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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’


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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Philippians 2:1-11: Unity and Humility

Friday, December 13, 2019

Complete my joy by being of the same mind . . .

If Christ – who is God – can humble himself in order to bring about good, cannot we humble ourselves, and can we not obey God’s call to us?  And what miracles might we experience once we do?

In Chapter 14 of Acts we read an account of how Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for pagan gods when they are able to cure a crippled man.  When this gift of healing which God gives them is made known, “some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered round him, he got up and entered the city”.  Even a stoning and apparent death do not stop Paul.  He is of the same mind as Christ.

As we spend time reflecting on Paul’s words and his actions, we have the opportunity to gauge our own humility before God, and our own desire for unity with Christ no matter the cost.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Psalm 116:12 – How can I repay the Lord for God’s goodness to me? 

The attitude of thankfulness is central to Christian spirituality.  The debt of gratitude we owe for God’s faithful love can be repaid only in a two-sided coin: turning to God in thanksgiving and doing for others what has been done for us.  (Mini-reflection)

Be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (Colossians 3:15-17)

The Christology expressed here is paramount to our understanding of who Christ is and how we might expect ourselves to be in him as he is in us.  At the root of his divinity is his readiness to humble himself and to obey God . . . even to the point of death.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

Notes tell us that the hymn Paul cites in likely one that was sung by the early Christians; and we can understand how this song may have served to inspire the fledgling church as she struggled to survive.  We too, might use these words when we find ourselves floundering.  He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . . he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

When we are humble enough . . . and when we obey enough . . . then we can say we are in unity with Christ.  And when we can say this, we will be in that spot where serenity overcomes anxiety, and where love overcomes fear.


A re-post from USA Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.10 (2010). Print.  

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Luke 10:1-24: Serpents and Scorpions

Sunday, October 27, 2019

In the past few days at daily Mass we have been reading from the tenth Chapter of Luke’s Gospel; we have witnessed the sending forth of disciples by Jesus, and we have heard his words of counsel to these followers of The Way.  These words are not only for those who accompanied Christ in his journey; they are words for Christ’s twenty-first century followers.  They are words for us.

“I rely on you,” Jesus says to them . . . and to us: The harvest is abundant but the workers are few . . .

“The work will be dangerous,” Jesus tells them . . . and us: I am sending you like lambs among wolves . . .

“My followers must rely on the message of freedom and hope that I have given them to carry into the world,” Jesus reminds them . . . and us:  Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals . . .

“You must not be deterred,” he says . . . and neither must we: Greet no one along the way . . .

“It is imperative to always operate from a perspective of peace,” Jesus reminds them . . . and us: Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household”.

“You are to remain focused on your work,” he says to them . . . and to us: Do not move around from one house to another . . .

“You will not be able to convert all who hear the message of salvation which you carry,” . . . and neither will we: Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, “The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shale off against you”.

Jesus warns his followers, “The rejection you will surely experience is your badge of honor,” . . . and it is to be ours: Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

Jesus tells them, “You carry the Living Word with you” . . . and Jesus tells us: Whoever listens to you listens to me.

Jesus reminds his disciples, “I will protect you as you move about in this most dangerous of worlds,” . . . and Jesus also reminds us: Behold I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.

We humans worry about our physical safety more than we do our spiritual welfare.  We have this backwards.

We creatures of God spend great amounts of time and talent and energy amassing power and wealth rather than storing up treasures that are impervious to rot and decay.  We have this upside down.

We children of God turn to false, exterior gods too often rather than to the Living God who has given us life and who dwells within. We have this inside out.

As we read the work that Jesus has outlined we see that it is not a complicated plan he has in mind; but it is the reversal of that we have come to understand as powerful and lasting.  It is the inversion of the world as we experience it. And it is the only way to live cheek by jowl with the evil that we know exists.  Jesus does not promise to remove all obstacles from our path; rather he promises that our journey is the one that leads to honest happiness. He does not swear that he will make the way easy and smooth; rather, he swears that he will accompany us through the narrow gates of our passage.  Christ does not guarantee that we will find peace once we complete a prescribed checklist of tasks; rather, he guarantees that when we follow him we will experience a serenity that is everlasting.

We must not fear the snakes and scorpions we encounter as we step into our journey; rather, we must trust God’s message that even snakes and scorpions are subject to our will . . . when we follow this simple plan.


A re-post from October 6, 2012.

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Lectio Divina

“God spots” in the human brain

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spiritual reading is often seen as a desperate last step in a series of pleas to God. Many of us see the contemplation of the sacred word as a last resort or a last worried petition for God’s attention.  The reality is that we constantly have God’s attention and need do nothing special for God to “notice” us.  We are well-loved and well-attended although there are times when we feel this may not be so.

Contemplative prayer is often seen as something we do when we can find the time.  It is seen as the work of the consecrated religious or the spiritually gifted. The truth is that each of us has the capacity to consider and reflect on God’s goodness.  We need no special talent and no special tools.  We each have a God spot that scientists have identified and in fact there are likely “several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief”.  (“Independent”)  We are well-equipped and well-blessed with this gift from God.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, a time when we approach Holy Week and the miracle of Easter.  Let us spend some time today with just a bit of scripture if we do not have time for a chapter or a book.  Let us spend some time today with the process of lectio divina even if for only twenty minutes or so.  Let us spend some time today with the Creator who loves us and tends to us.  This Creator longs to commune with us, yearns to touch is in special ways, wants to bless us and grace with all manner of gifts.  Let us give a bit of time today to God in a bit of reading, a bit of meditation, and a bit of communication.  We will find that the time we spend will come back to us in the form of patience, wisdom, and a newly-found peace.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

“Belief and the brain’s ‘God spot’ .” Independent. 10 March 2009: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html&gt;.

If you do not know how to begin, go to the Scripture as Prayer page on this blog, of go to:

For more information on God spots, go to: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html, or http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2886, or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/brains-god-spot-discovere_n_173705.html, or http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104291534, or http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

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2 Samuel 16Making Mistakes

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Michelangelo: David

Written on January 30 and posted today as a Favorite . . . 

Today we see a part of the story of David that might be difficult to understand if we view life as a series of good decisions.  When we view life as it really is, however – as series of decisions we make both bad and good – we have less anxiety and fear, we experience more hope and serenity.  I heard a radio preacher recently say: When you live your life in the Spirit, you can’t make a mistake.  “This is incorrect”, we might say to ourselves.  “How can a good life have bad decisions in it?  How can a life of flawed decisions be good?”  If this is our thinking, we have forgotten something and it is this : If we are living in the Spirit, we will have arrived at understanding how God operates; we will fully comprehend that God turns all harm to good.  So whether we err accidentally or whether we mean to inflict harm in any way, God will use these flawed acts to work in his favor for – God turns all harm to good.  And this is part of the story we see today.

David has been a good leader and faithful to God, but he has also sinned and erred.  What sets David apart is the way in which he reacts when others urge him to take revenge.  When he was younger, his soldiers encouraged him to murder the sleeping Saul when he had the opportunity.  David instead makes it obvious that he has breached the enemy’s lines and yet has not taken a life where he could.  David lives in the Spirit.  David later becomes infatuated with Bathsheba and plots her husband’s death; he confesses this sin when confronted by Nathan and sings a beautiful lament of repentance that we still sing today during the Lenten season (Psalm 51).  Even though he has erred, David lives in the Spirit.

David does not use his good standing with God to ignore what he has done; instead he confesses and atones.  He lives his life in the Spirit and does not try to avoid culpability for his actions or gain immunity so that he might do whatever he likes.  Rather, David praises and obeys God.  Living in the Spirit has become part of who he is and what he does.

Today we read of some of the intrigue that mounted as David aged and the time came for one of his sons to rule Israel.  The sibling rivalry, the palace intrigue, and the political plotting are fascinating to see but what is most interesting is the way we see David living in the Spirit.  In verse 10 he speaks the wisdom we can all use today: What business is it of mine or of yours, sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?  Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?” 

We can read commentary to sort through who is aligned with whom, who is against whom, but today we have the opportunity to see another way to step away from revenge, anger and violence and move toward hope and serenity.  We see another opportunity to step away from fear and anxiety and move toward peace and unity.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must study, we must seek, we must be patient, and we must be persistent in living lives directed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must witness, we must watch, we must wait, and we must insist on living lives governed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  When we believe this, the fretfulness and panic drop away . . . for we have focused our lives on God, we have learned to trust in God, we have begun to love like God . . . and we know that God will turn all harm to good.  We will not worry or fret for we, like David, will reply to a challenge . . . Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?”  We will be truly living in and of the Spirit.


A re-post from August 26, 2011.

Images from: http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/ and http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/

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