This past Sunday we celebrate Laetare Sunday, which is a Sunday in Lent where we celebrate the Mothering of Christ. It is a time of Joy within the season where the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church celebrates by wearing of Rose colored vestments (or if you want to rile up a priest PINK!!!) The wearing of rose signifies an ancient tradition of the blessing of the “golden rose;” which was a rose that was sent from the Pope to those sovereigns that were Catholic.
The Introit states:
“Lætare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ. Psalm: Lætatus sum in his quæ dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.”
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. Psalm: I rejoiced when they said to me: ‘we shall go into God’s House!'”
What beauty we find in this. We rejoice the fact that Jesus himself will soon rise. And through this act we have great joy. But that happened on Monday March 12, 2018 was a sign from God that through the rejoicing of Laetare Sunday we can find ourselves Baptized in the love and spirit of Christ. And just want sign did God give us of this purity found within Christ?
Well of course it would be snow! Many people do not like the aspect of snow. But
remember that everything we experience here on earth is something that God himself gives to us. Personally, I look at snow as a symbol of the white garment that we are all given at the time of our baptism. A garment that reminds us that we are born into a life of purity. So, this white is something that we should look at as a sign from God! The Earth is something that can also become pure and full of renewal for our lives and for the lives of those around us. Just think… We sprang forward in time, celebrated Laetare (JOY), and ended it with a symbol of God’s purity for us. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND!
But with all of these wonderful signs and gifts from God, do you personally still feel as if there is something missing. Could it be right if front of you? Could it be happening to you right now and you do not know it? As we prepare forEaster, know that one must continue to look for the signs that Christ has placed before us on the path that we are walking. From those signs we will each be able to reach the end destination that God has written for us. Some will get there faster than others, but ultimately we will all arrive on the Last Day! And won’t it be JOYOUS!
The multiplication process of spreading the word of God and the love of Christ—Over the same 36-year period instead of leading a thousand people you merely led three, and then trained them to share the love of Christ to three others—then in the SAME 36-year period there would be well over a MILLION people who would come to know and love Christ. I think a million disciples is far better than taking a personal win of 36,000.
The Spirit of Christ be with you always, AND WITH YOUR MATH!
Wait! What? We often think that we are doing our jobs when we go out into the world after mass and display our faith and our love for Christ. In a way, we are, however, we would be doing it an academic “C” level. To fully understand this, we look at Matthew 28:18-20. This command asks us to go out and MAKE disciples, not to merely get them to convert over to Catholicism.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age’”.
ONE person CAN make a difference!
What a powerful statement that Christ gave us. But what does it mean? If I decide to only ask people to believe in Christ in the Catholic way and I do that to approximately one thousand people a year for 36 years—I would be proud to know that I have touched 36 THOUSAND people! The joy that I would have in my ability to share the love of Christ would be GREAT, but it would not be what I was called to do; nor is it what any of us are called to do. DISCIPLESHIP is not about winning people over; it is about creating conversion—that part is real. It is about creating awareness and understanding of the faith in general so that those you “win over” can go out and do the same thing! BINGO! There you have it, you have done what you were asked to do. So, what would those impacts look like, is it better? Well of course! If you take the actual multiplication process of spreading the word of God and the love of Christ—Over the same 36-year period instead of leading a thousand people you merely led three, and then trained them to share the love of Christ to three others—then in the SAME 36-year period there would be well over a MILLION people who would come to know and love Christ. I think a million disciples is far better than taking a personal win of 36,000.
What I have explained is a brief difference between Spiritual Addition and that of Spiritual Multiplication. But how do we engage in the more advanced “Math of Jesus”? You must FIND- LOCATE INTEREST-SHARE- HELP. Those steps allow you to locate those that wish to know Christ, figure out their interests in Christ; their felt needs (what they think Jesus does for them); and finally, their attitude towards Jesus. This is an essential process, for from these necessary findings you can LOCATE what is attractive to them about the love and understanding of Christ.
So now gathering their interest in Christ. Understanding testimony, answered prayer stories, needs for personal prayers, and the community in which they lean towards to find and learn of God’s love, allows the original disciple to begin to make grounds of a life-long formation process. This process eventually prepares the newly formed disciple with the tools necessary for them to enter the SHARE phase of their journey. This share portion of the journey is an important one. Here we can know and spread the story of Jesus, discover the power of Bible study, hear Gospel presentations, and ultimately be led to lectio divina (spiritual reading). Once this step is complete, then we have a small period of HELP. This period allows the newly formed Disciple of Christ to be asked for a decision, and from that decision to deal with any barriers that might exist. So, what is this decision? This decision is the hardest one we deal with as a human. THE DECISION TO DO WHAT IS BEING ASKED OF US. To go out and make disciples of all nations.
Is the process of Spiritual Multiplication more natural than Spiritual Addition? OF COURSE NOT! Nothing we were meant to do was expected to be comfortable. Loving God is sometimes hard. Trusting God can equally be hard to do. But listening to God should NEVER be hard. Listening takes no effort. If we only consider time in our lives to slow down and LISTEN, then we will see a great deal of change in all areas of life.
So, the next time the next time you are in mass and here THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU we should almost respond with “and with your math.” For it is with our priest’s multiplication that we can as a community move closer to God. For they are working to make efficient and productive disciples of us all. And when we finish the Mass with—Go out and Glorify the Lord by your Presence— Maybe we should think ‘Praise be the Math of the Lord’.
I must thank my fellow Brother Knight Mr. Andy Medders for responding to my call to ask for things I could ponder and then write about. Andy is an exceptional young husband and father, and equally something I am proud to be a fellow Knight with!
Today I traveled to the beautiful and peaceful “Holy Hill” for a day of spiritual direction and reflection. Many things run through my mind while I sit before my spiritual direction session. The one major thing that sprang to mind while I sit in the Adoration Chapel at St. Meinrad praying a rosary was—WHAT AM I GOING TO DO FOR LENT…
This is a valid question that, even though should not have distracted me from my rosary or my time with God, I have not yet given much thought to. But with less than a month to go before we enter “those 40 days”, it is something that deserves attention. Luckily, I thought of this before joining my session; which I was then able to discuss briefly (I have many topics that I try and get clarity on during my sessions) with my director some things. So, what to do? What should I do? How should I focus my works on mercy? What should I fast (and fasting means MUCH MORE than merely not eating-it is an act of forgoing something)? How can I better prepare myself to walk a better life with Christ and come to better know God?
Then BINGO, or PRESTO, it came to mind. Non aver paura, devi solo credere! It made complete sense to me…. Be Not Afraid, simply believe…. These two phrases came together from Nola Eastwick (author of “The Big Secret to Unlocking the Power of God’s Word… Simply believe It!”) and my hero the Blessed St. Pope John Paul II “be Not Afraid.” As we enter any act of devotion or sacrifice; we should always do so without fear, or worry, or reservation. We should still begin it with a sense of love and honor for God. Thus, the comforting words of e Not Afraid and Simply Believe made perfect sense. I should not worry, but instead, believe that whatever I came to do would be of GREAT homage to our Lord and Savior.
As just as that sounds, I am still left with a great deal of confusion, or cloudiness, of what it is that I can do, or should do. There are the staples of sacrificing time to be spent in service to others, forgoing something that you are fond of doing to spend it in a time of reflection of what God has given us, or even to sacrifice parts of your time, talent, or treasure to benefit others (Don’t forget you Rice Bowls!!!). Everything sounds great, and each one of those is equally deserving of Lenten Sacrifices. But this year I think I have decided to do something that is a sacrifice for ME. Something that will, in the end, make me a better person in the long run to many people—I am going to being to spend time each even in the reflection of my day (which I do) but take it a step further and begin to journal about what is happening in me spiritually. How I feel when my day goes GREAT, and how I think when it is not so great.
See what is important to understand that fasting for Lent is not always about giving up your favorite food, or desserts, or a second helping, or fast food, or sodas… ALL OF THOSE ARE GREAT THINGS TO GIVE UP! But ultimately Lent is a time of fasting to better yourself for preparation with God and your eventual encounter with Christ. Being able to give up the time to reflect, meditate and write about what God has done for you that day; as well as ultimately how you feel because of it, is one of the GREATEST fasting events that you can make! So, I will not be afraid, I will simply believe that God has called upon me to do many great things and that through his will and recognizing the gifts that he has given to me; I will ultimately become a servant fully devoted to the mission of God and an active Disciple of Christ—There is no better sacrifice!
What will you do for Lent? I love hearing how others are preparing themselves for the season of sacrifice. But in the end let us all remember to “BE NOT AFRAID, SIMPLY BELIEVE.”
Lawrence V. McCrobie
ps…enjoy these pictures of St. Meinrad Archabbey on this 16th Day of January 2018!
So, what is Epiphany (also called Three Kings Day, or the Twelfth Night)? In its simplistic form, Epiphany is the immigration of individuals to see a native place. Around about the 4th century, the celebration of Epiphany was the association of three visiting Magi (what we call the Three Kings) traveling to visit the newborn Jesus in the manger nestled in Bethlehem. With them, as we all know, they bring gifts; gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. [The gifts have meanings Gold=Royal Standing; Frankincense=Divine Birth; Myrrh=Mortality.] But even better is the fact that the word EPIPHANY itself is Greek [not Hebrew] meaning “manifestation’. Already full of irony– the word is not native, but rather a term that was in a sense “immigrated in.”
So where does this lead us to? Well the fact that as the region of Bethlehem was becoming a “sanctuary” for the Magi and even Jesus, the nation itself was in the middle of welcoming refugee and others into their lands. United by their belief that the King of Kings had been born; we see in Christianity’s first moments, the beginnings of what has become Human Days of Dignity–where one group (or one nation) was called upon to welcome others from the outside who bear gifts and have a great gift to bring to this new “nation” united by Christ.
It is fitting that today in the Archdiocese of Louisville we celebrated a Migration Day of Prayer—presided over by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz; and the fact that we also begin to usher in the celebration of Epiphany. As part of those 5 days of Human Dignity (which are scattered thorough this liturgical season) we are called to become more inclusive, to welcome those who come seeking a place of sanctuary as an opportunity to potentially have an encounter with Christ; for it is known through Catholic teaching that we should meet everyone as if they were Christ himself, for we never know if it might be him coming to visit us.
So what should we do? We should welcome all of those into our “nation” that wish to enter. We should find ourselves full of love and embrace for those seeking nothing more than what you or I have. We should realize that it was Mary and Joseph (along with Jesus) that opened up and accepted visitors from all over to live united under the Messiah. We should not be greedy, but instead should offer to share what has been so generously given to us by God, through his one and only Son-born of the Virgin Mary. It is through the acceptance of those who wish to come into the house of the Lord (into our communities) that we may find ourselves close to walking hand-in-hand with Jesus.
So in the end, Epiphany is nothing more than (not minimizing the significance of the event) a remembrance of our call to accept all those that have been called to the feast table by God; and to treat others as we would want to be treated!
So not only Happy Epiphany but HAPPY IMMIGRATION DAY!
So, year after year I can get online and see how this WILL BE the year that a person will change their life forever. Starting the beginning of this New Year, they will make changes that will permanently alter how they live their life. The new year will be the year for weight loss, saving money, finishing education, buying the new home, being more helpful to people; the list goes on. SO, what is wrong with this? NOTHING! But at the same time, everything is wrong with it.
We, as humans, can do many beautiful things. We are free (as Americans) to make many choices that will, in fact, alter every one of those things listed above. But can we do it ALONE? NOPE! So, my answer is to entirely ditch the notion of creating a New Year’s resolution. Forget it, will not work, and cannot work.
It is the strength that Christ gives us that we can complete any and everything. With that in mind if you wait until January 1 to create your New Year Resolution then you are about 28 days too late (give or take a few days). Why is this? The New Year started for us on December 2, 2017! Talk about being a day late and a dollar short! Think of it this way, to make something happen we have to have faith that Christ will walk the road with us, and that the strength of our Lord God will be with us at every turn to help us through those resolutions we wish to make. Without the help of God, we cannot complete the tasks.
So disclaimer, I did not make a “solid” resolution this year, but instead my goal was to continue doing what I have been doing this past year which is to continue to shape and mold the better me! To do it through living the life Christ has called me to live and to look forward—knowing that none of it is possible without the love and strength given to me by Christ.
So what are your Advent Goals? (even though it has passed you can still have them—its better late than never RIGHT?) Happy 2018 to ALL!