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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’


fortitudeThursday, December 16, 2021

Joy and Sirach 1

Fortitude

Moving into a wisdom book written by Jesus ben Sirach, we find more words that surprise us with joy. If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today we consider the great joy that is found in Wisdom’s fortitude.

Yesterday we considered Wisdom’s companions of prudence, moderation, righteousness and fortitude. These qualities bring us more than serenity; they offer us a pathway to discipleship in Christ. They offer us immortal life.

Verse 1:12: Fear of the Lord rejoices the heart, giving gladness, joy, and long life.

joyGod says: Fear of the Lord” is really about your love for me. I do not want you to tremble in fear of punishment; rather, I want you to tremble in great joy and anticipation of spending time with me. I want you to stand in awe of my great love for you. Do you know how much happiness you bring to me? Do you understand that I spend every moment of eternity waiting for you, calling to you, rescuing you, restoring you? Do you believe that I am everywhere at all times lifting you, healing you, transforming you? When you practice prudence and moderation you will feel my presence. When you humble yourself in righteousness you will know my wisdom. When you persist with my fortitude you will be my wisdom. Come, live in me today . . . and share my goodness with others. 

Choose more of these verses and reflect on them, considering how often you invite Wisdom into your heart and home. Compare the different versions of Sirach 1 at the scripture link above and reflect on Jesus Ben Sirach’s words.


Image from: http://conversationrevolution.com/2014/03/this-weeks-word-is-fortitude/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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proverbs 12-20Monday, December 6, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Deceit

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today we find joy even in deceit.

Each of us has experienced a time when joy has been difficult to find. It is sometimes difficult to imagine that the wickedness and deceit we see around us will ever dissipate; peace and serenity seem powerless against the forces of corruption and treachery. Betrayal, envy, slander, gossip, plots against the innocent and vulnerable, schemes against the marginalized and voiceless seem far more powerful than the power of humility, serenity and peace. But then we might be thinking that we must generate goodness from our own resources . . . and we will have forgotten that God alone can penetrate stony hearts, Christ alone is the path to resurrection, the Spirit alone abides through hate and calumny and fear

Verse 10:28: The hope of the just brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.

joyGod says: What is the justice I ask you to bring to the world? Is it a gargantuan task that saps every bit of energy you possess? Is it a complex plot with an infinite number of people and parts? No . . . the justice I ask you to bring is you witnessing. Stand with the marginalized and the innocent. The justice I ask you to enact is your voice. Speak when the Spirit asks you to speak. The justice I ask you to nurture is your outrageous hope that all things are possible in and through me for the hope of the just brings joy.

Verse 12:20: Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who counsel peace have joy.

God says: When you experience every kind of deceit, you need not hide or cower in the shadows. Step into the light of my goodness and live as you know you are called to live. When plots unfold before you, allow my peace to fill you. When schemes unravel around you, allow my serenity to guide you. When intrigue and conspiracy reign, step into my quiet stillness and know that I am with you. In this way you will experience joy . . . even in the cruelest of circumstances.

During this second week in Advent we will continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts. Tomorrow, God’s joy is present even in the midst of evil.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/345088390170692266/

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Holy Tuesday, March 30, 2021

200px-Prophet_Amos_002Amos 7

God’s Servants

Through a series of visions Amos leads us to his central message: we must respond to God’s call to correct the social injustice we see around us. In Chapter 7 we see the core of Amos’ message through a series of visions but it is perhaps his personality that moves us more than the images he describes. Amos displays characteristics we see in Jesus, and these are the same tools we must nurture so that we might be faithful servants of God’s Word: frankness, brevity, an insistence to stay “on message” despite the chastisement and threats received from a corrupt civil, social or religious structure.

Amos refuses to hire himself out, as other prophets do. He resists the urge to say more than Yahweh has told him. He speaks, takes no credit or blame, remains faithful and tenacious, then stands down when his work of prophecy is complete, returning to the productive life he had lived before he stepped into history.

We are each called to be Amos. We are each called to speak in witness to what we know to be truth and light. We each live in the providential care of God. We each have the power of speech and spirit. We each must intercede for our family, friends and enemies – just as Amos does. And then we may return to our work, living the Gospel we know to be true until we are called again by God.

Life lived in this manner becomes less complicated, less frightening, more fulfilling, and more peaceful. Life lived in this manner – even in the midst of painful abuse and dire extremes – is seen as beautiful and serene. Life lived as Amos shows us is life in its proper alignment – we become good and faithful servants doing the work of God. As humble and honest workers, we demonstrate our understanding that God is in charge, that God’s plan will not be thwarted, that God can be trusted to turn all acts of malicious damage into acts of saving love.

This then is the lesson of Amos: Speak when we know we must, listen for the Word always, step forward when called and back when the time for speaking has ended. Act always in God and through God. Remain always God’s willing servant who brings a full and open heart to each day. Trust God . . . and stay out of God’s way. 


Tomorrow, a Prayer for Faithful Servants.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2008.

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Thursday, February 18, 2014

desert in bloomJoel 2:18-27

Blessings for God’s People

I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten . . . you shall praise the name of the Lord because God has dealt wondrously with you . . .

When we experience loss we believe that our work has been in vain; yet God says: There is nothing lost that cannot be found. Nothing spent that cannot be restored. Nothing ruined that cannot be rebuilt. I am the great restorer. It is not true that the work you have given to me as a kingdom-builder can really be destroyed. Nothing done by you in my name is ever erased, and I can call it to life in an instant so do not panic. Do not be afraid. I see a vast and complicated plan which you cannot perceive or understand. When you are troubled about how this plan appears to be ineffective or ridiculous, remember to bring those fears and anxieties to me. And when you find yourself feeling as though you are alone with nothing and no one to sustain you . . . remember that I am with you always.  Even in the most brutal and hostile of deserts.

After his baptism, the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

When we experience our own desert times we too feel surrounded by evil beasts; yet we are accompanied by angels who minister to us. When we ask God to bring us patience, humility and serenity these gifts will arrive on angels’ wing.  hen will the desert begin to bloom in an extraordinary way; and then will we find that for long, dry days and dark, cold nights we have been sustained by the mystery and miracle of God’s love.

Tomorrow, Blessings In the Desert.


Image from: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2005/05/desert_flowers_.html

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

matthew7_1[1]Matthew 7

Lessons in Serenity

As Matthew closes this section of his Gospel he records Jesus as speaking plainly and simply to his followers. There really is no mystery here. What must we do to gain serenity?

Jesus tells us clearly.

Stop judging others and tend to your own progress. The criticisms we level at others are a good place to begin with our own self-development. We critique in others what we dislike most in ourselves. Let us recall the negative comments we have made about others and let us lay them out neatly. We will find an apt and accurate map of the journey we must take.

Matthew-7[1]You are pearls of great price so there is no need to claw your way over those you perceive to be in your path. Once we see where our journey must take us we will want to relax into the great gift God has for us. All of our striving and fixing and arranging may, in fact, be counter to the work we must do on ourselves. Let us learn to bear good fruit in due season.

Ask the creator for all the desires of your heart. Who knows us better than the hand that carved us out of nothing? Fashioned us in God’s image, we do not have to search long or far to discover why we are here or where we are going. Who leads us better than our human and divine brother Jesus? He understands the dichotomy we hold in our hands, the tug from two directions, the calling of two diverging worlds. Who abides with us more faithfully than the Spirit? God’s wisdom and grace dwell within us to guide, protect and console.

matthew_7_13_14_by_phoenixoftheopera-d4247gw[1]Discipleship is difficult and the way to peace is narrow. Quick fixes, easy solutions, pat answers, immediate satisfaction, and feelings of control and power must be put aside in favor of process, dialog, reflection, shared decisions, forgiveness and redemption.

Expect false leaders. And work to be honest followers. Integrity, honesty, courage and persistence are wells from which we must draw. We must learn to rebuke gently, to walk humbly, to accompany without judging, to pray ceaselessly.

You have a choice to make; build on sand or rock. We are free to choose. Stand on solid ground where everyone is open and honest, or allow ourselves to slide into the shifting world of denial, obfuscation and illusion.

The way is clear. The path is open. The winding is narrow but there are signs along the way. These are lessons in serenity.

And so we pray.

Matthew7_24sm[1]Patient and loving father and mother, help us to refrain from judging lest we lose ourselves in the trial. Remind us that we are well loved and well protected. Repeat to us often that we are to knock, ask and seek. Support us as we sift through true and false teachers and leaders. Lead us out of the boggy quicksand of a life lived with the only goal of personal comfort. Steer us away from all that is alluring. Lift us to stand on the rock that is both fortress and refuge. Guide us always back to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Reflect on the past week’s posts and determine what lessons for serenity you hope to learn in the coming season of Advent.

Images from: http://joanmedinanisnisan.wordpress.com/tag/joan-medina-nisnisan/

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Monday, October 5, 2020

SCR038-G-02[1]2 Peter 1:2

Grace and Peace

May grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

This is so very simple. God makes a gift of grace and peace. Rather than strive to add cash to our accounts, square footage to our homes and friends to our social media, we will do well to focus on gaining knowledge of God. We increase this knowledge through the study of God’s word, through prayer and worship, and through conversations with others who are like seekers.

This is so complicated. We do not want to leave behind our old agendas, our old goals and our old norms. We are comfortable with the world as we have arranged it and we do not want to shift perspective or viewpoint. We are content . . . for a time. And when life presents its catastrophes as it always will . . . then we will yearn for peace and grace.

We understand the peace is an uplifting serenity that calms and focuses our shattered thoughts. Peace is a state of tranquility and harmony with self and with our surrounding world. This is something to yearn for.  t is a quality worth struggling for. And what is grace?

bible-image[1]Grace is a freely offered gift from God that brings us full participation in the life of God. It is through Grace that we are pulled into intimacy with the Creator.  Grace is intended for the common good and so it frees us to collaborate with others as we grow in the Body of Christ. Grace is brought to us by the Spirit so that we might be healed and sanctified. And so, because Grace is a gift given freely by God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we understand that it surpasses the power of human intellect and will. We can see that it perfects the soul itself to live with God and to act by God’s love. It is this Grace in which we hope to be rooted. It is this Grace from which we hope to draw strength. It is through this Grace that we reach our full potential both individually and collectively. It is this Grace that shows itself in the many small miracles that mark our days. It is the gift of grace that brings us peace. It is this gift of grace that is God’s love for us.

This is complicated. This is simple. Let us add to our knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord so that the gift of grace and peace may be ours in abundance. In these troubles days, we will want to seek these gifts. We will want to hold these miracles.  


For a commentary on grace and peace as described by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 1:2, click on the Bible image above or go to: http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/bible-commentary-grace-and-peace/

Citation image from: http://www.christianstatements.com/proddetail.php?prod=SCR038

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Friday, October 2, 2020

Imperishable_Seed[1]1 Peter 1:23

Imperishable Seed

You have been born anew, not from perishable but imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God . . .

We yearn for immortality and yet we are immortal. We want to leave a mark that generations to follow recognize and yet we are part of a chain that has no end and no beginning. We amass material goods thinking to make ourselves secure and yet we receive the gift of eternal guidance and care from the moment of our inception. We ask God for endless gifts that in the end will gain us nothing and yet we ignore the gift of God’s presence that brings us surety, eternity and serenity. We plant perishable seed and leave the imperishable seed to languish.

God says: Comfort, peace, stability. These are the imperishable gifts that many of you struggle to gather about you and to pass on to loved ones. Fame, fortune, power. These are the perishable seed that others of you covet, gather, sow and reap. What you do not see is something that Nature is constantly teaching. What you sow, you will also reap. When you control loved ones they pull away from you leaving you alone. So who is left to you? When you amass wealth you leave little for others. So who abides with you? When you cause chaos and fear you sow distrust and anxiety. So who remains with you? And what is your legacy? You have within you my comfort, peace and stability. If it is fame you seek above well-being you will be disappointed. If it is power you seek before stability you will be disillusioned. If it is fortune you want rather than peace you will be frustrated. You need not amass anything. You already have and already are what you seek.

We have surety in that God never waivers from the lesson of love. We have eternity in our union with God. We have serenity in our relationship with God. These gifts are indescribable. They are given to us freely. All we need do is follow, love one another, and trust in God.


Image from: http://gdwm.org/index.php/2012/03/imperishable-seed-2/

For another reflection on this verse, click on the image above or go to: http://gdwm.org/index.php/2012/03/imperishable-seed-2/

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_deny.html

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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