Sunday, April 21, 2013

To Know and Be Known

Knowing about someone and actually knowing them are two different things. Jesus wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. Because we are earthly, finite creatures with a less than perfect nature, knowing Jesus is a life long process, but one that has eternal rewards.
Jesus on the other hand is perfect. He knows us completely. To be truly known is to be loved and understood on the most intimate of levels; only Jesus is capable of this. St Cyril of Alexandria puts it this way: "I know mine means I will receive them and give them a permanent mystical relationship with me." St Thomas Aquinas, in the voice of Jesus, tells us why those who follow Jesus hear Him: "The very fact that they hear Me is due to the fact that I know them by an eternal election."
These two saints show us that by the beautiful and simple fact that Christ knows us, He offers us a deeply personal and intimate relationship with Him.
The last recorded words of Jesus are "Follow Me." (John 21:22) In those two powerful words, Jesus offers us an invitation. It is an invitation to that permanent mystical relationship. It is an invitation to allow Him to shepherd us, to be part of His flock. If we are open to hearing His voice, it is because He knows us. He does not call us as a general collective group, but individually, each of us by name.
As with any invitation, this one too can be either accepted or rejected. If we accept Jesus' invitation to know Him, love Him, and be known by Him, we will always hear His voice and we will follow Him. This invitation from Jesus is an open one. If we ever refuse it, we can always return to Him, asking His forgiveness, and telling Him that we now want to accept this invitation.
This path of the Good Shepherd, albeit strewn with crosses, will lead us to the Father and eternal life.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Desiring Jesus: Faith and Love in the Encounter

"...One day he had encountered the Master while casting his nets; he had encountered Him in accepting to row back out onto the lake; he had encountered Him on this same boat, doing the same things he was doing now. He now realized that he could do nothing, experience nothing without desiring that Jesus be present with him, in their midst..."

The above quote is from a reflection by Dom Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist. It refers to Peter after the Resurrection. In this Gospel account, Peter decides to go fishing, but as Dom Mauro points our earlier in this reflection, it isn't necessarily fish that Peter seeks, but Jesus.
While the entire reflection is beautiful, I chose to concentrate on this one point because I could relate to it on a very deep level. After reading this, I thought about my life before I had really encountered Jesus and now afterward. The now afterward is so much better, so much more meaningful because I have Jesus to share every moment~ the good and the not so good. Without Him, life is harder, less joy~filled, and downright meaningless. Let's face it, the joys and sorrows of life mean more when we have someone we love with whom we can share them.
Since my marriage ended, I have had people say to me that they feel bad that I don't have anyone in my life. In a worldly sense that is true, and I'd be lying if I said that it didn't get to me a little every now and then. However, the truth is, I do have Someone to share my life. Jesus is with me in every moment and I don't ever want to be without Him again. So I can relate to how Peter must have felt that night as he rowed out onto the sea of Galilee. He wanted Jesus, his Friend, and Master. He wanted to tell Jesus how sorry he was for denying Him; he wanted to tell Jesus that he loved Him. Jesus knew this and gave Peter that very special opportunity through another encounter. Jesus has done the same for me. I encountered Him in a very real way when I returned to Him, and the same question He asked Peter, He asks me: "Do you love Me?" and just as emphatically as Peter, I respond: Yes, Lord, You know I do. In my response though, I add a little more than Peter and say: "Lord, may it always be so."

Thoughts and Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Child of the One True King

I felt like a little music this morning. I heard Matthew West's latest, Hello, My Name Is... on my way in to work today and thought I would share it with all of you. No matter where we have been or what we have done, we can always return to Him and remember that we are children of the One True King.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Seeking Divine Mercy

The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. Unfortunately my home parish was not doing anything special so I decided to go to Mass at another parish nearby. They have a Divine Mercy devotion every first Sunday, usually beginning at 3pm. Today the devotion began after their 12 Noon Mass.
I have to say, I do enjoy going to Mass at a different parish every now and then; it is a bit of a divergence from the comfortable and routine. I have attended Mass and the Divine Mercy devotion at this parish before and have always come away feeling quite "fed". Mass today was beautiful, and they even had two candidates who were receiving the sacrament of confirmation~ always good to see the Church growing in number.
When the divine Mercy devotion began, I thought things were moving a bit fast. The organist, I think may have set a record for the quickest Chaplet ever sung! About the time Benediction was coming to a close I figured out the reason for the express version of the devotion~ there was a Baptism about to take place. The back of the church was getting full and noisy.
It was at about that moment, I started to feel the "whiny brat" in me begin to surface. I whined/prayed" Lord, this is not exactly what I had in mind. Then I thought, well at least this parish made an effort to make this feast special. That right there was a touch of Divine Mercy, my whining stopped there.
On the way home, Our Lord reminded me of how this day began~ with Him in the Adoration Chapel at midnight. It was ten years ago on this feast that I began my midnight hours with Jesus each Sunday. This year He gave me an  anniversary gift~ the hour alone with Him. (a rare occurrence)There in that quiet chapel, alone with my Lord, I did not have to seek anywhere for Divine Mercy; He was right in front of me.
So while the communal devotion may have been a little spiritually lackluster, my hour with Him was not.
I know Jesus appreciates the effort I made in praying the communal devotion as reverently as possible, and I know He poured out His grace on all who stayed after Mass to pray it.
What I also realized is that I don't have to search far and wide for Jesus and His mercy. All I need to do is put myself in His presence either before the Blessed Sacrament, or in that quiet place deep within my soul where He also waits.

Comments welcome at The Front Porch.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Divine Mercy Shining Through Prison Walls

Most of us have our own stories of how Divine Mercy has worked and continues to work in our lives, and miracles abound in all of them. However, when Divine Mercy makes its way behind prison walls, the grace and miracles seem to abound even more. Such is the case for Pornchai Moontri. Those of you who read Fr. Gordon MacRae's blog, These Stone Walls, know something about this young man from Thailand. This Sunday is the third anniversary of Pornchai's reception of Baptism and First Communion; he received those sacraments on Divine Mercy Sunday three years ago.
Pornchai was invited by Fr. George David Byers of Holy Souls Hermitage to write a guest post on that blog. In Divine Mercy and the Doors of My Prisons, Pornchai tells us a bit more of his story from its beginnings in Thailand to present day in a New Hampshire prison. This young man has been through much: being uprooted from his home, being sexually molested by his stepfather, and the murder of his mother which is unsolved to this day. He also tells of the fateful day that landed him in prison and how he came to meet Fr. Gordon MacRae. Their friendship has been a great gift to both of them.
Fr. Gordon also gives some background to how Divine Mercy has worked in his life in his post for this week: In the Company of Saints and Villains: The Work of Divine Mercy.
Please take the time to read both of these posts; you will be glad you did. It is stories like these that are at the heart of living our Christian faith.
I am not linking to The Front Porch for this post~go give your comments to Pornchai and Fr. Gordon.
Thanks go to Fr. George David Byers for inviting Pornchai to share his story.

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.