Lent Day 39 – Joy

by gary-foote on March 28, 2015

I will turn their mourning into joy – Jeremiah 31:13

39.3-28

“Bring the JOY!”
Not too long ago I was at a conference where the keynote speaker uttered those words. I was taken back at first. What did it mean to “Bring the Joy?” As I looked around the room filled with 900 people, there was excitement as well as confusion. Deep down we all knew that we were better people when joy was present in our lives, but how do you “Bring the JOY?”

The truth is we live in a world that prefers the negative to the positive. Turn the television on to any news network and challenge yourself to find a positive story. It’s pretty difficult. Think for a few moments about how we identify common things in our day-to-day life. When we travel through an airport, we move from “terminal” to “terminal” rather than “new opportunity” to “new opportunity.” When we approach a traffic signal, we most commonly refer to it as a “Stop Light,” when only one of the 3 lights stops us and the other two allow us to go. As the great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar pointed out “most of us see two ends in every loaf of bread and never a beginning.”

But God calls us to more. He calls us to joy. God desires for us to allow Him to transform the mourning in our lives into joy. Joy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, but it means that we allow God to be seen in everything and rejoice because of His goodness, even in the difficulties.
When we are radically open to God, He will turn our mourning into joy. Then it is our responsibility and privilege to bring this joy to everyone we meet.

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Lent Day 37 – Humility

by gary-foote on March 26, 2015

If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing – John 8:54

37.3-26

What do you boast in? It can be very tempting to boast in ourselves. If anyone had a right to boast in his self, it would have been Jesus.Yet, He did not: If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing. God does not call us to be prideful, but humble.

What exactly does it mean to be humble?
True humility is seeing ourselves as we are.
This is both the good and the bad.

Often times we forget about recognizing the good in being humble.
It’s important to acknowledge the grace God has given us, including the
virtuous qualities of our lives.

Being created in the image and likeness of God means that we are created very good! When we recognize the good in us we recognize the God in us. God is all truth, beauty, and goodness. So any goodness in us is not by our own accord, but by the very gift of God.

Humbling admitting the bad gives us an opportunity to more fully rely on God’s goodness and grace to help us change. The life of the Christian is that of conversion. This is part of the beauty of our faith: We are not stuck in our sinfulness, but have the opportunity to repent and believe in the Gospel!

When was the last time you looked at yourself with humility?
Maybe today is the day to take another look at your life. Let’s be grateful for God’s goodness and seek His assistance with areas in need of conversion.

*Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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Lent Day 36 – Mary

by gary-foote on March 25, 2015

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
– Luke 1:38

Mary

“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties,
think of Mary, call upon Mary.
Let not her name depart from your lips,
never suffer it to leave your heart.

And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer,
neglect not to walk in her footsteps.

With her for guide, you shall never go astray;
while invoking her,
you shall never lose heart;
so long as she is in your mind,
you are safe from deception;
while she holds your hand, you cannot fall;
under her protection you have nothing to fear;
if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary;
if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church

* Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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Lent Day 35 – Recognize

by gary-foote on March 24, 2015

When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM – John 8:28

35.3-24

I hate missing out on things. Whether it’s a sale, trip, class, performance, or concert, I want to be a part of it. My ears perk up when I hear “limited time/supplies.” I’m an opportunist in the sense of not wanting to regret letting an opportunity pass me by. I get very frustrated when I find myself in the “should have” club rather than the “I did” club.

I love God above all else. I live for Him. I unfortunately do not live my daily life perfectly (yet), but when I sin, I rush to confession to reconcile with God and the Church. Even though I profess to love God above all else, my zeal for not missing out on life doesn’t always carry over into my faith.

Each and every day, God offers countless opportunities to embrace more of Him. Some days, it’s through humbling myself to receive His mercy. Other times, it’s participating as an instrument of His to extend mercy to someone else. The problem I encounter though is: Am I embracing God in this exact moment?

Some 2000 years ago, men and women were able to encounter God in the most amazing way possible, the person of Jesus Christ. Like me, they longed for a fuller life. God was more present to them than He had been at any point of history. Yet, they allowed themselves to become members of the “should have” club instead of the “I did” club.

God presented Himself and was not recognized fully for who He is. He knew that there would be regret: When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.

As God daily presents Himself to me through His Word (the Bible), in the Sacraments, and the Communion of Saints, I must ask myself, “Have I recognized you?”

Today marks our 35th day together on this spiritual journey. We are nearing the end of our time together. Have you recognized and embraced God more during our time together? Will you end in the “I did” club or the “should have” club?

* Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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Lent Day 33 – Forgiven

by gary-foote on March 22, 2015

Create a clean heart in me, O God – Psalm 51:a

33.3-22

I recently had the privilege of working with a group who were preparing for their First Confession. There was a woman who said, “I still don’t understand why I have to go to a priest to confess my sins.” This is such a great statement/question, but we need to add two additional words to it: the opportunity. When we add these two words, everything makes sense: I still don’t understand why I have the opportunity to go to a priest to confess my sins.

Why is God so good to us that He allows us to go to confession? Because His mercy and love for us extends further than we could ever imagine!

When we go to confession, God honors our effort. He begins by completing what often times is our imperfect contrition or imperfect sorrow for our sins. He transforms the imperfect to perfect.

Going to a priest is humbling as we vocalize the times when we’ve chose sin rather than God. This humility allows us to acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy, that we need God, and cannot do it on our own.

When we go to confession, we are reconciled with both God and the Church.  The priest is present to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the head of the Church. When we sin, we first and foremost cause a division between God and ourselves, but we also create a divide between our brothers and sisters. Through confession, these wounds can be healed.

My personal favorite part of going to confession is hearing the words of Christ disguised in the voice of the priest, “I absolve you of your sins.” My human frailty makes me wonder sometimes whether or not God hears my prayers. But, in the Sacrament of Confession, there is no doubt because I actually get to hear the words, “I absolve you of your sins.” God heard me through His priest! What a wonderful gift!

I still don’t understand why I have the opportunity to go to a priest to confess my sins. But I am eternally grateful for God’s goodness to me.

*Design by Edward Kamensky www.edwardkamensky.com

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