To lift the scales from my eyes

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In Damascus there was a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

He answered, “Yes, Lord.”

The Lord instructed him, “Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias enter and put his hands on him to restore his sight.”

Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem. He’s here with authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.”

The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. ” Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. After eating, he regained his strength. He stayed with the disciples in Damascus for several days. ~Acts 9:10-19 (CEB)

“In every great religious tradition the concept is clear: To be contemplative we must become converted to the consciousness that makes us one with the universe, in tune with the cosmic voice of God. We must become aware of the sacred in every single element of life. We must restore the human community. We must grow in concert with the God who is within. We must be healers in a harsh society. We must become all those things that are the ground of contemplation, the fruits of contemplation, the end of contemplation.

The contemplative life is about becoming more contemplative all the time. It is about being in the world differently. What needs to be changed in us? Anything that makes us the sole center of ourselves. Anything that deludes us into thinking that we are not simply a work in progress, all whose degrees, status, achievements, and power are no substitute for the wisdom that a world full of God everywhere, in everyone, has to teach us. Anything that drowns out the voice of the Ultimate within must be damped.

To become a contemplative, a daily schedule of religious events and practices is not enough. We must begin to do life, to be with people, to accept circumstances, to bring good to evil ways that speak of the presence of God in every moment.” ~From Illuminated Life by Joan Chittister

When I stay “too busy,” I keep myself from seeing the things that God needs me to see. For me to tune into the voice of the universe I must learn to slow down. To see Him in the everyday moments I must search the silences first. To make a change in the world, I first must begin with me.

Heavenly Father, create in me the space for You so that in this day I may see Your wonders all around me. To do Your will, I must be first tuned in to You. Sing into my heart today. Amen.

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Seriously

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Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully.

Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.”

“No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.”

Simon Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus responded, “Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you is clean.” ~John 13:1-11

“What distinguishes the Christians whose faith is deep, burning, powerful, and luminous is . . . seriousness. Seriousness is not the opposite of joy but of superficiality. Francis of Assisi was such a lighthearted, whimsical, musical, gentle man. But that was only part of his character. On the other side was the totally dedicated, unbending, relentless search for truth and reality. A Jesus-haunted man who gave up all to obtain all. His seriousness changed him from the wealthy son of a comfortable Umbrian home into the blind ragged beggar of Mount Alvernia. It was his seriousness about what he read in the Gospel that turned his life into what it was. ~From Lion and Lamb by Brennan Manning

Heavenly Father, help me to take seriously the words I read in scripture. In my search for truth and discernment may I not overlook the commands I see. Bolster me for the day ahead. May I not fear but do what is right. Amen.

Blinding

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These are the words of Jeremiah, Hilkiah’s son, who was one of the priests from Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. The LORD ’s word came to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son, and throughout the rule of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, Josiah’s son, when the people of Jerusalem were taken into exile.

The LORD ’s word came to me: “Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, LORD God,” I said, “I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child.” The LORD responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’ Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say. Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out his hand, touched my mouth, and said to me, “I’m putting my words in your mouth. This very day I appoint you over nations and empires, to dig up and pull down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.” ~Jeremiah 1:1-10 (CEB)

“Every morning at 6:45 I go to the small convent of the Carmelite Sisters for an hour of prayer and meditation. I say ‘every morning,’ but there are exceptions. Fatigue, busyness, and preoccupations often serve as arguments for not going. Yet without this one hour a day for God, my life loses its coherency and I start experiencing my days as a series of random incidents and accidents.

My hour in the Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself. It is not an hour of deep prayer, nor a time in which I experience a special closeness to God; it is not a period of serious attentiveness to the divine mysteries. I wish it were! On the contrary, it is full of distractions, inner restlessness, sleepiness, confusion, and boredom. It seldom, if ever, pleases my senses. But the simple fact of being for one hour in the presence of the Lord and of showing him all that I feel, think, sense, and experience, without trying to hide anything, must please him.” ~From Gracias! By Henri J.M. Nouwen

It is not so much that the time I spend with God is perfect. The point is that I make the effort to take time to be in his presence. When I make time in my schedule I place myself in a position to hear from Him and be touched by Him. Making time for Him brings a coherency to my otherwise hectic schedule.

Heavenly Father, Because of You I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You knew me before I was born. When I try to serve You, You see my heart and know my intentions despite my distractions or sleepiness. You bolster and strengthen me. You bring coherency to my living. You give me the words that I need to speak. You rescue me when a storm blows in. I thank You for Your presence in my life. Amen.

Coherency

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These are the words of Jeremiah, Hilkiah’s son, who was one of the priests from Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. The LORD ’s word came to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son, and throughout the rule of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, Josiah’s son, when the people of Jerusalem were taken into exile.

The LORD ’s word came to me: “Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, LORD God,” I said, “I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child.” The LORD responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’ Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say. Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out his hand, touched my mouth, and said to me, “I’m putting my words in your mouth. This very day I appoint you over nations and empires, to dig up and pull down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.” ~Jeremiah 1:1-10 (CEB)

“Every morning at 6:45 I go to the small convent of the Carmelite Sisters for an hour of prayer and meditation. I say ‘every morning,’ but there are exceptions. Fatigue, busyness, and preoccupations often serve as arguments for not going. Yet without this one hour a day for God, my life loses its coherency and I start experiencing my days as a series of random incidents and accidents.

My hour in the Carmelite chapel is more important than I can fully know myself. It is not an hour of deep prayer, nor a time in which I experience a special closeness to God; it is not a period of serious attentiveness to the divine mysteries. I wish it were! On the contrary, it is full of distractions, inner restlessness, sleepiness, confusion, and boredom. It seldom, if ever, pleases my senses. But the simple fact of being for one hour in the presence of the Lord and of showing him all that I feel, think, sense, and experience, without trying to hide anything, must please him.” ~From Gracias! By Henri J.M. Nouwen

It is not so much that the time I spend with God is perfect. The point is that I make the effort to take time to be in his presence. When I make time in my schedule I place myself in a position to hear from Him and be touched by Him. Making time for Him brings a coherency to my otherwise hectic schedule.

Heavenly Father, Because of You I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You knew me before I was born. When I try to serve You, You see my heart and know my intentions despite my distractions or sleepiness. You bolster and strengthen me. You bring coherency to my living. You give me the words that I need to speak. You rescue me when a storm blows in. I thank You for Your presence in my life. Amen.

Those who have gone before

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Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro, Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. The LORD’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.

When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Moses said, “I’m here.”

Then the LORD said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.”  He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then the LORD said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live.Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. ”

 But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.” ~Exodus 3:1-12 (CEB)

“The Bible and saints who have gone before us give ample evidence of God’s consistent call to each of us. The Bible and the saints who have traveled this road before us also make clear the universal nature of God’s call to all humankind. No one is left out, exempted, or overlooked. All are of equal worth and all are called. While we may think of certain vocations as callings, God appears to consider all of life as our calling, and that includes every honorable vocation.

Regularly practicing disciplines of the holy life puts us in position to hear God’s call clearly. Those disciplines include prayer, fasting, community and personal worship, acts of mercy and compassion, and faithful living.

Hearing is an important step in saying yes to God’s call. But once we hear, we must still decide whether we will go where invited or sent. In other words, hearing may be the easy part of saying yes to God’s call. Once we have heard and counted the cost the most difficult task remains. However, with deep faith in the living God who calls us, the only reasonable response is to say yes. For in our best moments, we know God will ask us, only us, to say yes to an invitation that is right and good for us.  Listen closely, think deeply, pray fervently, and you will be lead to the right answer to God’s invitational call. In my experience the right answer is always yes. The good news is that even when I was unable to give the right answer, God was patient and gave me opportunity to grow in faith until I was able to say yes and to claim another part of my inheritance as a child of God.” ~ From A Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Hearing God’s call is an everyday experience for me. Answering Him is a moment by moment decision. First I need to hear his voice. Sometimes I need to look to others’ example to help me along my way.

Heavenly Father, help me to discern Your will in my life as I seek you though regular discipline of holy living. May the scriptures I read in the Bible help to tune my ears to hear Your Word. Amen.

Seeking

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The LORD proclaims: When Babylon’s seventy years are up, I will come and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will be present for you, declares the LORD, and I will end your captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have scattered you, and I will bring you home after your long exile, declares the LORD. ~Jeremiah 29:10-14 (CEB)

“[Jesus] has said: ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find. Unfortunately we ask for the ephemeral which isn’t really satisfying. We seek what is passing and will leave us empty- until we come to realize in truth we do not know what we truly want, where our true happiness lies. We need to seek a teacher, a prophetic voice- the guidance of one whom the Lord has sent, the Church who makes Jesus present to us today, Jesus who is all our hearts seek. Until we seek and find Truth we will in fact be in a desert chasing mirages, encountering delusions, finding all swaying and unstable.” ~From Living in the Questions by M. Basil Pennington

Help me this day O Lord to seek Your Truth in all I do. Guide my steps through this day so that I may better live for You. Amen.

Saying yes to life

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Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. ~Ephesians 1:15-23 (CEB)

“Daily personal prayer, examination of conscience, and participation in a faith-sharing group: these smaller practices can be of real benefit to us in sustaining the larger practice of saying yes to life, saying no to destruction. Together, they help us to understand, judge, and evaluate our daily choices and decisions in light of their relation to our daily choices and decisions in light of the relation to our ultimate happiness, as individuals and as humans in community. If we are to enhance and build up the capacities for a good, wholesome, and holy life, we must learn to say yes to what affirms and renews wholeness and life. And we must learn to say a related no to what induces and brings about destruction and ruin. In this practice, we are invited and challenged to make a fully conscious voice about who it is we are and who it is we shall become.” ~From “Saying Yes and Saying No” by M. Shawn Copleand in Praciting Our Faith, ed. By Dorothy C. Bass

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the faithful friends you have placed in my life that helps me to decipher Your will in my life. May I ever be willing to hear what You have to say. Amen.

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