Tag Archives: God the Father

The Story of St. Nicholas

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The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned.

The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals,murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6.

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God Came Today

Preschool kidsEvery Monday I do “chapel” for our church preschool. In all honesty it is not my strong suit to tell a story, no matter how brief, to a group of three and four year olds. I have, however, begun to truly enjoy my time with them. Recently something very special happened, and it really taught me a great lesson.

Our preschool director told me one of the children reported to his mother that God had come to see them last week. What the child said was both adorable and profound. I am definitely not God, but God did come to see him. God was there because the little child was looking for Him. What a marvelous thought – we see God when we look for Him. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ Children see God because they have not yet become their own God. Children do not see themselves as masters of their own destiny but rather as those that are dependent on others. They are vulnerable in so many ways. They need help, they need to believe in something and someone greater than themselves.

I learned from that child that God can be seen in the strangest places and faces. Perhaps it is well advised that we always be on our best behavior lest we shatter the faith of someone who is searching for God.

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Secrets

St.-Macarius-of-Egypt2A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need has therein his reward, and because he is ashamed, when he repays it he does so in secret. But it is the opposite for the Lord God; he receives in secret, but he repays in the presence of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.

—-Saying of the Desert

The concept of shame and poverty being coupled is very strong in our society. From the earliest of times, we have been taught, and rightly so, to be responsible hard workers. Our goal is to be able to care for ourselves and never be a burden to others. When the time comes that we have fallen short and necessity sends us to someone for help, a person does everything possible to keep this event secretive. He even pays back in secret.

The opposite is true of the Lord. He receives in secret, but rewards in a very open way. By that action, we see that the Lord is a Lord of grace. His grace is not about how much we give but how much He gives. Our reward, given in the presence of heavenly and earthly beings, is God’s joy to give. Our Lord does not want to keep His grace giving secretive, and He never does. He implores us not be showy in our devotion to Him. We pray and give in secret, and then He rewards for all to see. May we catch the spirit of our Lord and learn to bestow grace on all along our path.

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My Treasure

I have a little rock, smaller than the palm of my hand and shaped like a perfect heart. On a summer day while taking a walk with my grandfather, he noticed it on the ground and gave it to me. That was almost fifty years ago, and after moving sixteen times and a lot of life, I still have that little rock. It is one of my greatest treasures.

Heart shaped rockJesus spoke of treasure. He had been telling his followers that the things we worry about – the material things like clothes and food, where we live and how much is in our “storehouses” – have already been provided by the Father. He encouraged them to look at the beauty of the lilies of the field and the helpless birds fed by their Creator. No greater provision could have been made for them.

Your treasure becomes what drives you. Your treasure determines how you spend your time and money and energy. Your treasure dominates your thoughts and consumes your passion. Your treasure defines your soul.
Jesus had just told the parable of the rich fool. This man had planned and hoarded and saved. He had become the rich owner of many storehouses and was proud of his hard work and accumulated abundance. One night – he died. He had a great wealth of the world’s temporary treasure all put away in a “safe” place, and a poverty of eternal treasure stored away in heaven.

I have been trying to remember last year’s Christmas gifts – those I received and those I gave. I remember being tired while shopping. I remember trying to find some bargains to save money. I remember making sure everyone got the same amount spent on them and trying to find just the right little treasure for each person. I remember opening presents after church on Christmas Eve. I cannot remember what those gifts were. How illusive the world’s treasure is!

Jesus has told us to make sure our treasure is in heaven, to make sure that what is important is eternal, to make sure that what is precious to us is of God. Christ has told us that what we cherish must be spiritual, must last past the few years of our lives, and must live on in the souls of those we have served. Our spiritual footprints should help others who journey behind us to find the way to Christ. Then our treasure is forever safely kept by God.

There is an old Creole proverb that says, “Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Jesus said your heart, all of who you are determines what you treasure. Jesus warns us, we cannot serve two masters. We will choose to give our hearts to the world’s temporary treasure or God’s eternal treasure.
While you ponder and wait this Advent be honest about who you love and what you love. Take the time of this season to store up that eternal treasure, that real treasure so rare and precious it cannot be bought. It can be found in unexpected places and unexpected people as we serve in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “your heart and your treasure will be in the same place.”

Reflection – What does my heart truly treasure?
Monica Boudreaux

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Secret Devotion

“A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need has therein his reward, and because he is ashamed, when he repays it he does so in secret. But it is the opposite for the Lord God; he receives in secret, but he repays in the presence of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.”

——Sayings of the Desert

Perhaps the monk is thinking of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount- But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Prayer AloneFather who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The wonderful thing about God is that He doesn’t expect us to be showy in our worship of Him, he just wants us to be real. Most of us, whether we admit it or not, we like to be recognized for our successes and want our failures to be hidden and forgotten. Taking alms for our poverty is not something most people would brag about. The way God asks for our devotion is completely counter cultural. Our culture expects praise and in response continued favors are given, but God operates differently. He gives quietly and diligently to those who call upon Him.

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Using All Your Strength

helpersI remember an old story about a little boy who was out helping dad with the yard work. Dad asked him to pick up the rocks in a certain area of the yard. Dad looked over and saw him struggling to pull up a huge rock buried in the dirt. The little boy struggled and struggled while Dad watched. Finally, the boy gave up and said, “I can’t do it.” Dad asked, “Did you use all of your strength?” The little boy looked hurt and said, “Yes, sir. I used every ounce of strength I have.” The father smiled and said, “No you didn’t. You didn’t ask me to help.” The father walked over and then the two of them pulled that big rock out of the dirt.

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

—- Matthew 11:28-30

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Apostles Creed

In today’s rush towards relevance, we can forget what is basic. The Apostles Creed is basic. In one short confession, we affirm our faith in the resurrection, and embrace our baptism. In the early days of the church, there was a great cry to understand basic beliefs, and the Apostles Creed was an answer to that cry. Today’s world is full of “spiritual but not religious” people who are searching for answers. Perhaps this short confession can be used as a launching point of spiritual inquiry and it could lead to further examination of the faith.

My suggestion is simple. Make the creed a part of your daily prayer life, and allow it to be the basis for your discussions with spiritual seekers. I have found that if we stick to the ancient, but basic, documents of Christianity our impact is far greater. The creed is presented below. Recite it like you have never heard it before, and allow the words to be food for thought

English: Wall painting at Partrishow (3) The A...

I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived from the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to Hell; on the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into the heavens; he is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

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Holy Values

The Beatitudes give us insight into those values that Jesus honors in his followers. We have a glimpse of what meets God’s approval, the attitudes that bring delight in heaven and a smile to the Father. We see God’s personality in these verses. With His sanctifying grace we must make these principles become the essence of our souls as Christians.

Jesus presented to us characteristics of a blessed, holy person. He said that those who are poor in spirit, those who recognize their need for God, and who understand their own spiritual poverty are a part of God’s Kingdom. In their unworthiness, they depend on God for spiritual sufficiency. They will live in heaven.

Jesus spoke of those that mourn, those that have sorrow because of their sin, those that understand they have offended God. These people grieve because they realize their unworthiness and lack of holiness. Jesus promised them comfort in sorrow, healing in pain, and joy in sadness.

Jesus affirmed the meek. He blessed the humble, those who know who they are in relation to who God is. A ready willingness to submit to God brings its permanent reward.

He also promised that those people who hunger and thirst after righteousness will find that righteousness and be spiritually completed with it. When knowing God is one’s driving passion more than eating or drinking, more than being alive, that passion will be satisfied, filled, and honored.

Christ promised those who live life in the spirit of mercy that they will be blessed by the Father’s mercy. Sowing human mercy brings in a harvest of divine mercy. Those whose hearts are pure, whose motives are honest, who have an inward holiness not just outward piety will see God because they recognize purity when they see it.

The Prince of Peace blessed those who give their lives to the reconciliation of people with each other and with God. He gave peacemakers the special honor of being God’s children, because they look just like their Father.

Jesus also offered blessing and comfort for those who do not hide their faith to avoid persecution. He gave His support to those that bear insults, who are lied about and who watch people turn their backs on them. Jesus said to take each insult, each lie, each isolation, and consider it an honor. Persecution can bring joy when we consider the great faith of all the prophets and saints that have suffered before us. We are in holy company!

Living according to these values that Christ blessed all bring reward, all of them spiritual – the comfort of the spirit, the mercy of the Father, life in the Kingdom, joy in persecution, and an understanding of holiness. Being blessed is being filled with the peace of Christ, living beyond the restlessness of the world, and finally seeing the face of God.

Reflection – Reflect on how to make these eight values part of your spiritual journey.

Monica Boudreaux

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