Thursday, November 30, 2006

St. Andrew

Today is the Feast of St. Andrew. We know very little about this man. What we do know is that he was a humble man who is continally seen bringing people to Jesus. Like most of the apostles, he preached the Gospel and established the Church in many places, finishing his life as a martyr. Tradition says he was crucified on an X shaped cross.

There is an incident recorded in the first chapter of John's Gospel that reflects to me so much of who Andrew was. We see there that he was an early disciple of John the Baptist. One day when John saw Jesus, he procaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God." Andrew heard that and began to follow Jesus.

Andrew was joined by another disciple who is not named. Many believe it is John himself. When Jesus sees them following, He asks, "What are you seeking?" They responded that they wanted to know where He was staying. He invited them to "Come and see!"

Later Andrew goes to find his brother, Simon. He tells him that they have found the Messiah. Simon goes with Andrew and when he comes to Jesus is renamed by Him as Peter.

The first thing I see in this story is Andrew's purity. He longs for God. He wants to follow someone who will lead him closer to God. For a while that was John the Baptist. But he eventually saw that it needed to be Jesus. His seeking of the Lord is so simple and pure.

Secondly, he is an evangelist from the beginning. He does not wait until he has it all figured out, or he has received a formal education. He begins with what he knows. He is overjoyed at what he has found. So he shares it with others. He begins with those closest to him. He is not stopped by the thought of how he may be ridiculed or rejected. He simply lets his joy overflow in the simple message that "we have found the Messiah."

I long for Andrew's spirit. I want such pure, simple, seeking after Jesus. My motives are not always so. I want such dedication. I want such zeal. I want to be one who joyfully overflows with the message that "we have found the Messiah."

On this Feast of St. Andrew those are the things that are in my heart. May we be inspired by his life, and helped by his prayers to imitate such things by the Grace of God!

The world is in need of a whole generation of Andrews. May they arise quickly to bring the masses to Jesus!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Divine Influences

I had a question run through my mind this morning. It was basically how it was that Christ has accomplished our salvation. Quickly a phrase come to mind: "Dying He destroyed our death. Rising He restored our life." It's something we say in the liturgy on occasion. There, very simply, was my answer. And what was my teacher? The liturgy.

God has so shaped things that there are numerous ways that He communicates His Truth to us. Most of us are familiar with the Sacred Scriptures or the spoken word in preaching or teaching. These are some of the ways that God communicates with us. But there are others.

God also uses the Sacraments. Through these simple things of earth He gives us His Grace. They are mysteries, but yet we know that God is present and we are drawn nearer to Him as a result. In addition, God uses the liturgy. Through the words and prayers that we say every week, we are being taught more about God. We learn through worship.

There are more. God speaks to us through His creation, through His people, and directly to our spirits in deep personal communion. He uses all kinds of ways to speak. But are we listening?

If we only expect to hear God at certain times and in certain ways, we will miss so much of what He wants to say to us. So keep your ears open and be attentive. God is speaking. Let him who has ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Liturgy

Recently I posted comments on my other blog (Catholic Seeker) re: an article of the Evangelical trend toward liturgy. This has been going on for quite some time. In fact, there are even new denominations springing up as a result of the desire to create an Evangelical church that does liturgy.

Last night I heard Scott Hahn on EWTN compare some elements from the book of Revelation to the liturgy. He noted that the book can be neatly divided into two sections. The first ends with the giving of a scroll (ch. 10). The second climaxes with an invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb (ch. 19). This corresponds to the fundamental division of the liturgy in the service of the Word and the service of the Table.

All of this shows a great mystery in liturgy. It is deep. It is awesome. We find ourselves joining in the worship of heaven and surrounded by the heavenly host and the company of saints. Worship is more than an event, but a glimpse into eternity. For a moment the veil is removed and we see the Lord high and lifted up. We hear the saints and angels song. We join them in praise and adoration of our great God. With that we are strengthened and equipped to go back out into the world to work and serve until the coming of our Lord.

By contrast, consider another current trend in contemporary worship. It is called the seeker friendly service. References to heavy theological concepts are dumbed-down. Music is lively, but typically shallow. Prayer is almost non-existent. The focus is the sermon, which has largely degenerated into merely a "talk". It is no surprise that this leaves would be worshipers empty and unfulfilled. Thus the move to liturgy.

Christians of various denominations and traditions are hungering for the worship of heaven. They long to not only be nourished by the Word, but also by the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. They want to be caught up into something so much bigger than themselves or even their particular group. They have the longing after eternity. Christians don't want to just sing about God or hear about Him. They want to encounter Him. This is actually what a seeker service should be geared to. For true seekers come to find Jesus; not see a show about Him.

I believe the current trend towards liturgy will continue to grow. I hope it will bear the fruit of greater unity amongst Christians. I feel confident it will result in the deepening of Christian discipleship and the result will be greater effect in the kingdom of heaven. In other words, the very seekers that the others are trying to reach will be caught by those who have understood that God will honor genuine worship with an outpouring of His Spirit, the result of which will be the claiming of the lost.

May we worship Him because He is worthy! May we obey Him because He is Lord! May we work for Him out of gratitude! And may we bear witness of Him that He is Love!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Presence of Jesus

Last night was my first encounter with Eucharistic Adoration. It was really powerful. How do I describe it?

The Catholic Church believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This means that once the host and the cup are consecrated by a priest or bishop it ceases to be bread and wine and is truly Christ's body and blood. This is exactly what He said: "This is My body... this is My blood." To the natural eye it still looks like bread and wine. Were it analyzed it would probably still have the characteristics of bread and wine. But faith sees what cannot be seen or comprehended by the natural mind. It is no longer bread and wine. It is Jesus. It is the fullness of His Presence with us.

This is what makes the Eucharist such a precious gift to the Church. In this way we still have Christ's manifest Presence with us. If we want to leave the world behind and spend a few moments in the very Presence of our Lord then we may do so in the Eucharistic chapel. There we may drink in the fullness of His Presence and be rejuvenated by it.

I am in the process of coming into the Church. I am not allowed to receive Eucharist as yet. But I long for that day. To receive Him inside. What a wonder!

Whether you are Catholic or not, if you can perceive with eyes of faith, you will also be able to encounter Him in this way. Just go to your local Catholic parish and ask for the chapel where the Eucharist is kept. Then you will be able to spend some quiet moments in the very Presence of Jesus who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Friday, November 10, 2006


"(Jesus) often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed," Luke 5:16

I am continually amazed at the prayer life of our Lord. If anyone didn't need to pray, you would think it would be Him. But we see Him constantly at prayer. He prays at His baptism, He prays in temptation, He prays all night before choosing the twelve. He looked for opportunities to pray. He was most at home in prayer. And no wonder. God was His Father. He was an alien in this world. Though He was in the image of man, He still longed for the communion of God.

In our baptism we were buried with Him in regard to our old life of sin. We were then raised to a new life in Him. It is His life that is being lived out through us. So why do we struggle so in prayer?

I think that it is primarily an issue that we are still more at home in this world among our fellow men than we are with God. It isn't that we don't love God. It isn't that we aren't devout or serious about Him. It's just our immaturity. We aren't at a place where we feel more at home with God than anything else.

Some will say, "Isn't that a good thing? We don't want to be so heavenly minded that we become no earthly good." I say no, it is not a good thing. Jesus was at home with God. But people were at home with Jesus. The fallacy is to think that if we're too spiritual then we will not be any good for this world. In fact, the opposite is true. The more truly spiritual a person, the more earthy- that is, the more good for this world. They realize they will not be soiled by the things, or the people, of this world. They exert more of an influence on the world than the world does on them. This is what we see in Jesus. Though He was in the form of God... He took on the form of man. He knew how to live in perfect harmony of both.

I propose that prayer was the key to this perfect balance. It will be for us as well. However, I, like many of you, am a mere pilgrim and learner in this path of prayer. I am aching to know more about it. I want more insight. I want to draw nearer to my God. So I am asking for any helps or suggestions from anyone out there. Remember, I am new to the Catholic faith. Many things about prayer are new to me as well. I invite your comments.

In the meantime, pray for me, a sinner!

Friday, November 03, 2006


I have "re-opened" my former blog- I've decided to continue with both of them as my devotional thoughts fit better here and other thoughts fit better there. Hope you enjoy!