Love Never Fails

 

April and her grandma Jean were very close. In fact, April talked about Jean like she was talking about her best friend. Jean inspired April. She encouraged her. She challenged her. She supported her. Jean showed April what it meant to live a life of faith.

Last week Jean was visiting friends and felt a pain in her chest. Thirty minutes later, she was gone. It was a heart attack that came on sudden and strong.

In the blink of an eye, April’s world changed.

At the funeral, as people consoled April and wrapped their arms around her, one thought raced through April’s mind: “When was the last time I told my grandma that I loved her? When was the last time I actually said those words?” She was certain that her Grandma knew she loved her, but now all she wanted to do was tell her.

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal…If I have faith as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” -1 COR 13:1-2

Who do you love in your life? When was the last time you told them that you love them?

Don’t wait.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

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The Power of Words

Susan stopped by the lunch room door. She could hear her co-workers talking in a hushed tone—the kind of tone used only when some juicy gossip was being exchanged. Her first reaction was to walk away and head back to her desk, but something made her stay. Her curiosity got the best of her. She was mesmerized by her co-workers words.

That is until she realized they were talking about her.

We have to admit it: most of engage in some sort of negative conversation at one time or another. If we examined all of our talk topics in a single day, I think we would be surprised at how much of it relies on disapproving reactions to people and situations.

Think about the power of words. Strong words have the ability to unite a crowd…or create a riot. They  can educate and inspire…or ridicule and humiliate. Strong words can create the foundation for our lives…or they can lead us down a path of destruction.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” -Luke 6:45

How are you choosing your words? Do you know the impact your words have on another person? Do your words reflect who you are and how you live your faith?

Think about how would you feel if you found out Susan was listening to what you said.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

The Call to Holiness

In the papal encyclical “Gaudete Et Exsultate, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World,” Pope Francis talks about the challenges we face as followers of Christ. He also reminds us to call upon the saints/Saints as companions on that journey to everyday holiness. They are there to help protect, sustain, and carry us when we feel that we cannot.

We can do this for one another as well. We all have the same goal in mind – to be transformed into the image of Christ, right? It is only through community that this can happen.

Throughout the entire encyclical, Pope Francis reminds us of the many saints who, by their lives, were not perfect, but tried very hard to live a life worthy of God. They always sought forgiveness. They always sought love. They always had hope, and they brought others to the Lord by their witness.

There is no greater example of how to live a life of faith, than to live a life of faith and have courage in it. Let us begin by acknowledging that we are His, and never apologizing for being in love with Him, and being grateful for all He has done for us.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of  St. Dominic Catholic School.

 

I Believe

“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”

Do you ever wonder why we say the Nicene Creed every Sunday at Mass? Why is the Creed important?

The Nicene Creed was first formulated in AD 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, a council of Christian bishops who convened in Nicaea (a city which today is known as Iznik located in Turkey).

It was the first creed to obtain universal authority in the church, and it improved the language of the Apostles’ Creed by including more specific statements about the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

It was written as a declaration of our faith.

So often we find ourselves simply saying words at Mass and forgetting to truly appreciate the meaning of the words. The Nicene Creed gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on who we are, where we came from and where we want to go.

We repeat it every Sunday to remind us that we have made a decision to make the Creed the foundation of our lives. We say it together, united as one church.

  • I believe in the message of Christian faith.
  • I stand up for my faith, professing it proudly.
  • I pledge to live my faith every single day.

“Let the creed be like a mirror for you. Look at yourself in it to see whether you really believe all that you claim to believe. And rejoice every day in your faith.”-St. Augustine

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Our Workout Plans

My friend Zoey is a personal trainer. She works with clients every day and creates routines to help them live a healthy life.

It’s not easy. She has to really get to know each person, really study who each person is and  understand what drives them. Only then can she make recommendations on exercises and diet.

“Here’s the thing,” Zoey told me. “I can have the best plans in the world, but if my client doesn’t put these plans into action, then my work means nothing. Sometimes people want easy answers. They want instant results. There is no magic pill, no secret to success.”

Zoey says it all comes down to two simple things: Work hard and dedicate yourself. If you do these two things, you will succeed.

“Faith in action is love. Love in action is service. By transforming that faith into living acts of love, we put ourselves in contact with God Himself, with Jesus our Lord.” – Mother Teresa

God has created a spiritual workout plan for each one of us. He knows who we are and understands what drives us. He makes recommendations on what we can do to grow in our faith.

It’s time to stretch and warm up. There is no magic pill, no secret to success. It’s time to put in the hard work. It’s time to truly dedicate ourselves.

Do you know your plan? It’s time we put our faith into action.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

A Wonderful Life

“It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.” -Tony Robbins

In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey, a man who lives in the small town of Bedford Falls, wishes that he never existed. He’s encountered a series of bad incidents, and the pressures and consequences of these incidents are too big for him to handle. So he wishes he was never born.

Then he meets Clarence, an angel sent from Heaven, and Clarence gives George his wish. George now lives in a world in which he never existed. He has a chance to see how others live their lives without his influence.

At some point, we all wonder about our purpose on this planet. Why are we here? What influence do we have on the people around us?

Writer Caryll Houselander wrote, “Sometimes it may seem to us that there is no purpose to our lives, that going day after day for years to this office or that school or factory is nothing else but waste and weariness. But it may be that God has sent us there because but for us, Christ would not be there. That alone makes it worthwhile.”

Often, many of us underestimate our influence on the world. We don’t think we add value. We don’t have any gifts to share. We don’t realize the impact we have on the people we encounter.

Just as George Bailey soon discovered in the movie, our influence travels far and wide in each of our lives. Kind words lead to acts of love. Acts of love lead to compassion and caring. Compassion and caring leads to change in the world.

“Your love for one another,” writes Houselander, “will be stronger, deeper, and more enduring when it is rooted in the One who is the source of all love.”

If we open our eyes and realize that what we do and what we say can make an impact in our world, then we begin to understand that we are truly living a wonderful life.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

 

Who Am I?

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” -Matthew 16: 13-15

If one of your close friends or a family member was asked to honestly describe you, what do you think they would say?

That you’re generous? Kind? Forgiving? Would they say you’re caring, loving, and in control of your life?

Or would they say you’re stubborn, quick to anger, and extremely impatient?

Who are you? What are the traits that make you YOU?

Are you the person that you imagine that you are?

Now ask yourself, who do you say Jesus is?

Is He at the center of your life? Is He the reason for everything you say and do in your life?

Or is He a person that you pray to on Sunday, but don’t think much about the rest of the week?

Once you answer this question, all of the other answers will all fall into place.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

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.

 

 

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.