Category: Meditations

Meditations – June 21, 2017

By Christopher Simon
The Garments of Faith
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”   ~ Ephesians 6:14-15 NIV
We get dressed every morning to prepare for the work of the day, putting on our uniforms, as it were, and dressing appropriately for both the work ahead and the day’s weather. Why not clothe the soul with the protective garments of faith as well? In the grand scheme of things, our immortal soul is worth infinitely more than our corruptible bodies, and thus we should take greater pains to protect it. The faith and knowledge that God loves us and wants us to be well while we carry out His will is a protective garment greater than anything we have in our closets. A great addition to the morning routine is to “gird up your loins” with the garments of faith and thanksgiving, remembering that our primary mission and the very meaning of our life is to love God with all our hearts, and to love our fellow man as we love ourselves. How wonderful that we can put on the garments of faith each day and go out into the world prepared to do God’s work!

Meditations – June 14, 2017

By Christopher Simon
Emptying the Dishwasher
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” ~ Colossians 3:12 NIV
I recently had houseguests who stayed with me for several weeks. It was a blessing to share my house with these good friends who I have known and loved for many years, but our different habits of loading and unloading the dishwasher became a source of real annoyance. It wasn’t that they were leaving dishes in the sink, but that they had the habit of turning the dishwasher off before they left the house, so I couldn’t always tell whether the dishes had been done or not. Eventually we had to talk about it and figure out a way to keep all of us happy.
Loading and unloading the dishwasher is one of those ordinary acts of kindness and consideration that goes a long way towards keeping our relations smooth and friendly. These are the kinds of things that considerate people do as a part of their everyday life. Never underestimate the importance of these
minor things like loading and unloading the dishwasher.
What else in your everyday life has the potential to irritate those around you? Christian love is sometimes seen in the smallest details, such as whether you hang up your coat when you come inside, or whether you replace the roll of toilet paper.

Meditations – June 7, 2017

By Christopher Simon
How Much Is Enough?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”   ~ Matthew 6:25 NIV
In the quest to achieve financial independence and to secure our future, there is a temptation to think that if we could just acquire a certain amount of money (or things), that all would be well. We would then have our precious nest egg and our futures would be safe and secure.
But when it comes to money and material possessions, no amount is ever enough. Human desires are infinite and will always outstrip our current possessions. Maybe that is a good thing insofar as it keeps us moving and striving. But it can also distract us from doing God’s work, and so perhaps we should flip the question around, and not ask “How much is enough?” but rather, “How little will suffice?”
Most of us would be amazed to learn how little it takes to keep us going. A modicum of food, some clothes on our back, and shelter from the storm is more than enough to keep a human body alive and well. All the rest is surplus, and often a distraction from our true mission, which is to love God and our fellow man. Seek what is enough to do God’s work, not what is needed for your greed.

Meditations – May 31, 2017

By Rev. Ray E. Atwood   Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
An Excerpt from Rev. Atwood’s Baccalaureate Address to the UHS Class of 2017
(May 17, 2017)
Jesus didn’t just send the Apostles out into the world. He prepared them first by teaching them about the Kingdom, giving them power to heal the sick and raise the dead, and molding them into a powerful band united by grace and destined for a godly purpose.
You too have been prepared by your parents, pastors, and teachers. Hopefully, your faith community has helped you grow in faith in order to face the reality we call “life.”
To help, I offer advice that I’ve acquired through the years, one lesson for each of the original Twelve Apostles:
You live life only once. There are no do-overs, so think carefully about important decisions, like careers and vocations.
God will send special people into your life. They may be there only for a few weeks, a summer, a year, or four years. And then they’ll be gone. Cherish those people and never take the time for granted.
For those who will marry, remember: love is blind but marriage is a real eye opener.
You will be judged by how well you used your talents. In the drama of life, God will not ask, “What role did you play?” but “How well did you play your part?”
People are more important than things. So look up from your cell phone, I-Pad, computer, or other device once in a while, and pay attention to the person in front of you. Face-to-face is still the world’s best communication.
Forgiveness frees the soul from anxiety and bitterness, so be sure to forgive anyone who needs forgiving before you leave home, school, a job, a community, or wherever you find yourself.
Life is like a maze, with many twists and turns. Faith is the map that will get you through it.
Every person, the smartest and the silliest, the talented and the treacherous, the courteous and the obnoxious, is made in God’s image and likeness. Remember that, and act accordingly.
Your parish is your spiritual family. The Lone Ranger was an old TV show rather than a way of life.
You don’t become “the best” by acclamation; you earn that title through hard work, grit, determination, skill, and grace.
Know your weaknesses. Satan does, and that’s where he will come at you.
Never judge another person’s soul. You will be surprised who makes it to heaven and who doesn’t.
It is cliché to say you young people are “the future.” You are also “the present,” and the world you are entering needs you to be present, with all the gifts and knowledge you have acquired.
May you go forth from here, like Isaiah, to make deserts rejoice and bloom (35:11), beat swords into plowshares (2:4), and extend prosperity like a river (66:2).
God bless you.

Meditations – May 24, 2017

By Rev. Ray E. Atwood   Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
Love is not automatic
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning; we should love one another (1 Jn. 3:11).
There are lots of “automatics” in our lives, including automatic dish washers, automatic washing machines, and automatic software updates. But some things are not automatic. Love is one of those things. Love is not automatic. Love is not like a glittering jewel, which shows its luster without any effort on our part. Rather, it is like a seed that is planted, grows daily, renews itself through storm and wind, rejoices in its blossoms, thrills to its fruits, dies to itself in winter, and arises to new life in the spring. Love must undergo a continual transformation, or it will become dull and lifeless.
Love must cry or it dies. It thrives on crisis. A crisis can bring out the best or the worst in us. Love is transformed in crisis, such as the birth of a child, sickness, sorrow, quarrels, and even following the death of one’s partner. Love is not like a plain, but instead like a succession of valleys and mountains. The story of love can seem like a roller coaster ride. Love in the spiritual order is not one continual ascent in joy to God. Instead, it is a journey through the thorns and thickets of trials, and struggle against temptation to sin. There would be no resurrection or ascension without a crucifixion.
When Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration saw Our Lord’s face shine like the sun and his garments white as snow, he wanted to stay in the mountain. He offered to set up three tents. But Jesus reminded him that one must pass through the winepress of Gethsemene and the darkness of Calvary before enjoying the sweet wine of resurrection and the light of the empty tomb.
There are two great moments of love in Our Lord’s life: one from Bethlehem to Cana, the other from Cana to Calvary. In the first, Mary appears as His only Mother; in the second she appears as the Mother of all people He would redeem. In the first, she is the mother of Jesus because she calls him “my son.” In the second, she is the mother all people when she calls her “your mother.” Cana is the turning point because there she was given the choice of keeping him for herself or delivering him to the world.
In human love there comes a time when something must be lost, when death must come so one can rise to new heights of joy. Many married people are not together enough to know they love each other. They mistake a crisis for the end of love when it is often a doorway to a deeper love.
Our modern life is geared to discontinuity and failure. Life is snuffed out by birth control; love dies in the refusal of sacrifice. But in the meantime there will always be the remnant of true lovers, who will see that as gold is purified by fire, so love is enriched by sacrifice. Love is not automatic. It is a dynamic relationship between God and the people He made for Himself.

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