"For no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 3:11
Take sand, gravel or crushed stone, mix it with water and cement, and you have concrete. Concrete is strong in compression (it won't bend) but weak in tension (it can crack); therefore, you usually have to reinforce it with steel, carbon, glass or plastic bars or fibers. Now throw in some agents or additives to handle freeze-thaw cycles, temperature swings, and corrosion resistance. Because concrete production is time-sensitive, once the ingredients are mixed, you must put the concrete in place before it hardens.
You can look at your spiritual life as being similar to concrete production.
What are your ingredients? What makes you strong (you won't bend) or weak (you can crack)? What are your reinforcements? What is needed to keep you stable, balanced and grounded?
Unlike concrete, it takes a lifetime before the ingredients are mixed, placed, and hardened to form the basis of your spirituality.
Master Builder, show me the right recipe for creating a strong foundation. Amen.
TAGS: Inspiration, Prayer
"He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'" - Mark 6:31
The little critters seem to get it. Perched on a stoop in solitude, they can sit and watch and be still for long periods of time until something disrupts their peace.
People don't get it. They need a lot more prodding to silence themselves and become lost in quiet reflection.
Have you gone to a deserted place today to rest a while? If not today, did you go yesterday? This week? Last week? This month? Last month?
Be like the chipmunk and rest a while.
"I know every bird in the heights; whatever moves in the wild is mine." - Psalm 50:11
There were short-term renters at the bird house. The mother sparrow settled in to this quiet place in order to hatch and raise her two young ones. On Sunday there was plenty of steady chirping and by Thursday they had moved on.
But for those four days, Mama was quite busy. Constantly coming and going, bringing food to the house and feeding her flock. "Mama, feed me!" Every time she arrived, the hatchlings sensed her presence, and the chirping increased in velocity and pitch. "Mama, feed me!" they joyously exclaimed upon every arrival. With mouths gaping, she fed them; coming and going, coming and going, she fed them. She often had to put her head into the house to ensure that the second child (a shy one) would receive food as well. "Mama, feed me!"
Each day the small ones grew bigger and bigger. Once just little beaks peaking out of the house, by the third day they were practically pushing themselves out of the door. "Mama, feed me!" was repeated hour after hour, day after day.
What about you? Are you growing spiritually? Are you approaching Mother Mary asking her to feed you with a wellspring of faith? The time for growth is short, but Mother Mary's attention toward you is non-stop.
"Mama, feed me!"
TAGS: Inspiration, Story
“'Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.'" - Matthew 7:12
How many times do you go out of your way to help someone, talk to someone, or contact someone? Have you done so today? Did you interrupt your daily routine and busy schedule to meet an unexpected and unplanned need of another person?
Unlike these flowers, which are groomed for this, bending over backwards is not an easy thing to do. We don't like to shift or stretch or strain from our normal state.
But God asks this of us. Do we hear Him?
O God of our plans and schedules, reshape and contort us to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. Amen.
TAGS: Inspiration, Prayer
"Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and all the signs he had commanded him to do". - Exodus 4:28
I was looking for a sign from God regarding which direction to take on a decision I had to make. Then WHAM!! I got hit with a ton of bricks. "OK, God, you can back off a little bit; I get it!"
We often look for signs. Should I do this or should I do that? Should I go here or should I go there? Should I take this job or should I take that job? Should I donate to this charity or should I donate to that charity? We seek God to help us in our time of need to make the right decision for our self, our family, and those around us.
But do we recognize the answer? Do we hear the voice of God giving us direction? Do we see the face of God showing us the way?
Are we mindful of the answer given to us? What if it is not the answer we want? Do we wait until we find the answer we want?
O God, show me Your will and I will see it; tell me Your will and I will hear it; teach me Your will and I will learn it; lead me according to Your will and I will follow. 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
"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.
Do you feel as though we're in some pretty turbulent times right now? It's like the country, and the world, are spinning in a downward spiral. A walk in the park helped to put a lot of what's going on into perspective.
The sign pointed to a "steep grade ahead", and yet it feels as though we're already sliding down a big hill. Between the pandemic, the election, losing a job, educating the kids, and visiting family, could the grade really get steeper? As it says in Mark 5:13, "... and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned." Are we going to drown in this misery?
But yet, we've been here before. The sign said "prehistoric earthwork", and it was hard not to chuckle. While it seems like these are bad times, other generations have suffered through many, if not worse, pandemics, elections, social changes, and even wars. We can look back at history and know that we are here today because others survived it before. We can also look at our faith and see "... we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are God's "earthwork"; we've been around since prehistoric times, and God has always prevailed.
Further along, the sign questioned whether this was a "fort or sacred site?". Are we singularly building up a defense or a plan of attack so we can plow through these tough times? "Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?" - Luke 14:31. Perhaps instead of erecting a fort on our own so we can conquer these enemies, we should instead choose to be a "sacred site", relying on our good God to make all things right, for it says: "The one who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'” - Revelation 21:5.
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
"Lord, You are in control of my life, my sufferings, and my death. May I never forget that." - reflection from the Padre Pio Prayer Group of Cleveland prayer calendar, 10/1/2020
Wow. What a game-changer. Obvious, but way too often forgotten.
How many times (a day!) do I want to be in control of myself, of situations, of others? I know it's too many to count.
When times get tough, when challenges pile up, when pandemic fatigue sets in, when I am too ill to lift my head, when I am not able to do what I want to do when I want to do it, when my plans and dreams cannot be fulfilled, when my neighbors irritate me ... I will remember these words and repeat them often: "Lord, You are in control of my life, my sufferings, and my death."
And may I never forget that. Amen.
"Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me." - John 15:4
The survey asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic weakened my faith or strengthened my faith.. It was definitely food for thought.
It's easy to get lax in your faith. As restrictions increase and fear persists, we find other ways to spend our regular Mass time. Watching live-streamed Mass at our convenience instead of gathering as a community can become a new norm for many.
On the other hand, as the pandemic continues and staying at home is common, many have lengthened their regular Mass time by adding spiritual reading or uplifting religious programming to their weekly or daily routine.
Psychologists and theorists can cite many examples of scientific behavior modification in people. Here's two theories for consideration: (1) Classical (or Pavlovian) Conditioning, which refers to a learning procedure in which two conditions linked together produce a new learned response in a person. (2) The 21/90 Rule, which states that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change.
We've all had months to change our behavior due to new learned procedures and habits Have you remained on the vine or separated from it?
Now it's your turn. Take the survey.
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."