EASTER OCTAVE – Resurrection Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter

DIVINE MERCY

April 8, 2018

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:19-23

Ant. 1: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 1: Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection but the first to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16-17) It is here we see the loving mercy of Christ as He tells her to go tell the others that He has risen. The suspense was now over, the truth now finally revealed. The guilt and confusion pushed to the side as Jesus announces that He is alive – concurring death forever! I often think about this moment when Jesus came to Mary alive, her only word, ‘Teacher!’ was said out of shock or perhaps more of a sigh of relief. How quickly did her sadness change to joy? That is what it will be like when we pass away and go to Heaven and see Christ for the first time… sadness turned to instant joy! What must have been racing in her mind as she ran to tell the others? How was she going to announce the good news?  I wonder if she thought; would they believe? When she burst into the room the disciples were all hiding, how joyful her voice must have been yet they did not believe her. The visual clues must have been confusing for the disciples when they saw how excited she was. Now in John’s account, this joyful news was in the morning and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first day…

The Resurrection Narrative

According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke

In Matthew’s account, (Matthew 28:1-10) both Mary’s witnessed an angel from Heaven descending to earth and caused an earthquake. Then the angel rolled back the stone and invited Mary, mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene to come into the tomb to see that it was empty. It was the angel who told them to go tell the disciples and on their way Jesus appeared to them both. In Mark’s account, (Mark 16:1-8) which closely supports Matthew’s account in that it was an angel who told the two Mary’s to go tell the others. The main difference is that the two Mary’s did not see the angel roll back the stone as the angel had already done this and was inside the tomb when the two women came in.  The longer ending of Mark, (Mark 16:9-10) supports the individual appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone. It also states that the disciples did not believe her. Mark also further mentions an appearance to two disciples on the road to the countryside. These two unnamed disciples came back and told the others and were also not believed. Finally, in Luke’s account, (Luke 24:1-12) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women who went with them which are unnamed coming to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Supporting Mark, the stone was already rolled away by the time they got there. When they went in they did not find Jesus’s body but were greeted by two angels who reminded them of what Jesus had told them in Galilee, that he would die and be raised on the third day. They then returned to the disciples who did not believe them. (Luke 24:12) Tells that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and was amazed! Luke also supports the appearance of Jesus by two disciples, Cleopas & and an unnamed disciple while walking into the countryside, but does not tell of where they were actually headed… but we later find out they were going to the town of Emmaus. This account goes into detail of the conversations they had with Jesus without knowing it was the risen Lord. It ends with the breaking of bread and their eyes being opened and once this had happened Jesus disappeared and the two men went back to tell the disciples of what had happened to them.  In all during the first day, Jesus had appeared to;

Jesus Appears

 Ant. 2: After eight days, although the doors were locked, the Lord came among them and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 2:  Peter got up and ran to the tomb! (Luke 24:34) then in the evening after all the witnesses came to tell the disciples of the risen Christ – Jesus finally appears to them. (John 20:19-23) At this point, Peter is the only male disciple who had seen the risen Christ, as opposed to all the major female characters who had all seen Him, talked to Him, and in which truly believed. It was the women disciples who proclaimed that Jesus has risen and to this point, none of them were believed by the male disciples. Why was it that they did not believe? The hint is within, (John 20:19), they were afraid, terrified, and in Peters case depressed because of his three denials of knowing Jesus. In such a state how could they go out and preach about Jesus, and I really think that Thomas gets the worse wrap of them all by being labeled, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for clearly at this point they all did not believe it possible for Jesus to be alive for their collective grief had taken them over. 

Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Jesus appeared to His disciples to lift their spirit, prove that He is the Son of Man, and to dispell this fear they had deep in their hearts. Mercy was extended to them all in different but similar ways as none could refute His divine powers. As for Thomas who had to wait eight days, and the second appearance to His disciples was invited by Jesus to stick his finger into Jesus’s side as proof of the resurrection. For truly I say to you that if Jesus’s body had been stolen from the tomb, thus not risen, then in the words of Saint Paul, ‘If Christ has not risen, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ – Jesus’ Resurrection, (pg.118) The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Saint Mary’s Press. Furthermore, the following three things we factually know because Christ did rise from the tomb;

1.) Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God

2.) All of Jesus’s teaching is in fact true

3.) The divine truth of the Paschal Mystery –  That death is not the end.

Guiding Question: “Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” “Why is this fundamental question so important?”

Answer Q2: This core belief; that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day is so important because how you answer this question determines how seriously you believe in Jesus, His teachings, the reason why He had to die, and His promises He has made to you and the rest of mankind. If your answer is, ‘Yes! I believe in His resurrection!’ Then how can you not make Jesus the center of your life? 

For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that this is why we celebrate His divine mercy.  For through His suffering and death we; all of God’s children will have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever and ever. How much greater our reward in heaven to have not seen but yet believe?  We celebrate because of Jesus Christ, His absolute truth within His words, His divine promises which he fulfilled on our behalf, and to which all our worries have now been made mute in His presences. For the Son of Man goes before us shining a light leading us to salvation which is God’s ultimate mercy upon all of His children.

Intercessions 

In rising from the dead, Christ destroyed death and restored life. Let us cry to Him, saying:

Lord Jesus, you live forever; hear our prayer.

You are the stone rejected by the builders which became the cornerstone rejoiced by the builders which became the chief cornerstone.

make us living stones in the temple of your Church. 

You are the faithful and true witness, the firstborn from the dead,

make your Church bear constant witness to yourself. 

You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,

make us reveal to the world the love of the Bridegroom and Bride.

You are the first and last, you were dead and are alive,

keep those who have been baptized faithful until death, that they may receive the crown of victory.

Light and lamp of God’s holy city,

shine on our friend who have died, that they may reign forever. 

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Ant 3: The Lord is risen. Alleluia.

God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 451-452.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

LIVE STREAM

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9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

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EASTER 2018 – The Lord is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia

The Price of Sin Paid in Full by the Gift from God!

April 1, 2018

Easter SUNDAY

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Ant 1:  The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood. Alleluia

Insight 1: So it was at the beginning that God created the Earth and from the dust of the Earth he created Adam, the first human, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then Lucifer offered to Eve the first women made from Adam the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She ate it and gave it to Adam and he too ate of it. From this day forth sin entered into the world and God saw man’s heart had been taken by sin, therefore the Lord God declared,

You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” – Genesis 3:19 (NABRE)

Therefore, I tell you my brothers and sister from that time till the rising of Jesus Christ death took us and we had no hope, no repentance, and our relationship with Our Heavenly Father was severed. It took the sacrifice of Jesus to redeem our sinful hearts, repair that sacred relationship with the Father, and in this, we now have his precious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. For today he is risen!

The Tomb is Empty

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was still dark. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. Both of them were running. The other disciple ran faster than Peter. He reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there. But he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him. He went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there. He also saw the funeral cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place. It was separate from the linen. The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. – John 20:1-9 (NABRE)

Ant 2:  Our Redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, Alleluia

Insight 2: Jesus had told his disciples many things before he was crucified and much of what Jesus had said they did not understand. Chief among them was;

17  “The reason my Father loves me is that I give up my life. But I will take it back again. 18 No one takes it from me. I give it up myself. I have the authority to give it up. And I have the authority to take it back again. I received this command from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 (NABRE)

To his disciples, this was a mystery because they did not want Him to die. They did not understand why he had to die. Therefore, when he was crucified they ran and hide filled with fear and uncertainty. Over and over they recounted the many things Jesus had said and in their grief, they still could not understand. However, Jesus had also told them;

 21 “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” – John 16:22 (NABRE)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I tell you when Jesus was beaten for our sins, we too were one with Him in that pain. When Jesus felt the anguish of the cross, so was it that we too were in anguish for his blood was innocent and the worlds from Adam to this day was guilty steeped in sin. It was the curse of sin which equals death that Jesus now faced on our behalf willingly. His love so filled with forgiveness, mercy, and kindness that He walked confidently to His death on the cross, and willing lay His life down for us. But the mystery His disciples missed was in the words, ‘And I have the authority to take it back again.’ So, at the moment the disciples arrived at the tomb they saw with their own eyes that it was empty, and at that moment they understood that Jesus defeated death for all of us, redeemed all of us, and in this victory over death, we all now have eternal life.

Guiding Question: ‘So after knowing that Jesus willingly died for you then was raised on the third day to conquer death for you… is there any doubt left what Our God wouldn’t do for you… the one He loves so?’ 

Peter’s Speech

40 This man God raised [on] the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses were chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him, all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:40-43 (NABRE)

Ant 3:  Alleluia, The Lord is risen as he promised, Alleluia!

Insight 3: Dear brothers and sisters, it is our victory of salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ who died to wash away our sins, and who rose again on the third day to glorify our eternal Father in Heaven. I say to you that His promises which span millennia are as valid today as when he made them, for our Lord is faithful to His word. With fidelity did he make plans before the foundations of the Earth to conquer sin, and to bring salvation to His children whom he made in likeness, and who he within His infant wisdom became man, and lived among us. Through the prophets he reached out to us laying down His divine law, working wonders so that we might believe, and then in His final efforts to bring us closer to Him God raised Jesus from the dead. It was God’s declaration that the earthly tombs we are put in at death shall not be the final experience of life, for His promise was to raise us in His likeness, to shower us with His love and mercy. To breathe upon us the breath of everlasting life. This promise He fulfilled through His son Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Jerusalem! Alleluia, alleluia!

Happy Easter – Celebrate saying, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!

Intercessions

Christ is the Lord of life, raised up by the Father; in his turn, he will raise us up by his power. Let us pray to him by saying;

Christ our life, save us.

Lord Jesus, light shining in the darkness, you lead your people into life, and give our mortal nature the gift of holiness,

– may we spend this day in praise of your glory.

Lord, you walked the way of suffering and crucifixion,

– may we suffer and die with you, and rise again to share your glory.

Son of the Father, our master, and our brother, you have made us a kingdom of priests for our God,

– may we offer you our joyful sacrifice of praise.

King of glory, we look forward to the great day of your coming in splendor,

– that we may see you face to face, and be transformed in your likeness.

Let’s Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Ant. Very early on the morning after the Sabbath, when the sun had just risen, they came to the tomb. (Alleluia) 

 

God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 428-429

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

LIVE STREAM

7:30am – Mass
9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

Special events outside the above schedule will also be streamed.

Be a part of spreading the word of God by giving what you can today. 

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Good Friday – Christ’s death at Calvary

Suffering and Triumph of the Servant of the Lord

FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

MARCH 30, 2018

13 See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. 14 Even as many were amazed at him— so marred were his features, beyond that of mortals his appearance, beyond that of human beings 15 So shall he startle many nations, kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it. – Isaiah 52:13-17 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Insight 1: From Heaven to Earth was the son of man called to do the impossible, write the wrongs of the entire world of sinners, and bring the truth into the world of darkness. God gave this knowledge to Isaiah and in the wisdom of the Lord it was written and spread by mouth unto all the many nations.

Ant. It is not you who speak but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Insight 2: God chose to forgive us just as Lucifer through pride chose to spread sin amongst us, tempting the Lord Our God to wipe man away as he had done in the flood thus forever breaking His divine promise made in the age of Noah. But God chose to forgive us, putting away His anger and wrath and in its place sent love, mercy, and grace. It would be by the promise of salvation the world would be redeemed by a God who is the father of us all. Therefore, perfect in every way God made a plan before the foundations of the world.

Ant. The eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, today emptied himself for our sake and became man.

Insight 3: For the Lord, God in Heaven did not send an angel to die for man’s sin, rather a whole army of angels could not accomplish this task. The whole of Heaven is not divine enough to wipe away the immortal sin now before God. This Lucifer knew but was unaware of the might of God’s love, unexpecting the Father’s desires to wipe away sin, unaware of the strength of His Holy Son to become man. For Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary to look like we do, feel like we do, love and hate as we do, but born without sin or blemish. Sent with a mission, a holy volunteer that would bring salvation to the world despite Lucifers plans to spread sin and to harden men’s hearts.

 Ant. In his great love for us, God sent his Son in the likeness of our sinful nature.

The Fourth Servant Oracle

Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye, no beauty to draw us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, knowing pain, like one from whom you turn your face spurned, and we held him in no esteem. – Isaiah 53:1-3 (NABRE)

Ant. Lightly I run in the way you have shown, for you have opened my heart to receive your law.

Yet it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. We thought of him as stricken struck down by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, all following our own way, But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. – Isaiah 53:4-6 (NABRE)

Ant. I put all my trust in the Lord and he has not failed me.

Insight 4: How could the world believe if Satan himself could not know God to be so loving, so forgiving and merciful? How could a mortal man see the Son of Man in his true personage, know it was God made flesh, hear His voice and man’s hearts not be stirred? For some purposefully hardened their hearts, ran from the light while clinging to the Holy books of Moses refusing to believe. The true message of Christ lost among them but was not wasted on the poor in spirit. For each miracle from His birth till His death, those who did see, who’s eyes where opened, and hearts filled with grace was Jesus received.  Gladly He walked with His cross to His final suffering –  dying upon it for all mankind.

Ant. But not in hurried flight will you go out nor leave in headlong haste, For the Lord goes before you, and your rear guard is the God of Israel. – Isaiah 52:12 (NABRE)

The Crucifixion of Jesus

 

So they took Jesus, 17 and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” 20 Now many of the Jews read this inscription because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” John 19:17-22 (NABRE)

Insight 5: Dear Brothers and Sisters, truly I say to you that in the hour of judgment be not afraid, take heart in the fidelity of Christ, to which He gave Himself for you. For as it is written Jesus Christ goes before all mankind, both men and women, He descended into Hell for you, freed many who had no hope and in that hour Christ shook the foundations of the world on your behalf! He suffered, was beaten and scourged until unrecognizable, His blood poured out so ours would not have to be shed, and in that hour of judgment carried His cross to His death.  Truly Christ goes before all mankind paving the way and God the Father truly protects from the rear as we all march to the Holy Banquette in Heaven.

The Blood and Water

31 Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, 34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believe. 36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled:

“Not a bone of it will be broken.”

37 And again another passage says:

“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”

John 19:31-37 (NABRE)

Insight 6: Even after death Jesus was fulfilling scripture. For Our Lord told His beloved disciples these things and they did not believe. Isaiah for told these events and yet many did not believe during his age. In truth, it was those who condemned Jesus who helped to bring about the fulfillment of scripture unwittingly. For their lust for power drove them into sin out of fear. Had the Pharisees contemplated further, consulted the scriptures more, prayed to God to help them discern the truths about Jesus perhaps our salvation would have been in parallel, i.e a paradox. But God knew no one would be able to ignore the temptation to murder Jesus, and thus fulfilling scripture and set in motion our salvation.

The Burial of Jesus

38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. 39 Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. 41 Now in the place where he had been crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. 42 So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

Insight 7: So it was when the Lord died the earth shook and the sacred place in the temple was torn. God cried for His Son, for His tears fell to the earth as rain and all who were there fleed in fear. The wind gushed up as the Romans broke the legs in haste of the two criminals who still were alive but Jesus appearing to be dead thus He received a spear to His side. After all these events it would be two Pharisees who would lay Jesus to rest, taking Him form the cross, bounding him with ritual spices and closing the tomb. If they had not believed before they did now. If their hearts had been hardened by Satan they were open and obedient to God now. Yet there was a plan to keep Jesus in the tomb as guards were placed to watch over the tomb making sure there was no one to steal Christ’s body claiming Him risen. In these things, we see the love of Jesus as man tried his best to snuff it out, to end the works of Christ. But it was written;

13 The one who forms mountains and creates winds, and declares to mortals their thoughts; Who makes dawn into darkness and strides upon the heights of the earth, the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! – Amos 4:13 (NABRE)

Ant. All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord. Praise and glorify him forever.

For I tell you now my brothers and sisters today we witness the death of Christ Jesus and we wait for His resurrection and final return.

Let’s Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Ant. Lightly I run in the way you have shown, for you have opened my heart to receive your law. (Alleluia) 

Psalm 119:25-32

 25 My soul lies in the dust;
by your word revive me.
26 I declare my ways and you answered me:
teach me your statutes.

Ant. Lightly I run in the way you have shown, for you have opened my heart to receive your law. 

27 Make me grasp the way of your precepts
and I will muse on your wonders.
28 My soul pines away with grief;
by your word raise me up.

Ant. Lightly I run in the way you have shown, for you have opened my heart to receive your law. 

29 Keep me from the way of error
and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of truth
with your decrees before me.

Ant. Lightly I run in the way you have shown, for you have opened my heart to receive your law.

31 I bind myself to do your will;
Lord, do not disappoint me.
32 I will run the way of your commands;
you give freedom to my heart.

Lord, we are citizens of this earth and ask to be made citizens of heaven by your free gift. Help us to run in the way of your commandments and to set our hearts on you alone.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

LIVE STREAM

7:30am – Mass
9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

Special events outside the above schedule will also be streamed.

Be apart of spreading the word of God by giving what you can today. 

Support Listening Faithfully

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

 

Palm Sunday 2018

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.”’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

‘Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. – Mark 11:1-11 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

Reflection

The Conspiracy Against Jesus 

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time. So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death. They said, “Not during the festival, for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”

The Anointing at Bethany

When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

The Betrayal by Judas

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. 11 When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Preparations for the Passover

12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” – Mark 14:1-15 (NABRE)

This reading always gets me because here we see Jesus executing the final part of the Lord’s plan for Salvation. It is a plan which will end with torcher and death, much suffering, and much torment. Jesus knows what is now going to happen once he enters into Jerusalem, he knows that the only way out for him is by completing the plan His father has laid out for him.

Guiding Question: ‘If you knew the future and saw your own suffering and death, knowing you put your self in that position to save the world would you?’ 

The other part of this which I find is mindblowing is how Jesus prepared for this moment, how he tried to prepare his disciples, how Jesus took each step closer to his own death with confidence in His resurrection and glorification by His Holy Father in Heaven. But even knowing all this Jesus still did not do it for His own rewards rather he single-mindedly sacrificed Himself like a sheep led to slaughter for you and me so we all could be together feasting with Him and God together in Heaven for all time.

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

 

43 Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” 45 He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. – Mark 14:43-45 (NABRE)

So, it was with a single kiss our Lord, Jesus was betrayed and taken to the High Priests in the cover of darkness. How many things do we do under the cover of darkness? How many people in course of our life could we be guilty of betraying? Still, none of those betrails equals this single betrail of Jesus by Judas. But remember my brothers and sisters this was all part of a greater plan that Jesus Himself was executing as instructed by God on our behalf. With that said Jesus would have to have known Judas would be able to play his part, Just as He would have known the other disciples would flee in fear and that Peter would deny him three times before the cock would crow. (Luke 22:61-62) Each step Jesus took for you and me for our sins, so we might know God and receive His mercy and salvation. So, each of our personal betrails of others is forgiven by Jesus, and thus we must also learn to forgive others and love each other as Christ, Jesus loved us on this day of His own personal betrail by man. 

Let’s Us Pray

ANNUNCIATION

SOLEMNITY

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Ant. A shoot will spring forth from the stock of Jesse, and a flower will blossom from his root. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him (Alleluia) 

Psalm 113

 Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, you his servants;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Let Them March!

A Lesson in Social Justice

March 24, 2018

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. – Psalm 82:3 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

School shootings in America is not a new phenomenon, rather gun-toting angry people, mostly young males have taken upon themselves to dispense justice by raining bullets into the crowds full of the innocent, who in some cases had nothing to do with the anger felt by their now armed peers. We call ourselves God-fearing, we are a Christian Nation, we declare that we hold the moral high ground, but yet time and again nothing is done once the bullets have stopped flying, it seems social justice is spouted while the emotions are high but those two words are allowed to disappear until the next mass shooting. We have utterly let our youth down in both faith and in governmental policy. When I said, my brothers and sisters, that school shooting is nothing new I am quite serious, for the American record reads as follows;

1.) July 26, 1764 – Greencastle, Pennsylvania – 10 dead, 2 injured

2.) November 12, 1840 – Charlottesville, Virginia – 1 dead

3.) November 2, 1853 – Louisville, Kentucky – 1 injured

4.) August 16, 1856 – Florence, Alabama – 2 dead

5.) July 8, 1858 – Baltimore, Maryland – 1 dead

6.) January 21, 1860 – Todd County, Kentucky – 1 dead

7.) February 6, 1864 – Ashland County, Ohio – 1 dead

8.) February 16, 1867 – Knights Ferry, California – 2 dead

9.) April 2, 1867 – Madison, Florida – 1 dead

10.) June 8, 1867 – New York City, New York – 1 injured

11.) December 22, 1868 – Chattanooga, Tennessee – 3 dead

12.) January 27, 1871 – Knoxville, Tennessee – 1 dead

13.) February 1, 1872 – Washington, Pennsylvania – 1 injured

14.) February 11, 1873 – Wisconsin – 1 injured

15.) February 20, 1874 – Agency, Montana – 1 dead

16.) April 9, 1874 – Lebanon, Tennessee – 1 dead

17.) May 24, 1878 – St. Paul, Minnesota – 1 injured

18.) May 24, 1879 – Lancaster, New York – 1 injured

19.) December 1, 1881 – Santa Monica, California – 1 dead

20.) December 22, 1881 – Shelby County, Indiana – 0 dead 0 injured (School teacher Charles J. Gregory shot at a pupil at close range because he refused to write on a slate. The bullet missed the boy. The teacher was arrested) So much for teachers caring guns into the classroom Mr. President Trump! 

21.) January 16, 1882 – Iola, Kansas – 0 dead 0 injured (A group of boys shot into a schoolhouse, but no one was hurt. Two of the boys were arrested and pleaded guilty three weeks later. They were fined $9.00 each.) Outrageous! 

22.) April 13, 1882 – Huntsville, Texas – 1 injured

23.) February 14, 1883 – Florence, Nebraska – 3 injured

24.) November 20, 1883 – Barber County, Kansas – 0 injured 0 dead (A bunch of drunken cowboys stopped at several schoolhouses, forcing two teachers to drink whiskey and firing numerous shots at three schoolhouses.) Wouldn’t this be called an act of terrorism today? 

25.) February 28, 1884 – Danville, Virginia – 2 injured

26.) March 6, 1884 – Boston, Massachusetts – 0 injured o dead (As news of outlaw Jesse James reached the East Coast, young boys started to imitate him. For instance, boys armed with guns shot at police investigating their activities at the Concord-street schoolhouse.) To this day we call Jesse James an American hero? 

27.) March 15, 1884 – Gainesville, Georgia – 0 injured 0 dead (In the middle of the day, a group of very drunk Jackson County farmers was shooting their revolvers as they headed down the street, driving people into their homes. As they approached the female academy, the girls fled from the yard into the school. The gang followed and fired several rounds into the front door, but no one was hurt.) Yet another case where guns were used by people to scare and intimidate the masses – Guns make us feel powerful but lead us to unnecessary violence and depravity, such a disregard of life and dignity of the human spirit. 

 Is this the justice we American’s seek?

29.) June 13, 1889 – New Brunswick, New Jersey – 0 injured 0 dead (Charles Crawford, upset over an argument with a school trustee, went up to the window and fired a pistol into a crowded schoolroom. The bullet lodged in the wall just above the teacher’s head.) Misplaced anger? ‘Again, a person who with a gun needlessly endangers innocent children and their teacher!’ That could be a modern-day headline!

 April 24, 1890 – Brazil, Indiana – 1 injured

31.) December 27, 1890 – Staunton, Virginia – 1 dead ( At the Kable’s Military Academy a 15-year-old student, A.H. Hathaway of Dennison, Texas, was accidentally killed by his 17-year-old classmate James Whitworth of Sulphur Springs, Texas, while they were playing with an old pistol.) An accident no parent wants on their conscience. 

32.) March 30, 1891 – Liberty, Mississippi – 14 injured

33.) April 9, 1891 – Newburgh, New York – 0 dead / ? injured (70-year-old James Foster, fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, causing minor injuries to several of the students.) What makes an old man do such an unspeakable act of violence? 

34.) June 29, 1892 – Van Wert, Ohio – 1 dead (Convoy teacher, B.L. Richie, was killed by 14-year-old student, Shirley Longsworth, son of Dr. Longsworth.) Are you tired yet? Can we conclude that people are dangerous with a gun in their hands? Can we now say we need strike gun control laws? No… ok. Heres more history of needless human violence.

35.) October 10, 1892 – Lawrence, Kansas – 2 injured

36.) March 26, 1893 – Plain Dealing, Louisiana – 4 dead / 1 injured

37.) October 17, 1894 – Parkersburg, West Virginia – 2 dead

38.) December 13, 1898 – Charleston, West Virginia – 6 dead / 1+ injured

(38) dead by the end of the 19th century. I say to you my brothers and sisters even one death is too many! Remember when the students speak tomorrow in Washington D.C., in fact when you personally witness to others of the need for gun control, “It is not you who speaks but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” – Antiphon – Morning Prayer for TURIBIUS DE MONGROVEJO, BISHOP, The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 1113

39.) February 24, 1903 – Inman, South Carolina – 1 dead

40.) July 21, 1903 – Jackson, Kentucky – 2 dead / 1 injured

41.) April 6, 1904 – Chicago, Illinois – 1 dead

42.) November 16, 1904 – Riverside, California – 2 dead / 1 injured

43.) December 16, 1904 – Magee, Mississippi – 1 dead / 1 injured

44.) February 9, 1905 – Colusa, California – 1 injured

45.) October 5, 1905 – Hickman, Kentucky – 0 dead / 0 injured (While returning from church, Professor Emmet W. Roach, was ambushed by an assassin) 

46.) March 23, 1907 – Carmi, Illinois – 1 dead

47.) December 20, 1907 – Chico, California – 1 dead

48.) January 10, 1908 – Council Bluffs, Iowa – 0 dead / 0 injured (At around 6 a.m., as George O Mortensen, 35-year-old janitor of the Washington Street school building, was unlocking the outer door of the school, someone discharged a shotgun from only a few feet. The shot riddled the door within a foot of his head) 

49.) March 11, 1908 – Boston, Massachusetts – 2 dead

50.) March 19, 1909 – Mount Vernon, Illinois – 0 dead / 1 injured

51.) June 10, 1909 – Trinidad, Colorado – 1 dead (Walter Harris, 11-year-old student, accidentally shot his teacher, B.C. Briggs in the head while on a school field trip, killing him.) Why did Walter have a gun in the first place, let alone out and loaded on a field trip? I am quite sure that question was asked many times by everyone involved.

52.) August 18, 1909 – Bakersfield, California – 0 dead / 0 injured (After hunting doves, a group of six young men deliberately shot out the glass at the Fruitvale School. They also shot at the nearby residence of A.J. Hunter, narrowly missing several children in the rear yard.) Another case of irresponsible youth taken by the power of the gun. In this case was it the guns fault or those who used the gun? 

53.) September 11, 1909 – Gravette, Arkansas – 1 dead (John Butram, a student at the Bear Hollow School, told his fellow students that school was canceled. The teacher A.T. Kelly insisted that the day’s lesson was not over. When Butram drew a knife on his teacher, Kelly drew his gun and shot him.) Another instance of why arming teachers is not a good idea. 

54.) January 12, 1910 – New York City, New York – 2 dead

55.) March 10, 1910 – Ione, California – 0 dead / 0 injured (At the reform school, known as Preston School of Industry, students Albert Brown and Eugene Griffin tried to escape, stealing a revolver from the school’s bakery shop. They shot at Captain William H. White when he pursued them. No one was hurt, but the boys were transferred to the penitentiary, which held adults.) 

56.) August 16, 1910 – Lexington, Kentucky – 1 dead / ? injured

57.) April 27, 1911 – Manhattan, Kansas – 1 dead / 0 injured

58.) January 31, 1912 – San Francisco, California – 1 dead (During a stone-throwing confrontation near the Oriental School on Clay Street, a group of white boys found themselves trapped between two groups of Chinese boys. In an attempt to escape, Jose Aguilar, fired a BB shot air rifle twice hoping to frighten the Chinese. However, 10-year-old Wong She had a gun and fired back. One bullet passed through Aguilar’s coat sleeve as he ran and fatally struck 14-year-old James Kane in the school’s rear yard.) 

59.) February 16, 1912 – Lagrange, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

60.) November 19, 1914 – Sayre, Pennsylvania – 1 dead / 0 injured (While walking to school, 14-year-old Charles Listman, killed 15-year-old Andrew Milton, over the affections of a classmate, 13-year-old Minnie London.) 

61.) January 13, 1915 – Vancouver, Washington – 1 injured

62.) February 3, 1915 – Jasper, Florida – 1 dead / 1 injured

63.) September 20, 1916 – Bemidji, Minnesota – 1 injured

64.) December 26, 1916 – Danville, Kentucky – 1 dead / ? injured

65.) June 5, 1917 – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – 1 injured

66.) October 28, 1917 – Chicago, Illinois – 1 dead / 0 injured

67.) November 29, 1917 – Manes, Missouri – 0 dead / 1 injured

68.) March 29, 1918 – Jefferson City, Missouri – 1 dead / 0 injured

69.) April 6, 1918 – Reeder, North Dakota – 1 dead / 0 injured (During the afternoon recess, a boy was looking over a 22-caliber rifle; it discharged, striking the head of the Coyne boy in the seat to the front, killing him instantly.) 

70.) January 9, 1919 – Monroe City, Missouri – 0 dead / 0 injured (While school was in session, Hugh Claggett shot through the school house’s front door while on his way home from work. No one was hurt, and he was fined $20) So we see fines have risen from $9.00 to $20.00  a growth of $11.00. Children could have been killed but this is what the price of life is in our Nation. Sad commentary all around. 

71.) April 12, 1919 – Ogden City, Utah – 0 dead / 1 injured (During a high school assembly, six boys shot off their guns. Permission had been given in the belief the guns were loaded with blanks but they had live shot. Teacher Verna Davidson was shot in the foot.) Complete lack of judgment! What possessed the school Administration to allow such a thing in the first place?

72.) August 4, 1919 – Berkeley, California – 0 dead / 2 injured

73.) February 14, 1920 – Durant, Oklahoma – 0 dead / 1 injured

74.) March 4, 1920 – Cincinnati, Ohio – 0 dead / 1 injured

75.) May 1, 1920 – Summerville, Georgia – 0 dead / 0 injured (At the High School, 15-year-old student Alexander Potter, fired six shots at his teacher, Prof. Ransom, but missed. Potter was upset over having received a severe thrashing and expulsion. Potter was sentenced to six years at a reform school.) 

76.) May 15, 1920 – Bowling Green, Ohio – 1 dead / 0 injured (While attending her son’s school track meet, Mrs. F. Mahl was killed accidentally by shot from the starter’s pistol.)

77.) August 1, 1920 – Ogden, Utah – 0 dead / 1 injured

78.) October 22, 1920 – Chicago, Illinois – 0 dead / 1 injured (Mrs. Carmila Rindoni went to the school and twice shot Rosalind I. Reynolds, her son’s teacher, for spanking her son the day before. Mrs. Rindoni was arrested, and Miss Reynolds was expected to recover.) 

79.) November 4, 1920 – Middlesboro, Kentucky – 1 dead / 0 injured

80.) February 17, 1922 – Valdosta, Georgia – 2 dead / 0 injured 

81.) August 1, 1922 – Ardmore, Oklahoma – 1 dead / 0 injured

82.) December 29, 1926 – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – 0 dead / 1 injured

83.) May 22, 1930 – Ringe, Minnesota – 1 dead / 0 injured (24-year-old Douglas Petersen, killed 20-year-old teacher, Margaret Wegman, who was standing in the doorway of a rural schoolhouse.) 

84.) May 28, 1931 – Duluth, Minnesota – 1 dead / 0 injured (Katherine McMillen, 24-year-old teacher at the Howard Gensen rural school near Duluth, was accidentally killed by a pupil who brought a revolver to school.)

85.) September 14, 1934 – Gill, Massachusetts – 1 dead / 0 injured (Headmaster Elliott Speer was murdered by a shotgun blast through the window at Northfield Mount Hermon School. The crime was never solved.) 

86.) May 7, 1935 – Irvington, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

87.) May 19, 1936 – Williamstown, Massachusetts – 2 dead / 1 injured (Lewis Jack Somes, Jr. shot and killed classmate Robert Henneberry and wounded William Hartz, Jr. before killing himself in Lehman Hall at Williams College.) 

88.) June 4, 1936 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – 2 dead / 0 injured 

89.) June 4, 1937 – Isabel, Kansas – 1 dead / 0 injured

90.) September 24, 1937 – Toledo, Ohio – 0 dead / 2 injured

91.) January 24, 1938 – Blencoe, Iowa – 1 dead / 0 injured

92.) May 6, 1940 – Pasadena, California – 5 dead / 2 injured (South Pasadena Junior High School murders: Outraged by his dismissal, following conflicts with other staff, thirty-eight-year-old Verlin H. Spencer shot and killed 62-year-old superintendent of the South Pasadena city schools George C. Bush, 50-year-old principal of South Pasadena High School John E. Alman, and 52-year-old School District business manager Will R. Speer. He then attempted to kill Bush’s secretary, 32-year-old Dorothea Talbert; she was struck near the shoulder. He later shot and killed 45-year-old art teacher Ruth Sturgeon, with whom he’d been in conflict, fatally wounding her in the chest and, following an intense struggle, 35-year-old mechanical arts teacher Verner V. Vanderlip, another with whom he had a grievance. Spencer was cornered by police as he attempted to escape through the school cafeteria; as one officer aimed, Spencer pressed the .22 caliber automatic pistol against his right side and fired twice, critically wounding himself. Police later found a suicide note from Spencer to his wife, Polly. He survived his wounds and was tried for murder. Pleading guilty to all charges, he received 5 consecutive life terms. He was discharged from California’s Department of Correction in 1977, aged 75. Verlin Spencer died January 11, 1991.) I guess the question I have is, ‘Was it worth it?’ 

93.) July 4, 1940 – Valhalla, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

94.) October 2, 1942 – New York City, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

95.) June 26, 1946 – New York City, New York – 0 dead / 1 injured

96.) February 2, 1947 – Madill, Oklahoma – 2 dead / 0 injured (62-year-old Ellis Laird killed his estranged wife, a 40-year-old teacher, Jessie Laird, inside her first-grade classroom. He then took his own life. All of this took place in the presence of several pupils.) 

97.) December 24, 1948 – New York City, New York – 1dead / 0 injured

98.) March 11, 1949 – New York City, New York – 0 dead / 1 injured (A 16-year-old student at Stuyvesant High School was accidentally shot in the arm by a fellow student who was ‘showing off’ with a pistol in a classroom.) 

99.) November 12, 1949 – Columbus, Ohio – 1 dead / 0 injured

100.) July 22, 1950 – New York City, New York – 0 dead / 1 injured

101.) January 24, 1951 – Alton, Illinois – 1 dead / 0 injured

102.) March 12, 1951 – Union Mills, North Carolina – 2 dead / 0 injured

103.) June 4, 1951 – New York City, New York  – 1 dead / 0 injured

104.) November 27, 1951 – St. Louis, Missouri – 1 dead / 0 injured (15-year-old student, David Brooks, was fatally shot as fellow pupils looked on. Two former students were sought by police.) 

105.) April 9, 1952 – New York City, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured (A 15-year-old boarding school student shot a dean rather than give up his pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.) A case where a thing was more important than human life! 

106.) July 14, 1952 – New York City, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

107.) October 2, 1953 – Chicago, Illinois – 1 dead / 0 injured (14-year-old Bernice Turner, killed 14-year-old Pasquale Coletta inside the science classroom at Kelly High School. The shooting was later ruled to be accidental.) Why was there a gun in the classroom in the first place? How could this be an accident?

108.) March 31, 1954 – Newton, Massachusetts – 1 dead / 0 injured (14-year-old John Frankenberger, was accidentally killed in a classroom at Day Junior High School when a pistol being held by a classmate discharged.) Again, why was there a gun permitted in the classroom and how could the death of an innocent be an accident?

109.) May 15, 1954 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina – 1 dead / 2 injured

110.) January 11, 1955 – Swarthmore, Pennsylvania – 1 dead / 0 injured

111.) May 4, 1956 – Seat Pleasant, Maryland – 1 dead / 2 injured

112.) October 20, 1956 – New York City, New York – 0 dead / 1 injured

113.) October 2, 1957 – New York City, New York  – 0 dead / 1 injured

114.) March 4, 1958 – New York City, New York  – 0 dead / 1 injured

115.) May 1, 1958 – Massapequa, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured

116.) September 24, 1959 –  New York City, New York – 1 dead / 0 injured (Twenty-seven men and boys and an arsenal were seized in the Bronx as the police headed off a gang war resulting from the fatal shooting of a teenager at Morris High School.) 

FOR COMPLETE LIST OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS CLICK HERE

The Breakdown

Within the 1960’s there were a total of 18 shooting, 44 deaths and 64 injured. This then brings the death toll of the 20th century up to 109 dead. That means the 1960’s having 44 dead was the most deaths by school shootings ever in our nation’s history. However, it just gets worse from here. 1970’s we see at a total of 36 dead and 73 injured. Bring the 20th century up to 145 dead. The 1980’s records 49 dead and 164 injured, bring the death toll within the 20th century to 194 dead. The 1990’s records a total of 88 deaths the most in any single decade of the 20th century leaving 146 injured. By far the 1990’s was the most violent period in American history, raising the 20th century’s death toll to 282 dead. When calculating total deaths from the start of this count to the end of the 20th century the overall deaths in America comes out to 330 people who died in school-related shootings. I find this oddly ironic because during this period of time America has clung tightly to the 2nd Amendment of the constitution which is the right to bear arms… and in light of this the rights of those who have been killed have been forgotten, so I ask which is more important, the Right to Bear Arms – which has been taken out of context by the NRA, or the right to, ” Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?” Do guns bring us happiness? For it says in the Bible, (1 John 2:15-16), ‘Do not love the things of this world.’ Happiness cannot be found in the things or deeds of men,

 20 Hell has a voracious appetite, and lust just never quits. – Proverbs 27:20 (Message – MSG) 

Social Justice

Indeed, I say to you my brothers and sisters that the ‘Hell’ our country has been sucked into by a few over the gun issue has cost us much at the price of innocent blood. In just the 21st century we have seen 278 deaths within our schools bring the overall death toll to 608 dead. This problem is not getting any better rather it is just getting worse! For it is a sin of the love of money which forces the many to continually pay the price of blood for the few who want or mistakenly think they have the right to bear arms. What would you say to those who have died, what will you say to the God upon judgment day? For I tell you the truth, “In God’s infinite wisdom, we came into this world dependent on those around us, and we will exit this world having left some great or small impression on the strands of life. We will be held accountable, not only for the things we do but also for the things we do not do. When it comes to the social effect of our moral decisions, the things we do not do may be as important as the things we do.” – The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, 3rd Edition, Saint Mary’s Press, Chapter 24 – Social Justice, pg.264-265.

The overwhelming death count is now and always had been a matter of Social Justice, the laws not enacted, those who keep the lawmakers from acting, and the money within the system which lines the pockets of the powerful all have become an issue of right from wrong, a matter of moral conscience, an issue of social justice.  For, “God calls society to follow moral principles that defend human dignity by ensuring that essential human needs are met and that essential human right are protected for all people.” – Social Justice, pg.265…  Not for just a few.

So, I say let the children march! Let the students teach society a lesson about the basics of human dignity, let them stand up and be heard as they cry out for Social Justice, and make the lawmakers in every State of the Union see the numbers of the dead and know it’s time to finally act! LET THE STUDENTS MARCH, LET THEM MARCH, LET THEM ALL MARCH!

Let’s Us Pray

TURIBIUS DE MONGROVEJO, BISHOP

Commemoration

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Ant. This is a faithful and wise steward: the Lord entrusted the care of his household to him so that he might give their portion of food at the proper season. 

Lord, through the apostolic work of Saint Turibius and his unwavering love and truth, you helped you Church grow. May your chosen people continue to grow in faith and holiness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

7:30am – Mass
9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

Special events outside the above schedule will also be streamed.

Be apart of spreading the word of God by giving what you can today. 

Support Listening Faithfully

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“Let’s grow together as children of God”

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

 

 

 

 

Joseph the Carpenter, Husband, and Father

Knowing the Voice of God

Solemnity of Saint Joseph – Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Monday, March 19, 2018 – Fifth Week of Lent

23 “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24 since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

He who knows the voice of God is truly blessed, he who hears and obeys the voice of God truly knows the grace of God the Father.  It could be said that Joseph, husband of Mary, Father of Jesus knows the voice of God. It could be said that his faith led him in such ways as to accept the unacceptable, believe in the unbelievable, and love and forgive despite the harsh and stiff laws of man. There is nothing more rewarding than to rise up and confront the world in its most terrible of moments with God’s courage, conviction, and love as Joesph had done. Joseph for all his flaws was a man of deep faith and courage. He loved with his heart and listened intently to each word from the lips of our God in heaven and rightly in the Bible (Matthew 1:19) Joseph is described as a righteous man. Moreover, Joseph was the type of man who not only wanted to do what was right for others, but also to do those things in the right way.  We know that Joseph listened to and could understand God. But listening is just one part of the total action of Joseph, for he also obeyed our Lord. So, let’s walk together, my brothers and sisters through the story we all know concerning Joseph and his four dreams.

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

First Dream – Joseph the Husband: (Matthew 1:19-25) Joseph was engaged to Mary and she came to him telling him about the ‘Immaculate Conception’, knowing the baby was not his and did not want to get her in trouble with the law chose to dismiss her quietly. But God had other plans, for he sent an angel to Joseph in his dream, assuring him that the baby was of God and that Joseph was to name him Jesus. But above all Joseph was to take Mary as his wife.

Question ‘What does Joseph immediately do after waking from this dream?’ 

Answer: That’s right, Joseph does what he was told to do without any reservations. In addition to this, he also makes sure Mary stays a virgin until Jesus is born. In this way, Joseph plays an essential part in the plan of salvation. 

The Escape to Egypt

Second Dream – Joseph the Protector: (Matthew 2: 13-15) While still in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus once again we read that Joseph was asleep and an angel of God appeared to him in a dream forewarning him of King Herod’s plans to kill every male child the age of two and younger. The Angel instructs Joseph to go to Egypt and wait there until told to come back.

Question ‘Again what does Joseph immediately do after waking from this second dream?’ 

Answer: That’s right, Joseph does what he was told to do without any reservations. Again, setting it up for scripture to be fulfilled – ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

The Return from Egypt

Third & Fourth Dream – Joseph Loyal Servant to God: (Matthew 2:19-23) This time once again came to Joseph in a dream telling him to get up and go to Israel, but when Joseph heard that Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling over Judea from the fourth and final dream, Joseph became concerned and thus changed their destination to the district of Galilee, settling in the town of Nazareth. In doing this Joseph once again fulfills yet another prophecy concerning Jesus, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

Ok, I’m not going to ask the same question and give you the same answer as the first two times, however, it is painfully obvious that Joseph is both listening and obeying God’s every command to the letter. Joseph exhibited some core characteristics of a righteous man in his actions above that I would like everyone to take note of;

1.) Joseph exhibits a great deal of confidence in the angel’s messages, always immediately do what was being requested of him without delay.

2.) Joseph exhibits an enormous amount of faith in that his dreams were indeed inspired and from an angel of God. This is also recorded in, (Luke 2:41-42).

3.) Joseph exhibits a real maternal fatherly roll over Jesus in that he not only acts as a protector but also caregiver during those first days.

Scripture also tells of Joseph and Mary having other children of their own, (Matthew 13:55), but moreover, Joseph taught Jesus how to be a carpenter, (Mark 6:3), this is certain as it was the Jewish custom for fathers to pass down to their sons their trade and training at the age of 12 for this is a known Jewish custom, therefore Joseph becomes a teacher in the training of his son’s to be a tektōn (τέκτων), Greek for artisan/craftsman, in particular, a carpenter or wood-worker or builder. Following Jewish customs we also know that Joseph was very religious as scripture also records that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple, once every four years. So, we can conclude Joseph had an immeasurable influence on what religious message Jesus received under his tutelage. I would like to think that Jesus used some of the lessons His step-father had taught throughout His ministry. So, with these additional character traits my brothers and sister take a moment and reflect on Joseph as a father figure;

4.)  Joseph as the legal father of Jesus taught him a trade, that being a carpenter. This would allow Jesus to earn money and provide for his family once Joseph had passed on.

5.) Joseph instructed Jesus in matters of religion as a member of the Jewish faith. Thus, Joseph takes his family to the temple every four years.

In these ways, Jesus was taught life skills as well as how to practice his religious customs. I have heard by several priests that out of every person on earth God could have possibly chosen to raise His son, God chose Joseph, from the House of David, again fulling scripture, (Isaiah 9:6-7).  With all these admirable traits Joseph as Saint is looked up to for his characteristics of loyalty, commitment, labor, selflessness, humility, honorable, chivalrous, and as a brave servant leader.

Saint Joseph – Patron of Use All

Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870. Having died in the “arms of Jesus and Mary” according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, in other words, the patron of a happy death. – Foley, O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7

Referring to Saint Joseph, Pope Leo wrote, “[h]e set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing…” – Quamquam pluries, (August 15, 1889), in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Veneration of Saint Joseph is believed to have started somewhere around the year 800 A.D. referencing Joseph as ‘Nutritor Domini’, or (educator/guardian of the Lord). Saint Joseph believed deeply in the dignity of the human person, in the family, in sacrifice, and in the love of service to his community and to God. Because of his qualities as a believer in God, he also is the patron saint of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), explorers, pilgrims, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general. The following countries and cities claim him as their Patron Saint as well, Americas, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Finally, as there are special payers said for Mother Mary, there are also the same for Saint Joseph. These prayers within the Catholic Church focus on the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph which include prayers for daily protection, vocation, happy marriage, happy death, and hopeless cases; specific prayers, novenas, and devotions include the Prayer to Saint Joseph and the Novena to Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph indeed emulated the words of  (Colossians 3:23-24) in all that he did, he was the perfect model of a servant leader, embodying the what it meant to be a father, teacher, husband, believer, and most importantly of all a protector. There is no better a person to be your personal hero and patron. Saint Joseph is the one man who helped preserve the salvation story fighting earnestly for Jesus, for Mary, and for God. Today my brothers and sisters take time and join in with the world and celebrate Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary, through the INVITATION TO PRAY. 

LETS PRAY

ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

Over 1900 Years Old

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.

Amen.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Born of Paradise

An Argument to be Exalted

SUNDAY, MARCH 11, FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

14 ‘And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.’ – John 3:14-15 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

First a Warning!

There is a true battle which rages within us, it consumes us, and in the end, it will either prove us to be innocent and straightforward children of God beyond reproach or guilty sinners unworthy of eternal life. For I confess we will either be with God in heaven or be like the snake and trampled underfoot.

The Snake of Fiery Copper

4-5 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.” 6-7 So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.” Moses prayed for the people. God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.” So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.” – Numbers 21:4–9 The Message (MSG)

Reflection

For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that Jesus came from heaven, he is of heaven, descended from paradise barring witness to the things he saw and heard and from his experiences testified here on earth to the truth. In this, I speak plainly so it will not be misunderstood or mischaracterized by talented charlatans who speak out of the side of their mouth, who weave a believable story which leads thousands astray.  So, that it may be made known to you the secret message of, (John 3:14-15). This message is more of a revelation about the Season of Lent and the selfless acts which are characterized in what God has done for us.  For this season of Lent is all about rebirth, it is about renewal, it is all about repentance, and forgiveness. It is about God showing us His everlasting grace, and bring to humanity the wisdom of life; the words of every lasting life.  We find here in this scriptural reading that Jesus is making the argument to Nicodemus that before people actually commit and believe in something, even if it was a well-known truth, written down in black and white moreover, proven in plain daylight; we human beings still need a signpost! In many ways, even with a signpost, there are some who still question its validity and procrastinate with questions that they already know the answer to. In this Jesus is instructing us that his signpost leads straight to Heaven, to salvation, we can skip past Hell collect eternal life and move on to spending eternity with God forever! As Moses lifted up the serpent as a signpost, so is God lifting up His son here on Earth to lead us all to everlasting life! Thus, I gave the warning against those who would tell you others wise first, I expressed this internal fight we all have with ourselves so you all may see there are no more reasons to continue warring with yourselves, (internally), just as there is no longer the basis to listen to liers and thieves about God’s signpost… Our Lord Jesus Christ! I boldly proclaim for the world to read in black and white the truth, for we are in the crisis of disbelief in the face of a modern world who has grown to think, dare to believe, that Christ is no longer relevant, that the laws of God have no hold on us, and if you fall to this disbelief you fall to sin and damnation needlessly! Just like the Israelites who cursed God and Moses in the desert. Surely I say to you your spirit will be forever damned needlessly! I say needlessly because all you have to do is look to the serpent lifted up on the flagpole, look to Jesus Christ who suffered and died on the cross!

A question of a new hearer: ‘So, how do I know this signpost is real? I mean… it is a scary thing to give up control of our lives and give that control to God. Someone we cannot see, feel, hear, or touch. So, how can I or anyone else be sure Jesus is the real deal?’ 

Answer: ‘Just Look!’

What is of Earth & What is of Heaven

31-33 “The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The Earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heaven-born is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.” – John 3:31-33 The Message (MSG)

The principal thought that should be in every human beings mind once hearing Jesus’s message for the first time prior to committing to being baptized is this… ‘Already, how have I handled myself before others?’  The hearer should be concerned with how they have led their lives up to this point, how they have conducted themselves, and they should already before hearing the message have wanted to have acted humbly thinking of others needs first rather than their own. The pretext is just as important as the post-change soon to follow the baptism. I started with this because Jesus has already testified to the truth and the life God wants for us, we know what is possible if only we submit and believe. The first time hearer needs to understand this basic fact and accept it as truth. I say this because it is not an easy thing to do, for either party, the one who is leading and the one who is following. Prime example, (John 3:1-10), in which Nicodemus, a full-fledged Pharisee who seeks Jesus out but was still fighting this internal war I spoke about in the beginning. His questions elementary in nature revealing his wanting to believe, but just needed Jesus to be that signpost. Nicodemus was deeply troubled as he tried to resolve his own faith and beliefs with what his eyes had witnessed and his ears had heard from Jesus – in the flesh! The moral of the story frankly is simple, God wants you to exhibit the changed life once you have committed because He is committed to you! God is in a league all His own, He knows your mortal body could never see Heaven in its fullness and He knows the spirit is weighed down by the wants of the flesh. God knows that before you can accept the truth there needs to be a very persuasive argument. Above all, God also knows to be saved all you have to do is look – look at His saving grace of the cross. I think that the one thing we can rely upon with confidence each time we confess our faith in Jesus, is the promise He spoke two-thousand years ago – found in, (Luke 21:15);

‘I will inspire you with the wisdom which your adversaries will be unable to resist.’

Closing Prayer

God our Father,

Foundation and source of our salvation, may we proclaim your glory every day of our lives, that we may sing your praise forever in heaven. O Lord, make my joy complete by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals. I pray that you help me and all of humanity daily to never act out of rivalry or conceit; rather, let us think humbly of others as superior to ourselves, looking to our brothers and sisters interests from all around the world rather than our own. As I look to the Day of Christ, O My God I know you will always be there holding my hand validating my faithfulness uplifting me at the end showing me that I did not run the race in vain or work to no purpose. As you have done this for me I know you will do the same for all your children whom you love endlessly. We, your children, ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

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The Transfiguration

Jesus the Heavenly High Priest

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
LENTEN SEASON YR. B – WKII

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, leading them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. – Mark 9:2-3 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

The Transfigured Christ

 A Glimpse of Glory

Many times in my life especially as a child I wondered what life would be like when I grew up. I wondered what I would look like, sound like, and or how much my personality would have changed as an adult. I often would be laying down in my bed wishing I could hit a fast-forward button and be an adult. Of course, I never wanted the responsibilities of an adult just the respect, glory without the pain, and stature without hardship. When I read (Mark 9:2-3) it reminds me of those moments because as flawed, broken, human beings uncertain of what is coming down the line in our future it is always better to receive the prize before we run the race. It is human nature to wish we could avoid the hardship and glimpse the end result. My grandma Stark called this, ‘having your dessert before fixing your dinner.’ 

See my brothers and sisters Jesus took Peter, James, and John up high upon the mountain out of sight from the others to give them a glimpse of the end result, the glorified Christ, and a taste of Heaven backed up by two of the greatest prophets in human history. But as flawed human beings the three disciples though in awe, was filled with fear, and so missed the bigger picture until much later. Jesus wanted to give them comfort in the knowledge that His death was not pointless, that He would conquer the world, not be conquered. Jesus wanted to strengthen them for the hardships to come. Remember, what they had been through up to this point and what miracles they had seen. From His baptism to Jesus feeding the five thousand, the earthly temptation of the Pharisees who had demanded a sign from heaven all of which was sure to test Him. From there Jesus cures a blind man from Bethsaida, then on a beach of the dead sea Peter declares Jesus the Messiah. But most assuredly what was on all their minds was what their rabbi had predicted about the ‘Son of Man’, which by now all of them agreed was Jesus, (Matthew 16:21Jesus’s emphatic, heartfelt, and detailed description about His own suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection. In a reflection of this moment, perhaps it was His certainty that this was God’s plan for Him, that it must be done which struck the deepest cord of concern in the disciple’s hearts. None of them wanted Jesus to leave them, in fact, they wanted to go with Him, they all wanted the fruits before the labor. Perhaps, the three who went with Jesus saw the glory and power of their Lord but failed at that moment to see the true High Preist that would reign in Heaven forever. Maybe, they concluded Jesus didn’t have to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead, so in their innocents, they offered to erect three tents so this moment would never pass them bye. The three disciples reacted in a very human way, wanting to hold onto the moment rather than to embrace the hardship that would lead to this transfigured Jesus. Very much as I had wanted to be an adult before my time but without the heartache and pain of making the real world sometimes agonizing, dreadful, and sensitive decisions that all adults have to make.

Jesus – The Real-World Teacher

The Sermon on the Mount, Block 1890

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. – Mark 9:9-10 (NRSVACE)

After 15 plus years in the classroom, 22 years of being a parent, and all my life being a student there are times I have given real-world examples or have been asked questions pertaining to a real-world scenario and just simply come up empty-handed. There have been times I have questioned my parents, teachers, ex-spouse, bosses, my only child, and or I have been put on the spot and still are left with more questions than answers though the real, less complicated, and the most logical answer was always right there before me. So, I can relate to Peter, James, and John as they came down from the mountain. Though they saw who Jesus was, what He would transform into after suffering and dying, they still did not connect the dots to His resurrection. I would have loved to have lived during this period and heard the questions about this resurrection Jesus was talking about. All this time spent watching Jesus perform miracles they did not connect the phrases He was using, or perhaps they did understand but refused to believe it out of love for Jesus as their desire was to be with Him forever on this earth. Ironically, it is this same stubborn human desire of Peters that was the cause of him being scorned by Jesus, (Matthew 16:23) just prior to the trip up the mountain and the same unwavering human impulse to question things that should be obvious. I truly believe that even if Jesus had given them a mental flash-forward they still would question it’s real-world relevance to them in their own lives; though I have to admit the transfiguration was an infinitely better visually.

The Message of the Transfiguration

24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 The Message (MSG)

Perhaps one of the most overstated things people hear in church is, ‘God so loved the world… ,’ (John 3:16-18). But nevertheless, my brothers and sisters God indeed loved us so much he sent His only son, but on the flip side of this coin, ‘God did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all.’The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.294. With that said, the medal we win after living our life for Christ is one of eternal value, running on behalf of our brothers who cannot run, morally defending those who struggle mentally or spiritually, and standing up against injustice which is so prevalent in our world. We can live for others, changing their lives for the better, and giving the example of grace which brings those we touch to Christ. In a way, Jesus showed the true person He is, the true self we all have within, and the eternal reward we run so hard for and run too. See my brothers and sisters the message behind the transfiguration is one of hope and rejuvenation in the life to come. It was the promise of God that salvation is real, that He means what He says, that His covenant stands and is binding.  At that moment Jesus is saying, “Here I Am!”, He is lighting the pathway, revealing Himself in such a way no one could ever deny His divinity and purity of heart and to truly find Him we must listen faithfully to the words He speaks to our hearts that will guide us throughout our lives. Our Lord and Saviour had proven His connection to Heaven while standing next to Moses and Elijah. The symbology for the Jewish people was unmistakable for Moses representing God’s divine law and Elijah representing all the prophets, both symbolizing the Old and Jesus the New. The dividing line between both halves of the story as it unfolds in real time, as one covenant ends and a new one begins. The rejuvenation of God’s promises, His Law, His love and mercy through His only Son which He stated clearly for all to hear when Jesus was baptized;

Matthew testified;   

17 “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’” – Matthew 3:17 (NRSVCE)

Earlier I had said that the three disciples did not fully understand the transfiguration of Christ until much later, after the events of Pentecost. But when they did get it, this is what two of them wrote;

John testified; 

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 (NRSVCE)

Peter sometime later testified:

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” – 2 Peter 1:16-18 (NRSVCE) 

Let Us Pray

God our Father, help us to hear your Son. Enlighten us with your word, that we may find the way to your glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.    – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.295.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

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To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Transformation – My Brother’s Keeper

Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Feast Day 2018
LENTEN SEASON YR. B

“Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.” – Proper of Saints, pg. 1095.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Guiding Question: How has God transformed your life, made you the example of change to others?

In our life, before meeting God for the first time we are unmistakingly human, flawed, corrupt, with sin written in blood on our foreheads.  Lies are easy as they come forth with such splendor and detail. We are operating on the basic level with little conscience and little desire to change. Our needs are met on the basic level, food, water, companionship, with very little loyalties or commitments to anyone or thing. We are like a hunk of clay unformed lacking detail and filled with many wants and desires. Take Peter for instance, before God he fished for a living, followed in his father’s footsteps with no desire to do anything other than fish. Peter had a family, but they were not what motivated him rather they were his duty, not his motivation. Peter before God was just like every other man of his age, rough around the edges, no more or less interesting, and he lived like everyone else from catch to catch never getting ahead in life. In comparison to what he would become Peter lead a life based upon just the basic requirements complete with basic needs and wants, quite boring really.  No one would have ever looked at him and thought, ‘hum, this man I will build my church upon.’ For there was not a religious bone in his body.

But after God, Peter was quite different indeed, see his life was no longer just a basic ordinary life that everyone else in the world was living. No sir! Peter’s heart though still filled with sin was set aflame and the light of God burned deep inside him. His mind had stopped thinking about the concerns of an everyday life of a fisherman and instead was focused on the salvation of all mankind. He intently watched everything Jesus did and said, wrote some of it down, then when Jesus had shared His fate on the cross Peter didn’t want Jesus to go, though His heart in the right place his humanity he allowed to take over. On Gethsemane when Jesus was betrayed Peter pulled a sword, in Jerusalem when the crowd recognized him Peter lied three times and denied knowing Jesus. From that moment until Christ appeared Peter was operating out of fear, suspicion, and deep shame. Then when Jesus asked him three times, ‘Peter do you love me?’ Peter three times said yes and just like that Peter went from a sinner to a Saint. Peter allowed God in and became the rock of which Jesus build the modern day Catholic Church upon.  Peter underwent an incredible transformation and what is so exciting about this story is that all of us can also undergo this same transformation if only we allow God in.

Change in the Modern World

Tribute to Billy Graham 1919-2018

My dear brother’s and sister’s truly I say to you we can be transformed and become the catalyst of change for other people. All we have to do is look around and see how badly this world needs to change. A good example of a person changing and then driving change in the world is the young men and women of Parkland, Florida who refuse to go another day with allowing semi-automatic firearms to be sold. How about Billy Graham who past away today at the age of 99 and who shared the gospel with more people than any other modern-day preacher but yet he too needed to be converted, transformed, and molded. This special person as the story goes was his Sunday School Teacher when he was just a boy who told him,

“You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?” goes the old aphorism.

We can’t forget Saint Augustine’s conversion as it is found in the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel of the Augustinian Order website, “Augustine’s life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life’s basic questions.” par. 1 One day he heard a child singing a song, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” After some discernment, Augustine reasoned it was a command from God to pick up the bible and read it. So he did and read the first thing he saw,

Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13: 13-14

It was this Scripture that changed his life forever, and like Peter, the Students of Parkland, Florida, Billy Graham and thousands of others became a pillar of positive change within the world.

“Do you love me?” asks Jesus. Our Lord and Saviour is the example of what grace in leadership is all about, from parenting which starts and ends with love to a manager of a corporation who can exhibit dignity in the workplace, and to the leaders in Washington who can if they want to build fairness and security into every law. Saint Peter is celebrated as is many others because they emulated Jesus Christ, in heart, mind, body, and soul and through them led thousands to a transformation, they truly were their brother’s keeper and those they impacted came to Jesus on their knees in praise. See my brother’s and sister’s each and every one of those examples can be that one special instance in someone’s life that turns them to God, allows them to open up their heart just enough, and to fill their whole body with the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to answer that one fundamental question Jesus is asking,  “Do you love me?”. 

Let Us Pray

All-powerful Father, you have built your Church on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Resisting Temptation

Driven into the Wilderness

Lenten Season Yr. B

First Sunday of Lent

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

I want to begin this Sunday’s reflection with a thought, ‘What would it have been like to be tempted by Satan as Jesus was?’  This goes without saying because we are tempted by Satan every day, but not in the same way.  I saw that because Jesus was being tempted in a very particular way, in fact, His temptation was centered on His life as a human being and on His divinity all in one go.  Satan sought to over through our Lord right out of the gate! Here is an analogy I used to tell my students in elementary school. We as human beings are like a raw metal that is filled with impurities. God seeks through our lives and experience to drive those impurities out through a series of lessons that burn away those impurities only to give us cooling down periods which serves to toughen us up. From the purification fires to the cooling down faith forming waters over and over we follow this cycle all the days of our life.

However, Jesus was born without sin, He was already pure. So why did He need to be tested by Satan? (Let me know your thoughts on Facebook)

Possible Answer: Satan saw an opening and tried to take advantage of it. Because Jesus was both man and God there were two sides of the same coin, on weaker than the other. Guess which one was weaker – the human side right? Satan, therefore, sought to tempt Jesus’s humanity and appeal to his human desires. It is here where Jesus was most vulnerable as forty -days lingered on. Think of the world today if Satan had gotten Jesus through His mortal hunger to make the stones before him into loaves of bread? What would this world be like if Jesus allowed His humanity to stumble as we often do? But Jesus instead chooses to answer Satan with a quote from Deuteronomy, 8:3;

4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Reflection Question: ‘What example does this set for our lives today?’

The temptations of Christ was intended to test every facet of what would become His ministry all the way to His final passion.  Jesus would overcome Satan on both sides of that coin. Satan most certainly knew that Jesus in whatever form He chose was stronger and could destroy his hold on humanity, Satan knew that Jesus was that one High Preist that would intercede on man’s behalf gaining the favor of God as it relates to our sins. The very sin’s that condemned humanity from the very first day in the Garden. Satan’s temporary victory would be shattered for all time! Satan finally knew that Jesus through the very act of humbling Himself in becoming human would be able to relate to humanity, feeling every sorted feeling, every physical pain, every tempting thought to rebel against God. Jesus being driven into the desert was to clear His doubts about His final three years on earth, His desire to live over the plan of salvation; so Satan tempted Him. Each day Jesus walked the earth as a man was another day closer humanity could relate to God in a new and exciting way. All of which would topple Satans stranglehold on all of mankind for eternity. Jesus’ s very public announcement that kickstarted His ministry after His baptism was one that most certainly drove Satan to defend all that he had done in his rage against God, the lion looking pounced upon Jesus and our Lord took the brunt of His rath for all of us through those forty days of His divine temptation.

Let Us Pray

Let all Creatures Praise the Lord

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Canticle – Daniel 3:57-88, 56

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’ Revelations 19:5 (NRSVA)

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

57 ‘Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
58 Bless the Lord, you heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
59 Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
60 Bless the Lord, all you waters above the heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
61 Bless the Lord, all you powers of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
62 Bless the Lord, sun, and moon;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
63 Bless the Lord, stars of heaven;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

64 ‘Bless the Lord, all rain, and dew;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
65 Bless the Lord, all you winds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
66 Bless the Lord, fire, and heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
67 Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
68 Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
69 Bless the Lord, ice, and cold;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
70 Bless the Lord, frosts, and snows;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
71 Bless the Lord, nights and days;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
72 Bless the Lord, light, and darkness;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
73 Bless the Lord, lightning and clouds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

74 ‘Let the earth bless the Lord;
    let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
75 Bless the Lord, mountains, and hills;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
76 Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
77 Bless the Lord, you springs;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
78 Bless the Lord, seas, and rivers;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
79 Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
80 Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
81 Bless the Lord, all wild animals, and cattle;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

82 ‘Bless the Lord, all people on earth;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
83 Bless the Lord, O Israel;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
84 Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
85 Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
86 Bless the Lord, spirits, and souls of the righteous;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
87 Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

88 ‘Bless the Lord, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever. For he has rescued us from Hades and saved us from the power of death, and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace; from the midst of the fire, he has delivered us.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Let us bless and exalt Him above all forever. Blessed are you, Lord, in the firmament of Heaven. Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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“Convert and Believe in the Gospel”

From the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time to Ash Wednesday 2018

Lenten Season 

ASH WEDNESDAY

Yet even now, says the Lordreturn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. – Joel 2:2-3 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Dear brothers and sisters, I truly hope you all are enjoying my new blog postings and the cleaner look and feel of the overall website as we move forward this year in the grand journey we are all on.  Again, I welcome all of you back and as many of you may already know the main goal of Listening Faithfully is to impact each of you in a positive way.  Guiding you, gently motivating you in the best ways to emulate God the Father while allowing in the Holy Spirit.  Mentorship is about teaching specific lessons, leading through clear and purposeful activities, and sometimes being the first to swallow their pride and be the example no one else could be. Truly, I say to you I hope and pray you find the stories of my ou\wn experiences inspiring and uplifting and through this ministry, every corner of your hearts will be filled with the agape love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I hope this happens in a similar way as described in this past weekends message, for we were all asked to believe and have faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.  So, I say to all of you we must pray and show grace to each other so that we ourselves may be shown God’s grace, forgiveness, and undeserved love; granting to us the opportunity to change our hearts and turn our faces towards God. 

Human Struggles Overcome with God’s Help!

45 The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:45-46 (NRSVA)

I have been through a lot this year, seen unexpected changes that quite honestly I would have never imagined. Some of those changes were positive, others scary, and still there are some lingering which poses a huge challenge in both my professional and personal life. I have questioned my friend’s trust, loyalty, love, etc. Some of them have questioned my resolve, direction, and sincerity. I know that sometimes that could lead us to frustration, anger, hate, resentment, and these sorts of feelings can be harmful to our trust relationship with others and with God.  In turn, these feelings if left unchecked can motivate us to make a truly sad and regrettable decision; that of blaming and even eventually walking away from God.  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I tell you that by listening intently to God’s message this past weekend in church my heart was moved in such way I could not ignore what God was really saying to me through the readings in Leviticus 13:1-3, 44-46 and in the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45. So, like Jesus cleansed the lepers, God’s word cleansed my heart. I pray that after reading my reflection today you all will also find and receive this glorious feeling of hope, love, joy, and experience the grace of God cleansing your heart as well.

Prepare Your Eternal Soul

40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ – Mark 1:40-41 (NRSVA)

As you know Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, February 14, 2018. We are asked to pray, fast, and participate in almsgiving. The Gospel also commands us all to come back to the Lord our God with clean hearts, so that we may have the opportunity to be shown His mercy.  The connection to last Sunday’s Mass is found in the gospel where we hear about the leper going to Jesus begging him to heal him. The leaper shows humility because of how he speaks to Jesus, saying;

 “If you wish, you can make me clean”.

The leper is putting every ounce of his trust in Jesus as he so humbly asks for help all within a contrite heart.  This is a good example of how to approach our Lord, putting aside our egos and pride.  Sadly, there still are those of us who are filled with anger, jealousy, ambitiousness, hate and have perfected the art of lying.  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, we should fall upon our faces before the Lord, filled with remorse for our sins which are punishable by death. We need to deeply reflect on our actions and take responsibility for what we have done wrong.  In that way we can truly be sincere when we pray for mercy as we present all our trespasses to the Lord, hoping He forgives us, cleansing our souls, washing us clean, and making us new. 

Morality Lessons Found in Modern Day Disease

13 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. – Leviticus 13:1-2  (NRSVA)

Leprosy in our day is not a significant matter as an illness. But, rather the importance of the illness itself is found within the symbology which remains just as meaningful for those who lived during Jesus’s time as it does for us to this very day. For there are similar characteristics of suffering and marginalization with other more deadly diseases we face today. HIV comes to mind, homosexuality, (though it is not a disease), people who identify themselves in that sexual orientation are treated as if they are unclean, drug addiction, the scourge of mental health issues…and again compare many other similar issues of the day back then to now, which force other social issues to be brought to the forefront. It is not fear but love which is the positive force in history, for it is love which invites us to reject no one, and it is love that makes us deeply believe and trust in God; for he knocks at the doors of our hearts asking us to let Him in. Though we are sinners, murders, vile creatures in comparison to His grace, God sees the good in all of us, for it is He who helps us see past the social issues and reach out to our fellow man, lift up our brothers and sister who are being marginalized; and it is God who endlessly offers His divine forgiveness to this undeserving world.  Indeed,  there is a huge morality tell being told in Sunday’s Gospel that still has deep farreaching significance for all who live in this, the so-called modern world. 

The Love That Conquerors

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NRSVA)

Even though someone has betrayed me, or not kept his or her promises, or was not the person I thought he or she was, I do not hate them. No! I do not allow my self to hate! Yes… deep inside me, there is a war raging, one that is fighting to keep me from loving those who do not love me.  Despite this struggle, I still find room in my soul to discover love in my heart for those people,  because I do not want to saturate my heart with hate!  I know that people need love in their hearts and require compassion, understanding, and forgiveness just as I crave those same things.  For who am I to withhold anything from my enemies, though they may do so against me?  I strive to make full my heart with the love and compassion of the Lord, as I struggle daily to emulate Him. For I know there is that love which conquerors hate, despair, rage, jealousy, and the darkest of evil acts.  In fact, no one said it would be easy, no one promised me a rose garden, rather I was told about all the thorns I would encounter. I find in my own life it’s better to rise above the narrow-mindedness of others and strive to be that shining star everyone sees from afar.  This Wednesday is Lent and Valentine’s Day, therefore brothers and sisters, spread the Good News and the Love of Jesus Christ.

Reflect

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things. – 2 Timothy 2:7 (NRSVA)

  1. When have I felt rejected?
  2. Have I rejected others?  
  3. When have I justified the rejection of others because of my own errors or conditions?
  4. When have I been tempted to judge and reject others?
  5. When have I caught myself questioning the loyalties of those I call family or friends?

The Call to Contribute

13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. – Romans 12:13 (NRSVA)

Please share, like, and comment on this post. Let everyone you know hear about the good news of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and make a commitment to renewing your lives with Him just as I have made the commitment to renew my love for all of you expressed through Listening Faithfully blog renewed look and feel. I hope the reflections to come will motivate you to renew your mind, heart, body, and soul. I pray that each of you joins me on this journey of mutual learning as we grow together as a community of believers and followers of God. I pray that you all allow the Lord in so that He may remodel your hearts, convert your spirit and make you all ready to run that race through the next chapter of our lives. Keep reading and reflecting on the gospel my dearest brothers and sisters, and let’s be like the leper and together ask God to help us and heal us from all of our sins that is preventing us from leading healthy and happy lives.  Reach out for His strength to find His agape love and allow it to well-up within you until your cups runneth over! Have a wonderful Ash Wednesday and Valentines! 

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Listening Faithfully – Changes!

February 10, 2018

23 Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ Mark 9:23 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

I, Brian K. Stark, wanted to reach out to all my readers here on Listening Faithfully and welcome you back to another year of inspired postings about God and His divine promises which He has faithfully kept from the beginning of time to this very moment! Like Jesus said, “All things are possible to those who believe.” Therefore I believe in all of you my faithful readers and followers that we can continue growing in this new year despite all of our challenges we face!

Concerning the Changes

As you all can see this website looks different, and this evolution will continue during the course of this year. Some of the changes you will experience are in the shorter format of the blog postings, the addition of an eStore, the ability to help support our efforts to evangelize, and in the new, “Follow Me!”, button at the bottom right-hand corner of every page. Other exciting innovations soon in coming is the recorded as well as written devotionals found on the Teacher Devotional Page that include deep insights and funny stories about my life and experiences. As many of you know I began Listening Faithfully back in 2009, and without the inspiring interactions with all my readers and followers, these postings could have never been able to reach a global audience. However, as a teacher, I know true growth is found in the constant practice and dedication to self-reflection, constantly diving deeper into one’s own talents always listening to others more experienced, opening your mind to other peoples’ ideas whether you personally agree with them or not; there is always something to be learned. Ignorance begins with turning away and refusing to see other peoples ideas, and that is a deeply personal decision on the part of the person who has chosen to put that wall up!  I would like to believe that by listening to all of you I have made the changes that everyone can enjoy and take part in.  I look forward to keeping everyone up-to-date with the ongoing changes and look for all your comments and support as we continue our journey together in developing our love and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen,

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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The Year of Grace

Standing Against False Teachings; Standing with God Through Grace!

9 “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.” ~ Hebrews 13:9, (NRSVACE)

As a private school teacher, I come across a lot of people who are interested in putting all kinds of rules and regulations on what you should or should not do with the children. Each day is like dogging a bullet. If someone thinks you’re not obeying they call the authorities. How then I ask can we be true to our profession, true to our God, true to ourselves if we are forced to observe things which only serve to complicate the everyday experience? To truly teach others we ourselves must be true in that teaching, and in Hebrews, many people were found to not be true and instead lived lives bound by false doctrine. Grace is found through finding the strength to stand up and do what you know is right and many times that goes against the world which is made up of endless regulations that are designed to keep us bound up, afraid, isolated, and scared of being found false. Grace is found in the teaching which is not bound but free and enlightening meeting everyone’s needs.

The words that should come from our mouths every day should echo this sentiment, “May you grow in the faith with a heart that takes seriously the only true thing which is the grace God so freely gives to us… May God’s grace rest upon you.”  Let us keep the devotion called grace, make our lives an example of God’s grace, and through this teaching be strengthened as we help others also stand up and be strong. Together we are stronger, like many strings woven into a rope, and by the same token apart we are weak and easy to fall too the regulations of the world which is worthless in the end. Show grace in everything you do for all others and grace shall be shown to you. Make this year one to remember through grace allowing your heart to be filled and constantly blessed by God. Pray daily to God, give him your worries and your praise!

Amen,

I hope all of you have been positively moved and I look forward to all your comments and don’t forget to visit the eStore! Leave a message below, vote, and become a follower of Listening Faithfully Blog!

Now go spread the word!

 

Who is God?

The Message

First Post of January 2018

“But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you; let the birds tell you what’s going on. Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics. Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories. Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand— Every living soul, yes, every breathing creature? Isn’t this all just common sense, as common as the sense of taste? Do you think the elderly have a corner on wisdom,  that you have to grow old before you understand life?” ~ Job 12: 7-12, The Message (MSG)  

Can we find God in an exquisite sunrise or sunset, or in those days when the sky is gloomy all the day long? Can we look at nature and find the one who created this mystery we call Earth? Can we search in the broken places or is He in the luxury hotels waiting for us to find Him? Why does God have to be male or female, I mean isn’t it possible that God is so powerful that there is no gender? Is God found in the shadows or can He be found only in the sunlight? Is God just known to us sinners on this rock which orbits around one of trillions upon trillions of stars which dot the night sky? Is God found in just this universe, or is He also the creator of trillions of more universes than just ours? In thinking this out further I guess God could arguably be bigger than anything we could ever imagine or infinitely as small as the smallest particle yet to be discovered. But I really like how Job put it when he was arguing with the elders, I enjoyed how simply put his words where on this specific topic about who God is, for Job said it best, “Ask the animals what they think?”

Who is God to Me?

“God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says?  Does he promise and not come through?” ~ Numbers 23:19, The Message (MSG)

As a boy growing up I would look up into the night sky and see the brilliantly lit stars overhead and wondered where God was among all those points of light. In church, I was taught that Jesus was the light and the way. God seemed to be a super being far outshining anything in my big imagination. As I grew I wrestled with the idea that Jesus was God and they were one and the same. At first, it did not make sense at all, for here is God the Father; an all-powerful being and here was Jesus a man born of flesh and blood. Sunday school taught that God was not a man, yet Jesus clearly was. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties traveling around South East Asia in the United States Navy that I finally got it!  See before this point God was an angry, vengeful, fiery judge deserving of a healthy dose of fear deep in my heart; He was a being who took mercy on us and finally decided to come down to help us mortals out. To some extent this was done out of love; but also out of impatience. In reflection, this description was very much one befitting me.  But on the day I got it all that went away as for the first time I saw God in my shipmates, I saw God in the people of the various countries we visited, and I saw God in an Irish man who gave me and my friend the money to get back to our ship late one night in Dubai. I started recording the random acts of kindness of others as each day passed. Strangers helping strangers, crewmates putting aside their differences for the common good of the division. I grew up thinking I would only have one family in my life, but as I traveled I become a valued member of many other families who otherwise would be considered strangers. The more this happened the more I grew closer to God and truly understood what being a member of God’s family was all about. I truly grew up in the Navy because of those experiences and I would not trade them in for anything in this world. But like everything in life when times get hard faith starts to wane taking a back seat to the various dramas being played out. It wasn’t until I had gotten married, lived outside of the security of my biological family, and alone in my complicated life full of doubt about God; who as I saw it had abandoned me. It was in that very moment of spiritual starvation when once again God saw fit to further push me to grow with a true miracle. For God had revealed Himself as a ray of brilliant light which shook me to my very core. For as I waited in a Hospital in California, my heart racing in anticipation on the verge of an emotional meltdown; I  bore witness breathlessly to the birth of my daughter. I could see and feel His presence descend upon me with such love and grace as the doctor asked me to cut her umbilical cord, then the doctor placed her into my unsteady arms as I struggled to pull her close to me. I was speechless as she cried then our eyes met for the first time. In that moment I knew love, I knew hope, and I was introduced to fatherhood. In reflection upon this most profound of questions, “Who is God?” I have to admit that perhaps maybe He is the ultimate father, mother, uncle, cousin, friend, lover, child, grandparent, and lifelong teacher.  

God Is!

“I love you, God — you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.”  Psalm 18:1, The Message (MSG)

It’s too easy to declare, “My God Is!”, rather my brothers and sisters let us say simply and purely that, “God is so many different things to each one of us and in many ways, He is the same thing to all of us!”  For God is just not my God alone, He is also your God, our neighbors God, our friends from overseas God, and the God of the Universe! We all are of Him, and in no way could we ever deny this and be sincere or credible. In this way, God is absolute, unchanging, forever loving and gives mercy and forgiveness to us in ways that we do not deserve. For all who run to Him find love, find true success, and above all safety. In every way, God sustains His children, weak and strong alike. God is family, eternal and everlasting, for He washed my dirty soul with life-giving waters. God is the spirit of hope, life, death, judgment, and any other descriptive word you could come up with. But above all other things, God is my salvation and I will love Him with all my heart for as long as He will have me live on this Earth. It is in His image I was created, His image of which I became a teacher and father, and it is in His image I shall have everlasting life after this life is over. This is my covenant with God, and it is through His will I reach out to His family, all of you who want to simply declare out loud that, “God Is!”

Question: “Who is God to you?”

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Amen, Alleluia!

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2018

Seventh Day In The Octave of Christmas – 2017

The Future Glory of the Survivors in Zion

December 31, 2017

2 “On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,” ~ Isaiah 4:2-3 (NRSVACE) 

Ant.  Christ is born for us; come, let us adore him.

Isaiah in many ways had an unmistakable and colorful code to his writings. He stands alone in how his vivid portrait of the future would come about. In fact, many scholars take into account the effort it took to write with such boldness and yet poetically layout Gods divine plan shown him through dreams.  Isaiah’s prophecies are the very fabric of that links the Old Testament, old world views, to that of the New Testament; leading us straight to Jesus Christ and the New Covenant with mankind. The colorful language Isaiah used here, ‘the branch of the Lord,’ is a bold reference to that which Jehovah made grow. Giving authorship of the creation of everything including the plan of salvation to God alone. But in breaking this down even further we see a word in this short section of scripture, ‘branch’ which is referenced throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Isaiah 11:1 where the word, ‘shoot’, is used in reference to The Root of Jesse. It is linked to Jeremiah 23:5 in reference to the word, ‘Branch’ talking about King David. Again in Jeremiah 33:15 the word, ‘Branch’ is used. In Zechariah 3:8 the word, ‘Branch’, in reference to things to come as laid out directly to Josuah, the high priest. Finally, the word ‘Branch’ is used to reference the coronation of the Branch in Zachariah 6:12. Here, then, if we thus interpret the words, ‘Branch and Shoot’,  we have the first distinct prophecy in Isaiah of a personal Messiah! My brothers and sisters, Isaiah (750-695 BC), Jeremiah (628-588 BC), and Zachariah (520-510 BC) all three connect the dots using the same code of speech over time. Jesus Christ is the “Branch of Jehovah,” and within the coming of Jesus, we can look back to the Octave of Christmas which in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar is the countdown to The Eighth Octave of Christmas, Mary, Mother of God where we celebrate this very prophecy come to fruition.

On That Day!

“The Lord has made known, alleluia, alleluia! On that day a marvelous exchange had taken place, God man’s creator has become man, born of a virgin!” ~ Solemnity Evening Prayer, The Liturgy of the Hours, pg.172-173.

This is one of the mysteries of Christ’s life that is celebrated because this is when we as human beings became shareholders in eternity; this is the divinity of Christ who so humbled himself for us so that we have the hope of salvation through Him! In many ways, as we celebrate this event we are also celebrating Christ’s return or the Second Advent. It is this that John so poetically wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” ~ John 3:16and who also wrote about meeting Christ in Heaven, 12 “Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.” ~ Revelation 1:12-13 (NRSVACE). We celebrate because the promise of salvation is now, it is upon us! We have not only been saved by Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection but are also recipients of His mercy, forgiveness, love, and His devotion! The point is that Jesus desired to become our brother by being born of the Virgin Mary, to enter into a sinful world, to teach us how to love one another as brothers, and who willingly died for our sins. So, I say to you my brothers and sisters, rejoice and pray, love each other as Christ has loved you, celebrate this day of freedom and salvation, and remember that it all was done by God’s desire to save the human race from ourselves! 

Celebration of a New Year

On this note, as I write this last blog of 2017 I wanted to mention all the people from around the world who made this year so special for me by becoming subscribers. With that said, Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for reading and commenting and voting. The stats show we need only 39 more views to make December the highest ranking of all the month of 2017. So, I humbly ask for you to share this blog with as many people with the utmost urgency as possible at such a late hour!

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I especially want to thank the top 20 countries which have visited Listening Faithfully Blog:

  1. The USA – 1407
  2. Philippians – 142
  3. Italy – 106 (the Biggest increase from 2016 up from 17 views) Special Thank You!
  4. Canada – 88
  5. India – 77
  6. The United Kingdom – 60
  7. EU – 59
  8. Germany – 56
  9. China – 44
  10. Poland – 38
  11. South Africa – 36
  12. Norway – 29
  13. Brazil – 22
  14. Australia – 20
  15. Indonesia – 20
  16. Mexico – 20
  17. Japan – 17
  18. Ireland – 17
  19. Malaysia – 16
  20. Spain – 14

Amen, Alleluia!

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Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

Old & New Relationships in the New Year

What God Sees in Use!

December 30, 2017

1 “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” ~ 1 John 3:1 (NRSVACE)

It is always a good time to reflect on family, friends, loved ones, children, parents, girlfriends, and boyfriends, workmates, and bosses even if you like or dislike your job just before the new year. I like to take time out from life once and awhile, kick back and think deeply about all the wonderful things my old relationships have brought to my life and how my newer relationships have impacted my journey. Each year brings hundreds of blessings to each one of these relationships whether they are well established or not. Again, my brothers and sisters, I say to you to always look for the positive and never allow yourselves to dwell on the negative and here’s why.

Dwelling on the Negative

4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NRSVACE)

When we dwell on the negative we are allowing thoughts in that are not healthy, presumptions begin to appear which take a dark tone and begin to blacken your hearts. Our mind begins to play tricks on us and we begin to think badly of people who we otherwise would hold in high standing. It’s a dangerous game to allow your mind to run wild with crazy notions of things which in reality are not true and this could reputable damage old well-established relations and destroy the newer relationships that which had given so much positive influence to our lives. Jealousy is a curse on everyone when it rears its ugly head, this emotion gives way to a devilish accusatory tone which disrupts the sain thoughts replacing them with only bitterness. I say to you my brothers and sisters, we all need to be mature in our relationships, we all need to be civil and respectful in our relationships, and we all need to be secure in our relationships; old and new. This manner of maturity and civilness lends itself to security within ourselves first. I say this because it is not our friends, lovers, parents, children, or co-workers or bosses which influence your own thoughts, that comes from within. What others do influence us but if we choose to allow them to shape our minds, hearts, and souls then we lose ourselves within them whether or not they wanted you to. That was your choice, you made that decision within your own mind. This is what leads down the dark path of assumptions, accusations, heartful speech written and verbal, and yes, will, in the end, push you away and isolates yourself from those who you once openly declared to love, trust, and admire. This bitterness is a poison that blackens your heart makes stiff your thoughts and even multiplies the divide between you and God. So, I say thou shall not dwell on negative thoughts and or feelings, less they consume you.

Dwelling on the Positive

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” ~ Matthew 5:8 (NRSVACE)

How good does it feel when we eat a donut, or ice cream, or chocolate cake? What emotions come to the surface? If you think about it good things, good emotions, a sense of long-awaited peace takes us over for a second or two, long enough for us to enjoy the sensation that comes. For some of us, this temporary sensation comes with buying, or selling, teaching, or writing, racing a car, building an engine, planning some exciting getaway, etc. Whatever it takes we focus on those things. But, my brothers and sisters, this is not what I’m talking about when I say to dwell on the positive. Yes, these other distractions make us feel good inside but are nothing more than fleeting moments in time. Rather, focus your mind, heart, body, and soul with all your strength on those things in life which never go away or dull the sensation over time. Focus on the simple things that bring joy and look for these little things in every person, in every moment, in every second of your life experience.

Example: I was standing in the grocery store line waiting to check out and there was this old frail woman standing in front of me. She was not happy with how long it was taking for the person in front of her to make out a check to pay for their items. In her impatience, she turned to me to complain and before she could I smiled at her. To be completely truthful I too was annoyed, but I also saw in the person checking out a real struggle in memory, in speech, and though frustrating I saw God within them. I saw God within the old lady in front of me, I saw human nature and the impulse to first complain which comes from a rush-rush lifestyle. I could see the same things in me and I refused to allow the negative overpower the positive. So, what was the positive in this example? It was smile I received from the older lady, instead of complaining she smiled and said nothing. She became content in the moment knowing this frustration of waiting was only for a brief moment in time. When she turned around she helped the person in front of her write that check. I saw God in those moments.

What I See In You

12 “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12 (NRSVACE)

If I could see those things, (as mentioned above),  in a complete stranger, imagine what I see in all those people who I know? Imagine how it breaks my heart when my friends or family chose to dwell on the negative instead of the positive? I truly believe the key to living a drama free life is to make the choice to live your life dedicated to seeing only to positive things in everyone no matter how negative they are. I know from reading the Bible that this is what God does. I see the benefit of being positive, being courageous, being content in the moment even if it is uncomfortable, or irritating, or upsetting – especially when we are receiving what we don’t want or think we deserve. I make a giant effort every day to be and see the positive in everything because I want and know it brings me closer to God our Father. To see as God see’s means to overlook – rather look through the negative and see the part of God within each one of us that is shining, that is saved, that Jesus died for on the cross, and it means to want to see these small miracles daily. I promise my brothers and sisters that love is in everyone and in everything God has made, and if you train yourself, become mature in your faith, you too will see time slow down long enough to witness these tiny miracles I so often talk about. This is my sincere wish for all of you in the new year.

Amen, Alleluia!

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“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

John, Apostle & Evangelist Feast Day

The First Disciples of Jesus

December 27, 2017

Feast Day 

35 “The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” ~ John 1:35-37 (NRSVACE) 

At first glance, John the Apostle of Christ is a very interesting character. I mean I had to read and re-read this scripture before I figured out that John in writing this Gospel had chosen to leave his own name out opting instead to mention other disciples first, namely his brother James. This makes for quite a read to figure out which John is being mentioned let alone trying to determine who is actually the first disciple. So here is the story of Apostle John, the humble disciple; the Apostle that Jesus loved much.

It is assumed by biblical scholars, (of which I am not),  that Apostle John and his brother James were both disciples of John the Baptist first and as such they would have been present and seen Jesus be baptized in the Jordan. It is also believed that both brothers would have been baptized before meeting Jesus. They both deliver to us first-hand accounts of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  Next, it is believed that both men were related to Jesus as their mother was the sister of Our Blessed Mother Mary, who is mentioned in the Bible as being named Salome. But let’s go back to the scripture above,

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples.’

The immediate question that arises is, ‘Which John is being talked about here?’ Answer – John the Baptist. The second question that comes to mind is, ‘Which two of his disciples?’ Answer – The sons of  Zebedee (a fisherman of Galilee) John and his brother James. The Gospel states that they were curious and followed Jesus and was invited to stay with Him. The other very interesting note is that James is always mentioned before John leading many to believe that James is John’s older brother.

40 “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” ~ John 1:40 (NRSVACE) 

As the story develops we read that Andrew and his brother Simon Peter also heard and followed Christ, so in this it appears that James and John with Andrew and Simon Peter also knew one another, they all left their craft of fishing and chose to follow John the Baptist, excited about the coming of the Lord. This is such an important point because these men are the foundation of Christianity after Christ died and was resurrected and ascended into Heaven. It is what these men wrote, what they preached, and what they staked their lives on in the years after Christ. But, it was the Apostle John who would go on the write the Book of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and Revelations. During the three years of Christ’s ministry, John is the faithful disciple, the reflective disciple, and the classic servant. John got it from day one, and his own ministry reflected many of these qualities.  John was a brave leader as he helped preach the Pentecost sermon. John with Simon Peter healed the lame man, was jailed together for their faith and preachings. Both men were sent by the other apostles to investigate the Samaritan revival. This reflects leadership and fortitude in preaching about Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. Apostle John traveled prolifically throughout the Mediterranean starting churches where ever he went. His writing and authorship became the bedrock of Christian doctrine and how we view Christ today. According to David Peach who writes, “Tradition holds that John was sentenced to death in a boiling vat of oil. Yet he emerged unharmed from the experience. Again tradition tells us that John lived into old age dying sometime after AD 98. He is thought to have died in Ephesus.” ~ John the Apostle: Bible Biography Facts and Death (2014). 

Amen, Alleluia!

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“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

The Christmas Compromise – Guest Edition

Christmas Reflections

What is Christmas to you? ~ by DES

December 26, 2017

Feast Day of Saint Stephen (The First Marter) 

35 “In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”’ ~ Acts 20:35 (NRSVACE) 

Christmas Reflection – As a Child

As a child, I remember Christmas being that exciting time of year where presents were extremely important and highly anticipated. Presents were the highlight of the night. They were the end all be all. The purpose of life. Presents were life…

Though making a list of all the materialistic things I wanted was also pretty fun, I was always more pleased to find gifts from loved ones that played to my innermost desires. Those things consisted of Bratz dolls, Build-A-Bear clothes, Sims expansion packs, and other various toys I was convinced would bring me ultimate joy. Sure, ripping up the wrapping paper and spending a couple minutes destroying the boxes these toys were presented it did give me quite some joy… as did playing with them for weeks and months to come. But as I grew up and the toys I wanted increasingly became more expensive (i.e. laptops, makeup, jewelry, and iTunes cards) I also felt a shift in what brought me the most joy.

Christmas Reflection – As an Adult

I think about the sacrifices made, the planning and prepping that takes place, and just how expensive Christmas can be for families. It’s hard not to feel a little overwhelmed when thinking about all that goes into creating the “perfect” Christmas. There’s food to be cooked, gifts to be wrapped, and decorations to be hung. Yet the highlight is no longer the wrapped boxes under the tree. The highlight isn’t the cake or the brisket. It’s not even the booze.

The highlight of Christmas is family. This includes friends and all extended family. People who I can share laughs with, people to make memories with, people who encourage me to be me.

The spirit of Christmas lives in our ability to see those around us with love and kindness in our hearts. Giving freely without expectation feeds the soul. Sharing space and time with others in harmony strengthens bonds. This is what Christmas is to me now.

Interestingly enough, however, Christmas hasn’t always been about gifts and trees and food. Originally the Church didn’t celebrate the birth of Jesus, and in fact, the first Americans didn’t either. It was decided that Christmas would be on the 25th of December in order to fall in line and absorb pagan holidays. The Church believed this would make the holiday more popular as Christianity spread. They were right, but the way it was celebrated in the early days was extraordinarily different from how it’s celebrated now.

Christmas was a time for the wealthy to repay their “debts” to society by entertaining those of lesser means. The celebrations were more like today’s Mardi Gras: drinks, parties, and mayhem. The first Americans were more strict in their beliefs and thus decided against establishing Christmas as a holiday until June 26, 1870. By this time we had completely reinvented Christmas. Instead of the rowdy celebration common in Europe, a new format dedicated to peace and tranquility, finding perfect presents for children, and sharing foods among friends became the norm.

This tradition has come a long way and been shaped into what it is today with the help of consumerism, Capitalism, Christianity, paganism, and the basic human need for companionship.

The Christmas Truce

So even if it is a jumble of various practices and may not always be religious in nature (hello Santa Claus) it does serve as a reminder of the importance of kindness. One such touching example can be witnessed in a little story about the Christmas Truce.

December 26, 1914

Dear Mother,

I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say.

But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench.

Oh dear, no!

From a German soldier. Yes, a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it? Yes.

This is only for about a mile or two on either side of us (so far as we know). It happened thuswise.

On Xmas eve both armies sang carols and cheered & there was very little firing. The Germans (in some places 80 yds away) called to our men to come and fetch a cigar & our men told them to come to us. This went on for some time, neither fully trusting the other, until, after much promising to ‘play the game’ a bold Tommy crept out & stood between the trenches, & immediately a Saxon came to meet him. They shook hands & laughed & then 16 Germans came out.

Thus the ice was broken. Our men are speaking to them now.

They are landsturmers or landwehr, I think, & Saxons & Bavarians (no Prussians). Many are gentle looking men with goatee beards & spectacles, and some are very big and arrogant looking. I have some cigarettes which I shall keep, & a cigar I have smoked.

We had a burial service in the afternoon, over the dead Germans who perished in the ‘last attack that was repulsed’ against us. The Germans put ‘For Fatherland & Freedom’ on the cross.

They obviously think their cause is a just one.

If you get a Daily Mail of Dec 23 & turn to the letter page you will see an article entitled ‘Snapshots from the Front’ & in the second snapshot an account is given of what we, with others, have done, and the identical apparatus is mentioned.

When you find a sentence or word ‘blacked out’ & not initialed by me, it is the work of the sensor.

Many of the Germans here are, or were, waiters. [i.e. in England before the war.] Thank Efford for his chocolate. Auntie Belle for the cigarettes. I have had an awful time with swollen feet and my toes are frostbitten now.

But it is all in a day’s work, as is working all night at digging or etc & sleeping in wet and mud. Where we are billetted (8 of us in a cottage in a town which is shelled now and again) we have a good time. There is a family of Belgians here whose house has been destroyed, and the old mother, about 56 yrs old, is very jolly and resourceful, as well as comical. [Any further pages are missing.]

Christmas is more than just celebrating the birth of Jesus. Christmas is more than creating family traditions. Christmas is more than cooking, buying and gifting. Christmas is more than any of those things combined. Christmas is a time for us to put down the hatchet, move past that grudge, wave that white flag and share the love with all, including our “enemies”.

Merry Christmas!

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Amen, Alleluia!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

The Love of God within the Nativity – A Christmas Message 2017

The Agape Love of God

Christ Is Here! Alleluia!

December 25, 2017 – The Birth of Christ

4 “But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 3:4-7 (NRSVACE)

Merry Christmas my brothers and sister! May the love of our eternal father rest upon you today like no other day in our earthly calendar! For today we hold within our hearts the great hope for salvation made flesh, the great charity of forgiveness made into everlasting grace, and the agape love of God showered upon us cleansing our sinful hearts through the birth of Christ and the renewal of our faith through the Holy Spirit!

If you have followed me this year you will have read about an intricate plan skillfully crafted and executed by our eternal Father who out of unconditional love chose to forgive us, (all of humanity), our sins. You will have read about grace, charity, and mercy; a love story on an epic scale greater than anything we could have ever done on our own. The level of sacrifice and unconditional love exhibited by God can never be measured or outdone by man. For this plan of God’s cost Him much and is the eternal investment which speaks of an undeniable desire to have a relationship with all of us. At the heart of God’s plan was to bear the hardships personally, to walk in our shoes, emulate our sufferings, experience the daily grind of our life ultimately seeing the world through our eyes in order to suffer and to die for our sins which we could have never washed away on our own. A love story that all too often is more like a one-way street when we petty humans reject God, but this never deturs Him, no our Father’s desire is so lasered focused He keeps knocking at the doorway of our heart continually offering us His unshakable love. So my brothers and sisters, when I say Christmas is a love story on an epic scale, one which gives us the gift of salvation, a monumental gift of grace and mercy, and a gift which is its own economy greater in value than any monetary system we could ever invent – know that my words are sincere; for God did not have to do any of these things.  Rather, He could have just started over casting us aside with as little effort as like squashing an ant underfoot. For I say unto you, my brothers and sisters, each day is not promised and each breathe is a precious gift from God. Therefore, for God to have sent His only son Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour was the greatest act of mercy and charity; the greatest gift our loving Father could have bestowed upon us.

The Birth of Our Saviour

15 “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” ~ Luke 2:15-20 (NRSVACE) 

Over the last four weeks we prepared for this event, we made ready for the coming of Jesus, but in retrospect, very few people really knew what was going on at the time of Christ’s actual birth over two thousand years ago. Think about it, Mary and Joseph were made part of the plan at the enunciation then their collective families were told after the shocking news that Mary was pregnant.  Then Mary’s cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist knew when Mary visited her. The three wise men who watched the stars and read scripture put two and two together and began a long harsh journey following an astronomical event only to make King Herod aware by asking him if he knew anything about the coming Messiah. The shepherds became

aware only because they were told by angels from heaven. It’s ironic really when you look at it from this perspective because only a handful of people knew and out of these people how many really believed that indeed this was the coming of the Messiah? I mean everyone in Judea was waiting for a savior, but few knew and witnessed it in person and from this handful of people the word was spread. From this humble of beginnings, Jesus would grow up in a world who largely was unaware and in disbelief even though the Lord was standing right in front of them. So, my brothers and sisters, how lucky we are today too have the benefit of our faith without having seen the nativity first hand, how much more meaningful is it to know Jesus within our hearts first before knowing Him in Heaven? For truly I say to you that we know and love Jesus Christ through the experience and blessings poured out overuse through the works of the Holy Spirit which in and of itself is the true agape love of God at work as we celebrate this Holiest of Days.

Rejoice for the Lord is Here!

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen Alleluia.

Canticle of Zachariah

Ant.  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth, alleluia.

Intercessions: The Word of God existed before the creation of the universe yet was born among us in time. We praise and worship him as we cry out in joy:

‘Let the earth ring out with joy for you have come.’

You are the eternal Word of God who flooded the world with joy at your birth,

– fill us with joy by the continuous gift of your life.

You saved us and by your birth revealed to us the covenant faithfulness of the Lord,

– help us to be faithful to the promises of our baptism.

You are the King of heaven and earth who sent messengers to announce peace to all,

–  let our lives be filled with your peace.

You are the true vines that brings forth the fruit of life,

–  make us branches of the vines, bearing much fruit.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

May your Christmas be filled with joy everlasting as you spend time with your family and friends on this most Holy of Days. Rejoice in this unfathomable gift from God we receive on this day of Christs Birth, for into the world did He come, on our behalf to give us the hope of life everlasting.

Amen, Alleluia!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

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Stay In Touch

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting on Twitter on Twitter at @Listeninfaith or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully or stop by an pray with use at LF Prayer Group.

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

Roots of Jesse – Guest Edition

An Older Symbol of Advent

What is the Jesse Tree? ~ by Winter

December 23, 2017 – Third Saturday of Advent

11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 (NRSVACE)

Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.

Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing  Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.

As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with,  “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”

When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.

Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;

  1. Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
  2. Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
  3. Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
  4. Isaac – Ornament: Ram
  5. Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
  6. Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
  7. Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
  8. The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
  9. Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
  10. Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
  11. Samuel – Ornament: Crown
  12. David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
  13. Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
  14. Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
  15. Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
  16. Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
  17. Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
  18. John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
  19. Mary – Ornament: White Lily
  20. Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
  21. Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
  22. Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
  23. Jesus – Ornament: Manager
  24. Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho

Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree  Click Here

The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press  Click Here

Amen, Alleluia!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Stay In Touch

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting on Twitter on Twitter at @Listeninfaith or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully or stop by an pray with use at LF Prayer Group.

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

Symbol of Adventus

The Symbol of the Season

December 22, 2017 – Third Friday of Advent

18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” ~ Proverbs 4:18 (NRSVACE)

Short History

The Christian faith regardless of denomination is heavily influenced by a great many symbols. Though some of these symbols may not be directly related to the season they nevertheless ring of more modern origins helping to bring all of us closer to our singular Lord and Saviour.  Such is the case for the Advent Wreath, for its humble beginnings is credited to ‘a German theologian and educator by the name of Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881)’ who introduced, ‘the idea of lighting an increasing number of candles as Christmas approached.’ ~ Das Rauhe Haus, “History, From 1832-1881.”  This idea served as a marker for the coming of the Lord and in combination with the Christmas tree, lighting candles, and the overwhelming jolly atmosphere of the season this symbol of Advent survives to modern day.

Spiritual Relevance

Now with the history of the Wreath and Candles out of the way let’s focus on the more spiritual idea behind it. As stated above in Proverbs 4:18 Advent is the season of preparation, of hope, and joy in glee anticipation of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Jesus professed to be the light, the way, the path to both righteousness and to the Kingdom of Heaven. When lighting the Advent Candle it becomes the most powerful of symbols of what Jesus professed to be and what He professed to have given to use. The candles colors’ too tell a deep rich story of faith and of forgiveness. Each week for six days the same candle is lite, the first one representing hope and the promises of a coming Savior. The second candle is lite with the first one on the Second Sunday of Advent and represents peace and the prophecies of a coming Savior. The season of Advent then builds in intensity with the lighting of the third candle with the first two on the Third Sunday of Advent. The third candle celebrates with joy that your hope in Christ is certain, hence last weeks post: “Gaudete!” Rejoice for the Lord is Near!  This third candle, however, is pink; more about that in a minute.  As for the first two purple candles, they are believed to represent both royalty and repentance.  Each week’s scripture paints the picture of how God planned to save humanity through His only son. Scripture records many prophecies that Jesus within His coming fulfilled. Now the third week brings with it the third candle, pink in color for it,  ‘is likened to a faded purple color as though the light is beginning to shine through it. It is “like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.’ ~ Tenny-Brittian, Bill. “Why Is There One Pink Advent Candle?”  This belief supports Proverbs 4:18 most spectacularly!

The Order of Lighting

Week 1: Purple Candle – The Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. Scripture associated with it is Luke 1:14. First Sunday of Advent Post

Week 2: Purple Candle – The Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. Scripture associated with it is Luke 1:26-27 and Isaiah 40:3. Second Sunday Post

Week 3: Pink Candle – The Sheperd Candle or the Candle of Joy. Scripture associated with it is Romans 13:11-1. Third Sunday Post

Week 4: Purple Candle – The Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. Scripture associated with it is Romans 16:25-27. Fourth Sunday Post – Coming this Sunday!

Christmas Day: White Candle – Christ’s Candle – The Lord is Here! It is time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the “light of the world”! Scripture associated with it is Luke 2:15-20  Christ Is Here! Post – Coming this Monday! 

Morning Reading

5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me, there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.” ~ Isaiah 45:5-8

Ant. “The moment that your greeting reached my ears, the child within my womb leapt for joy.”

Amen, Alleluia!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate


Finding Ways to Support Others:

To help support education click the link in the sidebar entitled – Current Fundraisers. It’s just a little that means so much in this season of giving.

View current promotions – Click Here

Listening Faithfully Survey – Help us make improvements for you. CLICK HERE

Stay In Touch

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

"Gaudete!" Rejoice for the Lord is Near!

The Lord is Coming Without Delay

December 17, 2017 – Third Sunday of Advent

An Urgent Appeal!

11 “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” ~ Romans13:11-14 (NRSVACE)

“Gaudete” is Latin for rejoicing. The theme for this Sunday is to rejoice for the Lord is near! We are called to rejoice to make our final preparations by purifying our hearts, minds, and bodies to put on the armor of the Lord and put away petty or frivolous arguments. We are urgently called to live honorably day and night, stay away from any compromising sins such a frolicking around in drunkenness and putting away our sexual desires and lust and to walk away from all forms of jealousy! For it is these things which darken the soul and make us stumble in our obligations we have to our Lord, Jesus Christ. My brothers and sisters, I urgently call you to examine your heart and to cleanse yourselves, wash away your sinful nature and reflect mightly on your lives. Remembering always we are to image God, in mind, heart, body, and soul. Bow down and pray each night the blessings of the Lord for He is near! These things I say to you will give rise to a humble heart, meek and honorable desire, and prayerful attitude one worthy of the Lord.

Let all Creatures Praise the Lord!

Let us Pray Together

5 “And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’” ~ Revelation 19:5 (NRSVACE)

Daniel 3:57-63

“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord.

You heavens, bless the Lord.

All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.

All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord.

Sun and moon, bless the Lord.

Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

Ant. 2 – Mountains and hills shall be level, crooked paths straight, rough ways smooth.

Come, Lord, do not delay. 

~ Continue ~

Daniel 3:64-73

Repeat Ant.2

Daniel 3:74-81

Repeat Ant.2

Daniel 3:82-88

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen Alleluia.

Look for the Lord!

We are urgently called to praise the Lord and rejoice in his coming! This week I urgently call to you my brothers and sisters, to sings praises to our Lord Jesus Christ, to look at every major event you have gone through and look for the tiniest of miracles, Examine all your challenges and look for Gods divine plan within them. Each day there is so much to be thankful for, starting with first and foremost God is with you for He is not at some distant faraway place. No! My brothers and sisters,  rather he is standing right beside you always supporting you, guiding you, loving you. Each day look for God, urgently examine everything in every possible hidden place within your heart and rejoice in the fact that God is calling you with both praises and blessings. He is showering you with acts of mercy! All you have to do is look; look mightly!

Acknowledge the Lord!

 “All your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:6 (NRSVACE)

Rejoice for the Lord is near! The Lord has your name written down, your place at the banquet is set, your salvation is at hand! This week acknowledge Him in every aspect of your life for He acknowledges you. Each night this week I invite all of you my brothers’ and sisters, to sing His praises as He proclaims… “I shall enfold Zion with my salvation and shed my glory around Jerusalem, alleluia!”

Praise the Lord, the Creator

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you sea monsters, and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
    stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
    old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful,
    for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Amen, Alleluia!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare the Way of the Lord

The Prophecy to Prepare

December 10, 2017 – Second Sunday of Advent

 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lordmake straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” ~ Isaiah 40:3 (NRSVACE)

In this season of preparation, self-reflection, and in accord with the theme of Advent we have now reached an important milestone of how we receive our savior. In that this preparation for a savior, the son of man, is an idea that spans time. It is an idea which was deeply ingrained in our human ‘higher cognitive process’ or in our way of thinking about God Himself. Prophet Isaiah taught that God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, and in those writings can be found the promise of salvation. This intangible, unattainable, most elusive promise of God called ‘salvation’ was also rooted deep within the people of Judah, for it was as much on their minds in the 8th century before Christ as it is ours today. Simply put my brothers and sisters, salvation takes center stage in the need for a savior, it demands there to be great preparations so that this singular event could come to fruition. In the first post of this Advent Season,  “Adventus – Time of Preparation, we can see God’s plan for a savior. In the second posting of this Advent Season, The Christmas Angel – Gabriel“, we see and celebrate God’s plan now put into action. In this, the third posting of this Advent Season we focus on yet another player sent by God which helps us navigate His complex roadmap that is designed to produce a savior – enter Isaiah the Greatest of all the Prophets. For the preparation that he delivers to us is one of ‘hope’; the spreading of this central idea that our savior comes and that he fulfills the prophecies told to countless millions throughout the ages. This same ‘hope’ remains as meaningful for those who had first experienced it as it still has for us today. For the plan was to spread the word first, then act upon it, and now to receive all the blessings that come with this new covenant with God. This season of preparing for Christ makes us ready to renew our love, faith, understanding, grace, and humility that Jesus himself bestowed all of which was rooted within the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah. For God granted Isaiah a special relevance within history; one that rings the bells and foretells the blessings that God pours out from Heaven; the first draft of what was to come.

The Messenger

1 “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’ ~ Mark 1:1-3 (NRSVACE)

Isaiah foretell’s a forerunner to Christ, a person who would set the stage for salvation through repentance – enter John the Baptist. John serves as a messenger, as a baptiser filled with the holy spirit. He was first mentioned by the Angel Gabriel to our Mother Mary at her conception, then later Mary visits Elizabeth her cousin, the mother of John and he leaps in her womb. Nothing more is recorded until we get to the story of Jesus who stands before John in the river Jordan. John was a giant in his day, teaching about the coming of the Messiah, the savior and of the kingdom to come. The way to make your own personal path straight was through the act of baptizing, or submersion into water. Water universally had been the symbol of cleansing and was deeply rooted in the Jewish world with having to bathe before entering the temple. Jesus uses water to wash the feet of his disciples at the end of his ministry. But John takes this idea of salvation even higher through the process of baptizing as he states clearly;

‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” ~ Mark 1:7-8 (NRSVACE)

Again, the hope for a far greater more powerful authority, one to which the heavens and earth belong, the promise of salvation within the coming savior, son of God; all of which is still within the realm of preparation. John was tellings us to get right with God! He was bringing people closer to our creator through the only method available at the time; baptize. But more to the point John was also not neglecting to support the mainstream school of thought established by the writings and teaching of Isaiah. In many ways, these two men help us to receive our Lord and Savior in the right way, in the most meaningful of ways. The very message of salvation starts with getting your life in line with God’s plan for you, getting ready for the conversion of mind, heart, body, and soul. To be prepared for the coming of Christ Jesus so that your heart is renewed and your faith restored. To receive Jesus as our savior in the hope of his triumphant return.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

FullSizeRender (1)

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

The Christmas Angel – Gabriel

A Message From God

December 4, 2017 – The First Monday of Advent. 

Canticle of Mary – The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.49.

Ant. The Angel of the Lord brought God’s message to Mary, and she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, alleluia. 

26 “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~ Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE) 

In this Season of Preparation and Hope when everyone is busy reflecting on the gospel and preparing for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we find that Archangel Gabriel is very busy implementing God’s plan. (Read more about God’s plan – Click HereIn fact, we see that Gabriel visits Mary who was engaged to Joseph, born of the House of David. This visitation is the first real contact between our eternal Father and our earthy mother with Gabriel acting as the messenger. He explains everything in such a way that Mary cannot refuse and in a blink of an eye God’s will was done. Archangel Gabriel as described by author Doreen Virtue who wrote in her book, “Archangels 101: How to Connect Closely with Archangels Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel and Others for Healing, Protection, and Guidance’, she writes, “Gabriel, as the archangel of communication, often announces what’s on the horizon, and acts like a manager or agent in orchestrating new ventures related to one’s soul purpose.” Indeed we see this here as Gabriel foretells the plan of God, clues Mary in on the miracle pregnancy of her cousin Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist. In this, we can also see the detailed preparation of God who paved the way for his only son to come into this world. However, Gabriel still needed to confront Joseph to show him the importance of the future. 

19 “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” ~ Matthew 1:20 (NRSVACE) 

With Joesph and Mary onboard Archangel Gabriel takes on a new name, that of ‘The Christmas Angel’, because without his efforts during this season of preparation and reflection these events may have turned out quite differently. Gabriel is also the Angel of Water, Inspiration, and Reconciliation. He is talked written about in every major religion on earth today, not to mention is he helps us solve problems while we sleep as this is how Gabriel came to Joseph.

In reflection, Archangel Gabriel played a huge part in the Annunciation and continues to play an important role in our lives today.  He comes with the very words of God to inspire us and guide us helping us to lead a more pure life; one centered on the grace and love of Jesus.

Advent Activities

From ‘The Life of Winter’

“In this season of Advent, we are called to reflect and change our lives. For the ones who have read my blog I am a Catholic school teacher and I teach my students the importance of prayer. This year I decided to do things differently each day during the Advent season. Every day we are reflecting and thinking about how we can change. Today we focused on hope.” (Read More from this blogger CLICK HERE )

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Let Us Pray

20 “We eagerly await the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of his glorified body, by his power to subject everything to himself.” ~ Philippians 3:20b-21 

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Adventus – Time of Preperation

14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~ Luke 1:14 (NRSVACE)

The coming of Christ is indeed a joyous event. ‘Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.’ ~ The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.41. Here we have the seeds of our happiness, great joy, and a reason to rejoice not to mention the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Year. Here we see the event before it took place and the anticipation of this happening before it happened. There was no stopping the word of the impending savior, nothing would get in the way of worldwide redemption. This is the story of what would happen after Advent, let’s instead focus on what it took for the savior to come, which is the story of preparation and the true meaning of ‘Adventus’ Latin for ‘Advent’.

  Preparation Equals A Mind Wide Open

Before our savior could come there had to be someone willing to give birth to him. This person would have to be female and married because an unmarried woman would most likely be stoned to death for having sex before marriage. This married women would have to be a virgin and for that to happen she would need to just be engaged and not yet married. This also causes a big problem because what would the soon to be husband think? Would he tolerate his soon to be wife having conceived by another man? Most men would not, and in this case, this goes against every Jewish law on the record books. How could he marry an unfaithful woman who was now no longer a virgin? In my mind, I often question what the Jews were really thinking: I mean how did they think all this was going to come about? See my brothers and sisters here we have a conundrum of the largest order! But God is all knowing and all powerful, He already had this part of the plan worked out because He had this planned since before the foundations of the world! That being said, God knew and was waiting for Mary and Joseph. God hand-picked both of them to be the earthly parents to His only son, our savior Jesus Christ. But this still did not by any means make everything ok by the larger population. Rather God needed Mary and Joseph to work with Him on this plan, they had to be willing participants or else this plan of a savior would not happen as we now know it. Both Mary and Joseph had to think outside of the box, they both had to let their love for each other rule the day, and they both had to prepare for Gods miracle together.  In many ways, faith became their new reality. Preparation is just as important to those who lived two thousand years ago as it is for us today.  It’s not enough to live day by day allowing each day to bring its fruits and or ills with little participation by the people who are living it. To just slide by and not be ready is really not living at all. I say this to you, my brothers and sister because to live means you prepare every day for the fruits of God no matter what they are. If Mary and Joseph had just simply been living in the haze of unpreparedness then Jesus could not have come through them. How might the world be different? No! I am glad they prepared for Jesus, and in the Season of Adventus that is what we do, prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and life for the coming goodness of the Lord.

Advent Family Activity

36 “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ~Luke 21:36 (NRSVACE) 

Because I am a teacher who maintains an active network made up of other teachers I wanted to give everyone an activity that can help teach children the Advent Season and in many ways help us grown-ups and parents learn a thing or two. I also want to thank the teacher who suggested this calendar so that I can share it with all my followers.

On this Advent Calendar, each day is a new way to prepare for Jesus while keeping you on track, which as I have stated above both Mary and Joseph also had to undergo preparations for the coming of the Lord. Because today is the First Sunday of Advent we read the scripture and reflect. Jesus tell’s us to be on guard and to watch, why would he say that? Perhaps, Jesus is telling us to look for the signs of the next coming so we are not fooled by those clever fakes who would try and trick us by mimicking some of the signs Jesus spoke about. Know the difference between what is fake and what is real is very much a part of being active in life as I had written above. It’s also linked to being prepared for Jesus when He comes on Christmas Day. I like to think how prepared were the three wise men who watched the stars and the movements of the heavenly bodies, keeping track of all the great signs in the night sky while using a specialized calendar to help them navigate to find Jesus on the very night he was born. This is being aware, being prepared, being active in life, and verifying their faith making it an undeniable fact! See, my brothers and sisters, hope is very much a part of this day as well for we wait in the hope of the return of Christ, we watch for the very signs he told us about while we prepare our hearts, minds, body, and soul for His triumphant return. Each day on the calendar is important to reflect upon and to research as well teach to our children so they may have the same hope as we who understand the task given us until the time of Christ.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians 2017

Solidarity in Suffering

10 ‘”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:10 (NRSVACE)

On May 20, 2017, I wrote a post called ‘Hope for the Persecuted – China’s Christian Revival!’ where I wrote about how for centuries Christians have been persecuted for their faith. I introduced an author who had spent a lifetime writing about Christian persecution and the power of faith, prayer, and the overall price of discipleship. In that post and in all the research I conducted was introduced to the truth of ‘Cheap Grace’ as written by  Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (1937) The Cost of DiscipleshipI bring this topic back up because there are still modern day Christians being persecuted. Moreover, starting November 26, 2017 – December 2, 2017, many people from around the world are holding a ‘Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians.’ Cheif among the organizations are the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Knights of Columbus (KofC) who are taking donations for Christians at Risk.

Corporal Works of Mercy

As Catholic Christians and as followers of Jesus Christ we the children of God are called to show mercy in various ways for those in need. Part of this is to help feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, give alms to the poor, and I would add to this list we are also called to come together to support those who are suffering because of their faith. Our Christian brothers and sisters need you to take action and spread the word of the many thousands worldwide who are imprisoned, beaten, starved, tortured, and even put to death for their Christian beliefs. I call all of you my brothers and sisters to take action. There are a variety of ways to help those brothers and sister in Christ who are made to suffer for their – our beliefs!

Here are two links to get more information and to donate what you can to help stop the persecution.

Video: Click Here

Donate: Click Here

 

Action Center: Click Here

Donate: Click Here

I thank you all of you my brothers and sisters in advance for taking action in the above various ways.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Special Reflection – Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

11 “On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” ~ Luke 17:11-19 (NRSVACE)

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate the historic event of two different cultures coming together and being thankful for each other and being thankful for the growing partnership that was forged which ended up as our traditional day of thanksgiving. But, brothers and sisters I have already written that posting many times over. I would rather reflect on something more outside the box and less traditional. For this past week, I have heard this passage from Luke now in two different settings in two different church ceremonies. The first time I heard it was in a school play just prior to ending the two day week of teaching. The second time I heard it was today in Mass. In both accounts, the two different priests said two completely different things but in my heart, God was showing me how similar these two messages are. So, my brothers and sisters, if you could indulge me I would like to add to what I had heard and hopefully do justice to what God showed me in this most unconventional Thanksgiving post.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one came back to thank him. His gratitude was deeply genuine and heartfelt. Jesus comments to what happened to the other nine, ‘where are they?’, he inquires. This line of questioning is critical and poignant to the core of our salvation for as Christians and believers we must ask ourselves how many times have we been the recipient of great gifts but never took time to came back to the source in sincere gratitude.  Often I think God gives us gifts and our response is one of puzzlement just short of responding with, “And? Is this it? What am I supposed to do with that?”  Or perhaps if it was something you had asked for and really wanted then when you get it your so excited the words ‘Thank You!’ never seem to be stated. Our culture is one of instant gratification, ‘I want what I want and I want it now!’ Please and thank you are missing. As a teacher I have this same thing happen to me with my kids I have taught, few come back and thank me for all the hard work I did for them to prepare them for the next more difficult level. To date, just a hand full ever really reach out in true thanksgiving. I could easily ask what happened to the other thousand plus.  But even if I did ask that question in my heart I know what happened to all my other students just as Jesus knew what happened to the other nine. In this world, it’s far easier to receive than it is to give.

Now here is another thought, what if when we received those gifts from God that puzzled us or gifts we receive from people we do not particularly like and made a conscious effort to change our own mindset to one of instant thanksgiving and gratitude. What would our life be like? How would that simple act affect others? Instead of pointing fingers and looking for people to blame for our own inadequacies what would happen if we thanked God for the criticism?  But this is small potatoes to what is really possible, no my brothers and sisters lets go one step further and examine all those deep dark happenings that we couldn’t find any way to be thankful for at the time it happened. In the heat of the moment of a firing, or a bashing from a boss or coworker, or maybe even that one comment which cut to the bone and crushed our heart. What if we look at those hurts again and look for the tiniest thing to be thankful for. A good example of this in my own life happened this past summer; on the record, I was not offered a contract to return to my elementary school after ten successful years because of a lack of money. But the real reason was other teachers playing politics thinking if I was not there then they could get away with destroying my lab, taking the laptops whenever they wanted, they would not have to worry about me observing them as I was trained to do to help them become better teachers. No, they wanted the easy way out even if it cost me my job and cut me from ever seeing my students who I deeply love and who needed a professional computer teacher such as myself.

Now watch Gods actions in this moment: In this scary painful loss I have found growth and was given a better opportunity elsewhere. In looking for that tiniest of miracle perhaps the last ten years God was developing me, molding me, preparing me for the responsibilities of today. Yes, it was painful but being a Christian means I listen and do the will of God, He alone directs my path into the future. He alone knows what I need to do next and how to get it done even if I don’t see it yet; especially if all I can see is the injustice of the act itself which caused the hurt. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, there is more to be thankful for in this life than all the wonderful gifts which we had asked for and then received. I humbly ask you my brothers and sisters what about those bag of hurts you locked away and tried to forget about? How thankful can you make your heart for those?

The other nine lepers Jesus had healed ran away in joyous thanksgiving never to be seen or heard from again. Rather it is that one leper who came back to the source and received the complete and total healing from Christ; that Samaritan, that foreigner is who we remember. I tell you my brothers and sisters lets mimic the one and be thankful for everything we are given in this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the expected and unexpected treating all of them in kind, with love and deep heartfelt gratitude. Keeping in your memory the blessing of leprosy is what led all ten to God, but it was God’s love and compassion which brought back the one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

From Beatitudes to Attitudes: Part 2

Acknowledgement of Sin

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4 (NRSVACE)

Question: “What condition is our heart in if it is one that morns?”

The definition of the term ‘mourn’ means: ‘to feel or express grief or sorrow’ ~ “Mourn.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2017.

We mourn for those in our families who have died, we mourn for those who suffer great loss, and we mourn for our own emptiness in times of great turbulence. But to mourn as Jesus describes it in the second blessing in the Beatitudes is to truly be remorseful over sin as we recognize its deep impact on our lives as individuals, the stain and weight it has upon our hearts, and our inability to erase this sin on our own. To recognize our sin is but the first step in mourning for we also need to take responsibility; take ownership for that sin as well.

In truth, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with our creator that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin it is a blessing from God worthy of great reward. It is an even greater blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in the deepest of sorrow. It should be an emotional response and therefore, a means test of our sincerity.

The Process of Mourning

18 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18 (NRSVACE) 

In fact, where sin is concerned we as a race of sinners undergo definitive steps before we can ever get to the deepest level that of mourning as described by Christ.

  1. Guilt – Sin makes us guilty before God, as such we can never obtain true forgiveness without the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. But in a deeper sense of the word, ‘guilt’, we feel the weight of this sin in our hearts, bearing the stain of it upon our immortal soul. In this way, we have been found guilty and full of blame separated forever from God branded forever as a sinner.  The recognition of this state of being allows us to emotionally grapple with our sinful nature.
  2. Sorrow – When we recognize our sin and the damage it has done in our life can we then feel the sorrow over our sin; broken before God and in God’s eyes ready to be molded and shaped through this emotional response of sorrow.
  3. Remorse – Taking ownership of our sin and the damage it has done in our lives can we begin to feel remorse, falling deeper into the limous test of emotional and spiritual atonement.
  4. Mourning – In this level of emotional and spiritual unity can our hearts now meaningfully cry out to God in true repentance of the sin which our human nature clings so readily to. It is here in this state of being can we come before God and truly confess our sins and for the first time in this process acknowledge Jesus as our savior, but more importantly willing confess our need for a savior.

Question: “Can there be true forgiveness without there first being a true sense of mourning?”

Consequence to Receiving a Blessing

28 “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28 (NRSVACE)

In many ways, our sin which is part of our earthly condition forces us into a never-ending cycle of contrition. We who are born in sin can never truly walk away from it and become sinless, hence the need for salvation, the need for a savor, and the need for forgiveness. Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that it is not enough to understand where we stand within sin as a sinner but to also comprehend the love it took to pardon all of us sinners from Jesus’s death on the cross to this very day. For it is Jesus who took on our sin so we might have hope for salvation and sit at the table with God everlasting. Each and every blessing found in the Beatitudes cost God His son’s life, the consequence far exceeds any amount we as sinful humans could ever pay on our own or together. In fact, every person on Earth could stack their wealth up in a huge pile and offer it to God and it would still pale in comparison to the cost of one sin, let alone the thousands each one of us does in the span of our lifetime. Therefore, it is a priceless blessing that God bestows upon those of us Christians who understand this dynamic and are obedient in the taking on of our sin; the understanding of the necessity of giving that sin to God on an hourly, daily, weekly, and even a yearly basis; never ceasing to understand how much God loves us and how much we need His divine love and forgiveness. The consequence for Jesus was to die and the consequence of his death for us was life everlasting so that we could be comforted while we live here on this earth.

Question: “In what way has this gift of being blessed impacted you the most?”

“For they will be comforted.”

It is truly a blessing I tell you, my brothers and sisters, when we are in such communion with God that we are in agreeance over our own mortal sin. It is truly a blessing when we take responsibility for our sin and fall on our face before God in deep sorrow confessing that sin to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The blessing of comfort can be found in all areas of our lives, from the hard decisions we face not knowing which way to go, or which path to take, to the last act we do before passing away. Comfort is found in a life well lived, in the knowledge your sins have been commuted and the Gates of Heaven have been opened to you, to even feeling Jesus’s hand in yours as he brings you into Him. Comfort is found in the understanding that our salvation extends to the healing of this despicable condition our hearts are in. Comfort is found within the relief of this never-ending cycle of sin which is our reality here on this earth. The human condition can never be understated but so too can the blessing of God never be lacking in its ability to free us from that condition.

The Relational God

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’ ~ Matthew 19:26 (NRSVACE)

In my life when I am given a choice and I know that no matter what I do it will be a sin, thus being boxed into sin, I have always chosen to pray to God for His divine strength and understanding, I have asked Him to give me the knowledge and strength to do His will. I write this because we have a God who cares, a God who loves, and God who is relational. Our Lord so wants to be apart of everything we experience in our lives, to teach us His divine ways, to mold us into better human beings. God so wants to take on your worries, your problems, your roadblocks, and your sin. Because our God is relational He can relate to you in a way no one else here on earth can. God is forever, the master of the universe, and your personal savior. In God, there is nothing you cannot do or accomplish.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

FullSizeRender (1)

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

From Beatitudes to Attitudes: Part 1

It’s All About Perception

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:3 (NRSVACE)

Question: What does it mean to be ‘poor in spirit’?

At first take many of you my brothers and sisters might think it’s being faithless, not have a strong belief in Jesus or in God. Some of you might say that Jesus instructed us to be strong in our spirit as in seeking only spiritual riches, and thus logically speaking not to do such would be being poor in spirit; not seeking, not believing. Yet in the Beatitudes we are being instructed to be poor in spirit.

If for a moment we look at Matthew 6:21;

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

This further indicates that being poor in spirit is not seeking spiritual richness. For if I am spiritually bankrupt; which Jesus warned against, my heart will be hardened to His divine message and I will be truly lost. However, If I am carrying my own cross then my heart is with God… right?

Not so fast! Jesus being the master teacher gave us a parable to gage this first Beatitude with;

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector

9 “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~ Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSVACE)

Question: ‘What is this parable really saying and how does it relate to Matthew 5:3’?

Take a moment and think deeply, pray on it and ask God for His insights. Let it sink into your heart without distraction.

Back to Beatitude Basics

Each part of the first eleven Beatitudes Jesus starts with a blessing; a commendation. To be ‘poor in spirit’ means to be humble before God. It means you have accepted your spiritual bankruptcy before the face of God and have come to Him with a sincere acceptance that you are sinners first. To Jesus, this is commendable worthy of His praise. People who are humble never boast, never taught, never think of themselves above all others, and most of all humble people listen intently to every word that comes from God allowing it to envelop every aspect of their lives.  To be ‘poor in spirit’ is an honest confession of your sins and is the deepest form of repentance. Think about how wrong the Pharisee had this very idea and how right the tax collector had it.

Let us all be ‘poor in spirit’, coming to our God with the deepest form of repentance and humility before our God. Truly I say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, this is so relevant to us today as it was during the time of Jesus. I absolutely love how Jesus divided each of the first eleven Beatitudes into two distinctly different parts. The first is a blessing/Commendation, the second is a reward.

Blessing/Commendation:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit…’

If you read between the lines you will hear the words that Jesus did not say… i.e. His attitude towards those who cast off the worldly riches and instead humbled their hearts and followed Him. To those people in all time periods, Jesus is saying to us through His blessing/commendation that, ‘I hear you.’ How wonderful is it to know that God hears us, that God loves us, that God blesses us the unworthy.  How blessed we are to have Jesus who is love, is hope, is forgiveness, and mercy all rolled up into one. How truly blessed we are to have Him as our Lord and Savior.

Reward:

‘…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

 When we humble ourselves in every aspect of our lives and seek with sincerity to emulate Jesus in Heart, Mind, Body, And Spirit, with all our strength we are truly changed, we become open to Gods many blessings and He, in turn, begins to mold us into a more perfect version of ourselves, a version more Christ-like. In this, we find our reward, and to those ‘poor in spirit’ i.e. ‘humble in spirit’ our reward is eternal life in heaven. With the proper attitude, you can truly move mounts and change the world. In Christ, there is nothing we cannot do or accomplish.

In Reflection – Desire to Grow

I often wonder how many people changed their attitudes that day once Jesus stopped speaking and moved on. I confess that though I did not witness this event I am still changed after reading how many different ways God can come up with to bless all of us, unworthy sinners. I truly say to you my brothers and sisters, that God loves us so much that He blesses us and rewards us all in the same statement. Jesus has given us the examples, the roadmap to our rewards, he encourages us daily with tiny miracles if only we time to notice, and in all this, he asks for only one thing in return; to acknowledge our sin and to repent.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Anything and Everything is Possible in Christ

LOOK AT WHAT IS POSSIBLE WITH GOD

26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’” ~ Matthew 19:26 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will a moment at which the world for you comes to a crashing halt! Something horrible just happened and in that singular moment, it looks as if everything has been lost! My brothers and sisters in Christ I tell you your world is not lost, no matter what had happened because God loves you in every second of the day, in every moment you live, and in every way you could possibly imagine and not imagine. Need I remind you that there is nothing that could have happened that hasn’t already happened to Jesus, he has seen it all and been through it all and He did so for you and me and all of Gods children. Do not fall into despair, disarray, or needless self-pity for you will be given the strength and the wisdom to move forward regardless of the event that was life changing.

On the other side of the coin, think of a moment where you lost your job, then out of nowhere a person whom you had contacted a while back but had turned you down is now in need of your services. That my brothers and sisters is God calling. How about you meet a person by chance and they begin talking with you only because you said hello and the conversation spills over into a job offer. Hello! That too is God calling! I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters both things have happened to me recently and I am constantly amazed how God is silently working in the background like an awesome software making good on His divine promises. God has never let me down nor left me alone in moments of need, God has always been there for me.  Another perfect real-life experience that happened recently to me was my ex-principal pulled me into the office and said to me that I have one day to secure 17 students for my yearly summer technology class or else she was going to shut it down. I turned to God and asked him to give me the sincerity and wisdom to make this happen for our children. I felt God in that moment and I was given the strength and words to make good on all my promises to my students. So I picked up the phone and talked with countless parents, asked them to call others I did not have phone numbers for. I worked the phones like no bodies business and in the end, God pulled together 21 students. I also was blessed to be given a large donation so the cost could be less of a burden for the parents. God provided as He had promised he would. Ironically, one set of students, (brother and sister) I had asked the parents countless times to send their two children to my class but was rejected over and over because they didn’t have the money to came but somehow, some way God provided for them too because they showed up in the second week and they also received scholarships for the class.  So my brothers and sisters, look at what is possible with God!

Think of it this way, God will move mountains, change the course of mighty rivers, and even bring the hardest heart to bow before Him. God is the armor we all should be wearing, God’s love is what we all need to be in the streets celebrating, God’s might is what we all should respect openly and faithfully every single day. Our God is truly great and anything and everything is possible through His son, our savior Jesus Christ. In terms of money of which most people today are struggling with in these economically challenging times, I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters God provides what you need when you need it! God gives the financial support when you open your heart and mind to the possibility that He is with you and wants to help you. I always am so amazed at the fact that the creator of everything loves us so much that He is willing to be with you, guide you, build you up and support you if not carry you to the finish line if need be. How awesome is that? Money is only a tool printed on green paper that allows us to acquire what we need and to live our lives in our human based society. But God does not follow this standard for His Kingdom is greater and more powerful than anything we humans could devise so why do so many struggles with asking God for help? I tell you the truth my brothers and sisters my life is God centered and I go where he tells me to go, (by the way my life is very mobile), and I do what he tells me to do without question! God is truly with me in everything, in every moment, and in every task that He has given to me to accomplish.

FAITH IN ACTION

11 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ~ Hebrews 11:1 (NRSVACE)

I hope for many things in my life to come true, slowly little by little I see some of those things coming into sharper focus. Many of these things I hope for are on the precipice of becoming reality.  God does not fool around… No he is working hard! Here is an example: Many of you know that I started this blog in 2009 at the height of my struggles with my ex-wife who constantly took me to court to gain sole custody of our only child. She did everything she could and wasted so much money and precious time, forced me to waste so much money and precious time and in the end, she got what she wanted sole custody but it came at a price. What was the price?  Our relationship with our daughter, the direction of her life was redirected into the hell of court when she should have been playing and being a child… FORGET THE MONEY! But as my relationship with my daughter suffered into extinction and she was moved from Los Angeles to San Fransico in 2012 based on a promise my ex-wife had no intention of keeping I lost contact with my daughter and I was emotionally devastated.  See it was for my daughter I left my family in Missouri, it was for her I altered my life so I could be in her life and be a real father; tangible and present! I did not want to raise my daughter in a broken or fractured home, but that is what my ex-wife made happen – what she did and how she did it was needless and pointless! Again, forget the money! But as terrible as that was, as emotionally devastating as that was, and as horrified and upsetting as that was; God had greater ambitions for me that He had laid the seeds for years earlier. I had been a teacher, becoming a better father and human being, I was being molded in such a way so not only could I survive this horrific event, but I could give my daughter the wisdom to survive this horrific event all of which was unseen by my shattered heart. What I hoped for the most was to see my daughter again, reconnect, start from scratch, and give her the peace in her heart that I am still here for her no matter what happens, just like our Heavenly Father. I am proud to report I have reconnected, though I have not still seen her in person, we do communicate and it is the laying of those foundations that will blossom into a beautiful relationship, one stronger than the last, one better than before because it was God made – God supported – God tested!

On that note, I give a huge shout out to all the men and women around the world who suffered and is still suffering from Alienation of Affection by their ex’s and which this horrible suffering ends within our court systems. I hope I live long enough to see this come to fruition.

2351 MIRACLES OF JESUS

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Mark 13: 32-37 (NKJV) 

The Lord is a miracle worker, He is a forgiver of sins, He alone can lift you up in your darkest hour! Look at what God can do!

2351 Supernatural acts of Jesus Christ, revealing and confirming his Messianic credentials, and the coming of God’s kingdom. The miracles of Christ are to be seen as an integral part of his ministry.

CLICK HERE

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

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Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

Relationships

Relationships

6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6(NRSVACE)

In the past several weeks I have been busy contemplating, discerning, and meditating on the direction our Lord will have me go. Many awesome things have happened to me over the last decade at Ascension Catholic School, namely the honor to teach such beautifully inquisitive children who are so much apart of all I have so labored for, for so long of a time. Now that I am transitioning away from Ascension School – (something that is not by my choice),  I find it to be very interesting that it seems the farther I am pushed away from the school the closer I am drawn to Ascension Church;  of which I am a parishioner and lay preacher, and now have been offered to become a Eucharistic Minister as well, one more thing with pleasure and pride I will be contemplating, discerning, and meditating on. So this Sunday this is what I came up with;

REAL RELATIONSHIPS!

Relationships are like a flower, if you water them they will grow, and/or if you ignore them they will die. The same is true of the relationship we all have with our Father in heaven, trust in Him you will prosper, ignore Him you will not. I can honestly say with a clear conscience that I treated my children of Ascension like a delicate flower, pushing them to succeed, to learn Technology, English Language Arts, History, Science, Social Studies, Religion, and yes, Ethics. I taught them from the heart, with love, with respect, and with everything I have. I gave them all I have and more. I created and planned how to bring thoughtful and meaningful lessons which gave substance to their lives. For my ten years there I worked hard every day and answered the call every time I was needed by the Administration, Staff, Parents, and Church Community.  I looked at my job, not as a job but a mission – vocation, and I love everything about it. I write these things because my last day was the best but saddest day for my students ranging in grade level from 2nd – 6th who showed me how much they also love and respect me in their tearful goodbyes. I’m not good with goodbyes and I’m not good with handling tears from children. I was also shown a great amount of love from their parents who also were sad and deeply moved, from their handshakes to their vows of support I know I have been supported by them. I know what it is l