Friday, March 21, 2014

Lord, It is Good That We Are Here.

Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. 
                                                                      (Mt. 11:28) 

I was blessed this past Saturday to have attended a Men's Retreat! I was was able to spend a day learning, worshiping, and praying. Although I've been involved in different ministries over the years, this is the first time I've spent an entire day on a retreat for myself since college. There were about 60 men of diverse backgrounds, which was a lot more than I thought would be there. I think it goes to show the need for solid men's ministry.

We ended the day with Mass, and of course this weekend's Gospel was Matthew's account of the Transfiguration. I felt like St. Peter thinking how good it was to be here. Actually, I feel like St. Peter often, but that's a story for another post. Getting back to Saturday, I was away from the usual stresses of life, able to spend time adoring our Lord, and enjoying fellowship with other Catholic men. It was my own Mount Tabor, a place where I could for a moment, experience the radiance of our Messiah and lay all my burdens on Him.

But as St. Paul said in the Second Reading (2 Tim. 1:8B-10): Bear your share of hardships for the gospel, with the strength that comes from God. While it was good to be there, I knew it had to go back to the routines of life. Not that my life is so terrible. In fact, I am tremendously blessed! But there can be worries and challenges. Monday always follows Sunday, but hopefully we over the weekend we can catch up, spend time with our family and friends, and recharge for another week.  Our Lord allowed the Apostles to experience his full glory as a means to strengthen them for the challenges they would soon face. We have that opportunity every week at Mass, to be strengthened by the Word and the Word Made Flesh.

Of course it's not easy to take our faith out into the world. How many of us get strange looks on Ash Wednesday or praying Grace in a restaurant? No, it's not a world that is often accepting of our faith but as Paul further reminds Timothy:

On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. (2Tim. 1:12). 

It's Friday already!  Have a blessed weekend!

My Parish's altar during Lent. It has Mt 11:28 inscribed on  the front.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Facing the Deserts of Lent

Lent is only a few short days away and I'm not ready.

I now believe my parents when they told me that time does go by faster as you get older but I'm sure that having children is the biggest accelerator. I can't believe how fast they grow and change...just like I can't believe I haven't written on this blog since Advent 2012! Then, we were expecting our 6th child, now Gabriella Marie is just about walking.

Looking forward, it always seems like there is so much time ahead of you but then it's gone. I'll admit to being somewhat of a procrastinator so this is something I experience often. Usually, it's something that needed to get done yesterday. We'll, I still have 4 days before Lent starts; that's plenty of time. I am signed up for a men's retreat next Saturday so there's one thing in the plus column for me.

Of course Lent is not just about giving things up. It's also about positive additions to out lives and gaining strength from our daily trials to help overcome those struggles rather than escaping. Jesus knew is ministry would be difficult and end in a most difficult and painful way. He prepared for this by spending forty days fasting in the desert.

I get weekly email devotional from the Daughters of St. Paul.  Today's reflection was about spending time in the desert this Lent. Not the Mojave of course, but the reflecting on the 3 deserts in our lives where Jesus remains with us. The first is when we reflect on His suffering and death whether we pray the stations of the across or read a passion narrative. The second is living and accepting our own suffering and therefore remaining in the desert and being united with Jesus. The third, is recognizing the suffering others through prayer, solidarity, and actions.

How will you remain in the desert with Jesus this Lent?