MARCH 17, 2019

Lent is a time of retreat in the real sense of that term: me of turning back, of turning away from that which is dangerous to our spiritual growth, a time of turning to the Lord.

Lent is a time for the entire family to make a wholehearted effort to be more attentive to one another and to the Lord. It is a time to treat ourselves to the good in God and in one another, to the new life that can be ours.

But fasting is more than doing without food. Our Lenten fast can mean more doing without other things as well. For example:

Do without a little sleep; use the time to read or pray.

Do without anger, impatience, or whatever really hinders you from living the gospel message of love.

Do without the radio or cellphone for a time each day; treat yourself and those around you to the joy of a little silence.

Limit TV to one hour a day.

Take fewer drugs (from aspirin to alcohol).

If you are a night owl, let go of the day’s activities and go to bed an hour earlier each night. (If you can’t sleep, use that me for meditation.

Take some time for something you usually do for yourself, such as reading a good novel, to write to neglected family member or friend.

Many of these actions mean fasting from selfishness and the status-seeking of our own egos, and allowing ourselves to be a bit more vulnerable. They might be more difficult than eating less food, but they are forms of fasting nonetheless and can retreat us to the Christian values of love and joy.

MARCH 10, 2019

From its earliest days, the church has urged the baptized and the catechumens to observe the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving and prayer as a preparation for the celebration of Easter.

Failure to observe individual days of penance is not considered serious, but failure to observe any penitential days of all or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.

During Lent, the church encourages attendance at daily Mass; self-imposed times of fasting; and generosity to local, national and worldwide programs of sharing.

Lent began almost two millennia ago as a preparation for Easter. Christians believed that they shared in Christ’s resurrection through baptism; and so they chose the Vigil of Easter to baptize their new converts.

They prepared the neophytes over many months, but the preparation became intense in the weeks before Easter. Thus, Lent became a community retreat. Converts prepared for baptism; baptized Christians recalled their own baptismal experience.

Through baptism, we share Christ’s divine life. It may help us to understand this if we recall that human life is essentially relational. We are who we are because of our relationship to our grandparents and parents, our siblings, children and grandchildren.

We know that God’s life, too, essentially is relational — the intimate relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Baptism introduces us into the divine community by giving us a new, incredibly intimate relationship to the Son of God.

How close?

Listen to the words of Christ: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”

As Christ’s brothers and sisters, we share his divine life. We also share his divine mission.

St. John tells us that Christ is the light of the world. Jesus said the same of us. (Matt 5:10-13).

So, go ahead. Set the pattern for our coming Lenten “retreat.” We have 40 days to brighten up our small corner of the world.

Lenten regulations

ABSTINENCE: All Catholics who have reached their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat onAsh Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday.

FASTING: All Catholics between their 18th and 59th birthday are bound to observe the Laws of Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Those bound by this rule may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted as necessary to maintain strength, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.

MARCH 3, 2019

Ash Wednesday marks the first of the 40 days of Lent, a six-week period (excluding Sundays) dedicated to prayer, fasting and reflection in preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum.

The late Henri Nouwen described Lent as a time to refocus and to re-enter a place of truth. It is here where we find our true identity. Ash Wednesday is the best way to begin a season that calls us into self-examination as well as self-denial into deeper contemplation about the mystery and grace of God’s mercy, and toward more radical giving towards those most in need of comfort, sustenance and hope.

The purpose of ashes

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” — Genesis 3:19.

The line from Genesis reminds us our lives on this Earth won’t last forever. We are a finite people who hold hope in something infinite and beyond ourselves.

Bearing a mark throughout the day that is visible to others puts an explanation point on the Genesis passage. We become walking witnesses of that place of truth.

Heaping ashes upon the head, rending the garment and donning sackcloth were all outward signs of penitence in biblical times. Such a display was one of abject humility and repentance, but also could turn into an occasion for infighting and ego inflation.

The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are obtained from the burning of the palms of a previous Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ return to Jerusalem, when people waved palm branches to celebrate his arrival. The ashes are blessed by the priest during the Ash Wednesday Mass after the homily. Then the ashes are applied to each person’s forehead in the shape of a cross.

FEB. 24, 2019

The story is told about a hunting dog that was very proud as a great runner.

One day a rabbit he was chasing got away. It brought on a lot of ridicule from the other dogs in the kennel because of all his previous boasting. Still, the hunting dog had an answer.

He said, “Remember, the rabbit was running for his life while I was only running for my dinner.”

Which reminds us that motivation is so important as to why we do what we do. Some folks, good people, come to weekend Mass motivated by their upbringing and habit — also, the clear commandment to give God His hour once a week on the Sabbath.

Probably an even richer and more blessed motive to gather with others for the Mass would be to know that we really anoint one another by being together. You just don’t get to heaven on your own.

As Jesus accepted the anointing of His feet in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, so we receive from each other the ointment of love and affection and the peace and security of community. The presence of the Savior is given eyes and voice and hands and heart through the presence of those brought together for the weekend Mass. If you’re not there, you’re missed.

And the otherwise …

A priest waited to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.

“Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m so sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

FEB. 17, 2019

Kindness — one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another.

If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you.

True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return. If we all do one random act of kindness daily, we just might set the world in the right direction.

FEB. 10, 2019

‘I dreamed I had an interview with God’

“So, you would like to interview me?” God asked.

“If you have the time,” I said.

“What questions do you have in mind for me?”

I asked: “What surprises you most about mankind?”

God answered, “That they get bored with childhood. They rush to grow up and then long to be children again. That they lose their health to make money, and then lose their money to restore their health.

“That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived.”

God’s hand took mine and we were silent for a while. I asked, “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?”

God replied with a smile:  “To learn that it is not good to compare yourselves to others. To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved.

“To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in a person we love, and it takes many years to heal them.

“To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons who love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings.

“To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they must forgive themselves.”

Humbly, I said: “Thank you for your time. Is there anything else You would like your children to know?”

“Yes” said God. “To learn that I am here — always.”

JAN. 27, 2019

When asked by a priest, “Why do you leave Mass early?” a good and faithful parishioner responded, “So I don’t have to bump into many people and get involved with the crowd.”

Yes, slipping out early means not rubbing elbows with others and avoiding a procession of cars out of the parking areas. But isn’t one purpose of worshipping together a way to be part of a community of persons to share faith and time together?

We are the body of Christ, which rules out doing it alone. Would the cast leave the play before it was over?

Participating in the liturgy and not slipping out early. It is simple kindness, it is reverence, it is the right thing to do.

When it comes to Holy Mass, may we all learn to relish it even more – not rush it.

And the otherwise …

The priest overheard this talk between two men in the church hallway: “Listen carefully, because I can only tell this once. I promised not to repeat it.”

JAN. 20, 2019

A Portuguese story tells of a young man who traveled, made a fortune and upon returning to his homeland did not reveal to his relatives or friends his great success while away.

He told them he had lost everything and was destitute. They all dismissed him with excuses.

Then he revealed the fortune, and they all said, “If only we had known, how differently we would have acted toward you!”

So often, the Lord comes to us under the disguise of someone in need or looking for help. Catholics may sharpen their alertness to the Lord’s real presence in our sacraments by sharpening alertness to Christ in the unborn, immigrants, poorly paid workers, the imprisoned and others such as these.

Maybe our lack of awareness of the Sacramental Real Presence is connected to our refusal to see the presence of God in others.

And the otherwise … Adam and Eve had the perfect marriage. He didn’t have to listen to her talk about men she knew before him, and she didn’t have to put up with his mother.

JAN. 13, 2019

Guidelines for Sane Living

1. Strike a balance between work and play, between seriousness and laughter. Go to church regularly and also to a ballgame.

2. Stick with the truth, even if it makes you feel bad. Falsehoods are like wandering ghosts.

3. Forgive your enemies as part of the price you pay for the privilege of being forgiven.

 4. Walk. Get lots of air and sunshine, and occasionally get some snow on your face, some dirt on your hands.

5. Talk through your troubles and mistakes with someone you trust — and your dreams, too.

6. Don’t underestimate the ability of God to straighten out a situation even when you can’t — and give God a little time.

7. And fall in love with life, children, older people, middle-agers, sports cars, the theater, music, books, hills, the sea, the Bible, with everything — except money!

And the otherwise …

After Mass, the priest looked blue and despondent.

“What was your sermon subject that it took so much energy out of you,” a friend asked?

“I tried to tell them it was the duty of the rich to help the poor.”

“And did you convince them,” the friend asked.

“Only half of them,” the priest replied. “I convinced the poor!”

DEC. 30, 2018

A young man stood before the Judge waiting to be sentenced — the police had caught him with the stolen goods.

The young gang member’s mother went to talk with the judge and said in her pleading voice, “He was always a good boy; of everything he stole he gave half to me, his mother!”

Which reminds us you can find something good in any situation.

This is a great message to remember as this new year of 2019 gets under way now.

A teacher shared a table with a young student in the school cafeteria. The girl shared with her teacher that she was suffering from a terrible and big disappointment that had ruined her life — her boyfriend had dropped her.

The teacher held up before the girl’s eyes a glass of water half full.

“Is this half full or half empty?” she asked.

The young girl said correctly, “It’s both, really.”

The teacher pointed out that no one’s life is ever really full or ever totally empty. A mixture of joy and sadness, of triumphs and letdowns is part of every day and life.­­

Another thought for an upcoming New Year.

DEC. 2, 2018

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the very first day of a brand new church year.

Curiously, the church year begins in the dark, with the light of day waning far too early and all of us huddled inside with glowing lamps and crackling fires trying to push away the darkness.

And the darkness outside mirrors the darkness we carry inside In these weeks leading to Christmas, the two converge: the darkness of winter and the darkness of doubt, of fear, of insecurity — all of the very hardest parts of what it means to be a human being on this Earth.

Into this darkness we declare that something new is coming, and so during Advent, we wait. We wait in the darkness, we wait in the absence, we wait in the silence. We wait for what we believe is right up ahead of us, on its way.

Like the shepherds who sat on a Galilean hillside in the darkest, inky black of night, we’re waiting for something. We can’t see it: we can’t hear it, but we’re stubborn in our insistence: it’s on the way. We are people who will look back and remember what happened to the shepherds when, in their darkness and silence, faint notes echoed over the hills, lilting voices carried on the wind, ears perked up in the silence, and they heard the sound — of angels singing.

NOV. 25, 2018

We know that people relate to time in many ways.

Sports referees call time, prisoners serve time, historians record time and so on.

But no matter how people relate to time, the fact remains that all of us are given the same amount of time. There are 24 hours a day, 168 each week.

A man recently reflected, after watching TV for many hours from dinnertime to midnight, how much time he wasted. He thought to himself time is like money, you only have so much to spend, and it’s only spent once — you can’t get time back. Either you have something to show for what you spent, or you don’t.

So many things, projects and activities need more hands and hearts to join in the work. Think about the wondrous gift of time and how much we do waste with nothing to show for it but a well-worn easy chair or remote control.

And the otherwise …

A priest was listening to a young man confess his sins. He stopped him and said. “Wait a minute, young man, you aren’t confessing — you’re bragging!

NOV. 18, 2018

For God’s people, November is when we think about death, we pray for our cherished dead, and we face the fact that one day God will call us home.

These sober thoughts also should prompt us to live and appreciate each day as a gift from the Creator and give thanks for all that we have.

We are so often caught up on our goals or chores, our destination, we forget to appreciate the jour­ney itself. You better slow down. Don’t dance so fast, time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask, “How are you?” do you even hear their reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in bed with the next list of chores running through your head? You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast, time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow,” and in your haste not see his sorrow? Have you ever lost touch and let a good friendship die because you didn’t have time to call and say “hi”?

In November with creation dying around us, remember when you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there. When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift, thrown away.”

As the month of November ends and Advent begins, we start the season of hearty expectation. It offers a marvelous reflection on Christian life and faith. Be touched by these days. Be strength­ened. Be inspired.

NOV. 11, 2018

Prayer for Veterans

Almighty God and Father, look with love upon our men and women in uniform and protect them in their time of need.

Give them health and stability and allow them to return to their loved ones whole and unshaken.

Be with their families and sustain them in these uncertain times.

Grant strength and peace of mind to the veterans who have given their best for the country they love.

Support them in infirmity and in the fragility of old age.

Teach us to remember their sacrifices and to express our gratitude.


NOV.4, 2018

Five reasons to give to your church — a ladder that begins with:

Fear: If I don’t give, God will be displeased or the canvasser will think I’m a cheapskate.

Guilt: I can’t seem to get there on Sundays, but at least I will send some money.

Insurance: I may need the church some day, so I’d better support the parish now.

Good will: Churches are good things in our community. They deserve my support.

Loyalty: If I’m going to belong to something, I’ll pay my dues.

Above the ladder of responses, there is found a second ladder that includes:

Thanksgiving: A full heart easily overflows. I give because I have received.

Love: Just as I cannot live without breathing, I cannot love without giving.

Sharing: I participate in the work of the hope of the world as I offer time, talent and money.

A sense of stewardship: All that I have and am and will be, come from God, and I return to Him what has really been His all along.

OCT. 28, 2018

The divorce court judge was dumbfounded.

Before him was an older couple, both in their 90s, their 70th anniversary was only weeks away.

“Why after all these years, are you asking for a divorce?” he asked them.

The wife explained, “We wanted to wait until all of our children were dead.”

Many of us wait much too long to confront a difficult situation, hoping it will just go away. We are reluctant to make a change when it’s called for.

Jesus never feared making changes or facing difficult situations. When one village didn’t respond with faith or trust, the Lord moved quickly to another place.

Seeking the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in dealing with changes that are needed or coping with tough situations is a worthy prayer.

In every season of our faith, we should once in a while ask ourselves the question — do we have the courage to do something about it? This means do something about whatever it takes to improve a situation or correct a wrong or reconcile a dispute.

And also think about this — there’s so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it’s really hard to figure out which ones of us ought to change the rest of us.

OCT. 21, 2018

Billy Graham’s 6 Rules of Living

1. Make it your goal to live at peace with others. Is it possible to do this with everyone in our lives? Unfortunately, no; even our best efforts may not change another person’s attitude. The key is to ask God if we’re at fault and if so, to confess it and seek his help to overcome it. Life is temporary and fleeting. We’re here for just a short time. We shouldn’t waste our days but live them for God’s glory.

2. Avoid revenge. Don’t be a captive of the past. If someone has harmed us by breaking the law, we have the right to bring that person to justice, both for our good and the good of society. But hurting someone only because they have hurt us is another matter. We can’t change the past; we can only seek God’s forgiveness for whatever it is we did wrong.

3. Guard your tongue. Use it for good instead of evil. How many marriages and friendships have been destroyed because of criticism that has spun out of control? But the tongue can also be used for good’ that should be our goal. When people ask me for advice about their personal problems, which they often do, I always try to give them an answer based on the Bible. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.

4. Never repay evil with evil. Evil is sin; it’s a deadly cancer that has invaded our souls. It isn’t just an illusion or an absence of good. Ultimately, all evil comes from Satan, according to the Bible. Satan is real, and he is absolutely opposed to God. Still, we are responsible for our own actions. Why some people repeatedly choose to do evil instead of good is a puzzle to me, because evil eventually destroys those who practice it. Only God can replace the evil and sin in our hearts with love and kindness.

5.  Treat others as you’d want them to treat you. This simple but profound principle—The Golden Rule—comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. How different our lives would be if we actually practiced this. The Bible also tells us, “With humility comes wisdom.” Every day I realize I’m just a sinner like everyone else, and I have been forgiven only because of God’s grace.

6. Practice the power of forgiveness. I adhere to the philosophy of hating the sin but loving the sinner. The key is to realize that this is the way God sees us. When we sin, it’s as if we’re shaking our fists in God’s face, telling him we know better than he does how to run our lives. But God also hates sin because he loves us, and he knows what sin does to us.

OCT. 14, 2018

The names of great shrines of healing miracles are well-known — Lourdes, Fatima and others.

Sometimes we hear of healing power connected to the relics of cherished saints or those sure to be named saints by the church.

It is amazing how much healing happens — a young person in a coma whom sick people visited and prayed to and some experienced wellness. Healing can take place as a result of sincere prayer and deep belief. Our faith teaches this, so does the scriptures and our long tradition.

Just remember the center of any healing is not statues, shrines, relics or comatose patients. The center is the person and power of Christ, our Lord.

Jesus, risen among us is the Divine Physician, the Wounded Healer.

The gift of healing can be sought after and celebrated in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and other prayers and very moving healing services. Many parishes have seasonal anointing celebrations such as during Advent or Lent.

As Catholics, we place our hope in the fact that Christ Jesus, the healer, really is present in the Sacraments, the Gospel word, the Eucharist and anointing.

Present yourself in deep faith, surrender to God’s direction and His will for you. Let your response to suffering be greater faith and remember true healing means walking even closer to the Lord.

OCT. 7, 2018

In this time of the year we look forward to the making of the wine, especially as the next few weeks bring us to golden autumn in October.

In their sun-ripened bunches, the grapes differ from each other in their colors and scents and taste. A Concord grape isn’t a Muscadine.

But they are all “fruit of the vine and the wine is the work of human hands.”

Sound familiar?

The prayer over the gifts at the altar table reminds us that even the Holy Mass and the prayers we offer at liturgy are “fruit of the vine and work of human hands and hearts,” especially the part of the Mass we call the Prayer of the Faithful — those petitions and prayers seeking the Lord’s help. These are really from among the people, from the earth, these prayers are fruit of the vine.

The Prayer of the Faithful should include current needs that speak of things on our minds and in our hearts right now. The fruit of our faith is our genuine concern for all those Christ loves and cherishes, so our petition prayers should reflect that in one way or another.

SEPT. 30, 2018


Thank you Father for Nature, for supplying the food we eat,

For the many wonderful fruits. That are tasty and so sweet.

Thank you for the vegetables, that help the body to survive,

That nourish our very being, to keep us alive.

Thank you for the conditions, the wind, the rain and storm,

Thank you for the sunshine, that ripens the fields of corn.

Bless all the harvest, that grace our table fare,

Abundance of glorious food, a feast for all to share.

So as we celebrate harvest, let us think of those in need,

Send your thoughts out to the starving, that all of them may feed.

Help us share your treasure, to those that are starving today,

Give them strength and nourishment, to soothe their pains away.

If through your love and understanding, we conquer famine decay and despair,

Then Father we have learnt our lesson, for through you we have learnt to share.

— M.G. Bradshaw

SEPT. 23, 2018

What can the church offer me?

Peace: With all the running around we do, we hardly get a moment for ourselves. That’s one thing that going to church affords us—a chance for quiet, a time to reflect on the deeper things of life. And a chance for us to find peace through forgiveness.

Community: Where in today’s world do we meet with people just for the sake of hanging out? Just to make friends? Just to help? Just to connect? Most of the time we get together it’s for work, or at the Mass, or something such as a movie or a game. At church, it’s more than just being part of a crowd. At church it’s about community.

Wisdom: We get advice from everywhere today, whether it’s TV telling us how to cook rice or the internet promising to make us rich. Church gives us a different source of wisdom — the Word of God — deep enough to touch us, powerful enough to change us.

Eternal life: We know there’s something more to life, but often we cannot quite put our finger on it. It has to be more than chores and tasks that make up everyday existence. Church can offer us a deeper perspective about life, not only for now, but forever.

Nourishment: How can we cram ourselves with so much food and still feel empty? Are we eating the wrong kind of food and skipping the food that God wants to give us? Where else in the world can you have the assurance of union with God as you can with Holy Communion?

SEPT. 16, 2Z018

As summertime passes along with hot weather and breezes, boating with motor or sail still can be seen in New York state.

Storms on lakes come up and are to be considered with care and caution. It reminds us of something related to a famous artist and his painting.

Rembrandt did a painting that portrays the biblical story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps some of you have seen the little ship occupied by Jesus and the apostles being hit by a huge wave.

You can feel the shudder running through the boat. The storm is all around. The rigging is loose and blowing in the wind. And the disciples are panic-stricken.

It is marvelous to realize that in the midst of all this storm and panic and fear and danger, the disciples had to awaken Jesus to tell him about it. It wasn’t because he didn’t care or because he was indifferent, it was because he had such trust in God. He had sunk himself down so deep into the being of God for that period of refreshment that he was sleeping right through the storm.

You can look at the painting and say to yourself, “I’ve got to learn that from him — to have complete trust in God.”

SEPT. 2, 2018

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, here are a few quotes that you might find inspirational:

• “No great achievement is possible without persistent work.” — Bertrand Russell

• “I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand, that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” — John D. Rockefeller

• “Work is no disgrace; the disgrace is idleness.” — Greek proverb

• “Without labor nothing prospers.” — Sophocles

• “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

• “Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” — Ovid

AUG. 26, 2018

It has been said “the measure of your grief is the measure of your love.”

Popular culture can lead us to believe that we should have “moved on” by now, “gotten over it” and “gotten on with life.”

But our grieving is part of our life, not something removed from it. And there is nothing wrong with allowing grief its time. Just as love takes time to grow, grief takes time to diminish.

Whether you are grieving for a loved one who has died, or some other great loss or setback, your sorrow needs to be given time to fully express itself.

The good news is that over time, grief will lose some of its ability to completely overwhelm us, even though it may still do so from time to time. In respecting our grief and allowing it to take its course, we also allow ourselves to begin to heal. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

While giving grief its due, remember that it does not have to become the defining quality of the rest of your life. Your loss always will be a part of you, but it does not have to be all of you. It is OK to live, learn and love again.

AUG. 19, 2018

Are you a minimalist?

Following church regulations to the letter and believing only the words in a creed are the signs of a minimal faith. There is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

Jesus said, “Come follow me.”

He radically turned his world upside down. Isn’t that what we are commissioned to do by baptism?

We are all called to be disciples. The Master associated with the lowly, the poor and the sinful. He forgave sins with compassion. He challenges us to forgive each other without restrictions. He tells us to speak out against oppression of any kind.

In today’s church climate, we tend to shy away from speaking out. We fear rejection and repercussion. We think like little children who’ve been told, “Children should be seen and not heard.”

That’s not the message that Jesus gave when he said, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel.”

He meant that by his example and his spirit. He calls us to be active disciples, not passive ones. Many early followers were called to martyrdom. Rather extraordinary by today’s standards. Have you spent your life following Jesus minimally? Or have you spent your life following Him extraordinarily?

And the otherwise …

• Marriage is very much like a violin — after the sweet music is over, the strings still are attached.

• It is true that love is blind, but marriage definitely  is an eye-opener.

• Love is one long sweet dream, and marriage is the alarm clock.

AUG. 12, 2018

It is amazing what we can accomplish, when we allow God as a partner in whatever we wish to do.

It may be the role of good parent, the work of being a fine teacher, perhaps to begin a program to improve our community. With the hands of the master to assist, our life’s work can be beautiful.

Take for example the small boy at the piano concert given by the Master Padereweski, one of the world’s greatest pianists. Just before the concert, the boy wandered through the door marked “NO ADMITTANCE. Soon enough the curtain went up and the audience heard the little boy playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on the big grand piano.

Instead of a disaster, Paderewski came onto the stage and stood behind the boy, playing many wonderful notes to fill out and fill in the basic tune. Together the master and the boy transformed an embarrassing situation into a creative experience.

Allow God, the master, to be a partner.

Besides inviting God as your partner, the idea of giving of self also is at the heart of following Christ. But unless we know of practical examples of it, the idea can remain just pie-in-the-sky.

A young boy of about 5 years old had a 7-year-old sister with a rare blood disease. The boy shared the disease but had built up the antibodies to resist its affects. His sister had not.

The only chance to save her, the doctor said, was a complete blood transfusion — the little brother being the blood donor.

The parents tried to explain to the boy what would happen. The child said, “If it’s going to save her life, I’ll do it.”

Lying next to each other in hospital beds, the boy saw his sister and color coming back to her face. He felt weak and then asked the doctor,“Will I die now or in a little while?”

The brother had misunderstood what everyone had explained. He thought she would need all of his blood and he was ready to give up his young life for her sake.

Giving of self is at the heart of faith. For some it comes naturally; others must practice it over and over again. It is the spark that makes the Gospels ignite the hearts of so many people.

Giving of self is the wind that fills the sails and pushes forward.

AUG. 5, 2018

‘No Excuse Sunday’ — Pass it along

To make it possible for everyone to attend church next Sunday, we are going to have a special “No Excuse Sunday.”

Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is the only day to sleep in.” There will be a special section with lounge chairs for those who feel our pews are too hard. Eye drops will be available for those with tired eyes from watching TV late on Saturday nights. We will have steel helmets for those who feel “the roof would cave in if I ever came to church.”

Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold and fans for those who say it is too hot. Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. Relatives and friends will be in attendance for those who can’t go to church and cook dinner, too.

We will distribute “Stamp Out Stewardship” buttons for those who feel that the church always is asking for money. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to see God in nature. Doctors and nurses will be in attendance for those who plan to be sick on Sunday.

The sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who never have seen the church without them. We will provide hearing aids for those who can’t hear the preacher and cotton for those who say he is too loud.

—    Author unknown

And the otherwise …

If you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. If you want to be happy for a day, go fishing. If you want to be happy for a week, take a trip. If you want to be happy for a year, inherit money. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, serve others.

JULY 29, 2018

Can you list the U.S. presidents who have served in your lifetime? How about the five wealthiest people in the world?  Any chance you know the last five Heisman Trophy winners or Nobel Prize winners?

All of these famous worldly winners are soon forgotten. Fame is fleeting.

But love is forever.

None of us will ever forget those who personally touched our lives — our parents, teachers, mentors and special friends. Jesus was not about worldly fame. He was about love and was like a parent, teacher, mentor and special friend to all of his disciples. Jesus personally touched all of their lives.

This personal touch of the Lord in our lives reaches us in many and various ways — the word of scripture, embraces and closeness of friends and family. Sometimes even in the most surprising ways, unexpected.

Yes, fame is fleeting, but the influence of good friends and their ability to be channels of the Lord’s presence in our personal lives is amazing.

It was said that Henry Ford was asked for good advice by a young newspaper reporter. Ford responded, “Choose your best friends carefully, because a best friend is the one who should bring out the BEST in you!”

Let the Savior be that best friend for you.