Monday October 5, 2015 Fleeting

Posted October 5, 2015 by bgovanus
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“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” Psalm 39:4
I think most people if you asked them “Do you want to know when you would die?” would answer yes. The reason being so they could prepare better. I think it is funny that humans would need an exact time and place to spur them to make a change. Let’s face it… whether I live to be 100 or I die tomorrow no amount of warning could be any greater example than the one Jesus has given. He was very young to die by our standards. In three short years of practicing His trade, He changed the world. We can be sure, He knew when the end of His life would occur… DID that affect the way He lived and the decisions He made?

When I counsel business owners, I tell them to start with the end in mind. The day you start a business, you should have an exit strategy planned. Will you sell the company? Will you close it? Will you give it to a son or daughter? Every decision from then on is much easier in light of the end strategy. Each life can be viewed in much the same way. Valuation of assets is a simple process. Numbers in the black versus numbers in the red total out to a positive or negative. Pretty easy math. How about my life in that equation? Will my balance sheet be attractive enough? Jesus said that I do not have to earn heaven and thank God for that! But He did say was there would be a judgement.

I know my life is fleeting!!! I feel challenged each and every day to create a legacy of discipleship, of kindness and of truth. I do know the end is coming and each day it draws closer. I would be foolish to live my life any other way. So I challenge myself each day to contribute to another in some way. A small kindness, a helping hand, a listening ear, a note of gratitude each build the assets in my spiritual bank. The rich man passed by Lazarus begging at his doorstep every day. I cannot afford to miss opportunities to serve the least of my brothers and sisters. I read about a method to remind myself of the fleeting days. The average lifespan is now 80 years. I am now 64. That means 16 years or 832 weeks. The suggestion is to buy 832 marbles or pennies and each Saturday, transfer one from one jar to another. It is a visible way to remind myself that life is fleeting! What did I do to make it more worthwhile?
Lord, You accomplished so much in 3 years. Help me never to underestimate the difference I can make if I dedicate myself to doing Your will.

Sunday October 4, 2015 Emulator

Posted October 4, 2015 by bgovanus
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To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. 1 Peter 2:21
Today is the feast day of St Francis. Our current Pope chose this name as his when he was selected by the Cardinals to lead the Catholic Church. So far in his Pontificate he has truly been a great emulator of his namesake who was indeed a great imitator of Christ. This verse from 1 Peter begins the very description of Christ, that each of us are invited to live:
Commit no sin…
Tell no lies…
Turn the other cheek…
Suffer in silence…
Bear the burdens of others…
And finally… Peter says Jesus was wounded for my transgressions and that by His stripes, I am healed.

By all accounts, St Francis lived these words each and every day. I read the stories about his gracious love and generosity. His zeal for the faith and his renouncing of wealth. He went so far as to show up naked to say that nothing on this earth is His desire. He clung to nothing of his previous life of wealth and courtly favor.
It is very hard to fathom denying myself the simple pleasures that I take for granted… lights that respond to a flip of a switch, clean water that runs freely with a turn of a knob, food at my fingertips kept chilled or frozen to be consumed at my leisure. God gives so much to me and I could never be grateful enough. Pope Francis has set an example for the world by emulating his namesake by choosing the simpler lifestyle and in most cases opts for rather austere conditions instead of living in the ambiance that was the heritage of his predecessors. Our Pope is shaking up the church to awaken in us all the need and importance of being FOLLOWERS of Christ in every way. Truly emulating Jesus Christ means putting myself in a place of service to all. No longer putting my own wants ahead of the needs of another. This is heavy stuff… when I see a person who lives this out, I am changed if I allow myself to see how I too can become an emulator. Witnessing how God wants me to live calls me to be more. What will my answer be?
Lord, Help me to live a life of service to you and my neighbor. Open my eyes to see opportunities to emulate You! Open my hands to work for those who need my help. Give me the strength to love my neighbor as You would!

Friday October 2, 2015 Guardians

Posted October 2, 2015 by bgovanus
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If you heed your angel’s voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. Exodus 23:22
The Church celebrates Guardian Angels today. I have angel statues and pictures scattered throughout my home to remind me of their presence and to trust mine to help me to heed God’s will in my life. It is so easy to forget that God is present in every situation and has sent me a guardian to keep me on the path to Him. I do not like to think of myself as having “enemies” but there is one who stalks me and tries with all his might to trip me up, Satan.
I have read and believe that God has given me a guardian angel to help me get to heaven. He protects me not from harm but from the devil. The accidents and injuries that I sustain, are ways for me to rely more on God. Not errors and omissions by my Guardian angel.  Too often, my independent nature and focused mind… get so determined to accomplish something, that I miss the fact that Satan has come alongside me… in pride, in arrogance or in some other deadly sin. Only a stop sign that could be an accident, a fall from grace or an illness will make me halt an activity that could sever my relationship with God forever. My angel will not protect me from that which could ultimately save my soul.
As a child I prayed each night to my guardian angel to protect me from physical harm… now I know that his job is to prevent me from spiritual harm. Get my soul ready to stand in the heavenly chorus and be welcomed home to heaven. I ask my angel now to defend me from Satan and the harm he seeks to cause me. I continue to this day, knowing that he is by my side ready to protect me from the wickedness and snares of the devil. I am grateful.
Lord, Thank You for my Guardian Angel. I know and feel his presence as I traverse this world. Thank you for the mighty sword he carries to defend me all the days of my life.

Wednesday September 30, 2015 Equipped

Posted September 30, 2015 by bgovanus
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“Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him?” James 2:5
Sixteen parishioners from my church sat in a room with folks from other parishes to hear what being called to be disciples means. Each of us were asked to discover if we were on the road to Emmaus. Those disciples had thrown in the towel and were heading home beaten and sad that their “Messiah” had been murdered. Jesus came alongside and befriended them, taught them how HE was anticipated in Scripture and finally revealed Himself to them in the breaking of the bread. Am I willing to be a disciple or am I ready to quit and head home disappointed that my personal vision of my messiah was not fulfilled? Many times Jesus has walked alongside unrecognized. It was not until a specific revelatory moment that I knew I had been visited by God.
The presenter helped define Discipleship. Most of us there felt ill-equipped for the job. That is often the point… it is God who disciples, not me. I am walking alongside, mentoring and witnessing what God has done in my life. God provides all the opportunities if I just open my eyes to share truth or just to notice the person who is headed away from God. There is much I can do by just stopping and being “PRESENT” with someone who is searching. God will give me the words to say if they are needed. Most of the time, my own story and empathy are all that anyone needs to hear and feel in order to know God loves them. I witness by my JOY and willingness to be with someone in more than the FB like or the banal pleasantries of FINE! Asking truly where they are on the road and waiting for an answer is a huge step in being a disciple. God will provide the context if I provide the relationship.
Lord equip me to be Your disciple. Give me the grace to be present to those who You would have me nurture along their path. Open my heart to those who would nurture me as well.

Monday September 28, 2015 Praises

Posted September 28, 2015 by bgovanus
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O Lord, open my lips: and my mouth will shout Your praises. Psalm 51:15
Last night, Gary and I went to Sister Act, the Musical… live! This Sondheim creation was on Broadway back in the 80s. Lots of references to Saturday Night Fever and John Travolta with so many laughs that were especially poignant for people who lived through that decade. The young people in the audience loved the raucous fun but it definitely touched each of those watching in a different way. It made me think that each person hears something that is said so very differently.
Recently, I was approached after Mass by a young couple with a baby in arms and a six year old daughter in hand. They said they wanted to thank me for inviting them to come back to church. I was a bit taken aback… but smiled and asked about their precious children to change the subject because I didn’t remember them. They introduced the youngest first who is turning 5 months… then they said, you know Elizabeth of course because you visited her in the hospital when she was born. She is the reason we are here. Apparently, I was doing hospital visits with Communion the day Elizabeth was born. I arrived just as the nurse came to take Elizabeth for a life threatening surgery… I prayed with these parents and asked God for their precious child to be whole and healthy. I left not knowing that what the Holy Spirit prompted me to say would change their lives. For they had put Catholic on the Hospital admission form but were not practicing and had not been to church since their wedding ten years earlier. Elizabeth was a gift that they had given up believing they would ever receive. God spoke to them and reminded them she was His gift!
Only God knows how an individual will hear the words He calls me to speak. Only if I ask the Lord to open my mouth will HIS words pour forth. I shudder to think how many times I have spoken my own words and instead of bringing light and love, hurt someone. I know that goodness comes from the words that GOD speaks through me… my job is to be a vessel and conduit and make myself smaller. Sister Act is a story of friendship and praising God with whatever gifts you have. What a wonderful way to live.
Lord, You are the giver of all good gifts. Help me to be a channel of Your peace and spread Your love by every word I utter.

Sunday September 27, 2015 Rewarded

Posted September 27, 2015 by bgovanus
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For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
His glory will not descend after him.
Though while he lives he congratulates himself—
And though men praise you when you do well for yourself—
He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They will never see the light.
Psalm 49:17-19

Pope Francis visit to the US has been widely followed and has touched many lives. The timing of his visit coincides with some very strong mass readings that call for a change of heart which has been his consistent message to Congress, to families, and to the clergy. He has spoken boldly to US to share. No one can take their accumulated wealth to heaven with them so it is important to distribute what is our gifts and rewards while still here on this earthly plain. I have read about people who asked to be buried in their Cadillac wearing their accumulated jewelry. Obviously, they believed that they could take it with them! Or they just wanted to deprive someone else from having it.
There is an old joke about the very rich man who married a much younger woman and he asked her to bury him with all his money. He asked her again with his dying breath to do this for him… she agreed… She did what she promised, she wrote him a check for the whole amount and placed it in his pocket. It really is foolish to think that the accumulations of this life could protect us or set us up for comfort in the great beyond.
Jesus calls me to live a sacrificial life. Giving not from my surplus but from my livelihood. As I live and move and have my being in and through Him, I must recognize that nothing that I surround myself with is really mine. Everything that I have is on loan from Him. Matthew quotes Jesus saying “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19

Lord, Help me to live Your commandment of love generously. Open my heart to share with those who are placed in my life. Create awareness of their need so that I might not miss the opportunity to be your hands and feet.

Friday September 25, 2015 TGIF

Posted September 25, 2015 by bgovanus
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My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. Matthew 26:39
It was the middle of the night and Jesus was literal sweating bullets of blood over His Friday. He asked humbly of His Father if things could be different. Jesus taught me a lot by this simple prayer… He asked God but said, “Not as I will, but as You will.” Today, people are waking up all over the world, uttering Thank God. It’s Friday! There is a sense of calm determination knowing that by getting through just one more day then there is rest! Jesus knew what lie ahead for Him and yet He still said, Thank God, It’s Friday.
Accepting what is mine to do is a huge step toward being a true Christ Follower. No one likes to sacrifice themselves, yet that is what Jesus taught by accepting the cross. No one wants to put another’s needs before self-satisfaction but Jesus gave that command often and lived it on His Holy Friday. It is simple, I know what to do but it is not at all easy to do. My body is weak and is seeking stillness and quiet refreshment but there is none of that in the world. Heaven is the only place where I will find a lasting peace.
The day unfolds with its challenges but my Friday is nothing compared to Jesus. Life on earth is a rose garden filled with wonderful sights and delicious fragrance but there are thorns and weeds that need tending. Unless I work to maintain the beauty… it will diminish and eventually die without care.
Lord I thank God for Friday. that You sent Your Son to the cross for me. I am grateful beyond measure that I am redeemed and favored by Your grace. Help me always appreciate the sacrifice Jesus willingly made for me.


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