Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Crucifix



"Sacramentals are given to us by the Church, unlike Sacraments which are instituted by Christ. They help to draw us closer to Christ because with prayer and with the proper intention, the rosary, the sign of the cross, the crucifix, medals, pictures, holy water and the many other beautiful sacramentals, help us to focus on that which is holy and to make holy the different occasions of our lives.  Although we do not need them for Salvation, sacramentals draw us into deeper devotion and prayer." Amazing Graces
In our homes, in our cars, in our churches, in our daily view, what do we see and how does what we see effect our lives?  What do our children, our friends, our neighbors see that we find is important to be a part of our lives? Is our yard perfectly manicured and our car sparkling clean and our family beautifully dressed? Does the family portrait hang in a prominent place in our living room? Do visitors love looking at all the family pictures on the wall? Friends love to look at our picutres when they come into our house and we have long discussions about where they were taken and what year and who all the other people are surrounding our children. They are reminders of receiving the Sacraments and participating in sports and attending weddings. They are images that bring to mind the great times we have had with one another and those in our community and our family.  Nearby hangs a crucifix, a reminder of one Man's love for all people. What does this image bring to our minds? What is the discussion? Is there discussion? Does it hang there because it is a tradition to have the crucifix hang in our homes or is it there to prompt discussion, to be a reminder of something good? Honestly, do I pay attention to that beautiful reminder that is in our kitchen and in the bedrooms and in my office? If I did, might I hear, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe," and have reassurance everyday that there is so much more?
I have a friend who shared that she removes the crucifix from her children's wall every morning and lays it on their pillow so that every night they have to touch Jesus on the crucifix before they climb into bed. Reassurance that He is real, that He is with them, that He loves them unconditionally. I love that and it truly made me wonder if we pay any attention whatsoever to the crucifixes in our home. As we know, just hanging it in the house doesn't mean much if it does not in some way help us to focus a little more on what is holy, if it does not draw us into prayer, if it does not make our visitors realize and maybe even talk about our commitment. 

I visited Holy Family Church yesterday and saw my friend Catherine who was gracious enough to share her story of the Crucifix in my book Amazing Graces. She was busy in the church with hundreds of small children and many young adults gathered during Vacation Bible School, beneath the beautiful crucifix, to sing about God's goodness and mercy and love.  He was looking down upon them and all anyone who stood there could think is "How Great is Jesus!" These children were all gathered singing His praises and His arms were stretched out embracing each and every one. Truly brought focus on the holy, on prayer in song and on our commitment to Him in our lives.

Together let's try to put this sacramental to use on a more personal level, to make it more than just a decoration, to truly (if only in our minds) touch His side and see His hands and His feet and believe, every minute of every day and to recommit ourselves to His great gift of Love.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Help for Our Daily Walk


“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you."

Jesus' reminder today from the Law speaks volumes. Taken one little section at a time, we have much work to do. First and foremost, we most do. We are called to action. We are asked to put ourselves in motion. And, not for ourselves but for others. Jesus does not stop with merely getting us going and telling us to be there for one another and physically do something but here's the big word in the statement...whatever. So, here we go. We are not to pick and choose what we are going to do today. Jesus puts people, tasks in our paths and tells us to do...for others.  What is it Lord that you want us to do for these people you have put in our lives? And He is clear. "What is it that you would want them to do for you?"

As humans, we love for people to serve us in some way, shape or form. It's natural to love being cared for. Who wouldn't want to be served meals and have our work load made lighter and our feet rubbed. All these things and more that we love as simply being human beings are all the things we are asked to do for others. Whatever. Do we think in this manner? Do we stop in our day and think "Man, I would love a cup of coffee but before I get myself something, I wonder if anyone else in my path might need a drink?" I really have never thought about it. Oh sure, if someone comes along and asks me for something, I am more than willing to do something about it but I have to say, I have rarely thought to do something for them that I would want for myself. That is a much taller order.

I also would like to think today about all of those along my daily walk who do for me. I have an entire crew around me each day that help make me a better person, that comfort me and help me through the day and I am not really sure they know how grateful I am. They help me carry my daily crosses as well as bring me simple joys. They set themselves aside and do for me. Most times, whatever.

Today I have plenty to think and pray about. I have those whom Jesus sets before me to do whatever for and I have those to be grateful for as they do for me. Take time. Do. Whatever. And be grateful for those who help us in our daily walk. With. Whatever.