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?

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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.

What’s Your Super Power?

It’s Summer. That means lots of picnics, swimming and fireworks.

It also means going to the movies to watch a summer blockbuster. And what would a summer blockbuster be without Super Heroes.

Over the years we’ve seen the familiar names: Wonder Woman, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Spider Man, just to name a few. Each has a unique and incredible power. Each fights for justice throughout the world, and even the universe. Each is able to use their powers alongside other Super Heroes to form a super group.

Summer is also the perfect time to develop your own super power when it comes to your faith. Each of us has the ability to perfect these powers and fight for justice in our own worlds.

  • The Power of Prayer. Every faithful Super Hero knows that their power comes from a specific source. It’s important to connect with this source on a regular basis.
  • The Power of Forgiveness. Everyone on the planet deserves forgiveness. God is ready to forgive every moment of every day. Are you?
  • The Power of Compassion. All it takes is a little practice and a big heart.
  • The Power of Love. There is nothing stronger and more powerful than the power of love.

Don’t delay! Other Super Heroes are waiting for you to join their Super Hero Group.

Remember this simple phrase that was once told to Spider Man: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Are you ready to conquer your world?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

Talitha koum

“God did not make death…God formed man to be imperishable.” (Wisdom 1:13, 2:23)

Death enters our world through sin; life enters through God. Jesus further demonstrates this when he raises a young girl from the dead. (Mark 5:21-43) In this story, a synagogue official named Jairus begs Jesus to heal his daughter, and Jesus immediately agrees. By the time Jesus arrives at the house, the girl has died. Jesus raises the girl from the dead by saying, “Talitha koum,” meaning “little girl, arise.”

Jesus desires to do the same thing for us: to breathe life into our lives, to give us “life to the full.” (John 10:10) Most of us have never witnessed Jesus raising someone from the dead, but how often has he raised us from spiritual death through the confessional?

How often have we witnessed the Holy Spirit breathe new life into a marriage, or bring healing to heartbreak? When we suffer heartache, anxiety, and even death, God is there suffering with us. He mourns our losses the same way that he delights in our joys and our love. He invites us to bring him our sorrow and our pain, to let him carry that cross with us, until at last death is no more.

Let us offer to Jesus every part of our lives that feels dark and every part that needs healing, so we too may allow Jesus to take us by the hand, and say, “Talitha koum”.

 

Sarah Daszczuk is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry & Evangelization at St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

I Will…Practice Patience

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…Practice Patience.

“God has perfect timing: never early, never late. It takes a little patience and faith, but it’s worth the wait.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2000, over 50% of American households owned a microwave oven. Since then, our patience has never been the same.

Fast Food. Road Rage. Short tempers. Overbooked schedules. We have forgotten how to wait. We have forgotten how to stand still. We have forgotten the art of simply being.

And what about your faith? When you ask God for something, do you expect an instant answer? Why isn’t he listening to me? Why doesn’t he answer my prayers?

Summer is the perfect time to slow down our minds and our hearts. It’s the perfect time to focus on what patience means and how it can truly affect our relationships with everyone we encounter.

And it’s the perfect time to truly talk to God. Tell Him what you’re thinking. Share with Him what you’re feeling. Ask Him for patience in your life.

The next time you feel your body get tense and your mind start to spin, force yourself to relax. “Act” patient and you will “become” patient. Take a few deep breaths. Calm your thoughts.

And…relax.

The Heart Leaf Philodendron

Many years ago, when I moved into my first apartment, my father gave me a plant. He actually took leaves from a plant that hung in his living room and gave me a portion of it to re-plant at my new home.

What I soon discovered was this was no ordinary plant.

My dad had quite the green thumb—he could make anything grow. The original plant was a Heart Leaf Philodendron, a common house plant. It’s been used as an indoor plant since Victorian times, and it has the ability to grow very large.

He helped me re-plant my new leaves into a small planter, and just like that, I had an instant decoration for my home.

At first it was fun to watch the leaves begin to sprout and expand. Then, the plant exploded. The vines grew long, and I wrapped them around the tiny planter. I knew I would have to re-pot it soon.

My plant traveled with me as I moved over the years. No matter where I put it—living room, kitchen, dining room—it continued to grow. All I needed to do was water the soil, spray the leaves and make sure I gave it a little bit of love.

Then my father died.

He had a heart attack on a Friday morning, and for the first time in my life I came face-to-face with death. It hurt.

The plant now took on a special meaning. This was a connection with my dad, and I wanted it close to me. I wanted to see it, so I could think of him and what he meant to me. So I took it to work and put it in my office.

But, as much as I wanted it around me, I found myself getting preoccupied with projects, paperwork and life…and the plant was neglected.

After returning from a long weekend, I found it drooping, sagging, and brown. A lot of the leaves were dead.

How could I have done this? How could I have treated my dad’s plant this way?

I cut back the dead vines, and grabbed a bottle of water. I had to return to the beginning–a small plant ready to grow again.

And it slowly came back to life, resurrected.

And then it hit me. My dad was a man of great faith. He taught me how to love and honor God. He taught me how to embrace the Holy Spirit’s constant love. He taught me to how to walk with Jesus, through good times and bad.

He was still teaching me, even after he was gone.

Sometimes we all need to stop and cut back the bad vines. We need to water our soil and spray our leaves. We need learn once again how to give a little bit of love.

And we need to believe in the power of the resurrection.

This Heart Leaf Philodendron was no ordinary plant.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Our Father

 

 

In honor of Father’s Day, here is an excerpt from Our Father: Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, by Pope Francis.

 

Father. Without saying this word, without taking it to heart, we cannot pray.

To whom do I pray? Almighty God? Too far away. I cannot feel that he is near. Even Jesus did not refer to God as “the Almighty God.”

To whom do I pray? The cosmic God? That is fashionable these days, praying to the cosmic God. But that is nothing but a polytheistic idea of who God is, typified by a lite culture.

To whom do we pray? No, not a cosmic God, but a… Father. We have to pray to the Father! It is a powerful word, “father.”

We have to pray to the one who has begotten us, the one who has given us life. He has given life to everyone, of course, but “everyone” is too anonymous. He has given life to you. He has given life to me.

He is also the one who accompanies us on our journey. He knows our whole lives, the good and the not-so-good.

If we do not begin our prayer with this word, spoken not with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray as Christians.

Firsts

Recently, I got to spend some time with my friends, Sam, Claire and their one-year-old son Jason. From the moment the three of them walked into my house, it was very clear that Jason was going to be the center of attention.

He had just begun to walk, so we all took turns keeping an eye and a hand on him as he bounced around my dining room, kitchen and living room.

Jason was a bundle of curiosity and energy that night. He explored every inch of my house and investigated every item on a table or shelf. (Of course that included trying to put every object into his mouth.)

After a few hours, the night finally wore Jason down and his eyes grew heavy. Sam scooped him up and carried him to the bedroom to put on his pajamas.

“It’s amazing,” said Claire, turning to me with pride. “I love watching him explore every inch of his world. Everything is new to him. Everything is a first.” She brushed her hair from her face and smiled with pride. “He’s given me so much joy not just because I love him so much, but because he’s given me a new outlook on life.” I could see tears in her eyes.

This was something I never expected. I knew the joy of a new child. I knew the love that a parent feels every moment of every day. But I never thought about living with a fresh perspective.

What if we lived every moment of our life as if it were the first time we experienced this moment? How would our life change?

Think about experiencing a sunset or a windy day. Think about holding someone’s hand. Think about sharing a meal with family and friends.

Think about going to Mass. Think about receiving the body and blood of Christ. Think about praying the Our Father with hundreds of people, all joined as one.

Think about what it would be like to open our minds and let the moments of the day satisfy our hearts.

We could be filled with firsts. Over and over again.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.