Daily Mass Project – 4th Week of Advent – Names, Kneelers and Nephews

Aerial of St Albert The Great-11

St. Albert the Great – North Royalton, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd

Presider: Fr. Joshua Trefney, Parochial Vicar

1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14

2nd Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Initial thoughts: The one thing (besides having the most beautiful adoration chapel) that I always liked about St. Albert’s is that their bulletin has a little Lectio Divina for everyone to do for the following week’s readings. So this way, you aren’t just skimming the bulletin – you could take it home and pray with it.

I’ve been to this parish several times since it’s just down the street from my childhood home and I have met a very dear friend of mine in the pews here too. (Hi Ivi!) It’s a gorgeous parish and it is clearly thriving. They are also celebrating their 60th year which is crazy to think that I attended it as a kid (when we couldn’t make it to our home parish of St. Anthony’s) in the late 80’s in just their 28th year.

Homily reflection: Fr. Joshua preached on our names and how we come to be named. Clearly, our parents make this decision but there’s usually a meaning behind why they chose that particular name for us. (A family name, a unique spelling of your name, maybe they even prayed about it before naming you).

Sidenote: Whenever anyone talks about how they got their name, I tell them that according to someone in my family (this story has been disputed by my parents at separate times but SOMEONE said it was true) but apparently they were trying to come up with names for me and the phone rang, either Mom or Dad answered, the person asked for a Michelle, they told them it was the wrong number, hung up and said, “Michelle, that’s a good name. Let’s name her that!” I like to think the story is true even if they dispute its validity.

Back to the homily – Every name has a meaning. The prime example is Moses and burning bush talking to God and God reveals His name “I AM WHO AM.” I am the foundation of all reality, the Creator of the world and everything in it. God also reveals His heart to His people. Emmanuel has a meaning, “God with us.” God is always present and never abandons us. Jesus means, “God saves,” the Savior of the world. Our names define who we are, too.

Another sidenote: One of my most prized possessions is a little wooden plaque with my name on it that says “Godly One.” My parents had one for myself and my siblings and mine hung on my wall above my dresser and I would just stare at it, wondering, “Godly one? Me???” But I still have it to this day and it’s one of the few things I have kept from my childhood that hangs in my room. Who knows where Mom bought it but I will always treasure it.

Fr. Joshua concluded by mentioning that in the book of Revelation, it says that we will one day know the name GOD calls us.

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17.

Holy moments: I had to confirm I wasn’t hearing things when, during the Eucharistic prayer, Fr. Joshua added the names of “St. Raphael and St. Dysmas” after St. Albert. Turns out they’re his patron saints. I have recently learned a lot about St. Raphael the Archangel and so I thought that was a little “sign” that perhaps I was really supposed to be at this particular mass. Plus, it occured at a moment when my mind was wandering (oops!) and this was probably God’s way of hitting me on the head to pay attention.

St. Raphael, pray for us!


80258813_1421636631346333_3376098518065217536_n

St. Charles Borromeo – Parma, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd – Noon mass

Yes I double dipped. And I’m not sorry. 😉

Readings: (See above)

I really wanted to go because my nephew was serving and I sat in the pew with my other nephew which was such a treat. Proud, proud auntie!

I did however manage to sit in a cushioned pew!! Ha! Apparently only a few pews have cushioned seats. Wow, what a treat! It’s the little things…

Presider: Fr. Lou Thomas, Parochial Vicar

Homily Reflection: Well finally, someone preached the homily I have NEVER heard before on St. Joseph but always wanted to. I was just talking to someone about the “house of David” thing and how it just baffled me: Jesus is from the house of David…but it’s Mary’s DNA that’s in him, not Joseph’s. Right? So how can we really say He’s from the lineage of David if that’s Joseph’s line and not Mary’s? That has bothered me to the point of tears in praying about it because I felt like I was questioning the entire Incarnation. Fr. Lou explained that in those days, it’s not like anyone would ever question family lineage by DNA. There was literally no difference between a biological father, a foster father, a guardian father, etc. You’re the father? You’re the father. Period. So that really helped me understand it better.

Holy Moments: The sign of peace with my 6’2″ nephew and watching my other nephew serve and carry the cross. “I volunteered to carry the cross for you, Auntie!” My heart was leaping. Also, the Communion Chant was “O Holy Mary.” SO beautiful and one I know I’ve never heard before in my other mass experiences. And kudos to the violinist. I’d love to hear a violinist at every liturgy. Outstanding job!

St. Joseph, pray for us!


holyangels1

Church of the Holy Angels – Bainbridge, OH – 9am – Monday December 23rd (Chapel mass)

My former parish! I saw some good friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Always nice to see familiar faces.

Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

Presider: Fr. Max Cole Pastor and Deacon Vince Belsito

Homily Reflection: Deacon Vince gave a great homily about the question in the Gospel, “What will this child be?” He used a real life example of the only child in the chapel for mass that day and asked the mother if she ever wonders what her child will be. Deacon Vince is a teacher so he always wondered that of his students. Heck, I’m still wondering what will become of me and I’m 41!

In the meantime, he asked that we reflect on that question and I remember thinking, “I don’t need to write any of this down because for sure I’ll remember it.”

Well, I can’t recall anything else from that homily so that’s about it. In my defense, I wasn’t preparing to blog about it so that’s my excuse.

Holy Moments: During the prayers of the faithful, the priest asks for the people in attendance to speak their prayers out loud if they wish so it’s always interesting to me to hear what specific prayers people are asking for. There was always one woman when I would attend there who every single mass would pray “For the lost souls and those separated from the church, that the light of God shine upon them.” So even if no one felt like speaking up, she would always say that, without fail. This particular mass was for a gentleman’s mother who passed and so he spoke up and thanked everyone for supporting him and thanked us all for praying for her. So while some may say it’s a distraction to others to hear all of these prayers being said out loud (one at a time of course), I did appreciate hearing from him since I could remember her when it came time for the Eucharist.

Bonus material: So here’s a question to ponder: If you have a chapel with kneelers, should they be used? I noticed that only a few of us knelt during the Eucharistic prayers and everyone else remained standing. Maybe this is because in the Worship Space, there are no kneelers. So it’s what people are USED to. But, I was told by a priest once: “If you have kneelers, you use them.” Why not have the presiding priest simply suggest, “If you are able, please kneel?” That would seem to solve that issue. Speaking simply for myself, it helps me enter in more fully to this mystery that I’m about to take in the precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. I can reflect and think about that much more deeply when I’m in a posture of humility, is all I’m saying. Feel free to comment and tell me otherwise!

In the meantime, my prayer is that someday a tabernacle will be placed in the sanctuary. And maybe some kneelers too. 😉

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.


 

Daily Mass Project Returns – 2nd & 3rd Week of Advent

Merry Christmas to you all. It’s been almost two months since my last post and as I’ve mentioned before, I despise it when people have blogs and only blog literally a few times a year. Irks me to no end.

I have gone back and forth about completely deleting the site. But then something happens and I’m back to blogging on a temporary basis.

I have also expressed a few times that nothing made me happier than to do The Daily Mass Project almost 3 years ago now. 85 parishes in a year and a half and it was absolutely the most fun, most fulfilling project I have done. And it’s STILL on the bucket list to convert all the blog entries into a PDF or ebook or an actual book. Someday…

It was something that gave this site some purpose and I know a few friends had asked if I would ever start it up again here in Detroit. There’s really no way it can happen on a regular basis, BUT, I am going to try to blog about the masses I do make it to that aren’t at my home parish of OLGC. And it turns out, with Advent and Christmas and New Years, I have already attended a handful that could use a little blog.

So for the next few weeks, I hope you enjoy this temporary resurrection of the DMP.


IMG-8722

St. John Neumann – Canton, MI – Second Sunday of Advent – December 8th 2019, 6pm

Celebrant: Fr. Mark Livingston, Pastor

I first visited SJN almost a year ago and wrote about that mass here.

This time, since it was a Sunday mass and not a daily, the experience was much different.

1st Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

2nd Reading: Romans 15:4-9

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Initial thoughts:  It struck me as a parish that’s very similar to OLGC (where I belong) in that there are projector screens that advertise upcoming events and such. There are cards in each pew that encourage you to take notes during the homily, and the cantor announced at the beginning to “greet your neighbor and ask if they have a prayer request.”

Well, I introduced myself to my pew neighbors and asked the people behind me if they have any prayer intentions and they both said, “No. But thanks for asking!” I couldn’t help but laugh a little because I was kind of hoping THEY would ask me what MY prayer intentions were. And I had a big one so I thought well, God knows my heart so I’ll just keep this intention to myself.

So this was the first mass I was using my new Every Sacred Sunday journal and it has been well worth the money. There’s space to take notes for the homily but there’s also space to write prayers of thanksgiving and another space for your prayer intentions. There’s also room to do some Lectio Divina with all of the readings too. So for any hubbies out there looking for a belated Christmas gift for your wives….Just sayin!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Mark emphasized 3 aspects of who we are in regards to the readings: Baptized, Chosen and Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism: Individually and collectively we members of the Body of Christ and John the Baptist baptism was about emptying ourselves. Jesus’ baptism is about emptying completely and being filled up with Him.

As far as being Chosen, all of us have been chosen by God. All are called, but maybe some unbaptized people haven’t placed themselves up for adoption. (I loved that point!)

We know we are all filled with the Holy Spirit and all of the gifts and graces that the Lord has given us. But why? So we can live the life for heaven and be with Him forever. God doesn’t want us to live a quasi-happy life. We are to live the life of heaven, NOW.  Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re living heaven now. So that’s when we need to ask for healing and come back to the Sacraments. To repent and ask the Lord to stir a flame in us. Father then mentioned that he pictures us all with tongues of fire above our heads and to pray to give us MORE of that. “Make the temple shine! Stir a flame in me! Re-inkindle all your gifts in me and help me to live in your light and truth.”

Holy Moments: Right before the Eucharistic preface, Father Mark asked us to focus on what was about to happen; to place all of our petitions and prayers right there at the altar to be transformed and to focus on what God is trying to say to us. I think it may have been one of the best masses as far as keeping my attention fixated on every word he spoke. I think it also helps sometimes, when we are at mass that isn’t our “normal” parish. I find it easier to drift in daydream land when I’m in a familiar place.

He also mentioned in the homily (or at some point because I wrote it down) to picture Jesus before us and ask Him to speak a word of love to us after we receive Holy Communion. I’ll keep mine to myself but let’s just say, that’s now my new favorite post-communion prayer.

Bonus material: 81996270_10218170392868752_2322874916774346752_o

So someone needs to ask Fr. Mark or someone at SJN what the meaning is behind this stained glass window. Inquiring minds want to know. My money is on that it’s an homage to the working class and that’s St. Joseph the Worker. Right? Maybe?


cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini – Allen Park, MI – Third (Gaudete) Sunday of Advent – 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Steve Mateja assisted by Fr. Luis Flores, Permanent Deacon

1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10

2nd Reading: James 5:7-10

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Initial thoughts: I’ve been here before but not for an 8am mass. The set up is a little odd with rows of pews on all sides facing the sanctuary. And apparently no one likes to sit in the first few rows of any Catholic Church because they were bare up until 10 minutes to 8. And even then just a handful of folks sat in them.  I love the silence of an 8am mass. Literally counted 2 children in attendance. Awesome.

Homily Reflection: (Given by Deacon Luis) I was hoping for a homily given by Fr. Steve since he’s being sent to a parish in Macomb County in town called Armada. I’m told that’s very far away. And looking at Google maps right now, it is confirmed: It’s super far away. So since we wouldn’t be seeing him until a long-distance Daily Mass Project in the spring perhaps, this was my chance to hear him preach. Alas, it was not to be. But, the Deacon gave a nice homily and had I known I’d be blogging about it, I would have taken better notes. Overall, the theme was rejoicing and joy, considering it was Gaudete Sunday. He says (and I’m just guessing that he’s right) that the word “rejoice” appears in the bible over 300 times. He also mentioned the difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is the feeling we get whereas joy is based on faith, and faith is a gift from God. Joy comes from the heart and God won’t take that away from us. God has this amazing love for us that should compel us to pray everyday, “Lord, use me in whatever way is needed.”

Holy Moment: Not so much a holy moment as much as just funny that during the sign of peace, I was SO FAR AWAY from people, these pews are ridiculously long and people are SO spread out, that no one made their way over to me to give the sign of peace, we all just sorta gave that look that says, “Oh hey, peace be with you, I’m sure you’re a great person but you are just so darn far away and I just don’t feel like making the effort to take the 10 steps to walk over to shake your hand and you may be sick anyways and I don’t want to catch whatever it is you have so peace be with you okay?” 🙂

I just happened to read one of Fr. Steve’s last bulletin entries a few days before and in it he said that upon his arrival there a year ago, he had asked everyone to pray one Hail Mary a day for him specifically. I guess a lot of the parishioners kept that promise. And so now I am trying to say one Hail Mary for Fr. Steve, especially during this time of transition.

You should all be praying for our priests, by the way. And if you aren’t, get on it. They need them and WE need them.

Here’s a great one from the CLE diocese that’s a prayer for priests and seminarians:

74480989_495207201336305_6893263969952202752_o

St. John Vianney, patron of priests and seminarians, pray for us!


Next week: I visit 3 familiar parishes in Cleveland – Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge, St. Albert the Great in North Royalton and St. Charles Borromeo in Parma.

Screaming Babies, Losing Breviaries and Bishop Wisdom – Daily Mass Project

Assumption Grotto Church – Detroit, MI- December 8th -Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Tridentine Mass

Founded in 1832, this is the second oldest parish in the city of Detroit.

assumption-grotto-catholic-church

elektralite_assumption_grotto_web5

Celebrant: Fr. Perrone

Initial Thoughts: Ahhhh I love a good Latin mass. I was recently gifted a chapel veil so I was happy to have an excuse to wear it. I didn’t get any close up shots of the sanctuary or the stained glass but I remember just staring at those two windows up in the front and thinking what vivid colors! They reminded me (and yes this is a silly memory) but they reminded me of Rainbow Brite. And that reminded me of my childhood. And THAT reminded me of being a child at mass. Just made me feel nostalgic for the past. When the mass is being said in a language you don’t understand, there’s probably no better time than to have some of these “holy moments.”

I never tire of the reverence at these masses. It’s such an experience. I wish I could adequately put into words how these masses make me feel but I suppose that’s not really the point. It’s an experience of God that really can’t be articulated.

Homily Reflection: The only part in English. And it was stellar. I don’t know if you can call it a homily as much as you can call it a Exegesis. I was furiously taking notes but re-reading them now, they don’t make sense so I’m not even going to try.

So how about you just take a look at the pictures of their Marian shrine? 🙂

Apparently this is the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in Michigan:


St. Ambrose – Brunswick, OH – 12pm – 2nd Sunday of Advent

saint-ambrose-church

Celebrant: Fr. Adam Zajac

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

I realize I’ve already blogged about this parish already but this was my first SUNDAY mass.

Quick Notes: Lots of singing at different parts that I wasn’t used to. Of course, I didn’t take any notes on that so now I can’t remember. But I believe they sang “Alleluia” AFTER the Gospel as well as before. And they sang “Lord hear our Prayers” (unless I’m getting my churches confused) after each petition.

Holy Moments: A man and a woman sat down directly behind me in the pews with their two granddaughters. They warned me ahead of time saying: “This is the first time we’ve brought the little ones to mass. So we’ll see how it goes!” The girls were adorable. Probably around ages 18 months and maybe 3. I categorize it as a “Holy Moment” because somehow, God gave me the patience to endure a total meltdown by the smaller girl right at the Eucharistic prayer. I felt worse for the grandparents who did a terrific job but couldn’t possibly have foreseen this little one tripping and falling in the pews (probably got stuck between the kneeler and the pew like so many kids do). They were troopers though. Gratefully, she calmed down by the time communion came around. I always think of how, although we would all admit that we can easily become distracted by “all those crying babies” at Church, the real kudos goes to the parents and grandparents who bring them. I will never give an eyeroll or a nasty look to a parent trying to wrangle their kids at mass. We should be happy and overjoyed to see the pews filled with babies and kids! I’ve grown to enjoy it. (The babies and the kids, not the crying or screaming part). 😉

Homily Reflection:  I wrote down a couple of lines that stuck out to me although you can read his entire homily here.

God is coming into our lives in a new and radical way, in a real and meaningful sense. We must realize that we pushed him out in a real and meaningful sense. Now is the time to acknowledge that we need him. We were made for more than the brokenness of this world.  

Amen Father!


St. Basil – Brecksville, OHClaimed by Love Young Adult Conference – Saturday Morning Mass with Aux. Bishop Roger Gries; Lunch and Adoration with Bishop Nelson Perez – December 17th

IMG_8667

I was honored to be asked to be a part of this Young Adult Conference called Claimed By Love. It was the first YA conference in many years in the Cleveland Diocese and over 130 YA’s ages 18-35 attended. I was asked to be on the vocations panel as a Breakout session. I represented the Single vocation although I did answer questions on my discernment journey of Consecrated Virginity since it’s not well-known vocation. There was also a brother, a seminarian, a married couple and two religious sisters. A great opportunity to hear other vocation stories as well as answer questions from the “kids,” as I call the young adults.

Before all of this, Bishop Gries led us in the Saturday morning mass. Sadly, I didn’t take any notes on his beautiful homily which was a shame because he really had some great reflections on the gospel. (Bad job outta me!)

Fortunately, I did have some great things to write down from a mini-reflection from newly installed Bishop Nelson Perez later on that afternoon during some time of adoration:

He reflected on the 2nd reading for that Sunday which was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, which says:

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Bishop Perez said we could spend an entire day just praying with that reading. He mentioned that no matter what our vocation is, we need to continue to listen to the Lord. To let God do the talking as we listen and wonder “What is God asking of me?” Because it’s not what WE want. It’s what God wants for us. As a baby, one of the first things we learn to say is “I want.” We’re always reaching as babies for what it is we want. But we have to grow out of that as adults. We can’t always say “I want, I want.” Because it might not be what God wants for us.

There was a lot grace poured out at this conference, including a really emotional and powerful testimony from the keynote speaker, Ron Nowak. I would say their first conference was a success and I know they intend to do more in the future. Our Young Adult community in the Catholic Church is very much overlooked, I feel, so it was really great to see them appreciated and to see an event *just* for them.


St Basil the Great – 7:30am – Gaudete Sunday

Nope, that’s not a typo. I went to the same church the following day for the Sunday mass. Honestly I went because I thought (and still believe) I left my breviary there in the pews the day before. Alas, no one turned it in. It was really bothering me because all 4 volumes were gifted to me by my good friend Ivi a year ago and they’ve made such a difference in my prayer life. I like PAPER and BOOKS. Praying with the iBreviary App is just not the same. It’s okay though because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my “precious books” are gifts. Everything is on loan. None of it is mine. So, whoever has my Breviary, I pray you find it to be fruitful for you. (I still have the other 3 volumes, so this isn’t the end of the world). But it’s the principle of the thing. I hate losing anything, especially when it was gifted to me.  Moving on…

Celebrant: Fr. Walt Jenne, Pastor

Initial Thoughts:  “Why am I here so early?” I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Sunday mass earlier than 9am in my life.

Two things that were of interest to me: A monthly prayer from Fr. Walt is prayed before each mass. This one was for Family Healing. The rest are listed here:

IMG_8668

And the names of those in the military and those who are sick are on a banner!

IMG_8669

I noticed they weren’t listed in the bulletin which is my personal preference because you can easily pick it up and read the names to pray for them. But, it is pretty special to see a name on the banner in the worship space, especially if it’s someone you know personally.

Before mass we were asked to stand up and greet one another. My pew neighbor was a man by the name of Scott. Super friendly and hospitable. In fact, Fr. Walt noted that many of the parishioners who join St. Basil’s say it’s because they are drawn to the hospitality of its members.

A little bit on that: Yes yes yes! The past two parishes that I’ve joined since my “reversion” I joined in part because they made me feel welcomed and appreciated from the moment I stepped into the door. I can’t tell you how key it is to have greeters at the Church doors. It sounds so minor (we don’t go to Church to be greeted) but it’s just like a company. I’ve had a ton of receptionist jobs where I was told over and over “You are the face of the company. The way you answer the phone or greet the client/customer when they walk in the door sets the tone for the rest of their experience.” When compared to a Church where no one looks you in the eye and there’s zero “warmth,” not even an acknowledgement of your presence, I’m joining the one that acknowledges my dignity as a child of God.

Homily Reflection: “God uses the anointed. God chooses to work thru those who are anointed (we are all baptized, therefore we are anointed) to accomplish great things. But this is totally dependent on what we DO with what we are given.”  Fr. proceeded to tell the story of the barber who cuts the hair of autistic and disable children. His story went viral when the mother of an autistic boy took a photo of him on the floor with her son.

barber-helps-boy-with-autism-100617_9ba080064356910345faa6898cca099a-focal-560x351

The barber, Franz Jacob was quoted as saying,  “I’m taking great pride doing this. It’s really an honor.”  Fr Walt said that this is a story of what what we do with the gifts we are given to be instruments of God. 


I have officially lost count of the parishes I made it to in Cleveland. I will attempt to get a final count after next weekend when my final one for the year (in CLE) will be the Spanish mass at Sacred Heart in Lorain. My buddy Fr. Mike is the celebrant and having yet to attend a mass in a language other than English (or Latin) I thought why not!

And finally, a shout out to my buddy Brian in Brecksville who has hit the 100 Churches mark. Well done my friend! Only 85 more to go to hit all of them in Cleveland!

 

 

 

The Word is Alive

John 1: 1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas to all the children of God on this most blessed day, the day our savior was born!

 

Fit in your Faith Today:  Be sure to spend some quiet time after the gifts have been unwrapped, after the last sip of egg nog, after the final goodbye to relatives. Spend time in quiet prayer in awe and wonderment at the true meaning of what this day signifies to all of us and to you.

Doing His Will

Today’s Gospel Reading is from the Book of Matthew 21: 28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

I think it’s interesting that God might tell us to do something, yet we fight back and say “No, I don’t want to do this. No, I won’t do this.”  And we later find out that God was right. God knew best, just like a good Father.

The first son in Jesus’ parable says that he will not do as the father says. But he ends up changing his mind and doing it anyway. The second son does the complete opposite by lying and saying he will do his father’s bidding, yet doesn’t.

It’s this example that Jesus gives to show the people at the time that the sinners were following Christ, yet the chief priests and elders wouldn’t listen. They might have known in their hearts that Jesus came to show them love and share the good news, but they didn’t believe in him. They wanted to do things their own way.

The lesson is that we might think or be used to doing things a certain way. Is it the best way? Ask yourself if it’s Christ-like? Take the example of drinking alcohol on the weekends. Not a big deal, right? If it’s something you’ve done for a very long time then you probably don’t want to stop. But what if you notice you behave differently when you drink and you don’t like the person you become when you drink too much? Do your friends tell you that they don’t like the way you act? Or maybe they don’t care to notice? Are you proud of your behavior after a night at the bar?

Could your friends, or even God, be trying to tell you to stop? Listen to the voice that might be asking you to change your ways. You might be reluctant to change. But what God is offering is always the better option. It’s always the best choice.

It might not even be something as serious as drinking. Maybe it’s the way you treat others at your job. Are you judgmental and criticizing of others? Or maybe you just have a bad attitude because you’re not a morning person. Is there something you can do to change that label? It could be the way you always speed in traffic because you’re always running late. Do you think you should slow down so you don’t harm others with your careless driving? These are just small ways you can obey God and show Him that you are open to changing your usual ways.

Fit in your Faith Today: Think of one of your worst habits and take steps to stop it and do what is Godly.

 

Be Like St. John the Baptist

Most people probably don’t think they could possibly be like a saint. They might not describe themselves as being very holy or good or sin-free. But you can be saintly, everyday.

There is a light inside all of us. And each day you have an opportunity to show people that light. For some, it’s barely lit. For others, it’s burned out. But for most, it’s shining as bright as the sun.

To be like a saint, in particular like John the Baptist, you can prepare the way for something (or someone) good to enter someone’s heart. Especially to those whose light is barely shining.

How?

  • Recognize they are hurting, perhaps depressed, bitter, or lonely. Don’t make it about you and your feelings, remember it’s about them.
  • Steer conversations to how they are feeling, what they are doing to get better. Make them do most of the talking.
  • Your role is a listener. Listen as the saints listened. They were silent when God spoke to them. Be that good listener and hear the words your friend is speaking.
  • Show them your light by taking them to lunch. Buy them a small thoughtful gift. Something even as small as a smile and a “How are you doing today?” can mean the world to someone who feels like there is no one they can talk to.
  • The sense of touch can make all the difference. A simple hug/embrace may sound like nothing. And maybe it’s even a little uncomfortable for people who aren’t used to affection. But even a friendly gesture like a hug can brighten someone’s day.

After you leave your friend, you’ll have shown them some of your light. You can be like the saints and like St. John the Baptist and prepare the way for Christ to enter his or her heart. It may seem like no big deal on the outside, but on the inside, that friend is grateful and transformed. And you can say that YOU helped make it happen.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Seek out that person that needs a saint in their life and show them that light inside of you.

Are YOU the one that needs a saint?  Hold that mirror up to yourself and ask what you can do personally to become like the saints. Prepare the way for Jesus to come into YOUR life.

 

Anxiously Awaiting during Advent

Some might think of the “holidays” as a time to be impatient. Some might want to get them over and done with, while others love to enjoy every single day and take it all in because they think it goes by way too fast.

How do you view Advent and Christmastime? Do you get sucked into the materialistic world and think of all the gifts you need to buy or all the gifts you are anxious to receive? Do you ever stop to think about what this time of year is really about?

Although it was just a cartoon, Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is remembered as one of the most popular tv specials of it’s time. It’s repeated on the air at this time of year and I would be willing to bet most people don’t even think about how it is completely centered around Jesus.

Who knew Linus’ closing soliloquy would have such an impact!? All ages can relate. We can all find some comfort in his simple message of the nativity scene.

So don’t be in such a hurry to get this time of year over with. Take each day to wait, anxiously. It’s okay to NOT be patient.

What’s there to be so excited and anxious about, you might ask?! It’s not the anticipation of opening gifts, it’s not the hustle and bustle of standing in shopping lines or even remembering all the cooking you have to do for relatives or the holiday parties you committed to going to.  Those are all exciting and great things. But they have very little to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Remember what Linus said.

It’s the coming of our Savior.  Anxiously await in anticipation of his birth. That’s the best way to fit in your faith this and every Advent season.