Spiritual Food

You water the mountains from your chambers; from the fruit of your labor the earth abounds.  You make the grass grow for the cattle and plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread to sustain the human heart.” Psalm 104:13-15

As I listen to the rain pour outside my window, I think about all that has poured into my life, just as God waters the mountains from His chambers.  Although my spiritual journey began when I was younger, it wasn’t until  several years ago it was truly awakened.  The one thing that fueled my spiritual awakening was the Eucharist, “the bread to sustain the human heart”.

When I was a child, my parents did not take me to church regularly.  I went to various denominations, whatever church invited me and my siblings to go to, we went.  I didn’t know anything about the Eucharist as a child.  I do recall people going up to the alter in a line, including my parents, when we attended a baptism at a Catholic church.  I had no clue what it was but even then I believe I was being drawn to the Eucharist.  Although I did not know what all this was or meant, I felt like something was missing when I went to church.  I later did learn about the Eucharist when I attended RCIA at a local Catholic church but I still did not really know what it truly meant, especially to me in my spiritual journey.

It wasn’t until several years ago that the realization of the Eucharist and it’s impact on my faith journey bore fruit, pouring into my very being an abundance of grace.  When I truly recognized Jesus in the Eucharist, I longed for it.  My desire for the Eucharist was immense.  It became the spiritual food that fed me.  It strengthened my desire to read and understand the Bible.  It helped me to endure the heaviest cross I’ve had to carry.  It made forgiving easier and loving even easier.  I yearned to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  It was there that I recognized the Spirit and could hear Him speak to me.  I took refuge in His presence and adorned all He has sacrificed for me.  I embraced His love for me and learned to love myself and discover my worth in His eyes.  Just as God watered the mountains to bear fruit on the earth and sustain life, He poured out life into my heart and my soul through the ultimate food on earth, His son – present in the Eucharist.

After communion one day, my daughter asked me why so many people cry after they receive communion.  I smiled, I’m often one of those people, and told her that perhaps they are thanking Jesus for His sacrifice for them and the love He gives through the Eucharist.  For me this emotional flood gate is knowing what the Eucharist truly is, not a symbol, but the true presence of Christ, that pours into my heart.  It is knowing that at each Eucharistic celebration He is being sacrificed as I also sacrifice myself by releasing my will into His as He becomes present within me, consuming me.

Are you being consumed by Jesus?  Are you being spiritually fed, sustaining your heart?  Are you embracing Jesus as He pours out to you in the Eucharist?  Is He bearing fruit in your life through the sacrament of the Eucharist?

Have you allowed your peace to be swept away?

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” John 14:27

Have you ever woke up in a great mood, ready to take the day and then life began and it all went downhill? You struggled to get your children out of bed. You found yourself cleaning up a mess of spilt milk. Then you realized you are late for work. Rushing out the door, you forget your keys and spill your coffee on your blouse. I’m sure no one has mornings like that, except me.

I use to live in a more open area of the suburbs. I loved waking up before anyone and going outside on my porch in the stillness of the morning to pray and sit in the presence of God. There is something so peaceful about the newness of the day before the sun begins to rise and everyone is still asleep. The birds begin to sing welcoming the day. The air seems fresh and new. I could just feel and breathe in the peace of the present moment. Everything seemed to be in perfect harmony.

And then, my day started. All that peace I just experienced goes tumbling down as I begin to rush through my morning waking everyone up, getting lunches made, and preparing for the unexpected events of spills. My peace from my moment in the stillness of the glorious morning God set before me has just vanished.

Why? Why do we allow our peace, the peace Jesus plainly tells us he gives us, be taken away? Do we confuse the peace of Jesus with the world’s definition of peace?

When Jesus tells you he gives you his peace and it’s not of the peace of the world, he is telling you that his peace is within you. It’s the peace of harmony of all things working within you, with him at your core. It’s the morning peace on the porch, where everything is perfect and new. It’s the present moment of trust in him that he is with you and whatever the outcome of any circumstance good or bad, it is the best outcome for you. It’s the peace that produces everlasting joy and happiness because you have a trust in the greater outcome of all things in life. This peace is you knowing that God has harmonized your life as he does the morning setting of nature. But so often the expectations or how the world defines peace creeps in and when you lose that type of peace, anxieties, frustrations and anger surface. If you center on the peace of Christ, then none of the things of the world – good or bad – can take away your peace. Peace of Christ be with you always.

Have you been pruned lately?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit and every one that does he prunes’ so that it bears more fruit.” John 15:1-2

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What does it mean to be pruned?  Why is it so important to prune the branches on the vine?

To harvest a bountiful, delicious crop of grapes, pruning is super important. If the branches aren’t pruned enough, the health and the quality of the grapes would suffer.  When pruning the branches, the old wood is removed so that the new can grow and flourish with delicious, tasty grapes.  Pruning is typically done in the winter, when things are dormant to prepare for the new growth.

When Jesus shares this parable, and uses the personification of branches and vines as us and him, what does this me for you and I?

Many people who know me know that I like to analyze things in my life to determine the roots of my issues and my sins, where I can improve in my life and relationships, to see where I’ve grown and what was the contributing factor in my growth. I think this is an important aspect of healthiness in my life. In doing so, I see my past as a part of me, in that it refines me but doesn’t define me. When I read this parable that Jesus tells his disciples, I relate the unfolding of my life, the pruning in me. I know that in all the storms I have whirled around in, he was removing the things that hinder me in my relationship with him. He was removing the things that did not bear fruit or did not bear healthy, plentiful fruit.  This process each time prepared me for new growth that flourished inward and outward producing useful fruit for the kingdom of God. The amazing thing is that in most cases he did this when I was dormant in my faith. How about that? I’m a true branch in the grape vineyard.

Sometimes there are things in your life, habits, relationships, sinfulness that cause impediments to you being greater in your journey to holiness. These obstructions or things that hinder your growth need to be removed as much as can be so that the “new wood” can begin to grow and produce beautiful, healthy, delicious fruit.

God will prune you, remove the “old wood” so that he can refine you into the person he has created you to be. You may walk through fire or have to cross a raging river as part of this refinement; but in the midst of it, he will be right there with you in the fire and in the river, carrying you through it all. “When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

The fruit you will bear are the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control
  • Charity
  • Generosity
  • Modesty
  • Chastity

When God is pruning you, he is strengthening you and perfecting the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you so that you can grow closer to him and establish a deeper friendship with him. These healthy crops will bring you closer to holiness, closer to sainthood, your ultimate destination.

Have you been pruned lately?  Are you being pruned today? Open your heart and allow God to prune you in all areas of life.

Can you imagine a world full of ripe fruits of the Holy Spirit? Wow what a world that would be!

The Endless Well

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Imagine you are the woman at the well.  You travel a short distance to go to the well at an hour that you know no one will be there.  You feel lonely and ashamed.  There are things hidden in your heart that are unwanted guests.  You feel unvalued, unloved, ugly, broken, alone, ashamed, guilty, humiliated, and hopeless.  As you approach this place to draw water, the basic necessity of life, you see a man standing near the well.  You’ve never seen him before.  As you draw near, he ask you to fetch him some water.  His tone is gentle but surprised, you ask him “you ask me for water?”  Why would anyone want to associate with you?  He looks at you with love in his eyes and he tells you that “everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water [he] shall give will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14).  You look at him in wonder.  “What is he talking about?  He doesn’t even have a bucket.  How will he get any water?”  His words “whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst” resonates in your head.  So you lift your eyes to his and ask him, “can I have this water that you speak of?  I wish to never thirst.”  As he casts a smile upon you, it feels as if he sees all these things that are weighing on your heart, tucked away and hidden within.  You feel this warmth of love wrap you and all the feelings of your unwanted guests are lifted from your heart.  “Who is this man?”  You ask yourself.  “He knows my heart, my past yet he looks upon me with love and compassion.”  He is like no other.  As you look upon him and feel the embrace of his loving eyes, you know he is not like any other man you have known.  

Just then, he tells you that he is Jesus, and he loves you.  He tells you that there is nothing in your past that you should be ashamed of.  He tells you that you are beautiful and that if you drink from the well of his love that you will have eternal life.  You will never be alone, hopeless or broken again.  Your eyes begin to glisten with tears.  Tears for each of the unwanted guests that you know are no longer hidden in your heart and tears for your joy knowing that you will never thirst and hunger for love, beauty, hope and joy because you have found the endless well, the love of Jesus.  Peace settles as you return to the town square to proclaim the love you have just found. 

A Captivating Banquet

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081.jpegWhen I am invited to your banquet, you captivate me.  My heart is wide open.  I’m ready to embrace all that you offer.  I kneel in your presence anticipating this feast.  I long to taste all that you are, to be consumed as I consume your body and blood.  The moment draws near, my heart beats faster with eagerness and delight.  I slowly approach and bow in your presence.  My heart skips a beat as my body becomes weak.  There in front of me your body is revealed, illuminated and perfect as the priest offers it to me.  I see you veiled in the priest.  You place yourself up on my tongue, the sweetness of honey, the bread from heaven.  To your cup I approach and your blood I intake.  How precious and great is this kiss to my lips?  As I walk to my pew, I feel your presence through my veins and in my heart, your body imparts the sweetness of love.

In this beautiful gift small and meek, a grand entrance of love manifests within me.  I can’t contain the tears as they flow from my eyes offering praise and thanksgiving for all you have given.  You sacrificed yourself upon that cross that I glance up on in this moment.  A river of mercy and love for me and mankind streamed as my tears do right now.  How can I repay you for such a grand gift?  You whisper to my ear “accept my love and follow me”.  I can no longer refuse.  “Here I am at the foot of your cross, waiting for your hand and your guidance.”

Have you been captivated lately?  Have you taste of the sweetest love, savoring within your heart and soul?  Have you longed for a greater love?

Open your invitation that was sent to you this week to the most marvelous banquet.  You are sure to fall in love with the one who is waiting for you to celebrate his love for you.

Spiritual Healing

pexels-photo-999311.jpeg“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds.” – Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Who hasn’t endured suffering through a trial or doesn’t know someone who has?  I’m not sure anyone can answer “not me” to this question.  Pain and suffering surround our life.  It’s part of our world.  Trials are a part of our life journey.  God never says we will not suffer.  He does say he will be with us and see us through those times of suffering.

Jesus bore the ultimate suffering.  When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “tears became like drops of blood,” (Luke 22:24) and he placed his will in God’s hands.  As he asks God to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42) God gave him strength to endure the suffering of his journey that lay before him.  God also sent Simon the Cyrenian to help carry Jesus’ cross.  I believe God also sends people and circumstances to us as we place our will in his hands during our struggles, while carrying our crosses.

Everyone undergoes suffering at some point in their life.  These trials may come in different shapes and sizes and affect each person in different ways.  One may suffer the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, addiction, divorce, be a victim of abuse or a tragic accident.  This list goes on.  During this time, many people discover a relationship with God or may strengthen their relationship with God.  Some may never get passed it.  They may become angry with God.  They may wonder where God is or how could he let this happen, yet they never ask him.  They remain stuck, angry, bitter.  Their world becomes plagued with darkness and they can’t move on, past the hurt.

Healing from a tragedy or a trial in your journey of life is key to peace, joy and happiness.  Healing cannot be complete without going through a process, an emotional process, a process with God ever present, guiding you.

Many years ago, I went through an emotional healing process, a spiritual healing.  Through my journey, I uncovered a reliance on God.  I sought God as he guided me through a very emotional and painful divorce.  There were several elements along the way that I needed to achieve spiritual healing, total healing from my trial.  God prepared me each step.  Before advancing to the next step, I needed to learn the step before it.  It’s like a father who is teaching his little girl how to walk.  Before she can begin to walk on her own, he helps her stand and feel her strength in her legs.  Then he holds her hand as he helps her move each foot, one step at a time.  When she begins to grasp it, he lets go.  She falls and he picks her up, reassuring her confidence as he holds her hand again and then let’s go.  The process continues until she masters each step, with his guidance and security knowing he is there to pick her up.  This process is similar to God’s spiritual healing process.  The entire time he is there giving you strength, guiding your hand, and ready to pick you up when you fall.  Then one day, you are ready to walk your journey with joy in your heart.

Empty Tomb

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.  And they said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  John 20:11-15

Have you ever woke up and felt empty and lost?  You weren’t certain what was missing but you knew something was.  You went about your business, never stopping to pray.  You glanced down and saw your Bible on the night stand and paid it no mind.  You went to church but really weren’t present.  Your mind was somewhere else.

When I read this passage in John, when Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and begins to weep.  I reflect on my own heart, on the times that my heart felt empty like the tomb, when I have felt I had everything under control.  I didn’t need to pray, didn’t need to read the Bible.  I knew what I needed and what was best.  I went about my day with no thought of Jesus.

Today, like Mary Magdalene when she couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb, I weep for that person in me that had no relationship with Jesus, that was empty and lonely deep within.  I was blinded and couldn’t feel Jesus’ presence until one day, He called my name and opened my mind and my heart.  I couldn’t imagine my life today without Him, without prayer, without my church, and the Word of God.

Sometimes it takes our struggles in life to drop us to our knees and reach to the Heavens for help.  Lucky for us, Jesus is right there waiting for us to call to Him, just as He was right there when Mary Magdalene thought His body had been taken away.  The truth of His resurrection, had not sunk in yet until He called her name.  It was then that her eyes were opened and she recognized Him.  Sometimes that truth hasn’t sunk into our minds either and we struggle with it, recognizing His presence is with us always.  All we have to do is open our eyes, mind and heart and He reveals Himself to us – lightening our burdens and filling us with love.

Have you wept lately wondering where Jesus is?  Have you felt like He was not present when you needed Him?  Have you felt that he was gone, as if your heart felt like the empty tomb that was discovered Easter morning?   He is calling your name.  Will you recognize Him?