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Sunday Devotional: We are all called to be saints!

Revelation 7:9-14

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

saints in Heaven2
Today is All Saints’ Day — the day when we remember and honor the saints.
Do not be intimidated by the word “saint” — it simply means “holy.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “holy” as a person who is dedicated to God, who is morally and spiritually excellent.
Today is the feast day of all the saints, whose numbers are far greater than those formally declared as such by the Catholic Church.
Among the many things that distress me about the Church today is how rarely, if ever, priests mention the saints in their homilies. That puzzles me because the saints are our role models. They were, like us, wholly imperfect human beings. As an example, St. Jerome (331-420) is described as “By nature an irascible man with a sharp tongue” who “made enemies as well as friends” — which goes to show that one doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be a saint!

1 John 3:1-3

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Coming Home
God created us so that we eventually will join Him in Heaven for all eternity. Since saints are holy, and only holy people will see God face to face, that means we are all called to be saints.
This morning, on All Saints’ Day, I’ll say it outright:

I want to be a saint!
And I want all of you to be saints!

Please join me in making the same affirmation. And let us help each other to become saints.
The Greatest Commandment is to love God with our whole hearts, our whole souls, our whole minds, and with all our strength.
May the peace and joy and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
~Éowyn

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The one thing couples do which predict divorce with 93% accuracy

It’s not arguing about money.
It’s not arguing about sex.
It’s CONTEMPT — treating your spouse with disregard and disrespect, as worthless, beneath your consideration, or deserving of scorn. divorce Tracey Cox, 53, is an English author who specializes in books on dating, sex and relationships. She has appeared on UK radio and TV shows, including BBC Radio 1’s Ask the Experts and BBC2’s The Sex Inspectors. She is also a columnist for Closer magazine and the Daily Mail Online.
Writing for the Daily Mail on Feb. 26, 2015, Cox warns that the one thing couples do that can predict divorce with 93 per cent accuracy is to show contempt for our spouse.

That’s the conclusion of John Gottman, founder of the US Gottman Institute, from his study of 79 couples for 14 years. In the course of those years, 21 couples divorced.

Gottman was 93% correct in predicting which couples divorced. His prediction was entirely based on identifying those couples who showed contempt for their partner – a sign they saw them as beneath them rather than as an equal. The contemptuous couples also showed other key negative behaviours – criticising, being defensive and stonewalling (sulking and refusing to talk for days on end).

Since then (the study was published in 2002), years of research – including a recent study of 373 newlywed couples – has supported Gottman’s hypothesis.

Here are some other surprising things that researchers found are indicators that your relationship is in danger:

  1. Being the ‘boss’: The person with the most authority feels less fulfilled. Equality in relationships is crucial.
  2. Being over optimistic: Having too high expectations of the relationship usually leads to disappointment.
  3. Putting your partner on a pedestal: Being over-idealiszd puts strain on the ‘perfect’ partner, who feels they can’t show insecurity or flaws.
  4. Over-analyzing the relationship: Constantly questioning whether you’re in love enough/close enough/how well you’re doing makes both of you nervous and ruins trust.

So what’s the antidote to contempt and all the other marriage killers? The wise St. Paul has the answer! — in 1 Corinthians 13:1, 4-7:

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

There is also a short-cut answer, and it’s in the Greatest Commandment of all:

Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

If you do that, how can you ever treat your spouse with contempt?
~Éowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Loving your neighbor as yourself

We are all familiar with what our Lord Jesus the Christ has instructed us about the Greatest Commandment of All.

In Matthew 22:36-39, a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Jesus said to him, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Nearly 11 years ago, I returned to the Catholic Church after many years away. I was never bitter or angry; I simply lost my faith. That loss was prompted in no small part by my naïve belief in a charismatic philosophy professor in junior college who proclaimed — mistakenly — that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls had “proven” the non-divinity of Jesus.

It is only in retrospect that I realize my journey home had taken some 10 years, beginning at a time when I wasn’t even aware of it.

It is also in retrospect that I realize that my journey home began with my soul: I became conscious of my gravest sin, followed by remorse.

Then it was my mind. I had to be intellectually convinced that God exists, which took much thinking and reading of philosophy and theology.

The last part of my journey home involved my heart.

By that time, I was attending Sunday Mass, but abstained from receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist. One Sunday, as I watched the congregants line up to receive Holy Communion, the thought “came into” my mind:

“God must really love me to put up with me all these years.”

And with that, the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle fell into place. Or rather, the last piece of me, which had fallen away from God, was restored.

And I became whole — restored and returned to Him, by His loving mercy and grace.

Since my epiphany that Sunday, I have loved the Lord, my God, with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

But, knowing all the foibles of fallen humanity — foibles of which I amply partake — and the darkness of the human heart, I have not been able to “love my neighbor as myself.” For how can I love all humans with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole soul . . . ? Knowing my own wretchedness, I don’t even love myself with my whole heart, my whole mind, and my whole soul!

Nor has any priest, in the hundreds of homilies I’ve heard, ever given an adequate definition of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Who is my “neighbor”? What does “loving” my neighbor means? Most priests I’ve heard, if not all of them, don’t even attempt to define or explain — which is puzzling because the answer is given by, of course, Christ Himself!

From today’s Gospel reading:

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “Your shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down to Jerusalem from Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

And so, when we are instructed to love our neighbor, in Jesus’ own words, it means we are to treat other human beings “with mercy.” When another has fallen, through no fault of his/her, we are to treat “our neighbor” with kindness and compassion, and provide assistance to the best of our abilities.

That is the true meaning of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”  That, I can and will do!

Offered in humility and love,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to put him to the test, one of them put a further question, “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Jesus said to him, “You must love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”

-Matthew 22:34-38

Roses from Eowyn’s garden, 2012

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