Have Faith 8-11-2019

August 6th, 2019

It was an hour you did not expect. In fact, it was in the middle of a
dream that you are led to a huge hall, like a place for medieval banquets.
All along the beautiful carved panel walls are…large oil paintings of
your ancestors.
“Wow”, you say. I had no idea anyone like this was in my
family”.
“Take a look at your grandfather, Abraham”, whispers your
companion. “What a man! When God told him to travel, he didn’t even
wait to be told where. He packed up everything he owned, and the
people he loved…and just started walking. He knew God would tell him
where he was supposed to arrive when the time came. He didn’t need to
know details. He had faith.
“And blow a kiss to your grandmother Sarah. (point) No children
for the first sixty years of marriage, with a womb as dry as the Sahara.
God asked her to open her brittle body one last time to your grandfather,
because there’d be a surprise. Nine months later she was nursing a
beautiful baby boy.
You look down the hall, and there are hundreds of paintings of
other ancestors in faith. Noah, Samson, David, Samuel from the Old
Testament, Mother Mary, Peter, Paul, Martha, Mary of Bethany…from
the New, followed by Francis, Clare, Benedict, Elizabeth Seaton,
Mother Teresa, and on and on.
Your companion sighs. “Yes, you come from quite a family.
They had their sins, their problems, every kind of physical or emotional
or spiritual ailment you could think of…but they were people of faith.
They all lived by the conviction that somehow things would turn out.
They didn’t cave in. They trusted God. They trusted life…even when
things looked impossible.”
Your companion’s voice grows louder. “You come from good
people—the best—and now it’s your turn to live by faith. It’s your turn
to trust God and live according to God’s direction even when it appears
unworkable, irrational, nonsensical, unrealistic or even impossible.
Good lives, holy lives, always appear like that at times.”
You start to stutter. “I…I don’t know if I’m up to it.”
Your companion smiles, “You may not be up to it. But God is.
God will help you. God always does. Faith is confident assurance
regarding God’s promise.”
You look into the eyes of this companion and realize it is, and
always has been, Jesus.
He pats you on the back. “Do not be afraid any longer. Don’t let
fear rule your life. Have faith – the conviction that no matter what – in
this life or the next – things will work out.

The Richest Man in the Valley 8-4-2019

August 4th, 2019

There was a wealthy lord who lived in the Scottish Highlands. He
was more then richly endowed with this world’s goods and amongst his
vast possessions was a mansion overlooking a beautiful valley. But
there was a basic emptiness in his life. He had no religious belief, he
lived alone, possessed by his possessions.
In the gate lodge at the entrance to his estate lived John, his
herdsman. John was a man of simple faith and deep religious
commitment. With his family he was a regular churchgoer. God’s
presence was a reality in his home and often at night when he opened the
gate to admit his employer, the Scottish lord noticed the family in
prayer.
One morning the lord was looking out on the valley resplendent in
the rising sun. As he gazed on the beautiful scene, he said to himself, “It
is all mine.” Just then the door bell rang. Going down, he found John
on the door step. “What’s the matter, John?” he asked. “Are the horses
alright?”
John looked embarrassed. “Yes, sir,” he replied. “Sir, could I
have a word with you?” He was invited onto the plush carpet, and his
presence there pointed up the striking contrast between their lifestyles.
“Sir,” said John hesitantly, “last night I had a dream, and in it God
told me that the richest man in the valley would die tonight at midnight.
I felt I should tell you. I hope, sir that you don’t mind.”
“I don’t believe in dreams. Go on back to your work and forget
it.”
John still looked uneasy. “The dream was very vivid, sir, and the
message was that the richest man in the valley would die at midnight
tonight. I just had to come to you, sir, as I felt that you should know.”
The lord dismissed him, but John’s words bothered him so much
that he finally took out his care and went to the local doctor for a check-
up. The doctor examined him, pronounced him fit and said he’d give
him another twenty years.
The lord was relieved but a lingering doubt caused him to invite
the doctor around for dinner and a few drinks that evening. They
enjoyed a meal together and shortly after eleven-thirty, the doctor got up
to leave. When the lord asked him to remain on for a few nightcaps, he
agreed.
Eventually, when midnight passed and he was still in the land of
the living, the rich man saw the doctor to the door, and then went up
stairs muttering, “Silly old John…upset my whole day…him and his
dreams.”
No sooner was he in bed than he heard the door-bell ringing. It
was twelve-thirty. Going down he found a grief-stricken girl at the door
whom he recognized instantly as John’s teenage daughter.
“Sir,” she said, looking at him through her tears, “Mummy sent me
to tell you that Daddy died at midnight.”
The lord froze. It was suddenly made clear to him who was the
richest man in the valley.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray 7-28-2019

July 28th, 2019

I’ve had a very rough week this week and I have found myself
spending extra time in prayer. The Gospel this Sunday triggered some
things about prayer that I had not thought about for a while, and I would
briefly like to share them with you.
The first thing is that it is important that when we pray we must be
honest and completely open with God; we must use real words that
express how we feel and what is going on in our lives. Our relationship
with God should be one place where we can let it all hang out – no safe
and appropriate roles to play – no masks to hide behind.

The second thing I was reminded about through the Gospel was
that when I say I am too busy to pray (which I do at times), I may really
be saying I am afraid to pray. Also, if I am so busy with what I want
from God, I may miss what God really has to give me.
*Person in hospital – his brother has just died – yells & screams at
the Cross – God is big enough to handle it.*
The third thing is, if we are to take prayer seriously we must dispel
from our minds the notion that it is some kind of magic. Prayer is not an
“Aladdin’s Lamp” which, if properly rubbed, will grant our every wish.
A student, rather lazily inclined, noticed that a classmate always
recited her Spanish lessons well. One day he asked her, “How is it that
you always recite your lessons so perfectly?”
“Before I study,” she told him, “I always pray that I may remember my
lessons and repeat them well.”
“Do you?” asked the boy, somewhat surprised. “So that’s her secret
method,” he thought. “Well, then, I’ll pray too.”
That night he prayed up a storm, recalling as many prayers as he could
remember. However, the next day he could not even repeat one phrase
of the lesson. Quite perplexed he looked for his friend, and, finding her,
confronted her for being deceitful.
“I prayed,” he told her, “but I could not repeat a single phrase from
yesterday’s homework.”
“Perhaps,” she told him, “you took no pains to learn the lesson!”
“Of course not,” said the boy. “I didn’t study at all. I had no reason to
study. You told me to pray that I might remember the lesson.”
“There’s your problem,” she said, “I told you I prayed before, not
instead of, studying.”
I close with a final thought on prayer: A friend of mine used to
drop by his Church every evening around 5 PM, for an hour of
meditation before supper. Every evening he noticed the same old man
sitting in one of the back pews. The man was always there when he
arrived and still there when he left. It began to haunt him.
One evening curiosity got the better of him and he approached the man,
greeted him, and hoped he wasn’t praying: “I have seen you here for
several months now, and I really admire your constant devotion. But I
was wondering . . . I notice that you are always just sitting here quietly,
never using a prayer book, Bible, or rosary . . . still obviously praying…I
just wondered, when you pray to God, what do you say; what do you
talk about . . . ?
The old man looked up at my friend calmly and gently: “I don’t talk to
God; God talks to me.”
A lot of people think prayer (or meditation or religion or spirituality) is
supposed to be like Alka Seltzers in a glass of water: non-stop, bubbly,
effervescent, supernatural excitement. Wrong! Sometimes, maybe. But
most of the time prayer is like any love relationship: it involves a lot of
giving and listening. It’s like learning to talk: first, you have to listen, in
the sure peace of God’s presence.