Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Are You Willing?

      The will is a strange thing.  Some people have weak wills.  We call others strong-willed.  We marvel at those who overcome addictions through sheer will-power.  Babies overcome birthing traumas and unresponsive lungs and begin to cry.  A dying loved one holds on until they have seen that last person.  Those facing serious illnesses often overcome them through the very will to live.  Human beings are capable of just about anything if they have the drive, the determination; the will.  “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  So why do so many people give up before trying?  Why do they dismiss an undertaking because they “could never….”?  Why are so many content with mediocrity?  Because embracing the strength that can be found inside even the weakest human being can be painful.  To fully embrace one’s “power of will”, a certain death is required.  The question is asked, “how much are you willing to give?”  Applied to the spiritual life – “how much are you willing to sacrifice?”  Comfort?  Desires?  Time and energy?

      In order to grow into full spiritual maturity, a constant death-to-self is necessary.  Jesus promised that if He suffered, we would, too.  “No servant is greater than his master” (John 13:16).  He also promised He would always be with us.  “I will not leave you orphans” (John 14:18).  If both of these are true, a third conclusion must follow.  Resurrection.  If we are always united to God, we must die with Him.  If we die with Him, we must necessarily rise with Him.  Because of Jesus, death goes hand in hand with resurrection.  If we can allow ourselves to die with Jesus, the glorious resurrection awaits us. 

     G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”  The success of many goals in our lives come down to how badly we want them.  Do we really want holiness and sanctity and greater union with God?  What are we willing to sacrifice?  Will we give it all, or will we let the fear of our potential hold us back?  It seems paradoxical that catching glimpses of the greatness we are capable of would fill us with fear and cause us to avoid it.  Yet that is what happens.  One of the great tragedies of our time is that too often we look at the possibilities and leave them untried out of fear of the difficulties we could possibly face. 

     If life can be seen as an adventure on the way to Heaven, no difficulty can be too great for us.  If we truly decide to live for God, our lives must make a radical shift.  It will be a daily battle to stay on the path marked for our success.  It will sometimes take all of our strength to continue.  Of one thing we can be sure – if we have the courage to truly persevere in an authentic Christian life, we cannot fail, for “God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres” (St. Teresa of Avila). 

 

Written by: Catherine
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The Greatest Of These Is Love

     This week we celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes of Rome (January 21). St. Agnes is a very special and well-known young girl in the Catholic Church, but she also has a special place in our community as Kristen’s patron saint.

       St. Agnes of Rome is a virgin and martyr, known for her beauty inside and out.  The story of her life is a heart-wrenching one. Not only was she beautiful, but she came from a wealthy family as well. At a very young age she dedicated herself, body and soul, to Our Lord. She called Him her Spouse and loved Him as dearly as anyone would love another. There were many men who desired to claim Agnes as a wife, but she never wavered in her faithfulness to Jesus. No man could capture her heart the way the Lord had. Unfortunately, that displeased those men who wished to marry Agnes, and they persecuted her for rejecting them. She died a martyr at the age of 13 in January 304.

 Read more about St. Agnes’s life here.

     Another important day to recognize this week is the Day of Prayer for Legal Protection of Unborn Children (January 22). This day is a day of prayer for us all to lift our voices to heaven that God’s will may be done, His mercy may be given, and His protection and grace may shower upon His people.

     Both of these days can be boiled down to a common characteristic of our Heavenly Father: His love and mercy are greater. No matter our age, no matter our circumstances, no matter what life may bring us, His love and mercy are greater. Greater than our fears. Greater than our struggles. Greater than our weaknesses. Greater than our wrongdoings. Greater than our persecutions. Greater than our sorrow.  Greater than everything.

     In the midst of this life there are two things we as Christians can do relentlessly. First, we can love. Love is at the root of everything. The more we love, the more God‘s light breaks through the darkness of this world. The second thing we can do is simply pray. Pray often and pray fervently. Pray for our children, for our families, for our leaders, and for our country.  

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Let us reflect this week on 1 Corinthians 13. May it be a source of prayer, encouragement, and hope for our persevering souls.

St. Agnes, pray for us!

 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

 

Written by: Lindsey

 

 

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“And There Was A Great Calm”

“Then he got into the boat followed by his disciples. Suddenly a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are lost!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith?’ And then he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

Matthew 8:23-27 NJB

       For the last several months, we have tried to follow where the Lord has led us, and we have felt ‘swamped by the waves’; the waves of moving, ministering, growing as individuals and a community, and simply learning to live a fraternal life. It has been chaotic, stressful, overwhelming, and all the while, a true blessing. We started the summer out visiting our families, speaking at parishes, and taking time for fellowship. We bounced around Western New York assisting with different ministries and making new relationships with the beautiful families and people in this Diocese. We went to the Erie County fair, slipped down to Georgia, spent time in Allegheny and Olean, popped into Philly to see the Holy Father, and swung out to New Hampshire. We had countless people over for dinner, meetings, and visits, and on the flip side we were invited out to meet and eat with many new friends and benefactors. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving together as a community and returned to our families for the Christmas Season. It really was a wonderful time.

      As the New Year rang in, we found ourselves resting in Adoration of Our Lord, reflecting on the adventure we had just undergone. Fireworks were booming, bells were chiming, and we were prayerfully sleeping – or sleepfully praying! Throughout all these travels and ministries we underwent many physical illnesses and injuries. We cried, we laughed, we stayed up through the night, and we overslept through numerous alarms. God truly stretched and purified us in so many ways. We felt like the disciples in this passage crying out “Save us, Lord, we are lost!”. We began to feel like we had taken on too much, that we weren’t cut out for all that we had prayed about doing. Although we felt lost and as if we were surely perishing, we never were. Just like Jesus remained with his disciples in this scripture, so He has remained with us. In the midst of the ‘go, go, go’ lifestyle we now live, we have come to realize something: the more we ‘go, go, go’, the more we must ‘pray, pray, pray’. The moment we pray is the moment Our Savior calms the storm. He may not calm it exactly how we see best or would like Him to, but He calms it none the less.

      As we all continue to follow where Our Lord leads us through this new year, may we always remember that everything is grace. Everything is an opportunity for greater love. Everything is a chance to take a step closer to the Cross. Every time the storm clouds roll across the horizon of our lives and the great thunder roars its mighty bellow, just fall to your knees in prayer and surrender. Remember that no matter how chaotic things seem to get, or actually do become, that the Good Shepherd is always tending to His sheep.

 

Written by: Lindsey
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