"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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Working as a Youth Minister and in Catholic Media, the Stations of the Cross has shaped my ministry. What began ten years ago as a youth ministry activity in need of a revitalization, has become a pillar and guidepost of my personal spirituality and public ministry. Thus the Stations of the Cross has been one of the favorite ways Patchwork Heart Ministry reaches out and touches hearts; presenting them in a dramatic stage production of Living Stations of the Cross, authoring two print editions of the Contemplative Stations of the Cross (2016 & 2018) and also an audio version featuring an overview of the theology, history and spirituality of the devotion by Fr. Bill Zimmer. It almost goes without saying that the Stations of the Cross are a keystone of our ministry. Why? There are a few reasons. First, the passion, death and resurrection is what gives credibility to the claims of Christianity. If Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, didn’t sacrifice Himself for your sins, my sins and all of humanity’s sins on the cross then rise up and give us a path to heaven, He would be reduced to a wise teacher like Buddha. But Jesus isn’t just a wise teacher. He is the Son of God and by the Paschal Mystery Jesus isn’t just running his mouth off, He backs it up with the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice He freely chose so that you might have the option of spending eternity with Him. If the reputation of Christianity hinges upon the Paschal mystery, then it is our job as Christians to understand and reflect upon the most important tenet of our faith. A cursory glance at the Gospel once a year on Good Friday does not suffice. To deepen our awareness and understanding of the huge sacrifice Christ made for our salvation we need to stop and contemplate the mystery. It is here where Stations of the Cross can help. The very nature of the Stations of the Cross bekon us to slow down and reflect. The church doesn’t refer to the Way of the Cross as a race to Calvary, instead it gives us fourteen stopping points to carefully and frequently ponder. As you think about each of these stations in detail, you begin to realize the magnitude of what Christ has done for you and the world. Simply, you can’t help but become more humble, forgiving, kind and compassionate if you dedicate yourself to praying the Stations. This is the reason why we have made Stations of the Cross a cornerstone of our ministry. So take some time, and reflect this Lent upon the most important mystery of our faith. Go to the Stations of the Cross at your local parish or pray them at home with your family. Don’t be too busy for Jesus this Lent, He wasn’t too busy for you.
Patchwork Heart
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“We cannot all see alike, but we can all do good.” ~ P.T. Barnum Jesus used many analogies when he talked about the Kingdom of God. He likened Heaven to a hidden treasure, a landowner, a pearl of great price, a mustard seed, and many other things throughout His public ministry. One parable he never told was the Circus and the Kingdom of God, but He might have if P.T Barnum had lived in first-century Jerusalem. The life of legendary entertainer Phineas T. Barnum was recently brought to the big screen by 20th Century Fox in the imaginative musical film The Greatest Showman. While the movie took many liberties in regards to historical accuracy, it highlighted some important spiritual principles from which we can learn and apply in our spiritual life. Barnum is portrayed as a disadvantaged visionary. While he is unsure of exactly how the gifts he possesses will unfold on the canvas of his life, he is certain that he is called to greatness. More importantly, he desires to share this vision and invites others to “leave behind their narrow mind and never be the same.” In spite of the protesters and naysayers, he lifts up the weaknesses, insecurities, and oddities of those cast into the shadows, taking their individual human frailties and uses them to fortify the foundation of The Greatest Show on Earth. The circus he founded ran from 1871 until 2017. The foresight of P.T. Barnum shook the shallow perceptions of society and challenged people to see beyond the surface and rather gaze into the uniqueness of each person to find potential and possibility. His life’s story might be summed up by quoting 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Through the eyes of Barnum, we might find the Kingdom of God to be like a Circus. Think about the  parallels. Jesus invited and called those marginalized and looked down upon to help Him accomplish His earthly mission, not the elite and those in authority: “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, ‘follow me’. And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:9-11)?” Jesus knows that it is those who have the least often take the most significant risks to adore Him, defend the Kingdom, and spread the Gospel. Why? Because when you have nothing, the only things you have to lose are your insecurities, oddities, and weaknesses. When you bring these to Christ, His grace strengthens and enables His perfect power to work through you converting and opening blinded eyes. So if at times you feel out of place in this world, like you don’t fit into the mold of society, and burdened by your own weaknesses, you are being called to join Jesus’ disciples and strive for the Kingdom of Heaven in a more profound way. Welcome to The Greatest Church On Earth.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace Where there is hatred let me sow love Where there is injury, pardon Where there is doubt, faith Where there is despair, hope Where there is darkness, light And where there is sadness, joy O divine master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console to be understood as to understand To be loved as to love For it is in giving that we receive it is in pardoning that we are pardoned And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life Amen. My grandfather was a fantastic storyteller. As children, when we stayed overnight at his house he would tell us the most amazing bedtime stories. His most famous and memorable fable was that of the legendary swashbuckler “Orange Beard.” The fictitious pirate’s klutzy adventures were kept afloat by our giggles. My Pop’s boundless imagination provided just enough wind for his sails each night. The entertaining tales also taught us about what it meant to live with honor and virtue, help those in need and stand up for what is right and true. His bedtime stories instilled in me a hunger to use my own creative power to story tell and inspire. Personally, I believe parables are the most powerful force on planet earth. Why? Jesus used thirty-seven of them Himself to teach, form, inspire and exhort us to live righteously. If stories are devoid of purpose, why did God himself use them so frequently? While my Pop’s bedtime stories aren’t in the canon of scripture (nor should they be included), they’ve made a huge impact in my life. For me, the Adventures of Orange Beard demonstrated in a fundamental way that human beings were born to create. We are fashioned in the image and likeness of our Creator God and our ability to cooperate and co-create with Him is limited only by timidity, fear, selfishness, and worry. We are designed by our Heavenly Father to unleash our imagination and lived experiences in the world by writing our stories on each other's hearts each and every day. My grandfather not only demonstrated this truth in his own life, he desired to pass it onto others. He may not have known how impressionable those stories were, but he knew that His tales could only take Him and his grandchildren so far, no matter how fascinating. God was the greatest protagonist in his life and made certain we knew that about him. He never left our bedroom until he prayed with us. I have vivid memories of my grandfather kneeling next to my bed and leading us in prayer. His favorite prayer was the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, and in a soft tone prayed it (along with others) from his heart as we followed long on a well-used prayer card he gave to us. Like his stories, my Pop’s bedtime prayers have impacted my life greatly. The humble manner in which he recited prayers at my bedside provided a foundation, sparked my interest and modeled how to pray. He showed me that prayer is simple, humble and from the heart. As I’ve matured spiritually, I can see why my grandfather liked the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi so much; the prayer provides direction and purpose. It is our duty to counteract hatred with love, injury with pardon, doubt with faith, despair with hope, darkness with light and sadness with joy. It also helps us remember not be selfish, putting others ahead of our own need. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is the blueprint for living an abundant life. The Adventures of Orange Beard are just one of the many ways my Pop employed that diagram and demonstrated love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy for his grandchildren. It’s hard to believe that God wrote the final page to my Grandfather’s earthy story a year ago on December 22, 2016. His life was a great story in which I was privileged to have been a character in for over 30 years. It is with a deep sense of gratitude and awe that I look at the blueprints he left behind and do my best continue the story.

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