Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

A prayer for Ash Wednesday

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence, so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.


~Attributed to William Arthur Ward

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Thoughts on birthdays

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you.” Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.”

On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: “We love you.”

Henri Nouwen

Thoughts on discipline

Cultivating Spiritual Discipline

Minute Meditations: Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash
The word discipline comes from the Latin discere, meaning “to learn.” We need discipline of course in learning a language, a musical instrument, to drive a car or to love and stay in a relationship. Discipline is not helpful if it is imposed by an external force against our will (except perhaps when we are two years old). If it is to work, discipline needs to be freely accepted and followed. This is especially true of a spiritual discipline. And yet without discipline we remain locked under the control of our ego and its repertoire of fears, anxieties, fantasies and desires. We are free only when we can choose to say yes or no from a place of enlightened self-knowledge.
—from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Thoughts on hospitality

Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. . . . The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adore the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thoughts on self worth

You are infinitely valuable to God. God created you. Jesus died for you. God puts his Spirit within you. And God wants you to be with him forever in eternity. That’s quite an investment God has made in you! He would not have done that if you were not of the greatest worth to him.

There are two things that make something valuable. The first is who made it. There’s a huge difference in the value of a Fabergé egg decorated with diamonds and the eggs you dye at Easter with your kids.

“We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). God doesn’t create junk. God created you, and you are good! Before you were born, God planned out your purpose and who he wanted you to be. He does not make mistakes.
The value of something is also determined by what someone will pay for it.

How much is your house worth? It’s worth whatever anybody will offer. How much is a piece of art worth? Only what somebody’s willing to pay for it.

How much are you worth? Jesus Christ was willing to give his life: “He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:19 TLB). If you ever doubt your worth, just look at the cross. Jesus was willing to pay the ultimate price for you. That’s how precious you are to him.

Jesus wants you to treat others as if they have the same value as you—because they do. God created everyone, and Jesus died for everyone. Every person in your life is precious to God, and he loves them unconditionally.
The way you love others will show them just how valuable they are to God.

Rick Warren

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Thoughts on inner truth

Claim Your Truth
It seems crucial that you realize deeply that your worth and value does not depend on anyone else. You have to claim your own inner truth. You are a person worth being loved and called to give love, not because anyone says so . . . but because you are created out of love and live in the embrace of a God who didn’t hesitate to send his only son to die for us. . . . Your being good and worthy of love does not depend on any human being. You have to keep saying to yourself: “I am being loved by an unconditional, unlimited love and that love allows me to be a free person, center of my own actions and decisions.” The more you can come to realize this, the more you will be able to forgive those who have hurt you and love them in their brokenness. Without a deep feeling of self-respect, you cannot forgive and will always feel anger, resentment, and revenge. The greatest human act is forgiveness: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Forgiveness stands in the center of God’s love for us and also in the center of our love for each other. Loving one another means forgiving one another over and over again.

Henri Nouwen

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Thoughts on change

We Cannot Run from Ourselves

Minute Meditations | Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash
Sometimes, no matter how hopeful I am about the future and the many changes I want to make in my life, within a few months I find myself back exactly where I was before. For years this frustrated me. Hope inevitably turned to disappointment. I couldn’t understand why, no matter how many times I moved, the same problems kept happening. Then a spiritual director shared an old quip: “Wherever you go, there you are.” As much as we would like to place the blame for our problems on some external factor, the cause of our problems often lies within us. It doesn’t matter where we live, what we do for a living, or who we associate with, we cannot run from ourselves. If we have anger in our hearts, we can run from our past enemies, but we will most certainly find new people with whom to fight. If we struggle with authority, we can change jobs, but we will undoubtedly have new problems at our next one.
—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Casey Cole, OFM

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thoughts on success

Jesus Never Promised Success

Minute Meditations | Image by MikesPhotos from Pixabay
At no point in the Gospel does Jesus tell us that if we follow him our lives will be filled with success or that people will like us for it. Quite the contrary, actually! We follow a man who came to share the love of God with the world through healing and forgiveness, but was rejected by the religious elite, betrayed by his closest friends, and murdered as a common criminal. This is not simply Jesus’s fate many years ago, but ours today. “Take up your crosses daily,” he tells us. While there is nothing wrong with hoping for success in our lives, our faith is destined for problems if it becomes an expectation we cannot live without. The road of discipleship is filled with failure; if we demand that our lives be successful, we won’t make it very far.
—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Casey Cole, OFM

Monday, February 3, 2020

Thoughts on getting help

We Need Help to Get Through the Day

Minute Meditations | Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
We are weak. We are vulnerable. We need tremendous help just to survive the day. Everything we have and everything we do is the result of Jesus loving us first, of him giving us the strength we need to continue. When we hide our flaws even from ourselves, believing even for a second that we don’t have any or that our flaws are so minuscule that we do not need help from anyone, that we possess within ourselves all the strength we will ever need to live a happy and healthy life, we unwittingly cut ourselves off from the true source of strength: the grace of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t think we need help, we’ll never feel compelled to ask for it. What a shame it would be to stop asking God for help.
—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Casey Cole, OFM