Tag Archives: charity

Morning Thoughts: To All Gathered in Thought and Prayer

by Howard Hain

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Jesus Christ is Real.

He is not made of wood or ink or paint. He is not a distant figure from a distant past. He is here. We gather in His name—He is here. He is as real as each one of us. He is what makes each one of us real.

The message is simple:

He is the Son of God. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. He is Love. He is Forgiveness. He is Humility. He is Boldness and Obedience.

He is Lord. He is God. He is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

He is Christ Jesus, and He is Real.

I see Him now in each of you. I say to Him, I say to you: “I love You, my Lord and my God.”

Now, let us go and tell others…

 

egon schiele conversion

Egon Schiele, “Conversion” (1912)

 

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20

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Friday Thoughts: “Prophesy!”

saint-peter-being-freed-from-prison-gerard-van-honthorst-1616-18

Gerard van Honthorst, “Saint Peter Being Freed from Prison”, 1616-18


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“What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as deserving to die.

Some began to spit on him.

They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!”

And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard…

—Mark 14:63-66


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I don’t want to hear myself.

I want to hear from You.

My thoughts, my concerns, my feelings, bore me terribly.

I think You are silent but I know it isn’t true.

The moon is so very full this night and so are You.

The coffee I sip is bitter.

Your Word hangs on every tree.

If only Lord we could see.

Drama. Tragedy. Puppet show. Divine Comedy.

Me, me, me, look at me!

But it is You raised up high.

For all to see.

Forgive us, Father, for we still haven’t a clue.


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The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.

Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross.”

Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”

Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

—Mark 15:26-32


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—Howard Hain

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Morning Thoughts: A Grain of Salt

 

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Winslow Homer, “Snap the Whip”, 1872, (The Met)

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Lord, I don’t want to be witty, or smart, or cute.

I don’t want to be clever, or interesting, or different.

I don’t want to be important.

One of a kind.

I don’t want to want to be anything.

You were.

You are.

You will be.

“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

———

A few days ago my daughter was eating a piece of toast for breakfast. It was a nice piece of toast, I prepared it my myself. Golden brown. A good amount of very good olive oil, from a little can my sister-in-law gifted us after a trip to Portugal. And I cracked some sea salt. Beautiful little crystals atop virgin oil upon a bed of grain and wheat, all held aloft by a bit of yeast.

She was eating away. Then I heard a shriek. It seems a little stink bug landed on the edge of her plate. Well, that was the end of breakfast.

Like a little dinosaur. I’m pretty sure they’re harmless. Apparently, they’re not from the United States. It seems they’ve recently made their way over from China. They’re immigrants, if you will. Or perhaps ‘missionaries’ is a better way to put it, at least from the stink bug’s perspective.

They’ve got a job after all, like the rest of us. I doubt they complain though. I also doubt that the first little guy to make his way across the great ocean to arrive at our shores had any idea he was discovering a whole new world. The Christopher Columbus of stink bugs. But there’s no statue. No holiday. No day off. No big sale at Macy’s honoring his (or her) accomplishment.

Nonetheless, his relative was in my home the other day and landed on my daughter’s plate, leaving me wondering if she had eaten enough, and also somewhat worried she wouldn’t have enough energy to make it through the first half of the day.

She did. The day went on. The bug was removed. As far as my daughter’s relationship with stink bugs specifically or with insects in general, we’ll just have to wait and see.

———

I don’t know why that little bug is on my mind. I guess I admire him. His obedience.

God created that little bug, both his kind and him individually. I am therefore to love him:

Love God in all His creation. Love all of God’s creation for His sake.

In love with a bug.

Hey, who knows?

———

I’m having fun. Life is wonderful. If only we could all just play. All day. No homework. No tests. No goals of earning admittance.

I laugh. I smile. I think again. My little girl. All children. It’s amazing what they say. What the Holy Spirit speaks through living innocence:

“I want to fall into the Sun…and go deep, deep, deep…and the clouds will tickle me…”

———

When parents speak of the little things they’re children say, I imagine most listeners take it with a grain of salt.

But parents know what they’ve heard, spoken or not.

Surely God knows.

After all, He’s a parent too.

And he wants us to play.

Stink bugs and all.


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—Howard Hain

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http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11140

From the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Snap the Whip

Artist: Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine) Date: 1872
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“In the years after America’s brutal Civil War (1861-65), children—as embodiments of innocence and the promise of America’s future—became a popular artistic subject. Snap the Whip, one of Homer’s most beloved works, evoked nostalgia for the nation’s agrarian past as the population shifted to cities, and the little red schoolhouse faded from memory. Released from their lessons, the exuberant bare-footed boys engage in a spirited game of snap the whip, which required teamwork, strength, and calculation—all important skills for a reuniting country…”

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Friday Thoughts: Clean Enough to Care

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What if someone handed you a child?

A small child.

A tiny child.

An infant.

A few hours…a few minutes old.

What if you were the only one that the child could be handed to?

Only you.

No one else around to help.

Would you receive that child into your arms?

There’s no sterilized room, no sanitary precautions, no sink, not even a bar of soap—just plain old you, a bunch of imperfect circumstances, and a poor tiny child that needs to be embraced.

You know what you would do.

Even if your hands were filthy, completely covered in soot and mud, you know what you would do.

You’d quickly rub your hands against your pants or shirt and wipe away the obvious dirt.

Then you’d hold out your hands.

Wouldn’t you?

Yes. You would.

We all would.

That’s what makes us human.

That’s what makes us children of God.

We’d do what we could with what we have to help an innocent child.

We know that “cleanliness” in such cases really doesn’t matter. For even if the circumstances were “perfect” we’d still have that uneasy feeling. That feeling that we’re not worthy to hold such innocence, to be entrusted with such treasure.

It’s a holy hesitancy that only true humility can bear.

Yet, it’s the necessity to help, the clear need for our assistance—the abundantly clear reality that we’re the only “hands” on deck—that drives us to overcome such holy and righteous fear—a fear that reveals just how poor we really are, much poorer in fact than even the helpless child we are about to embrace.

It is preciously this beautiful fear of God that propels us to love boldly—to boldly reach out beyond ourselves, to boldly become part of God’s mystical body, to become His very arms and hands—to embody Divine Love Itself—that perfect love of the eternal Father for each and every child ever created.

For it is the Father’s love that creates us, and sustains us, and longs to flow through us.

We just sometimes need extreme circumstances—ridiculously obvious situations—in order to tap the needed courage to let it to flow beyond our own borders and into those around us.

You are in such a situation. Right now.

We all are.

This very moment.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Such a situation is at hand.

A child, a new born—cold, hungry, and without a home—desperately needs to be held.

Quick then, wipe your dirty hands, make due with what you’ve got—believe the Word of God, it’s good enough—now hold out your hands.

You’re clean enough to care.


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—Howard Hain

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Peaceful Thoughts: A Quiet Nap


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A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

—Mark 4:37-40
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Lord,

Teach me to be kind

Show me how to be gentle

May I always bring peace to each and every situation

May I never do harm

Let me always be merciful

Let me never judge and never condemn

I need you to teach me, to show me, to encourage me to be more like You

With Your help it is possible.

———

I believe in You, Father

I trust in You, Jesus

You, Holy Spirit, I know are always loving me

Please let there be peace

Please let all the world be still

Please let all children hope and dream and know that You are God

The God of Kindness, of Gentleness, of Peace, of Mercy, of Forgiveness…

The God of Absolute and Perfect Love

The God who will never forsake us, whose promises are certain and real…

God, You are Love.

———

Let Your presence calm the waters

For the waves rock and the boat fills

And Noah has already come ashore

You, Lord Jesus, pray upon the mountain, You walk on water, You rest within the storm…

You still all

You question our faith

You tell us to simply ask

You promise that we shall receive more.


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And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

—Luke 17:5


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—Howard Hain

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