August 31, 2018

“The Pickpocket is usually very well dressed and of attractive appearance.” – Harry Houdini


Watch out! Things are not always as they appear.
 
Next time you are out grocery shopping, you might want to check the package weight. According to U.S. News & World Report, some manufacturers are selling the same size packages that we are accustomed to but they are putting less of the product in the package. In the report, a name brand box detergent that once held 61 ounces now contains only 55 ounces. It comes in the same size box of course but with less of the actual product. The exterior packaging has the ability to deceive us in regard to what is really on the inside.
 
The reverse can also be true. Sometimes, there is more in the container than expected. For those who confess Jesus as Lord, the problem may be that we think less of ourselves than ought. As people who are united to Christ Jesus, we are actually more than we appear to the world and maybe even to ourselves. St. Paul writes, “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels” (Corinthians 4:7).  The “treasure” is the presence of the light of Christ within us.  The “earthen vessel” is our body; it is likened unto to small fragile clay lamp of the ancient world in which light was carried about.  In Genesis 1, God says, “Let there be light.” And, you are His light in the world.

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

August 25, 2018

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” – Martin Luther


The month of August has brought some needed rain to the North Texas. It is amazing to see the world come to life.  The grass turns green, flowers bloom and sounds of manifold creatures can be heard each morning. The doctrine of new life seems to be written into the creation. The hint of rain can bring creation back to life.  But what of humanity?

What can restore us to life? How about a moral life? Does living well have the power to bring one back from the dead? Can acts of social responsibility and respectability resurrect one to new life? Does wisdom or intelligence make any difference? Will knowledge save us from the grave? A life reflectively lived in respect of others is commendable but its power is limited. What can restore us to life? There is nothing within humanity that can overcome its own mortality.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). The gift of God in Jesus Christ is the promise of the resurrection though His indwelling Spirit. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

A man and his five-year old son were driving past a cemetery and
noticed a large pile of dirt next to a freshly dug grave
when the little boy said, “Look, Dad, one got out!”

Jesus is the only one who ever “got out” of the grave. A trip to any cemetery will reveal the inherent weakness of being a mere mortal. Next time you drive past a cemetery, think of the One Whom the grave could not hold. And ask for His Spirit to be poured into your heart so that your mortal body will be joined to His immortality, eternally.   

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

July 26, 2018

Harpists spend 90% their lives tuning their harps and 10% playing out of tune.” – Igor Stravinsky


Beginning in sixth grade, I began taking up the cornet (a smaller version of the trumpet) and was part of the school band.  As the years progressed, regardless of the band instructor, every class began with each section tuning their instruments.  
 
The process of the turning the instruments though is not a private undertaking. In the cornet section, it was the responsibility of the first chair cornet to lead the turning process. Each member of the section would in turn adjust her or his tuning slide to match the first chair cornet. Using this method, the 15 cornets, all tuned to the same lead horn, were in tune with each other. They are united together by being tuned, not to each other but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. 
 
So it is with the individual members of the church.  Each person is called to look to the perfecter of our faith, Christ Jesus, to tune their lives.  In tuning their hearts and minds to the standard of Christ Jesus, we will automatically stand nearer to one another. Therefore, the strength of our common bond is bound up in the individual strength of each person’s relationship to Jesus Christ. “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1- 2
 
Instruments regularly go out of tune. Weather, tuning valve, or even how the instrument is being played effect the sound of an instrument. As each class or concert begins with a tuning of the instruments so in the Christian life we need to be consistently checking to makes sure that our thoughts, words and deeds are in tune with our Lord and in concert to the Glory of God.

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

July 20, 2018

The way to love anything is to realize that if may be lost.”
– G.K. Chesterton


“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” These words are part of the opening dialogue to the communion prayer. Giving thanks is more difficult than it first appears. The day-to-day blessings of life tend to be taken for granted. A particular weakness which plagues human nature in that it grows dull to the gifts of life.
 
The problem connected to many blessings which we possess on a daily basis is that they fail to intrigue us as they once did.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to behold them.” We have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to be amazed at them anymore. We have grown accustomed to a miracle of God’s handiwork.
 
One of the evidences that we have grown accustomed to our blessings is a spirit of criticism and complaining. Instead of thanking God for what we have, our dominant disposition is to complain about our lives and tell Him we wish we had something else. The cure for this is to remind ourselves that not only could our blessings be lost but in fact they will be lost. Everything we have will be left behind in our mortality. Life strips away everything over time because everything is on borrowed time.

So come, let us glance at the stars and give thanks to the Lord our God for the blessings of this life.

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

July 12, 2018

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.” – Augustine


In the heat of Texas summer months, I retreat to the cool lanes of the bowling alley. From experience, I can testify that bowling is a combination of joy and frustration. Is a 300 point game attainable? Yes, but not wholly realistic for merely a summertime player.  So, I console myself with Augustine.
 
The center of the Christian life and devotion will always reside on the side of imperfection because the side of imperfection provides the growing edge of opportunity. The joy and frustration of bowling is in the experience of the overall struggle to improve. Paul puts it this way, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
 
It reminds me of a story from the Desert Fathers about the Abbot St. Sisoes. The Abbot lay dying when the Lord appeared to him. Seeing the Lord, he pleaded, “Give me [more] time to repent, O Christ!” The monks who were with the Abbot heard him pleading and astonished, because they knew how holy he was, asked him, “What do you mean you have not repented yet?” Abbot Sisoes replied, “Believe me brothers; I have not yet begun to repent.”
 
The Christian life encompasses both an awareness of one’s own imperfection and yet a continual pressing forward in the desire to move toward Christ. The goal is not to be overcome by frustration in our lack of perfection nor is it to become content with being less than what we could be, it is to consider it joy to strive toward the image of Christ all the days of our life.

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

 

June 28, 2018

God builds the nest of the blind bird.”
– Turkish Proverb


In junior high, I can remember doing a simple science experiment with iron filings. The filings were poured out on a piece of paper. They fell into a pile and were scattered in every direction. Next, we placed a magnet under the paper, and as if by a miracle, all the iron filings lined up. In fact, they even followed the magnet where ever it was push under the paper.
 
The filings are like all the anxieties, hopes, and disappointments of life. They seem to make a mess on the paper of our lives. But the Gospel calls us to put Christ Jesus underneath our lives. He alone can take all the aspects of our lives, even the bad, and align them into order under His will.
 
The strength of our commitment to Jesus Christ is the foundation of our lives.  The key lies in the strength of the magnet, the stronger the magnet, the greater the alignment. This is the miracle of the Gospel that God can even make use of our missteps in life and put them in order according to His purpose and goals (cf. Rom 8:28). Our focus is not on what we have done but what He can do. To trust God is to believe that he can bring our lives into His design if we allow Him a strong enough pull on our lives.  

Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

June 22, 2018

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well” – Voltaire


God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well- Voltaire
 
Last month there was a lot of media coverage of the royal wedding with a good bit of the discussion centered on who attended, the clothing worn and particularly the ladies’ hats. While vicarious living has always been a part the human experience, it comes at a cost.
 
The word “vicarious” comes from a Latin root meaning, substitute. A vicarious life is one lived through the lives of others. Being absorbed in the media, celebrity personalities and the events of the world, either knowingly or unknowingly, can often become a substitute for living one’s own life. An interest in the lives of others has the potential to deprecate one’s own life.  
God’s gift to each of us is one single, unique life. And hat or no hat, it is our responsibility to live our unique life to its maximum potential. The author of the Book of Hebrews writes, “And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment” Hebrews 9:27, gives supreme importance and value to each person’s individual life. Every life lived is so important to God that we as individuals will stand before Christ to give an account. What God will not call us to account for are the lives others have chosen to live. Living our lives well is the gift of opportunity which God has given you and me.
Exhortation of St. Paul
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Amen.

June 2, 2018

“Make haste to acquire those virtue which will serve you for all eternity” – St. Benedict of Nursia


The game of tennis is more difficult that it first appears. Even the scoring system is difficult: Love, 15, 30, deuce. Who came up with this?
 
In terms of everyday life, how do we keep score? Humanity also employs an odd scoring system. Our society has many ways of making distinctions and evaluating people. These include physical appearance, education, possessions, race and fame. Again, I have to ask, who came up with this and how accurate is this scoring system?
 
The pursuit of virtue begins with reevaluating what truly matters. The ancient historian Plutarch tells the story of how King Alexander the Great came upon the philosopher Diogenes looking attentively at a heap of human bones.
 
“What are you looking for?” asked Alexander.
“Something that I cannot find,” said Diogenes.
“And what is that?”
“The difference between your father’s bones and those of his slaves.”
 
When all is said and done all our bones will look alike. All earthly distinctions will soon be gone. How important are these distinctions we make in everyday life when these differences are erased by death? The Wisdom Minute quote from St. Benedict wants us to reevaluate the scoring system. The Scriptures invite us to acquire virtues that survive death and will remain ours for eternity: Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These are a great starting point for those who want to make this life count for eternity.

May 3, 2018

“Conscience is only explained as the voice of God in the soul.”  ― Peter Kreeft 


Have you ever been in a noisy restaurant and had a hard time hearing yourself talk? Or had someone talk at the same time you’re talking and lose your own train of thought? We live in a noisy world where someone else is always talking. Every restaurant has a television, every car a radio, and every pedestrian a phone, and it can be hard to hear your own thoughts.
 
A life without your own thoughts is no life at all. Consider the following story:
A husband and wife enter a restaurant where the wife sees a man leaving who was publically known for his disreputable business practices.  When the wife points out the man to her husband, he replies, “He won’t listen to his conscious; he doesn’t want to take advice from a total stranger.”
 
Failure to have an inner life is estrangement from oneself. And perhaps even more importantly, failure to have an inner life is estrangement from God through the conscience. One of the ways God speaks to the Christian on a daily basis is through that soft inner personal voice called your conscience.
 
It is difficult to hear your own voice let alone someone else’s when another is talking. How can we hear God’s voice when we are always listening to another voice? How can God guide us if we cannot hear Him? I would suggest that we set a high priority upon the most import voices in our life; our own conscience and that of God. If you have not heard yourself lately, or God lately; it might be time to turn off the other voices.

Prayer of St. Paul

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Amen. 

– Philippians 1: 9-10

April 27, 2018

“It is a good man who stands up for his friends, but an honorable man stands up for his enemies”  ~ Violet Haberdasher


How do I know that God is with me? Often we associate God’s presence with blessings that come our way or an inner peace that dwells in our hearts. While these are reasons for thanksgiving, there is an even more important sign that each of us should look for.
 
Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount says, “Your Father in heaven makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). This verse demonstrates that God, in His goodness, sends his blessings upon everyone even the ungodly. While we may hope for God’s good blessings, they are not a sign in life of the difference between the just and the unjust. 

The sign is we treat our enemies the same way our Father does; we stand up for both our friends and our enemies. God’s presence in life is not related to the fact that things go right for me but because Christ is in me, we cause good things to go right in the lives of others, and that includes the ungodly.
 
The blessing that Jesus brought into the world continues through the life of its members, through his indwelling Spirit. Has the world been blessed though me today? A smile, a helping hand, taking time to listen to another’s troubles, these are just a few ways in which God’s blessings extend into the present world through us. When the world is blessed through our lives, especially those who have no regard for God, we can rest assured that God’s presence, the presence of our Father, is with us and in us.  

Prayer of St. Paul

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Amen.                                                        – Philippians 1: 9-10

 

April 19, 2018

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”      – St. Patrick


How is your prayer life? Is the prayer of St. Patrick above, what you want for your life?

The effect of the fall of humanity is chiefly experienced as a loss of the awareness of Jesus’ presence in daily lives. It is this loss of Christ’s presence which is the root cause of us wandering away from God in our thoughts, words and deeds.

The grace and peace of the Christian life is in an abiding awareness of the presence of Jesus as we walk through life. But this presence of Christ Jesus must actually be practiced and it is a continuous struggle to do so.
 
St. Patrick’s prayer is rooted in the hope that God’s presence is with us in the daily activities of our life. Jesus himself assures us, as He ascends into heaven, “I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
 
How can we make the prayer of St. Patrick a reality in our lives? Christian discipleship invites prayer to be both the setting aside of time to be with God in a daily prayer “time”, as well as to incorporate a series of short prayers throughout the day. To develop the habit of making many short prayers to Jesus is a way of practicing His presence in our lives. “Jesus, stand beside me … in this situation”,  “Jesus, go before me … in this situation” are great little prayers that can keep ourselves practicing His presence in our lives.
 
Jesus is in fact beside us, before us, and within us, a life of short prayers to our ever present Jesus help us to be near Him. 

Prayer of St. Patrick

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I sit down, Christ when I lie down.
Amen.

 

April 12, 2018

“Technological progress has merely provided us the more efficient means of going backwards” – Aldous Huxley
______________________

Is technological progress, human progress? The constant change of our modern world is evidenced with each passing year’s new iPhone release.  The rapid rate of advancement in technology offers a misleading perception that human progress is actually being made. Consider the following story.

A professor fascinated by modern technology refused to call it progress. True progress he said was “heart progress,” not “brain progress” or “gadget progress.” A reporter asked the professor one day, “What do you think of modern progress?” “I think that would be a very good idea,” was his reply.

What of human progress? If humans were to progress how would that be measured? Philippians 4:8 measures human progress saying “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy”, these are the marks of authentic progress.

Rather than seeing human progress in next year’s iPhone release, each person ought to put on the mind of Christ for themselves; pursuing those attributes that will serve them for eternity.

Prayer of St. Francis

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

April 5, 2018

“The message of Easter is that God’s Kingdom has been launched and you are invited to participate” – N. T. Wright
______________________________

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  This shout of triumph at the Easter Liturgy is a call to a new kind of life. The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning, not the end of God’s program. Jesus has defeated sin, death and all the forces of evil and now we are invited to bring the victory of Jesus into the world.

The risen Christ is living in us. Through us, He is advancing the Kingdom of God onto this earth.

The world poured out its hatred upon Jesus at the cross that we might with Him overcome hatred pouring back “forgive them”.
Jesus taught the truth of the Gospel that we might speak God’s truth.
Christ overcame death so that fear of death would not rule our lives.
Jesus preached peace that in us we would be people of peace.
Jesus gave away His life at the Last Supper that in Communion with Him we might give away our lives for others.
Jesus set His mind on the will of His Father so that our minds might seek the things eternal.  

Jesus trusted His Father even in His darkest hour that in a dark world we have an unswerving trust in our God.

God’s kingdom is launched by Jesus Christ and His faithful people are invited to participate in advancing it.  Thus we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” The Lord taught us to pray and called us to action. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He has risen indeed by His Spirit in each of us.

May His risen life bring heaven to earth even this day, through you and I!

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Easter Prayer

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of sin: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may advance your kingdom by your power on earth as it is in Heaven.  Amen.


March 22, 2018

“Forgiveness to the Injured doth Belong”  – John Dryden

No one owes us forgiveness, neither God nor any person. Forgiveness is not a right. Forgiveness is a pure gift given by the offended person. Saying “I’m sorry,” is not a good work which makes things right or puts the scales even or erases what one did. If I ask for forgiveness and the other person declines, that does not make that person wrong. If this point is missed then the real goal of reconciliation will not take place.

Reconciliation is larger than mere forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness is the first step toward reconciliation. Reconciliation is the restoration of a broken relationship and is composed of at least three components:

  • First, forgiveness must be understood as a pure gift.
  • Second, the wrong is acknowledged without excuse.
  • Third, when possible, restitution is made.

The steps of reconciliation are often not observed because the desire to restore a relationship is not of foremost value. Reconciliation means to re-harmonize two people. The desire to be in harmony with another must take priority over:

  • One’s pride – in being willing to ask for the gift of forgiveness and acknowledge one’s guilt, and
  • The value of things – in being willing to make reparations when possible.  

In the end, the desire for reconciliation reveals what one truly values. People want renewed relationships but often at little or no cost to personal self. This is not possible. God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ Jesus at great cost. He calls us to be reconciled one to another because our Lord has set the value of people above all else.  May God help us to do the same.

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Prayer of St. Francis

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.


March 15, 2018

Wisdom Minute 3-15-18


March 8, 2018

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love” – Mother Teresa

The Nicene Creed is the recognized sufficient statement of belief in the Church. The Creed functions as a theological box which expresses the true faith and out of  which it is dangerous to depart. In a similar way, St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 provides us with a conduct box within which we should live our lives.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

The Christian life is grounded in a right faith but that will not do without a right behavior which expresses that faith. We show ourselves a part of the Body of Christ not only through a right faith but also by a conduct that conforms to our faith. We are called to confine our choices and actions within the box of virtues of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.  If I can be so bold, I would rephrase Mother Teresa’s quote to say, “Doing small things with great love is the greatest of things!” 

Prayer of St. Paul

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Amen.                                                  – Philippians 1: 9-10


March 1, 2018

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  ~Aristotle

There is a psychological tendency in our daily conversations with people to instantly jump to defend our own ideas. But Aristotle wants to give us permission to listen and be able to take in new information.  All we have to remember is that taking the time to listen and consider the ideas of other’s is not that same as having to agree with them. It is too easy in life to simply brush off other’s ideas because we don’t want to have to do the real task of thinking through them.

The essential mark to a mature person is the recognition that one has not arrived at the fullness of knowledge. St. Paul’s reminder that we “only know in part” (1 Cor.13:9) is the very lot of all human existence. Therefore a willingness to listen to perspectives, to seriously ponder them and THEN decide upon its validity is the only path toward growth. While overtly few would admit to having all wisdom, the way actually react toward new information might be saying something else. 

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Prayer of St. Francis

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

February 22, 2018

Our daily life is composed of the many choices. Occasionally however, life bumps us…..  unexpectedly.

Consider the following:
      A clergyman is walking down the street when a business man rushed out of a doorway and the two collided. The business man was beside himself with rage and exploded into abusive language. The clergyman made a little bow, smiled and said, “My friend, I do not know which of us is responsible for this encounter, but I am not inclined to waste time investigating. If I ran into you, I beg your pardon, if you ran into me, don’t mention it.” Then, with another smile be walked away.   
Daily experience brings all kinds of inconveniences, misunderstandings and accidents. Often these events occupy our minds long after they have ceased to be relevant. St. Paul instructs us “to set your mind of things above.”  He calls us to move beyond reacting to life, asking us instead to weigh the actual significance of life’s events.  To overlook the various frustrations of life reflects a Christian maturity. Why? Because most of life’s troubles have no real long term consequences. Keeping a long range perspective frees us to identify what not worthy of our time. It also enables us to live lives focused on things that do matter!

As a follower of Jesus, I dedicate these Wisdom Minutes to “Christ, the Wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24) that together we may engage ideas worthy of the limited time which God has allotted to each of us.

~ Father Darryl

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  
~Colossians 3 :1-2