....Home at Last
Modern Day Prophet
By:  Bishop Michael Theogene - Presiding Bishop

The Brothers at Weston Priory in Vermont sing a song titled “Song of the Prophet” - and it fits perfectly with the scripture Jeremiah 1:4-5:

      Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
      and before you were born I consecrated you;  I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
And then comes the refrain:  Oh my people listen deeply to the word of the Lord.  You are loved so, and I wait for you to come back home and share forgiving love. (1981 the Benedictine Foundation of the State of Vermont, Inc.)

We are invited by our God to share in God’s gifts for us. In my mind, God wills for us to engage in a ministry that is one of peace and harmony - God wishes for all of us to be a part of it - to become one.

God planted a seed in each of us to continue creating with God through whatever ministry we choose.

When I was in seminary, I was impressed when a professor simply said that God is “awe and wonder”.  God is truly awe and wonder, but later I realized that I can’t just hang around in awe and wonder of God, I must act; I have to carry out what God has instilled in me.

Surely God instilled in each of us the desire to continue what God has created and that is why we do what we do in our individual ministries. I feel that my duty is to fully live out my ministry as much as possible; I get excited and emotional about my ministry. For me, ministry must be manifest through being in love with God. It must come across in how much I am in love with God, and it must be an experience where I am so much in love with God in word and being that it creates a epidemic of loving God.

Jesus has told us that not everyone will respond to our loving action, and, in fact, some will reject us. We must be ready for this. Rejection is an opportunity to reflect on why we do ministry, and for whom do we do ministry.  The opportunity is for us to be unconditional in our healing love by truly listening and not reacting negatively but continuing our loving ministry even when we are rejected.

It is important to remember that Jesus has also told us to forgive. We cannot welcome all if we do not forgive.

I leave you with more words from the brothers of Weston Priory from another of their songs titled “My Word of Life”  --My word of life is not far from you, nor high beyond your reach; It is on your lips and deep in your heart; You have only to carry it through.” (1991 The Benedictine Foundation of the State of Vermont, Inc.)

Are we ready?
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Vital Signs
 By: Mary Desantis - St. John of God Parish

During a recent routine visit to my PCP part of the time included checking my vital signs. Through experience we all know what they are.  Smiling, the doctor pronounced mine excellent and within normal range for a woman of my age. That is always good news. However, her statement led me to begin thinking about my spiritual life. Is there some indicator(s) to measure the status of that? Do vital signs even exist for that dimension of me? And if so, what might they be? Who measures them if at all? And so, I took my wondering mind in the direction of such a quest.

Giving this idea much thought over the week following my physical health visit, the conclusion I reached was that there probably are such indicators, different from those related to assessing my physical wellbeing, but ones specific to the “health” of my spiritual life. What might they be? Perhaps I could begin my quest by looking at love, prayer, forgiveness and   gratitude. Definitely what Jesus demands of a follower. Okay, then, how do I demonstrate each in hopes Jesus will give me an “excellent for a woman my age” rating during His assessment of me when we finally meet face to face!

Love: It is the greatest commandment of all. This includes both love of self and love of neighbor.  Being a child of God I am made in His image and likeness. I am a reflection of all that God is. This love of which I am created resonates within me spurring me to act on it in the world wherever I may go. It is a gift to me as well as gift to another human.  This type of love is what binds us as family. Scripture also tells us that at the creation of male and female God said that we were good. Very good!  God was delighted even!  This being said do I believe it of myself? Do I treat myself, look upon myself, value myself and desire outcomes for myself accordingly?  What about the others in life? Do I value the same for them? How I view another and act toward another must come from this same belief. God asks no less of me. Yet at times and with certain people how I demonstrate “love” of them falls short of the expectation for a Christian. Seems I have much work ahead of me considering this marker!

Prayer and forgiveness: I link these as prayer is a component of forgiveness as well as forgiveness being rooted in prayer. Whether private or communal, prayer was a very big part of Jesus life. He encouraged his disciples to pray to the Father using the words “Our Father.” A reference to our being family.  Prior to any event Jesus engaged in prayer. It always preceded an action. Is prayer an integral part of my daily life or only when I need something? Do I make time and space to invite God to sit with me, take a walk with me, even garden with me? Do I do most of the talking when in God’s presence or can I wait for Him to “speak” to me? Life moves at a frantic pace and we can get caught scurrying along with it only to realize at bedtime we didn’t consciously connect with God during the day.

Forgiveness is an area in which I need a lot of work! One of the hardest times to forgive is when someone I love is the object of being hurt. Especially if the hurt causes physical or psychological abuse. Therein I become a “momma lion”.  Forgiveness in such instances is off my radar entirely. Knowing God wants me to forgive and actually doing so is not possible at least for me without an abundance of His grace. This I pray for daily.

Gratitude: Thank You, God should be the first words I utter beginning every day. Without Him in my life I am nothing. Without His benevolence toward me I have nothing. ALL IS GIFT. With Him and through Him my needs are taken care of and in abundance. God is by no means stingy. Yet there are times when I can be far less than generous with another or downright stingy when sharing what  might be called for. What are the things I hold back from another? When I encounter one appearing to be needy do I cross the street? Do I not even look at them?  Just a couple of ways I can lack gratitude.

Pondering all of this it would seem that vital signs do exist for the spiritual life. I cited only four here but more do exist. Having a healthy and strong spiritual life enables one’s relationship with God to grow and flourish. Yes, it takes work just like being physically healthy does. Maintaining a healthy spiritual life is just as important.

Perhaps when next you hear the words “vital signs” you will be reminded of both physical and spiritual, and take the time to measure your fitness levels. Jesus for sure is the final judge of their status. As for me though a “checkup” every now and again gives me the opportunity to make adjustments if needed. My goal with all of this is to do all I can so I may hear the voice of Jesus tell me mine are excellent and within normal range for a woman my age!

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