Sustain Me…

images3Communion, in every sense of the word should and is a significant part of my life. It lends stability to my social life while also providing backbone to my religious life.  It is in its most intimate forms when we break bread with one another and especially with Christ Himself.  I pray we all strive for the best version of ourselves and present ourselves worthy to not only our friends but also our God.

His Peace,

Below is a poem/song inspired from this amazing soul named Blessed Sister M. Faustina Kowalska, whose devotional Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul  offers that intimate perspective into the life of Communion.

The Bread of the Strong

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Lord only You know my suffering,
You alone know my faithfulness,
Give me strength to follow You,
Help me love all that you blessed

You Lord are my sustenance,
The very life in which I breathe,
Shield me from my Accuser,
To reach the hearts You ask of me.

Eat the bread of the Strong,
Eat the bread of the Strong,

All the strength I need,
All the courage I gather,
Is in Him who lives I’m me.

Lord lift Your gaze of mercy,
And see me through these trials,
Fill me with eternal sacrifice,
To trod Your endless miles.
Lift me eyes to Heaven Lord,
So I may see your smile,
Replace the joy stolen from me,
To walk just one more mile.

Eat the bread of the Strong,
Eat the bread of the Strong,
All the strength I need,
All the courage I gather,
Is in Him who lives I’m me.

By Chris Clody 4/23/14

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The Affairs of the Heart

imagesluvHappy Valentine’s Day to me – because of the God that stole my heart.  I am also beyond grateful for my wife and family for the joys and challenges allowing me to realize my progress and need towards greater love.  In today’s suffocating, politicized climate arguing the rights of love, pertaining to our own bodies or with another, I am finding myself gasping to breathe the final words by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 proclaiming “love endures all”.  Whether we believe in labeling ourselves as Christian or not, understanding the gift and weight of love given to our species deserves far more than this muddied, political banter and self-righteous opinion or belief.  Love deserves our action.  If love truly endures all, never fails, or conquers all, then why are you and I yelling? Although love affects all of us, it also offers us the chance to display it, not as a right but simply as a gift to give. Pure love is borne from sacrifice for another and Christ did that for us. I wish God’s love had a warning label on it as it far exceeds our understanding finding meaning only in our humility and sorrow as the heart dares to contemplate the vastness of His mercy.  Christianity is not about reserving an assured room in some heavenly mansion, rather it is an opportunity to endure with diversity allowing our words and actions a chance to glow in acknowledgment of this mercy. Christianity should neither be impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, insist on its own way, irritable, resentful, or rejoice at wrongdoing. Christianity simply rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Along with the power to give love, we have been allowed the opportunity to forgive. Oh yeah, forgiveness does however come with a warning…

Dear “Christian”, if love led the King of Kings like a silent lamb to slaughter, action, not simply preaching, also awaits our next step towards this gift of greater love.

Abandon yourself to true love,

Chris

Lord’s Day

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Beware for soon the Perfect comes,
And alone His voice will be heard,
Judgment will beat from holy drums,
we’ll see ourselves no longer blurred,
while lifting our eyes to the Word.

Shameful tears will flood our rivers,
Cleansing lands where hatred occurred,
The weight of sin is now considered,
Love’s pure action will deliver.

Servant’s tears will be wiped away,
By pierced hands with saving measure,
Tears that go untouched and astray,
Fill the rivers on this Lord’s Day.

Joy unspeakable for those He knew,
Despair eternal for hearts betrayed –
wherein lies, hatred and prejudice grew.

Love is an action- forgiveness our path,
Run towards His mercy not away from His wrath.

By Chris Clody 2/14/14

Death Has No Power Over Love…

imagesCAAULHD4After reading an recent email from a friend, I realized how blessed I am to be part of his reality.  Prodded by the anniversary of his friend’s death, he shared with me the comforting words of their pastor at the memorial service which were, “Death has no power over love.”  These words stopped me – as if smelling a rose for the first time. I thought about the gift of friendship and community.  I truly believe there is One Spirit that encourages our hearts to collide with another before our pickup full of excuses catches up.  These six words spoken a year ago by someone I never met has somehow and for some reason found a home in me.  Truly these are true seeds of inspiration.

His,

Chris

Dedicated to Kelli:

Heart shaped splash
Death has no power over Love

Dare we approach the power of love,
This splendid gift from our Father,
That overwhelms within ourselves,
The very things we cannot conquer.

We cannot know God through reason,
Yet hearts will reach and understand.
Tears of love glue our memories,
Of loved ones now holding God’s hand.

Truly,
Death has no power over love…

©2013 by Chris Clody 2/21/2013

 

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

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…

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

Thoughts2Share

 

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

…yet my skin crawls, my stomach hurts and I weep. 

Faith and reality sway to an unusual dance of melancholic harmonies and mountain top crescendos.  Maybe this invitation to God’s prom answers the underlying question to either awaken or LET GOD SLEEP.    Although the body and soul are salvifically tied and in union, I believe they operate on different levels.  Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago lawyer, was on a boat that was previously planned to join his wife and four young daughters in Europe for a much-needed vacation along with an evangelistic campaign in England.  Midway on his journey, as he stood on board, the captain pointed over towards the sea where a boat carrying his wife and daughters were struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank.  The last correspondence from his wife came from a cable that said,”Saved Alone. What shall I do?”  As surely as his skin crawled, his stomach hurt, and he bitterly wept, Horatio penned the following words in his utter brokeness, “When sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul…”  It is clear, at least to me, that God breathes through our gift of faith, especially when our flesh is most vulnerable so that our soul glows with the image of God’s consuming dignity.  Horatio’s gut reaction probably wanted to awake God and  scream for Jesus…but rather he simply let the soft and steady exhale of God breathe the hopeful words, “it is well with my soul.”

            With every prayer request that hits my InBox, the dance continues.  I have met many Horatios who silently pray as they sing lullabies into the young eyes of chemotherapy that bask in the hopeful melodies of their mommy and daddy.  It is the community of Horatios that inhale God’s purpose to tend to the needs of the sick, poor, hungry, and anxious whose communal ring of hope centered by the warmth of Christ encourage the necessary stillness for the broken to unveil their souls radiating in God’s strength.  Battles are won in brokeness as the weary mouth the words, “it is well with my soul.”  This extraordinary gift of faith contains our only answer…whatever the question.  We must remember our next visceral reaction to life’s fragility that overwhelms even our next step and remember Horatio.  Let us mouth those words of hope and look for God’s sufficient light for our next step and then let faith and reality dance once again.     

It is well… His Peace,

Chris

What does it mean to be well with one’s soul?

The Wisdom of God – Christ crucified.

Gruesome, ridiculous, unwatchable torture deemed necessary for one considered so wicked and blasphemous.  Obviously God, or at least what this man claimed to be,  would never reduce himself to the squalor of creation’s judgment.  Surely he could have been hailed as one of  the greatest prophets until he foolishly spoke the words, “I AM.”  What got into the head of this carpenter to cross that line to invite the stones of our condemnation?  Despite the rabid crowd screaming for crucifixion, many still believed in this man called Jesus.   His silence and his stare, this unexpected look of compassion, would briefly confuse individuals of that blood-thirsty crowd before they were seduced to bite back into that apple of anger. Oh… that apple was irresistible, yet settled sour in the stomach.  Still they took another bite…and then another.   The carousel of unrelenting punishment from the whipping post ended with a slow crucifixion.  The crowd soon fell deathly silent, not by his stare, but by his gasping voice begging God to forgive them.  As the depth of an unknown confusion stole the air from the onlookers yells, the sun hid and the earth seemed to wretch.  Something wasn’t quite right.  This wasn’t ridiculous anymore…

            Next Friday, our sorrow will darken our thoughts and hearts will ache for those who recall that moment when angels held their breath in horror.  Calvary is a bittersweet necessity that shadows every Christian walk.  The bitter repugnance of our need and means towards redemption will also taste the sweetness of God’s victory that soothes our soured bellies.  There on a blood-drenched cross, God persevered until death in utter weakness to enlighten the world with His immeasurable wisdom.   A wisdom that has shown to exceed our capacity to understand love but not so much that we cannot accept it.  The victim of our sorrows and His cross of love and victory is not simply a bridge spanning towards salvation over our vast chasm of sin – He is fill. This is the wisdom of God – Christ crucified.

He Lives,

Chris

 

Love Crucified  

He’s wicked, evil, deserving to die.

Preaching salvation –

For He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

He’s just a carpenter – just Mary’s kid!

Challenging reason –

To expose our hearts from the love we hid.

A blasphemer condemned hangs from a cross.

Offers redemption –

Through Him to the Father – our only recourse. 

Christ is more than a bridge o’er sinful wills,

He not only spans this chasm – He fills.

 

 © 2011 by Chris Clody 4/15/11

 

What are your thoughts about the wisdom of God?

What does preaching “Christ crucified” mean to you?

Prosperity conceals what adversity reveals…

Character.   When everything is going according to “plan”, we easily insulate our insecurities within layers of confidence and generosity.  However, if the immortality of self-reliance collides with life’s fragility, then adversity unmasks our vulnerability to expose our true character.  It’s possible to hide our character from others but not from God.  God is the Great Eye that sees through the onion skin of our independence and into the heart of every intention that moves us.  Hopefully we learn to always give thanks since God rains on both the just and unjust to see our motives and show the world the difference faith makes.  From horrific tribulation to outstanding windfalls of fortune, God waits and sees the heart that turns heavenward or inward.  Our investment in God starts when we cast away veils that hide our humility through repentance and demonstrate our need for redemption.  Christianity is a communion of necessary but dependent parts aware that death is ultimately found in selfish autonomy.  Love is not autonomous – nor is God.   The Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists in the ultimate, eternal harmony extending an invitation to all.  The faithful are summoned to respond differently by doing the will of the Father as mentored by the obedience we witnessed in Jesus.  Christianity fails in the opiate of self-righteousness and piety by judging instead of forgiving the sinner.   Only through the humility of serving others because of the dignified image of God they carry can fists become open hands that once again join and work as one.  This re-uniting through non-judgmental conflict resolution  proliferates as it breathes the oxygen of repentance and forgiveness allowing love to conquer and operate.   We are not islands.  We are mortally wounded components of an organism dragging itself towards its only cure.  Our wound is our mortality and only Christ can offer the afflicted an exchange for His incorruptible life.  Although many will reject, all will be offered the majesty of Jesus because God is both faithful and fair.  The will of the Father is our dusty path to witness Calvary and see for ourselves the true intention of a crucified man and a loving God.  Jesus can only recognize His servants by the will of His Father through the cross we carry.  The warmth of Christ’s friendship and redemptive rays shine either on a lifetime of obedience or in the humble profession of a man’s dying gasp.  Both the redeemed will gratefully arrive in eternity escaping the fire now roaring for the unredeemed.  When finally breathing  joy unspeakable and absorbed into the ultimate harmony of God, the chance to express our true gratitude will be found in the gifts of our purified intentions stored for us in Heaven. 

God is real.  God is Love.  Run to Him.

His Peace,

Chris

What are the different forms of prosperity that may be an obstacle to God?