Sand Script

cross(3)While reciting the Sorrowful mysteries during a slow walk with my two dogs this morning, I realized in my contemplation of His dragging of His cross, Christ was once again writing in the sand. Unlike His previous finger scribbles in the sand to convince a self-righteous mob of their sins, He now uses a rugged beam to gouge a torturous line to Calvary’s hill of horror. To most affected by gravity, the second message can be seen mostly from above. My thought again is of one through His mother’s tender gaze. Her view is a laser to each tear, bruise, or sputum quickly covering His innocent skin. Her sight is also panoramic to the silent tears of followers joining a gauntlet of people who range from the curious to hateful. She follows the writing of God. He, the Word, writes unhesitatingly a single line, the “I”, seen only by His heavenly Father and now His earthly mother. Soon the very eyes that see this sand script will encourage generations now called blessed. Seeing Christ with such intense intimacy will soon reveal to disciples the spear of sorrow that pierces the soul.
Will you, could you, pick up your cross and follow this line…

His Peace,
Chris

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Mercy’s Riddle

The way to God is down, through our mistakes…not up through spiritual elitism and perfection.  Spiritual poverty is the joy in not taking ourselves too seriously.Therefore the mere concept of Divine Mercy leaves us puzzled and bankrupt in this return on God’s investment.  There is nothing that God offers as a gift that can find hospitality within our ego despite the soul’s yearnful immersion into it. The answer to this divine riddle is not simply accepting our imperfection, but embracing it as diversity, as community, as one body alive and awake.

Mercy’s Riddle

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Naked and battered,
Hope’s crushing loss,
Death claims victory,
Pegged to a cross.
The soul understands,
This contradiction,
Ego fails to grasp,
Victory’s Passion.
Heaven’s inheritance,
Is riddled through mercy,
The last shall be first,
Incarnates humility.

by Chris Clody 6/19/15

Another Victim Of Mercy

What I’ve Become

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I cannot undo what I’ve become,
As if changed by a fire’s rage,
Dare I betray God’s begotten Son,
The One whom angels praise,
When Grace has left me awed and amazed?

I cannot forget the wonders I’ve seen,
As if it was some lost, blank page,
How can I leave love alone and demeaned,
Realizing it’s despair’s only vaccine.

I will not tempt the foretaste of Hell,
Chancing misery void of Mercy,
For action is the new story I must tell,
And love whatever Christ compels.

For without love all is lost,
Like liberty without its vict’ry bell,
or silence in the choir loft.

Faith in action is what I must become,
A mender to my sister’s broken net,
A brother in arms when need awaits,
An honest discussion without regrets,
A forgiver to fallen human traits,
Knowing when I forgive my God forgets,

No, I cannot undo what I’ve become,
Now that I’m fearless to return to where I’ve came from.

…Merciful Father accept this sinner saved through Your Son.

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By Chris Clody 11/4/14

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

 

COMPELLED – Seeing Through The Eyes Of St. Matthew

It seems, the gospel of Matthew, at least to me, is slowly stripping away the full range of liberties presented to my free will.  I wonder if I will lose the gift of free will all together, like the man described in the following passage of Matthew 27:32 that states, “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.   Here an innocent men, forced to labor and share the burden of Christ’s punishment.  Without warning and certainly without invitation, some are forced to submit to uncommon hardship whether it is disease or falsely accused and imprisoned, leaving the crumbs of their free will to choose between despair or hope.  Not only do I believe the Beatitudes somehow clothe the suffering with a special grace despite their outlook of their hardship, they also invite the carefree souls far removed from the trials and tribulations shared willingly by Jesus to understand their judgment found in Matthew 25:31-46.  If you have questions of Christianity and how God judges us, it is worth the weight of your soul to truly contemplate Matthew 25:31-46:

The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Reading this sobering passage from Matthew 25 for the first time or with a new depth is as troubling as it is inspiring.  The noble Christian process of “dying to oneself” begins when one relinquishes their freedom of indulgence so as to minister to the suffering, or according to St. Matthew, Christ.  It’s worth mentioning that “ministering” is self-giving, the definition of true love, and is meant to glorify God – not ourselves.   If each small “yes” said in silence by those seeking Christ in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned, then a “no” is whispered to obtaining the distractions to the Divine promoted by this world.  Those fortunate to say “yes” to the wants and needs of Christ’s commandmants experience a new beginning.  Those submissive to the will of the Father empathetically seeking to minister to His Son Jesus compelled by the conviction of their lowly status by the Holy Spirit, slowly transform into the aspiring faithful in a “willing” death and a grateful respondent to the merits won for all by Christ at Calvary.  This free infusion of God’s grace reveals our good purpose promising a hopeful future.  Grace propels the prideful to confidently seek humility to further grow and reflect the goodness of God’s light in Truth.  Although I may passionately believe that my Christian expression offers lavish helps for the humble mind along with a richness of religious externals that narrows my path, it ultimately comes down to my willingness to open and freely offer my presence into situations where Jesus abides because of my trusting response to God’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.  The path to Christianity did not begin on a “Roman Road” but rather from a sermon on a mount. It is a narrow path seeking true love defined only by and through the Holy One of God.   It is recognizing the blessed that are promised final comfort by the One called Messiah.  The very author of Salvation instructs eager souls how to pray.  It is exchanging selfishness in a chance to cooperate, not earn, with the will of the One who sent Jesus.  It leads followers with cross-in-tow seeking the Way, the Truth, and the Life to the very places He abides.  And yes “He”, that is Jesus, is the One and only who can offer the opportunity to ever-lasting re-union with the Trinity.  Why? Because His love is perfect and His sacrifice was complete. The Gospel is a response to life – not a book we throw at each other.  Christian hope is not making a presumptuous reservation in Heaven, rather it bathes the convicted of sin in the authority of Christ’s forgiveness while allowing faithful vision to the Kingdom at hand and to come.   So take a look around  – Jesus isn’t hiding…He’s waiting.  Let Him in.

His Peace,
Chris

The Will

Here I stand within your midst,
Yet still you pass me by.
Blind to life of my distress,
Growing deaf to my cries.

“Lord! Lord!” They’re just empty words –
Fallen sounds of pride.
Like life lived by a sword,
Alone… you will die.

Love God and your neighbors,
Do the Father’s will,
Forgive all your trespassers,
Come to Calv’ry’s Hill.

Your sins I promise to erase,
Raise you from the dead.
So why’s church a marketplace,
Leaving sheep unfed?

Remember…
I’m the Alpha and Omega,
I AM
Holy One of God,
I’ve come to set the captives free,
I’m the power in Aaron’s rod.

Lift all sufferings to my cross,
Share the pain of my victory.
Yes, discipleship has its cost,
But how will you end your story?

You gained the world but lost your soul?
Or… sought forgiveness instead of control?

©2012 by Chris Clody 3/16/2012

Do you have any difficulty in accepting the Beatitudes, especially when the “Blessed” are not mentioned by Jesus to be even His followers?  Is modern Christianity moving away from the message of the Beatitudes or the blessing/warning found in Matthew 25:31-46?   Let me know your thoughts!

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

                       

“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

Please “Leave a reply” that helps others understand your view of discipleship. Thanks!

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

From Suffering to Glory!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18). 

I have been unable to shake this verse from my conscious since I heard it said in church last week.  These words stilled my soul as it quickly pierced the very heart of all my desires.  This promise is overwhelming, after all, “Who am I to expect such favor?”  It is the ultimate carrot on the end of a disciple’s stick to realize that the very glory of God will be revealed in them.   To me, this promise secures for us an ultimate panacea for our mortal march through this valley of tears.  The very concept of divine adoption, impregnates us with an immutable hope galvanized by the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.  Although this perfect hope of redemption cannot be seen, we persevere all the more in our joyful blindness.  Is it irrational to believe in something we cannot see?  Of course not!  That which we do see is never perfect and therefore cannot be our true hope.  The very glory to be revealed in us is the immortal life in Christ.  The very life He generously imparts to His friends raising them as sons and daughters to the Father.   Perfect, immortal life, the very life of God’s Love, will also allow us to see and know what we could not before.  Imagine our blindness, like the two men from Emmaus, that could not see that this stranger they invited to stay with them was Jesus.  Until…we read in Luke 24:30-31, “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.”  What reveals Jesus to you in your life?  Consider our blindness to the invisible beauty when joining two as one in marriage, or baptism, or laying of hands, or the proclamation of the Gospel, or confessing one’s sins, or praying, or communion, or etc…   Something more than tells me that the orchestration and blessings of infinite wonder are sadly overlooked by our temporary blindness.  Faith, therefore, to be rational, must not be by sight but unseen.  Faith is our joyful response to abide in the true hope with the One who makes all things new.   It is undeniable that we are extended immeasurable mercy in God’s offering all the opportunity to partake in the glory that will be revealed.

 

His Peace,

Chris

 

How is Jesus revealed to you?