Light the lamp that feeds on the oil of the spirit

Faith is the lost coin that the woman in the Gospel seeks diligently.

We read that she lit a candle and swept her house. After finding it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, inviting them to rejoice with her because she has found the coin that she had lost.

The damage to the soul is great if one has lost the faith or the grace that he has gained for himself at the price of faith.

Light your lamp. “Your lamp is your eye” (Mt 6:22), that is, the interior eye of the soul. Light the lamp that feeds on the oil of the spirit and shines throughout your whole house.

Search for the coin, the redemption of your soul. If a person loses this, he is troubled, and if he finds it, he rejoices.

— St. Ambrose (333 – 309)

Opportunity of Sin

Recently we had our staff retreat for my office. We had a wonderful retreat leader who began the day with some powerful reflections before giving us most of the day to unpack the wisdom and let the Holy Spirit work on us.

The biggest impact might have been a conversion in her own heart throughout the day. She had made an off the cuff remark that maybe wasn’t the fairest to some others in ministry. I didn’t think much of it, but it obviously pierced her heart over lunch that she had done a wrong.

What happened next was to begin the afternoon she completely explained her action, how she came to realize the error of her ways, and that God didn’t shame her. Instead, God asked her a question. The question was this:

“What are you going to do about it?”

We all reflected on the power of God’s mercy, and that it isn’t so much a blank slate of forgiveness to abuse, but really an opportunity. God was inviting her to make a change, to do penance. To make amends.

This struck me as often I find myself apologizing in ministry almost as much as I’m doing the ministry God called me to. My wife Sharon often tells me to stop apologizing and saying sorry for things I don’t need to apologize for. And she’s right, I am often too much a people pleaser and don’t stand up for myself. But I also tell her that I kept screwing up! So I have to apologize!

But I think I often fail at the more critical next step. I often apologize, but I don’t answer God’s question of what am I going to do about it, and then act on it.

So I just spent tonight (when I wrote this) apologizing and seizing the opportunity to act in direct response and make a change. I’m not perfect, far from it. But I can be better, so I need to try.

So I ask you as we wrap this season of Youth Ministry, what opportunity is God placing before you to make a change?

Share and let’s hold one another accountable this summer! #SummerofOpportunity

Don’t Forget About Lunch

It is easy sometimes to forget what’s important. By that I mean drink coffee. Coffee is essential for me.

I love my life, but with a six-year-old and almost two-year-old running wild and gloriously free in my house, I require caffeine. I want to say I enjoy roasting, grinding, smelling, and then making coffee. But not really. Having coffee right now is an act of utility. Maybe one day those finer points of producing a cup of joe will bring deep levels of satisfaction.

But as true as that all is for me, I catch myself often miserable during the day saying, “Did I have coffee yet?” How is that possible? I don’t have a great answer, other than saying it happens. So, the question is what am I to do about it?

On entering a church, or in passing before the altar, kneel down all the way without haste or hurry, putting your heart into what you do, and let your whole attitude say, ‘Thou art the great God.’ It is an act of humility, an act of truth, and everytime you kneel it will do your soul good.

Fr. Romano Guardini

A Prayer of Trust by St. Ignatius

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel
our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of
Your presence, Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for,
living close to You, we shall see
Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556 (via mycatholicstory)

The Power of Confession for Pope Francis

mycatholicstory:

“For Pope Francis it was a great gift that sneaked up on him unnoticed. It was September 21 and, like many young people, 17-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was getting ready to go out with his friends for Students’ Day. But he decided to start the day by visiting his parish church. He was a practicing Catholic who attended the Buenos Aires church of San José de Flores.

When he arrived, he met a priest he’d never seen before. The priest conveyed such a great sense of spirituality that he decided to confess to him. He was greatly surprised when he realized that this was not just another confession, but a confession that awakened his faith. A confession that revealed his religious vocation, to the point where he decided not to go to the train station to meet his friends but instead went home with a firm conviction. He wanted to — he had to — become a priest.

‘Something strange happened to me in that confession. I don’t know what it was, but it changed my life. I think it surprised me, caught me with my guard down,’ he recalled more than half a century later. Bergoglio now has his own theory about that mystery. ‘It was the surprise, the astonishment of a chance encounter,’ he said. ‘I realized that they were waiting for me. That is the religious experience: the astonishment of meeting someone who has been waiting for you all along. From that moment on, for me, God is the one who te primerea — ‘springs it on you.’ You search for him, but he searches for you first. You want to find him, but he finds you first.’”

The above paragraphs are taken from chapter 4 of “Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words,” Pope Francis with Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti (New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 2013), 33-34, 40-41.

A great reflection as we celebrate 24 hours for the Lord!

How many days do I spend dreaming, planning, preparing all the ways I think I can build up God’s Kingdom, while I am literally forgetting to love the person right in front of me? Forgetting to serve in the most basic ways those whom God has placed in my life today?  To do the “small things with great love” as Mother Teresa reminds us?  When I forget to do this, I miss the boat. I miss living the heart of the Gospel in my own life.

Kara Klein, “You Have Called Me to Be Faithful”  http://catholicmom.com/2016/02/17/you-have-called-me-to-be-faithful/

Do you not know that fasting can  master concupiscence, lift up the soul, confirm it in the paths of virtues, and prepare a fine reward for the Christian?

St. Hedwig of Silesia