Monday, June 30, 2008

Confidence at Dawn

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. C. S. Lewis

I awoke this morning with a new-to-me confidence that expresses itself as an awareness of God as an immovable rock in my life. The reality of Christ as our Good Shepherd and all that implies has settled into my being, moving from my head to my heart like sand landing solidly in the bottom of an hourglass.

I feel hemmed in by God's solidness. His care and protection are as real to me as the canyon walls that border the valley path in the photo above. Actually more real, for I know that all canyon walls crumble over time, while God is forever: "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

Søren Kierkegaard said, "Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." Perhaps that's what has happened to me. I know that whatever happens, however prayers are answered, God is with me and because of that, I will survive in strength.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comfort from Above

Psalm 90
The Protection of the Most High

He will shade you with his wings; you will not fear the terror of the night.
He who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells under the shade of the Almighty.
He will say to the Lord: “You are my shelter and my strength, my God, in whom I trust”.
For he will free you from the hunter’s snare, from the voice of the slanderer.
He will shade you with his wings, you will hide underneath his wings.
His faithfulness will be your armour and your shield.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day;
nor the plague that walks in the shadows, nor the death that lays waste at noon.
A thousand will fall at your side, at your right hand ten thousand will fall, but you it will never come near.
You will look with your eyes and see the reward of sinners.
For the Lord is your shelter and refuge; you have made the Most High your dwelling-place.
Evil will not reach you, harm cannot approach your tent;
for he has set his angels to guard you and keep you safe in all your ways.
They will carry you in their arms in case you hurt your foot on a stone.
You walk on the viper and cobra, you will tread on the lion and the serpent.
Because he clung to me, I shall free him: I shall lift him up because he knows my name.
He will call upon me and for my part, I will hear him: I am with him in his time of trouble.
I shall rescue him and lead him to glory.
I shall fill him with length of days and show him my salvation.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Trust in Him

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you." (I Peter 5:6-7)

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

Dear God,

I give you my prayer request. You know the situation, you know the story, and only you can solve it. This rock is giant and I cannot lift it by myself; the problem is far too great for me alone. I pray for your showers of mercy. Thank you.

I write this today to honor the God who made the blind to see, the lame to walk and healed the lepers. "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Thank you for Your hope that shines in the darkness.

With praises, love and thanksgiving,


"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Word, Radiance and Wisdom

I read this about Jesus today: "He is the Word, Radiance and Wisdom of the Father." It was from a letter of St. Cyril of Alexandria and he was quoting St. Athanasius.

It struck me as such a beautiful way to describe Him and I just wanted to share it.

And to think I received all this in the Eucharist today.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:5)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In One God (Creed 2)

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The first line of the Nicene Creed, "We believe in one God..." acknowledges that our God is "the LORD" of the Hebrew scriptures and denies the many gods of the pagan Greek and Roman cultures of the day.

The Creed teaches us that our God is one; however, it also teaches us that He is three. A bold declaration of the Trinity is woven throughout the verses of the Creed by its acknowledgment of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as God.

How can three exist and yet be completely one? It is a mystery, but perhaps we can see its possibility in the following small ways. Ice, steam and liquid are all water. I am a daughter, a mother and a sister. An egg consists of yolk, white and shell. These may help a little, but for me, awareness of the Trinity quickens when I see God as a relationship within Himself; in other words, when I recognize Him as love.

St. John tells us "God is love" (I John 4:8). What is love? Love by its very definition must exist in relationship. If God is love, then God is relational. He extends His love to those of us He created in His image, and His entire creation is an expression of His love. We who seek Him walk on His path of love and are learners in His school of love.

But who did He love before we existed? Who did He love before the angels were there to receive His affection? He loved within Himself. His very nature exists in relationship: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a trinity of love. His Trinitarian nature shouts of love; because He is three in one, we know that any encounter with Him is an encounter with love itself.

He is one, He is three, He is love.

"I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through the belief in the threeness, through the confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation." (From St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer)

Next time: "...the Father, the Almighty..."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just Because I Love It So Much

I find this prayer to be particularly encouraging and powerful. It is often called "St. Patrick's Breastplate" because it, in part, seeks God's protection; it is also known as "The Deer's Cry" or "The Lorica." I pray you'll be blessed by it as I am.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through the belief in the threeness, through the confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism, through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim, in obedience of angels, in the service of archangels, in hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in prayers of patriarchs, in predictions of prophets, in preaching of apostles, in faith of confessors, in innocence of holy virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today through the strength of heaven: light of sun, radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me from snares of demons, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come to me abundance of reward. 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 lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.

Click here for info on St. Patrick:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Go, Bobby, Go!

Well, here's Bobby looking relaxed after his high school graduation ceremony last Friday night. We had a festive time and were blessed to have many friends and family share the evening with us. We're so proud of our firstborn son!

He's off to a local JC later this summer to earn Microsoft and Cisco computer certifications for a career in computer networking. He's focused, hardworking, success-oriented and knows exactly what he wants! (Which is far more than I can say about myself when I stood on the cusp of college.)

For the sake of humility I probably shouldn't mention the awards and kudos that came during his senior year. (Though - forgive me! - there were many... :) We're really, really proud of you, Bobby!

(To top it off, he earned his driver's license today, passing with flying colors, despite some jitters. :)

Parenting for me is such a rich tapestry of experience, with each day a new, very pleasant and often exciting adventure. God has given this grateful mom far more than she deserves.

Now on to Billy's senior year.

Circle of Friends

I've written about my St. James 2:24 posse; today I want to acknowledge another circle of friends, women with whom I can share my heart in an intimate way, the kind of friends you can "spill your guts" to without any question of their love or loyalty. We are there for one another; we've shared crises and joys, laughter and tears, prayers and spiritual journeys. My life would be far less rich without the blessing of these fine women.

Laura, Laurie and Celeste, whom I know from high school (Laura) and college (Laurie and Celeste). These women have known me for more than three decades. None live close to me, but I thank God for our wonderful phone calls. Laura and Laurie have both been roommates of mine at various times.

Eileen and the two Louises live close enough to see after a bit of a drive, and I'm thankful for the occasional visits that supplement emails and phone calls. These women have known me at least since my teenagers were toddlers. I'm so glad we've stayed in touch after our move.

We've lived in our current area about seven years, and the "now" friends that contribute to my life so much are Barbara, Anne, Marilyn and Linda.

Thank you, God, for Your love that has been showered upon me by these women. Thank you for what I learn about You through them. Thank you for their devotion to You and the gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon them. I pray that I may be granted the privilege of bringing You to them, even in small measure, as they've brought You to me in great measure. Please bless them mightily with the gift of being completely in the joy of Your will... always.

I have other wonderful women friends who are unnamed, some with whom I've lost contact but hold dear in my heart, some with whom I have a casual friendship, and some with whom a deeper friendship may develop. There are also those with whom I share a very close friendship, but the "everydayness" of it is no longer present. I thank God no less for all of them; the gift of their friendship enriches my life, as well.

"...there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24b)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Face of the Lord

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his path.” (From the Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1)

I have read this canticle many times but have not noticed Christ being called ‘the face of the Lord’ before. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? ‘When you have seen me, you have seen the Father,’ yes, but thinking of the ‘face,’ the shining, loving, beautiful FACE of God walking the earth somehow seems so personal. Thinking of His eyes and mouth that gazed and smiled and reflected love… and thinking of God putting His ‘face’ here for us to experience in a real, physical, undeniable way is more than overwhelming.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full at His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." (Words and music, Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday Came on Tuesday

There is another song by Tree63 that I love: "Sunday!" I won't record all the lyrics here, but part of the refrain goes, "It's Friday, but Sunday is coming," a metaphor based on Christ's death and resurrection to give us hope through tough times.

I've been caught in Friday's cave for the last month or so, caused by shame related to some mistakes I made, along with a few other trials thrown in for good measure. I haven't been myself at all. My confidence in who I am as a human being was completely gone, as was any semblance of a genuine smile or real laughter; even the way I normally relate to the world or other human beings was different. I was in a deep, deep hole, and I didn't know if it was a permanent change in who I am. (I begin a new job on July 1, and I was a bit concerned about being able to contribute to it fully in this state.)

But Sunday is here, and the picture above reflects this. The drenching rain reminds me of showers of forgiveness, gentle refreshment for the soul which is oh so sweet. And doesn't this guy's posture absolutely shout out ecstasy? Unexpected mercy and my resulting gratitude make me feel just like he looks!

I'm not surprised that Friday's cut on my finger has healed; why does this Sunday resurrection astound me? Who knows? I am just glad to be swimming toward the light.

"Sunday - Hallelujah! - it's not so far, it's not so far away..." (Tree63)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blooms of Mercy

The beginnings of answered prayer that came yesterday felt like an unexpected bouquet of flowers. I had no idea this gift would be dropped on my doorstep now, so soon, but here it is. I am grateful for small, sweet steps that restore hope. Thank you for that gift, God, and please bless those who share this journey. I am a very grateful daughter.

Blessed Be Your Name

God, as the scriptures say, "you give and take away," sometimes in ways we don't understand. People struggle with illness, their children die, they experience hurt and abuse. Not all comes from you, but all is known by you. You see this world in a way we don't; to you our lives are an eternal tapestry, with each thread woven together to create a beautiful whole. We are eternal beings, therefore your emphasis is not our comfort here on earth, but our place in eternity. Each difficulty, each trial, each tear has its place: to purge, shape, challenge, to help us grow, to make us better people and, most of all, to help us know you. And isn't that the purpose of life? As Jesus said, "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." May we, your children, trust you always through each stage of our lives, knowing that all you allow must be seen with the backdrop of the cross, the most loving act in all of history. As you said to Job: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

"Blessed Be Your Name" is a song by Tree63 that I have loved from the moment I heard it. Whatever comes our way, God is good always, in all ways. May His name always be blessed.

Blessed be your name

In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow

Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name

Friday, June 13, 2008

Words for a New Day

A new day dawns, full of fresh mercy from God. Here is a small portion of today's readings that caught my heart.

From St. Anthony of Padua, whose feast we celebrate today:

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.

I've always wanted to speak another language but have faltered in my attempts at French and Spanish. Perhaps this is a language that I may learn to speak well? Thank you, St. Anthony, for helping me to see it this way.

From a psalm of King David, who excels at expressing his own heart, as well as the heart of God:

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will proclaim your praise;
for you do not delight in sacrifices: if I offered you a burnt offering, it would not please you.
The true sacrifice is a broken spirit: a contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not refuse.

Contrition destroys walls that keep me from true union with God, and humility keeps them from being rebuilt. Brokenness is a beautiful place to be, for it is in that place we know we truly need God.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Prayer Spot

I have a prayer spot, though I didn't purposely choose it. (Perhaps it chose me?)

After I drop my boys off at the high school, I pull into a quiet street and pray. I say prayers for them and their day at school, and I offer up prayers for my husband, for friends for whom I pray daily and for matters (of heart, life, family or otherwise) that are most pressing. It is a place where I am able to crawl deep into God's heart unusually quickly, and where unique (and sometimes dramatic) things have happened in the spiritual realm.

I wrote in one post of how the centers of my palms tingled while praying deeply for a friend; it happened there. The Holy Spirit's gentle voice (of which I wrote yesterday) came to me there. I developed a closer relationship with Mary, the Mother of God, in that spot.

This unassuming part of a quiet small town street draws me. I think I initially began taking that route because the home of a recently deceased friend stands there and I wanted to pray for the repose of her soul as I passed by. I then began pulling over to pray on a regular basis before continuing with my day.

This morning I pulled over in my usual spot under a tree and wondered why this place would be unique. I looked up, took in the sight in front of me and realized why. Our Lord resides in the Eucharist just yards away, across the street within tiny St. Joseph's Catholic Church. He is not bound by walls; His presence in the tabernacle reaches out beyond the wood, glass and brick of the building that surrounds Him. He, in fact, surrounds it.

All this time I thought the spot was random and convenient; in reality He called me to it. His call is gentle, like a breeze; He doesn't shout. But call He does, and in its quietness and sweetness He often goes unrecognized until we look back.

I am taken with the way He woos with such humility, this lover of our souls.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Love Blooms in the Desert

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." (Luke 4:1&2)

Jesus went into the desert at a time when He was full of the Holy Spirit; in fact, it was the Spirit who led Him there. God didn't send Him there unprepared; it was immediately following His baptism. The Spirit had descended upon Him like a dove as He rose from the waters and God had proclaimed Him His Son.

Preparation for His ministry had begun.

There was a divine purpose for His going to the desert; God does not allow our suffering to be meaningless. (One version says he was driven by the Holy Spirit.) It was necessary. Why? Perhaps to test His will? Or to confirm the power of God that resided within? To refine Him? To empower Him by defeating the devil? To pave the way for us? Perhaps all of these things. There was something He had to face before His ministry could flourish.

In the same way, we are sent into the desert. I have resisted that process, but have come to realize that following Christ's example is a privilege; God honors me with that kind of suffering. The heat and testing of the desert refine me and purge me of impurities so my faith can flourish (which is worth more than gold, as St. Peter says). It is purgation on earth. The more I am purged, the more I am united with Him, the more I know Him, the more I love, and the more I serve Him effectively.

Many trials have come since I entered the Church five years ago; I have often wondered why, even (almost) to the point of questioning whether it was the correct decision. (In reality, I could never leave the Eucharist, whatever trials come.) But I finally got it yesterday. God's gentle voice, the Holy Spirit, came to me in the form of internal words spoken directly to my heart. He is trusting me with the trials I go through. He is using them to accomplish His purposes (for myself and others), and I am His chosen vehicle. WOW.

Immediately after hearing the Holy Spirit's gentle, reassuring voice about this, I went to a day of reflection devoted to Him (the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity), part of which was examining Jesus' journey into the desert, and through that He spoke again. The desert is preparation for my ministry. (By "ministry" I mean allowing God to use me in a deeper way in my daily life.) The desert is my boot camp. WOW again.

His love flourishes in the desert, and I am convinced His love is present and flourishing to those who go through a trial because of me. The sparrow that fell in front of me Monday (see that day's post) reminds me that I am in His care; I should never doubt that God's concern for those I have harmed is greater than mine.

God communicates in love and somehow I am always amazed. I should know better by now.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Worth More than Sparrows

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father... So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29 & 31)

This morning on my way to Mass, a bird that looked quite like a sparrow fell from a tree right in front of me. That's pretty amazing when you think of it; in order for me to have seen that, the timing had to be exactly perfect, not a second earlier or later. It immediately brought to mind that God knew when that sparrow would fall. Did He have in mind for me to see it?

The little bird that dropped to the ground right in front of my truck reminded me of God's constant care. His eye is on me, therefore all will be well. He is present in every moment of my day; He knows every prayer in my heart. With this knowledge, the words "alone" and "anxious" should be ever banned from my vocabulary!

Meeting Old Friends for the First Time

Last weekend a group of old friends converged on Sacramento and we met each other for the first time there. The folks pictured here are part of the St. James 2:24 posse, a group of faithful Catholics with whom I've been corresponding for at least five years now, almost since I entered the Church. I'm thankful for our "Patty Patrick" Bonds, who started the group for those who experience relational loss or difficulties because of association with the Church. But I hadn't met a single one of them face to face. Not till now. Let me introduce you:

Next to me is Macile, our sweet, prayerful Cajun mama, who's always ready for a hug and a smile. Then comes Sissy, an inspiring woman, a true survivor with a great sense of humor, who's building a new home with her own two hands after Hurricane Rita destroyed hers. They're both from Louisiana. The smiling redhead is Lee Anne from up north in Washington state, who is a great "group mama" and is always present with encouragement! She does much for the sake of the unborn (go, sister!). I just love her energy. Kneeling at left is our Dean, who's discerning a call to the priesthood. His soft-spoken wisdom shows us he'll make a fine one! Please keep his journey in your prayers. Last but not least is Leslie, our apologist, who juggles her busy life amazingly well; she gives so much to so many. If you haven't had the benefit of hearing one of her side-splitting stories, well, you just haven't lived. Dean and Leslie are from California like me.

Thank you, God, for these incredible people in my life. They have provided much of You to me in my journey. What a gift! I'm sorry the rest of our family couldn't be there as well, but in the Lord we are part of one another always, wherever we are.

(As an added bonus, Celeste, a friend since college, joined our pajama party on Saturday night. It was great to see her, too. :)

PS Below is a photo of us at St. Mel's.

Sunday Morning

Here we are at St. Mel's, Dean's home church. We got to hear him his first time as a lector, and his spiritual director said Mass. Father George, who is helping him on his road to discerning the priesthood, gave the group a special blessing afterward. I sensed deeply God's presence at Mass, a very moving experience.

That the crucifix hung behind the altar on a wall painted with a gentle sky scene wasn't bad either.

It was well worth getting up at 5:45 am after 3 hours sleep!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lord, Empty Me

Lord, empty me so I may be filled with You.

A friend relayed to me what St. John of the Cross said, "To reach satisfaction in all things, find satisfaction in nothing."

The idea of detachment, for me, is kind of intimidating, unless I look at it as drawing closer to Christ. Giving up the world seems easier when it means He's at the end of it.

My attachments can get me into trouble (things such as seeking validation, a need for friends, a longing for success). Perhaps I should hold such things lightly in my hand, like a butterfly. One's hand needs to remain open to hold a butterfly; it won't be clutched. An open hand means God can fill it up, and I wouldn't expect a butterfly to take up permanent residence there.

I initially thought seeking detachment sounded cold, as though it might make me less likely to love, but in thinking about it (and in my fledgling attempts to practice it), I see that it helps me to love more and better. It takes away the need to receive back; I can give without the attachments that make my giving less pure.

True freedom is looking forward to the day God will bring without any expectations. Except to rest in His arms and walk in His ways...

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (From the Beatitudes of Christ, Matthew 6:33-34)

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (St. Paul in Philippians 4:6-7)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Imitation of Christ

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:12-13)

These can be hard words to put into practice at times, but may they be so. May we always put others before ourselves. May the light of Christ within and among us shine particularly strong when things are most difficult. May we have the grace to never give up on reconciliation when there are misunderstandings.

Christ's arms are always outstretched, ready to receive with grace those who come. May I be, as well. He has forgiven me so much; He has been so gracious in my mistakes. May I die to self enough each day to allow room for His heart to beat within me. Always.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18)

Heaven rejoiced on Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And so did I.

Two hearts were joined in reconciliation. Two souls were united in understanding. Two hands were offered in forgiveness. Two voices were joined in prayer. Healing of a relationship occurred before the Blessed Sacrament in a quiet church that day. God's love trumped Satan's shenanigans and mighty things happened in the spiritual realm.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the day dedicated to the heart of Christ than to join in its chief purpose, can you?

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

We Believe (Creed 1)

The very first line of the Nicene Creed is "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, of all that is seen and unseen." Below is my first installment of a series of posts about the Creed: "We believe..."

Today I attended Mass at a parish out of town. I was a stranger there; I didn't know anyone in the large crowd. Even so, I was part of the "we" in "We believe..."

Who is the "we?" All who have faith in the truth of the Creed. All who claim the name "Catholic" and live what that means. In a broader sense, all who hold to ancient Christian beliefs as carried forward through the centuries.

At Mass this morning, the universality of the Church was apparent. (The priest was from Kenya, the woman next to me from India.) If I participate in Mass anywhere in the world, even in a language I do not understand, I am no less part of the "we" of the Creed than I am in my home parish. We all say it together, we all believe, we all hold to the sacred tenets of our faith as set forth in unwavering declaration.

The "we" also includes Christians who have gone before us and will follow, those already in Heaven and those who will be there one day. The Communion of Saints is timeless, a brotherhood of those who believe: past, present and future.

The people of my own parish are a more personal component of the "we" for me. We claim our "we-ness" as we pass the peace at Mass (I can't help but smile after that!) and as we receive our Lord in communion together. We are a "we" that shines Christ's light when we serve our community together in His name. We are a "we" that lives out our admonition to love one another when we work through difficulties and misunderstandings. We are truly brothers and sisters, bound together in Christ.

Years before my interest in the Catholic Church was a conscious thought, I saw a stone cross pendant from the 6th century in an antique store. I couldn't stop staring at it. The symbol under the glass in front of me was worn centuries before by someone connected to me through our shared faith! My awe in that moment was caused by the power of the "we."

What about the "believe" part of it? Today's Gospel reading (from Mark 7) addresses this very thing:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

That's what it means to believe. Let our lives declare the Creed.

Next time: " one God..."

(For more info about the Creed, see the post so titled from May.)