Posts tagged ‘peace’

Imagined Reality – image

Reality, you seem so true, but I know I only imagined you. Tomorrow, I’ll imagine a brighter hue. Indeed, we are co-creators and tomorrow is another day! Be mindful of the present. Believe in the power of a positive attitude. Be willing to dream and create. Perception is quite the artist, but attitude is its muse. Hope. Live. Love.

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Meditation to Evoke Empathy

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I learned from Eastern meditation a method of reflection whose Americanized name is “Pillow Pause”. You place the problem as you define it on top of the pillow. At each side, you place your response. You act when your response leads you peacefully to do so, when thought and emotion harmonize and come in tune with the greatest good that you are capable of at that point in your spiritual journey. If none of the four responses leads you peacefully, you flip the pillow and challenge yourself to reinterpret “the problem”. You may continue to flip the pillow as many times as necessary. I’ve never in 20 years quit in frustration before being lead. My choices today are not the same as a year ago because I am in a different place on the journey, but I can expect no more of myself than my development allows. The practice of this meditation has gradually caused me without purposeful exercise of the meditation to find less and less reason to judge and more and more ways to act with empathy.

The Word Shall Heal

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist, a ...

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One of my most favorite moments in the Catholic Mass is when as a congregation, everyone speaks together during the Eucharistic celebration, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and I shall be healed.” This is derived from today’s Gospel reading. The centurion, a man of compassion and great faith, humbles himself to the Lord to ask for healing for his suffering servant who lies at home paralyzed.

Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matt 8:8 NAB)

The adaptation in the Mass embodies a great deal of my core faith. Without humility, I cannot surrender to God‘s will. If I cannot surrender, I cannot be in full union with God. Out of union with God, I am discontent, without joy. Without joy, I cannot fully love. God created me to love and be loved. Without humility I cannot be the person God created me to be.

I am to receive the Lord. I am to be open. I am to recognize God as a gift. I am to recognize that God comes to me, is with me. We’ve never really been apart except in our minds. I am to welcome God into my heart as an honored guest.

I’ve found so many Protestants to be pleasantly enlightened by my explanation of the Eucharistic Celebration in the Catholic Church. They are quite happy to discover we don’t believe in cannibalism. They are then intrigued that our belief in the real presence of Christ is rooted in believing that the Eucharistic Celebration reunites us with Christ in time and place. While the Spirit is with me always, I’m filled with such gratitude to be joined with Christ each time I participate in the wondrous experience of Holy Communion. I feel even more personally connected to God which sets the foundation for what is said next.

When we say, “only say the word,” I think of three things. First, God is so powerful that only God’s voice, not God’s physical presence, is necessary to animate God’s will. Yet, the Creator gave us Christ to be a physical presence to humanity. Second, I imagine “word” to be capitalized. The Creator spoke us all, including Jesus the Christ, into being. Third, the Word who existed since the world began is the source of our healing. The moment concludes with the assurance that our hope is in the Lord and we shall be healed. Isaiah reminds us that the glory of the Lord is made manifest through God’s merciful cleansing of our souls, bringing light to the darkness. If I allow it, welcome it, welcome Christ into my heart, I am healed today in so many ways.

To Contemplate
For whom do you struggle to have empathy and compassion?
What is your reason to receive communion…to comply with tradition, to be comforted, to be more fully united with Christ the Lord in the mission of bringing peace and salvation to the world?
Where do you see opportunities to bring God’s message and ministry of healing to those around you?
When will you know that you are fully healed?
Why is it so difficult for you as an individual to feel a personal connection with God?
How can you better prepare yourself for the coming of Christ in glory?

To Devote Ourselves, We Pray
Lord you have washed away our sins, healed us and made us stronger. We are in awe of your compassion and power. Gently humble our hearts to recognize our unworthiness, empower us with empathy and fill us with compassion. As we have been healed and are filled with Your presence, let us likewise share the same with all those about us, bringing peace to one moment, one person at a time until you come again to heal in full all who will receive you. Amen

People Get Ready

Michelangelo's The Last Judgement, Vatican City

Image by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr

The song below nicely sums up some readings I’d like to reflect on today…

People Get Ready, Jesus Is Coming
by Crystal Lewis

Lord I’m ready. Now I’m waiting for your triumphant return. You’re coming soon. This world has nothing for me. I find my peace and joy solely in you. Only in you, I want the world to see that you’re alive and living well in me. Let me be a part of the harvest for the days are few. He’s coming soon. Those who do not know, they will hear, “Depart, I knew you not.” For my friends, you see, there will be a day when we’ll be counted, so know him well.

So people, get ready. Jesus is coming. Soon we’ll be going home.
People get ready. Jesus is coming to take from the world his own.

There will be a day when we will be divided right and left for those who know him and those that do not know. Those who know him well, will meet with him in the air, Hallelujah, God is with us…

Date Lectionary Readings [1st, RP, ( 2nd), A*, G]
S 11/28 1^ Is 2:1-5, Ps 122:1-9, (Rom 13:11-14), Ps 85:8, Ma 24:37-44

Summation of the Readings for 11/28/10
The 1st Reading from Isaiah tells us about his vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem. The previous passage describes Zion as the Messianic Capital and the passage after focuses on judgment against idols. The 2nd Reading from Romans concerns the duty of a Christian to obey authority and to recognize that love fulfills the law. The passage before describes a Christian’s duty to live and die for Christ, while the one following tells Christians it is our duty to exercise patience and self-denial. The Gospel Reading reminds us that we do not know when Jesus will return. Of course, a specific relevant message for us today beyond these basic topics is contained within the readings.

Reflection
The 1st Reading also tells us that at the Second Coming, people will come to be instructed in the Way of the Lord, some people will be taken from the world, the Lord will judge and impose punishments, and nations then will be at peace. Isaiah concludes by telling the people to “come walk in the Way of the Lord.” Why? If people are wanting to be instructed in the Way, we must realize that our actions speak louder than words. If someone else is looking to me for the Way to salvation, I don’t want to let them or God down.

In the Roman’s passage, we are told to “wake up” because “salvation is nearer than when you first believed.” Further, we are reminded to “conduct ourselves as if all can see.” Whose watching? Anyone who is looking to learn the Way of the Lord might see what we do. Even when all might not see, some see. Again, shouldn’t we take the responsibility seriously if someone’s salvation might depend on us? Further, even if no person sees, God sees. If we claim to be people of the Light, we better be walking in the Light, in the Way. When the Lord comes again, He will leave those walking in the dark, those focused on desires of the flesh, to dwell in darkness. We have a choice now. We will not then. Choose the Light and now, before it’s too late.

The Gospel of Matthew reading tells us we don’t know when the Lord will return anymore than people knew when the Great Flood was coming. No doubt, we realize what a disaster missing the boat then was. I don’t want to miss the boat. The author goes on to say, hey, stay awake as if a thief might be coming. We might be a bit resistant to thinking of the Lord as a thief, but the simile sure catches our attention. We certainly should care more about losing our opportunity to live eternally in the Light than losing anything of this world. Further, if half will be taken presumably to the Heavenly Kingdom and 1/2 will be left behind as it says in the reading, it makes sense in context that those who are ready – those who are walking in the Way of the Lord – will be the ones taken up. If Satan is going to reign, I don’t want to be here. Do you?

To Contemplate
How do your personal thoughts of sin affect you and those around you?
Why might the Lord judge you as “not ready”?
When do you examine your conscience?
Where do you imagine the Lord will first make His return known?
What will you do to stay awake and ready yourself?
Who brings out the best in you?

Prayer of Devotion
Lord of Heaven and Earth, King of Kings,
each person formed in God’s image has the potential to be as beautiful as You;
thank you for showing us how by your example.
As I move forward from this moment, help me to put forth the effort to be more mindful of my thoughts and actions, more willing to make amends and more able to recognize how best to proceed in the Way, yielding to God’s will.
“Lord make me an instrument of Your Peace.”
Let it be, O Gracious Lord.

If you have enjoyed this, my PEOPLE GET READY post, (which alludes to the image of the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ as a thief in the night for whom we should be awake and awaiting) or if you like poetry, the following link may be of interest…
On One Thief I Wait (on Poemhunter.com)

A Word About the Word: Advent

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

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A deeper understanding of anything can begin with a thorough definition.  The word advent has its origins in the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”. Dictionaries generally agree upon the modern definition as “the coming, approach or arrival into place, view or being – especially of an extremely important event, change, person, or state”.  Any etymology dictionary will take that a step further to let you know that adventus is the past participle stem of the Latin advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” + venire “to come”.

I think it is valuable to consider the fullness of this definition. What is the significance of the words “coming, approach or arrival,” of “place, view or being,” of “event, change, person, or state”?  Given its roots, shouldn’t we consider the word advent to at least equally be defined as the “coming to”?  Why is that addition meaningful?  Just the definition of advent gives us ample guidance for devotion to a deeper relationship with the God of our understanding, but especially Jesus the Christ of the Judeo-Christian heritage, as we enter upon and traverse the Advent Season of the Liturgical Calendar.

How often have you struggled with feeling alone, disconnected, apart from?  If not from people, what about in your relationship with a Higher Power, something or someone more powerful and wise than you or humanity as a whole?  Many times, even when we are committed to a faithful existence and exercise our spiritual muscles in religious practices, prayers, or acts of piety, we “know” God loves us, but still feel a sense of distance.  The Christian Bible proclaims , “whenever two or more of you are gathered in My name, I am there.”  Perhaps you lament, “So, what about the rest of the time?”

Our Creator sent Jesus the Christ to us. When Our Lord left this world to dwell at Our Holy Parent’s right hand, He sent the Holy Spirit, the fullness of their love, to be with us. Our Salvation comes to us. Our Comforter comes to us. We don’t have to go looking or begging. Already, because “our bodies are a temple for the Lord”, we are never alone. We take God into all that we do. We make God a part of every choice, even if we do so unconsciously. We can neither hide from God nor is God hidden from us. This implies both a privilege and a responsibility.

The definition doesn’t end there. Advent means also “arrival (to arrive)” from the Latin ad ripam “to the shore,” from ad “to” + ripa “shore”, referring originally to touching ashore after a long voyage. Indeed, we would want to welcome such a weary traveler with pleasantries and all they need. As advent means “approach”, it means “the coming nearer to” from the Latin appropiare “go nearer to,” from the Latin ad- “to” + propiare “come nearer” (the comparative of prope “near”). All these definitions imply concerted and thoughtful effort on the part of the person coming. We can be grateful we are on the receiving end.

While the Spirit dwell within us, Christ the Lord will return to this world to “judge the living and the dead.” An approach is a process and something we can “see” developing. We can prepare. The word arrival defined as “the coming to a position or state of mind” reminds us that as Christ Jesus comes to contemplate and render judgment upon our lives, we might do well to begin such preparation in our minds. Jesus Or Lord will be a new vision, a triumphant king, ready to rule the new kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

If this is to be our Advent, we must watch with new eyes, be open to transformation, and ready to leave the false comforts of our homes. We must recognize and celebrate that, as “approach” figuratively suggests “a means of handling a problem, etc.,” Jesus the Christ is Our Means, Our Answer.  We must welcome the One who will melt our icy hearts and minds to flow with Him, the Living Water.  Our great sin is in forgetting or rejecting that we are bound eternally to God, not being ever mindful and conscious of our connection.  Christ Jesus has shown us The Way to reconnect, to see again the Truth of our relationship with Our Creator.

The Way is to love as Jesus loved. For in whatever manner we are unloving of others, we are unloving of Jesus the Christ, of Our Creator, Our Lord God, and ultimately of ourselves – we who are “made in the image of God.”  How can we be complete and content if we are at war with ourselves?  It is time for us to “come to,” to wake up to the reality that the only aloneness we must face is that which we create for ourselves by not being ready to greet God face-to-face.

For Contemplation to “Come To” (recover consciousness)
About what have I been in denial?
How have I tried to hide from God?
Why do I resist being in full union with God?
In whose face do I struggle to see Christ?
Where in darkness have I unwittingly taken the Holy Spirit with me?
When will I be ready for Christ’s return?

For Devotion
This simple prayer I offer Lord…
It matters not how small I am; You are My All and I am Yours.
Let my mind and heart be ever open to Your presence
and my hands never closed to Your bidding.
Ever more, let me ask “What is the next right thing?”
Ever more let me hear and see Your answer in the echoes,
the same message from two unique sources,
that I might live the simplicity of Your Love that indwells me
until You, Christ the Lord, come in glory to rule forever more.
Lord, My God, let it be.

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Why and How to For-Give

color swap

Image by TabraK879 via Flickr

If you’ve been hurt, you may be sick of people telling you that you need to forgive and quite confused by and vehemently opposed to the very thought. I want to offer an easier-to-swallow perspective. I think to FOR-GIVE is to, FOR our own serenity, GIVE the guilt back to whom it belongs. When we are victimized, we are sometimes so enraged that we desire those who have hurt us to be harmed. Wishing harm is in essence hate, and hate is the absence of love. It seems to me that we are made to love; it is what comes naturally. When we don’t act in accord with this – when we don’t act with love – we feel guilt. Some people would even go so far as to say we are guilty if we can’t “love our enemies.” Sometimes love seems impossible so we reject the idea, making war against ourselves and consequently turning guilt into shame. Shame leads us to believe we cannot change as a person because we see ourselves as flawed. Most often, and far too often, this occurs because too many people stop short in understanding the application of love.

Consider the rhetoric of “hate the sin and love the sinner”. That’s a contrite and misguided statement. It IS healthy and healing to love a human being who has hurt us because s/he has the potential to heal and be loving. However, we are something besides just human beings – we are individual persons. So, when someone repeatedly acts in an unloving manner such that it has become their character or personality, we are free to choose without guilt to like, love or dislike that person in accord with or in spite of their actions. To not allow this distinction leaves far too many victims locked in confusion, ultimately feeling guilty for not being able to forgive or feeling so frustrated with trying to forgive that anger sucks the love right out of us. We fail to see the victimizer as capable of change. It is only HATE of the human being or the person that rightly bring the discomfort of guilt because it puts us at war with our loving selves. Let me clarify.

It is right to begin with the concept of separating actions from the person who is acting, but we must then go on to separate the human being from the person. This in turn allows us to see the perpetrator is a human being who made choices influenced by the same sort of things that influence how we choose to act, to recognize that the perpetrator had and still has the potential for good. Yet, for reasons we do not fully know or understand, our perpetrator chose to act in ways that were self-serving and lacking in compassion for us. Therefore, we can GIVE the guilt back to the one who chose to act without love, knowing that WE did NOTHING wrong to deserve being hurt. We, as human beings, are meant to be loved and to love. When a someone’s needs are consistently not met, it is difficult for her/him to feel loved and in turn know how to be loving. Guilt belongs and always has to the one who made the choice to act without love because s/he was at war with her/himself. It doesn’t have to be our war to fight. FOR our serenity, we release that responsibility to her/him, knowing that the “best revenge (which isn’t really revenge at all) is a life well-lived”.

We are all human beings. We act based on the choices we make, which in turn, for good or bad, reinforces our personal identity. Thus, we are the person we choose to be. If we can see and accept these differentiations, we have the power to forgive others. More importantly, we have the power to forgive ourselves. We can grow in love for ourselves and recognize that we are capable of changing who we are with every choice we make. It is only what we are that is unchanging. It is this – what others are and who they are capable of becoming  – that we are called to LOVE. When we forgive, we are able to love our fellow human beings and to love ourselves into fullness.

Forgiveness is a very difficult concept to grasp and an even more difficult one to practice. It is important to realize that true forgiveness is an aspect of making amends. If I ‘forgive’ a person who has wronged me but make myself available to be easily hurt again, I haven’t completely released the problem.  Making amends means setting things right as best we can.  That includes doing what we need to do for our own recovery which necessarily requires we set and maintain healthy boundaries.  Many of us must learn how to do this over a course of time.  For that reason, forgiveness is a process rather than a decision or one time action.  Recovery is a multifaceted progression rather than a linear journey.