A Simple Thought about Inner Peace

September 16th, 2016 Posted in writing | No Comments »

Though plenty of things these days can cause us to be upset and fearful, the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians ask us to “ let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts” (Colossians, chapter three). Notice that Paul doesn’t say we have to create this peace on our own. Instead, he tells us to let Christ’s peace reign.

We do this when we open the doors of our hearts to accept the bedrock conviction of our faith, namely, that God loves us completely and entirely and that nothing can separate us from that love (Romans 8). When we do this, we find that Christ’s peace is the antidote for worried minds and disturbed souls.

So, though the world may provide us a diet of bad news about things that can worry and upset us, Christ’s peace can still reign in our hearts and minds if we ask the Holy Spirit to help us remember the profound truth about God’s abiding love and accept that truth into our lives.

Measuring Trust

July 17th, 2016 Posted in writing | No Comments »

We print “In God We Trust” on our paper money and inscribe it on our coins. But if we wish to have a genuine measure of how deep our trust in God is, we should look at who and what we entrust to God.

Opportunities to entrust people and things to God come in many circumstances and on many occasions. We entrust our children to God at their baptism and continue to pray for their safety each day. When we discover our most important loves, relationships and dreams we can place these, too, into God’s hands. When we gather as a community for the funeral of someone we have loved, then along with our grieving, we try to entrust them to the love and care of the One who created them. Finally, we can entrust ourselves into God’s care like Jesus, who said on the cross, “Into Your hands I commend my spirit.”

So, the measure of our trust in God is not what we put on our money but our willingness, with God’s grace, to entrust ourselves, our loves and our hopes to the God who promises to protect and watch over them, and us, forever.

It would be wonderful if we could do this all at once and with ease. But the truth is that we have a difficult time learning to put people or things into God’s hands. We persuade ourselves that we’re powerful enough or smart enough or talented enough to protect what we love without God’s help. Or we may think that if we put our loves into God’s care then we should no longer feel love and attachment to them. But that’s a mistake, for entrusting them to God is in itself an act of love for them and brings them closer to us and us to them.

Sometime this week, ask yourself, “Who or what have I entrusted to God? Who or what do I presently need to entrust to him?”

From Garden to City

May 24th, 2016 Posted in writing | No Comments »

Aristotle said that human beings are, by nature, “political” animals. The term comes from the Greek word “polis,” which means “city,” so he was really saying that we human beings are city-makers and city-dwellers, who spontaneously come together to share our lives with each other, living not as isolated individuals or members of tiny kinship groups, but in communities that go beyond the individual and the family.

In the Bible, the story of the human race begins with a single individual, then two, then their offspring. But though Genesis locates the start of our history in a garden (Eden), the Book of Revelation says it will end in a city (the new Jerusalem). It will descend from Heaven already prepared for us, a city of massive proportions and perfect symmetry, built on twelve foundation stones and having twelve gates. In that place, God will live with us and we with him and with each other for all time. God himself will be the light of the city; it will not depend on the sun or moon for light, for God will be the source of never-ending day in this city of perfect beauty.

And though it will not be a city we can claim to have built by ourselves, we may presume that our good desires, our love for others and for God, our sacrifices and our deeds of justice and mercy will provide material out of which God can build and adorn that new Jerusalem.

In our time, when there is so much division, mistrust, hatred, and demonizing of others, it’s heartening to remember that we have a city waiting for us where our deep, God-given desires to be connected with others will, finally, come to full reality. We and God will live together there forever, and the love we have shown and the good we have done will enrich and beautify it.

God’s Three Voices

April 25th, 2016 Posted in writing | No Comments »

Last week I overheard a mother at a grocery store speak to her little girl who was talking loudly, “Audrey, let’s use our indoor voices, ok?” Audrey got the message and lowered the volume.

Children learn they have both indoor and outdoor voices and parents generally tell them which ones they should use in a given situation. In a recent reading at Mass Jesus said that his sheep would listen to his voice and follow him. Does God, then, also have an outdoor voice and an indoor one?

If God does, then I guess that God’s outdoor voice would probably be the whole of Creation: the stars, the planets, the laws of physics and chemistry, the movement of oceans and continents, and all the intricate, fundamental things too marvelous and too important to ignore.

God’s indoor voice might be the one he uses when he speaks to our consciences, when he engages our sensitivities to others and our desires to do good, or when we see something beautiful or meet a friend we haven’t seen for awhile. These can all be God’s indoor voice.

But there remains a third voice that God can use, the one Elijah heard as he stood at the opening of his cave and heard God speaking in the tiny sound of the breeze. God uses that voice to speak quiet words of forgiveness, acceptance, love, trust and encouragement. The Father used it when he told Jesus, “You are my Beloved and I am pleased with you.”

There are those who’ve never been able to hear the voice of God, know where it comes from or discover what it means. But if we do hear God’s voice and recognize it as God’s, then whatever voice God uses, we can not only be grateful to hear it, but listen for the invitation to come closer to the One who is speaking.

A New World

March 12th, 2016 Posted in writing | No Comments »

Sometimes in winter a person can feel caught in an endless cycle of sameness. In January and February, cold and gloomy days succeed each other unremittingly and wear people down. It can certainly be that way in Wisconsin, where, as winter drags on, one senses in people a yearning for the sun to come out more than once every ten days, for the temperature to go up and stay there and for the ice and snow to finally melt. In Milwaukee winters, one learns to long for spring.

But a few days ago, I heard a different voice in the second letter to the Corinthians, where St. Paul wrote, “Look! Everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5). If that’s so, then no matter how gloomy or depressing the weather may be, the deeper truth is that a new world has come into being through Christ — a world where reconciliation, not anger, rules the day, and where the empty tomb of Easter and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost have created a world of love and life. St. Paul tells us to open our eyes. If he’s right about this new world, then if we look long enough and hard enough we’ll see it all around us

And in this Christ-created world, faith, hope, and love take on new meanings. Faith means believing God has really made a new world, despite all appearances to the contrary. Hope means trusting that this new world will grow ever stronger and will last. And Love means living in such a world with tender and forgiving hearts. If St. Paul is telling the truth, then there’s a fresh creation to be experienced and embraced right now, no matter what the weather may be.