Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

THE GREAT ENCOURAGER

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34


We’ve all felt it. We’ve all struggled with it. We’ve all been overcome by it. Discouragement! People or circumstances in our lives that have eroded our courage and resolve much as the endless waves of the sea wash away the precious shoreline. At times, we are robbed of our confidence a small piece at a time, hardly aware that we are losing ground. Other times, we are so devastated that in one monumental, horrible event our entire beach of personal determination and fortitude is washed into the ocean of fear and dismay.

I have often been comforted by reading of Jesus’ discouragement when He was here among men. God encouraged Jesus when He was baptized by sending a Jesus--quote-2-15-17dove from heaven and assuring Him by His own words that He was loved and pleased His Father (Matthew 3:16-17). After enduring forty days of tortuous fasting and temptation, God recognized Jesus’ need for encouragement and sent angels to attend Him (Matthew 4:11). God even sent Moses and Elijah to have an inspiring talk with Jesus in the midst of His ministry among men who didn’t understand (Matthew 17:3). On the last night of Jesus’ life, when the disciples offered only discouragement in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen His precious son for the horror of the crucifixion the next day (Luke 22:43).

The Bible is filled with reassurance and hope for daily discouragement. Here are a few examples. Do you ever worry? Jesus confronted worry with the promise that if God cares for a little sparrow, He most assuredly will take care of you, the most precious of His creations (Matthew 6:25-34). Do you ever feel that doing good doesn’t pay? In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus supported those who are persecuted for doing what is good and right by confirming for them a great reward in heaven. Do you ever feel hindered by fear? According to Matthew 10:30-31, God has every hair on your head numbered. Do you ever feel utterly exhausted? In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites the weary to come to Him for rest. Do you ever feel all alone? Jesus guarantees us, “I am with you always!” in Matthew 28:20.

Whenever you feel overcome with depression of feel demoralized by people or events that repress your courage and sap your joy, look to the Great Encourager – Jesus! He made encouraging other’s His life’s work. He still does!

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER:

Father – Give me encouragement along mu journey. Show me others who need my encouragement.

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Restrianing Controversy

A Brother said to Abba Mateos, ‘Give me a word.’ He said to him, ‘ restrain the spirit of controversy in yourself, in everything, and weep, have compunction, for the time is drawing near.’

—-Abba Mateos of the Desert

The wise Abba tells us to refrain from controversy. Our world is wrought with controversy, because it appears as though we thrive on our divisions. Governments, families, and churches all seem to have a great need to live in a state of conflict. Many people think that this postmodern world is the cause of this state of affairs, but here we see this man of the desert approaching this subject fourteen hundred years ago. He describes controversy as a “spirit,” which says to me that it is a real driving force that wraps itself around us and produces negative results.

Abba Mateos’ advice to his fellow monks, and to us, is for us to have compunction. Which means we have a guilty conscience.We must allow our Humble manwith wordsmoral compasses to guide us in the situations that are given to us. Ultimately, it is our choice how we react to any event, statement or accusation. The challenge is to act as though the time to face our God was near. Mateos calls us to be in peace with those that disagree and hold to other beliefs. The compunction, moral code, of the Christian is to have a spirit of harmony. Just as Christ reconciled the world by suffering the cross we, as His followers, are called to stay away from controversy and to embrace His love. Let us strive to develop a spirit of compunction instead of a spirit of controversy.

Prayer

Lord help me this day, and all the days that you give me, to be a person of peace. Let the Spirit that dwells in me guide my action to be  your actions. Block out the temptations that lead me to become arrogant and mean, and to assume that my way is better than your way. I commit myself to live as though you were watching my every move.

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 inspirit, 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 hungerand 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 ofmercy 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.

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Day 13–March 4

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 6:30-44

Prayer Thought

Lord we all know the value of the deserted places of our lives. These are the places that we hear you the loudest and best. Help us to find these special  niches while we travel this journey, Amen

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Goodness and Forgiveness

Candle PrayerPeople who are already good, tend to be good and forgiving to me. People who are already resentful or negative, tend to be that way with me too. Why do I bother to take either the credit or the blame? It is mostly about them! Yet it still has much to teach me too.

—–Richard Rohr

This thought has two messages. First,understand that not all  the bad things that come your way are your doing. Second, are you good or resentful? This brings you and me to a singular question.Have a I taken the time to look at my own behavior through this perspective?

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Peace and Prayer

Abba Zeno said, ‘If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.’

—– Sayings of the desert

Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on theMandela evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?” The love of enemies concept is what makes Christianity special. Praying for your enemies is a demanding call of the Christian path and a defining sign of taking Jesus seriously. Abba Zeno tells us that this love is a portal to answered prayer. Until we can reach out in the spirit of the love of God, we cannot know the love of God. His love allowed Him to die for us when we were sinners.

Prayer Thought

Lord help me to live in this spirit today and every day.

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Floating in Love

If we are to speak of a spirituality of ripening, we need to recognize that it is always (and I do mean always) characterized by an increasing tolerance for ambiguity, a growing sense of subtlety, an ever-larger ability to include and allow, a capacity to live with contradictions and even to love them! I cannot imagine any other way of coming to broad horizons except through many trials, unsolvable paradoxes, and errors in trying to resolve them.

Without such a gradually-renewed mind and heart, we almost certainly will end with a whimper, not just our own but also the whimpering of those disappointed souls gathered around our sick bed or gravestone. Too many lives have indeed been lives of “quiet desperation” and God must surely rush to console and comfort all humans before, during, and after their passing. Many put off enlightenment as long as they can, and some, it seems, until the last five minutes of life! Perhaps some never do reach enlightenment, which is why most religions have some metaphor similar to “hell.”

Maybe this whole phenomenon of late stage growth is what Catholics actually mean by purgatory. Without such after-death hope, I would go crazy with sadness at all the lives which appear to end so unripened. The All-Merciful One is surely free to show mercy even after we die. Why would God be all-loving before death but not after death? Isn’t it the same God? I’ve not seen anyone die perfectly “whole.” We are all saved by mercy, “wound round and round,” as Merton said. Some do appear to float into pure love in their very final days among us. Heaven is an endless continuum of growth and realization

by Richard Rhor

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God is Everywhere

Abba Doulas, the disciple of Abba Bessarion said, ‘One day when we were walking beside the sea I was thirsty and I said to Abba Bessarion, “Father, I am very thirsty.” He said a prayer and said to me, “Drink some of the sea water.” The water proved sweet when I drank some. I even poured some into a leather bottle for fear of being thirsty later on. Seeing this, the old man asked me why I was taking some. I said to him, “Forgive me, it is for fear of being thirsty later on.” Then the old man said, “God is here, God is everywhere.” ‘

——sayings of the desert

In life many of us turn to a mentor or guide for some words of wisdom. With so many situations that make us feel utterly helpless, the comfort of our spiritual companion is quite strengthening. Brother Doulas has a simple request – water. Thirst would be a common sensation in the desert. The men and women who went to the desert were well aware that the land would be arid and isolated. The guide Abba Doulas sought out began to fulfill his request by praying. In that prayer a way was found to quench his thirst.

What happens next is a bit of a surprise. Doulas drinks sea water and it is “sweet.” Only God can make salt water into fresh water. His thirst was quenched by God in a dramatically direct way. Quite naturally, Doulas wanted to prepare for the future by taking a skin of water, but the Abba saw it differently. He uttered the mystical words – “God is everywhere.” Do we really believe that?

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Much of our lives is spent preparing for things that never happen, imagining problems that never come to be, all because we fail to see that God is with us no matter what. We are not called to live a life of careless neglect, but we would do well to remember that He walks along side of us wherever we go. In our belief that God is everywhere we find the strength to accomplish the impossible. We can never carry enough “water” to quench our thirst at all times, he journey of life is made less burdensome when we truly believe God is everywhere.

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The Eternal Now


I share with you some words of Richard Rhor taken from “Living the Eternal Now.” I hope they speak to you.

Jesus’ primary metaphors for the Eternal Now are “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven.” He is trying to tell you that there is a place where you can live connected to the Real and to the Eternal. That place is simply the here and now, which always feels like nothing, like nowhere (now-here), but is where everything always happens! So be sure to be here—and not somewhere else!

The reason we can trust the Now so much is because of the incarnation and because of the divine Indwelling. The Word has become flesh, God has entered into the human, God is here and everywhere!

John Duns Scotus, one of the great Franciscan teachers, said that God did not create genus and species; God only created what Scotus called “thisness,” in Latin “haecceity.” He said that until you can experience each thing in its specific “thisness,” you will not easily experience the joy and freedom of divine presence. In other words, I can’t be present to all women in general. I’ve got to be present to this woman, right here, right now, in her specificity and particularity, and maybe even her eccentricity. Might that be what love means?

In that way, the here and now has the power to become the gateway and the breakthrough point to the universal. The concrete, the specific, the physical, the here and now—when you can be present to it in all of its ordinariness—becomes the gateway to the Eternal. I call this the very foundational Christian principle of Incarnation. It is the great and unique insight that we offer to all world religions, yet we ourselves have often not celebrated this immense breakthrough.

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Passing Through

Jesus went home. After ministering in Galilee he decided to go back to Nazareth, timage_previewo reconnect with those who had known him as a little boy, to visit his mom, to speak at the synagogue that he knew like the back of his hand. At the synagogue, he spoke about his mission. The locals were at first offended and then enraged. They took him to the cliff which marked the edge of town with plans to throw him off. Then the miracle happened. Scripture says, “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.” One man in an angry mob and “he passed through the midst of them!” He did not call for help or fight his way clear. He just passed through them.

When we think of Jesus’ miracles we consider events like healings, resurrections, calming the sea, walking on water, or turning water into wine. We never see this miracle listed, but I see it as an incredible moment that relates to our journeys so often. How many times have you walked through frightening, dangerous, heartbreaking situations and gone on to live out your life? How many times have you not been able to explain how you did it, how you made it through? How many times have you weathered opposition and hostility and continued to live victoriously? How many times has your broken heart healed? How many times has your mind been calmed by an unexplainable peace? How many times has your soul been restored? How many times have you been at the edge of the cliff sure you were going over, when some Presence led you through the fear and pain and hurt and death? Each of those times was a miracle.

Jesus knows all about standing at the cliff’s edge with other situations or people pushing you over. He knows what it is like to look down at a chasm of hopelessness and despair. He understands the pounding of your heart, the wrenching of your gut, the tears of your hurt. He reaches out his hand and leads you as you pass through the midst of them and go on your way to love and serve Him.

Reflection – What has Christ helped you pass through?

Monica Boudreaux

 

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