In our current message series called, Bare Necessities, we’ve been exploring the many ways that God provides for us. The premise of the series is that we already have enough of everything and all we really need are the bare necessities that God gives us.
Two weeks ago, we looked at how God gives us sacred sleep, providing time and space for rest, peace, and renewal, so that he can re-create us again and again in his image and guide us to new beginnings. Last week, we saw how God gives us divine protection when we trust in him. Like the ancient Israelites who were freed from slavery, led into the promised land under the protection of a heavy cloud, and nurtured by the Lord like a gardener who cultivates a precious plant, he also fortifies and shields us from the many harms that we could not survive on our own.
This week, we consider how God gives us spiritual food, feeding us with finest wheat. Despite assertions to the contrary, the Earth actually provides enough nutrition to sustain a growing global population. Rather, it is human injustice that prevents the fair apportionment of the world’s goods to all who need them.
On the other hand, God provides not merely physical sustenance but also spiritual nourishment. What happens when that runs out? What happens when our sense of meaning dries up, when our relationships irreconcilably sour, when the one remaining thing that we thought would give us purpose and satisfaction in life is taken away without warning? How do we cope when once fertile ground becomes a desert and the promised land that seemed so stable begins to quake under our feet? Where do we turn when God does not provide?
The readings from the Bible at this weekend’s Mass teach us how to cope in those times. Here’s what we can learn:
Listen to our message to fill in the blanks and discover for yourself what to do when the spiritual food runs out.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
In our current message series, Bare Necessities, we have been trying to get back to the basics of our lives in relationship with God, thereby dealing considerably with the burdens of life. Today will shall consider putting our “Trust completely in God.”
Trust isn’t an easy thing to come by, but it’s one of the most important parts of our relationship with God. When times are tough and things aren’t going our way, that’s when we find it the most difficult to trust God. We doubt that God is going to come through for us, we lack faith in His promises, and we worry ourselves with endless thoughts about our future. God wants us to trust Him when we are having doubts and are unsure about what to do. He wants us to believe in His promises.
The main reason we should trust God is that He is worthy of our trust. Unlike men, He never lies and never fails to fulfill His promises. “God is not man that He should lie, nor a son of man that
He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 89:34). Unlike men, He has the power to bring to pass what He plans to do. Isaiah 14:24 tells us that “[t]he Lord Almighty has sworn, surely as I have planned, so it will stand.” Furthermore, His plans are perfect, holy and righteous, and He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His holy purpose (Romans 8:28).
If we endeavor to know God through His word, we will see that He is worthy of our trust, and our trust in Him will grow daily. One of the most prominent themes of the scripture is to trust God, especially when it becomes difficult to do so. While we will experience unexpected hardships in our lives, it is crucial for our spiritual health that we continue trusting God, as the Bible encourages. Although not an easy feat, to trust in God could save you from an irredeemable decision you make in anger or sadness that could ruin your life. There are several passages in the Bible that encourage us to trust completely in God:
We can learn to trust God as we see how He has proven Himself to be trustworthy in our lives and the lives of others. In 1 Kings 8:56, we read, “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through His servant Moses.”
Let us go back to the basics in this period of Lent by trusting completely in GOD.
--Father Celestine Tyowua, Parochial Vicar
In the first episode of our new Sunday message series for Lent called, Bare Necessities: Getting Back To Basics, we explored the latest Swedish “it” word sweeping the globe. Lagum (“l-a-w-g-u-m”), as it’s known in nordic countries, essentially is a virtue of moderation and balance.
Like the Goldilocks principle of “not too little, not too much, but just right,” lagum can apply to many areas of life, according to a recent BBC article by Lola Åkerström. In food, it means moderation. In social settings, it suggests appropriateness. In interior décor, less is more. In health and wellbeing, lagum plays out as mindfulness. In lifestyle choices, it represents sustainability.
In every setting, however, lagum tells us when enough is enough. In fact, the premise of our new series is that all we really need to be happy and live healthy in this life are the bare necessities that God already gives us in his great love. But there is one area of life that most of us do get enough of, and that is sleep.
The following story is told by Terry Hershey in his series of articles on honoring what he calls “sanctuary space” and “sabbath moments” of rest:
Every day after school, the son of a well-known Rabbi would enter his house, place his backpack on the dining room table, leave the house through the back door and head into the woods behind the house.
At first, the Rabbi gave little thought to his son’s ritual. Until it continued, for days, and then for weeks. Every day, out into the woods for almost a half hour.
The Rabbi grew concerned. “My son,” he asked one day. “I notice that every day you leave our home to spend time in the woods. What is it you are doing there?”
“Oh papa,” the son replied. “There is no need to worry. I go into the woods to pray. It is in the woods that I can talk to God.”
“Oh,” the Rabbi said, clearly relieved. “But you should know that God is the same everywhere.”
“Yes, papa. I know that God is the same everywhere,” the son replied. “But, I am not.”
As Hershey puts it, the little boy knew instinctively that there is a special place for rest, renewal, creativity, meditation, quiet reflection, and sanctuary. Unlike the equally important realm of activity, productivity, and achievement, there is a rightful place where beauty, poetry, and dreams are born.
In both the gospel reading and the passage from the Old Testament, sleep plays a big part. Just before Jesus is transfigured before their eyes, the disciples were overcome by sleep. In the story from Genesis, Abram also fell into a deep sleep-like state just before God made a whole new covenant with him that would change the course of history forever.
Listen to our message this weekend to learn more about how spending time in the realm of sabbath rest and sacred sleep may be an inspired pathway to a new beginning in your life.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Today marks the beginning of a new message series for the season of Lent that we are calling, Bare Necessities: Getting Back to Basics. The premise of the series is that God will do everything for us when we have faith enough to return to the bare necessities in life.
The prevailing approach in our affluent society is to chase after the material pleasures, too often discovering only later that they do not really satisfy. By the end of the series, we hope to have inspired you to trim whatever excesses in life you experience by recognizing that God will do everything for you when you trust enough in him to provide. Indeed, the readings at the Sunday Masses during the Lenten season open our eyes to the most basic truth of our faith that faith in the generous providence of God to provide for us is the central and only path to happiness and fulfillment.
During the six weeks of Lent, for example, we hear stories in the Old Testament of how God rescued his people trapped in slavery, leading them out of that misery through the Red Sea, across the desert, and into a promised land flowing with milk and honey. Because God provides.
The readings from Saint Paul also highlight God’s care for the Israelite people and exhort us to regard everything in this world as mere “rubbish” compared to the gift that we have from our faith in Jesus Christ who emptied himself to save us. Because God provides.
The psalms in Lent reassure us that the angels in heaven will guard us, God will deliver us, and the Lord will answer those who call upon him (Psalm 91). We are invited to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” (Psalm 34), reminded that “the Lord has done great things for us,” and promised that God will “restore our fortunes.” Indeed, we may “go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown,” but we will “come back rejoicing” (Psalm 126). Because God provides.
The gospel readings tell of God’s great patience with us as the gardener carefully cultivates a fig tree, his forgiveness as a father forgives his prodigal son, his compassion with our sins as Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery, his unconditional approval of us as brothers and sisters of Jesus whom he called his “beloved Son,” and his unfailing care for us just as the Spirit strengthened Jesus himself in the desert. Because God provides.
Last Wednesday, ashes were imposed on your forehead with the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” When we turn back to God by trusting in him, getting back to basics, and stripping ourselves of life’s excesses, we are not going on a starvation diet and unreasonably denying ourselves of pleasure. Rather, we are discovering the simpler path to peace by enjoying the bare necessities in life.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Over the last three weeks in our message series called, Spin Doctoring: Turning Negatives Into Positives, we’ve been exploring how to work through suffering in healthy and constructive ways.
In the first week of this bulletin series, we looked at the problem of physical evil—disease, accidents, natural disasters and other forms of trauma not caused by human beings. In the second week, we reflected on the problem of pure evil and how the forces of darkness can overwhelm us. Last week, Father Celestine offered some practical tips to overcome suffering.
Today, we turn to the problem of moral evil, which is almost exclusively the product of human sin. Moral evil arises through human wrongdoing and in no way is caused or intended by God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, human beings are “intelligent and free creatures,” and “can therefore go astray” (n. 311). Moral evil arises in our world as a result of free will, but God permits it because of his respect for “the freedom of his creatures” (Id.).
On occasion, moral evil is self-inflicted, caused by our own poor choices and decisions that arise from our common human weakness. At other times, moral evil enters our lives through the malevolence of others. Either way, here are a few coping strategies that can help you deal with moral evil:
1. Assign Blame Accurately. When confronting conflict, we too often attribute fault to the incorrect source. We either mistakenly blame ourselves for the misconduct of others or falsely excuse ourselves from any culpability. When trouble arises, the first step is to assess the source of the conflict accurately. Look to yourself first, then determine where others went wrong. As Jesus says in the gospel, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).
2. Confront the Offender. If someone has hurt you, work up the moral strength to confront him or her. Letting your feelings fester will only degenerate into deep-seated resentment. While revenge is antithetical to Christian discipleship, facing the situation head-on in a constructive way can help you feel more empowered and in control, something victims of moral evil rarely experience.
3. Learn from the Situation. Disturbance in your own sense of internal peace by the transgressions of others often comes about through the failure to set and enforce clear boundaries. We are often too afraid to ask for what we need and so let the status quo take root until we reach a breaking point, at which stage managing the situation productively often is no longer an option.
4. Look for Meaning in the Conflict. As we said in the first article on natural evil, look for opportunities to step into a heroic role and turn to Christ, who experienced suffering himself, to find solidarity in his consolation. It is in our trust in God that we will find meaning and growth, even in suffering.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson