Update and Prayers for Ukraine

Heavy fighting, shelling and air strikes across Ukraine have had devastating consequences for ordinary people. Over 5 million people have fled the country in recent days, and many more have had to leave their homes to escape the fighting. At Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova, huge numbers of people are arriving with only what they can carry. In many places there are long waits to cross and scant facilities waiting for them on the other side, with temperatures dropping below freezing overnight.

To continue reading, please go here.

A New Serenity Prayer

I happened upon this prayer by Father James Martin. It’s an alternative version of The Serenity Prayer and is for all of us who are amazingly adept at ignoring the log in our own eye yet are over-anxious about the speck in our brother’s and sister’s eye.

A New Serenity Prayer by Father James Martin

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.

Amen.

James Martin wearing glasses

 Fr. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America, consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication and the author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and “Learning to Pray.

Prayers for Mental Wellness

Heavenly Father, I come to You today seeking guidance. I strive to be your strongest soldier, but I cannot do so without acknowledging my own weaknesses first. Lord, help me to overcome these battles my mind has challenged me with. I know You are always with me, and any hurdles I face can be conquered with Your grace. My mental health is not at its best, but I know this suffering is not permanent. This too shall pass, and I pray that You will continue to watch over me as I fight my own personal demons. Amen.

Dearest Lord, thank You for always being there for me – both for all the good times, and the bad. I know my mental illness does not define me, for who I really am is a child of Christ. I may trip and fall every now and then, and it will hurt, but no pain is as eternal as Your everlasting love for me. Please continue to guide me as I get back on my feet. I shall not be defeated by my mental illness, for your healing hand will save me in my darkest hours. Amen.

Lord, the shining light of my life and my guide. You are the one who guides me through everything. Through these difficult times, help me soar like an eagle and fly. Help me to rise above and overcome my challenges, just as an eagle that soars in the sky. May I gain strength from Your word and from my prayers. I know that one day I will be free as an eagle. There will be no more shackles and not be held down by these weights called mental illness. I trust in You Mighty God who frees me. So give me the strength and renew me every day, till You come again. I ask these in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Source: Christian.net

What Happens To Our Pets When They Die?

From an article by Garrett Kell

My wife and I were recently awakened by the tears of one of our children. They’d found our dog, Nellie, dead on the floor.

Nellie was a cross-eyed Chihuahua who had brought our family so much joy. She was about as good a dog as a Chihuahua can be.

As the tears flowed, so did the questions. 

Why did Nellie have to die? Why did God take Nellie so soon? Will we see Nellie in heaven?

While some may consider these questions silly, I don’t.

The longer we live on this fallen planet, the more sorrow we face. Some suffering is small, and some is great, but it all hurts. Some families experience tragedy early and often. Our family has been spared significant tragedy, but times like these still leave their mark.

After a little while, we were able to talk about what we were feeling and the questions we were processing. Here are a few highlights.

To continue reading, please follow this link.

God is Faithful

The following is from a post by David Sorensen.

God is so faithful!

I hear Jesus Christ whisper these words in my heart for you, right now:

“I love you with the deepest love there is, and My love will not fail for you, beloved.

Although the darkness surrounds you, My light is within you. Let My light shine into your mind and see My faithful love.

I will lead you through these times and I will give you new strength.

Look at Me. I rose from the dead. I conquered the grave. No matter how deep you are, I have gone so much deeper, so much further into the depths of the abyss.

I have been where no man has ever been and I have overcome, says Jesus Christ. I am the conqueror. I am the victor.

I am eternal life, and if you believe in Me, I will give you this life that is stronger than death. This life that will help you break through the valley where you seem to be so stuck in.

I will raise you up to new levels of faith in Me, where you will begin to see beyond the shadows and discern My light inside of you.

I am here, says the Lord, right with you. I have walked this valley so often and I will lead you out of it.

Trust Me, walk with Me, look at Me.

Don’t focus on the darkness, but focus on Me, and My light.

Let My love strengthen you.

Let My love fill your heart.

Listen to My voice and hear My heartbeat.

I love you.

I care for you.

I know you.

I forgive you with all my heart and with fullness of joy.

My grace is so abundant.

I have hope for you and your beloved ones.

Look at Me.

I smile over you.

I look at you with eyes of gladness and understanding.

Come and follow Me.

Come and walk with Me.

Come and put your hand again in My hand.

I will help you.

And together we will walk, from victory to victor, from glory to glory, from darkness to light, again and again.

My love will become the deep foundation of your life.

Look at Me.

Have faith in Me.

I love you.

I never leave you.

We will make it, together, you and Me.

Come with Me.”

– Jesus Christ

The post in full can be read here.

Labels

The following extract and poem are taken from Disguises of Love by Eddie Askew.

Another problem is that labels can restrict our own development. Our traditional piety sometimes makes us less than fully human. We curb our ability to enjoy life, or feel pain, because we feel we must conform to an expected role, to labels we stick on ourselves. Yet the most important thing is not that we can recognise others, labelled or not, nor that they acknowledge our labels, but rather that God recognises us. And the thing he recognises is love, not labels. That’s what he identifies with. Not the classification by which we proclaim our separateness from others, and certainly not the critical labels we apply to them, but the caring which shows our identification with them. What we claim to be is not as important as the presence of Christ in our lives. That’s what leads God to call us his children. ‘Because those who are led (not labelled!) by the Spirit are sons (and daughters of God’ (Romans 8:14).

Labels

They put labels on you, Lord,

Friend of sinners, Sabbath breaker.

Disturber of the peace.

They put all their fear and anger,

all their hate, into their labels.

It was easier to label than to listen.

Easier to condemn than to have their world altered

their customs questioned.

Easier to keep the blinkers on than face the light,

the discomfort of truth,

Your truth. Living truth.

They even nailed a label to your cross.

Just above the thorns of a bloody crown.

King of the Jews, it said.

Label. Laugh. Turn away. Forget.

Is that what I do, Lord?

The mockery of quick judgement

that takes fear as evidence,

prejudice as reason.

That shoots on sight

and leaves the bleeding body of truth

dead in a ditch.

And close my eyes, lest I remember.

Lord, when I meet someone new,

someone who threatens me by his strangeness,

whose presence asks for adjustments,

whose ideas don’t mesh with mine

and which shake the assumptions I wear

like a favourite jacket shaped to my comfort,

then help me to look,

not for his label, but for his humanity.

Not to close my mind, but to open my heart,

and see your presence in him.

Let me see you not just in my comfortable friends,

but in the eyes of strangers around me.

And Lord, help me to see

the only label that matters is love.

It’s not always easy to recognise.

Sometimes it looks like a bloody crown.

Eddie Askew (1927 – 2007) Previous General Director of The Leprosy Mission

Friendship

Ode to Friendships by Kayla Rae Pich

Friends…

They’re the few people who accept silence over conversation.
A relationship like this denies silly promises and persuasion.

You don’t feel the need to second guess thoughts or measure words.
Their love comes in wholes, not halves, not thirds.

They’re the ones that guide you through when fate takes a turn.
Fights, small and large, end in forgiveness, never a burn.

You forget about first impressions and the feelings they brought.
You’re grateful for who they are and you forgive them for what they’re not.

Success by Edward A Guest

I hold no dream of fortune vast,
Nor seek undying fame.
I do not ask when life is past
That many know my name.

I may not own the skill to rise
To glory’s topmost height,
Nor win a place among the wise,
But I can keep the right.

And I can live my life on earth
Contented to the end,
If but a few shall know my worth
And proudly call me friend.

Alone by Maya Angelou

“Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.”

Yes To Life In Spite Of Everything

I’m just about to begin reading Yes To Life In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl and, on reading the Introduction by Daniel Goleman, I had to share this:

“There are three main ways people find fulfillment of their life meaning, in Frankl’s view. First, there is action, such as creating a work, whether art or a labor of love – something that outlasts us and continues to have an impact. Second, he says, meaning can be found in appreciating nature, works of art, or simply loving people; Frankl cites Kierkegaard, that the door to happiness always opens outward. The third lies in how a person adapts and reacts to unavoidable limits on their life possibilities, such as facing their own death or enduring a dreadful fate like the concentration camps. In short, our lives take on meaning through our actions, through loving, and through suffering.

Here I’m reminded of life advice from the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, when I wrote A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World. First, he recommended, gain some internal control over your own mind and how you react to life’s difficulties. Then, adopt an ethic of compassion and altruism, the urge to help others. Finally, act on that outlook in whatever ways your life offers.”