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Faith

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Faith. If God loves us, why do bad things happen? That isn't an easy answer. Some of the bad things that happen are the result of God loving us enough to give us free will. We are free to choose what we do and what we don't do. God created us with a conscience, reason, and gifts us with a whole lot of grace, so that we hopefully choose options that are in line with His will. Working counter to God's will results in actions with less than great consequences. That makes sense.

But what about those things that randomly happen. To this I would say, especially as it related to natural disasters, that the Earth has been doing what it has been doing for millions of years. Plates shift and move, air masses collide, stuff happens. People get in the way. The Earth is bigger than people. That makes sense. God has empowered people to develop ways to track storms and warn people so choices can be made.

Then the questions of illness, pain, suffering pop up. Indeed, these are the toughest because one can't reason it away. That is where faith steps in. When we struggle to understand why, our faith compels us to action. There's a reason in the suffering somewhere. It can be hard to find what the reason may be but faith leads us to it. This level of "bad" is to compel us toward God; to a dependence on Him. It doesn't make sense but it will if you have faith. It is said that hindsight is 20/20. When a person takes time to think back to a time of suffering, the fruit can be seen. What was to be learned? What was the reason? In fact, long suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. How is suffering good? It brings us to dependence on God. Faith.

All In!

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“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:26

Did Jesus just say that? Has the Lord become an advocate of hate? Hate my wife and children? I think what Jesus is trying to teach us is the cost of true discipleship. A few chapters later in Luke’s gospel (18:18), a wealthy official asks Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom. Jesus tells him to sell what he owns and give to the poor, and then follow him. Perhaps what Jesus is saying is that true discipleship is difficult if one is significantly bound to the things of this world. If we are tied to earthly things we cannot fully take up the cross of discipleship. It’s not that Jesus wants us to abandon our families, but rather to make Him a priority in our life. He wants us to be “all-in” in this discipleship thing. Unlike the wealthy official, let us not sadly walk away from the Lord because of our love of the transitory things of the world. Let’s cling to the cross and walk the road to a more perfect discipleship. Let’s be ALL IN!

Pocket Saints

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I have a collection of pocket Saints. My pocket Saints are my go to group of "friends" that I call upon when needing some additional assistance in one way or another. Just as we have family/friends on earth that we call upon when we need assistance, I have collected a heavenly variety. I ask them to pray with me and intercede on my behalf to "get something done." I currently have a collection of twenty. They are, in no particular order, but for very particular reasons: St. Jude, St. Anthony, St. Dominic, St. Joseph, St. Gemma, St. Gianna, St. Marie Almondi, St. Cecelia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Terese of Calcutta, St. Pope John Paul II, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Katherine Drexel, St. Monica, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Medjugorie, Mary Mother of God and All the Holy Men and Women. It is like saying a litany every time I lay them out like that. The newest addition is St. Monica.

I added St. Monica to my list of pocket Saints about a year ago. As a parent, my biggest fear is that my children, two daughters, would grow away from Christ. With my children now attending college, one is a junior at St. Norbert and the other a freshman at University of
Minnesota in the Twin Cities, I had to resign myself to the fact that I have done all I could to help them put on the armor of God, and it was now up to them to wear it. Faithfully. While I trust in God's providence in all things, I am only human. I want to control what happens to my children. I realized a little over a year ago that this is yet one more thing that I can't control. Therefore, I called upon all of my pocket Saints and solicited the help of St. Monica to surround my children with an extra layer of support to steer them in the right direction - straight to the heart of Jesus! St. Monica is the patient mother of the most notorious bad boy, St. Augustine. If her prayer power can turn the course for him, she certainly can keep my girls on track. The best tool I have now is my prayers. The hands-on work is complete.

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