Keep your eye on … what? … Monday, December 31

Holy Family of Nazareth

Holy Family of Nazareth (Photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh)

A Rosary Meditation … The Fourth Joyful Mystery, the Presentation. “Now there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.” Luke 2:25. The first thought I had as I read this was to remember all those times Jesus said to watch and that Simeon was just and devout because he was doing just that. When Messiah came the first time He caught a lot of people off guard. But not Simeon. It occurs to me that we pay attention to a great many things. Some are good, like the water boiling on the stove or a traffic light. Others, like what a certain starlet had for breakfast or that new fad diet touted by Dr. Whoever on NBC/CBS/ABC/etc., well, maybe those aren’t as important as the world seems to think. As a matter of fact, paying attention to the wrong thing can take our attention away from better, more necessary things. And the water boils over, and we run a red light. So people, you and me, need to set priorities. Right ones. Nothing in this world is a bigger priority than what comes next, and by “next” I mean what transpires AFTER this world, this life. The priorities we set “here” in this life will directly affect “there” in that life, and, like Simeon, we need to keep that in mind. Because Simeon was faithful in waiting and watching, because he had his priorities straight, he was rewarded. He got to see the Messiah before he died. If we do what he did we’ll see Messiah too. If not in this life (Maranatha, come Lord Jesus) then in the next. Until then be glad that the starlet had a good breakfast, don’t let the water boil over, and pay close attention to what comes next. A good way to do this? By keeping your eye on Who, not “what”.

Today … St. Sylvester. Okay, I admit it. I picked this saint because I have seven cats and one is named Sylvester. Sylvester (the cat) is very smart. He watches the other cats, he looks both ways when he crosses the street ( I wish he wouldn’t cross it. ) and I watch him and wonder if he knows about the example set by Simeon. But on to our saint. St. Sylvester lived through a very rough period in our history. He saw the reigns of both Diocletian and Maximian. He saw persecutions. And he was there for the triumph of Constantine.  He was also Pope, watching over both the Church in Rome and the Church at large. It was while Sylvester was pope that the Council of Nice was convened. Nice was a turning point, something else, something important in the extreme, to keep watch over. His pontificate lasted 24 years and 11 months. That’s a long time. He had lots to watch, serious things too. But he was faithful in watching over Christ’s Flock, and patient in watching it persecuted. And he saw two wonderful things as a result. He saw the Holy Catholic Church triumph over Rome and its pagan emperors. And he saw, at the end of his watch, himself presented to the Messiah in glory.

And so … Its been said that they also serve who stand and wait. Never think that your watching doesn’t count just because you can’t do what you think of as great things for God. The greatest thing any person ever did was to utter one word, “Yes”. And that came out of the mouth of a seemingly insignificant little 14-year-old girl. And she spent the rest of her life quietly watching over Him and His sheep.

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Published in: on December 31, 2012 at 7:04 am  Comments Off on Keep your eye on … what? … Monday, December 31  
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2012 in review … Jude-Marian’s Blog

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for Jude-Marian’s Blog. And so, without further ado …

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm  Comments Off on 2012 in review … Jude-Marian’s Blog  
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Looking at the sun for direction … Sunday, December 30

English: Good shepherd

English: Good shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we celebrate the Holy Family … Luke 2:41-52, today’s Gospel reading, tells us the story of Jesus being “lost” in the Temple and Mary and Joseph finding Him. The Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. People all over the world still think He’s lost, still go looking for Him, still wonder where He got off to, putting a lot of thought into their search, and He’s right where He’s always been (and He’s always been here because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever). In His Father’s Temple, the Tabernacle found in every Catholic Church in the world, doing what He’s done for all eternity, doing His Father’s business, doing His Father’s will. He knows right where He is. It isn’t Christ that’s lost. But He goes searching too, searching for those lost sheep out there seeking their Shepherd. Good thing, because sheep aren’t known for their observational abilities. We never could find Him if He didn’t call to us. And, happily, His sheep know His voice. John 10:27. That’s because they’re seeking. When you’re lost and looking you tend to listen for directions, even when you can’t admit to yourself that you’re lost. There’s that lack of observational ability again. But because sincere sheep tend to listen they’re more likely to hear.

There’s a big difference between thinking and watching.

Years ago I was driving and thinking. A dangerous thing for me to do. Thinking instead of paying attention I looked up at one point and saw a water tower down the road. I thought to myself, boy they sure put that up quick. It wasn’t there just the other day. As I got closer I saw that the lower half of the tower was covered with vines. Construction might go quick but those vines took years to grow to that extent. Oh, ratz. I was lost. While I was thinking instead of paying attention I’d missed my turn. How far back? How would I know? I was, after all, lost. I hadn’t been watching. Now, I spent a good deal of my youth in the woods. Woods I can navigate in, roads confuse me. Nature is natural, highways often go straight. There are no straight lines in nature. Blindfold me when I was 16, drop me in the middle of a forest, and I’d walk out. Put me in the middle of a small town I’ve been to a dozen times before, a town with just two streets, and I’ll get lost. Probably for the 12th time. But this time, lost on the highway, I tried something different. I thought, lets treat this like the woods. So the first thing I did was look at the sun. I needed to go south first, then back west. So I turned down the first road going south. If it winds in another direction I can compensate later, like following a stream that wanders. I drove south about as far as I felt I needed to, my woodland intuition being fairly sound, and took a road west. And I ended up at the exact intersection I’d have arrived at had I been watching and not thinking.

Have you ever noticed how many times Jesus told people to watch? He told folks this a lot. Matthew 24:42, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:35, and etc. What did He say about thinking? John 5:39 mentions people who study scripture, think about it a lot, but don’t really understand it because … Matthew 16:3 mentions people who are adept at studying the sky and what it means weather-wise. They’ve thought about this a lot, but … Now there’s nothing wrong with thinking. God gave us brains to use. But there’s a time and place for everything. And there’s a big difference between watching for our Shepherd so as not to miss Him and thinking about Him. Both are good, for a sincere sheep, but again, there’s a time and place for everything. An example here would be the various 12 step recovery programs. Most have what they call “slogans”. Little bits of wisdom to help folks on their way, one day at a time. Most of these, I think, are constant from organization to organization. And they all get plastered to the walls of meeting halls as reminders. One such slogan is “Think, think, think”. Most newcomers get told, regardless the group, “That doesn’t pertain to you.” And that’s because they’re new and still in a fog. As far as the spiritual life goes we come to it in a fog of fallen nature. For my own part I’d just as soon play it safe and remain a newcomer while walking with Christ, always ready to learn, always aware of my weakness. Like this post. It ain’t perfect, please cut me slack. lol 😉 If Mary and Joseph had been watching Jesus instead of thinking about the trip home, well, we’d have a different Gospel reading today.  Driving down the highway, like I was, its time to look at what’s going on around you so you don’t miss you’re turn. Living life we need to look at what’s important too, because one of these days we’re going to be faced with an off-ramp, death, and we need to get it right because there’s no place after that to turn around. Wood-lore won’t help at that point. And, yes, we need to think about that. But not while we’re driving. We need to be watching for our turn. It’s a balancing act, watching and thinking and knowing when to do which, like when I was driving down that road, but for now we’ll concentrate on being observant and watching.

Why do people study, scripture or the sky or anything else, and miss their turn? Maybe they have eyes to see but are blind. Mark 4:12. Why are they blind? Preconceived ideas, pride, willful ignorance, the list goes on. How to avoid this? Simple. When you think He’s lost please know it’s not Him but you. Then, let Him find you. Remember when I realized I was lost on that road? Go back and read it again if you need to. Just concentrate on what I looked at first, do the same, and with Mary and Joseph you’ll see Jesus. It’s the one sure way to stay found, to keep Him in sight.

Psalm 50:1 … A psalm for Asaph. The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth. From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof …

 

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Looking at the sun for direction … Sunday, December 30  
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YOUR Devotional Life

In today’s hectic world with so much that seems to be necessary we often forget those things that are absolutely necessary.  The world, the flesh, and the devil enjoy seeing us run so fast, doing all those things that we feel so obligated , even forced, to do that we have no time for the one thing that above all things is needed more than anything. And that’s our relationship with God and nurturing it. Think about your best earthly friend. How do you think that relationship would fare if you never called them, never did lunch, never spent quality time together? Note that I said “quality” and not “quantity”.  One of the best friends I have I only get to see for a couple of hours a couple of times a year, but its quality time. Without contact, without the right sort of contact, relationships wither and die. You don’t want this to happen with any worthwhile relationship. Your relationship with God is primary. So, how do you keep it alive and well? Well …

Consider that Mass, Communion, Adoration, Confession, Prayer and Spiritual Reading top any list. Now that may seem like a lot. But remember how important the relationship is. Remember also that God knows your circumstances. It’s okay to do the best you can with what you’ve got. What’s not okay is settling for less than that. With these things in mind, simply, and in order, we take one step at a time …

Mass. You have to go once a week, Sunday is obligatory. Make the most of it. How? Simple. Go. On time. A few minutes early so you can settle yourself. Consider Who is there with you and why you’re there. And pay attention.

Communion. Look up the meaning of the word. Receive Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and be conscious of what it is you’re doing. Be thankful that you can and do receive Him. It’s Life, and that more abundantly.

Adoration. If you can go to Church and set before Him in the Tabernacle that’s great. But remember, He is everywhere all the time. You can place yourself in His presence at any time in any place simply by remembering that He is already there with you. The real trick here? The real trick is to just DO it. On a regular basis. Five minutes once a week is a start and a start is whats needed.

Confession. Once a month, twelve times a year, is a minimum to strive for. You’re going to Mass once a week anyway, and most priests hear confessions prior to Mass. So there you are, it’s not complicated. But you say you have nothing to confess. Fine. We’ll put the canonization process on hold for just a tad longer. 😉 It’s not just about a list of sins. That’s only part of confession. Receiving God’s grace is paramount. Nothing to confess? Tell the priest that, and tell him you know all your past sins have been forgiven in previous confessions but that your still sorry for them (please do be) and that you desire the grace of confession anyway. It works. Miracles sometimes. So once a month you get to Mass a little early for confession. Every two weeks, and whats an extra 30 minutes between friends?, is even better.

Prayer. We’ve always been told to say our morning and evening prayers. Okay, let’s do that. Ask the Blessed Virgin to be your prayer partner. Ask her to take your petitions to God the Father and offer them to Him as her own. Make your Rosary a part of your prayer time. Pressed for time? Five decades too much? Then offer one. Go an extra mile. At noon? Pray the Angelus. Can’t always make a noontime commitment? Cut yourself some slack. Let “noon” be sometime between 11:30 and 12:30. Still pressed for time at noon? Then say a Hail Mary at 3:00, or as close to 3 as you can, in honor of the Passion of Christ. Best case scenario? Do both. It’s not lengthy prayers that count. It’s the sincere heart. And look! You just mustered FOUR, count ’em, FOUR prayer periods in one day!

Spiritual Reading. Pick a book. Your Bible is best. Others are good. But pick one that counts for YOU. In shopping around don’t let the shopping trip become to long or complicated. Consider that the books known as spiritual classics are classics for a reason, so you might like to browse three or four of them first. The Imitation of Christ, Practicing the Presence of God, The Secret of the Rosary, these are all good. And remember that small bits and pieces are easier to digest than huge chunks. A page a day is great, especially if you take time to think about what you’ve read. That’s the most important part. Thinking about it and taking it personally, taking it to heart. Morning or evening prayer are good times for your reading, but work with what works for you.

One last thought. Sometimes routine gets to be a little boring and downright dry. When that happens, and it’s almost always “when” and nearly never “if”, its okay to change your schedule, add or subtract this or that for a time. You’ll change, and your devotional life needs to reflect the change. So make adjustments. This helps keep your devotional life alive, a little like re-potting a plant when its outgrown the container its in. Just DON’T neglect the plant. This one? This plant? Bears fruit unto eternity.

Wah~la! Do the above, keep it simple, keep it real, and you now have a wonderful devotional life in spite of the world that keeps yelling at you that you don’t have time for this sort of thing. Yeah, right. When was the last time the world died for you on a cross?

 

P.S. The above is based on more than personal observation. Awhile back I got done with all my chores a little early and thought to myself, “You’ll need to do laundry Thursday. You’ve got extra time now. If you do laundry now you’ll have all of Thursday to do whatever you want.” Sounded like a good deal. So I took the extra time I had and got ahead by doing laundry. I had, as a result, no free time that day. But I did have Thursday to look forward to. Thursday came around and I thought, “You know, you’ve got all day. Next Wednesday you’ll have to clean house. If you’ll do that now you can have all day next Wednesday to just rest and relax.” Sounded like another good plan. I cleaned house all day with no downtime. When Wednesday rolled around and I thought … Do the words obsessive-compulsive ring a bell about now? Don’t get so caught up with getting caught up that you never have time to do anything else. I tried that (see above), it doesn’t work. Set down, breath deep and pray. Work on getting caught up on God. That works.

My recipe for Tuna Surprise … Saturday, December 29

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Glorious Mystery, the Decent of the Holy Spirit. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, of a violent wind blowing.” Acts 2:2. My recipe for Tuna Surprise is surprisingly simple. Make whatever you want, call it Tuna Surprise, the trick being to make sure there’s no tuna in it. Surprise! The only downside to this recipe that I’ve found, and I’ve been serving it for years, is that you can have a really hard time convincing someone who doesn’t like tuna that they might actually like THIS. Ever notice how some folks have a religion that they call Christianity but there’s no Christ in it? ( And you were wondering how I was going to put all this together. ) A Christianity without Christ exists when it lacks spirit, or Spirit. Its empty without spirit, and that’s because the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6. Just a bunch of words, letters strung together, have no real worth or meaning without the Spirit to give life to the thing. You can call it anything you want, Tuna Surprise or Christianity, but without the main ingredient its something else. Without Christ’s life-giving Spirit Christianity is just a collection of hollow words and no substance. So He made sure this wouldn’t happen amongst His followers, His Church, by promising the Spirit and then making good on that promise. When He shares a recipe it has everything included, there is no deficiency. And think about the life that the Spirit brings. Every gift of the Spirit, and there are more than we can enumerate because God is infinite and His goodness can’t be held in check, gives life. The Holy Eucharist, Confession, Baptism, and all the rest, restore life, give life, raise us from the dead. And that’s what happened at Pentecost. The Spirit came and brought Life with Him. Something new was born. The Church, filled with life to share. And when you look at our 2,000 year history, with all the death blows thrown at us by the world and the flesh and the devil, the Life is evident. But given the Source of the Life, well, the real and ongoing nature of it ought not be a surprise.

Today … St. Aileran. Monk, biographer, and scholar-also called Sapiens the Wise. He wrote wonderful works about several great saints, bringing them to life for his readers.  Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster. Life and death. Which one triumphed in this saints life? He shared life with his words that were motivated by his Spirit-filled life. But he died of a plague. That he still lives in the memory and heart of our Church, and that he now stands as a saint before the Throne of God, animated even now by that same Spirit that dwelt in him here on earth, answers the question.

Now … Are we all talk (words) or are we sharing God’s Spirit (life) with those around us even as we experience this God-given life ourselves?

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 7:32 am  Comments Off on My recipe for Tuna Surprise … Saturday, December 29  
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“Lord, lord, why won’t we do what you say?” … Friday, December 28

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns. “And plaiting a crown of thorns they put it upon His head, and a reed into His right hand.” Matthew 27:29. I suppose we could call this Mystery a “Coronation of a Different Sort”. The Roman soldiers “worshiped” Him at this point. I mean that they paid Him homage, gave Him the respect due a king. And in all honesty the world is still doing this. Ever notice how some give the Kingship of Jesus lip service when it suits their needs? If it gets votes, or gives someone an edge at the polls, or spikes an individuals popularity, at that point they’re all for Jesus. But later, well, why call Him “Lord, lord” and then not do what He says? Luke 6:46. This is every bit as insulting as what the Romans did. But that’s the way the world operates. Our job, as Catholics, is to set a better example. We can argue doctrine and morality until the cows come home but unless we live it we’re doing the same thing those soldiers did. Paying false homage, mock worship. But we aren’t going to do that. We’ve been given a better Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16. And setting a good example isn’t as hard a job as it seems. It’s just something we need to take in small increments. The soldiers took their time putting that crown of thorns together, otherwise they’d have wounded themselves. We can learn a lesson from them and take our time off-setting the mockery of the world by doing the next right thing, one small thing at a time.

Today … St. Anthony the Hermit. Born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. When he was eight years old his father died and he was placed in the care of St. Severinus. After Severinus passed away, an uncle, Bishop Constantius of Lorsch in Bavaria, raised him. While in Bavaria Anthony became a monk. He returned to Italy in 488 and joined Marius and his followers as a hermit at Lake Como. However, he gained so many disciples that he was forced to flee. Anthony then went to Lerins in Gaul and became a monk there. He lived for only two years at Lerins before his death, renowned for his miracles and spirituality. I think, after having been around all those saints and saintly people, just about anyone would want to run off to a hermitage. Ever notice how really good people get on everyone’s nerves? Maybe Anthony decided that if you can’t beat ’em you might as well join them. It’s as easy as doing the next right thing, one thing at a time. Do you know someone that you’d like to get on their nerves? Well, here’s your chance. 😉

Consider … “Hermits have no peer pressure.

Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 9:01 am  Comments Off on “Lord, lord, why won’t we do what you say?” … Friday, December 28  
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Amazon’s FREE Virgin Mary Book Give-Away Starts Today | Courageous Priest

Amazon’s FREE Virgin Mary Book Give-Away Starts Today | Courageous Priest.  Great FREE offer. Don’t miss out! 🙂

Published in: on December 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm  Comments (2)  

YOU can be a star! … Thursday, December 27

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Joyful Mystery, the Nativity. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.” Luke 2:7. The Christmas season. “Season” because it is a time and not just a day. It’s a time to remember when. Remember when Mary “brought forth” Jesus? I like the words, “brought forth”. What, Who, was brought forth was a gift for the world, for you and for me. And every day we have the chance to bring Jesus forth, give a gift of Him to the world, by letting God’s Holy Spirit give birth in our own lives to a holiness that will be a beacon for those seeking a gift. There are still wise people who are looking for a star to follow in order to find the Child. If we let the Light of the world shine through us we can be that star. And that same Mary who lent herself to the delivery of this Miracle 2,000 years ago will lend a hand now. Just ask. The Gift is there for the asking.

Today … St. John the Apostle. The disciple that Jesus loved. That’s really all that needs to be said, all that needs to be copied, isn’t it? If I add to that statement I’ll only detract from it.

Remember … Remember not to fall for all the worldly media hype. Christmas didn’t end on the 25th. It’s not a day, it’s a season. We celebrate til January 6. If we have a true conversion experience, and remember also that just because you’ve had one doesn’t mean you can’t have more, like Scrooge who saw the Light at the end we can decide to keep Christmas in our hearts every day of the year all year long. I mean, it’s not like you have to give the Gift back on January 7th, now is it?

Published in: on December 27, 2012 at 5:27 am  Comments Off on YOU can be a star! … Thursday, December 27  
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Wednesday, December 26

A Rosary Meditation … The Second Glorious Mystery, the Ascension. “Saying, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ ” Matthew 28:18. Jesus shared this with His followers just before leaving. Why? Well, maybe so that when things went wrong they’d know that ultimately He’d be able to fix it. Knowing this they could put complete confidence in their Boss and move on from there. These words, this truth, should do the same thing for us. Scandals, unjust government mandates, vocations crisis, any of these and more. These and things similar aren’t what matters most. Oh, these things DO matter, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to be Pollyanna or stick our heads in the sand. We need to see and deal with the realities around us as best we can given our personal circumstances. But as we deal with life and it’s issues we should keep in mind just Who it is that’s really in control regardless how out of control things may look. The proof that He is in control and that things do work out according to His plan in the long run, and its the long run that counts, can be found on billboards, in telephone books, with road maps, watching T.V. (believe it or not), and by listening to the radio. “How so?” you ask. I’m glad you asked. His Church still stands, His Truth is still preached, His people still minister to those in need, the Pope is still Catholic, and all of this in spite of a world run a muck. In fact, these things work so well, in part, BECAUSE the world is in the shape its in. If the world wasn’t out of control, and it has been since Adam and Eve left Eden, there would be no need for any of these things. And there would be no real proof that He was in control ultimately. There will be time enough, an eternity in eternity, for perfection in Heaven. But for now its enough to do our job, trusting that our Boss has all of the stings we think are loose tidily in hand.

Today … St. Zosimus. Probably a Greek of Jewish decent he became a priest and succeeded Innocent I as pope. Innocent had condemned Pelagius and Celestine as heretics. Zosimus heard their case again and cleared their names. The bishops of North Africa appealed to the Pope over this and a year later he reversed his decision. He aggravated the clergy of Gaul when he gave the see of Arles primacy over the other area sees. And just before he died he was about to excommunicate a group who were plotting against him. I read all of this and the first thing that came to my mind was, “What made THIS guy a saint?!” It sounds like he was involved in stirring up stuff, one thing after another. And then it dawns on me. I wasn’t there, I don’t know the circumstances. But Zosimus was pope. So, ultimately, Who was in control during all of this? Ohh. Now I know what, Who, made him a saint.

And so … Surely it is not true blessedness to be free from sorrow
while there is sorrow and sin in the worlds; sorrow is then
a part of love, and love does not seek to throw it off. ~ George Eliot ~

Published in: on December 26, 2012 at 3:03 am  Comments Off on Wednesday, December 26  
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Tuesday, December 25 CHRISTMAS

A Rosary Meditation … Something different today. A Christmas gift. From your Mom to you. Your Rosary. Think about what a wonderful gift it is, and be thankful for it. Tell her thanks. Unwrap it in your mind, dwell on it, meditate on the mystery of it. Now …

Today … Christmas. Please take a moment and check your pulse. Okay. Got one? Good. See there? You both have been given and are a gift. Enjoy it.

The long and the short of it … Well, its Christmas. Today’s post? Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy. Give thanks. Express love to those around you. No one else there? Go look in the mirror. Now look at the crucifix. Look at your Rosary. Look next to you. See? Ahh, Guardian Angel. Jesus, Mary, angels. And you thought there was no one there but you.  ~ Mary Christ Mass ~ 🙂

Extra: Now, go overeat and watch the parade. It’s a celebration.

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 8:27 am  Comments Off on Tuesday, December 25 CHRISTMAS  
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