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Pursuit of Peace
AUTHOR
Jill  »

The dawn of a new day, a new year, a new beginning approaches with every drifting second. The collection of thoughts and plans scattered on the frontier of the imagination yields possibilities. Those annual fragmented promises we reflect on and recite like rituals keep the mind in a constant pursuit of personal peace. Peace that sets the scales for all future prospects and promises that will expand spirit and body into something greater.  Allowing ourselves the opportunity to reset and realign our anatomy and intention of ever prayer going forward. Peace we seek in every ambitious endeavor and habitual action we strive to make or break. So here’s a proposal for the year end reset/resolutions; remain in pursuit of peace in every personal practice old and new, and most of all become the peace you seek.

James 3:18 “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace…”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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AUTHOR
Sr. Rose  »

The ninth chapter of Isaiah contains this beautiful prophecy concerning the Messianic king:

 

The people who walked in darkness

    have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness—

    on them light has shined.

. . .

For a child has been born for us,

    a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

    and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:2, 6)

 

What does it mean for us to welcome Jesus? Is it even possible for us to welcome the Prince of Peace in this world torn by violence and discord?

 

We are indeed called to welcome gladly the peace and love of Christ, so that his peace becomes our own. But the peace of Christ that is poured into our hearts, if it is truly Christ’s peace, is not just for us, and not just for the people most like us.  It is to flow from us into the world around us.

But what about this troubling saying of Jesus:  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. (10:35-36)

Is this contrary to the peace that otherwise seems to be promised and that we are called to embody? Does this justify wars and violence?

No, the Prince of Peace does not call for violence. He is speaking here metaphorically of what happens in practice: when people become followers of Christ, they risk alienating family and friends. (See the parallel passage in Luke 12:51-53, where the word “division” is used instead of “sword.”)

Even today, there may be people, perhaps in our own families, who will disagree with us or condemn us—or even cast us out—if we are true followers of the Prince of Peace. Like Jesus, we risk disapproval, alienation, or worse if we share his love and peace, particularly with those whose lives seem to indicate that they are unworthy of the love of Christ.

We must remember, however, that we ourselves are also unworthy. We are unworthy, but we are of infinite worth. And amazingly enough, we are to be Christ-bearers in the world. We are to be bearers of the love of God, not only to the peaceful and the loving, but also to those unwilling or unable to receive the gift.

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At the Door
AUTHOR
Jill  »

The turkey is still roasting; every potato, string bean and dinner roll has been precisely buttered. The table linen and silverware is elegantly set and the center piece’s vivid colors are cascading from the light of the chandelier. Still robbed you swiftly dash to your bedroom throwing on the ensemble you laid out hours before.  A glance in the mirror and then a swift turn toward the clock; and panic takes hold because its 10 minutes til dinner time. Ding dong! Guest are already arriving, “I am not ready” you anxiously begin to repeat to yourself as you pace the floor of the kitchen. Turkey isn’t done! Ding dong! I forgot to get ice! Ding dong! OMG, where’s the cranberry sauce! Ding dong!

 In our lives we sometimes are concerned and panicked by the undone. The list of intangible order we wrestle with day to day. Reflecting and dissecting past conversations and those regrettable big mistakes; the “If’s” breach the space where sanity and faith reside. Ding dong! Christ is at your door. He is waiting for you to invite Him in, so He can relieve you of those patterned pressures you pledge your silent hours to. Perfection and order isn’t needed before He can be welcomed in our lives. I used to believe I must have it all in place to have a “real” relationship with Christ. I was ashamed of the list of things that I religiously muddled through that kept me away from God. Christ desires us as we are; He who is our freedom is standing at the door of our hearts.

 Ding Dong!  Will you let him in? Or keep Him waiting at the door?

 

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Heart Transformation

Whether you were watching television, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper, the question of immigration was at the forefront of our conversations for some weeks over the summer months. Since then other topics have engaged our attention and the main focus has changed but unfortunately life on our southern borders continues unchanged.

 When we reflect on it we realize that immigration has become a catalyst for surfacing the bias and/or racism that colors our attitude towards others and is present in all of us to a lesser or greater degree. It is not easy to stop ourselves from judging, putting people in boxes, attributing all kinds of motivations to them, and thinking of ourselves as far superior to anyone else.

 My fear is that now that immigration isn't the headline of the day we will have lost a golden opportunity...that of asking for the grace to move beyond our own prejudices, allowing God to give us new hearts and remove our hearts of stone. God and God alone can transform. The question is do I want to be transformed? Do I have the courage to be open to a new awareness of my own shortcomings (ouch!) and trusting enough to acknowledge that God will be at my side when I deal with my pettiness and smallness and reach out to others with a new attitude?

 I am sure that you have all experienced moments of being singled out, or witnessing injustice done either to yourself or others. I recall living in Rome and traveling with the Generalate team to visit our sisters throughout the world. Inevitably, two of our sisters, one from Madagascar and one from the Philippines, were stopped at passport control and delayed. They were always under suspicion; their passports were unduly scrutinized and they were subject to many questions before being allowed through. It was painful and it was embarrassing.

But speaking of passports let me end on a lighter note. Passport pictures are not known to be very flattering and when I myself was going through customs the agent looked at my photo and then looked at me. I returned his look and said: "Pathetic isn't it." He stared at the photo again and smilingly nodded yes. As I took my leave of him I thought he could have at least disagreed with me but then I smiled and hoped I had given him his laugh for the day.

It is never too late in life, your golden opportunity has not passed, do you want to be transformed? 

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The Wall
AUTHOR
Jill  »

I am sitting here, searching for an inspirational way to share a story about courage. As time pass I sift through shredded puddles of collected thoughts and phrases. My pen wades in the haze of my own hesitancy. Oh yes, finally a spark of something smart. Or maybe not, just clouds where my composed reflections should be. “Writers block may have got the best of me”, I say under my breath. Should I give up? The frustration and unease of feeling” I'm no writer” lurk in. I must push past this murky wall of angst, and just try. The completion of writing something is a success, I think. And, even though it shines an enormous spotlight on my imperfections, it is not a fail I do believe. Somewhere in between the do and don’t, I land on the cliff of courage, and transcribe this climb.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to lean into courage to get you through a difficult task?

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Only With Courage
AUTHOR
Steph  »

 

I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, or merciful for a while, even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and insistently kind and generous and fair.                                                Maya Angelou

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With Heart
AUTHOR
Joan  »
The root of the word courage is Old French coer for Heart.  The Webster dictionary states it is the state of mind or spirit that allows us to face life without fear.  I love the idea that is is a state of spirit not just action.  I know when I face each day without fear it is because I feel God's presence in my heart directing my spirit at each moment.  Psalm 31 states Let your heart take courage; all you who hope in the Lord.  That is just one of the many biblical quotes telling us to trust in God, to "be not afraid".   When I call upon God to be grant me courage I am, in fact, asking for the ability to move through each moment of the day without fear.  And that is where the freedom to truly be present to my life resides.  May you find "the courage to change the things we can" each and every moment of your grace filled life.
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The Virtue We Need

The apostles are almost comical in their frequent bewilderment concerning Jesus.  Clearly, they never met anyone remotely like him before.  The way he looks at things is so original and surprising. He’s a genius in the way that he speaks to the heart of things in the disarmingly simple stories that he tells.  Most significantly, the apostles see in him a truly compassionate and free person.  Everywhere he goes, he brings hope and healing to the downtrodden.  The spirit that he’s got, they want.  It’s exhilarating.

At the same time, he scares the hell out of them.  They notice that he sparks resistance and hatred from the powerful who find him to be dangerously subversive.  Jesus knows what the authorities can, and almost certainly will, do to him – and yet he persists.  He challenges them to their faces. The apostles wonder how a person can be so fearless.  The courage he’s got, they want.  But it’s more than a little terrifying.

The apostles falter, sometimes spectacularly, in their adherence to his way.  Many times Jesus says to them something that he must often tell himself in his quiet moments, “Do not be afraid.” 

We Christians struggle, as the early disciples did, to understand and emulate his courageous ways.  We often don’t measure up.  Standing up for the poor, confronting oppressive structures, and opposing unjust laws and practices can take a Christ-like bravery. It’s daunting.

Courage is not always listed at the top of virtues to which Christians aspire.  Maybe it should be.

.

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