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Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah Series: Hot Chocolate

Good Morning!  I hope today you have taken a moment to be grateful for all of this past weeks occurrences so you can start this week off strong.  Today the week does not end but begins.  If you haven’t done it yet, close your eyes, real quick, and say Thank You for ONE great thing that happened.  I’ll wait.  Today we’re reading Father Ian Jeremiah’s third installment.  If you’re just tuning in, after you’ve read today’s words of wisdom, head on over to Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah and Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah Series: Chicken and Pig .

Hot Chocolate
A group of ten friends had gathered on Thanksgiving Day, at my home, in the later part of the evening.  The turkey had already been eaten for hours, the dishes washed, and the left overs sent to new homes with guests.  It was time for some Hot Chocolate.  My hot chocolate is made from special ingredients and LOVE, the secret ingredient.  I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I have seen people fight over it.  It never failsI grab every single mug in my cupboard, all of them different.  Some of them I admit are not so pretty, but that little fact never changes the deliciousness of the hot chocolate.  Every time my friends and I gather for Hot Chocolate though, I put the mugs out and everyone seems to scan them.  I close my eyes and I just hope they do not see the one with the small chip on top.  I did notice that everyone does seem to go for the prettier, newer mugs first.  This leaves me with my favorite chipped cup.  I close my eyes with each sip to relish in the sweetness of the chocolate and the subtle heat of the chili.  I smile and look around at my friends and they each seem to be checking out each others mugs.  Weird.  But hey you love your friends anyways, right?  Wait, are those two arguing over what mug they have?  SMH, for the love of Hot Chocolate. Guys your cups have the same thing inside, yes, so drink! 

When Father Ian’s friends came over for his famous Hot Chocolate on Thanksgiving Day, he noticed that his friends seemed to be more interested in the mugs they were brought out in then that actual hot chocolate.  Two of his friends even fought over who saw the prettier mug first.  He explained that Hot Chocolate in this story is really Life.  We are given this beautiful thing called life, but we do not enjoy the richness of the flavors.  We do not savor the subtle hints of LOVE.  We scan the mug.  We get distracted with our jobs, with what clothes we wear, with what we drive and with what our other friends have.  Are you shaking your head, not me?

It’s human nature to sometimes feel superior or inadequate when we compare ourselves to others.  When we look around to see what mug our friends are drinking out of, it seems to change our perspective.  BUT, we are all drinking the same thing.  It is easy to become distracted.  It requires a lot of self love and appreciation of YOURSELF and LIFE to be truly happy with what you have and to be happy for OTHERS.  Father Ian’s favorite cup was the chipped cup, but he was still able to relish the dreamy taste of the hot chocolate.  He reminded me that Saturday, at the RCIA Congress meeting, that I need to just enjoy hot chocolate and stop getting distracted by my mug.  If you are already doing that, YAY!  Please share some words of wisdom below in the comments.

I’ll leave you with today’s Second Reading.

Rv 1:5-8                                [The Alpha and the Omega]

By the shedding of his blood, Jesus has made us a royal nation of priests to serve God.  The Lord God is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.  He is Almighty.

A reading from the Book of Revelation

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kindgdom, priests for his God and the Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him.  Yes Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

-The word of the Lord.
-Thanks be to God.

Let it marinate.

Until then,
*The story of Hot Chocolate has been modified slightly as I did not take exact notes of the story line.

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Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah Series: Chicken and Pig

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If you tuned in last Sunday, I discussed the announcement of a new series in Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah.   Last Saturday I attended an RCIA Congress, where we discussed a program that helps adults seeking to know more about the Catholic faith.  I had been reluctant to go that morning because it was early and I wasn’t sure what it was.  However, once the morning started, and I finished listening to Father Ian, I was happy that I was there.  He really had a way of putting things into perspective.  Today I share with you the story of Chicken and Pig . 

Chicken and Pig

On Sunday Morning, Chicken and Pig were discussing leaving the church for the day to walk around the neighborhood.  On their walk, they came across a group of chicks.  These chicks were very thin, lacking from a bath, but full of eager excitement to see Chicken and Pig.  
Chicken pulled Pig aside and softly said, “Pig, I think we should make these hungry chicks some breakfast.”
Pig agreeing asked, “Well, what should we make?”
Chicken suggested, “How about we make them Eggs and Bacon?”
Pig smiled, “Well, it might take you a while to lay an egg, so why not chicken fajitas?”
Chicken smiled back with a wider grin, “Yes!”
Chicken and Pig left church that morning with the intention of following a path in Jesus’ footsteps.  One of the things that we are to do as Catholics is to feed the hungry and give to the poor.  It is one of the Fourteen works of mercy They set out to do just that and had the chance to say WWJD when they came upon the small hungry chickens.  Some are willing to give a little of themselves to do God’s work, like volunteering to cook breakfast.  While others, commit themselves fully to doing God’s work, like being the breakfast.  When Chicken suggested to Pig, lets make them Eggs and Bacon, Chicken would only have to give part of itself.  Well, to make bacon, Pig would have to commit itself fully to the breakfast, would it not?  Knowing this, Pig suggest that laying eggs might take too long if they were going to make them breakfast and suggested chicken fajitas, which requires no bacon at all.  In this moment, Chicken decided to give its entire being to doing God’s work without hesitation.  This is truly following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who died to save all of us.
When I first heard the story of Chicken and Pig, I saw that they needed to both give something of themselves to make the breakfast, but I honestly did not expect the explanation before Father Ian gave it.  It is true in life in general, there are those who give their all and some just enough, its often referred to as the 80/20 rule.  Where 20% of the people will do 100% of the work and the other 80% will either do nothing at all or just enough.  In this life, right now, I cannot admit to being the Chicken but I am working on it. WWJD.  What would Jesus do? 
I’ll leave you with today’s second reading:
Heb 10: 11-14, 18                        [Jesus in Glory]
Jesus, unlike the other priests, offered only one sacrifice for sin and took his place forever at God’s right hand.  He has perfected those who are being sanctified.
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
Brothers and sisters: Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins.  But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.  For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.  
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin. 
-The word of the Lord.
-Thanks be to God.
Let it marinate.
Until then,
*The story of Chicken and Pig has been modified slightly as I did not take exact notes of the story line.

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Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah

It’s Soulful Sunday here on My Pocketful Of Thoughts and it is only right to take a moment and give thanks for all the great things going on in our lives right now.  Let us also take this moment to recognize all the phenomenal men and women who have served our country.  We have much to be thankful for, yes?

Friday night I was reminded of a conference for the RCIA Congress, I had to attend for Saturday morning at 8 am. The event had completely slipped my mind.  I had made all these plans for Saturday morning and was thrown off a bit.  I am that person who needs to plan everything out in order to feel at peace with day.  I can handle changes but it takes a moment or two to adjust.

I woke up on Saturday morning, after a few hours of sleep, reluctant to start the day.  I admit that I had to drag myself there.  The day started with Mass, which I suggest if you do not do it now, start off your day with God.  When the alarm goes off in the morning, take a minute or two to say Thank You for all the things in your life now, that you’re thankful for.  Then there was a half hour-ish break to eat a pastry and a cup of coffee.  This was my first time attending the RCIA Congress and I haven’t explained what it is yet because at that point of the morning I myself was not sure what it was.  Have you ever been told you have to attending something that you’ve never heard of?  Do you not have some reluctance?  I do not like that about me, but I am human. So at this point I am thinking, Are we starting yet?  I looked around the room and saw a little over 100 people in attendance and I began to feel bad for taking up three seats with myself and my stuff. :/

9:15 am we started with prayer and were introduced to the day.  RCIA is an acronym that stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  It outlines the steps for the formation for one to receive instruction about the Christian religion.  It is the class I am teaching at my church.  So, yes, this was a good reason to be at this event.

My reluctance of the event melted away with the first speaker, Father Ian Jeremiah.  He captivated the audience with his stories of perspective on life and I could not stop taking notes.  He was hilarious in his presentation but more importantly his words stayed with me.  It is my wish to share them with you, not today but starting next week, My Pocketful of Thoughts will begin a short series titled Putting Life Into Perspective with Father Ian Jeremiah.

photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC via photopin cc

The one thing I will share with you today is that he reminded the group that we should take advantage of the Year of Faith.  The Year of Faith, which began on October 11th and will run until November 24, 2013, is a year especially dedicated to the profession of the faith, through readings of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  While this is something I have been doing for the past couple of years, it feels a little different this year because I am going to be teaching this to others.  So no longer am I just taking it in, I have to also understand it and be able to explain it in a way that it is understood by others. 

The more I learn the more I want to share it with you.  I ask that you not be reluctant, like I was on Saturday morning, but that you be open and just take it in.  For a long time I was having an inner war with myself, I could not understand why I was so unhappy and angry.  I had so many things to be thankful for, but I never looked at it that way.  I kept thinking to myself, ‘I’m here, doing so much to better myself and I don’t understand why all these bad things happen to me‘.  It only seemed to bring more bad things.  After a long absence from church, I started to go again.  I sat quietly in the back pews and I just took it in.  Then one day it clicked.  It wasn’t right away.  It was over a year of going to Mass every Sunday.  When it clicked I decided I was ready to become Confirmed in the Catholic faith.  I studied for one year with Sister Alta Gracia.  So I want to share that with others, but especially you, that sometimes you have to just take it in.  Perhaps you’ll read something that will compel you to do the same and share.

I’ll leave you today with today’s second reading.

Heb 9:24-28                      [Christ’s Sacrifice for Sin]
Christ entered into heaven to appear before God, not for sacrifice again, but to take away sin by his sacrifice.  Christ will not die again but he will come to bring about salvation for those who wait for him.
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf.  Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world.  But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.  Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgement, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

-The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Let it marinate.

Until then,
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Who’s watching you?

This week has been an interesting week.  Last week’s topic, that I discussed with the kids in the catechism classes, went over what the Catholic faith believes, who we believe in, why we believe, and where we get our information from.  These are topics that I will discuss in the future.  Today I would like to talk about why we believe.  If you tuned in last week, I also touched upon this topic, but after a week of people asking this question, Why do you believe?; I felt compelled to pose this question, Who’s watching you?

In the year 2012, if one is questioned on their beliefs, a conversation amongst a group can be done peacefully and respectfully.  Everyone has a variation on their belief.  I like and appreciate that we can do this.  We are not persecuted for our beliefs.  We are not ridiculed for our beliefs.  We can believe in whatever we wish for we have Freedom of Religion.

As individuals we support our religion because we have faith.  What is faith?

Definition of FAITH according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty

b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion

b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

on faith

: without question [took everything he said on faith]

What phrases stand out to you?  The phrases that stand out to me are “firm belief in something for which there is no proof … complete trust and …without question.
The same can be said for someone without faith, or someone who questions their faith.  Does their faith exist?  According to the definition, no.  A person without faith, a person who does not believe, can not be faithful.  
Regardless of whether or not you believe in a religion, it can not be denied that people are watching you.  Our friends reflect upon our actions and our beliefs every day.   Our children look up to us. People watch us.  What are we showing them?

Those closest to me know, that over the last five years, I have embraced my faith.  It is not that my faith was lacking before, but I hadn’t done a good job of walking the Christian path.  I was in a state of being.  Over time I realized that just being was not taking my life in the direction I envisioned or wished for myself.  It was not until I decided to partake in the sacrament of Reconciliation that my path changed course.  

In the Catholic faith, there are seven Sacraments.  The sacrament of Reconciliation is also referred to as Penance.  One reviews their prior actions in reflection against the ten commandments.  If your actions go against God, they are referred to as sins.  This reflection period is a time to acknowledge what you have done to go against God in your actions.  These sins are confessed to a priest.   The priest will offer guidance and direction on your actions.  The priest will then ask if one is sorry for sinning against God.  If you are, then one’s sins are forgiven by absolution which can only be given by an authorized priest.  

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, one receive God’s unconditional forgiveness.  I found that during this process I have also strengthened my ability to forgive myself.  I had never forgiven myself in the past.  This for me was huge.  In life we are hardest on ourselves.

If I forgive myself and acknowledge my sins and try my hardest to sin no more, I find it much easier and more likely to make choices that keep me in line with God’s law.  I find it easier to want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  WWJD?  You might have seen this a number of times, it stands for What would Jesus do?  I find I use this phrase when I am trying to make a decision on something difficult.  I ask this question because my actions are watched by God.

God is watching.  Whether or not you believe in that statement, it does not change the fact that someone is watching you.  Somewhere down the line, your actions may impact someone you know…and someone you might never meet.  How can I impact someone I have never met?  I’m happy that you asked.  The Skit Guys will help us out with this.


Do you know who is watching you?   On this Soulful Sunday, I leave you with this thought to marinate this week along with one of today’s readings.
Heb 4:14-16                     [Jesus Our High Priest]
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the high priest who shares all our weaknesses, except sin.  His mercy comes to all who seek it.
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews

Brothers and Sisters,
Since we have a great priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.  So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
-The word of the Lord.
-Thanks be to God.

 Until then,

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc