building up.

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

Matthew 12:25

Do you remember a moment when you realized you just couldn’t do it on your own?

I am learning how, in these moments, it is important to become vulnerable, fall on my knees & have my Prayer Team on speed-dial!

American culture has historically encouraged us to be independent.

This freedom of choice is a gift, and yet it can also lead to us feeling as though we are the masters of our own destiny. Even now, as independent as the modern life may be, we are still part of many social structures.

This means that at some point, you will need to rely on others. This is why it is better to learn how to live in harmony with others than to see your community, workplace, church, or home become divided. If you are in a situation now where you are starting to see division, don’t become part of the problem. Taking sides will only cause more fractures. And we have seen enough of these during the past few months. Choosing to ‘not take sides’ does not mean we agree with the opposing opinion or should not champion to make positive change – it simply means we are called to unity through building up vs tearing down, because this is what makes us all stronger and better people.

And the greatest unifier is prayer!

Jesus tells us in Scripture how to honor our ‘side’ without condemning or judging the other.

“Jesus said to his disciples: You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

This commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” does not say only love one another if you have the same opinion, only love one another if you have the same skin color, only love one another if you are in the same socio-economic class, only love one another if you are in the same political party, only love one another if your worship space was founded by the same One, only love one another if you are on the same side as me.

We weren’t meant to be on the same side all the time!

We were not designed this way.

BUT

He did design all of us to love!

Moreover, the really good news is…

Our eternal kingdom will never be divided and will never end!

And most days I just don’t understand,

Why can’t we aim for the same in our earthly world too?”

Even if we can’t stand on the same side of the line as the other

we can always cross over the divide with folded hands, invoking prayers for unity.

Building up.

Instead of tearing down.

Will you join me in prayer?

hugs n’ blessings to all those who are seeking ways toward building up unity!

Heaven’s Perfect Lamb.

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Kristyn Brown Fine Art Portrait Photographer Our Lady of Guadalupe

Each year, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church has us focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Church does this not merely because Mary has an obviously unforgettable role in the birth and life of Jesus. The CERC (Catholic Education Resource Center)  reminds us

“the real reason that the Church proposes Mary to us as Christmas nears is because she is the model of how we should be living our advent. Mary is, in some sense, Advent personified. God the Father had prepared her from the first moment of her life to be a worthy mother of his Son. Like a faithful daughter of Israel, she had prayed throughout her youth for the coming of the Messiah. When she was a young girl, she discovered that she was part of God’s answer to that prayer, but in a way that would far have exceeded any Hebrew maiden’s prayers: not only would the Messiah be her son, but her son would also be God. Her “yes!” to the Archangel Gabriel launched the proximate preparation for the birth of Jesus the Messiah. Each year, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, we explicitly follow the footsteps Mary traced on that first Advent. In doing so, we’re doing more than traversing the physiological and historical events that preceded the birth of the Lord. We’re entering into Mary’s response of faith that are a guide for us along our own pilgrimage of faith.”

But I personally wonder…Did she know?  Did she really know what ALL THAT meant? Did she know the love He would teach?  Did she really know the miracles He would perform? Did she know the challenges He would face, the enemies He would make?  The mocking, spitting, scourging, and crucifixion He would offer for our Salvation?   Mary, did you know? 

In my own Yes to bringing forth “life”…Did I know? Did I know what ALL THAT meant? Did I know the love they would teach? Did I really know the gifts they would bring? Did I know the challenges they would face, the enemies they would make? The mocking, spitting, scourging, and crucifixion from a sometimes cruel world, all for trust in a God who can Save?  Woman, did you know?

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

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And so with the Lord, let us climb within Mary’s womb and listen to the beat of her contemplative heart that was treasuring within this greatest of all mysteries, so that our Christmas may be as fruitful as that first Christmas.

these hugs n’ holy blessings are my Advent gift to you!

Music by Pentatonix

It’s just Different, that’s all!

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Today is November 1st and not only is it the beginning of the  NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) but it is also…

All Saints Day in our Catholic Faith!!

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 (All Saints’ Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Anglican, Lutheran and Anglican churches.)

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Saints [N]:  The word “saint” is derived from a Greek verb (hagiazo [aJgiavzw]) whose basic meaning is “to set apart, ” “sanctify, ” or “make holy.”

All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. Holy day customs vary around the world.

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In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes while children go door-to-door, “trick-or-treating”; which is soliciting candy from their neighbors.

Our pastor, Fr. Larry Richards, reminded us in our Weekly Parish Bulletin, “There is only one tragedy – not to be a Saint! Each of us are called to be Saints.  This should be our number one goal in life… Being a saint is NOT just for the “spiritual super heroes” it is for all of us!  

To be Saints means that we become people of love!  People who love God above all things created.  This means that we have a daily committed prayer life.  That means that we build our day around God, not try to fit God into our day.  We also must be people who love others as Jesus commanded us – by giving up our lives for them each day, by putting them first.”

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In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.

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Different faces, different lives
Different ways, different interests
Their differences fit just right to the same God who loved them all.

May you have a solemn All Saints Day!  And a Prayerful All Souls Day too!

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hugs n’ blessings to all those we continue to pray for, both living and deceased!

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To all the departed most especially my Dad, Walter. (Whose birthday is on All Saints Day!) I pray you’re out catching some fish for a Heavenly feast with all those we’ve loved & lost! Until then…I pray for you and ask you to pray for me. Hugs Dad…