Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Work of Our Words

I work at a Veteran's home and some days require a little more intervention from God as far as communication goes. I've learned slowly that God works everyday of our lives without us even knowing. I'm seeing more and more that God, in his Infinite Being, holds not only us up, but everything about us, this means also our time, our speech and even our actions; good and bad. Does God cause bad and evil to exist in the world? Not at all, but he does allow it because there is always a greater good to be fulfilled. Bad actions are allowed and never caused by God. God works for the good by allowing bad and always works for the good. But again,with us in the participation of God's divine realm, not only does he hold up our existence, and action, He also holds up our communication and interaction with other people that we encounter. It's like everyday we speak to someone, it is a 'Divine Appointment'. We are made handmaids of God through our speech, action and existence. This means that God guides us and gives us His Spirit to spread a message of love, faith and joy through the gospel he preaches. It's an amazing thing to remember during a conversation. In recognizing that God is with us every minute of our lives, even in conversation, we allow the Holy Spirit to intervene. It's like a green light. I just left from a two hour conversation from a resident and I remember sitting there, listening and thinking about how God is working continuously, in my life, in his life...why wouldn't God work through the words we say? I instantly became more aware of my words, my thoughts, even in my listening; ultimately the Spirit lead and did the work of God through my own mouth.

I think about conversation and what it means to people, even if we're just listening to what people have to say. I think in any instance, the Spirit can lead us and guide us in that conversation. It makes me think of our words and how they can either heal or hurt a person. We don't know the last time we will ever see somebody, so the notion of letting God be present in our words is very crucial for somebody. We should be up lifting in our speech and give kind words with love, not hate[and it's something I'm working on]. But if we think, the only way to talk out of love or listen with love is to allow the Spirit to be present in our conversation by realizing God is uniquely working in us at every aspect of our lives CONSTANTLY. I will type it again, I think the only way to talk out of love is to allow the Spirit in our talk. How can we do this, by realizing God is working at every aspect of our lives CONSTANTLY. I think of a person who works clay, the wheel is constantly spinning and the worker molds it in every angle and every aspect to fit the shape and frame that he wants. With us, God  shapes and molds us to who he wants us to be. God works within us at every aspect of our lives and to recognize that while we live is pretty cool. So the message, the reflection from me, is to love with words and then words will be loved. It's cool to recognize God being present in all things, even our speech, in my own mind, it makes me attentive, more alert and aware of what a person needs to here. More importantly, God sends the message through the work of our hearts and our tongues. That alone is pretty awesome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Workers of the Kingdom: The Beggar Builder

Building the Kingdom of God is such a vague phrase that I think a lot of times we're confused by it. For me questions start coming up like, how? and with what? It's like all of a sudden I'm looking for the new employee orientation signup sheet. Ok, maybe I should of took a construction class or two or watched dad while he was working extra closely. It's easy to miss the point, as you can already tell. In my reading, the life of Saint Francis can help us learn alot about building the kingdom, but not just building, we can learn how to rise up, and when to sit down. When we sit down, we instinctively listen, when we stand, it's a movement to get things down. A good worker knows that he can't get nothing done when he's sitting down, but it's good to sit and it's healthy to listen. St. Francis, was a builder, he was called to build not only himself, but the kingdom of God through the restoration of his own innerself. Which I find interesting. He was a beggar-builder. In his early conversion, St. Francis, lessened himself entirely so that he can build up. This came by placing himself in the dark and quiet caves. He would pray for hours at a time in the dark. Despite his lifelong desire to become wealthy and an honorable knight, amazingly, he abandoned all of that and placed himself at an even lower rank. First, francis sat and listened, he placed himself at the foot of the cross, inside an old shrine, the church of Saint Damian. Over the years the church had been neglected, run down and even worse, it was falling to pieces. It was here that Saint Francis of Assisi would pray before the crucifix. As Francis knelt before the cross, a voice came to him and said, "Francis, do you see that my church is in ruins? Go and restore it for me." That moment St. Francis rose, and did what he could to repair the broken church. Not only was the message a message of rebuilding, it was also a call to leave the things that he cherished so much and rebuild internally, and then outwardly from that. Francis would rise up and place himself among the lowest of the low; a beggar he would become, but not only a beggar but a new kind of beggar that asked for rock in order to build, rather then bread to satisfy himself. When we hear about the lessening of St. Francis, the message for us is to place ourselves at the foot of the cross, abandon those things that we want and listen to what God wants of us. We are each by our very nature, called to build up the kingdom of God. The Lesson from St. Francis is to put ourselves down first, in order that we build up. Sit down, pray and be silent even in chaos. Asking for bread in the sense of fulfilling what is good for ourselves, we are turning to the very needs of our own. By asking for rock, as Francis did, we are also asking God to provide us with everything necessary to build and fulfill his mission placed in us. But the kneel down is not easy, especially for a man, it's like asking for directions when your driving--guys just don't do it. But with this kneel down, this lessening comes all sorts of things, suffering comes, uncomfort, challenges and even changes that we might not be accustom to. The Joy is that all those things need to happen so that we can be made builders and workers for Christ. As a beggar builder, we are called to lessen ourselves, place ourselves below the rank of others and build up from there the Great Kingdom that we are called to build.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Knowing your Blessings: 3 ways

There is tendency in life to look back on what we've done in life. No matter how many great quotes we read to let our past be our past, there is always that habit of looking back. I always think of Rhafiki off of the Lion King when he says you can either run from it, or learn from it. At times I think I need a stick to the face to wake me up, and help me see what's ahead and those things that I have and others don't. Sometimes, it can be hard to look at life in a positive way when all we see is what we have done. Aside from that great movie, instead of recognizing our past that we so often do, we should recognize the things that we love so much. Recognize our blessings and the things that make us who we are today. Here are three ways I have come up with to help me see the good in my life and alter the bad.

The first is PRAYER.
Learning to build ourselves up in prayer is not an easy thing to do, I struggle with it and I'm sure many of us do. It's a process and takes habit. The joy is that by our prayers, not only are we conforming ourselves to the heart and will of God, but we are also building a foundation for a relationship with the divine; in mind, body and soul. By our prayer and communication to God, we are able to recognize our blessings in a more complete way. But it doesn't end there, we are also able to see those faults and weaknesses that hurt us, for example our sin, or our vices that were once virtues overpowered by pride. Prayer in essence is our communal relationship with God and it allows us to see what breaks us (sin) and what makes us (blessings). 

The second is the EUCHARIST. 
After our prayer we are in relationship to God, however, as long as we are on earth, that relationship will never be in a complete way. Once we recognize those blessings and weaknesses in our lives, we ought to thank God and give him praise because of them. But why would we thank God for our weakness? The fact is that they help us become better. Just by us recognizing that weakness is a sign and movement toward the good. The word Eucharist, comes from the Greek translation of "thanks-giving" and so if you think about it, in our partaking of the Eucharist, we are professing by word and action our thanks to God, Most High. The Eucharist, in its holiness, is a perfect and most sincere way for us to praise and thank God in all He has done. In our partaking we are made alive, and alert. We are awakened and ready to combat those evils that come for us, this comes from us seeing our weaknesses and what truly hurts us the most. 

The third is LOVE OF SELF
In our prayers and thanksgiving, our "true colors" and true vocation will be made known to us. We will see who we really are, and what we are called to be. Before we sign that divine contract as I like to call it, what should be practiced is a love of self, not so much a pride but who you are upon recognizing yourself. Loving yourself and who you are made to be. If we compare ourselves to other people constantly, then what Joy will that bring us. If we learn to love ourselves and the unique characteristics we each have, we can understand that somehow on a spiritual level, we too can be a blessing for another person. As a consequence of our prayer, we learn to accept who we are and see those things that prevent us from loving ourselves, therefore building our spirits up not down. 

In our prayers and relationship to God we are able to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses. God allows us to see those goods and bads. In our participation of the Mass and the Eucharist we are praising Him and giving Him thanks for all that is preparing us. Then, when we love God in our prayer and in the Eucharist we learn to love who we are and who we are called to be by altering those weaknesses for the good.