2014 Reflections Archive
A few years ago, an elderly man approached me after Mass, and his facial expression was one of great concern. When I asked him what was wrong, he responded, “Deacon Mike, I’m not sure I know how to pray.” I was touched that a man in his 70s was still concerned about the most effective way to communicate with God. I praised him for his sincere and strong desire to enter into a deeper relationship with God and reminded him that St. Teresa of Ávila described prayer as a friendly conversation with Him who loves us. Regardless of age or where a person might be on his or her faith journey, prayer is a necessary component of our relationship with God.
The Christian walk is long. It has high highs, terribly low lows, and blissful moments of calm in between. In some ways, walking with Christ is like running a marathon. There are miles where we feel energized, capable. Then there are miles where we feel like we simply will not make it. There are turns that are picturesque, scenery that is breathtaking, and turns into poor, even dangerous parts of town. But what I have found in common in all races is the support along the path. Thousands of people come out with signs of encouragement, light hearted and silly. Some offer donuts (they are my personal favorite spectators), and others cheer you on, reminding you to keep going.
Readings for March 9
We are human. Isn’t that a refreshing reminder? We all make mistakes, we all do things we wish we hadn’t done, and we are not perfect. God knows this, so take a deep breath and give yourself a break.
Today’s readings begin with the story of Adam and Eve and their ignorance regarding God’s instruction to avoid the forbidden fruit. It is refreshing that after blatantly ignoring God’s will, they asked for mercy and forgiveness and it was granted. This mercy restores our souls and God is oh so willing to grant it to us when we cry out to Him.
Who else do you know that would, without a doubt, forgive you for ANYTHING you did?
Scripture readings for March 8
After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and He said to him,” Follow Me.”
I love the beginning of the gospel reading for today because it reminds me of the mercy of Christ. Jesus encounters Levi, a sinner who has no set beliefs. Levi has made a living out of taking money from people and not thinking twice of it. He is unwanted and unloved by his own people because of the profession he has chosen in life. Christ tells him two words that change his life forever, FOLLOW ME! All he has ever been is an outcast and has not been wanted by anyone and now a well-known religious leader of his time looks at him with love! This causes Levi to see his value and want a radical change in his life!
A significant part of our Lenten journey is through prayer and fasting — the things we take on and the things we will choose to sacrifice over the next forty days. Today’s scripture readings are all about fasting, but they are also an important reminder that there is a right way and a wrong way to do anything.
The last few weeks have probably involved us spending some time thinking about what we want to “give up” for Lent. There are so many great things to do. We can go big or we can be gentle with ourselves. We can shoot the moon or keep it simple. I’ve seen suggestions for all these approaches — and I like them all!
In the Christian life, we hear very frequently that we need to deny ourselves and take up our crosses. Well today, Moses and Jesus are yet again reminding us to do just that.
Moses tells the Israelites that the Lord will bless them if they obey Him. He lays it out for them very clearly, telling them that they obey the Lord by “loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments.” And Jesus tells us that “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The theme of the day’s readings is very clear: Follow Jesus. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. read more…
Preparing for Ash Wednesday
This is a common experience for me: about the Sunday or Monday before, I notice Ash Wednesday on the calendar and think, “What should I do this Lent?” I will think over some options for prayer, exercise, fasting, and maybe some almsgiving. I will write up a little plan and hopefully have it in place by the time I go to bed on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps this is a common experience for many people.