"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.
"Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter." - Psalm 24:7
This sign is all too familiar lately as services shut down and businesses close due to the pandemic.
Have you shut down? Have you closed your heart and mind to God's love and mercy?
King of Glory, my doors are open for business in Your kingdom. Enter the store of my heart, and fill my waiting shelves with Your grace. Amen.
" 'Do not be afraid; just have faith.' " - Mark 5:36
What's hiding under this cloth? Our imagination goes into overdrive as we conjure up all of the possibilities that we think the cloth could be hiding.
What are you hiding? We all hide something, whether it is big or small. Maybe we don't want others to see our true personality, a trial we are going through at home, or a birthday party we are planning for a friend.
But God sees all. He sees through and under our "cloth". All of our secrets are laid bare. Go to Him. Do not be afraid. There is nothing you can hide from Him.
Merciful Father, you know me inside and out. Give me the courage and the strength to share with you all that is hidden within me. Amen.
"... yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist." - 1 Corinthians 8:6
Have you ever been around someone who denies the presence of God? Take them into a Catholic church and you can see their anxiety as they can't wait to get out of the building.
How do they justify the beauty of creation: the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, and the valleys? How do they justify the reason for the good and the bad in their life? How do they justify the joy of a newborn or the hope in a death?
Am I doing my part to be a spokesperson for Jesus Christ? Do I continue to show them the places that are uncomfortable to them as I witness to Jesus Christ?
Most Faithful Jesus, help those with unbelief to believe, and help those with belief to lead. Amen.
And with that call, the SpaceX rocket blasted off into the atmosphere. A decade of preparation, research, and testing culminated in the successful launch of a new era in space travel for the United States.
The plan, in the not-too-distant future, is to open up the heavens and the stars as a vacation destination for those seeking an out-of-this world travel experience.
Not sure if I would want to step on the moon or go to Mars, but perhaps it would be intriguing to visit Heaven for a bit in order to "check it out". Wonder if that would be a locale you could select when flipping through the time-share brochure.
What about you? Have you booked your reservation yet?
PHOTO: REUTERS/Thom Baur
With a keen eye, sometimes it seems as though everywhere you look, there are encouraging photos, scriptures, songs, or quotes. As you reflect on the following, share your thoughts in the Comments. What are you feeling? How has this current trial affected you? Changed you? Strengthened you?
"Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings." - 1 Peter 5:7-9
"Without the sacraments of the Church, primarily the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper as it is sometimes called, I certainly do not think that I could go on. I do not always approach it from need, or with joy and thanksgiving. After thirty-eight years of almost daily Communion, one can confess to a routine, but it is like a routine of taking daily food. But Jesus himself told us at that last supper, Do this in memory of me (Luke 22:19)…." - Servant of God Dorothy Day
"Almighty and eternal God, provident refuge in every danger, kindly turn your gaze toward us, who with faith implore you in tribulation, and grant eternal rest to the deceased, comfort to those who weep, health to the sick, peace to those who are dying, strength to healthcare providers, a spirit of wisdom to civil authorities, and a heart to draw near to everyone with love so that together we might glorify your holy name." - Opening Prayer from the Votive Mass in Time of Pandemic
"Despite the strains and stresses we have felt as a nation, and the long road that lies ahead, we remain confident in Christ’s final victory over sin and death. Illness, poverty, conflict, and death cannot triumph over Christ’s love and grace. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)." - Fr. Sebastian White, O.P., MAGNIFICAT
"Each one of us can say: 'I hope, because God is beside me.'" - Pope Francis
"Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where the dark clouds have been."
- In Heavenly Love Abiding by Anna L. Waring (published 1850)
"Death is not the end. We were made for life. We were made for joy. Death brings the fulfillment of that life and joy, but we can live in it now. Even in the midst of grief. Even in the midst of plagues and poverty and confusion. If we are in Christ, we have nothing to fear from the terrors of the world. They cannot kill the life inside us." - Dr. Scott Hahn
"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." - a friend to Fr. A. Juguilon, OSC
You may be the brightest and most knowledgeable person in your field, in your workplace, or in your home. People may turn to you for advice and help. You may be able to recite every statistic from the latest baseball game, or document every step in a complex procedure.
But do you care? Do you show people that you care? Is your concern for others genuine and more noticeable than the actions you take or the words you speak?
O Lord of Mercy, help me to be like the Good Samaritan and show people I care. Amen.
"You may be the only gospel another person reads." - a familiar saying
Have you read a good book lately? Did you tell another person about the good book you read? Did you hear about the good book that someone else read?
Novels, short stories, science fiction, essays, biographies, romance, history. There are all kinds of books to read, from every genre and from every age.
But YOU may be the "book" that another person reads. You are the character, you are the story: the way you live and work and speak and love.
Are you a good read?
Father, write your story on the pages of my life so that others may see Your gospel through me. Amen.
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash
The words on the top of the notepad read: "Leave a trail of genius."
Merriam-Webster defines "genius" as exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.
If I carve the trail, will others follow?
Will my wisdom be a guiding light?
Or am I merely leaving crumbs for others to clean up?
OMG! The butterfly landed on my hand in the backyard. How cool is that!! I could feel it tickling the back of my hand. And, then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
Do you have a moment when God was so close to you, you could touch him and feel His tickling deep in your soul?
O God, come close to me. Enable the Holy Spirit to come alive in my soul. Amen.
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."