Music/Books/Movies to Speak to a Disciple’s Heart
Looking for Inspiration? Here is a list of all kinds of media that speak to a disciple’s heart. Check them out and then come back and tell us about your experience.
- Read the Bible!
- Winter Rain—a biographical film about Thomas Merton’s call to faith
- The Gift of Peace—writings by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
- Romero—a film about the life of martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero
- Come Be My Light—the private writings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- The Interior Castle—the way of prayer by St. Teresa of Avila
- Seven Sacred Pauses—daily Benedictine way of prayer by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB
- Let Your Life Speak—excellent book by Parker Palmer about recognizing God’s voice
- The Soul of Rumi—poetry translated by Coleman Barks
- Come Alive—Christian music by Mark Schultz
- My Paper Heart—new music from Christian music phenom Francesca Batastelli
- Joan of Arcadia—a great former TV series
- Eli Stone—another great former TV series
- Jonah—A Veggie Tales movie: great messages for all ages in any Veggie Tales movies!
- The Naked Now by Richard Rohr, OFM
- Second Chance—DVD film by Christian music artist Michael W. Smith
- To Kill a Mockingbird—classic book & movie
- For the Sake of the Call—Christian music by Steven Curtis Chapman
- A Book of Wonders—daily prayer by Fr. Ed Hays—short, simple and oh so sweet!
- Glimpses of Grace—daily prayer by Madeleine L’Engle: read any of her books, especially the classic A Wrinkle in Time
How do I know if it’s really God’s voice?
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
Read the story of the Transfiguration in the Gospel of Luke 9:28b-36
There are many places in Scripture where we hear God telling us to listen to Jesus. We heard the story of the Transfiguration during Lent. It is one of the most mystifying stories in the Bible and there are myriads of diatribes abounding about its meaning.
Peter, James and John don’t have a clue what’s going on, and in typical foot-in-mouth fashion, Peter says: Hey dude… let’s build some tents!
Jesus must have just shaken his head in discouragement thinking… O God, what do I gotta do to get these guys to understand?!?!
We have all probably been there at some point in time with a family member or friend or coworker. Helping people to understand a task or a job or an idea can be hard work. It requires a deep listening and a persevering spirit to come to a place of understanding. That’s how it is in prayer. So how do we know if it’s really God’s voice we’re hearing?
Prayer of the Moment
One theme that we take with us as disciples is: prayer of the moment. Traditionally, we think of prayer as a time to be set apart for quiet meditation and devotion, spiritual reading and reflection.
But what if…. you’re a BUSY parent on the go? Or what if your work schedule means that you’re ExHaUsTeD by the time you get home? What if you’re already doing everything you can just to survive?
Prayer of the moment is just that—bringing to the front your mind whatever prayer or God-thought is on your heart in that minute. And it doesn’t have to be as big as a Hail Mary or an Our Father or some other set of words. Prayer of the moment can be as simple as taking a breath and saying “God, I’m here.” It’s about making yourself aware of God’s presence in your life at that very moment. There’s an ancient desert monk saying:
Bidden or not bidden, God is present.
Whether we know it not, feel it or not, understand it or not, God is there—all the time. If we ask, if we don’t ask. God is there. When we remember that God’s presence permeates every corner of our lives, then we will start to hear God’s voice speaking to us everywhere. In all things, in all places, in all people, in all ways.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
So how do you know if it’s God or not. Ask yourself these questions and then decide:
- Does it resonate with what I already know to be true?
- Does it take me closer to or further from God and others?
- Is my ego or self-interest trying to get its own needs met?
Honest answers will help you hear God’s voice in your own life.
Pray for Patience
Once upon a time, I asked God to give me patience. Be careful what you pray for. Now I have lots of opportunities to practice patience, forgiveness and compassion in my life. You probably do too.
I think we all have those moments where we can choose to react negatively or positively. I am seldom without another chance to perfect the skill in the moment. I am starting to think that this is the whole of the spiritual life… to forgive and reconcile for offenses great and small… conscious and unconscious.
How about you? Does God put lots of opps in your everyday path too?
The Art of Duck-ness
I know that all of these kinds of encounters with people / disruptions in my plans / unexpected challenges are meant to guide me down the road to real holiness. But sometimes, it can all be too much.I need to practice and re-practice the art of duck-ness… that is… letting the hurts roll off my back without presuming that people are intentionally malicious or that God is working hard to spoil my life. The art of duck-ness is a very important skill to craft. It comes in mighty handy, usually when you least expect it.
When I was at the National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministry back in December, I was lucky to sit in on a session by Fr. Richard Rohr… check out the Center for Action and Contemplation if you haven’t seen it. And I heard him say this:
Only the false self takes offense.
So I’ve been going back to that wisdom again and again to assess my own duck-ness. And it’s true… only my false self feels the sting and hurt from the inconsiderate or ignorant or plain rude people that I encounter. So the art of duck-ness actually is helping my false self to shrink. I am moving toward a greater degree of wholeness and holiness. [Definitely not there yet but I'm making progress.]
So I just share that with you all today in the hopes that you too will become a Mighty Duck!
A Common Cliche
Many of us have heard the classic quote about time:
Yesterday was history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is the present… that’s why it’s a gift.
We know it is a meaningful saying with spot-on truth. But how often do we abide by its wisdom?
With such a fast-paced life anymore, it can be really difficult to focus on the present moment and not get caught up in the future… or even thinking about the past and whatever good things we’ve done or bad mistakes we’ve made. We are a culture in constant motion and rarely do we let our brains settle into something slow and still.
But the present moment is a gift… most definitely a present wrapped up in smiles / hugs / conversations / experiences / laughter and tears. Sometimes the present moment is bittersweet… other times it feels like sitting in front of cozy fire in a hidden vacation spot. Whatever the present moment brings in your life, savor it… because once the moment is gone, it’s gone for good.
How to Be Present
Perhaps one of the most beloved Scripture verses of all time is this:
Be still and know I am God.
But who has time to be still? More than that… how do we be still anyways?
It can be very unnerving for those who are on the move all day and only stop to crash into bed at night. The physical act of sitting quiet and still… turning off your brain and allowing all activity to drain away… is challenging. Not impossible, but challenging.
So how do you do it? Akin to the old Nike commercial… you just do it. But here are some helpful hints to make yourself be present in the moment.
Reduce the Noise
Gradually break yourself into the stillness by turning off the distractions of noise in your life… radios / televisions / computers / cell phones / iPods / landline telephones / video games / and all those other devices that put out some kind of audio stimulation. Take 15 minutes a day for a week. Then bump up to 30 minutes a day for a month… and on and on… until you can go for at least an hour without the noise. As you slowly readapt to the quiet, take inventory of how your heart and spirit are feeling. Do you notice less anxiety? Maybe more peace? Do you hear the people around you better when they are trying to tell you something?
One Thing at a Time
Stop multi-tasking and give your undivided attention to whatever task or person is at hand. Use the break-in idea above if that will help. For one or two projects in the course of a day, only work on that project. Don’t check email. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t send the text message. And that project could be as simple as driving to or from home. Give all of your mental energy in that moment to what you are doing. Especially if it involves a conversation with a family member / friend / co-worker.
Taste your food. Smell the air. Feel the touch. Hear the world. See the people. Sounds simple, huh? But too often we skim right over what stimulates our basic senses. We live in a frenetic world usually on sensory overload. Check in with yourself in this way and you will learn how to be present to the moment.
What other ways help you to be present in the moment? Please share in the comments. We would love to hear from you!
When it’s hard to pray
Sometimes it feels hard to pray… because first of all, you need to find the desire. Then second of all, the question of what to pray for and how jumps onto the scene. And thirdly, sometimes it can just feel like work.
So here are a few ideas to try:
Stop wherever you are and take one intentional deep breath. As you inhale, think silently or say aloud: Peace. As you exhale, think silently or say aloud: Thank you, Jesus.
Holding your cell phone / iPad / computer mouse / landline telephone in hand… mentally scroll through your contact list of family and friends and picture one person’s face in your mind. Focus on the love and joy that person adds to your life… just for 30 seconds.
Take a moment to step outdoors… whatever the weather… and raise your face to the sky and take a deep breath. Open your ears to hear one particular sound that catches your attention. Identify the origin of the sound whether natural or manmade and relish the gift of hearing.
At some less-than-crazy moment in your day, take a minute to open and close your hand so slowly that you can feel and see every muscle that moves. Like reeeaaaallllyyyy slowly. What a marvelous idea from God… to give us hands.
Take a sip of water and say a quick Thank You Jesus! for clean water. Many parts of the world are not so lucky.
Smile at someone you don’t know. It will help you feel happy.
Let someone else go in front of you in line. A simple act of kindness can make a world of difference.
Intentionally slow down your driving. Let others get in the lane ahead of you… drive the speed limit everywhere you go… turn off the radio in your car. Be silent and still inside amidst the rush of traffic.
Stop thinking about the past moment… or the future moment. Place yourself in the present moment and see what gift it offers.
Tell God that you really don’t feel like praying right now. It’s okay.
[ btw... did you catch that last one? Tell God... also known as praying... sneaks up on you sometimes when you're not thinking about it ]
Does God love slackers?
The first gut answer that escapes the mouth before the brain clicks into gear might be a resounding “No!” After all, the old adage is true… God helps those who help themselves… right?
Then… after a few thoughtful moments, the brain says… Okay, let’s backtrack a bit. It is God we’re talking about after all.
Maybe a little while later, the heart kicks in and says… Hmmm… that whole Easter dying-and-rising-thing was for everyone… so I guess that includes slackers as well.
And then in prayer, the spirit jumps up and chimes in: You know, I might be a slacker… and I sure do hope that God loves me, even when I’m slacking.
I am a slacker too.
I don’t like to admit that out loud… like it even less to say it on a blog. But I’m human and so are you… so I’m banking on the fact that you might be able to relate to this.
I have dropped the ball frequently… on occasions when I had really good intentions but didn’t follow through for one reason or another.
There is a pile of laundry stacking up in the corner. I really need to sweep my floors. Dishes are filling the sink. I need to write some more blogs here. Nothing overly critical… but a lot of things I really need to catch up on.
How about you? What’s on your list of To-Do’s that need attention? What’s keeping you from crossing them off?
I could justify and rationalize and offer a bunch of reasons why certain things have fallen off my radar, but honestly, I can’t give you any good excuses. We all know that we make time in busy schedules to do the things that are really important to us. And so the deductive answer might be that none of these things I’ve let slide are significant to me. Except that wouldn’t be exactly true.
I love living in an organized, clean environment where everything is neat and tidy and in its place. I love wearing fresh clothes, walking on non-sticky floors, eating off of sparkling dishes. I love writing and sharing stories of faith with people. I suspect that all those are important to you… although perhaps you too have piles of laundry and dirty dishes hanging around. So what’s the deal?
For me, it’s procrastination. I have known for a long time that I work better on deadline. I always rise to the challenge of an impending due date… and frankly, some of my best work happens in a crunch. Still not an excuse for delaying.
I don’t really have any other best guess. I try really hard to not be a slacker… but sometimes my motivation fails. When I am not invested in a project or circumstance, it’s easy to let others carry the ball. I’m happy to be the cheerleader on the sidelines.
Eventually, it all catches up with me and I have to pick up the ball again.
God loves slackers too.
My great comfort comes in remembering that God loves slackers too… not just the ones who are always on top of their game. Not just the ones who can show off a clean and organized office or a color-coordinated closet.
When the rest of the world gets frustrated with me because I haven’t crossed every ‘t’ or dotted every ‘i’, I can rest assured that in the end, God’s got my back and loves me just the same.
So for all you blog-followers out there, I apologize for a sporadic presence these past weeks. It’s not that you aren’t important to me… you definitely are. I’ve just been a slacker. After our pre-Easter encounter with Peter denying Jesus and how he will be transformed in our coming weeks leading to Pentecost, I feel like I might be in good slacker-company.
Hope that you are not feeling like a slacker… but if you are, hold onto hope. God loves you deeply and all shall be well.
“I will give you living water.”
We started our Lenten journey with the theme of discipleship… played out in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. The incredible encounter with Jesus changed her forever. She became an unlikely disciple.
Like her, we all have the opportunity to meet Jesus in our midst… in our families and circles of friends… in our school settings and workplaces… in all of the activities that fill our days. Jesus is found in the people around us and in the ordinary circumstances of daily life. Our task is to walk through our days with open eyes.
In the end, we too will receive living water from Jesus.
On Track So Far
How are you doing so far in Lent? What theme or practice did you decide on? Are you working on it alone or did you choose to share it with your family or maybe a friend?
Lent is the time when we can work to make change in ourselves. And when we change on the inside, more often than not, our world changes on the outside. When we become more faithful disciples, we can offer that service to the larger community… and change the world.
We continue the theme of discipleship with the image of empty vessels and holy longing. Here is the second in the series of Lenten reflections: Come to the Well. Feel free to download and share with others. Then find us on Facebook HERE (<– click) or come back to the blog and leave us a comment.
Tell us how your Lent is going. We would love to hear from you!
What if we changed it up?
Yesterday at Mass, Fr. Ed started his pre-Superbowl homily by asking us:
What if Commissioner Goodell comes on stage after the Superbowl and says to the crowd: “Congratulations to both teams! You played an excellent and entertaining game today and we are all very grateful! We’ve decided to do things a little differently this year. All of the teams in the NFL have worked hard and played well this season. And all of these teams are full of winners. So we are going to give the Lombardi trophy to everyone!”
What would happen?
Probably there would be a lot of angry players, coaches and fans. Superbowl is by definition a championship football game and there should be a designated winner. Right?
A Still More Excellent Way
And then Fr. Ed went on to talk about the readings of the day. Click HERE to refresh your memory. We heard the classic words from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
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.
Love never fails.
When It’s Hard to Love
Love is the call of all disciples. When we give love, we receive God’s grace in return. But we know that sometimes it can be difficult to love.
Another priest I know gave some advice in a homily once: The surest path to heaven is to truly love your family.
Now, don’t interpret that to mean he actually knows how to get to heaven… but it is a piece of profound wisdom, don’t you think? Loving our family can be really hard… because we know them, warts and all. If that isn’t true for you, then think of those people in your life that you do know really well. Sometimes they do stuff that just makes you mad. Sometimes relationships are strained and need to be fixed.
When we can do the work of forgiveness and reconciliation to get back to a state of loving one another, God’s abundant grace can fill our hearts.
We Don’t Earn It
God gives grace freely to all who would receive it. We can’t do anything to earn it… only accept it as a gift. That’s what Fr. Ed was getting to in his homily.
Could we as a people get to a place where we would sincerely award the grand prize trophy to everyone? Or are we so inculturated in competition that we can’t see all people as winners?
Football is one thing. In the case of Superbowl, it is set up as a winner-take-all battle.
But in life, we sometimes do the same thing. The people on ‘our team’… the ones who look like us / think like us / act like us… should be the ones who get the trophy.
Everyone is the Apple of God’s Eye
But God doesn’t work that way. Everyone deserves special treatment. Everyone is entitled to receive the gifts God gives. Everyone is worthy to receive God’s grace.
Everyone. Not just those who work hard. Not just those who go to liturgy regularly. Not just those who have received the sacraments. Not just those who believe as we do.
Everyone is the apple of God’s eye.
A Prayer to Help Us Remember
We can easily get so caught up in our own lives that sometimes we forget how we are called to love. In those moments, we have a simple prayer from a simple man to remind us. Plant this prayer in your heart and print it out and put it somewhere to see it daily.
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;
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 is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Let me be a channel of your grace this day and all days.
We Celebrated the 30th Anniversary
Hopefully you had the opportunity to be present at the Annual Diocesan Conference. It was a great two days filled with many insightful presentations and and joyful conversation.
As we celebrated the 30th anniversary of this great event, we also reflected on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II which is the theme for our Year of Faith. Several speakers shared stories about what happened in the public view of Vatican II as well as what took place behind the scenes.
It was fun to see Bill Huebsch’s pictures of the Vatican space where all the delegates convened to begin one of the most ground-breaking conversations in our modern Church history. It would have been quite the experience to be a mouse in the rafters listening in on everything that took place.
The Closing Liturgy
Homily of Bishop Calvo
Baptism of the Lord
Annual Diocesan Conference
January 12, 2013
To go on a pilgrimage is to embark on a spiritual journey. One popular pilgrimage these days is to walk the “Camino”, the pilgrimage from France into Spain to Santiago de Compostela, to the tomb of St. James. There are people here in Reno who walked it and not too long ago movie was made about it, called “The Way”. Some of us have gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or to Lourdes and Fatima or to Rome. A pilgrimage is not the same as a vacation: it’s not only the destination—a sacred site—that sets it apart but the journey itself, the going and what we bring to it and what we are willing to encounter along the way.
We are a “pilgrim” Church.
The Second Vatican Council uses the image of a pilgrimage to describe the Church. We are a “pilgrim” Church. We have not reached our destination but are on the way to the fulfillment of the reign of God. Pope Benedict XVI, in a talk he gave as Cardinal Ratzinger, the title of a book by the Protestant scripture scholar, Ernst Kaseman. It was The Pilgrim People of God and “became right away a slogan” in the framework of the discussions at the council.
We are not of the world, but very much in the world as we walk side by side with others, some searching, some lost, some hurting, some of other faiths. In English literature, one of the earliest stories of pilgrimage was Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The pilgrims were journeying to the tomb of the martyr, St. Thomas a Becket, in Canterbury and they were a motley group: a knight, a monk, a miller, a plowman, a nun, a squire, a merchant, a physician, the wife of Bath, a shipman, a steward, a yeoman and more. They were not all pious or even well-behaved but they were all heading to same place. We are a pilgrim Church, made up of a great mix of humanity, “all souls, all saints, all sorts” as someone once wrote. We walk the world, not isolated from it, but engaged with it, for we have a mission here.
The humble image of the pilgrim
There’s something down to earth about this description of the Church as a pilgrim. Vatican II expressly stayed away from images that were triumphal. Most people who go on pilgrimage do not stay in five star hotels. Some lodge in hostels along the way, much as Jesus and his disciples relied on people’s hospitality as they walked through Galilee and to Jerusalem. The pilgrim Church: it’s divine by institution yet down to earth, like the Word made flesh. We gather people together as we make the journey, which is marked by charity and simplicity, a poverty of spirit that embodies our reliance on God, and a way of living made noble, not by the trappings of prestige and power, but by our faithfulness to Christ, who came not to be served but to serve.
The first reading for this Mass is from the Servant Songs of the Prophet Isaiah. Its connection to the Gospel is the reference to “the one with whom [God] is pleased”, upon whom the Holy Spirit comes. The prophetic voice of God’s servant is not strident or contentious but gentle and merciful: “a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench…”
Our pilgrimage as Church follows the pattern of Christ’s way to the cross and resurrection. We proclaim the Good News and speak the truth with love and not with coercion or intimidation. In his address that opened the council fifty years ago, Blessed Pope John XXIII spoke of mercy as part of the way we proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. He noted that the Church corrects errors and in the past has “condemned them with the greatest severity.” But he said, “Nowadays…the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnation.”
The Meaning of Baptism
It’s an aspect of charity for us to help one another to be faithful and to grow in our love for God and one another. We do this best through encouragement, forgiveness, instilling faith and hope, as Christ did, rather than fear and judgment. The pilgrimage can be rough going in a world that questions faith in God, erupts with senseless violence and is filled with suffering and pain.
So we need to sustain one another with faith, hope and love. And not just for our sake, but for humanity’s, for as the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Church is “a kind of sacrament”, a grace-giving sign of salvation for the world. The human race needs to hear what we proclaim, but how do we offer to the world this grace? Not with arrogance, for sure, but with the humble sign of the cross, with the love of Christ. In the end, it is God’s mercy that touches hearts and love that transforms them.
In teaching about the Church, the council also opened up for us in a rich way the meaning of our baptism and how it is the foundation of our participation in the Church. The readings for today all bring out the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ baptism and mission and in our own. It is the Spirit that came upon Christ and sent him “to bring glad tidings to the poor” and it is the Holy Spirit who sends us forth and endows us as God’s daughters and sons with manifold gifts.
All the baptized, lay women and men, clergy and religious, share in the responsibility of carrying out the mission Christ entrusted to us. And so the participation of the laity in the life of the Church has blossomed these past fifty years. I just have to look back thirty-five years ago when I was a young priest to see the extent to which lay women and men are now engaged in our mission. It is tremendous and there is no going back. In our pilgrimage we’re all in this together and need one another.
And we need the Holy Spirit, who stands by our side, leads and guides us on our pilgrimage, even though at times some of us wander into paths that are sinful; it is the Spirit that unites us, even though conflicts and disagreements tempt some to be divisive; it is the Spirit that rejuvenates us, even though we may feel at times weary and are content to do things the way we’ve always done them.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary
In this Year of Faith, we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. We do so not to live in the past: the good old days of the council or for others, the good old days before it. The world has changed since then and continues to do so with new challenges, blessings and problems. Nostalgia has no place on a pilgrimage; it eats away at the virtue of hope. Our journey leads us to what lies before us as our final destination as a pilgrim Church. We move forward, guided by the Holy Spirit, who has given us the Second Vatican Council as a lodestar on our journey.
Thanks Bishop Calvo!