You Don’t Need A Bible To Evangelize

From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser:

 

The task of taking God to others is not that of handing somebody a Bible or some religious literature, but of transubstantiating God, the way we do with the food we eat. We have to digest something and turn it, physically, into the flesh of our own bodies so it becomes part of what we look like. If we would do this with the word of God, others would not have to read the Bible to see what God is like, they would need only to look at our faces and our lives to see God.

 

Fit In Your Faith Today: When was the last time someone asked you why you are a Christian? Or why you go to mass? Do you think others find you unapproachable when it comes to asking these questions? As the passage above suggests, we wouldn’t even need to hand out reading materials to anyone who questions our faith, they would just need to see the way we treat people, the way we spend our free time, the ways in which we interact with those less fortunate, etc., to see where and how God is a part of our lives.  Think of ways you can show how God is at work in your life by putting your faith into action.

National Day of Prayer

national-day-of-prayer

Today is National Day of Prayer. It’s a good time for me to post my personal favorite prayer. But since I have quite a few, I thought, what the heck, why not post all of them? 🙂

Grant me, O Lord, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

St. Thomas Aquinas

 Let us therefore give ourselves to God with a great desire to begin to live thus, and beg him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish his life within us.

St. John Eudes

Say to him: Jesus, look upon the stones, the thorns,and the weeds that I have, but look also upon this small piece of ground that I offer to you so that the seed may enter my hearts.

Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it.

Pope Francis

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – My Savior and My God! 

Psalm 42:5

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do no lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them. Everyday begin the task anew. 

St. Francis de Sales

Fit In Your Faith Today: Take 5 minutes to pray on this National Day of Prayer. Pick one or a few or even all of the prayers I listed above or seek out your own favorite prayer. Offer it up to someone that needs your intention today. You could pray for the leaders in office, you could pray for someone in your family or a close friend, you could pray for the Nepal earthquake victims or you could pray for a certain social justice issue to be resolved. As they saying goes, “Pray for those who don’t believe in Jesus. They need it the most.”

The Four Nonnegotiable Pillars of the Spiritual Life

Excerpt from The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality

Four essential pillars undergird any healthy Christian spirituality. These are universally prescribed spiritual challenges and are revealed by Christ as being nonnegotiable elements within Christian discipleship. What are they?

We see that Jesus was prescribing four things as an essential praxis for a healthy spiritual life: 

a) Private prayer and private morality

b) social justice

c) mellowness of heart and spirit

d) community as a constitutive element of true worship 

These are not elements we may choose or not choose to incorporate within our spiritual lives. They comprise the essence of the spiritual life. They also supply its balance. Only when all four of these are present in our lives are we healthy, as Christians and as human beings.

We can spend our whole life trying to live out all 4 of these pillars without 100% success. But the point of this section of the book is to understand that if we call ourselves Christians, THIS is what Jesus wants us to strive for. The Christian who has all 4 of these things present in their spirituality, they are the living the ideal Christian life. Chances are, though, that we are lacking in at least one of the 4 areas.  I know I certainly am, especially the part about social justice. But there’s hope! We can identify this absence and work on incorporating it into our lives.

For example, let’s say you’re like me and you do everything listed above except you do not have a passion for social justice. You aren’t the type to sign petitions or stand in front of a courthouse holding a sign or perhaps you don’t feel you are outgoing enough to take a stand. You can fix that by joining a group at your church that holds vigils outside abortion clinics or a group that helps the homeless by taking them meals at local shelters. You don’t have to be on the “front lines” to still take part in social justice. Personally, I was always pro-life in my mind but I never vocalized this opinion to too many people. Recently, and especially after reading Theology of the Body, I am very adamant and quite passionate about preventing abortions in society today. I also look at issues like human trafficking and capital punishment in a different light. Understanding that Jesus wants us to stand up for what He believed and what we as Christians believe has ignited a fire in me to take action.

You might recognize that you are passionate about social justice issues, you have mellowness of heart and spirit, and you pray everyday privately and you obey the commandments. However, you might be the kind of person that doesn’t actually go to church. (Letter D above). You might not “believe” in it. Some people think, “I don’t want to be among all those hypocrites,” or “I prefer to worship in private.”  Here are the authors thoughts on this:

The grounding, earthiness, and necessary pain that only real involvement within a concrete, parish-type family can give you [is what is missing from the life of a person who does not attend a church]. In parishes, we do not get to pick who we will be standing beside as we worship and celebrate various things together. A parish-type family is a hand of cards that is randomly dealt to us, and precisely to the extent that it is truly inclusive, will include persons of every temperament, ideology, virtue, and fault. Also, church involvement, when understood properly, does not leave us the option to walk away whenever something happens that we do not like. It is a covenant commitment, like a marriage, and binds us for better and worse. 

Fit in Your Faith Today: Examine these 4 Pillars  and ask yourself where you are lacking.  Pick up a copy of the book if this peaks your interest and you want to learn more! This exercise isn’t meant to make you feel inadequate or guilty. It’s meant to enhance your relationship with God and examine your spirituality as a Christian. It’s changing my life for the better; think about what it can do for you and for others!

Do You Desire Holiness?

This is an excerpt taken from Patty Schneier’s talk “Prove it, God…and He did!”

Do I desire holiness? Do I even want it? Do I search for holiness in my life?

Do you search for holiness like a mother would search for her missing child?

Do you struggle for holiness as if your head were being held underwater, how that person would struggle and fight to come up for air with every ounce of his being? Do you struggle for holiness like that?

Holiness is being nothing more than what God intended me to be in my everyday life.

How can one become more holy in their day to day life? It starts with prayer.

A day without quiet, reflective, meditative prayer time everyday makes you spiritually dead.

Just take the daily readings of the church and unite your prayer time with Catholics all over the world and ask yourself “What does God want to say to me today?”

Holiness begins right here and right now. That’s your challenge. Not, “When my kids are grown or starting school.” Not, “As soon as we move into our new house.” or not “next year or next week.” You start your quest for holiness NOW.

Get a reflection or guidebook to help explain these readings so you’re not just guessing at their meaning.

Make a resolution – Pick one thing to think about, pray about, or do each day that will take you one step closer to living a holy life.

As busy as you may be, there is always time to pray. How much time a day do you dedicate to God? Is 30 minutes a day too much to ask?

Fit in Your Faith Today: Your challenge is the same as what was presented to Patty – Daily reflective meditative prayer is key to becoming closer to God. Without prayer, we are “spiritually dead.” Instill in your life this quiet time everyday. You’ll be surprised at how much your life will change after just a few weeks of this routine. If you already pray everyday, there is still no such things as praying too much. 🙂 Adoration, praying the rosary, reading spiritual literature, praying the Examen, bible studies, evangelizing, etc are more ways to seek a closer relationship with God as well.

Trust in the Lord

Psalms 27:13-14

I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life. 

Trust in the Lord. 

Have faith, do not despair.

Trust in the Lord.

Twice the psalmist says to Trust in the Lord. Seems to me that he wanted to get this point across pretty badly if he repeated it to himself in this way.

Do I trust in the Lord this much? Do I believe, do I know, that I will live long enough to see the Lord’s goodness. Haven’t I seen the Lord’s goodness already? I think it’s easy to despair and think, “There’s too much “Bad” in this world, I can’t quite see all the “Good,” where is it?!

But I believe, even with all the “bad” and evil in this world, God has conquered and is conquering it. The more bad things happen, the more opportunity there is for the good in all of us to shine through. Think of all the disasters and tragedies that occur in a given month. Then think and look at all the good people that come out to help and assist with clean ups, with food, with relief, with hope. That’s the Lord’s goodness. He always wins.

Fit In Your Faith Today: What is one way you can see the Lord’s goodness in your daily life? In what way can you participate in that goodness? Is there a cause or an “evil” that you see as hurting others? In what way can you help and overcome all that evil with something good?

Some examples:

  • Donation to victims of a recent disaster in your area (flood, fire, accident)
  • Thank You Card or handmade card to someone who was in the hospital/recently sick/recovering from illness
  • A fundraiser for someone who recently was diagnosed with a terminal disease
  • Making food or bringing by homemade items to an invalid/recluse
  • Visiting someone in a nursing home or assisted living who has no family to visit them
  • Planting flowers or a garden in memory of someone who has recently passed

Your action, however “small” you may think it is, goes a long way to show others how there are still “good” people in this world. You can remind them that they too need to Trust in the Lord. The good always prevails.

Fill Yourself with Good Things

Luke 1:53

“He has filled the hungry with good things.”

Such a short sentence to reflect on today! You might think it doesn’t mean too much other than God provides us with good things. But I think you can read and reflect on this in a number of ways.

My first observation was on the word “hungry.” This is mainly because as of now, it’s time for me to eat being almost lunch time. Also, I’m currently dieting for a fitness competition so food is on my mind a lot these days.

But did you ever think about how we feed our souls and our minds?

I think about this a lot; we feed on what we see and hear everyday. Something as simple as a movie or a song that we hear or watch. We feed on the words of our friends and co-workers. We feed on what we hear and see and look at everyday.

This is why it’s very important to our faith that we “consume” as much of the Word as we can each day. It leaves little room for the rest of the “anti-Word” to enter our minds and bodies.

You can think of the Word as all the good things God provides to us; good healthy nourishing food of course, but scripture and God’s loving words are good for the soul. What else can we feed on that’s “good?”

  • Uplifting songs on the radio and on our ipod’s
  • Volunteering/stewardship for organizations and causes that need help
  • Positive images in magazines and in advertisements (or simply trashing the trashy ones)
  • Motivational videos on social media and TV
  • Following and reading blogs and organizations that have a “good” theme

How can we avoid or abstain from the “anti-Word” things? (This doesn’t mean REPRESSING our feelings or even AVOIDANCE but it does mean making an effort to surround yourself with “Good” things)

  • When shopping, only purchase what you budget for
  • Avoid the candy/junk food aisle if you know that you can easily be swayed and “cheat”
  • Change the channel on the radio/tv when you know something is coming on that you have no desire to watch/that might make you feel depressed or angry
  • Read books (besides the Bible) that explore theology or are faith based; books that might help you learn instead of escape

Fit In Your Faith Today: What do you “consume” that you know isn’t provided by God? Do you purposely seek out these “anti-Word” items? How can you seek out the “Good” in an effort to become less tempted to consume the “anti-Word” messages/items?

This is probably not an overnight process. This will be a journey for most that might take a long time.

Here are some authors/books that I have found particularly helpful:

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing by Christopher West

What Are You Hungry For? By Deepak Chopra

The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose by Matthew Kelly

 

And the Spirit is Truth

1 John 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

I had the privilege of reading this passage from the first letter of Saint John yesterday at Divine Mercy Sunday mass. It stuck with me most of the day as I thought about these beautiful words. Each line is so important and so inspiring. You can reflect easily on just one sentence to take with you throughout your day.

One line in particular is interesting to me because I heard it spoken by Catholic Speaker Patty Schneier in her talk, “Prove it, God!…He did!” 

She laments over the line “And his commandments are not burdensome…” In fact, she did think that some of his commandments were burdensome and thus, struggled to find herself thinking otherwise. But after a few weeks of prayerful reflection every morning and encountering the book “Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West, she concluded that his commandments are not burdensome. (She was speaking specifically about the sin of contraception). She was just looking at them through a stubborn lens. After reading more about the Catholic Church and the Catechesis, she discovered a whole other world and changed her mind completely about particular commandments that she had found once to be “old fashioned” and “silly.” So when I read that line I pictured and heard Patty’s voice coming through and I was so glad she had changed her mind about this.

But the conclusion is also very poignant. “The Spirit is truth.”

Yes, the Spirit is the one that testifies, that speaks the truth. Jesus Christ is this truth. I think it’s easy to forget this in our secular life. We go searching for the truth when it’s been right in front of us all along. We might be stubborn, we might feel set in our ways, we might not want to know the truth. But there it is:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6

Fit in Your Faith Today: What “truth” are you struggling to believe? What commandments do you find burdensome? How can you look at the commandments or seek the truth through a different “lens?”

The Woman at the Well: Thirsty for Truth

Today’s reflection comes from “Today’s Christian Woman” website. I found it to be one of the best commentaries on the story from John 4:1-42 of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman.

You can read the reflection in full HERE.

Instead of pasting the entire passage here, I’m highlighting the main points of the story.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Fit In Your Faith Today:

My own personal reflections that might be of interest to some of my readers are the following:

  • Do I see that Jesus is evangelizing to this Samaritan woman as I myself should evangelize to others?
  • She sought to quench her thirst. But it was so much more – She had taken that thirst to all kinds of relationships that didn’t satisfy her. (She was married to 5 men and the man she has now is not her husband) How can this relationship be applied to my personal life? Who or what do the husbands in this passage symbolize in my life?
  • What/Whom/Where do I go to quench my thirst when I need to seek the gift that Jesus gives instead?
  • How can I learn to redirect my desires according to God’s design?

Where God Lives

26 August (1941) Tuesday Evening

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well, and God is buried beneath. Then (God) must be dug out again.

I imagine that there are people who pray with their eyes turned heavenwards. They seek God outside themselves. And there are those who bow their head and bury it in their hands. I think that these seek God inside.

Etty Hillesum – Letters from Westerbork

Etty Hillesum has been called the adult counterpart to Anne Frank. Etty kept a diary and wrote letters while she was a prisoner at Auschwitz. She died at the age of 29 there. But her letters remain “a stunning achievement of the human spirit,” as one critic called them.

Even in the shadow of the Holocaust, she still found life meaningful. (For more on Etty’s insights, pick up a copy of “An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork.”)

Fit In Your Faith Today: When faced with uncertainty, do you still pray to God as if He is inside you or do you assume He has left you? Imagine a place within you where God lives. What does this place look like?

Creating a Clean Heart and Pure Spirit

Psalm 51:5-10

“For I was born a sinner-

yes, from he moment my mother conceived me.

But you desire honesty from the womb,

teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Oh, give me back my joy again;

you have broken me, 

now let me rejoice.

Don’t keep looking at my sins.

Remove the stain of my guilt.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. 

Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

It’s so easy to do things that please ourselves only, with no regard for others. How often do we do things to please God instead? Probably not as often as we would like.

It seems we are always searching for instant gratification for ourselves. We want that piece of cake, now. We want to watch our favorite tv show, now. We want to get on social media and post something, now. We want to make more money, now.

But doing things to please ourselves is only temporary, as we know. Nothing we do for ourselves lasts very long and before you know it, we want something ELSE, NOW.

When was the last time we did something to please God? For some of us, it’s been awhile. We might have to search our memory banks for the last time we did something self-less.

We are born sinners, as this Psalm tells us in verse 5. But there’s good news of course! We don’t have to live that sinful life that we were born into. The secular world might try and get us to stay sinful, but that’s not our destiny. No, we can live a holy life, and we don’t need to be a nun or priest to accomplish this. We pray for God to cleanse us from within, to purify us and fill our hearts and spirits with His love.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Reflect on the times that you felt your heart was pure and your spirit was filled with the Holy Spirit. What action were you taking? Chances are, you did something self-less. How did it make you feel? How long did that feeling last?

Now, reflect on the times when you didn’t feel so pure, so holy. Was it a struggle to be without sin? It’s not easy to be free of sin and pure of heart, is it? We can find many examples of how, throughout the course of any given day, we are not the best version of ourselves. Instead of dwelling on those instances, repent and move on. Try to fit in your faith today by LIVING IT. Ask God for a clean heart, a pure spirit within you the moment you wake up. Keep asking it throughout the rest of the day when you need it!