The Canvas of Life

My friend Joyce is a very talented painter. She focuses on abstracts and has the ability to combine unique colors and patterns in an emotional way on the canvas.

Her art is hard for me to explain. It’s really just a bunch of shapes and lines put together on a canvas. But Joyce is really good at what she does. She knows how to combine the right colors and right brush strokes and the right placement…and the right amount of love with each of her paintings.

Her secret is simple. Years ago she decided who she wanted to be as a painter. She thought about it long and hard, and even wrote down a mission statement for her work. She was clear and concise in her definition.

It was only after she had something that she felt truly passionate about did she actually begin her work. She couldn’t really “live her art” without knowing who she was as an artist.

This philosophy shows up in every piece she creates. It’s complex, it’s exciting, and its full of life.

Who are you as an “artist” of your faith? Do you have a philosophy for how you live your days? Are you passionate about your mission? Are you willing to work hard, every day, to accomplish your plans?

Do the results of your daily actions demonstrate who you are? Are you complex, exciting and full of life?

They say art imitates life, but sometimes we learn our best life lessons from art…and from the artists who create the work.

 

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

 

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Surrounding Ourselves

A message from Kurt Peot.

We all share some common human characteristics. When things are tough, we tend to complain. When God led the Israelites out of slavery, they complained about how hungry they were. They even told Moses they were better off in slavery, at least their bellies were full.

But God God heard their prayer, if you can call it that, and provides manna and quail.

We also like to believe that we can manage or overcome anything on our own, if we try hard enough. Yet, that can-do attitude runs up against the reality that we are limited. And many of the things we seek and strive so hard for are really things that are temporary.

The crowd that Jesus fed with the loaves and fishes see a great sign, and they misunderstand it completely. They see Jesus as their warrior King who will lead them in triumphant battle against the Romans. Jesus explains to them they should be seeking something much more permanent, eternal life. To find that eternal life they need do nothing more than come to Him, believe in Him, and they will receive this amazing gift.

So, it is for us. Rather than complaining, or “grabbing the bull by the horns,” how about we rearrange our priorities, pray for Jesus’ help, and surrender ourselves into His loving arms, expecting we will find eternal life as a reward.

 

Kurt Peot, parishioner and diaconate candidate

Beetlejuice

In June of 2017, I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding with two very special people, Sheila and Mark. It was during this wedding that I learned an important life lesson.

We got an early start that morning. The women spent the morning at the salon, while the men played a round of golf. By mid-afternoon, we all arrived at the church two hours before the ceremony was set to begin. The women were in one room, the men in another.

While there was lots of laughing and hugging being shared, underneath it all was a touch of nervousness. Sheila struggled with anxiety in her life; it was something she had been battling for years. Recently she had two small episodes, minor panic attacks that left her breathless with a racing heart.

As the big day approached, Sheila worried that the emotions of the day would get the best of her. She worried that she would encounter another attack. And worse, that the attack would stop the wedding.

Sheila took a deep breath and began her calming techniques as her bridesmaids buttoned and tied her wedding dress. She could feel the pressure building in her chest.

It was at that moment that she heard a sound, a “ping-ping” coming from the doorway.

She turned and saw Adam, the Best Man, standing at the doorway with his phone in his hand. He looked up and smiled, then slowly walked into the room.

Sheila went into panic mode. What was going on? What was wrong? Why was he here?

Adam looked up and smiled. “Beetlejuice.”

Sheila laughed a nervous laugh. “I don’t get it?”

“It’s a gift from your soon-to-be husband,” said Adam.

Sheila was still confused.

“Mark asked me to set the timer on my phone every hour. When the timer goes off, I’m going to look at you and say ‘Beetlejuice.’”

“Beetlejuice” was the first movie Sheila and Mark saw together at an outdoor film festival. It was their third date, and it was the night that Sheila and Mark realized that this relationship had a chance to be something very special.

“When you hear these words,” Adam continued, “Mark wants you to take a breath and realize that you are surrounded by people who love you and want to celebrate you. These people want you to be happy for the rest of your life. When you hear the words, take a moment to savor. Take a moment to enjoy. And take a moment to say a short prayer and thank God for this spectacular day.”

Sheila instantly teared up and embraced Adam. It was the best wedding gift she could have possibly received.

______________

Today, over one year later, I’m sitting with my family on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake, watching a spectacular sunset fill the sky. One word comes to my mind: “Beetlejuice.”

What are you savoring in life? How often are you actually doing it?

Are you remembering to thank God for your spectacular day?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

Feeding Those in Need

A Message from Mary Lestina

When you drive down any major thoroughfare in our country, you find an enormous variety of restaurants that can quickly satisfy your hunger. You can find drive-through restaurants to elegant dining places with cloth napkins. Food is essential to our lives.

Large crowds of people followed Jesus during his ministry. They were drawn to Him because of his many signs of healing. They came, each with their history, seeking Him for the healing of illness, of anxiety, or of a personal matter. Jesus knows they are searching for love and to be close to him.

In the Gospel story of the loaves and fishes, in his compassion, Jesus asks his disciples, Phillip and Andrew, to approach a young boy who had in his possession his lunch of 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Barley loaves were more like the size of a pancake, not a full loaf of bread, as we would imagine. Jesus uses the little portions in the hands of a child to work his miracle of feeding the crowds. God also wants to use us, as limited as we are, to feed those in need. There are opportunities through food pantries, meal programs and other charities.

Every time we eat at one of our favorite restaurants, let us keep in mind those who are less fortunate than us and ask God to use us to feed those in need.

 Become Christ, each one for the sake of all…

 

Mary Lestina is the Pastoral Associate at St. Dominic Catholic Church.

 

I Will B+

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Be Positive.

Years ago, when my mother was having chemotherapy treatments for cancer, she would frequently get blood transfusions. After the transfusion was complete, she would feel like a new person. She had renewed energy for days.

Her blood type was B Positive, and we always laughed that she had a injection of positive attitude.

Today, I will look for the positive in the world. When I’m feeling angry, upset or discouraged, I will ask God for a transfusion. I will ask him to help me see the world with new eyes.

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative. We are addicted to gossip and complaining. The end result is a negative hangover, dragging us down even more.

God, help me to look for the good in the world. Help me to be a symbol of happiness to others, and to lead others to find their happiness. Help me to overcome the addiction of negativity.

Help me to B+.

 

The Wind

“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”   – John 3:8

It was 2:03 a.m. I heard the clap of thunder, then saw the lightning flicker in the sky. I jumped out of bed and headed to the living room. I had left the front windows open, and I wanted to close things up before the rain fell.

That’s when I heard it.

It was slight at first, then picked up momentum. I pulled down the windows then quickly headed outside to the front lawn.

The wind was growing in intensity. It surrounded me from all directions, circling my body as I stood staring up at the night sky. A random fact floated through my brain: the strongest non-tornado or hurricane wind speed every recorded was 235 miles-per-hour. What was I experiencing? 35 miles-per-hour? 40? The power was intense.

And it was spiritual.

I watched trees bend, as if bowing to God. I watched leaves and debris circle the ground, then rise like prayers to heaven. I heard the rush fill the night sky, like collective voices signing praise.

I could not see the wind, only the results. I could not touch the wind, but I could feel it surround me. I could not explain its power, but I knew it was strong. I could feel God’s presence through the night air.

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” -Acts 2:2

Every day, God is asking us to be the wind.

  • Are you a gentle breeze ready to cool the heat of someone in pain?
  • Are you an ocean gust that powers the sails across the ocean of life?
  • Are you a gale force that strives for justice for our neighbors in need?

Our winds can be powerful and spiritual. Our winds can help us all bow down and praise God.

Our wind can truly influence the lives of others.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

I Will Be Grateful

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Be Grateful.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

Who have you thanked today? What are you waiting for?

Performances of Love

It was February, 2016 and my friend Wanda was officially excited. She had just purchased tickets for her sister and her to see the Broadway production of Hamilton in New York. She had heard nothing but rave reviews for the musical, and she knew this would be a magical night.

For the next two months, Wanda had difficult containing her excitement. She was obsessed with the musical’s soundtrack, listening to it day and night. She made her hotel reservation, secured her flight and actually packed her bag for New York three weeks in advance. It was all she thought about.

The night finally arrived, and she felt a rush of adrenaline as she entered the Richard Rodgers Theatre. And then she began to hear the buzz. And she could feel the disappointment hanging in the air.

The creator and star of Hamilton, Lin-Manual Miranda was sick and would not be performing at that evening’s performance. An understudy was taking over. Miranda was the driving force behind the production, and Wanda felt her heart sink as she made her way to her seat.

The house lights dimmed and the music began. The play opened and the understudy appeared on stage and sang his first words: “My name is Alexander Hamilton.”

It was then that the unexpected happened. The audience burst into applause. The actors froze on stage for a good twenty seconds waiting for the cheers to die down. It truly was a magical moment.

The understudy was magnificent. Wanda and her sister left the theatre inspired. It was a night she would never forget.

Some two years later, I’m still thinking about Wanda’s magical night, this time as it relates to my faith. When Jesus was on Earth, he was literally a Superstar. He was the main attraction, the Man everyone came to see.

When he left our planet and returned to Heaven, he did something very simple: He entrusted all of us to be his understudies.

  • He asked us to study our roles and deliver performances of love.
  • He asked us to not only know our part, but to bring passion to the world and carry on His mission.
  • He asked us to deliver performances that inspire. Every day. With everyone.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus said: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”

The audience is waiting, the lights are dimming. Are you ready?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

Who is Jesus?

A Message from Deacon Greg Diciaula

In Mark’s  Gospel, we learn some interesting details about Jesus’ early life. He’s known to be a carpenter, probably learning this trade from Joseph. Strangely, Mark describes Jesus as “the son of Mary.” This is unusual since adult males were typically identified with the name of their fathers. Brothers and sisters of Jesus are also mentioned. Scripture scholars are divided on how to interpret this.

As Catholics, we believe that Mary was and always remained a virgin, thus we don’t believe that this refers to other children of Mary. Some scholars suggest that these family members might be Joseph’s children from a previous marriage. Others explain the words brother and sister often referred to relatives, including cousins or nieces, and nephews.

The theme of Mark’s Gospel is: who is Jesus? The townspeople of Nazareth might know the carpenter, the son of Mary, but they don’t know Jesus, the Son of God. We’re told that Jesus is hampered from performing miracles in Nazareth because the people lack faith. Mark is foreshadowing Jesus’ rejection by his own people, the people of Israel. While many of the first Christians were Jewish, Christianity took hold and flourished in the Gentile communities. Mark is writing for a mostly Gentile community, who may have been experiencing persecution. By showing that Jesus himself was rejected, Mark consoles and reassures his first readers.

He is also alerting us of the possible consequences of Christian discipleship. By living as disciples of Jesus in an increasingly secular world, are we willing to accept ridicule, criticism and possible rejection?

God bless you!

 

Deacon Greg Diciaula

I Will Pray the Five Finger Prayer

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Pray the Five Finger Prayer.

Prayer is a simple, yet powerful action. Each time we sit in a quiet space and talk to God, we are making an impact on the world around us.

Pope Francis offers this advice when it comes to prayer.

Using the fingers on your hand, start with the thumb and pray these intentions in this order:

1.) The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “Sweet Obligation.”

2.) The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.

3.) The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.

4.) The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even though it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.

5.) And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.