Monthly Archives: October 2017

Never Again

by Howard Hain

 

Rembrandt an artist in his studio 1630 The J. Paul Getty Museum

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 – 1669), “An Artist in His Studio”, 1630, Pen and brown ink, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

I have this recurring thought that I’ll never write anything good or creative or original or meaningful ever again.

And you know what? It’s true. I won’t. But God will.

It always begins and ends with The LORD. The Alpha and The Omega.

Hallelujah.

His grace transforms the fears that the enemy throws at us into most blessed reminders—reminders that result in living the greatest paradox ever told: A life of Bold Humility.


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Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain   http://www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

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To Preach

by Howard Hain

 

Saint Bruno, Houdon

Saint Bruno (c. 1033-1101), Founder of the Carthusians, Statue by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1767)

 

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“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority…”

—Acts 1:7


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If the Lord returns this very second, well then, are not “…the ends of the earth” where we currently stand?

May we pray for the mercy and grace that we ourselves be truly converted to Christ, for if all the world were to focus on that, then all the world would be set “on fire”.

To truly “preach” the Gospel is to be truly transfigured. For it is the power of His glory, in us, around us, despite us, that brings others to Christ.

A single man standing absolutely still—but who has Christ truly within him—brings more healing and peace to all the world than an army of men continually running around the globe glorifying themselves in His Most Sacred Name.

For redemption is always by His power, for His glory, and within His Kingdom. It is HIS Church.

May we approach Him in our absolute nothingness, for that is all we truly possess.

Men come and go, keep your eyes on Christ.

The world turns, the Cross stands still.


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Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain   http://www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, becoming an email subscriber, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

Saint Francis for 4-year-olds (and you and me)

by Howard Hain

 

Saint Francis Coloring Book Page.jpg

“Saint Francis of Assisi”, coloring book page, colored by a “4-year-old”

 

.(My wife teaches 4-year-olds in a Catholic elementary school. The school’s patron saint is Saint Francis. They call this week “Saint Francis Week” and hold various events throughout the week to celebrate the feast of this great saint (Oct. 4th). My wife and her co-teacher were looking for a short, simple biography that would be appropriate for their 4-year-old students. They didn’t find anything that seemed to be the right fit. So here’s what I jotted down for their pre-K-4 class. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. Maybe you will too. Let us “become like little children”.)

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Saint Francis, a Knight for God

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There once was a young man. He lived in a land called Italy. He lived a very long time ago. He lived over 800 hundred years ago!

He lived with his family in a small city named Assisi.

The young man was quite silly. He loved to dream and he loved to sing and he loved to dance. He loved to play with his friends all day long.

The young man’s name was Francis.

His father wanted Francis to be more serious. His father wanted Francis to be just like him. He wanted him to sell expensive fabric to people who were very rich. Fabric is what you use to make pretty things like curtains, tablecloths, and clothes.

Francis’ father wanted him to work in the family shop. But Francis was not very interested in that kind of work. Francis wanted to be a great knight!

And one day Francis went off to do just that.

Francis went off to become a knight. He began to travel to another city where he would fight with a sword and a shield. Francis thought that he would become a great hero.

But on his way Francis got very sick. He had to return to his home. His mother took care of him. And while Francis was getting better he began to dream of different adventures.

He began to spend a lot of time walking around the woods and looking at the flowers and at the trees. He began to watch closely all the animals, especially the birds that flew high up into the sky. Francis began to think a lot about God!

Francis began to dream about heaven. He began to wonder about love. He saw that there was another kind of knight!

Francis decided that he would be a knight for God.

Francis wanted Jesus to be his king and for Mary to be his queen.

Francis no longer wanted to use a sword or a shield. No, Francis wanted to teach all the world how to love. Francis wanted to sing and dance and show everyone how be more like Jesus.

He began to live very simply. He had very few things. His only clothing was an old brown robe. He lived almost like a little animal in the forest. Francis was very free. Francis was filled with joy. He was very happy.

And soon many other young men came to join him. They too wanted to be knights for God. They all lived together. They called each other brother. They shared all they had. They were kind to each other. They loved God together.

And one day, even a young lady wanted to join. She brought other ladies and they started a home of their own. They called each other sister. That young lady’s name was Clare.

A new type of family was beginning to grow. A family who lives very much like Jesus. We call them Franciscans.

We now call that young man, Saint Francis. We now call that young lady, Saint Clare.

Saint Francis and Saint Clare are now in heaven with Jesus and Mary and all the holy angels and saints. They live in perfect peace with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

They see us right now. They pray for us too.

Hey, who knows, maybe one day a few of you boys and girls may become knights and ladies of God, like our patron saints, Saint Francis and Saint Clare!


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Howard Hain is a contemplative layman, husband, and father. He blogs at http://www.howardhain.com

Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardDHain   http://www.twitter.com/HowardDHain

If you enjoyed this post, please consider “liking” it, adding a comment, or passing it along via the social-media links below. Your support is greatly appreciated. Step by step. All for God’s glory.

The Follower

by Orlando Hernandez

In this Wednesday’s Gospel (Lk 9: 57-62), Jesus is quoted as making some statements that have confounded me for years. Our Lord seemed to me so confusing, unwelcoming, even petulant :

“As Jesus and His disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head.’ And to another He said,’ Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, let me go first and bury my father.’ But He answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead. But you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.’ And another said, ‘ I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.’ Jesus answered him, ‘ No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.’ “

The internet is full of interpretations of Jesus’ first statement. For example: Jesus, the “head” of the “Body of Christ”, had no place where to rest yet. His church was to come. Another interpretation : In order to follow Jesus you have to leave the comfort of belonging to powerful institutions, like the kingdom of Herod (“that fox”), or the soaring eagles (“birds of the sky”) of the Roman Empire, and become totally powerless, vulnerable, poor, and homeless, like Jesus. On the cross there is no place to rest our heads.
Even more disturbing to me was Jesus’ call to leave our family behind. The second man begs Jesus to let him stay with his parents until they die and are buried. The third would-be-follower wants to get a chance to say goodby to those he loves. But Jesus reminds them of the urgency of doing the work of the Kingdom as soon as possible, without taking a detour or looking back.
I guess these three persons did not see beyond their first impulse to follow Jesus when they were so impressed by meeting Him. Being His disciples back then meant literally leaving everything right then and there, and following Him up to Jerusalem, where He was headed, to His Passion. They were not ready to do that.
But what do these three statements mean to me? I look at my small but pretty house, in the light of the morning sun, and I feel such gratitude to Him. And yet gradually, day by day, the walls and furniture seem more transparent, illusive, unimportant, in the light of His Spirit, present there every day, Master of my home, not me! So I go out to my true home, His vast Creation, His people in need, His Temple, where I can lay my head in His shoulder, by His mercy and grace.
As for burying my parents, He not only allowed me the sad, luminous, blessing of doing this, He came with me. He consoled me in my terrible sorrow. He spoke through me as I proclaimed my trust in Him, in the chance for spiritual life, not death, for my parents, for all of us, at each grave side. This last Monday, our President spoke eloquently and compassionately about the relatives and victims of the Las Vegas tragedy. He quoted verse 19, of Psalm 34: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted , saves those whose spirit is crushed.”
Our Suffering Servant is always close to us, so close. If we choose to follow Him, we realize that He is the One who follows us, walks by our sides, heals us, repairs us, keeps us going on that furrow as we plow our way through life. How can I look back when He waits for all of us at the end? There He is, so beautiful!
Through my sadness, my weakness, my doubt, my consolation is to praise Your name, even as I see You, our country, our world, up on that Cross, and beyond: Resurrection !
Like the song (by Jamie Harvill) says:
Make these broken weary bones
Rise to dance again
Wet this dry and thirsty land with a river
Lord our eyes are fixed on You
We are waiting for Your garland of grace
As we praise Your name
Hallelujah sing Hallelujah
We trade our sorrows
For garments of praise
Your Joy is my strength alone
My strength alone

Orlando Hernandez