PRESENTATION TALKS

1/10/18, Deacon Wayland Moncrief, Talk on FORGIVENESS

For those who want to read our presentation on forgiveness, you can read it at http://www.parishdeacon.com.  Select the Spiritual Life tab and then the Forgiveness tab.

Thanks,

Deacon Wayland Moncrief

St. Germaine Catholic Church

7997 E. Dana Dr,

Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

wayland@parishdeacon.com

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12/11/17

Good evening fellow Knights, thanks to our worthy Grand Knight and worthy Chaplain for the invitation to speak with you about PERSONAL PRAYER. It is a serious responsibility and an honor.-

I am DON ROWLEY, a Third Degree Knight of this Council. And I have been a Knight off and on since 1958.

This evening I will explain:

What is Personal Prayer?

— Why should we pray?

The difference between Meditation and Contemplation

— Thinking and Feeling in Prayer and

How you can become more engaged in personal prayer.

Let us begin: IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that: Prayer is the lifting of the mind and heart to God and it plays an essential role in the life of a devout Catholic. Without a life of prayer, we risk losing the life of grace in our souls, a grace that comes to us first in baptism and later chiefly through the other sacraments and through prayer itself. ( CCC2558 )

In this series of presentations I will take us along on our journey in prayer, so that each of us can grow in our prayer life and faith.

The two primary forms of personal prayer taught me by the grammar school Nuns, the High School and Novitiate Christian Brothers, The Trappists and the Carmelites were: MEDITATION and  CONTEMPLATION. I will speak mainly now about Meditation and briefly about Contemplation now and in greater detail in later talks.

In Meditation, we use our minds to ponder the basic principles that guide our life. We pray over words, images, and ideas.

Contemplation is more about feeling than thinking. Contemplation often stirs the emotions and enkindles deep desires… In contemplation, we rely on our imaginations to place ourselves in a setting from the Gospels or from spiritual reading… We experience Scripture. We do not study it. Contemplation is the highest form of personal prayer and can lead to Union with God in this life and it can be a preview of Heaven on earth. I will explain Contemplation in detail in a later talk.

The foundation and fundamental prerequisites of a life of prayer are: humility, detachment and love of neighbor. .The attitudes of prayer are Patience, Gentleness and Perseverance. We must seek to align our will with that of God. That is the means to Holiness and Union with God..

The first pre-requisite of effective prayer is Humility. As we see in the lives of Jesus and Mary. God thirsts for us infinitely, that we might thirst for Him. So, we should pray because God wants it for our salvation.

The second pre-requisite for prayer is LOVE, Obedient, Trusting Love is the proper source of prayer. Mother Mary demonstrated this virtue when she said YES to God’s invitation and always humbly followed God’s Will…

The 3 rd pre-requisite is to Pray from the Heart. The Bible tells us this 1,000 times. That prayer must come from the center of your being, body and soul.

The fourth pre-requisite of effective prayer is FAITH. The Christian Prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man, in Christ.

True prayer requires our personal, interior participation — that is, our determination to communicate with the Father, even if all we can do is have an occasional moment of fear or longing. We have, at least made a beginning according to our capacity. It is up to us to practice it

St. Paul’s command in 1st Thessalonians 5:17  to “pray without ceasing,” can be confusing. Paul is not referring to non-stop talking, but rather LISTENING: in an attitude of God-consciousness and God-surrender that we carry with us all the time. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is within us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions.

Here’s an example of a day that we might “pray without ceasing,”

When you wake up, while still lying in bed, Praise God for keeping you safe and giving you this day to serve Him. Thank Him for creating you and all creation, for your family, our country at peace, our leaders, our religion, etc..

Next pray to the Holy Spirit (such as on the back of our song book)…

Then make your MORNING OFFERING of your entire day for the Glory of God, for your loved ones and all those that you promised to pray for…

PRAY BEFORE YOUR BREAKFAST. (and all other meals, snacks and for all God’s blessings.

While driving to work, or to a sports activity or to Church offer the Rosary for the conversion of all sinners, especially those in your own home, family, relatives, parish, those who want your prayers, those whom you promised to pray for and those who have no one to pray for them.

At work; with your morning offering you have already offered all that you think and do for the greater glory of God, but you can do it again before going in and starting work (so that you are praying always).

On your way home, thank God for your work, His help and guidance and resume the rosary where you left off this morning.

At dinner thank God for your meal…. Later take time for some spiritual reading.

At Bedtime do an examination of conscience and an Act Of Contrition.

If God should take your life during the night, you are ready, as your day will have helped you prepare.

MEDITATION… Next I will discuss the common form of meditation, that is – Mental Prayer.

By the practice of mental prayer, your whole spiritual life will be powerfully animated: by your attendance at Mass, Rosaries, spiritual reading, recitation of vocal prayers, pious sayings, novenas, etc.

St Peter Alcantara said: “In Mental Prayer, the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases and the rust of vices disappears.

St Teresa of Avila said: ”Meditation is the basis for acquiring ALL the Virtues”.

Mental prayer usually employs a set method… There are numerous methods in use, most of which are variations on the same general theme. Saint Ignatius proposes four distinct methods in his Spiritual Exercises. The elements seen in his outlines are contained in other methods as well, such as the Sulpician method, the Salesian method, the Ligorian method, and several others. — The Carmelite method is the simplest and the one that I currently follow as a professed, Discalced, Secular, Carmelite.

The rule of thumb for which method to choose is “Whatever works for you” . This means whatever makes you love and serve Jesus Christ better, because good mental prayer makes for a better Catholic: one more virtuous, more patient, more charitable, more zealous, and more self-denying, more conformed to the Mind of the Blessed Trinity than you were yesterday.

The body of Mental Prayer consists in six items: preparation, considerations, affections, petitions, resolutions, and conclusion, they are contained in every method.

The first is preparation. This consists in putting ourselves in the presence of God, contritely acknowledging our lowly sinfulness, and asking for God’s help to pray well.

The preparatory acts, that is petitioning God for calling down His blessings on our prayer … Our Lord said, “without me you can do nothing.” That applies to everything, but especially to the spiritual life. Taken together, these three preparatory acts of faith in God’s presence, contrition for sin, and petition for God to enlighten us, put us in a proper posture in regard to God. We recognize our nothingness in His sight and our total dependence on Him.

Considerations:

Prayer is primarily an act of the soul’s highest powers: of the mind, intellect and will working together under the influence of divine grace.

The considerations, or reflections are where we recall to mind the subject of our meditation, such as Jesus’ painful crowning with thorns and the humiliation of Our Lord.– The Roman soldiers drive the thorns into His Sacred Head, seat of Divine Wisdom, shouting “Hail, King of the Jews!” sending streams of blood in His hair, face and blinding His eyes.

Next we ask, “How does this apply to me?” We know that Our Lord did it for us and for our salvation. We know that He didn’t have to do it for us, but if He didn’t, that we would not be able to go to Heaven. We may consider who He is and what His dignity is, and that He has done this to pay the debt for the sins that we have commited and will commit.

The affections, petitions, and resolutions, form the heart of mental prayer, — the conversation with Jesus. There are different ways of fixing our gaze. In the Carmelite method, one generally reads the Bible or a book for a few moments in order to begin the considerations, like in THE LECTIO DIVINA. Of utmost importance is that the considerations bring us into a live contact with Jesus and give us strong convictions. These convictions will form a foundation, or a focal point for our affections, petitions, and resolutions.

Meditation is an act of the intellect; but affections, petitions, and resolutions are all acts of the will. Since the will is the “appetite of the intellect,” it only acts on something that the intellect presents to it. Saint Augustine said: “I cannot love what I do not know.” The intellect knows and the will loves.

Affections: Saint Teresa of Avila assures us that good mental prayer consists: not in thinking much, but in loving much.

Affections are “all those movements of the will towards God that are are acts of love, contrition, adoration, thanksgiving, resignation, conformity to God’s will, admiration of His greatness, fear of His anger, confidence in His promises, renunciation of self, desire for holiness, thirst for virtue, etc.

Saint Teresa of Avila and other authors often refer to mental prayer as a conversation. It is important that we think of ourselves in a loving conversation with Our Lord, being open to His inspirations. In the early stages of Mental prayer, He frequently gives us CONSOLATIONS to encourage us to continue in this mental prayer. St Teresa refers to these consolations in her Fourth Castle Mansion.

The four ends of all prayer are: adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition. The first three acts are due to God. We owe them to Him. The last one, petition, is what we ask from His mercy.

Petitions are asking for something. We may ask for virtues or pray to overcome some fault, ask to discern the will of God in some present crisis, fortitude to do what we know to be right, the conversion of a friend or family member…. We should also have certain “stock” petitions, such as the good of the Universal Church, The Good of Our Order, the Holy Father, our families, the welfare of our nation, and especially its conversion, for those in religious communities, priests, students, co-workers, etc. The petitions should be simple, in our own words, and be sincere.

This connects our mental prayer to our daily life, which is essential if mental prayer is to make us better, which is one of its purposes. As Saint James said, “You ask and don’t receive: because you ask and do not put it into practice.” Mental prayer must make us better. Our Lord said “Ask and you shall receive” — supplicating God for the virtues also obliges us to practice them.

Resolutions: In this final part, we make concrete acts of the will to do some good thing or to avoid some evil thing.

It is good that, once you conclude what your predominant fault is, you strive to aim your resolutions at that fault. Start making resolutions contrary to that vice… Spending a long time on one virtue, maybe even months, is also recommended, until you make progress in it. Concluding acts: These are very brief. You should thank God for the graces He has given you in your prayer; express sorrow for any faults or negligence you have committed during this holy exercise; ask Him to bless your resolutions, your present day, your life and your death. This is one concrete way of joining your prayers with your every-day life, of praying always..

IV. Difficulties

The two most common ones are distractions and aridity (spiritual dryness). They correspond to our intellect and will… Both of them can be voluntary or involuntary.

Distractions attack our intellect. They are the mental wanderings that have us thinking about things other than our subject. As for involuntary distractions, they can come about by fatigue, illness, anxiety about our work, etc. Voluntary distractions can have the same causes, but are voluntary because we don’t discipline our minds and attempt to banish the distractions. Distractions can also be caused by bad mental habits, such as failure to control our thoughts in our every day life, or not giving proper attention to preparing our meditation the night before.

After distractions, the other main difficulty is aridity, or spiritual dryness, which corresponds to the will. Aridity is the inability of the will to easily make any affections. It is a lack of enthusiasm for, or even a repulsion to divine conversation. It has three causes: God, the Devil, and ourselves.

When God causes it, He deliberately withdraws any sensible consolations in prayer. This is something he does in the process of PURGATION which leads us to the higher grades of prayer, such as the Dark Night of the senses, or the Dark night of the Soul. When the Devil is the cause, it is to discourage us from the path of holiness. But the normal causes of dryness for most of us is in ourselves. The bad habits we don’t correct, our failure to live up to our previous resolutions, our negligence of the duties of our state in life, sensuality, lack of mortification of our lower appetites, attachment to venial sin: all these constitute causes of aridity and barriers to fruitful prayer.

V. Alternatives to Methodical Approaches

For those who try, but simply cannot get any fruit out of the methodical approach, there are alternative methods. They include meditative recitation of vocal prayers and meditative reading. Both of these methods were employed by Saint Teresa of Avila. She herself tells us that she spent 14 years unable to meditate without the aid of a book.

Meditative recitation of vocal prayers is the practice of reciting a prayer like the Our Father, phrase by phrase, carefully considering each phase, eliciting affections, and making petitions as you go. Saint Ignatius highly recommends this. Meditative reading is similar. Using Scripture, the Imitation of Christ book, or another book of meditations on the Gospels, we read a little bit at a time, pausing frequently to perform those same acts which constitute regular mental prayer.

Meditative reading is different than spiritual reading, which is almost completely, an act of the intellect. Meditative reading will be accompanied by those acts of the will which form the most important part of mental prayer.

Detachment is a key element for successful meditation and sanctity.

VI. General Helps to Mental Prayer

Praying better helps us live better and living better helps us pray better.

Another help is daily spiritual reading of 15 minutes or so. There are many good books for this, such as the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. Those who have made the total consecration to Jesus through Mary would do well to read the works of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, or Saint John Eudes. The writings of Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri and Saint Francis de Sales are also a goldmine for the spiritual life.

The practice of spiritual reading elevates our minds to the supernatural truths. It also supplies us with subjects for meditation. Spiritual reading: must be digested bit by bit. Read a book by a recommended author slowly. Saint Thérèse (The Little Flower) had memorized entire passages of the book THE IMITATION OF CHRIST.

The next general help is a spiritual director. His job is to assist you with your interior life: helping you to find what resolutions you should work on, what faults to correct, and giving you counsel as needed to address the questions and problems that are bound to arise in your attempt at a more disciplined interior life.

How long should one spend in Mental Prayer?

The common recommendation is 1/2 hour to an hour. Those who cannot accommodate that into their schedule can cut it down even to 15 minutes. When should it be done? The ideal would be in our ADORATION CHAPEL. For me, the morning is best. For you, night time may be better.

How should the various parts of mental prayer be divided?For beginners, something short of half the total time of mental prayer should be devoted to the preparatory acts and considerations.

Many books on prayer usually address the higher grades of prayer which I will explain in a later talk, including Contemplation.

Also see the Biblical basis of Contemplation.

Catholic Prayer and Devotionals:  http://www.kofc.org/un/en/cis/devotional.html#/

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your attention and encourage everyone to take up the exercise of mental prayer and to persevere in it.

Please note the many BLUE Reference links above, for your reference use and study..

If you have any questions, or comments, please leave them here under comments, at the bottom of this page.

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12/1/17

Be sure to attend the general meeting this month 12/11/17

for our
Spiritual Development Presentation

by Brother Don Rowley:

Meditation, Contemplation and Personal Prayer.

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11/14/17

Deacon Dale presented the following inspiring talk last night.

The Armor of God  

Thank you to our worthy Grand Knight and worthy Chaplain for the invitation to speak with you this evening. It is an honor. I am a Fourth Degree Knight of this Council. Admittedly, I am not as active as I would like, but more on that soon.

My topic for this evening is one near and dear to my heart: the relationship between our faith, our good works, our prayer life, and our Salvation. I preach often on aspects of this issue, but this talk is my first real effort to pull together seven basic principles that form the structure of those relationships, the last two bearing particularly on our role as Knights. Taken together, these principles are for us as Catholic men and Knights of Columbus, the Armor of God. They guide us on what God is calling us to do to help build His Kingdom.
The first essential of the seven basic principles that I want to discuss is that our salvation is a communal project. As with several of these principles, there is an important nuance—a subtlety—at work here. You see, we are to work together for our salvation as community, but we will be judged individually. At the Final Judgment, I would not expect Jesus to say, “Knights of Columbus Council 8386, come forward for your Judgment.” God calls us into community, but each person who has the capability to decide is responsible for his or her own salvation.
My second principle may surprise some people: we cannot earn our salvation. The simple fact is that we could do good works all day long and that, in and of itself, would not pay the debt of our sin. Some of you may think, well if my good works don’t help me get to Heaven, why am I even here at a Knights meeting?
Yet, the fact is that our salvation is a gift freely given by God, not something that we can earn. Our debt of sin against the unconditional and unlimited love of God is a debt that is simply beyond our ability to repay. Our debt-of-sin credit cards are maxed out. We are horribly overdrawn and bankrupt. If that were not the case, Jesus would not have needed to become incarnate and suffer and die for us. God offers us faith and redemption. We need only accept that offer and act on it.
It sounds as though I am saying that Martin Luther was right: by faith alone we are saved. But, Martin Luther added the word “alone” to the Bible text. It is not there in the original Holy Scripture.

So, my third key principle of salvation is that we are saved by faith but not by faith alone. Faith is the source and fuel for our salvation, but it is not simply that we accept Jesus Christ as Our Savior and that is the whole process of our salvation. Think of the initial seed of faith as a gift from God that is like a marriage proposal. We must accept that marriage proposal—say “amen” to the gift of faith. But, let me ask you this: how many of you are or were married? When you said “I do” on your wedding day, was that the whole story? Or did you then have to LIVE your life together after that wedding day? Did that one “I do” cover all issues for all time or did you have to keep working at it?
Our “amen” to God is a start, but it is NOT the whole story of our salvation. The key is to understand that our good works are a vital element of our salvation even though we cannot EARN our way to Heaven. You see, our good works are the fruit of our love for God and one another. Within our marriage, we are each called to make self-gift to one another. Pope St. John Paul II told us that only through self-gift can we become fully, truly human. Self-gifts actualize the commitment that we made at the altar. For me, I only consider my day well-spent if I tell my wife at least once that I love her and that she is beautiful—and if I do small acts of self-gift, such as doing the laundry or buying a little something for her. The best of those self-gifts I do without her knowing. In the case of God, of course, He ALWAYS notices what we do.
Think of Our Blessed Mother and the self-gift that she made. It was not easy being the Mother of God. And God knew that she would say, “Yes… amen… so be it” when He asked her, but He did ask. We call it the Annunciation, but she still had to freely accept to play that role… and thus to make an incredible self-gift to us.
So, our good works are a self-gift that reflects our love for God and one another. As such, they point to who we are. They are signs pointing to our love and faith. And, like our self-gifts to our wives, they do much more than simply point to our love and faith. They actualize that love and faith. They have a tangible effect.

My fourth principle of salvation is that our good works are effective or efficacious signs of our love and faith.
I use that $25 word “efficacious” intentionally rather than just sticking to the $1 word “effective” because our Church uses the phrase “efficacious signs” to describe something else that is important to us as Church. Anyone know what that is? Yes, the Sacraments are efficacious signs. They effect what they describe. Baptism is not simply symbolic, it also is an efficacious sign of our being cleansed from original sin. Holy Matrimony is not simply a symbolic joining of the lives of two people or a civil contract; it is an efficacious sign of them becoming joined.
So, our good works do not earn our way into Heaven, but, in a sense, they do something even more powerful. They have a sacramental quality that transforms who we are and the world around us. By doing good, we become good, and we make the world around us a bit better. We actualize our faith and love. “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Remember that Jesus tells three parables in Matthew 25 that point to the nature and necessity of our good works: the ten virgins, the five talents, and the separating of the sheep and goats—that is those who help the poor and are saved and those who do not and are condemned. Fr. Dan gave a beautiful homily yesterday on the parable of the Ten Virgins and the idea that the oil in their lamps was their good deeds. It is interesting that Jesus uses this succession of three parables to make His point in an increasingly pointed and clear manner. By the time we hear about separating the sheep and the goats, we simply cannot ignore the message.
But, again, make no mistake. Nowhere in these three parables does the king or master say to those who performed the good deeds, “You have earned your reward.” Instead, the master says to the servant who made a profit for him with his talents, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” If we are good and faithful, Our Lord will give us the opportunity to share His joy forever in Heaven. It’s not that we earned it, but that we used the talents that God gave us to help build His Kingdom and prepare ourselves for Heaven.
In John chapter 15, verses 1 to 4, we read: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit… Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” So, Jesus is saying that He is the vine and we are branches and the fruit that we bear is our good works. God wants to keep those branches that bear good fruit.
And what does it mean that God prunes every branch that bears fruit? I can see two interpretations, both of which add value. The first is that the “prunes” refers to the things in our life that hurt us. God allows us to suffer in part so that we will feel more empathy toward others who suffer and thus do more good works. The second interpretation is that there are times when we are trying to do too many things, and God redirects us to concentrate on a smaller set of most critical tasks so that we get more done in those key areas. In short, the second and more positive interpretation is that God removes some of the God fruit that we are producing so that the remaining fruit will grow better. I have experienced God doing that to me.
Jesus also tells us, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” So, our strong relationship with Jesus is what calls us and empowers us to bear good fruit. Without that relationship, and thus without us doing our works through Him, our efforts to help in this world are unlikely to be as efficacious. We can do more good as a single cell in the Body of Christ than out in the world on our own.
The fact that Jesus used grapes as a symbol of our good works underscores their role as efficacious signs of our love and faith in Him. After all, grapes produce wine, and wine is an Old Testament symbol of the love of God for us. In the Mass, as the priest blesses the wine, he refers to it as “fruit of the vine and the work of human hands.” In other words, wine is the product of God’s gift and human effort. We collaborate with God by doing the good works that He wants.
My fifth principle of salvation flows directly from what we have said so far. Our prayer life provides direction and fuel for our journey of salvation and good works. Our prayer life, by deepening our relationship with Jesus, guides and fuels our efforts to express our love for God and each other through our good works.
Last week and this week, I gave a talk to RCIA about Divine Revelation, a talk to the Spanish-language parents about a 12-step plan for building your domestic church, the talk tonight, a talk this Thursday to Embry Riddle Catholic students about seeing Jesus in the face of people whom I have met in my mission trips to Haiti and Central America, and two talks this coming Saturday to the Religious Education Confirmation Retreat.
I am not listing these things to brag. I have my times when I feel overwhelmed. But I love what I do for the faith. My point is that I try to do the things that God guides me to do, and let go of those activities he tells me to let go of, even when that letting go can be painful. God told me directly that Deacon Dennis should take over the Baptism preparation class. I hated letting go of that, but turns out that God was right. He’s a smart guy. Deacon Dennis and Carolyn have done a much better job at those classes than I did. God also told me to invite Deacon Dennis to help with RCIA, with Robert’s permission, of course. I thought that God was going to ask me to give up RCIA, too, which I have done continuously since I came into the Church back in 1995. But He gave me clear signs that I am to continue doing that alongside Deacon Dennis for now. In the past, God had me be an acting Chaplain for the Knights at my old parish because our parochial vicar was too busy with other duties. God has not asked me to be directly involved with the Knights here at St. Germaine, but that does not mean that my heart is not with you and that I am not enthusiastic about the efforts to revitalize this Council.
Prayer gives me fuel and direction for these activities. As a member of the clergy, I pray Morning and Evening prayers, as well as the Office of Readings and sometimes daily prayers from the Office as well. I go to Mass at least five times a week, often going to the 7 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart. I do the Rosary each day and try to spend a couple hours per week total in Adoration. And I have a short prayer that I try to say periodically during the day: “Thank you, Lord, for all that I am and all that I have.” Again, I am not trying to brag or make an early case for my beatification, merely to say that my prayer life provides the rest and the fuel and the direction that lets me sustain such a busy schedule during a typical day.
My sixth key principle of salvation, as it relates to us as members of the Knights of Columbus, is that we should be men who are givers of life. All Christians are called to be givers of life, but men have a special calling that differs from women’s roles as givers of life. To understand this, a little etymology will help. Both Greek and Latin have a root word “gen-” which means birth or creation. The words “Genesis”, “gender,” and “generate” all stem from that root word.
In Genesis, God generated the world and gender. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
In terms of gender, we portray God as male, yet God is pure spirit and literally has no body or gender. So, why is He a he? The Word of God became incarnate as a male, despite having only a female human parent. What is going on with this?
Some people think that it was because society at the time was male-dominated and God is in charge, but God told Eve that her sin caused male domination. God made it clear that male chauvinism was NOT His plan. He told Eve that because of her disobedience, “your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
God is “male” because He gives to His Creation out of love and life is created. Every human life is a conscious choice by God given that He must breathe in a soul. In the marital act, man gives out of love and woman receives, and life is potentially created. Man imitates God in the role of Creator and life-giver, while woman imitates Creation in the role of receiver and life nurturer.
That leads me to my final key principle of salvation, as it relates to us as members of the Knights of Columbus: Our Brotherhood can build up the Kingdom of God. Given the symbolic role that men play as givers of life, a group of men who are devoted to working for the spreading of the faith and the betterment of society has a great potential to help build the Kingdom of God here and now on earth. As example, think of brotherhood as the Twelve Apostles, the priesthood, and the diaconate. When a group of faithful and motivated men work consciously for the greater good of the faith and to help society, the results can be transformative.
This has been the magic formula that propelled the Knights of Columbus to a pivotal role. In many parishes, including St. Germaine’s, pastors have found that the Knights can play key roles in service to the community and to God. That is our calling as Knights: to use our faith, love of God and each other, and dedication to service to transform our communities.

The more that we can call other men into serving in the Knights—provided that is what God is asking of them—the stronger will our parish and the Kingdom of God be. May God bless you all in that role.

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10/31/17

Deacon Dennis Eagan presented a thought provoking session on the challenge of living a life. “Here and There,” living the Christian ideal of active contemplation, of attending to all the necessary aspects of the active life, at the same time, remaining in the presence of God. Using the passage of Martha and Mary, Deacon Dennis reminds us that just like Martha and Mary, we are free to choose how we will approach life.

The full text of Deacon Dennis’ presentation follows

                                       Here and There

Legend has it that in ancient times there was a king named Akbar, who had a brilliant and clever prime minister named Birbal. Akbar was always asking questions that he hoped would baffle Birbal, but Birbal was always able to answer and so save his life and his position as prime minister.

One day Akbar asked Birbal if he could bring him someone who was “Here” and not “There”. Birbal brought him a thief, saying, “This thief is only in the world trying to get money and goods to increase his wealth “Here.”

Then Akbar told Birbal, “Bring me someone who is “There” and not “Here”.” Birbal responded by bringing him a wandering monk and said, “He completely neglects all aspects of this world, including his body and his well-being, to focus entirely on the world beyond.”

“Very good,” said Akbar. “Now bring me someone who is neither “Here” nor “There”.” Birbal left for awhile; returned with a beggar and presented him to the king. Birbal said, “This man is neither “Here” nor “There”, because he is always envious of everyone else in the world. He is not participating in the world in any sense and, at the same time, has no concern for spiritual matters. Thus, he is in no way “There” either.”

“Very good, again.” exclaimed a pleased Akbar. “Now is it possible that there is anyone in the world who is both “Here” and “There”?”

“Yes, your majesty,” answered Birbal. He presented an honest, hardworking couple to the king saying, “This man and woman work in the world and tend to their family, but do everything with God in their thoughts. Because they do the work of the world and allow their spiritual practices to carry them through both the good and bad times, they are a man and women who are both “Here” and “There”.”

“Very well done, Birbal” said Akbar who immediately began to think of the next challenge he would give to Birbal.

The challenge of living a life that is both “Here” and “There” is the story of Martha and Mary. The well-known story is about living the Christian ideal of active contemplation, of attending to all the necessary aspects of the active life while, at the same time, remaining in the presence of God.

In the story, Martha is busy with the important task of hospitality but in the process has become anxious and upset about many things. It would appear that Martha is “Here” but not “There”.

Mary, on the other hand, seems to be completely “There”, as she sits absorbed in the word of our Lord. We feel sympathy for poor Martha, stuck with all the duties of hospitality while Mary enjoys the presence of Jesus.

The purpose of the story is not to make the contemplative life seem better than the active life. It is to suggest that our Christian life is not “either-or” but “both-and.” It is both “Here” and “There” at the same time. Mary and Martha are two sides of the same coin. No matter which side is facing up when you hand the cashier a coin, they will accept it as payment. In same way, Mary and Martha are two sides of the Christian ideal of contemplation in action.

It is important to notice that Jesus does not criticize Martha for her acts of hospitality. He does not say, “Stop what you are doing and come listen to my words.” The problem is not that Martha is active; the problem is that she is active in a worried, resentful and anxious way. She is not enjoying the opportunity to serve as the hostess. By being a good hostess, Martha could also be enjoying the presence of Jesus in a different way. What is needed is for Martha to make the same spiritual step as Mary. Jesus never suggested that either Martha or Mary leave the world of activity. Rather, they need to be both “Here” and “There” at the same time.

This has implications for us today.  We, too, are busy about many things.  We, too, are troubled and distracted.  We, too, need to choose the better part –– to sit at the master’s feet –– to steep ourselves in prayer –– to seek the Lord’s direction.  Only then can we be assured that our busyness will further the Lord’s business.  Only then can we expect the Lord to bless our work.

It is not easy for most of us to be both “Here” and “There”. Our active lives keep us firmly tied to the “Here”. Not even Jesus is suggesting that we ignore the responsibilities of our active lives. However, when we find ourselves becoming anxious, worried or resentful as we go about our daily tasks, it may be helpful to remember the words Jesus spoke to Martha. Choose the better part. As the saying goes, “Take time to smell the roses.” We need to seek and find an inner space within us where we can sit at the feet of the Lord, even as we do dishes, drive to work, mow the lawn, take walk in the neighborhood, work in the garden or what other task we are doing. The word of God can come to us even in the busyness of our daily lives. The good news is that it can easily take root in an open, quiet heart.

The Christian ideal of active contemplation is a way we can chose to approach life. In order for it to be successful, it must be cultivated and nurtured continually. We should ask ourselves at different times during the day: Where am I? Am I “Here”? Am I “There”? Am I both “Here” and “There”?

As Catholics we have a number of ways of living this ideal: In addition to Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday morning spending an hour of adoration one day during the week – the Adoration Chapel is open 24 hours a day. Saying an evening prayer or praying the rosary before we go to bed, reading a chapter of the Bible every day or even something as simple as praying for those around us while we wait in traffic – especially for the person that just cut you off or even in line at the grocery store. These are just a few examples of how we can be both “Here” and “There” at the same time.

Just like Martha and Mary, we are free to choose how we will approach life. Our goal is to live our lives “Here” so that one day we can spend eternity “There”. Why not choose a way now that is both “Here” and “There”.

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Guest speaker, Robert Maekawa

Our Council welcomed Robert Maekawa as a guest speaker before the September
general meeting. If you missed it, enjoy a summary of his presentation.

Men of God, Men of Prayer

When I was a Benedictine monk, I was taught something important about prayer. When the choir bell rang for prayer, we were to drop everything and run to the church—
like our lives depended on it! The reason was simple: God comes first.

The best reason to pray is because Jesus loves you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you so that “your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). If I don’t pray, I feel lost and empty inside. But when I spend time with Jesus, I feel a joy the world can’t give. He’ll give you what you’re looking for—because he loves you!
Here’s another compelling reason to pray. Jesus said, “without me you can do
nothing” (Jn 15:5). Think about that. Our lives and our ministries will fail without
Jesus. We can’t do it on our own. Therefore, we need to stay connected to Jesus
through prayer.
Was Jesus a man of prayer? Absolutely. The most significant events of his life
were marked by prayer. His time in the desert, his baptism, the choosing of the 12,
the Transfiguration, the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden, and on the cross. He
would pray all night, before dawn, on mountains, and in deserted places. He would
even withdraw from people to pray (Lk 5:15-16). If he needed to pray, how much
more do we need to?
The Dominicans have a motto: “to contemplate [pray] and to give others the fruits of contemplation.” In other words, prayer comes before ministry. Why? Because you can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t give people Jesus if you don’t have a relationship with him. Ministry without prayer is just social work. But if you pray,
you give people Jesus!
Here are some practical tips on prayer.

1) Pray an hour a day (not including Mass). This will deepen your relationship with Jesus and bring power to your life.

2) Talk to God. The greatest moments in my life have happened when I talked to God
from my heart.

3) Pray the rosary every day. It’s a spiritual weapon that changes the
world.

4) Read the Gospels. Learn from the master—Jesus.

5) Spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There’s no substitute for the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus—it will change you! Try these things, and you will see a difference in your life.

Jesus loves you,

Robert Maekawa