Peace for the troubled heart

In the Gospel passage (John 14:27-31a), Jesus assures us that in him there is no reason to be afraid nor for our hearts to feel troubled. The opposite of a troubled heart is peace, but very often we head for the wrong kind of peace, he says.

When a spouse or friend argues with us, we try to regain peace by proving that we’re right or by making the other person agree with us. And when this doesn’t work? How then can we find peace? Maybe we punish the person by using “the silent treatment” or by refusing to have a good time together until we get an apology. And when this doesn’t produce peace, then what?

For every troubling situation, we try a multitude of worldly ways to feel peaceful again: We anesthetize ourselves with alcohol or drugs or food addition or burying ourselves in work. We insist on our own way, or we pout and withdraw, or we dump the problem into someone else’s lap and run away. We blame others to appease our own guilt. And when this fails to calm our fears or soothe our troubled hearts? Then what?

Even when our troublesome trials end, our troubled hearts are never fully satisfied. Burnt once, we shy away from all flickering flames, wary that one of them will explode and burn us again. Cynicism and self-protective walls that shut others out are a sure sign that we’re not turning to Jesus for the peace that only he can give.Read More »

Letter of Love

Each of us has a different trap, a different “sin” that keeps us from living out of our True Self, which is Love. Brother Joseph Schmidt shared with us this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (original author unknown). I invite you to read these statements and see yourself in them. Only when we face and embrace our false self with humility can we begin moving toward freedom and wholeness, toward being Love.

  • If I live my life to perfection, doing what is right and good on behalf of others, but act with compulsion and without love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I take care of the needs of everybody in the world, especially the poor, because of my own need to help, but am without love even for myself, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I am efficient and successful in all that I do for the sake of justice, but act out of drivenness and without love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I am cultured and refined, and in touch with the pain of existence, but am absent from the pain of persons in the present moment who need my empathy; and if I act without love and compassion, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I have the gifts of wisdom, insight, and understanding, but am not engaged with those around me in the present moment and am without a spirit of compassion and love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I am faithful, loyal, and obedient, and never deviate from the law, but am judgmental and blaming, and am without love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I live in a pain-free world of dreams and plans, enjoying optimism and pleasurable options, but am not addressing present problems and am avoiding people in actual distress and am without love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I am strong and powerful, but lose my best self in a spirit of resentment, retaliation, and vindictiveness, and know nothing of the vulnerability of love, then I am nothing at all.
  • If I am settled and accommodating, holding onto a sense of distance and calm, but am not journeying inward to know and appreciate my weaknesses and gifts, and am neglecting my own legitimate calling to love myself, then I am nothing at all.

Love is always patient and kind;

it is never jealous;

love is never boastful or conceited;

it is never rude or selfish;

it does not take offense, and is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in truth;

it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love never fails, never ceases.

–1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Patient but not tolerant

Patience is a virtue, but nowhere in scripture are we told to be tolerant of sin. And this truth makes the world hate us, as Jesus warned that it would.

The same holds true for behaviors that are unwise, unhealthy, or misguided. Patience is called for, and often, when we feel impatient, we try to cure this by tolerating whatever is testing our patience.

The real cure is an active relationship with the Holy Spirit. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.

Think of the toddler who misbehaves. We teach him how to be a good boy, by the action we take in response. Is it impatience that drives our response, or is it intolerance of the bad behavior? If it’s impatience, and if we improve ourselves by becoming more patient, the child seeks a new way to test our patience. But if it’s intolerance, we draw the line between what is right and what is wrong, firmly and consistently, and the child learns to respect the limitation.

Now think of the last thing someone did that tested your patience. To love like Christ is to respond with patience, but not with tolerance. Tolerance makes us look away — and then nothing gets resolved or improved. Patience needs to be combined with “no, this is not right” or “please stop, let’s pray about this before we discuss it further” or whatever response from us draws a line between right and wrong, holy and sinful, wise and unhealthy.

Sometimes, the only healthy response is to walk away. Sometimes, the holy response is to do what Jesus told his disciples to do: Shake the dust from your feet and leave (Matt. 10:14). But if we’re called to stay and make a difference, patience gives us strength to draw the line calmly, compassionately, lovingly. Often, this is supernatural. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit by drawing our own line between reacting and stopping to pray before we respond. And we might have to remove ourselves from the room to do this.

Toddlers are happier when they know their limits and feel protected from whatever lies beyond. We never outgrow this, though we try. Perhaps a family member or spouse is testing our patience as proof that we really, truly love him/her no matter what. (Perhaps we test their love, too!) The words, spoken patiently, “no, I’m sorry, we can’t continue this conversation until we’ve both calmed down,” is true love.

— Good News Ministries

#ShortNews: Chinese churches ordered to celebrate Communist regime’s anniversary

The State Patriotic Association of Catholics has ordered the dioceses to hold ceremonies to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. All the official churches are asked to sing the national anthem, to practice the flag raising ceremony, to pray for the homeland. All these activities must be documented and sent to the headquarters of the National Patriotic Association. Yesterday in many parishes the mass began with the singing of the national anthem.

Even the official Protestant churches have artistic events and performances inspired by patriotism and communism. In these circumstances it is also important to celebrate sinicization. All these events are usually attended by members of the United Front, which oversees religion activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.

All the religious groups present in the country recognized by the government, including the Islamic Association of China and the Buddhist one, have put together events related to the 70 years of the People’s Republic of China. At the same time, police surveillance of house churches (unofficial) and their members has been stepped up.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Official-churches-and-religions-celebrate-the-70th-anniversary-of-the-Chinese-communist-regime-(Video)-48071.html

9 Steps to Dealing With Negativity

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

You may be in daily interaction with negative people, be they friends, family members, a romantic partner or colleague. You love them, you care about them, you can’t just cut them out of your life, but they are negative and their negativity is eating away at you. What can you do?

The best way of dealing with life’s challenges is to take a good look at ourselves and take responsibility for what we think, feel and do. Never give your power away by blaming others for what you have or don’t have, what you feel or don’t feel. Once you do so, you’ll become a victim of circumstance, and instead of using your time and energy to beat life’s challenges, you’ll sink to a dark and miserable place.

Here are 9 smart, positive and effective ways of dealing with the negativity of the people close to you:

 

  1. Give up the need to complain.

Make sure you are taking responsibility for your feelings and mood. Don’t go complaining that other people’s negativity is affecting you because it will only create more negativity. Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings and see what you can do to make yourselves feel better and change the existing situation. “Whoever has limited knowledge of human nature and seeks happiness by changing everything but his own attitude, will waste his life in futile efforts.” ~Samuel Johnson.

  1. Similarity Attracts

Good brings about good, bad brings about bad, and if we want to or not, we pull into our lives events, situations and people that reflect our internal state. Ask yourselves: “How am I feeling? Am I happy, excited, thankful and calm? Or am I anxious, frustrated and judgmental?” You may find that you yourselves radiate misery to the environment and that part of the negative energy surrounding you is in fact a reflection of yourselves.

  1. Don’t believe everything you think.

Read More »

And now this, too, Lord?

In the Gospel reading (John 6:16-21), the apostles embark on a simple journey, from one shore to another, but Jesus is delayed and the disciples depart. It was already dark and they were fighting against the strong swell due to the intense wind. In the midst of this difficult situation, Jesus puts the finishing touch on the situation by scaring them as he approached them walking on the water. “Do not fear, it’s me,” he tells them when he sees that they are afraid.

When we are struggling with some problems in our life, how often do unforeseen things happen that force us to say, “And now this!”? The “this”, as it turns out, is usually Jesus.

My husband, my four children and I were living in a town where God was rejected. A place where only one Mass was celebrated on Sundays (and not always, we often went two weeks without consecrated Hosts) and where nothing that was related to the Christianity (Catholic or Protestant) prospered. Therefore the Sacraments almost did not exist, and my family longed for them so much.

My youngest children (at that time 12 years old) were being bullied at school. They suffered to the point that one of them was being assisted by a psychologist and the other refused to return to school after having escaped, because he felt desperate about the hostile environment.

We did not know what to do. We prayed, asking the Lord, and we didn’t hear anything. Suddenly, one of my children gets a wound in his foot and ends up with osteomyelitis hospitalized in a nearby town! When we took him to the orthopedic surgeon, we learned that the first practices done to him had worsened the situation and, at that moment, his life could be in danger.Read More »

How confidence in God defeats the Devil

Can you be confident in God? I mean, so confident that you’re relaxed even while waiting for your prayers to be answered and for the crisis to pass and for your troubles to end? That’s my goal, too, but ohhh how hard it is to trust so much that we actually relax, huh?! I’m better at it now than I used to be, and I hope that I’m relaxed enough to be a good witness to those around me. But … I have to keep apologizing to our Lord for doubting his trustworthiness.

When someone doubts your trustworthiness, how do you feel? There’s a loved one in my life who refuses to believe he can trust me. Despite the evidence I give him, despite my reassurances, despite the wonderful experiences in our past relationship, he professes demonic lies about me. (Any lie is demonic, because it’s a slap in the face to the Spirit of Truth, i.e., the Holy Spirit. When lies are used to keep people apart, they are also anti-love, i.e., anti-Christ.)

Can you imagine how I feel as I long to give him my love but I’m unable to because he blocks it? Perhaps you’ve experienced the same longing. That’s how God feels when we lack confidence in him.

Every reason that seems to justify our lack confidence in God is demonic, because it’s a lie and it keeps us from entering into the fullness of his love. It holds us back from showing others that God is good. It robs us of the power to live victoriously. Satan is thrilled when Christians are disempowered.

The cure is to rest in the arms of Jesus. A prayer meditation about resting in the arms of Jesus melts our stress and causes us to relax. When we feel relaxed, it’s much easier to be confident in God.

~ Good News Ministries ~