"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
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
'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!
Pope Francis explains the symbolism of each figure in the Nativity scene.
Starry Night: "We can think of all those times in our lives when we have experienced the darkness of night. Yet even then, God does not abandon us ... His closeness brings light where there is darkness and shows the way to those dwelling in the shadow of suffering."
Ancient Ruins: "The ruins are the visible sign of fallen humanity, of everything that inevitably falls into ruin, decays and disappoints. This scenic setting tells us that Jesus is newness in the midst of an aging world, that he has come to heal and rebuild."
Animals: "With what emotion should we arrange the mountains, streams, sheep and shepherds in the Nativity scene! As we do so, we are reminded that, as the prophets had foretold, all creation rejoices in the coming of the Messiah."
Angels and Guiding Star: "The angels and the guiding star are a sign that we too are called to set out for the cave and to worship the Lord."
Shepherds: "Unlike so many other people, busy about many things, the shepherds become the first to see the most essential thing of all: the gift of salvation. It is the humble and the poor who greet the event of the Incarnation."
Beggars and Poor People: "There are the beggars and the others who know only the wealth of the heart. They too have every right to draw near to the Infant Jesus; no one can evict them or send them away from a crib so makeshift that the poor seem entirely at home."
Ordinary People: "From the shepherd to the blacksmith, from the baker to the musicians, from the women carrying jugs of water to the children at play: all this speaks of the everyday holiness, the joy of doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way."
Mary: "In her, we see the Mother of God who does not keep her Son only to herself, but invites everyone to obey his word and to put it into practice."
Joseph: "Joseph treasured in his heart the great mystery surrounding Jesus and Mary his spouse; as a just man, he entrusted himself always to God’s will, and put it into practice."
Baby Jesus: "When, at Christmas, we place the statue of the Infant Jesus in the manger, the Nativity scene suddenly comes alive. God appears as a child, for us to take into our arms. Beneath weakness and frailty, he conceals his power that creates and transforms all things."
The Magi: "The Magi teach us that people can come to Christ by a very long route. Men of wealth, sages from afar, athirst for the infinite, they set out on the long and perilous journey that would lead them to Bethlehem ... They are not scandalized by the poor surroundings, but immediately fall to their knees to worship him."
The following meditation, in the form of a poem, was written by Fr. Javier Leoz, a priest in the Spanish town of Pamplona. Pope Francis personally phoned the priest to convey his appreciation of the message.
Will there be Christmas?
More silent and with more depth.
More like unto the first one, when Jesus was born in solitude.
Without many lights on earth
but with the star of Bethlehem
shining on paths of life in its immensity.
Without colossal royal processions
but with the humility of feeling as if we are
shepherds, young and old, seeking the Truth.
Without big tables and with bitter absences
but with the presence of a God who will fill everything.
Will there be Christmas?
Without streets overflowing with people
with our hearts burning
for the One who is about to arrive.
Without noise or festivals,
complaints or stampedes …
but living the Mystery without fear
of the “COVID-Herod” that tries to
rob us even of the dream of waiting.
There will be Christmas because GOD is on our side
and He shares, as Christ did in a manger,
our poverty, trials, tears, anguish and orphanhood.
There will be Christmas because we need
a divine light in the midst of such darkness.
COVID-19 will never be able to reach the heart or soul
of those who put their hope and their high ideal in heaven.
THERE WILL BE CHRISTMAS!
WE WILL SING CHRISTMAS CAROLS!
GOD WILL BE BORN AND WILL BRING US FREEDOM!
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" - John 14:6
We are connected. We are plugged in. Our electricity runs through us to Him and Him to us. It is a two-way connection. If the connection is broken, the energy stops flowing.
Fortify your connection. Tighten your fittings. Stay grounded.
Guiding Spirit, charge me with the surge of your Love. Amen.
This is not intended to be a debate about whether the team logo should be changed or not, or whether the baseball team should be renamed or not, or whether the logo/name is a sign of racism or not.
What it is intended to be is seen in the picture above: love of country over tension in our country.
In a similar way, the Holy Cross can be seen as an instrument of torture for hardened criminals, or an instrument of salvation for triumphant souls. As Catholics, we rejoice in the glory of the Lord as we face the crucifix and all of the good that it beholds.
As you reflect on the picture above, and the striking contrasts on display, remember the Holy Cross. Just as there was victory in the Holy Cross, we have trust and confidence that our country will prevail over injustices and the violence that grasps it.
"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." - John 16:33
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."