whealon could have lived in a gloomy tomb of self-pity, hopeless defeat, and chronic sadness, but his Faith in the Risen Lord opened his eyes to new visions of life.
And so must we. Alleluia!! Christ has risen. Christ has risen indeed.
Do you want to fast this Lent? It's not too late. Lent lasts 40 days so all of those days are available to you.
Here are a few tips from Pope Francis:
“In this life, we will always have things to do and excuses to offer, but now is the time to return to God,” Pope Francis said, insisting that the Lenten season is not so much about the small sacrifices made or the things given up as it is “discerning where our hearts are directed.” - Excerpt from Ash Wednesday Homily, 17 Feb 2021
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves ... " - Philippians 2:3
Our pastor tried hard to ensure the faithful received the sacraments on a daily basis by offering them outdoors last spring during the pandemic. We were told to walk single-file, pace ourselves along six foot markers placed in the school parking lot, and took turns to ensure social distancing as we crisscrossed through the crosswalks. It was a beautifully orchestrated procession that worked with the finest military precision.
But it didn't come without its share of scolding, snapping, and correcting when we stepped out of the well-calculated route. The gentleman who monitored the crowd was there every day in his school crossing guard attire, keeping an eagle's eye on everyone's movement, offering correction when needed.
You couldn't help but notice this man's presence. He was very intent and purposeful in keeping the lines moving and flowing without interruption. Every day, day in and day out, seven days a week, he was there. "He must be a good school crossing guard," I often thought to myself, thinking that this was probably his real profession under normal circumstances because of the great care and concern he showed for the people and the process. One day I stopped to thank him for his continual daily service. He gratefully acknowledged me and stated that "some days are better than others."
I was humbled to learn a few months later that the good gentleman in the school crossing guard attire was actually the school principal; but the greater humility was shown by the gentleman who humbled himself to do the work that needed to be done at that time.
O God, thank you for showing me the humbleness of others, and guide me to be more like them. Amen.
A rare find. An elusive look. A unique character.
Stands out in a crowd. Turns heads. Captures one's attention. Stimulates conversation. Debunks normality.
Regular maintenance. Mercifully creative. Outside of the box. Philosophically different. Unexpected. Unnatural. Unworldly.
Is this the description of a zebra poodle ... or that of a practicing Catholic?
Think about it.
"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind ..." - Romans 12:2
At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but really didn't know Him.
But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride. But it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable…it was the shortest distance between two points.
But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine. And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets. Knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. And I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.
And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore, He just smiles and says…"Pedal."
--"The Road of Life", author unknown
"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." - James 1:2-3
Our life's road is full of many obstacles. Some we can avoid; some we have to detour around; and some just hit us right in the face.
With God as our guide, our faith is made stronger as our crooked road is made straight and each obstruction is cleared from our path.
What obstacles have you stumbled upon?
Dear God, thank you for being my navigator as I steer through my life's journey with You. Amen.
"... the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' " - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24
The priest held the Host in his hands. He bent over the paten to get closer to his Beloved. He lovingly gazed at Him, caressed Him with his fingers, and slowly and gently uttered the words of consecration. "This IS my body ..."
Then the priest took the Chalice in his hands. He peered into the depths of the cup. He fixed his eyes on His blood, which had been shed for him and for us. He intently spoke the words of consecration as he swirled His blood within the cup. "This IS the Chalice of my blood ..."
Witnessing this priest during the Eucharistic Prayer was a powerful, life-changing experience. He was no longer "present" to the congregation, but was supernaturally elevated between Heaven and earth. He was One with Jesus, and Jesus was One with him.
And we were all beneficiaries of the encounter.
Lord Jesus, sanctify Your priests. Amen.
'Twas a month before Christmas and all through the town,
People wore masks that covered their frown.
The frown had begun way back in the Spring,
When a global pandemic changed everything.
They called it corona but unlike the beer,
It didn't bring good times; it didn't bring cheer.
Airplanes were grounded, travel was banned.
Borders were closed, across air, sea and land.
As the world entered lockdown to flatten the curve,
The economy halted and folks lost their nerve.
From March to July, we rode the first wave,
People stayed home, they tried to behave.
When summer emerged, the lockdown was lifted.
But away from caution many folks drifted.
Now it's November and cases are spiking,
Wave two has arrived much to our disliking.
It's true that this year has had sadness a plenty,
We'll never forget the year 2020.
And just 'round the corner - the holiday season,
But why be merry? Is there even one reason?
To decorate the house and put up a tree,
Who will see it? No one but me.
But outside my window the snow gently falls,
And I think to myself, let's deck the halls!
So, I gather the ribbon, the garland and bows,
As I play those old carols, my happiness grows.
Christmas is not canceled, and neither is hope.
If we lean on each other I know we can cope.
So let me just add to this clever tale,
Christmas is certain, it will come without fail.
For the reasons we celebrate and remember this day,
Is because of our Savior born in a manger of hay.
He came to save us from evil and sin,
Let's join the celebration and thank Him again.
For this is the season of Love, Joy and Peace,
What more do we need to get through this disease.
So pray for your family, your friends and all others,
Merry Christmas to all my sisters and brothers!
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."