Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We Need the Spirit

You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
- Romans 8:9
It's simple. You can't be a Christian if you don't have the Holy Spirit in you. We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, and we receive Him more fully at confirmation. He is part of the Holy Trinity, and is inseperable from Jesus. The Spirit can be thought of as the love that exists between the Father and the Son. Their love for each other is so powerful that it takes on a form of its own - the Holy Spirit. This love is so sacred that in Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus states that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only sin that can never be forgiven.

If you don't allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in you, you don't belong to Christ. If you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, you have the Spirit in you. If you have the Spirit in you, you are a Christian. Let the Spirit, the sacred and powerful love between the Father and the Son, fill you today. Let it guide your every thought, your every word, your every action. Let that love shine through you today.

Three flames. One light.

Today is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Breath of the Wind Praises God

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
- Psalm 145:10
All of God's works praise Him. Everything that He has created praises Him. The billions of stars in the night sky. The tiniest flower and the tallest Redwood tree. The sun and the sky. The squirrels, ants, horses and whales. The apples and the oats in the fields. Even the mountains and the streams.

They praise God by simply being what they were created to be. Stars to break the blackness of the night sky. Flowers and trees to beautify our world, and provide shelter. The sun to warm us and light our days, the sky to contain the atmosphere that keeps us alive. Animals to provide us with food, service, pleasure, or just to balance our ecosystem. Apples and oats to feed us. Mountains to protect us and streams to water us.

Every created thing has its purpose, and it praises God by fulfilling that purpose. We are no different. God created us, and gave us a purpose. Maybe it is to be a great scientist who discovers cures for terrible diseases. Maybe it is to be a farmer who grows food and raises cattle. Maybe it is simply to be a loving parent. Wherever you are, God put you there. Praise Him by fulfilling your purpose.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Test of Faith

Moses said to the people: "Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments."
- Deuteronomy 8:2
Having faith when everything is going smoothly in our life is easy. We thank God for the many blessings He has poured out, and praise Him for the good life He has given us. And there's nothing wrong with that. We should thank God for all His blessings.

But what about when things get tough? It's much harder to keep your faith, and to keep praising God when you lose your job, when your house is foreclosed, or when there is sickness or death in the family. Yet it is at these times that our true faith shines through. It we can continue to thank God for His blessings, however small they may be, and to praise Him and trust that He will get us through the tough times, then we know that our faith is strong. And God knows it too.

All of us will pass through phases in our lives. There will be good times, and bad times. Times when life is easy, and times when it is tough. But whatever phase we are in, we need to keep our faith strong. Thank God for your blessings - there are always some. Praise Him for all the good He has done in your life. And trust that when things are bad, He will be there with you, supporting you, guiding you, and He will get you through it. Things will get better, and they will seem to get better much quicker if you keep your faith strong. With a strong faith, even the worst situations become bearable.

My son, after having surgery on his skull when he was 3 months old.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Loaf

Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
- 1 Corinthians 10:17
In St Paul's time, the bread used for communion probably looked a lot like how we envision bread today: a loaf, from which pieces were broken off, consecrated and distributed to the community. Quite different from the thin, perfectly formed wafers we use at our masses today. So if we are no longer literally eating from the same loaf of bread, is Paul's message in this reading still relevant to us?

It is. Because he's not really talking about bread. He's talking about what the bread becomes when it is blessed by the priest: the body of Christ. In that sense, we do all eat from the same loaf. And so, because we all eat from the same loaf, though we are many, we become one. Not just with the people who are receiving communion at the same mass as us, but with all the believers all over the world who eat from the loaf. There is only one Jesus. So when we eat His body we are joined to all the others who also eat His body. We become one. We become the loaf. We become the body of Christ.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Better Than Chocolate

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you."
- Exodus 16:4
Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
- John 6:51
When the Hebrews were wandering in the desert for forty years after their exodus from Egypt, God provided manna, bread from Heaven for them to eat, so that they would not die. But that bread could only prevent them from dying of hunger. It only met their physical needs.

Many years later, God sent another bread from Heaven, a living bread: Jesus. Just like the Hebrews, if we eat this bread, we will not die. But this bread does not satisfy our physical needs. It will not prevent us from dying of hunger if we have no other food. This bread will meet our spiritual needs. If we eat this living bread, and believe in Jesus, we will have eternal life with Him.

The Hebrews in the desert had to have faith that God would provide for them each day, and faith that this bread would be all they needed. We too need to have faith that Jesus will provide for us each day, and that what He gives us is all that we need. Accept God's gift of nourishment for your soul. Eat it, and have faith in its saving power.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In The Name...

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
- Daniel 3:52b
Anyone who has children knows the dilemma of choosing a name for the baby. You have about eight months to make a decision, which should be plenty of time. Sometimes it is easy. You might have a name you've always loved. Sometimes there is conflict. The mother and father can't agree on a name they both like, or grandparents expect them to choose an old-fashioned family name. Sometimes you pick a name during the pregnancy, but when the baby is finally born the name just doesn't seem to fit.

Names are very important. We assign a lot of attributes to a person based solely on their name. A guy called 'Norman' conjures up a different image to one called 'Rocky'. Someone with the same name as a celebrity is expected to look and behave like that celebrity. When you hear the names Angelina, Leonardo or Barack, a very specific personality springs to mind. As a writer, I have to be very careful what names I give my characters. If I want my readers to imagine a tough, mean guy, I can't call him 'Wally'. If my heroine is supposed to be smart and sexy, she shouldn't be named 'Minnie'.

We like to name things. We name our pets. We name boats. Some people even name their cars, computers and phones. Names create feelings in us. We like certain names, or we don't. They either fit their owners, or they don't. We remember some, we forget others. But we don't worship names.

God, however, is different. God is so awesome that even His name is blessed, and should be praised and exalted. In fact, the Jews consider His name so holy that they neither speak it nor write it down. There is power in God's name. We baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When we cross ourselves, we bless ourselves "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." The early Apostles healed people in the name of Jesus, and priests today cast out demons in the name of Jesus.

When you need strength, draw on the power of God's name. Let His blessed and holy name be always on your lips, and in your heart.

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Greater Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
- John 3:16
This is one of the most well-known, and well-loved verses in the bible. It is beautiful, and powerful.

When God created the world, He made it perfect. But He gave us free will, and we screwed up. We damaged the perfect relationship we were supposed to have with God, and brought death into the world. Death was never part of God's plan, but despite this He still loved the world He had created, and wanted to bring us back to that perfect relationship with Him. So He sent us Jesus, His only son. Jesus took the death that was meant for us, and buried it in the tomb. Now, if we only believe in Him we no longer need to die ourselves, but instead can have eternal life.

Do you love anyone enough to die for them? Maybe. Would you sacrifice your only child for them? Hmmm. What if that person consistently disobeyed you, doing what you asked them not to, what you thought was wrong? What if they lied to you, and tried to make themself as great as, or greater than you? Would you still love them? Would you still sacrifice your child for them? Probably not.

When we fully understand just what God has done for us, we start to get a glimpse of how amazing His love for us is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything We Need

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
- 2 Corinthians 13:13
These words should be familiar to any Catholics reading this blog. They are the words used by the priest to greet us at the start of each mass. Most of us probably give the automatic response, "and also with you" without really thinking about it. But these three things are the things we need to go about our daily lives in a Christian manner, the things we need to build ourselves up.

The grace of Jesus gives us many things. The grace to forgive. The grace to love. The grace to suffer. God's love fills a hole. There is a place in our hearts, in our souls, than only God can fill. Without God's love we are lost, drifters in this world. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is our everyday support. He is our constant companion, always by our side. He guides us, strengthens us, comforts us.

The grace of Jesus, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit are what keep us going. The gifts of the Trinity give us the strength, confidence and ability to deal with whatever life throws at us. We should ask for these three things for ourselves daily in prayer. It is also a beautiful blessing to give others. The next time you hear those words at mass, gratefully receive the blessing, and when you reply "and also with you", truly wish that blessing on everyone around you.

Fr Joseph Madanu, Pentecost Mass 2011


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
1 Corinthians 12:7
Do you consider yourself talented? You are. The Holy Spirit has been given to you, to everyone, for some benefit. God has given us gifts, talents, through the Holy Spirit, and He wants us to use them. Think about the things you love to do, then think how you could use them to serve God.

Are you a good singer? Joining the choir is an obvious choice. Can you play an instrument? Again, there is a natural outlet for that. Do you enjoy writing? Consider starting your own blog, or offer your services to the weekly newsletter team. Are you a good listener? See if there is a support group that could use you. Do you love kids? Talk to the children's ministry team, or join the baptism preparation team.

Are you a hands-on kind of person? Good at fixing things? Have a green thumb? The grounds and buildings of our places of worship are always in need of care. Do you love to cook? Call your local meals-on-wheels group. Are you technical, an expert on all things internet? See if the church website team needs any help, or see if any of the church groups could use a website of their own.

The list is endless. But whatever your age or ability, there is a place where you can serve. God has given you gifts through the Holy Spirit. Think about what you are passionate about, then find a way to use that passion to serve God, His church, and His people.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Show and Tell

Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
- Psalm 104:34
I remember doing themes at school (we called them 'topics'). We selected or were given a particular topic. We then had to research that topic, and write a short essay about it, which we then presented to the rest of the class.

Many years later, I found a new theme to study: Christianity. I was not raised in a religious household, so when I started dating my husband (a cradle Catholic), I wanted to learn about his faith. I read books, attended some services, and eventually joined a group to study Christianity in more detail. Instead of writing an essay, what I learned was written in my heart. And instead of presenting my findings to a class, I presented them to my family and my community by being baptized.

It hasn't ended there though. I continue to learn more and more about my theme. In the age of the Internet, research is much easier than in my school days! I read blogs and articles, bookmark interesting websites, and follow inspiring people on Facebook and Twitter. I also read books, attend bible studies and classes, and serve in ministries that fuel my desire for knowledge. I am always learning something new about my faith. Even this blog is little more than my spiritual journal, and as I write this, I am learning.

My faith is my theme, the topic I want to learn more about, and share with the rest of the class.

CCOP Bible Study


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

8 Glasses a Day

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink."
- John 7:37
We all know that water is good for us and essential to life. Do you get your 8 glasses a day? Maybe. Some days you probably do better than others. Jesus is just as essential to life, and even better for us than water. Do you get your 8 glasses of Jesus every day? Again, probably more some days than others.

On days when we don't drink enough water, we feel the effects. Tired. Sluggish. We get headaches and food cravings. Sometimes it's more subtle, and we just feel a bit 'off'. It's the same when we don't get enough Jesus in our day. Tasks become harder, problems seem more severe, a nap seems like the best solution. Things just feel 'off'.

Some days we need more water than others. On hot days, or times when we exert ourselves such as when we exercise, we need more water to keep us refreshed and hydrated. There are days when we need more Jesus too. Days when problems are particularly hot. And days when we exert ourselves, physically, mentally or spiritually, to achieve a difficult task. On those days, we need more Jesus to keep us going.

Just as we thirst for water when we are dehydrated, so we thirst for Jesus when we start to run dry. But just as we should drink our 8 glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration in the first place, so we should drink constantly of Jesus. His living water never stops flowing, so we should never stop drinking from it. Get your 8 glasses a day, and more. Make sure you quench your thirst for Jesus, and never run dry.

Lake Tahoe

Monday, June 6, 2011

Praying in Tongues

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
- Romans 8:26
Sunday June 12th is Pentecost, the day we remember and celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit. And I can't wait to celebrate this incredible gift that Jesus has given us. The more I learn about the Holy Spirit, the more I fall in love with Him.

In this reading we learn more about how the Holy Spirit can help us in prayer. There are many times when we just don't know how to pray for a certain need, or can't find the right words. When this happens, we are told "the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings."

So what does that mean? It could refer to one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Gift of Tongues. The Gift of Tongues is a charism - a gift of grace from God, received through the Holy Spirit. When you don't know how to pray, ask the Spirit to help you. Then open your mouth and say whatever comes to mind. It might be words you recognize, and it might not. Try not to think too hard about the actual words you are saying though. Instead, concentrate on the reason for your prayer, feel the Spirit moving in you, and let your emotions guide you.

Praying in tongues is not for everyone. It's a personal choice. Some people believe it's all nonsense, just a bunch of people babbling incoherently. Other people have found it a very powerful way of praying. I say, keep an open mind. And the next time you find yourself having difficulty praying, give it a try.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Le langage de l'amour

The whole word spoke the same language, using the same words.
- Genesis 11:1
Wouldn't it be nice if we all spoke the same language? Life would be so much easier, wouldn't it? Learning a second language is hard, and communicating with someone who doesn't speak your language can be frustrating.

There are times when this is not a problem though. Have you ever been to mass in a foreign country? Or attended mass celebrated in a foreign language? Did you have any trouble following along? I would guess not. The Catholic Mass is celebrated the same way throughout the whole world, so even if you don't understand the words, you know what is happening. This is one of the things I love about our church. No matter where you go in the world, there is always a place you can call home, where you will be welcomed, and where the love of Christ and the worship of God transcends language.

There is a language that everybody understands though: love. The language of love is universal. Acts of kindness are always recognized and understood. Sometimes we don't really understand people even when they speak our own language. But we understand love. When we work together through love, we have no problem communicating.

When the people of Babel tried to build themselves up, God knocked them down and confused their language. If all we want to achieve is our own greatness, we will never succeed. But when we come together to worship God, as in the mass, we understand everything we need to. And when we work together in love, there is nothing we can't do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heaven is Lovely

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
to dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
- Psalm 27:4
When I first read this verse, the second-to-last line jumped out at me. I love it! Other translations of the psalm read, "to savor the sweetness of the LORD," or "to gaze on the LORD's beauty." But I like this translation best. God's words may be sweet, and His face may be beautiful, but His whole being is lovely. Made entirely of love.

The writer of this psalm asks just one thing of God - to spend eternity in Heaven gazing upon His loveliness. In fact, this may be a perfect description of Heaven. Heaven is simply being in the presence of the Lord forever, surrounded by His glory, enveloped in His loveliness, and filled with His peace. If this is what you also long for, make this verse your prayer today.