Sunday, February 23, 2020

WE ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN WE REALIZE



Do you not know that you are the temple of God
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 
I Corinthians 3:16 

Maybe you are old enough to remember the TV series, The Incredible Hulk, or maybe you have seen the 2008 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character "The Hulk." The Incredible Hulk tells the story of how Dr. Bruce Banner accidently gets infected in an experiment, supposedly to make humans immune to gamma radiation. In actuality, it was a secret experiment to revive a World War II military bio-force project to build super-soldiers.   The experiment fails, transforming Banner into the monstrous Hulk. Every time he gets angry,  Banner turns green, bulks up quickly, breaking out of his shirts and into a monster muscleman, on a rampage to fight off all those who come after him.

Today Saint Paul reminds us of our own "hulkness." We are reminded of the incredible power of God within each one of us - a power that many of us do not even know about, a power that many of us are afraid to embrace. It is the power of God living and breathing within us as "temples of the Holy Spirit." 

The readings, especially after Easter, are sprinkled from beginning to end with the Greek word dunymis, from which we get our word dynamite. We translate dunymis as power. Over and over again, we read about cowardly disciples being turned into fearless ambassadors for Christ - preaching, healing and going up against worldly powers with nothing but their convictions - all under the power of the Spirit.

If you have been baptized and confirmed, you too are a "temple of the Holy Spirit," saturated with some of the power of God himself. God literally lives within you! Unlike the Incredible Hulk who was only powerful physically, you are filled with incredible power to become all that God has called you to be and with incredible power to help others be all that God has called them to be.

Many of us, who were baptized as children and confirmed as teenagers, either never understood the power we were given or have simply forgotten about it or have failed to use it. Instead of using the powerful force within us, we have, either by neglect or out of ignorance, become "feverish, selfish little clods of grievances and ailment complaining the world will not get together to make us happy." Instead of unleashing the power that is within us, for our good and the good of others, we look around to find someone to lean on, or be rescued by, because we feel them to be much more powerful than we are!

Others of us are like the stewards who were entrusted with talents by their master in the gospel. Out of fear, we buried our talents, too scared to use the power within us. We are the people who get to the end of our lives and realize that we have been cowards all along, blowing every opportunity given us to use the power we had - all because we were full of fear.

Marianne Williamson put it best when she said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone."   I call the habit of saying "no" to opportunities to grow and change “committing personal and spiritual suicide!”

Others of us squander this power because we are lazy. Once we realize that we have God-given power within us, we know that we are required to use it so, out of laziness, we bury it even from our own eyes. If we can convince ourselves that we do not have such power, we are off the hook. We don't have to do anything with it. We are the people who go through life blaming others for our unhappiness and lack of personal development.  

Brothers and sisters! The whole point of Paul’s words to us today is to remind us that, because of our baptisms and conformations, you and I are very powerful. The problem is not whether we actually have this power, but whether we have the courage and faith to tap into it and use it.

Sadly, our power is often hidden from our own eyes. Throughout my childhood, I was taught that I was not only powerless, but worthless. I was told regularly that I was a total screw-up who would never amount to anything. Even the rector of the minor seminary said that I was "a ball and chain around his leg for six years” in front of my classmates.  Even after I was ordained, a woman at my first Mass reception told me that "with all that schooling, you could have been something."  The fact they told me that was not the problem, but the fact that, for many years, I believed them! With the help of God, I finally got in touch with the power of God within me. For that eye=opening grace, I am eternally grateful. Looking back, I am amazed at what I have been able to do with this power, once I discovered that it was there within me all along and realized that God wanted me to invest this gift.

One of the tactics of spouse abusers is to get the abused spouse to believe that she is powerless. The only way out of that abusive situation is for the abused one to discover the power within them and to stand up to the one who hopes to keep it hidden from them by his demeaning words and actions. The trip to accepting and using our power can be arduous, but it is well worth the risk.   

Brothers and sisters, as a “temple of the Holy Spirit,” you are powerful, powerful beyond measure! You may not feel it. You may not have realized it yet. You may try to deny it to yourself and to others. You may run from it out of fear. However, the fact remains that you are indeed powerful and that you have been given a share of God's power for some benefit. You are an ambassador for Christ. You are part of his body in the world! Face your power! Accept your power! Use your power!  To deny it, waste it or run from it out of fear is one of the biggest sins you can commit as a baptized and confirmed Christian!   



        

   











Thursday, February 20, 2020

MISSION TRIP THIRTEEN - March 14 - 21, 2020




Flag of the country Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


DURING MY NEXT ISLAND TRIP  
#13
I WILL PRESENT CHURCH LEADERSHIP STUDY DAYS




FAN INTO FLAME THE GIFT OF GOD THAT YOU HAVE

The Radical Conversion of Heart, Mind and Habits Needed Within the Leaders of the Diocese of Kingstown to Build Diocesan Structures for Strengthening Intentional Evangelization and More Effective Spiritual Leadership 

Father J. Ronald Knott
Doctor of Ministry in Parish Revitalization

             

      
“Do not neglect the gift you have. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”
I Timothy 4:14-16

"I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that you have. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control."
II Timothy 1:6-7


I go at the invitation of Bishop Gerard County, C.S.Sp

PROPOSED SCHEDULE


PART I – Introduction
     1.Why am I here?
     2.What was my reluctance?

PART II – My Background – Who Is This Man Speaking to You?

PART III – The Vision – From Good to Great
                    Questions

PART IV – Start with the Tree

PART V – The Virtues of Leadership 
     1. The Virtue of Magnanimity: A Passionate Commitment to Personal Excellence 
     2. The Virtue of Humility: A Passionate Commitment to Vocational Excellence
     3. The Discipline of Translating a Dream into Reality

PART VI – Spiritual Leadership in General 

PART VII – A Passion for Pastoring: A Call Within a Call 

PART VIII – Preaching for Spiritual Leadership and Personal Sanctification 
     1. Claiming the Pulpit for Spiritual Leadership 
     2. Claiming the Pulpit for Personal Sanctification 

PART VIX – The Three Biggest Threats to Revitalization 
     (a) Lack of Imagination 
     (b) Downward Spiraling Talk 
     (c) Lack of Follow-Through

PART X – Some Practical Suggestions 
     (a) “Trust your camel first, then trust in Allah.” 
     (b) The Principle of Cause and Effect 
     (c) Some Examples of Cause and Effect 
     (d) Coordinator of Local and International Church Volunteers

CONCLUSION
QUESTIONS FOR JOINT SESSIONS







A New Hymn Written For the Occasion 




Participant's Note-Taking Binder and Reminder Cup



Sunday, February 16, 2020

CHOOSING WISELY

                           


       I have set before you life and death, the blessing
       and  the curse. Choose  life,  then, that  you  and
      your descendants may live, by  loving  the  Lord
      your God, heeding his voice and  holding fast to
                               him.                                
Deuteronomy 30: 19,20


Do you want what’s behind door number one, door number two or door number three? Do you want to keep the new kitchen appliances that you have already won or would you like to trade them for what’s behind the curtain on stage? Some of you may remember the still-running TV show, “Let’s Make a Deal.” 

Contestants in ridiculous costumes were offered choices between a bird in the hand for two in the bush, between what was certain and what was possible. Sometimes people would trade something like a plastic comb for a choice of doors. Sometimes they would end up with a Hawaiian vacation, a room full of furniture or a booby prize. 

The biggest winners were confronted with a second, more difficult choice. They were asked whether they wanted to trade their Hawaiian vacation for what was behind a curtain. They could win a shiny new car or they could end up with a live jackass.

The program was popular, I believe, because it was symbolic of the human predicament. We are constantly faced with a world of choices and sometimes those choices produce great blessings and sometimes they bring disasters. Sometimes we are better off because of our good choices and sometimes we are left to live in a hell of regret because of our bad choices, knowing that we brought ruin on ourselves because of those bad choices. 

I sat down two years ago and traced my own choices and how those choices have affected my life for good or bad. It is an autobiography of sorts that traces the choices I have made since I was six years old and how those choices have affected the way my life has turned out. I put it all in a book. It is entitled Between Courage and Cowardice: Choosing to Do Hard Things for Your Own Good. What I have learned from those reflections is that choosing to do hard things has more often than not brought blessings and growth to my life, while choosing the easy way has more often than not brought me pain and stagnation. 

In your first reading, the Israelites are about to enter the “promised land,” after an arduous trip across the Sinai desert. Before they start their exciting new lives in the land of plenty, Moses lectures them about the necessity of making good choices in a land filled with blessings. He reminds them that there are curses as well. Their happiness will depend, in a great measure, on what they choose. 

In many ways, you and I are still living in a “promised land, flowing with milk and honey.” In this land of freedom, we get to make choices. Our choices affect us, for good or for bad. We need that know that our freedom to choose, does not guarantee that we will make good choices. Making good choices requires, not just knowledge and freedom, but wisdom. We live in a world of unprecedented knowledge on one hand and unprecedented lack of wisdom on the other. The ability to choose from many choices does not guarantee that we will choose wisely. We live in a land full of smart people doing a whole lot of dumb things.  We know a lot of facts and we have been pumped full of information, but at the same time we live in a world knee-deep from the fall-out of people’s bad choices. The freedom to choose from a smorgasbord of choices does not guarantee that we will choose wisely.

My friends, it is important that you are not just smart, but wise. It is important that you choose wisely because your choices can bring blessing to you and those around you or they can bring ruin to you and those of us around you.

This brings me to another point. You were not created just for your own good. As Jesus says to his followers in the gospel reading last Sunday, “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket or under a bed; he puts it on a lamp stand so that whoever comes in can see it,” and in another place, “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Your light must shine.” We don't make choices in a vacuum. Our choices affect other people. 

I would like to end this short homily by quoting Nelson Mandela in his first inaugural speech. He was quoting Marianne Williamson. I can think of nothing better to leave you with than these challenging words.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel secure around you. You were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


My friends, make good choices and let your light shine - for your own good and the good of the world in which you will live, work and raise your children, the world the rest of us have to live in as well! 

We hear a lot these days about our freedom to choose. However, that freedom does not guarantee that we will make good choices. We are all suffering from a "failure of wisdom" that is being caused by a lot of smart people making some very stupid choices.  Think before you decide because the easy thing to do is seldom the best thing to do! 





























Friday, February 14, 2020

HAPPY SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY




There are numerous martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome's imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution. The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of the Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.



The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. 



CUPID BECAME ASSOCIATED WITH THIS FEAST


The mention of Cupid typically conjures up images of a cherubic winged infant wielding a bow and arrow, but this wasn’t always the case. Long before the Romans adopted and renamed him, Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the god of love.



Armed with a bow and a quiver filled with both golden arrows to arouse desire and leaden arrows to ignite aversion, Eros struck at the hearts of gods and mortals and played with their emotions. In one story from ancient Greek mythology, which was later retold by Roman authors, Cupid (Eros) shot a golden arrow at Apollo, who fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne, but then launched a leaden arrow at Daphne so she would be repulsed by him. In another allegory, Cupid’s mother, Venus (Aphrodite), became so jealous of the beautiful mortal Psyche that she told her son to induce Psyche to fall in love with a monster. Instead, Cupid became so enamored with Psyche that he married her—with the condition that she could never see his face. Eventually, Psyche’s curiosity got the better of her and she stole a glance, causing Cupid to flee in anger. After roaming the known world in search of her lover, Psyche was eventually reunited with Cupid and granted the gift of immortality.



In the poetry of the Archaic period, Eros was represented as a handsome immortal who was irresistible to both man and gods. But by the Hellenistic period, he was increasingly portrayed as a playful, mischievous child. It is this chubby love-inducing putto that has persisted over time and has become our ubiquitous Valentine’s Day mascot.








Thursday, February 13, 2020

A CATHOLIC SECOND WIND GUILD GATHERING

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Volunteer Dinner

On Sunday night, February 8,  I hosted a reunion of the volunteers who went down to the SVG Missions last summer. 

I gave them a report on the health status of fellow volunteer, Fergal Redmond (who is back in Ireland recuperating), as well as on the progress of various ministry projects in the islands.  I reported on the 16 boxes of supplies shipped just recently. 

I will be going down myself for the 13th time in mid March to lead a diocesan-wide workshop on "revitalization." When I get back, hopefully we can complete plans for their return mission trip this coming summer. 

One of the major developments, and one that could pave the way for more volunteers going down, is the hiring of a Coordinator of  Local and  International Volunteers. This person would be my local contact person down there who could assist in the recruitment and care of local and international volunteers, as well as the planning of the projects in which they will be involved. I have someone down there looking for suitable candidates for this job so that I can interview them while I am down there in March. This coordinator could definitely help propel the Catholic Second Wind Guild into its next growth phase.  




LEFT TO RIGHT
Karen Crook, Susan Sherman, Dr. Paul Sherman, Tim Tomes, Beth Kolodey and Bill Kolodey (husband of volunteer Beth Kolodey our kids computer teacher who helps us from here).