The crucifix was over 23 feet tall and weighed 4200 pounds, raised high upon the wall of the church. I had never seen anything like it. I lowered myself to kneel under the weight of this cross.
When I stood to pray the Our Father, and gazed on the crucifix, the corpus came alive. My eyes showed me things I hadn't seen before. I felt as though I was truly watching the crucifixion on Calvary.
With my eyes fixed on His chest, I could see it pulsing and throbbing. He was gasping for air. His chest was pounding, in and out, in and out, but laboriously. There were short inhales and hurried exhales as He struggled to breathe.
What to make of this? An inanimate object was becoming animate to me. Yet I couldn't take my eyes off of it. How could I help Him? How could I ease His suffering? His chest continued to writhe in agony.
"My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me." - Reproaches from the ancient liturgy of Good Friday
"Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you." - James 4:10
Commonly known as a medical alert bracelet, they are a means to communicate important information regarding your health to first responders in a medical emergency.
But she calls hers a "Humility Bracelet." "When I look at it," she says, "I am reminded that a Power greater than me is in charge, and that I am not invincible or perfect."
She also says her "Humility Bracelet" reminds her to slow down, calm down, and take it easy because of the health condition given to her by God.
Perhaps we should all wear a "Humility Bracelet" to remind us continuously of our need for God and His Presence in our life.
Slow down, calm down, and take it easy. Good advice for all of us, with or without a "Humility Bracelet."
TAGS: Reflection, Story
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:39
While paging through the advertising/coupon magazine that came in the mail, this "ad" was discovered tucked within its pages.
"Love thy neighbor," it stated, and it was written as though spoken by Jesus.
The juxtaposition of this message with refinishing, mulch, and window covering messages was definitely an attention-grabber. There it was, smacking you in the face.
"Love thy neighbor," it stated.
You couldn't miss it. Subtle evangelization in the strangest, yet most prominent, of places.
"Love thy neighbor."
You have to wonder how many people did that simple message reach. Did you see it?
The school bus stopped in front of the place. From above, you could see the number of the bus by the door and on the roof. The numbers were "923". These numbers probably meant nothing to most people, except to be used as a means to identify one bus from another.
But to devotees of St. Padre Pio, these numbers represent the Feast Day of a Beloved Saint: September 23, i.e. "923".
Perhaps there was a connection between these numbers and this bus.
Perhaps the bus carried people needing the protection of St. Padre Pio.
Perhaps the aura of St. Padre Pio was present throughout the bus.
Perhaps it was just the awareness of a keen eye who stopped and noticed the significance of the numbers on the bus.
St. Padre Pio, forever present among us, pray for us.
TAGS: Reflection, Story
"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
"Open wide your mouth that I may fill it." - Psalm 81:11
Since the tree nuts aren't ripe yet, the squirrels are eating pine cones like they are corn-on-the-cob. It seems like picnic time with all the naked pine cones, and the little remnants that are left behind, scattered throughout the yard.
Squirrels, like all outdoor animals and birds, are hungry and searching for food to satisfy their nutritional needs.
Humans, on the other hand, are mostly blessed with enough food to satisfy their physical hunger. However, they continue to seek out food to satisfy an "other" hunger. This hunger, a spiritual hunger, is often undefinable.
With summer upon us, picnics abound in backyards, parks and festivals. Satisfying a physical hunger is relatively easy, but a spiritual hunger may take some work and be hard to sate.
This summer, make time to fulfill your spiritual hunger. Create a picnic, of sorts, of spiritual material to meet your yearnings. So hungrily devour this feast that your longings resemble corn-on-the-cob with only little remnants left behind.
Divine Master, enable me to come to You to satisfy my mind, heart and soul with overflowing abundance and grace. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Reflection, Story
"Samuel did not yet recognize the LORD, since the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him." - 1 Samuel 3:7
The door had just closed in the elevator and started its descent to the first floor. A voice came over the elevator speaker: "Hi, my name is Paul." and then drifted off.
WHAT WAS THAT!? Have you ever heard someone speak to you, in a non-emergency situation, through an elevator speaker? Not sure if it was a real person or a computerized voice. But it was definitely spooky, albeit a little humorous!
Then I remembered Samuel:
"Here I am. You called me." (1 Samuel 3:5)
"Here I am. You called me." (1 Samuel 3:6)
"Here I am. You called me." (1 Samuel 3:8)
Three times Samuel heard a voice calling him and mistook it to be the voice of Eli. Maybe this was the voice of God calling me disguised as the voice of "Paul".
Then I remembered the story of Saul and his eventual conversion to Paul:
"On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'" - Acts 9:3-4
Maybe this was meant to be a wake-up call to me. Am I persecuting Christ? After all, this occurred in the elevator as I headed to church services on Friday, the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday). Coincidence or God-occurrence?
Forgive me, Lord, for not recognizing you and for persecuting you through my thoughts, my words, and my actions. Help me to be a better Catholic disciple. Amen.
TAGS: Prayer, Story
"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.
"... 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.
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.
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."