If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Avoiding the Spider

How can the young walk without fault? Only by keeping your words . . . In my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you . . . In your laws I take delight; I will never forget your word (Psalm 119: 9, 11, 16).
I didn’t see the spider's web until I nearly ran into it. The thing was virtually invisible. If sunlight hadn’t suddenly glistened off its strands, I would have walked right into it. So there I stood, inches from the biggest, ugliest, hairiest spider I’d ever seen. Its open jaws were at least three inches wide and ready to grab me.

Well, that last remark is hyperbole, however, truth be told, I was glad I wasn’t a hapless bug flitting through the air, totally clueless about the spider’s trap in front of me.
But while I’m on the subject of spiders and webs, in the near-indiscernible world of the supernatural, Satan’s subtleties are often invisible to the natural eye – which is why it’s so incredibly easy to get caught in his web. And most of the time we don’t even realize it is his web we’re caught in until he has devoured our health, wealth, homes, and families.

Sometimes even our lives.

There is a good reason the Holy Spirit inspired St. Peter to write, “Be sober, be vigilant. Your adversary, the devil, roams about seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). There is good reason the Holy Spirit inspired Joshua to say, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you will be careful to do all the things that are written in it” (Joshua 1:8). And the Psalmist to write, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). 

There is no better way, there is no surer way, to avoid Satan’s web than to see the light of God’s word glisten off its strands as a warning: Danger! Don’t go any further.

The Church “has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord" (Catechism paragraph 141), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 133) further exhorts us “to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Thus, it is no wonder Pope Benedict repeatedly challenges the Catholic faithful to "assiduous study of Holy Scripture.”

Whether or not we obey the prophets and the Church who exhort us to read God’s word, Satan remains patiently waiting in his web. Problem is, we won’t see it unless God’s light glistens off the web.

See this link for one of many methods available to make Bible reading a daily habit.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Stubborn Love

It seems the longer I serve Christ, the closer I draw to Him, the more my thought life assails me. Perhaps it is because I am less willing today than I have been in the past to pass off my godless thoughts with an insipid and cavalier excuse like, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”

No, I know I am much more than that. I am a child of my heavenly Father, and I ought to do a much better job reflecting Him in my actions, as well as in my thoughts.

It was in that frame of mind that I awoke on October 27, 2011. Nearly four years ago. My dreams that evening left me feeling dirty in the morning when I walked into my prayer room to begin my time with God.

I could hardly address Him. I felt so guilty that I had so willingly participated in the terrible sinfulness of my dreams. I sat in my recliner and without lifting my eyes to heaven, I said all I knew to say:” I’m so tired of continuing to do the wrong things.”

I remember the morning conversation as if it was yesterday. Before I could finish my sentence, the Holy Spirit interrupted with this: “But I am not tired of loving you.”

It is now four years later. I do not believe my thought life has gotten any better. Sometimes I don’t want to even go to sleep at night for fear my dreams will again betray me.

But God.

I so very much love those two words put together like that. That clause, But God, reminds me again and again, God is greater than my weaknesses. He is more merciful than I could ever deserve. More forgiving than I could ever hope for. More in love with me than I could ever imagine.

This morning, October 23, 2015, I entered my prayer room to begin my time with Jesus. As I always do when I begin my hour with Him, I placed headphones over my ears and opened my phone’s music program. The music library is set to play random songs.

Kathy Trocolli’s “Your Stubborn Love” began to play. Here is a link to the music and lyrics.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvGono8mqFg

This morning my heavenly Father again reached down to encourage me. And oh, after listening to the song – twice – I was so encouraged.

Perhaps, after you listen to the song, you also will find encouragement as He reminds you again of His stubborn love for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

For Such a Time as This

And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

The Jews were in trouble. For decades after their capture and exile to Babylon in the 5th century BC, they lived in relative peace with their Babylonian – and later their Persian – neighbors.

Until now.

Haman, the chief officer in the court of Ahasuerus – also known as Xerxes – developed a vendetta against Mordecai the Jew. But instead of executing only one man, Haman decided to destroy Mordecai and every other Jew scattered across the Persian empire. So he smooth-talked Xerxes to order their annihilation and take their homes and possessions as plunder.

What Haman did not know (nor, by the way, did the king) -- what Haman did not know was that Xerxes’ queen – her name was Esther – was a Jewess. Nor did Haman know Mordecai was like a father to Esther.

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the book of Esther in the Old Testament, I recommend investing the 20 minutes or so it will take to read the 12 short chapters.

Despite the impending disaster to her people, Esther was terrified about barging uninvited into the king’s throne-room to plead for them. In the Persian culture of the day, doing so could mean her death – even if she was the queen. And that is when Mordecai said to her “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

The story of Esther and Mordecai is more than a historical account of God’s intervention in the lives of His people. It holds rich encouragement for you and me in the 21st century. What do any of us have that we have not been given to use for our King? What position or station in life have any of us attained that has not ultimately come from God to be used for His glory?

CEO or warehouse clerk, sanitation worker or high school teacher, homemaker or physician, white collar employee or blue collar, unemployed, employed, or underemployed – wherever we interact with others, we are each today where God has placed us “for such a time as this.”

Today is a time like few others wherein people across our towns and cities struggle with a plethora of burdens. Some suffer under crushing financial weight. Some, devastating illnesses. Some endure abject loneliness; some, bitter despair; some, powerful addictions, and others a host of destructive sins from which they cannot free themselves, despite how they hunger for freedom.

As I write these words my thoughts carry me to a poem written by St. Teresa of Avila in the 16th century:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

Through Mordecai, the Holy Spirit encouraged a fearful Esther to use her position to make a difference in the lives of her people. Likewise, through the words of Scripture, the Holy Spirit encourages us to use whatever position and situation in which we find ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Oh, Lord, help us not be so focused on our fears or our own problems that we miss the privilege and the purpose to which you have called us – for such a time as this.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why is it so Incredible?

But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases. 
(Psalm 115:3)

Christianity, like its Jewish root, was formed in the womb of the supernatural: The creation of all that is seen and unseen from nothing; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the confounding of language at Babel;  the ten plagues of Egypt; crossing the Red Sea; the Manna which fed Israel throughout their 40 years in the wilderness; the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God; the walls of Jericho; the Virgin’s conception of Jesus; feeding the five thousand with a few fish and loaves; the physical resurrection of Jesus from death.

From front cover to back, our Christian faith is inseparably woven within the supernatural. To unravel it would be like trying to separate the colors of a multi-colored candle.

So why is it so incredible to believe the bread and the wine consecrated during a Mass actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus, especially since He – and also the apostle Paul – said it was so?

Here is Jesus on the subject: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  

"Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”   

"So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 
For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me . . . . (John 6:51-58)

Again, He said:
“. . . and after a blessing He broke [the bread], and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them . . . [and said], “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. (Mark 14:22-24)

And here is St. Paul:  Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)

As everyone reading this essay knows, many who attend church dismiss the miracles of Scripture as symbolism, fable, or allegory – despite the clear sense of the Biblical contexts. So it ought not be surprising that many who attend church also dismiss the miraculous changing of the Eucharist into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Instead of interpreting the words of Jesus and the Apostle literally, according to the clear sense of the Biblical context, they call those passages symbolism, fable, or allegory.

Oh, how I long for the time when Christians who believe in a supernatural God would be charitable to those who interpret Jesus and Paul literally. After all, we serve a supernatural God. He has done, and will continue to do, whatever He pleases.

Why is that so incredible to believe?