Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; Break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” Hosea 10: 12

No, this is not about relationships. It is about new beginnings. And we are in the first week of a new year! Did you know that? That’s right, we just began the season of Advent in the Church and for us, it means a new liturgical year! And what do people do at the beginning of a new year? They make resolutions.

So what kind of resolutions can you make right now about your life? Many people automatically think about improving their health: they quit smoking, they stop drinking, they eat less fattening foods, they begin an exercise routine. All good things. But in Advent—the Christian New Year—we are asked to think about how we can improve our spiritual health which is of vast more importance than our physical health (see 1 Timothy 4: 7-8).

So how can we do this? We need to prepare our hearts to receive the grace of God this year. The grace that comes to us at so many moments as the liturgical year unfolds. As the mysteries of God and salvation history are re-presented to us and made real for us today, we encounter the Person of Jesus and have the opportunity to be swept up and away by His love through His grace. Through the sacraments: when we receive Jesus—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist at Mass, when we are cleansed from our sins and purified to the core of our being in Reconciliation, when we spend time in contemplation before the Lord in Adoration, just listening to His voice within our hearts.

We need to break up the stony parts of our hearts and till the soil of our souls. We need to do whatever it takes to open more and more of our lives to the One who came to us 2,000 years ago as a baby, still comes to us today in the humility of the Eucharist and who will come again in all of His power, majesty and glory at the end of time. Now is the time to seek the Lord, now is the time to put aside our vices and to start working on being virtuous in all things. And as we begin to do these things, the fruits of the Holy Spirit will flow from us as the Lord rains down on us with His love and mercy and justice. This isn’t easy. It’s hard to break up the hard parts of our hearts and to root out that which keeps us from Him. But all things are possible in Him. May we start anew this Advent season. May we re-commit to Jesus with our whole hearts.

Dear Jesus, help me to seek You and to prepare my heart to receive You more and more during this Advent season. May Your grace envelope and penetrate every fiber of my being during this new liturgical year, that I may be ready to receive You with joy. Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

“Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.” Romans 13: 2

It’s amazing how much people like to resist authority, isn’t it? From almost the instant we begin to crawl, we begin to see authority and people telling us what to do and not to do as something that MUST be resisted. My youngest child just began crawling in earnest this past week. And he went from just sitting there all cute and cuddly, to a holy terror who risks death and mayhem at every turn. And all of a sudden, my wife and I have had to tell him “no”. No to climbing the stairs, no to putting things in his mouth, no to grabbing the cat’s tail, no to going in the kitchen cabinets. It seems that with this new freedom of movement, we have to set boundaries so that he will be safe, while still giving him the ability to explore and learn. But every time we tell him “no”, he stops, looks at us, smiles…and then tries to do it anyway.

I guess most of us aren’t too different at 5 or 15 or 35…or 85, than we are at 9 months. We want to expand our horizons and to experience things when we want and the way we want, without anyone telling us what to do or not do. It can be our parents’ authority, civil authorities or even God’s authority in the Church. We seem to be unable to be joyfully obedient. But isn’t the Church simply trying to protect us and help us to grow in true freedom? Isn’t the Church trying to protect us from unhappiness in this life and eternal death?

And yet, we still bristle and still want to do it our way. You know who this sounds like? Lucifer. Did he not decide that he did not want to follow God? Was he not cast from heaven for his disobedience? Who else does this remind us of? Perhaps Adam and Eve in the garden? Their lack of obedience led to Original Sin.

So what is the antidote to this desire for disobedience? It is Jesus and His humility. He was obedient at all times to the Father, even unto death. His example should inspire us to fight against the idea that we know better than the Church. We need to be filled with a spirit of joyful obedience—which does not mean blind obedience or mindlessly following the Church without rational thought or discourse. But it means having the humility to recognize that WE are not the authority in life. That ultimately there is One greater and more knowledgeable than us; and to understand that His motivation for teaching us and admonishing us is for the sake of love and love alone.

Dear Jesus, please help me to see that You gave Your authority to the Church and that by obeying the Church I am doing Your will. Give me the grace to be humble and to be joyfully obedient to any authority You have placed over my life. Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3: 16

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the dichotomy that exists on this day in America. As a nation, out of 365 days of the year, we set aside ONE to be thankful for all we have and for the blessings we have been given. One. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the day of the year with the largest amount of ads in the newspapers reminding us of all the stuff we don’t have. Strange, isn’t it, that on this one day, we can’t even get through the morning without being lambasted with images of what we don’t have, instead of being able to be content and grateful for what we do have.

I think this is the way it often is in our lives, or at least the way Satan wants it to be. If we are always looking around at what others have, or what we don’t have, how can we ever be truly grateful for what we do have? And without a thankful heart, our lives begin to spiral down into entitlement and greed.

Gratitude counters greed because instead of always wanting more and always desiring things we don’t have we learn to be content and to appreciate what God has given us. And this is not limited to material goods. What about the way we look? Or the gifts we have or don’t have? Do we find ourselves yearning for beauty or abilities that others seem to have? We can become greedy not just for things, but for ideals and talents as well. But gratitude helps us to look in the mirror and see ourselves the way God does: as His precious child.

Gratitude counters a sense of entitlement because it helps us to not take things for granted. A spirit of entitlement causes us to expect good things to come our way—as if we deserve them. We don’t see our blessings as blessings, but as a result of our hard work or fortunate surroundings (being in the right place at the right time). We fail to see that we are gifted or blessed because of God’s love and mercy but because we are owed it for some reason. Like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

So we have to ask ourselves today: do we have an attitude of gratitude? Or are we trapped in the clutches of greed and entitlement? One of the best ways to rekindle and attitude of gratitude is to recognize that at any given time in life, there is always someone better off than you and worse off than you. Always. And the more we can rejoice for those better off than us and the more we can attempt to help those worse off than us, the more our hearts will be filled with thankfulness each day for all that God is doing in our own lives.

Dear Jesus, grant me the gift of a thankful heart today. Through Your grace, help me to always acknowledge Your blessings in my life and be content with what I have. Amen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

People Pleasers

“Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ” Galatians 1: 10

Are you a people pleaser?

I think a lot of people are. We try so hard to look the right way, talk the right way, do the right things—put ourselves into positions where we are noticed. We worry about what people will think of us and if we will be acknowledged or rewarded for our hard work and efforts. But at what cost and for what prize?

So many teens keep texting and chatting and adding more facebook friends, hoping that in the end, they are found worthy. So many put photo after photo of themselves online just hoping that someone—anyone—will notice and say they are beautiful.

In the end, trying to be a people pleaser leads us deeper and deeper into narcissism. And the more narcissistic we become, the unhappier we are. But the biggest problem with trying to please people is that we become less concerned about pleasing God. We stop living in righteousness, because it makes us unacceptable to our peers. We stop trying to speak the Truth because people accuse us of being “intolerant.” We decide it is easier to be permissive and popular than to truly love others and ourselves.

In the end, we sacrifice our very selves and begin to transform, like a chameleon, into anything that we think anyone else needs or wants us to be at any given moment. But you know what? Even when we are ignoring God and trying to please others, He miraculously still loves us and desires us. Even while we spend most of our time trying to fit into the world, God is still chasing after us. As CS Lewis once said, “If God were proud He would not have us on these terms: but He is not proud. He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is "nothing better" now to be had."

Isn’t that amazing? Even then, God still stoops down to us to conquer us with His love. May we live in this knowledge and desire to please Him more than people so that His efforts are not in vain.

Dear Jesus, please help me to stop trying to please others and begin trying to please You. Give me the grace I need to seek righteous and Truth above popularity and accolades. Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010


“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Isaiah 29: 15

Have you ever forgotten something and then felt like garbage afterward?

I did that today. It can happen to all of us: birthdays, meetings, tests, when we’re supposed to be at work, meeting with a friend. And we feel so bad because it looks and feels thoughtless, even if we didn’t attempt to be rude. And there is no way to “undo” what was done. I think we feel so helpless in these situations. But hopefully we have friends and co-workers and teachers and family that will forgive us and will allows us to move on and try again, without holding it over our heads.

I think we’ve also been in situations where we are the one who was “forgotten” about. Perhaps we have been stood up on a date or get together. Maybe someone was supposed to come pick us up and never showed. Maybe we put a lot of time and energy into a meeting or presentation and no one came. Or maybe we planned a party and there were a lot of no-shows, wasting our time and money and leaving us feeling overlooked and abandoned?

I talk with a lot of teens that think God has forgotten about them, too. They think that He is too busy running the universe to worry about their little problems. Perhaps they are tempted to believe that with all the people and issues in the world, God sometimes forgets about them. Maybe you can feel this way sometimes?

But the truth is that God is not standing around heaven running the universe like an entertainer spinning plates. Running from important thing to important thing, less it fall and break into a thousand pieces. Rather, God holds the world together with one simple thought. The awesome thing about God is that He can think about everything and everyone at once, while at the same time thinking of each thing and each person individually. That will blow your mind when you dwell on it.

So have no fear, no matter what happens in your life, no matter how many times you mess up, no matter how many times you are forgotten or overlooked, God will never forget you. How can you know? Because you exist. If God forgot about you for even an instant and stopped thinking of you, you wouldn’t die, you would cease to exist. So if you are here, then God is thinking of you, and when He is thinking of you, He is loving you. And when He is loving you, what worries can there be?

Dear Jesus, help me to know that You will never forget me. Through Your grace allow me to live in the peace that comes from this knowledge. Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Ultimate High Wire Act

“Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12

Have you ever heard of Phillipe Petit?

In 1974, after months of careful planning, this Frenchman snuck a two-party team and hundreds of pounds of equipment into the two World Trade Center buildings, took everything to the top; and evading guards, open elevator shafts with drops of close to 1,000 feet and the darkness of night, they strung a high wire across the 200 foot expanse between the two towers. Then, in the early morning light, as the city of New York was beginning to awake from its restless slumber, he began to walk that tight-rope over 1,100 above the concrete, with no net or safety harnesses. He was so high that people on the ground had trouble seeing him at first. And over the course of 90 minutes he walked back and forth eight times, sat on the wire and even laid down on it right in the middle! Of course, when he was finished he was promptly arrested.

Was he crazy?

Some people say he was, others called him courageous, still others say he was an artist. For himself, he simply says that he needed to conquer the towers. It’s quite sobering at this point, knowing that they no longer stand.

But you know what? I think at times in our lives, we do something much more crazy and dangerous than Phillipe Petit ever did. That’s right, we might not ever climb out on a 1 inch wide wire risking physical death. But how often do we walk an even more dangerous tightrope with sin. Scriptures tell us that the “wages” of sin is death; not physical death, but eternal death. And yet we can still find ourselves out there on that high wire, risking the fires and suffering of hell—for what? Momentary pleasure? The thrill of getting away with something?

You know the interesting thing about Phillip Petit is that after this feat much of his life fell apart. He broke up with his girlfriend and he and his best friend became estranged—and both were instrumental in helping him achieve his goal. And the results of sin are so similar—it offers us so much, but it never follows through and in the end we are left alone and broken. Let’s make a decision today to stop walking this tightrope between eternal life and death. And if we ever do find ourselves out on that high wire of sin again, let’s get to confession as soon as possible and get back on the solid ground of our relationship with Christ.

Dear Jesus, please help me get rid of my pride, which tricks me into believing I am secure in my sin, even as it is leading me to death. May I learn to cooperate with Your grace so as to build my life on the rock of You. Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friendship with Christ

“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15: 14

We all long to have deep, meaningful friendships and relationships. But a true, authentic friendship with another can only come out of a personal relationship with Christ. Any friendship or relationship without Christ as the foundation and center is merely a shadow of the reality it could and should be in Christ.

But don’t just take my words for it. In his address to young people in preparation for World Youth Day in Spain 2011, Pope Benedict XVI says, “…many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love…” But he also goes on to say that the desires of our young hearts are not possible apart from God and that at the core of our lives is a yearning for Jesus. He puts it this way, “Jesus himself tells us that he is our life. Consequently, Christian faith is not only a matter of believing certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…when we enter into a personal relationship with him, Christ reveals our true identity and, in friendship with him, our life grows towards complete fulfillment.”

So we can see that without the fulfillment of Christ calming our restless hearts, we will always be searching for meaning and love and friendship in ways that will never bring us happiness or wholeness. This, of course, will lead us into the temptation of using others, rather than loving them. Or operating in our relationships out of fear or impatience, rather than out of courage and confidence; becoming exclusive rather than inclusive, taking rather than giving, tearing down instead of building up. If we have not found our true identity in Christ—in other words, if we do not have full possession of ourselves—how can we hope to give ourselves away in self-donating love without counting the cost?

We also need to take an honest assessment of our lives and our friends. Just because we share the same building with people for the majority of the hours of each day does not mean they are our friends (whether this be school or work). And just because facebook tells us that the people we allow to see our profile page are “friends” does not mean that they are. True friends are people who desire what is best for us. And what is best for us is a relationship with Jesus, growing in holiness and eventually getting to heaven. If you don’t have friends helping you to do this, then I think it might be time to get some new friends. And if Jesus isn’t your BFF, then I encourage you to start working on that, because when I say “Best Friend Forever”, I really mean FOREVER!

Dear Jesus, I want You to be my best friend. Give me the grace to seek You and to know You above all else, so that all of my human friendships can be a reflection of my friendship with You. Amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Thing

“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find...For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds” Matthew 7: 7

This time of year it seems as if everyone starts to think about what they “need” (or want) for Christmas. We drop hints to friends and family or just ask our parents outright for what we think they should get us. One of my favorite Christian singers and composers, the late Rich Mullins, wrote a song a number of years ago entitled, “My One Thing”. I always think of this song about this time of year and I want to share with you some of the words.

They go: “Everybody I know says they need just one thing. And what they really mean is they need just one thing more. And everybody seems to think they got it coming. Well, I know that I don’t deserve You, Still I want to love You more and more...You’re my one thing! Save me from those things that might distract me. Please take them away and purify my heart. I don’t want to lose the eternal for the things that are passing. Cause what will I have when the world is gone, if it isn’t for the love that goes on and on...you’re my one thing!

Take stock of all the things you have right now. Is what you need one more thing? Will one more thing really make you happy? Will one more thing bring you peace? What all of us need (myself included) is to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Presents and “things” are not evil, but when we look to them for our happiness, instead of to God, we “lose sight of the eternal for the things that are passing”.

This coming Advent and Christmas, reflect on what you think will make you happy. Ask yourself if what you think you need is actually blocking Who you really need. Just as we ask our parents for good things and they try to give them to us, so will God give us good things (like peace, joy, love, grace, happiness, etc.) if we come to Him in prayer and ask Him for them. There’s only ONE THING we really need in life: Jesus! Open wide the doors of your heart to Him! He’s waiting for you.

Dear Jesus, You are my one thing! I know that my heart cannot be satisfied with anything but You. Give me the grace to yearn for and seek after only You all the days of my life. Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Always Faithful

“When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart…” Acts 11: 23

Our God is always and ever faithful to us. Can the same be said of us toward Him?

If I were to ask: how far would you be willing to go to follow God? What would your answer be? Are you willing to do whatever He asks? I think most people would desire to say “yes”, but many would not be so sure. I think many of us would be afraid to give a complete ascent of the will to the Lord. Why? Because we are thinking into it too much and this causes us to be afraid.

What do I mean? Well, I think when we are confronted with this question we tend to imagine God asking us to be a martyr for the faith. Or we picture Him asking us to leave everything and go to Africa as a missionary where we will be forced to eat bugs a couple times each day. Or we are convinced it means the Lord will force us to be a priest or a nun against our will. And when we begin to dwell on these big ideas, we can become afraid because we aren’t sure we want them or that we can handle them. We perhaps are afraid to fail or let God down.

Now, God may certainly ask you at some point to die for love of Him. And He just might ask you to be a missionary and eat bugs. And He might even ask you to be a priest or a nun (but never against your will). But I think if we get caught up in these big ideas, we might just miss the real point of faithfulness. Because while those things are in the future, what about TODAY? Can you be always faithful today: in your school, in your home, on your bus, with your friends?

What if instead of asking you to die for the faith, He is asking you to die to your desires for popularity? What if instead of asking you to be a missionary in Africa, He is asking you to be a missionary in your school or home today? What if He asks you to stop talking and acting like everyone else around you and instead He asks you to talk and live in righteousness and truth? What if you have to lose friends to be faithful to Him? What if you have to stay home alone on a Saturday night? What if people make fun of you because you stop trying to fit into the sin around you?

I think God is calling us to be always faithful each day. And the most important of these days is TODAY. Will you be faithful to Him, no matter what He asks of you today?

Dear Jesus, I want to be always faithful to You, because I know You have always been faithful to me. Through Your grace, may I strive to do whatever You ask of me THIS day—and every day. Amen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Prepare the Way

“Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me…” Malachi 3: 1a

At first glance, this Scripture passage refers to St. John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, coming before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. But does it also not apply to every Christian in our world today? Aren’t you and I called to be messengers that prepare the way of the Lord? But where are we to go and how are we to prepare the way?

If we look to the example of St. John the Baptist, I think the first step is to become radically holy ourselves. The best way to lead others to Christ is to first be a passionate and authentic follower yourself. St. John left the comforts of the world to live in austerity—eating locusts and honey and wearing animal skins. Does this mean that you and I have to abandon school, work and family, move to the desert and eat bugs? Of course not, but what are some of the comforts of this world that we could do without in order to become more dependent on Christ? Are we willing to go without friends? Without things to do on a Saturday night? Are we willing to be unpopular because we stand for something? Are we willing to not cheat, not use profane language, not treat others with disrespect? Because as I see it, these are the kind of things we can do and not do that will make us seem radical in the eyes of our peers.

Secondly, are we willing to speak the Truth? Are we willing to live our lives in such a way that people are drawn—not to us—but to what we live for? St. John always pointed to the One who was to come after him. Are we always pointing to Jesus by the words we use, the actions we take, the company we keep? Do people look at us and see an arrow pointing to heaven? We don’t have to say many words to speak the Truth. In fact, in most cases, speaking is the last thing we need to do. But we do need to be ready as a messenger of Christ, to use our words to answer questions and explain and defend the Faith in charity when the time calls for words.

Lastly, are we willing to lay down our life to prepare the way? This doesn’t necessarily mean martyrdom like with St. John, but there are a thousand ways in which we can die to ourselves, to become small and humble, so that people see Christ rather than us.

Preparing the way means looking each day for the opportunities to help cultivate and work the soil of peoples’ hearts, so that when the Lord comes to knock on the door of their hearts, they are ready and eager to receive Him with great joy. It means being a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a voice of calm, a presence of peace. It means being generous, leading by example, speaking the Truth and being honest. It means sharing the love of Christ and bringing hope to others. How the world needs such messengers!

Dear Jesus, please help me to be Your messenger. Give me the grace to prepare the way for You to enter the hearts of my peers, my family—everyone I come into contact with today. May Your light and peace and hope shine through me. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Is Your Compass?

“You know, O Lord, that man is not master of his way; Man’s course is not within his choice, nor is it for him to direct his step.” Jeremiah 10: 23

What is your compass?

When I ask this to people, whether they are teens or adults, I get some pretty varied answers. Sometimes they say God, sometimes it is “love”, sometimes it is nothing. But the most interesting answer I get is when people say themselves. Until I remind them that we can’t be our own compass. A compass is something apart from us that shows us where to go.

All of us are guided by something or someone at almost every moment of our lives. Our parents, culture, religion, friends—even the weather—can have all kinds of influence on us; both good and bad. I have heard the cacophony of those claiming to be independent thinkers. They are those who often reject religion because claim freedom to go their own way and think for themselves. But are they really? Or are they really just following something different now?

The way I see it, either the Church is our compass, or the world is. That’s it. And why do I say the Church and not God? Because a compass does not have power in and of itself, but it is guided by the magnetic force of the poles, just as the Church is guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. And like a good compass, the Church is always pointing “north” to God and to heaven. If we are not following the direction of the Church, then we can be pretty certain that we are following the direction of the world. And the needle of this compass is always spinning and never showing a true way. It is always causing confusion and insecurity and hopelessness.

So, what is your compass? Is it the Church, or is it the world? One will lead us to heaven and the other will lead us in circles, like the circles of a whirl pool, dragging us down in despair and darkness. Let us not only cling to the Church and the Truth of God proclaimed through Her, but also share this compass with others, so that they too, might come to know the way and be filled with the surety of hope that it brings.

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us a compass in the Church to show us the way to You. With Your grace, may we always allow our hearts, minds and souls to be guided by this compass and to reject the compass of the world. Amen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls

“Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.” 2 Maccabees 12: 46

Today we remember in prayer all those who have died. It is also a special day to offer sacrifice and atonement for the dead. Now some may wonder: why do we pray for the dead? What good will it do? If you die and go to heaven, prayers are not needed and if you die and go to hell, then prayers cannot help. And this is true. So what’s the point?

This holy day, when we pray for all the souls of the faithful departed, is a reminder of the doctrine of purgatory. And without purgatory, it does not make any sense to pray for the dead. So what is purgatory? Purgatory is a place or state of being, where souls who died in the state of grace, but with stain of sin, are purified before entering heaven.

When we sin, we either weaken our relationship with God (venial sin) or we completely break our relationship with God (mortal sin). This does not mean that God does not love us, but it means we did not love Him as we ought. As a person of faith, in these times of sin, we feel remorse and we go to the Lord in confession to seek reconciliation. But even after God has forgiven us, there is still atonement that needs to be made. Think about it this way: let’s say you are playing baseball in the backyard with a friend when one of you throws the ball too high and it goes over the neighbor’s fence and smashes their kitchen window. Doing the right thing, you go immediately over to the house and tell them it was an accident and you are very sorry for breaking their window. Being good people, they forgive you. Incident over, right? Wrong. While you asked for forgiveness and they forgave you, the window is still broken and someone still has to pay to fix it. This is like atonement and this is why at confession, we are always given a penance to help atone for our sins and re-orient our hearts toward God and away from the sin and the inclination to sin.

So the idea is that we can work to atone for our own sins while on this earth through prayers, sacrifices and penances, in order to rid ourselves of any attachment to sin and temptation we may have. Or, if we die with venial sin on our souls, we can atone for our sins in purgatory. The difference is that in purgatory, we can’t do anything to merit atonement and expedite our suffering. But those still on earth can. So we now see the power of this day: a day to remind us of all the poor souls in purgatory, still in communion with us through faith, but in need of our spiritual help to enter heaven. What an awesome thing to be able to help another along their way! Obviously, it is Jesus and the expiation of our sins that He merited for us on Calvary that brings us to heaven; and apart from this sacrifice, none of ours would have any power or meaning. But God, in His mystery and goodness, gives us the opportunity to share in this saving deed by cooperating with His grace and combining our own feeble efforts to His perfect offering—not just for our own sins, but for the sins of others. On this special day, let us remember in prayer all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of Christ, especially those who have been forgotten by everyone but God.

Dear Jesus, today I offer my life and my prayers for all the souls in purgatory. Through Your grace and mercy, may they enter into Your glory as soon as possible. Amen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2

While the rest of the world (maybe even including you and me) is still feeling sick after gorging on piles of free candy collected from the doors of strangers from the night before, the Church is celebrating Masses in the honor of all those holy men and women who have lived the life of faith and are now enjoying the rewards of heaven.

Well, why does the Church even canonize people to Sainthood to begin with? If they’re in heaven, why do they need to be honored? Simply put, it’s not for them; it’s for us. We need to be reminded of two things: 1) we have big brothers and sisters in heaven who love us who are interceding for us and 2) we too, are called to become Saints. That’s right, you and me—all the baptized, are called to become Saints! And when we look at the lives of others who have done it, it should help inspire us and give us hope and motivation to be like them, because they were like Christ.
What’s really cool is that Saints come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. Saints were soldiers, priests, husbands, wives, kings, queens, poor people, great thinkers and simple-minded. They crossed the continents as missionaries or never left a convent. They lived to old age or died as teen-agers. They were farmers, professionals, martyrs or silently suffered interiorly for the sake of Christ. Some were even lawyers or politicians! Saints are Saints because they cooperated with grace. Some lived through extraordinary experiences, but most lived their daily lives with great love and passion for Jesus and His Church in the most ordinary of circumstances. They were filled with joy, they were filled with sorrow, they were in pain; they ate, slept and had conversations just like you and me.
So how can you become a Saint? Ask for the grace. Resign yourself to the will of God. Cast out into the deep. And do whatever you do in your daily life with great love and for the glory of God. If it wasn’t possible, then God would not call us to it. Trust in Jesus and live for Him in all you do. And one day you will be Saint.

Dear Jesus, I want to be a Saint. Please give me all the grace I need to become holy and to live as a witness for You among my peers and community. Help to live my ordinary life with extraordinary love. Amen.