Daily Dose of Affirmation
Here is a fictional episode of Zaccheus before, during, and after the him seeing Jesus in Luke 19:1-10.
This is purely from my imagination and is no way meant to be an addition to Scripture nor an official interpretation of the aforementioned passage.
[A short Jewish man knocked on the door of house in the city of Jericho.].
Zaccheus: Anyone home?! Taxes are due. Time to collect.
Elderly Jericho citizen: I already used my last denarii for food. Payday is not until next week.
Zaccheus: [scowling] Fine. But be prepared when I make my next collection round.
[This was the final stop on this daily route. He stopped. This was tough work. Great money. But trying on his conscience. Zaccheus didn’t originally plan on getting into this sort of work. He felt there was no other way to support himself in this economy.]
Zaccheus: [seeing a crowd ahead he asked the nearest person on the street] What is going on?
Standerby: This miracle worker is getting everyone’s attention. Talking about the Kingdom of God. I believe his name is Jesus.
Zaccheus: Jesus? Maybe he is the one all the scribes and Pharisees were concerned about.
Jesus: The first shall be last and the last first. Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor like yourself. This is the path to union with God.
Zaccheus: [talking to himself] I need to hear more of what this man, Jesus, is saying. Too bad I am so short and can barely see over a child. Lord, I need a sign.
[A gust blew swiftly past the tax collector. Zaccheus thought he heard the words, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Suddenly a brilliantly white light, shaped like a dove, descended from the sky and nestled on a bough of the giant sycamore tree ahead.]
Zaccheus: [Thinking to himself] Lord you want me to climb that mighty tree? I will look like a fool. I’m too short. Surely I cannot reach that first limb. It’s too high.]
Zaccheus walked closer. He passed the crowd and arrived at the trunk of the sycamore. Another amazing thing happened. He noticed smaller branches at the base winding their way up the tree as to form a natural ladder.
He scampered up the leafy ladder. Finally, he reached the giant limb the light-dove landed on. The bird still was perched there.
Jesus: Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.
[Faster than he climbed, Zaccheus descended the tree]
Zaccheus: Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.
Jesus: [smiling at Zaccheus] Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
I see you met the Advocate. He will guide you when I return back to my Father.
You will meet a doctor many years later. He will ask about me. Remember our meeting Zaccheus. Tell him everything that has happened.
Zaccheus: Yes my Lord!
[Zaccheus left a changed man. In his old age, he met a doctor named Luke. The former tax collector told the physician all that he witnessed in his encounter with Jesus.]
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 22, 2018. Updates have been made to reflect the canonization of Paul VI.
At 7:47 A.M. I pulled into the school parking lot. Frenzied. I threw off my seat belt, leaped out of the car, and continued to hurry my children out of the vehicle towards the school entrance.
“Come on, come on! Hurry now!” I exclaimed to my dawdling four year-old daughter. After getting her and my oldest son to their classroom with backpacks and winter clothing hung-up, I quickly walked down the corridor towards my car. It was now 7:53 A.M. when I restarted my car to drive to work. Speeding down the highway I weaved around the bustle of traffic. I arrived at my employer’s parking lot at 8:20 A.M., but my journey is not quite complete—I still needed to trek across the long employee lot and cross the street before entering the building. Time seemed to be running out on me…
If the above paragraph caused slight exhaustion, you are not alone. I want to point out that the busyness of life—especially in the morning seems to haunt me on a daily basis.
This hurried existence appears to be inescapable, at least in my foreseeable future. On top of the daily morning grind, we took my youngest son into urgent care again. The doctor gave me news that brought tears to my wife and elicited a stoic response in myself, “He tested positive for influenza type A.”
Life is beating us down—not just figuratively, but literally!
Sleep deprivation is overtaking both my wife and I, my oldest son is running a fever, and my daughter refuses to go to bed on time–as usual! Taking a snapshot of my life now does not promote much hope on the horizon.
Suddenly I came across an appropriate quote from St. Alphonsus Liguori that provided a bit of easement to my situation. According to the great doctor of the Church,
Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears – of everything that concerns you. Converse with Him confidently and frankly; for God is not wont to speak to a soul that does not speak to Him.
Prayer should be a constant for the Christian, especially during the upcoming Lenten season. Sadly, I allowed the busyness of life to be an excuse to develop my relationship with God. After reflecting on St. Alphonsus’ words I discovered three reasons why the rat race of life is a terrible excuse to delay communication with the Author of Creation.
Saint Paul VI states in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelica Testificatio, “If you have lost the taste for prayer, you will regain the desire for it by returning humbly to its practice.” This seems like a paradoxically statement. How can you gain something you lost by returning to it? Herein lies the secret power of prayer. It’s not a limited resource. Prayer is communication. A two-way communication with the Divine—God who is eternal and everlasting.
What helped me gain back reliance on prayer is taking advantage of little opportunities throughout the day to insert a petition for God’s assistance or a prayer of thanksgiving for a simple joy in my life. Talking with God while waiting at a stoplight or praying a decade of the Rosary as I rocked my son to sleep allowed for me to slowly (real slowly, as I am still improving!) to develop my prayer life.
Prayer Sustains Hope
Oftentimes in the great shuffle and strife of daily living hopelessness and despair become implanted in my heart. Watered by the false notion that activity of the world sustains hope the fruit of fear and doubt arise. Filling my day with a billion activities–checking of social media sites for notifications, following new bloggers, or constant publication on my WordPress account does not bring lasting hope.
Slowing down allows for God to enter into my heart through prayer. Saint Charles Borromeo said, “God wishes us not to rest upon anything but His infinite goodness; do not let us expect anything, hope anything, or desire anything but from Him, and let us put our trust and confidence in Him alone.”
True hope is grown and supported through prayer.
Parable of the Talents
The third example of why busyness should never be an excuse to cease praying may seem like it is coming out of left field. Please hear out my thought process. The idea of this post actually came to me during my hurried car drive to work this morning. Immediately, I thought of Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30.
I associate most with the worker with the single talent. Instead of investing his God-given talent to grow it, that worker miserly held onto it out of fear. Sometimes I fear failure amid the bustle of the work day so I fail to step out in faith to rely on my God-given abilities to grow my confidence and to share my gifts to bring others to Christ.
However, this morning I stalled that mindset. I asked God to help me stay calm in storm of the rushed work day and busyness at home. Through the power of prayer, God provided me the gifts of patience and gratitude to finish out this busy day on a positive note!
“Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears – of everything that concerns you.”
Listening to the wisdom of St. Alphonsus reinvigorated my spirit. Instead of being worn down by the busyness of the day, I looked forward to the opportunity to rely on God for comfort when life challenged me. I pray for strength to withstand the storm of busyness. May you too find strength and perseverance in the Lord during the craziness of life.
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We can’t forget about the patron saints of Europe—also known as “Equals to the Apostles”.
Saints Cyril & Methodius pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori proclaimed, “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us.” Sitting before the Eucharist in awe and wonder is something faithful Catholics have been doing for centuries.
Whether you are a faithful or lapsed Catholic, here are seven reasons why you need to be going to Eucharistic adoration today. Don’t worry you still have time to go now (either before or after reading this post).
Unites You to the Sacrament of the Eucharist
According to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” Now. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. His body, blood, soul, and divinity under the appearance of a simple host.
Sitting in Eucharistic adoration lets you draw closer to the Mystery of the Eucharist. How easy is it for us to dismiss this reality? But by driving to a local church you are making a sacrifice. A sacrifice of time. The same sacrifice you make on Sunday.
Increase in Holiness by Bathing in the Light of the Son
People enjoy tanning in the sunlight during summer or visit tanning salons. Going to Eucharistic Adoration does for your soul what a tanning salon does for your skin— it transforms it. Too much physical light burns. If you stay before the light of the Son too long your sins will be identified and destroyed.
Eucharistic adoration is a precursor to confession. St. Clare of Assisi proclaimed, “Gaze upon him, consider him, contemplate him, as you desire to imitate him.” Standing in the “Sonlight” will lead to you think like the Son. You will be more patient. Kinder. Gentler. More obedient to your parents, spouse, priests, bishop or other spiritual authorities in your life.
Bath in the light of Son and be prepared for noticeable results.
Removes You from Temptations
Along with leading you notice your sins, frequent attendance of Eucharistic adoration will remove you from tempting situations. Think about it. Simply being before the Blessed Sacrament takes you away from the worldly things. Occasions of sin. My parish’s deacon, who is currently in seminary to become a priest, said there is always a choice between God and the world. Christ or the cell phone.
In the times of greatest temptation seek our Lord! The Good Thief on the Cross gazed loving at Jesus during his greatest temptation. He could have easily fallen prey to despair. Why didn’t he? Because he looked to Jesus to take away his temptations and limitations.
Helps You to Examine Your Conscience
The longer you remain in the presence of God the more you will reflect on your failings—your sins. Remember being in the light of Christ will make your sins more recognizable.
Provides a Reboot to Your Spiritual Life
We all need a reset. Our lives get busy. Busy lives lead to tiredness. And tiredness causes us to give into temptation and sin. Think of sin as a virus that corrodes our soul. Without a proper defense the virus (of sin) will attack us more often and successfully cripple us spiritually.
Eucharistic adoration acts as a kind of system reboot to our spiritual lives. Praying in the light of Christ brings us countless graces that will be effective in repairing us and warding off sin.
Take time to rest. Rest in the pew. Sit (or kneel) before the Lord and ask for renewed strength and energy to reach the big spiritual reset— the Mass!
Prepares You for Sunday Mass
Adoration gets you into the right frame of mind for celebrating the Mass. Spend your time reading the upcoming Sunday Mass readings. Investing time into learning about the theme and reading of the Mass is helpful later on especially when you have younger children who can cause distractions on Sunday.
Praying before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic adoration reminds you of the primary focus of the Mass—Jesus. The readings, rituals, and liturgical garments are all a means to point us closer to the Son. Gazing upon the Blessed Sacrament reminds us of Jesus’ words in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. ”
Because the Church Recommends It
A seventh reason to attend Eucharistic adoration is simple. The Catholic Church tells us to go. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1380,
The Church and the world have great need of Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and contemplation full of faith. And let us be ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.
That reference is actually a quote from Saint Pope John Paul II in Dominicae Cenae: Letter to Priest, Holy Thursday, 1980. I am a big fan of John Paul II. He is amazing because of his close connection to God through the sacraments. I trust in the wisdom of the late Polish pope.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith (CCC 1324). Jesus is truly the Bread of Life. Like the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph, and other New Testament figures, we too see Jesus on a consistent basis. No he will not be donning sandals or his mighty epic beard during Eucharistic Adoration, but we will still experience the same love. Try to find at least 15 minutes this week and visit our Lord at a local church. Better yet invite a friend or family member to go with you!
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By: Deacon Marty McIndoe
I have lived almost all of my life on an island, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound. I feel very blessed by that. The sea part of me. Every year my wife and I usually try to escape to warm weather for the months of January and February.
Two years ago we spent the time in the southwest traveling around Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and inland Southern California. We absolutely loved it and appreciated the beauty of the southwest. However, I really felt like I was out of place. I was no where near any large body of salt water. It just didn’t seem right to me. I was out of place, literally.
This year we did our winter getaway in the south and in Florida and stayed almost all of the time in timeshares that were on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. I felt so much more at home than I did on our desert trip. There is a real comfort and awe when we look out on the ocean. For me, I see and feel God in the beauty and immensity of the ocean.
I came across a quote from Isak Dinesen (also known as Tania Blixen author of “Out of Africa”) from her “Seven Gothic Tales” which consisted of the following dialogue:
An old seaman says to his unhappy foster-son, “I know of a cure for everything: Salt water.”
“Salt water?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said, “in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.”
History of Salt
I couldn’t help but to see the truth in that statement. The cure for everything is “Sweat or Tears or the Salt Sea”. It’s interesting to see the history of man’s use of salt. The Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament) value salt so much that it was considered to be able to be used as a gift to God as a “covenant of salt” (Lev. 2: 13; II Chron. 13:5; Num. 18:19). It was also used in sacrifices by the Israelites (Ezek. 43:24 and Gen. 31:54). Belief in its preservative and healing properties led to its use to dry and harden the skin of newborns (Ezek. 16:4) and to prevent umbilical cord infection.
The Egyptians and the Persians considered it such a special commodity that it could only be handled by their royalty. The ancient Romans paid their soldiers their wages in salt (Latin word is “sal”) from which we today get the word “salary” and the expression, “worth his weight in salt”.
Salt had been used for over 3500 years as a preservative for meats and a flavoring for food. It is still seen as a sign of hospitality and friendship in the Middle East. In Mark Chapter 9, verse 50 Jesus says, “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” St. Paul’s tells us in Col. 4:6:”Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Jesus also called His followers to be the “salt of the earth”. Salt is all about preservation, healing, and peace.
The Church has a special prayer for the blessing of salt. After the blessing, the salt is often placed in Holy Water, or sometimes used by itself. This prayer, from the Roman Ritual says,
Almighty God, we ask you to bless this salt, as once you blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Salt is also seen as a means of driving away evil or preserving one from evil corruption.
Salt is found naturally in the sea, in our tears, and in our sweat. All three of these can help to heal us. As motivational speaker Rita Schiano tell us, “Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow”. Tears come to us from our very being. They are responses to hurt and loss as well as happiness and gain.
Tears can be shed from earthy stimuli such as movies and can also be shed from spiritual stimuli such as God’s Word or the touch of Christian love. They are an expression that sometimes can speak louder and clearer than words. They bring us healing in so many ways.
Sweat of our brow
Sweat is a result of our hard work. The Catholic Church has always stressed the importance of work in our lives. The Protestant Churches are also known for their work ethic. Work is not only necessary for civilization to flourish, but it brings a sense of purpose and often healing to the individual. It also helps us to accomplish our dreams. Colin Powell tells us, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
We find our happiness in working hard for our dreams whether it be as simple (yet profound) as a man or woman working hard to support their family, or a researcher finding the cure for cancer. Work, and sweat, are part of who we are called to be.
God’s Gift of Water
The Sea is a special gift to us from God. Our scientists tell us that life itself originated there. For us, it is a place to enjoy in so many different ways whether it is swimming and fishing or simply gazing out towards its majesty. As John F. Kennedy told us, “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” The Sea can truly be a healing influence in our lives.
In writing this article, I hope to make you think and pray about the healing influence of the Sea, Sweat and Tears. I am including some quotes for you to think about and pray about and see how the Lord may be speaking to you. I hope that you find some quiet time to pray and think about these quotes. May our good Lord bless you and bring you His healing love. May you come to better realize the healing gifts given to us in Salt Water: the Sea, Tears or Sweat.
About the author
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The secret to joy & the closest thing to finding peace daily is something people talk about but aren’t consistently doing…
Gratitude is our oxygen
Be grateful. In all things. Literally everything.
Common objection to this claim:
“But you don’t know what I’ve been through. The horrors I faced & currently face.”
Your 100% right. I may not know your situation. Nor even be capable of fathoming it.
However, I have faced hell. 2014 was that year for me.
We wife and I lost our unborn baby Jeremiah due to miscarriage—four hours before his death I heard his heartbeat 💓 . Saw it on an ultrasound.
The horror is loss took my wife by storm immediately.
Me? It poisoned me and slowly I lost my hope. I was on the brink of giving up—at everything.
My faith helped me through it, but I am not completely healed—nor ever will be healed fully.
Be thankful in everything. Matt, are you thankful for losing your son?
It took me several years to get to this point and I would have to say—yes I am grateful.
Loss transforms you
Without that loss I would never be the man I am today. We would never have our son Josiah—whose name actually translates as healer (I didn’t intend for that connection).
I want to let you know that you will survive your firestorm. Ask the Holy Spirit for deliverance daily. It won’t be easy, but God will sustain you.