"But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people." ~ Jeremiah 31:33


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Written on Our Hearts: A Patchwork Heart Blog

Patchwork Heart
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‘What day is it?’ ‘It's today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh. ~A.A Milne A few years ago during the Christmas Season my family sat down to watch old videos of previous Christmas day celebrations. One of the more memorable moments was watching the video where my brother and I opened the original Sony PlayStation console. There was a lot of screaming, celebrating, dancing and merrymaking as we received the hottest gift on the planet from Santa. Today, that PlayStation is long forgotten, its games are outdated and neither my little brother nor myself can remember whether we sold, misplaced or buried the console in a box marked “basement”; but watching that moment on film was a lot of fun for my family as we laughed at our original excitement and childhood exuberance. Our joy was a greater gift than the PlayStation.  As I reflect upon the readings for today, I can’t help but notice how the scriptures are reminding us to recognize how spiritually rich we are in the present moment. Ben Sira, a diplomatic ambassador of Israel who later in life opened a school for youth, authored the Book of Sirach. In the first reading, He is reminding His students and us of the greatness of Elijah. “How awesome are you Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours?” (Is it just me or does Elijah sound a lot like a PlayStation console?)  As we move to the Gospel reading, Jesus answers an important theological question about the legendary prophet. The Scribes believed that Elijah was such a great gift to Israel that he would return at an unexpected time and prepare the way for the Messiah. As Jesus points out, those looking for Elijah are looking for the wrong gift. Instead of getting wrapped up in the return of an old prophet, they should have been paying attention to the fruits of a new prophet with a similar message; John the Baptist (It’s a lot like winning the “PlayStation 2” at your senior prom in high school; I know from first-hand experience). These readings help us remember that we shouldn’t be so wrapped up with gifts of the past, no matter how great. For when we long so much for past moments and memories, we forget that we have a future and become narrow-minded. So take some time today to look around and see how God has blessed you in the here and now. 
Patchwork Heart
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No one has ever become poor by giving. ~ Anne Frank This week our nation pauses to allow us to give thanks in a big way. Offices will be closed, roads and airports will be jammed as people prepare for the largest family meal of the year. Many of us go to great lengths to cross over the rivers and navigate through the woods so we can share in this extravagant meal with our loved ones. It is worth competing with the crowds because we have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Coming together to share the year’s blessings and successes helps us to reap the rich harvest of joys which constantly surround us and at times we take for granted. Take a moment to think about all of the things you have said a cursory “thanks” for this year. Every time someone has held a door for you, you've probably murmured it, or mumbled it to the barista at your favorite coffee shop after they prepared your favorite drink, maybe you have even composed a thankful tweet or sent a snap this year and dressed it up with a hashtag so your gratitude can be recognized by the world. Are you really thankful for these things or are you just being polite? Now think about all the ways where loved ones have gone out of their way to assist you materially or emotionally. How did you express your appreciation? Did you say “thanks”? Did you pay it forward? I know in my own life I haven’t said thank you nearly enough to family members and friends who have helped me through the difficulties I faced this year. Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to spend that time, to express our deep sense of gratitude for the love shown and received throughout the year. As Christians, I believe we can take it even one step further and thank God for the countless blessings He has showered upon us, our families, our nation and our world. This is what President Abraham Lincoln hoped to achieve in 1863 when he declared the last Thursday in November a National Holiday to recognize the generosity of God. He said: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” As we give pause to our daily routines and business this week may it be with the purpose to give thanks for our family, friends the innumerable blessings God has bestowed upon us. Happy Thanksgiving.
Patchwork Heart
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"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."~ Hebrews 4:12 Are you equipped for spiritual battle? As a Christian you should be. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians states; “we are not contending against flesh and blood but with the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)." In that verse, St. Paul reminds us that many of the issues that challenge us, while they affect us in our temporal world, need to be fought on the spiritual battlefield. We are called by the nature of our Baptism to put on Spiritual Armor, take up the Sword of the Spirit and wage war against Satan. This battle is not easy, and to be victorious it requires that we believe in particular set of values and possess a certain set of virtues. St. Paul details them in Ephesians 6:14-17: Stand therefore having fastened the belt of truth around your waist, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these taking the shield of faith with which you can quench the arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. He is intentional in making sure spiritual warriors are protected with Armor, the last item he gives the warrior is an offensive weapon. If truth, righteousness, peace, faith and awareness of our salvation our not deeply rooted in our hearts, we can not possibly be ready to go on the offensive and fight to bring others to Christ. Only a prideful warrior would go into battle wearing no armor. It is then as humble servant warriors that we are entrusted with and empowered by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God to bring souls closer to Christ;  As we share the Living Word, the Spirit works through us to teach, reprove, correct and train others in righteousness (cf 2 Timothy 3:16). These are the functions of Scripture, and we are commissioned and called by God to use the sword of His Spirit to assist Him in eliminating error and drawing hearts to His mercy by both preaching and living the Gospel. As Catholics, we must become better at carrying our swords, knowing and using the scriptures in our daily lives, because we live in a time when error is prevalent and those wandering away from the truth and believing in myths are growing in number (cf 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Knowing the Word of God and actualizing it in our lives will bring straying souls back into the arms of our loving Father. Therefore, each day put on your spiritual armor by living in truth and righteousness. Spend time with scripture; know the word of God and allow it to overflow the banks of your heart onto the spiritual battlefield and ransom souls from death. You’ve been drafted into the strongest army, the Army of Christians, fighting with our God and His legions of angels. At stake is your eternal soul and the souls of those you love. Are you ready for battle?

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