Mosaic Moments

pursuing-contemplationMoses, means to “draw out”, especially named by the Pharaoh’s daughter who pulled him from the river.   Like the cherished newborn pulled from its amniotic fluid, we’re soon brought through the waters of baptism in our exodus from death to life in the One who makes all things new.   We are a pilgrim people, dripping wet and restless in our exodus towards God.  Nomadic hearts bound only by the consequences that free will and its legacy of personal choices.  It is an intentional and difficult choice in approaching our Gethsemane either to accept or reject God’s olive press used to extract the love for Him as if gathering gold from its dross.  There is no regret worthy of a rational excuse to reject God’s Spirit whom leads us in ways everlasting.  It is the Advocate’s mission to release us through an internal exodus binding our hearts, souls, body and mind from crying out “Abba!’… at least before the rocks do.   We must choose to partake in our own salvation process by accepting we are but myrrh in need of crushing before our imprisoned perfume becomes a pleasing whiff to God. It is a comfort to know the Spirit is so jealous to lead us to the promises won at Calvary, yet… discomfort hardly describes our conviction into humility.  Humility must bring us to the flexible newborn state readying our pilgrim exodus from womb to daylight as the narrow birth passage squeezes the remaining fluid from our lungs to breathe new life.  Life is not fair in ways too brutal to mention – yet, life is a singular gift welling with endless opportunities to travel the unknown road of humility.  Often the road is silent, seemingly wandering while conflicted with pangs of self-doubt, challenging our hearts and souls jousting in monologues of desperate prayer.  Our only recourse to the believer’s untamed restlessness is found in its very own willingness to distribute love.  Soon the questions and want of answers to combat the external persecution grow less vociferous in the warmth of knew wisdom arising from love.   The mission of The Spirit and the promise of Christ to perfect us find all its answers in our love of God.   It is only through the this birth passage of forgiveness extracting the remaining sin and skin stretched by our own humility can we finally be clothed in the righteousness of God.  Yes, life may not be fair, but nothing compares to the gift of redemption.  When the faithful finally breathe the eternal nature of God and see all by the light of the Lamb, the humility sown in forgotten memories will have soon blossomed into extravagant bouquets that adorn the table as they dine with the King.  Life is short and for many cruel and unfair, but be of good cheer because forgiveness lasts forever.

His Peace,

Chris

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The Image We Bear

thumbnailCA5K87RRIf we are image bearers and know that God IS love and therefore loves Himself – then he is uninhibited to love the image of love we bear. We ultimately become justified by partaking in the divinity of God’s love revealed in and through His son Jesus. Bearing God’s image impels our vague sense of exile and distance to an intangible spirituality to explore a true definition of love. It is the very image we bear that causes an unusual restlessness within us – like trying to see in the dark. It therefore seems fitting we rely on hearing to build a faith we cannot see. Ironically, we are surrounded by the bright lights of distractions that promise a false sense of fulfillment. We self-medicate ourselves in relativism in hopes of numbing the ache of this inescapable restlessness until indifference spills recklessly from our thoughts and actions. That ache is the thorn of the Holy Spirit allowing all a chance to suffer the unmistakable grace of God. The thorn yields to the repentant the very fruit of its love to endure our separation from the first love we never knew; Jesus. Slowly the self-pity, contempt, pride and selfishness are swallowed in our humility by a new gratitude of a salvation earned for us solely by the tears of the Father pouring through the Holy Spirit and ultimately shed by the blood of the Son at Calvary. It is seeing the beginnings of our true identity when humility opens our imprisoned souls to the majesty of the Holy Trinity that lifts us to reason that God does not just love – but IS love. If God is love  then there must be love that proceeds from the lover to the beloved. It is through this beloved Son of God that reveals the solution to our ache. It is Jesus who sends us the Holy Spirit, as promised by the Father, that comforts us with true, incorruptible light offering a glimpse of hope, faith, and especially the love we bear.isCAWPMQGS

His Peace,

Chris

The Afterglow Of Silence…

I’m reveling in the afterglow of finding true silence at a men’s retreat this weekend.  It’s the kind of silence that one can’t really remember now that I’m once again surrounded by the noise of my everyday reality.   Like trying to recall lyrics of an old song while the radio blasts another Christmas melody, I can only sit and smile knowing silence… deep, penetrating silence, really did happen.  I’m also grateful I was availed the opportunity to give the closing presentation, which I would love to post it all for you – but that would seem like twenty minutes stripped out of the context from the forty hours encompassing this retreat.  Still, I am compelled to share some portions that I pray you find encouraging – regardless if you are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc… you get the picture.  Although many of you may differ from my expression of Christianity, it is my greatest desire that you recognize the symptoms of my Catholicism as the proposal of God’s love should the mere admission of my Tradition push your mouse to surf elsewhere.  I’ll edit the following portion lightly and humbly invite your heart to read what I believe our souls crave …

A portion of this presentation, “Putting your faith into action”, is inspired by scriptures found in both Mark and James:

Mark 16:14-18    Go out to all the world and proclaim the good news

James 1:22-25     Be not merely hearers of the word, but also doers 

Maybe it’s more than putting your money where your mouth is, but rather sharing your heart where your treasure is.  Recently, I have wondered with a heavy heart if I have been growing rich in what is of value to God.  I continue to learn that my masculinity hinges on humility and a growing vulnerability that allows God’s quiet will for my life.  Although, through mentors, friends, and community have help me discern a faith-filled vision for my life, I have often run blind in my selfishness and regret.  I have learned I cannot serve two masters.  I cannot juggle between choices that either pull me towards or push me away from God.  Thankfully, I am not alone in this battle of wills knowing God provides all of us with helps.  However the Holy Spirit chooses to intercede in our lives, discerning and accepting through love will bring not just Glory to God but peace within the soul.  Faith-filled, unhesitating, compassionate action that propels the Christian towards charity does not become a priority in ones’ heart overnight.

Listen to the words of St. Francis De Sales:

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so, you learn to love by loving.  All those who think to learn in another way deceive themselves.”

God’s love is our sacrament.  God’s love gives us our worth.  The grace of God’s love is found in the unexpected gift of faith which is our growing awareness of His omniscience.  Becoming still… allows us to contemplate the temple we hold within ourselves.  God lights this temple through the wounds of His Son’s glorified body – whose very wounds are an endless plea before the Father on our behalf.  The temple walls we freely and joyfully build to house this extraordinary light are mortared in humility, faith, and hope – but the bricks we stack, one upon another, are formed solely through the love of God and neighbor.  We must recognize love before we put our faith into action. 

Our first steps towards loving are encouraged by the very words of “follow me” gently spoken by Jesus, the God-man who lifts us up and invites you and I to The Way…of God.   It is in those two words whispered within new hearts for God that can be heard in the stillness we seek.  Listen…to the writer in Hebrews, “Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”  

This retreat offers us an opportunity to be still and know God.  In those moments of clarity, when silence becomes the window pane to our soul, we begin to realize our own transparency in communicating to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.  Although we may see ourselves dimly, we quickly realize that God sees us in a totality we cannot yet fathom.  It is in the beauty of silence that we also realize how God wants us to view ourselves in the unique will He made for us.  When we die a little each day to life’s distractions to simply live momentarily in divine communion, our “Time and Choices”  begin to fill with love.  A heart can only transform to respond to the Gospel when it first fills with love.

Love will move mountains…and climb them.

Love will conquer all.

Love has redeemed those willing to say “yes” to lifting their cross and following Christ.

And…love has and will continue to give courage to those martyred in their final walk of justice.

We must accept the full capacity of God’s love so we may fully trust in putting our faith into action.  My dear friend and mentor, Bob, continues to exemplify to me a trust resting in a love that casts out all fears – but again, that didn’t just happen to him overnight.

I have grown to adore the slow hand of God in my life.  It reminds me of His patience with me so my humility can be offered to another.  My immediate and greatest source of witnessing humility is watching our priest consecrate the sacrifice of the mass. To my awe – Holy Orders appears to distill down to this moment of profound Grace as our priest submits to becoming an instrument of God’s sublime charity.  Before you leave this retreat, we will celebrate the mass, during that moment our priest invokes the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and wine,… remember your transparency as you step forward to receive and become part of something extraordinary.   Upon the close of each mass we are “sent out” to become bread that is broken and shared and wine that is fearlessly poured out for others.  Ask God to show you injustice to the innate dignity of your brothers and sisters.  Whether it simply handing out a hot cup of coffee or a pair of warm, clean socks to the poor that gather on the corner of Michigan and Adams Streets every Saturday morning, or visiting a sick friend, or encouraging a prisoner with hope, or praying in vigilance in front of an abortion clinic – seek…and you will find the life of God’s will before you.  Remember the words of Blessed Mother Teresa, “Where there is love, there is God.”  If love inspires then peace will follow.   Immeasurable peace, a type this world cannot sell you, comes on the hinge of humility when we open that door in trust to accept that invitation to follow Christ.  Let’s pray we allow this profound sense of trust to pass through us like a filter, removing all seeds of hesitation to follow the One who makes all things new.

Therefore…what we profess in faith we must live in fact.

St. James reminds us that we delude ourselves by simply being mere hearers and not doers of the word.   We must receive what God reveals to us and respond humbly and obediently – considering it all a joy knowing your faith produces perseverance. (Paraphrased from James 1:2-3)

Let us help each other to accept this challenge.  Let our bonds of fellowship encourage one another, especially when doing so becomes difficult.  As a Catholic community, I pray we are willing to stand strong for others who endure unkind reactions when responding publicly to our Lord’s will.  If we find ourselves ostracized, insulted or worse…then pray we find strength in the words of Jesus who says. 

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven”

(Matthew 5:11-12a).

 

Our lives offer us many opportunities to put our faith into action, to be doers of the word — treasure that “time” and spend it wisely.

Remember, God not only loved us…….

but He did something about it…

 



Lead Me Lord 

Love has ravaged this unexpected heart,
Love has stolen my selfishness and pride.
Love sculptures granite into works of art,
Love invites me to follow alongside,
Strengthened by a yoke that becomes my guide.

Lead me Lord and I will surely follow.
Knowing you patiently wait by my side.
For by your blood I fear no tomorrow,
The courage of martyrs leaves no sorrow,
Grief finds all – yet without despair’s shadow.

Yes, love has invaded this unwary heart,
A knife that cuts straight through the marrow,
Separated from Adam I depart,
Clinging to Christ whose blood sets me apart,
My love draws my faith, like a horse pulls a cart.

I hear your voice O’ Lord,
And respond to your call,
Help me live my faith,
Lift me from Adam’s fall.

The harvest has many,
Your disciples are few,
Add me to their comp’ny,
Lord make this old man new!

Extending from my church,
Turn faith into action,
An olive branch of hope,
A hand of Your compassion.

©2012 by Chris Clody 11/2/2012

Please “Leave a reply” and share your retreat experiences or your thoughts when we become still and get to know God. His Peace…

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Harnessing the Power of the S ҉ N.

The exertions of man vs. the capacity of God have taken my contemplations prisoner.

As another political season’s promises attempt to convince the restless to believe in the exertions of the elite, many begin this January morning in quiet prayer.  As Wall Street continues to morph into a national casino hidden successfully behind its brownstone façade of legitimacy, whispered concerns are heard as a single mom stares into the mirror in hope the omniscience of God shadows her many steps today.   As pundits bombard our airways with words like “redistribution of wealth” to medicate the economic symptoms of greed instead of addressing it’s cause, a father hugs his family asking for faithful help in a tearful petition before leaving the kitchen as foreclosure ushers them out the door.  As little Nennolina’s seven year old body is slowly dying from bone cancer despite her mystical belief in Jesus…

Many may ask where God is in all this?  Some even feel confident enough to mock faith, especially Christianity, to the applause of television audiences proving the light is slowly dimming across this great land of ours.

It has been said, “God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.”   Many lose hope along the way claiming this mountain of God is simply unrealistic and too hard to climb.  Truly, if God is faithful then why can’t we?  As the world around us panics to reach to gain a little more at the expense of another, still yourself in gratitude knowing even the most extravagant exertions of our best and brightest are not measurable against the capacity of Christ’s redemptive work.  Nothing.

Fear not, be still, and know He is God.

His Peace,

Chris

Harnessing The Power

Harnessing the power of the sun,
Is the sweat of man’s exertions.
Selfish dreams hoarding gold they spun.
While need screams in desperation,
Luxury squanders its inhibitions.

Yet beyond the brilliance of the sun’s rays,
Exists an eternal power,
Far greater than what lights our day –
And held by hearts that cleared a way.

 God shines in adoptive Spirit,
Through His Son no gold could repay,
Embracing souls deemed most unfit.
Where pride has torn – His mercy knits.

Childlike hearts, like cups, spill Love’s new wine,
Leaving adoptive trails to Calvary’s bloodline.

©2012 by Chris Clody 1/12/2012

What comes to mind when you ponder the the capacity of political leaders and their promises? 

Do you contemplate the capacity of God? 

Let me know!

For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link:

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“A true friend stabs you in the front.”

Of the many quotes gleaned from Oscar Wilde’s legacy, this heads the top of my list.  Without an honest exchange of truth, relationships fail.   There can be no intimacy between two people unless our hearts accessorize our sleeves.   Selfish facades that shadow our agenda eventually implode in loneliness and hardened hearts.  Pure gold of friendship is separated from the dross of comfortable acquaintance when the charity of truth pierces the dark portion of that friend’s heart.  Real friendship demands truth in order to appreciate the freedom and intimate humility of each other’s presence. 

So, what is Truth?  It shouldn’t then surprise us that the answer comes at the end of a blade – one which we allow entry into the depths of our insecurities.  Although life offers many chances to despair, our greatest fear is death.  The Truth about death is that it has been conquered and indestructible life through Christ is offered freely to those who allow the blade of God’s conviction to sink deep into the marrow of repentance, extinguishing the poisonous life of selfish pride, and gratefully die to the life in obedient love.  Amazingly, the greatest of all disciples, quietly and quickly said “yes” to the steep cost of discipleship.  However, when I sit back and wonder why it was a woman, a virgin, where prophetic generations from early church fathers through the likes of Luther and Calvin and beyond that call her blessed – I am less surprised.  Today, with 250 births per minute, that are preceded with nine months of anticipation, concern, fear, pain, and the possibility of death – who better would understand and accept the cost of literal impregnation with the burden of discipleship.   Soon afterward, in obedience to Judaic practice, Mary and Joseph brought their newborn Jesus to be blessed at the temple.  Listen to following conversation found in Luke 2:27-35 and hear the charity of this honest and profoundly concerning dialogue:

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
       29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
      According to Your word;
       30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
       31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
       32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
      And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

As predicted, the greatest moment in friendship shines on the edge of a sword.  Quietly, without hesitation she accepts this moment along with her future in composed obedience.  Would I?  Would you?  If we join her at Calvary could we stand, yes…stand, with her and stare at the real cost of discipleship?  Could we endure staring at the innocent victim, who calls us friend, who pleads in broken gasps to His Father to forgive our ignorance?  The very cross that plunges into Calvary now pierces the soul of the mother we courageously stand shoulder to shoulder with while our empathy crushes the sorrowful thoughts from our hearts like an olive press.

Jesus asks me to be His friend as He does you. Beyond being a friend and brother, Jesus is the Truth.  Jesus is the only face upon which we gaze for our salvation.  Dare we accept the blade of obedient love in exchange for Glory?  Will we dare abandon ourselves to quickly and quietly say ‘yes’ without regret?  Will we let a true friend stab us in the front?

The Truth

 

His Truth is a double-edged sword –

A friend that stabs me in the front.

The cost of love is my reward,

A priceless pearl I treasure hunt –

Despite the weather I confront.

 

Lord grant me the serenity,

In this calling’s endless affront,

To return Your love that set me free,

And make you my identity.

 

Let my fiat be like Mary’s,

One said quietly and quickly –

To bear God’s fruit I must carry.

 

O my Jesus, if I must choose,

Then let me die by the sword that you use.

 

©2011 by Chris Clody 11/4/2011

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For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link: Thoughts2Share

FAITH IS A HAMMER

While working outside, I pulled a nail from a pocket of my old pair of work jeans.  As I continued to attack my weekend chores, I’d stop every now and then to pull out that nail.  With memories still fresh from attending Sunday morning church, the nail now laying in the palm of my hand sent my imagination reeling back to a rocky hill over 2000 years ago.  With each hammer strike matched by a painful moan, I stood paralyzed contemplating the invisible while more blood was shed that day…shed for me.   Love was redefining itself in front of my eyes as it held tight to the nails of every sin. 

I put the nail back in my pocket and thought about that hammer.  Realizing the bittersweet necessity of pegging this innocent victim to open the floodgates of Christianity.  Sometime after church, the words “Faith is a hammer” found a restless home in my heart.   I didn’t read these four words but were given them in a way I can’t explain.   As a these four words became surrounded in poetry, a sense of humility grasped me – like the innocent hands that held those nails so long ago.  Understanding the accomplished work atop of Calvary by Jesus was like a lamp to the works that still await my efforts.   Confronting the necessity of perfect love so that sacrifice is complete stirs my restless heart and broken pride to regard a faith without works is really no faith at all.  However the hammer once used to destroy the innocent life of Jesus, has now become my humble tool of faith used to build another up in hope and love.  If faith is a hammer, then it must transfer its energy in humility, in gratitude, and above all – in love.

His Peace,

Chris

FAITH IS A HAMMER

Faith is a hammer,
Until the Perfect comes.
Nails of my remorse,
Plunge through palms of God’s Son.
Perfect Love completes –
What I have left undone.

Faith is a hammer,
That shatters through my fear.
Pounding out rhythms,
Where love and hope appear.
His song soon unfolds,
My heart beats loud and clear.

Faith is a hammer,
That bangs a grateful drum.
Fear flees from its sound
And cowers under thumb.
Yeah…Faith is a hammer,
Until the Perfect comes.

 

©2011 By Chris Clody 9/19/11

 

Please “Leave a reply” that helps others understand what your faith means to you.

For more Christian encouragement check out my ebook by clicking the following link: Thoughts2Share

Is Redemption Enough?

…Or is the promise of the Gospel in need of miracles, mystics, a “Word” from God, speaking in tongues, and other lavish mysteries that find some purpose or place in faith really a necessity in advancing the unique promise of hope found in Jesus Christ?   The path to redemption is a choice and a perspective.  Although this promise that thunders from Calvary is freely offered, we must choose to accept it and what it entails.  Despite how today’s leaders continue to slice and dice their distinct flavor of Christian discipleship there can only be one road.  Before placing one foot in front of the other on this dusty path back to Calvary, it is imperative to encounter the man, the innocent victim, hanging at the cross or the focus of both our faith and endurance cannot survive.  Coming face to face with the brutalized body that stood in our place we fall sorrowfully silent in realizing what was necessary to set us free.  Here in the stillness of death, no miracles, no “Word” from God, no speaking in tongues, or other indefinable mysteries are necessary here less the knowledge of our need and the thick air holding the wisdom of God’s unmatched love.  This unexpected door to our redemption is ours to open if we so choose.  If an eternity of joy unspeakable awaits beyond this door of horrific contradiction, then surely before it must rest our fearlessness.   To clarify, it is not by my own heroic ability to press on but knowing that my march towards Calvary’s door will weather any fear of doubt that will surely buffet me.  Yes, the helps that surround me, both seen and unseen, will encourage and strengthen my gait but nothing will turn my gaze from my Jesus.  It is Isaiah (50:7) who says, “ For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.”   Like the innocent victim before me, I will obey my marching orders.  It is the promise of redemption that beckons the soul and empowers the heart.  It is our real need of redemption that must be spoken in gentleness that will forever infuse a new song in discipled hearts for God.

Walk in Truth.

His Peace,

Chris

No Fear

 

Such Bittersweet emotions

Start to wash all over of me.

I stand before my Jesus,

Whose violent death sets me free,

…hangs silently from a tree.

 

Both joy and sorrow collide,

Redefining God’s great Love,

Unable to understand,

This gift I’m unworthy of

Paid in full by Heaven’s Dove.

 

Fearless now I stand in Christ.

My faith encased in concrete,

Freedom bought by shameless price,

I must march to God’s heartbeat.

 

©2011 by Chris Clody 7/6/11

 

What helps you focus on finishing the race