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Saturday, December 31, 2011

What do you do on New Year's day?

By Larry R. Linville

My parents always said that you should do good things on New Year's Day because that is what you will get back the rest of the year. Seems like a noble practice.

What you do on New Year’s Day
you will do the whole year.
I don’t know if that is true
but that is what I hear.

It makes perfect sense to me
something I try to do.
So I pass along this thought
a suggestion to you.

I want my poetry to be
a background every day
to look for positive thoughts
as guides along the way.

I hope you’ll find some things
that will bring joy and love
and help others receive
peace from God above.
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Jesus is better than Santa.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Any Surprise Here?

Yesterday, HealthDay News announced the results of a recent Stanford University study indicating that poor people are quicker than middle-class or rich individuals to recognize the suffering of others and to show compassion, according to new research.

It included more than 300 young adults who were divided into groups that took part in three experiments designed to assess their levels of empathy and compassion.

The findings challenge previous research that concluded lower-class people are more likely to react with anxiety and hostility when faced with adversity, said the researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

"These latest results indicate that there's a culture of compassion and cooperation among lower-class individuals that may be born out of threats to their well-being," study author and social psychologist Jennifer Stellar said in a university news release.

"It's not that the upper classes are cold-hearted. They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven't had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives," she explained.

The findings, published online Dec. 12 in the journal Emotion, suggest a scientific basis for emotional differences between the rich and poor that are depicted in such Charles Dickens classics as "A Christmas Carol" and "A Tale of Two Cities."

The results also indicate that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may do better in cooperative settings than those who are wealthy.

"Upper-class individuals appear to be more self-focused, they've grown up with more freedom and autonomy," Stellar said. "They may do better in an individualist, competitive environment."

More information on the compassion study, go to the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Differences Between Jesus and Santa Claus

Santa lives at the North Pole . .
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh . . .
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year . . .
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies . . .
JESUS supplies all your needs from His riches in heaven.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited . . .
JESUS stands at your door and knocks,
and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa . . .
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap . . .
JESUS is the Good Shepherd and lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is
"Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?" . . .
JESUS knew your name before you were born . . .
Not only does He know our names,
He knows our addresses too.
He knows our history and future and
He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jellybeans . . .
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO . . .
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" . . .
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys . . .
JESUS commands all the angels of heaven.
They are messengers of new life, healing wounded hearts,
repairing broken homes and builders of heavenly mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but . . .
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree . . .
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree, the Cross . . .
Jesus Is The Reason For The Season!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

An Open Letter to Everyone from Jesus about Christmas

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just "GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER".

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa's and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish - I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls "the Holiday", be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary--especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember.

LOVE,

Jesus
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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Night a Homeless Man Changed My Life

By Katrina Stull




It was a chilly winter December night and time for our annual trip to Christmas in the Park. This year we had our first, new baby girl, to share the sights and sounds with and were looking forward to sharing it with her. I had worked retail for many years, so to me the holidays did not mean much except extra work . . . put the decorations up for this holiday, take them down and redecorate for the next. In addition, anyone who has worked retail can tell you about not only the hustle and bustle with customers and stocking shelves (in my case setting up our floral department and keeping it fresh), but about the extra-long hours that come with the job or late hours. For this reason, I dreaded them and they seemed like any other day.

This particular year though, somehow things would be changing about my view of Christmas and little did I know that our traditional visit to Christmas in the Park would turn out to be a reminder of what the season truly means.

After bundling everyone up and packing the diaper bag and stroller in the car, I made sure the camera was full to take lots of pictures to remember our daughter's first Christmas. The Bay Area is notorious for traffic in the evenings, but this night it was fairly light and before we knew it we were in the streets of downtown San Jose. We had opted to park in the Local 428 lot, which was next to the Union office and one of the fancy hotels downtown.

It was a wonderful night with my daughter getting her picture taken on Santa's lap, eating warm Churros and strolling through the walkways filled with animated scenes. I was very much there, but as the evening winded down, my mind was beginning to wander about work the next day. We listened to the music, the children laughing and watched our own daughter's eyes light up every time she saw the lights on a tree or watched one of the musical moving scenes.

We came to the Nativity scene, which I always take a few extra minutes to enjoy and say a little prayer in my head giving thanks for the miracle of the season and we all just stood there for a while. No sooner did we leave; it was the end of our tour and time to get back in the car and head home. To avoid the normal traffic of getting on the freeway, I drove through the streets between 7th and 11th. There are really beautiful old homes out there in some of the area, so we might have even got to see some house lights.

As I turned onto a street near a college bookstore, I saw a homeless man walking on the street. I do not know what happened in those moments, because all I remember was thinking I had an extra blanket I always carried in the car and it was extremely cold outside. Suddenly I pulled my 89 Ford Escort over to the side of the street and my husband at the time (now my ex) had asked, "What are you doing". It had to be evident I was pulling the car over so I replied, "pulling the car over. I have a blanket in the back."

He looked at me as if I was crazy and was really getting out of the car to take the homeless man a blanket? Yes, I was and I got out, opened the hatchback and I pulled out my "extra", not being used, clean blanket and slowly walked toward the homeless man. As I cautiously approached him, he just kept pushing his shopping cart filled with what few belongings he had.

"Excuse me... hello", I called out to him.
He kept walking and I followed and tried to call him again.
"Excuse me, Mr.", I called out and he finally turned around.

For some reason I was no longer nervous and I remember looking into to his eyes when he said, "you talking to me?" He was unkempt and his skin looked leathered, as if he had been in the sun all of his life. As I took a few steps closer, I saw his basket filled with a piece of cardboard, some clothes with holes and few dirty blankets. Nonetheless, I just had a gut feeling he was suppose to get this blanket tonight and I was the one who was going to give it to him.

I put the blanket across both my arms and reached it out to him. "Here this is for you," I said.
"But I already have some blankets", he said.
"This is a clean blanket, it is for you, and I want you to have it."
"For me?" he asked.
"For you, for Christmas", it blurted out of my mouth and I warmly smiled.
"You're giving this to me for Christmas", he asked?
"Yes, this is for you", I replied and reached it out even further.
When he took the blanket from my hands, I felt the touch of his hands on mine and he looked up and said kindly, "thank you". Again I looked at him with a smile and I said Merry Christmas. He replied, "Merry Christmas and God bless you."

As I got ready to turn away, I answered back "God bless you too."

Then, I began walking back to my car and I climbed in. Just before we were ready to go I had looked back at him through my rear view mirror. In the reflection, I saw the homeless man, standing there alone, in the cold, on the street and he was holding the blanket I had just given him across his arms, just as I had presented it to him, up to the sky. He was praying, and I looked out the window, back at him, seeing a sky filled with stars, and watched him give thanks to the Lord. I got a tear in my eye and suddenly, the true spirit of Christmas filled my heart and soul. "This is what Christmas is truly about" I said silently to myself as I gently cried.

That very evening, that very moment, I had yearned for all my life, when I would feel the true spirit of Christmas had just touched me and overflowed into my soul. In giving that night, I received the greatest gift and those memories still live on in my heart today. The homeless man had nothing but what he carried in his cart, but he had God and was truly richer than anyone on the outside looking in could see. That night, the homeless man touched my heart and my life in a special way. Every Christmas season, I think of him and that beautiful experience that was a turning point in my life. I still get a tear in my eye every time I remember that night and what I learned from the homeless man I gave that blanket to that night.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

God Uses All Things for the Good

At one time, these people had it all - a home, car, family, friends, possessions, bank account and most importantly their freedom. Now they are homeless – having liquidated everything they own like a hobo hopping a cross-country rail – they live meagerly with few possessions. As pilgrims on their way home, they while away their remaining life’s hours in a wheelchair or pinned to an invalid’s sick bed. In their emptiness, they wait for footsteps - anyone’s, to bring a word, cheer, a prayer, a song and hope.

Many thanks to Our Lady Rosary Makers, Claire in San Luis Obispo, Rosemary in San Leandro and Irene in Seattle who stocked the Servants of the Father of Mercy choir with 100s of rosaries to give out to the poor forgotten elderly at area nursing homes. In a matter of just a few days, the rosary makers responded in full force sending large boxes of their handiwork to give out this holiday season. As the choir made the rounds and sang Sunday 5:30pm Christmas concerts at Twin Pines, Santa Paula, Treacy Villa, Ventura and Cypress Place, Ventura - Claudia’s 11 year old daughter Cynthia and 5 year old Valerie went bed to bed, room to room and made sure everyone received their hand made gift. It did not matter if a person was Catholic, Protestant or confused, everyone gladly grasped onto the crucifix and many hung the rosaries about their head as if it was a million dollar necklace. These nights, now they have no doubt slept in heavenly peace.


God uses all things for the good, doesn’t he? Because of sudden and unexplainable changes, the Servants of the Father of Mercy choir were recently dismissed after four years of leading Sunday 10am Mass worship. However, the hardworking all volunteer choir of 14 + with singers and instrumentalists are now freed up to spend their time singing for the elderly, the homeless, lost and broken. There will be no unemployment here, the need is eternally great. As the Christmas Holidays come to an end soon, the choir is getting geared up to go on tour to area nursing homes again in February with God “love songs” in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Handmade Valentine’s Day cards will be gifted to the elderly upoon arrival. The choir is also planning free concerts in the park for the homeless this summer.

Would you or someone you know like to join the band? The Servants of the Father of Mercy choir is currently in need of more singers of all ages, families, electric guitar player, violin, flute, brass and more. Email us at Contact@ServantsoftheFather.org and make a difference in someone’s life with your voice and musical talent.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mixed Messages

Christmas is about poverty, isn’t it? We all know the story – the poor Christ child, born in a barn, no room for him in the inn, he left his wealth in paradise and became one like us. How did Christmas ever become the season of wealth? We all know the story – black Friday, Christmas shopping, biggest retail season of the year, buying gifts and going into credit card debt.

The prophet Isaiah speaks above the noisy hoards . . .

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1

Christ’s soon coming is good news to those who are aware of their poverty, brokenness and emptiness. For them, Christmas is a cause of rejoicing. However, for those who are perishing in their pride and arrogance, who are filled with self-importance and possessions, it spells eternal loss. What is up is down and every valley will be raised and every mountain made low.

Isaiah thunders . . . For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the hearts of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Continuing Poverty of the First Christmas: Forgotten, Neglected and Scorned

By St. Bridget
I am the Creator of heaven and earth, one in divinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I am he who spoke to the prophets and the patriarchs, the one whom they awaited. For the sake of their longing and in accordance with my promise, I took flesh without sin, without human relations, entering the body of the Virgin like the sun shining through the clearest crystal. The sun does not damage the glass by entering it, nor was the Virgin's virginity lost when I took my human nature. I took flesh but without surrendering my divinity. I was no less God, ruling and filling all things with the Father and the Holy Spirit, although I, with my human nature, was in the womb of the Virgin. Brightness is never separated from fire, nor was my divinity ever separated from my humanity, not even in death. Next I willed for my pure and sinless body to be wounded from the sole of my foot to the crown of my head for the sins of all men, and to be hung on the cross. It is now offered each day on the altar in order that people might love me more and call to mind my favors more frequently.

Now, however, I am totally forgotten, neglected and scorned, like a king cast out of his own kingdom in whose place a wicked thief has been elected and honored. I wanted my kingdom to be within the human person, and by right I should be king and lord over him, since I made him and redeemed him. Now, however, he has broken and profaned the faith he promised me at baptism. He has violated and rejected the laws I set up for him. He loves his self-will and scornfully refuses to listen to me. Besides, he exalts that most wicked thief, the devil, above me and pledges him his faith. The devil really is a thief, since, by evil temptations and false promises, he steals for himself the human soul that I redeemed with my own blood. It is not because he is more powerful, as it were, than I am that he is able to steal it, since I am so powerful that I can do all things by a single word, and I am so just that I would not commit the least injustice, not even if all the saints asked me to. However, since man, who has been given free will, voluntarily scorns my commandments and consents to the devil, then it is only just that he should also experience the devil's tyranny. The devil was created good by me but fell through his own wicked will and has, as it were, become my servant for inflicting retribution on the wicked. Although I am now so despised, nevertheless I am still so merciful that I will forgive the sins of any who ask for my mercy and who humble themselves, and I shall free them from the evil thief. But I shall visit my justice upon those who persist in holding me in contempt, and hearing it they will tremble and those who experience it will say: 'Alas, that we were ever born or conceived, alas, that we ever provoked the Lord of majesty to wrath!' (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book One – Chapter 1)
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Preparing a Home for the Poor Homeless Lord this Christmas



By St. Bridget


I stand before [you] like a visitor saying: 'Friend, supply the basic needs that I lack, and you will receive the greatest reward from God!' But in return for my sheeplike simplicity they drive me away as if I were a wolf lying in wait for the master's sheep. Instead of hospitality they affront me like a traitor unworthy of hospitality and refuse to take me in. But what will the rejected visitor do? Should he bring out arms against the householder who drives him away? By no means. That would not be just, since the owner can give or deny his property to whomever he wants.

What, then, will the visitor do? He should certainly say to the one rejecting him: 'Friend, since you do not want to take me in, I will go to another who will take pity on me.' And, going to another person, he hears from him: 'You are welcome, sir, all that I have is yours. May you be the lord now! I will be your servant and guest.' Those are the kind of lodgings I like to stay in, where I hear such a voice. I am like the visitor rejected by men. Although I can enter any place whatsoever by virtue of my power, still, under the dictates of justice, I only enter where people receive me with a good will as their true Lord, not as a guest, and surrender their own will into my hands.” (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book One – Chapter 48)

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Find Meaning in Suffering





By Victor Frankl
Composed while prisoner of a Nazi death camp, Auschwitz





Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself – be it meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love – the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself . . .

In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as a meaning of sacrifice . . . In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end . . . My comrades’ . . . [Their] question was, “Will we survive the camp? For, if not, all this suffering has no meaning.” The question that beset me was, “Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance – as whether one escapes or not – ultimately would not be worth living at all”.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

A, B, C, D, F?


Just as the commercialism of Christmas season can in its very nature deter the Christian from seeing Christ in Christmas, so too the business of our daily lives can lead us to forget to seek Jesus in the poor. Of course, we rely on our local church, pastors and leaders to help keep us focused.

Recently a new poll was launched. The following question is asked: Jesus commands us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. How would you grade your local church's "report card" in this regard?

Please scroll down to near the bottom of this main page and cast your vote. Participate in this and all the Homeless In America polls. Your opinion counts!
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Holy Humility of the Common Poor

By Caryll Houselander



Other mothers, seeing such singular gifts that Christ must have had, such gifts of mind and body, such skill and such brilliance of thought, would surely have fretted if such a son had not shown more ambition, had not made a name for himself. Why be a humble carpenter? For example, with his ability, and his imagination, he could become a famous wood sculptor. Another mother would have complained that so brilliant a boy could surely better himself and her family fortune at the same time! Had she not seen with her own eyes that even the proud Rabbis were awed and silenced by his uncanny wisdom? Was it not the duty of such a son to provide a little comfort for his mother’s old age?

But for Mary of Nazareth, it was enough that her Son was about his Father’s work. That is what he had said and his word was good enough for her. She knew that if he chose to be a poor working boy, absorbed in his trade, putting all that was in him into his humble job as an ordinary woodworker, if he was content and proud to bring home his laborer’s pay towards their daily bread, then most certainly that was God’s work. “He has put down the mighty from their seats and hath exalted the humble.”

He obeyed her because he trusted her, because she never resisted the Holy Spirit by whom she had conceived him, because she was passionately devoted to the will of God, because she loved the world. Her values were his values. Their own miracle went on, and it went on as mysteriously and secretly as a pure bright stream running underground. Just as Christ had received God’s love from Mary in his infancy, now he did God’s will in the little acts of obedience that filled the loveliness of their lives between the loss in the Temple and the temptation in the wilderness.

Caryll Houselander (+ 1954) was a British mystic, poet and spiritual teacher.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wealth, Seduction and Happiness

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mt. 19:21

We must take care to guard against greed, for though one may be rich, life does not consist of possessions, Jesus warns us in Luke 12:15. Our happiness lies in God alone. Those who are rich in goods and prestige would do well to devote all they have to the service of the Lord. Seduced by money and fame? Better yet, become seduced by the riches of the Gospel. Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:23-26
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

Everyone has heard that the first Thanksgiving took place with a bunch of Pilgrims off the Mayflower in 1621, but it was Abraham Lincoln who, in the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, established the annual celebration of Thanksgiving. Lincoln had learned how important it is to stop and thank God in the midst of great difficulties. He wrote . . .

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens 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."

~Abraham Lincoln~
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Builder of Our Eternal Home

May we live as God’s household, holding fast to our confidence and pride in our hope. Amen. Hebrews 3:6


To Jesus Christ our foundation, cornerstone and Builder of our eternal home, let us pray:

R Lord, make your Church the dwelling place of God!

- - That all who are called by your name may care for the poor, broken, homeless, lost, orphan, widow, sick and dying around us: R

- - That your ministers and religious stewards may remain faithful to your Gospel of poverty, justice and truth: R

- - That our worship and gatherings may remain filled with those who are downtrodden, despised, rejected and humiliated: R

- - That the charity of your people here on earth may shine like the sun in the early morning darkness: R

"You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Ephesians 2:19-22
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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Great Communicator

Ronald Reagan is acclaimed as “the great communicator,” but some say he sometimes used his rhetorical skills to stigmatize the poor. During his poverty speeches while dutifully promising to roll back welfare, Reagan often told the story of a so-called “welfare queen” in Chicago who drove a Cadillac and had ripped off $150,000 from the government using 80 aliases, 30 addresses, a dozen social security cards and four fictional dead husbands. Journalists searched for this “welfare cheat” in the hopes of interviewing her and discovered that apparently she didn’t exist.

Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night – and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.

In early 1984 on Good Morning America, Reagan defended himself against charges of callousness toward the poor in a classic blaming-the-victim statement saying that “people who are sleeping on the grates…the homeless…are homeless, you might say, by choice.”

In this regard, recently, a Homeless In America poll came to an end. For about the past year bloggers and visitors have been sampled about this blaming-the-victim view. They were asked . . . What do you think? Are they homeless by choice? Are they homeless because of complex societal/personal factors? Here is how everyone answered:

One hundred percent of respondents believe that the poor homeless are suffering homelessness because of complex societal and personal factors. No one polled believes that they are homeless by choice.

Thank you for participating in this and all the Homeless In America polls. Please scroll down to near the bottom of this main page and participate in all of them. Your opinion counts!
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Santa's Homeless Sleigh is Coming to Town

A BIG hearty thank you and God bless you goes out to the many Ventura, California area restaurant owners and establishments who generously supported this year’s Servants of the Father of Mercy holiday fundraiser for the homeless.

This holiday season the Servants of the Father of Mercy has launched a fundraiser for the 1000s of homeless whom we serve food, water, clothing, blankets, and spiritual supplies in Ventura and Los Angeles. It is called Santa’s Sleigh Holiday Raffle - $5 a chance to win one of two sleighs packed full with 100s of dollars in treats, dining certificates, gift certificates and more. The winners will be picked at a Holiday Party and Drawing, Friday, December 30, 2011.

In grateful acknowledgement to the following for their participation and the $100s of dollars in gift certificates that they have donated:
* Mai – Mai’s Café
* Coco – Coco's Beauty Salon
* James – Red Brick
* Tom – Urbane Café
* Derek – Sharkys
* Jose-Luis – Santa Paula Photography Studio
* Franco – Java Joes Café
* Nicole – All Star Nails
* Shelley – Noah's Bagels
* Patty & Paige – Fern's Flowers and Gifts
* Scott – Century Theater

If you would like to participate in the raffle (there are two sleighs – two chances to win) send an email with your address and how many tickets you would like to Contact@ServantsoftheFather.org. Post your donation at the donate tab, www.ServantsoftheFather.org. Or, post checks to Servants of the Father of Mercy, P. O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042.

God bless everyone for their participation!
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Putting on the Ritz

Urban Peak Homeless Shelter for homeless young people reaches out to those in need on a monthly basis in a unique partnership with the Ritz-Carlton, a newly opened (2008) 5 star hotel in the Denver, Colorado area. Every third Thursday of the month, a complimentary dining event is made up for the youth. Employees and even guests of the Ritz-Carlton get into the action by cooking and serving breakfast to the poor at the Urban Peak homeless shelter.

Would you like to join the team? Put on your “chef’s hat” for the entire morning -- whether flipping pancakes or rolling up burritos, this is an opportunity to have fun, interact with the youth and get involved in the local community. Family members under the age of 18 are welcome to volunteer in the meal preparation but must be accompanied by an adult. Urban Peak is located just minutes from the Ritz-Carlton property, and offers extensive services for homeless and runaway youth; the organization helps guide teens and young adults out of homelessness and other life challenges by providing safety, respect, essential services and a supportive community, empowering them to become self-reliant and more successful in life.

More on the Internet at: http://www.urbanpeak.org/
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seeing is Believing

Over the past year, bloggers and visitors to Homeless In America were asked in a poll to disclose how often they may encounter a homeless person. According to their responses, fewer than 50% seldom see or speak to someone who is homeless. Of course, when living in big cities it is practically impossible to miss seeing those who are down and out. But for those living in more rural regions of the country, one may miss the reality of homelessness, nearly 3.5 million lost, broken and lonely souls, many living in Calcutta-like conditions, especially under bridges in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

After polling the question: “How often do you see or speak to a homeless person?” Here is how everyone responded . . .

Daily (16%)
Every few days (16%)
Once or twice a month (22%)
Rarely (44%)

There is a spiritual danger when we do not see the poor, especially when they are obvious as was the case of Lazarus and the rich man, a parable told by Jesus in this regard, (Cf. Luke 16:19-31). At the end of the story, the rich man ends up in the eternal place of torment, not because of sins he committed, but because of what he did not do in his lifetime, namely helping the poor.

Jean Vanier, the founder of l‘Arche communities for the disabled, expands upon the lessons to be learned from “Lazarus and the Rich Man.” While speaking on radio with Lydia Talbot, he once said, “I think there is a whole mystery which we find in Luke. Lazarus was an excluded outcast, a leper, and he is the one that enters into the kingdom. The rich man, who wasn't able to see him, rejected him. He goes into the place of torment. You see, the danger for rich people is that they become frightened and they build up barriers around their hearts, defense mechanisms, because they have to preserve their riches, preserve their image, preserve their power. So they become people of with lots of fear, whereas Lazarus has nothing to defend. He's just himself.”
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homeless Help Prepare Protesters

Recently, Associated Press writer Erika Niedowski reported that with the temperature dropping, Occupy Protesters are stockpiling donated coats, blankets and scarves, trying to secure cots and military-grade tents, and getting survival tips from the homeless people who have joined their encampments.

"Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment," said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. "Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast."

More than a month and a half into the movement, Occupy Wall Street activists from New York to Colorado have pledged to tough out the snow, sleet and cold as they protest economic inequality and what they call corporate greed [and unfair bank fees, etc.].

But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent: In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that dumped several inches of snow.

The activists also know full well that the number of demonstrators is likely to drop as the weather gets colder.

Some movements are scouting locations indoors, including vacant buildings or other unused properties, possibly even foreclosed homes, though some question the wisdom of holding a protest outside the public eye.

Boston's Occupy movement, which has roughly 300 overnight participants and could face some of the most brutal weather of any city with a major encampment, has set up a winterization committee that will try to obtain super-insulated sleeping bags and other winter survival gear.

Activists from the movement's flagship encampment, consisting of hundreds of people in New York City's Zuccotti Park, are sorting through packages arriving daily that include coats and jackets.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What does the Bible say about compassion for the poor?

Well, here it is! And this is just from the beginning of the Bible . . .

Deuteronomy 14:29
“Keep it in reserve for the Levite who won't get any property or inheritance as you will, and for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow who live in your neighborhood. That way they'll have plenty to eat and God, your God, will bless you in all your work.”

Deuteronomy 15:7
“When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse.”

Deuteronomy 15:11
“There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.”

Deuteronomy 24:19-21
“19: When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don't go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your God, will bless you in all your work. 20: When you shake the olives off your trees, don't go back over the branches and strip them bare--what's left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. 21: And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don't take every last grape--leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow.”
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tips on Being Homeless or Just Dirt Poor

Whether you are technically homeless or just dirt poor, finding food and water or other amenities like heat can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips from the pros – people who have been there and know something about how to survive.

- Check out events like church gatherings, Sunday morning coffee and donuts, open houses or special museum nights. Usually they have free food. Free samples at grocery stores and markets are also an awesome welcome.

- Friends who haven't seen you in a while will occasionally offer to buy you lunch or coffee. Yeah, it feels like a humbling guilt trip, but it's because they care about you. Obviously don't ask, but if they offer its okay to say yes.

- Can’t afford the gas or electric? Use blankets and layers of clothing instead of heat. Hot drinks work nicely too. Also, for about $20 at Amazon.com, Lasko makes a Ceramic Personal Space Heater that will keep you toasty warm for pennies a day.

- Some grocery stores have a "damaged food" shelf. Here there are dented cans or apples with bruises, but otherwise fine food which is sold for cheap.

- Some restaurants have "meal deals" where you can buy a combination of items and get it all at a reduced price. The food will last you several meals.

- Bulk up on inexpensive carbs like pasta, couscous, beans, rice and lentils.

- Shop for fruits and vegetables in season. You probably don't need watermelon in December!

- Stock up for the day with sugar, ketchup, honey, napkins and cups . . . anything like that’s in the condiment stand in a restaurant.

- Shop independent thrift shops, The Salvation Army and Goodwill for clothes. Hand-me-downs from family and friends are awesome too!

- Get your water at a friend's house or a fast food soda fountain instead of buying bottles.

- Shower at a friend's house or occasionally check into a gym by getting a day pass – some offer them for free just to try out the gym. Go work out for a few minutes and then use their shower. Many already have soap and shampoo in them as well.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Cluttered House

By Caryll Houselander


"To be rich is to live in an overcrowded house, a house of life overcrowded with false values; they encumber like useless heirlooms. They ought to be thrown out of the windows but the courage and the virility to do this are lacking . . .

"Poverty is like one room. The windows are open, the sun comes in, the walls are whitewashed, there are one or two books chosen for our delight, they are read and re-read; if there is a picture it is one bought at the cost of sacrifice because it is a real joy, we see it because there is no bric-a-brac to distract from it. There is one earthenware pot that holds water, and the wild flowers know in it their affinity to earth and rain. This room is a workroom, in it we learn the joy of good work, done well, and of the real charity, the fellow-feeling, of working with others. We share the dreams, the ardors and the endurances of other people; we have the key to love.

" ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ says Christ. ‘For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This is true, all the other Beatitudes promise future blessedness, but this one gives the loveliest of all, here and now, the kingdom of heaven, which in this life, is known in the wonder and realization of life and beauty, in the keenness of the mind and of the senses, in the power of selection and in the response of the unspoilt spirit to God and man. "


Caryll Houselander (+ 1954) was a British mystic, poet and spiritual teacher.
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Walking Advertisements

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

As we walk through our city streets, the primary place where the wealthy live and work, the homeless that we see on street corners, outside of shopping centers and pushing their carts down busy thoroughfares are walking advertisements. What are they advertising? They are proliferous lot of messages from God who cries out for the wealthy to have a heart. For it is so: without a heart of love, one cannot see God.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Prayer

I asked God for strength that I might achieve,
I was made weak that I might learn obedience.

I asked for health that I might do great things,
I was given infirmity that I may do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have praise,
I was given weakness that I may be humble.

I asked for all these things that I might enjoy life,
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for, but received everything I had hoped for. I am among all most blessed!

More on the Internet at: http://thehomelesspresident.wordpress.com
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Pay What You Can Restaurant

Recently, Associated Press writer Wayne Parry reported on the opening of Jon Bon Jovi's charity restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey. It is here that The Soul Kitchen, a "pay-what-you-can" restaurant opened that he and his wife Dorothea established in a former auto body shop in central New Jersey.

The restaurant provides gourmet-quality meals to the hungry while enabling them to volunteer on community projects in return without the stigma of visiting a soup kitchen. Paying customers are encouraged to leave whatever they want in the envelopes on each table, where the menus never list a price.

The restaurant is the latest undertaking by the New Jersey rocker's Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has built 260 homes for low-income residents in recent years.

"With the economic downturn, one of the things I noticed was that disposable income was one of the first things that went," Bon Jovi told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday before the restaurant's grand opening ceremony. "Dining out, the family going out to a restaurant, mom not having to cook, dad not having to clean up — a lot of memories were made around restaurant tables.

"When I learned that one in six people in this country goes to bed hungry, I thought this was the next phase of the Foundation's work," he said.

It started several years ago when Dorothea Bongiovi (she uses the legal spelling of her husband's name) and Jon started helping out at a food pantry at nearby St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church. They later moved their focus to the Lunch Break program, which feeds 80 to 120 people a day, dubbing it "The Soul Kitchen."

They brought that name with them to a former auto body shop down the street from the Count Basie Theater, where Jon and his band have played many fundraising shows for local charities.

It took a year and $250,000, but the restaurant now rivals any of its competitors in trendy Red Bank, with entrees like cornmeal crusted catfish with red beans and rice, grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf, and grilled salmon with soul seasonings, sweet potato mash and sauteed greens, many of which were grown in the herb and vegetable garden right outside the restaurant's doors.

Bon Jovi, who has a home in next-door Middletown, is adamant about one thing.

"This is not a soup kitchen," he emphasizes. "You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you're served a healthy, nutritious meal. This is not burgers and fries."
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who is Homeless?



By the National Coalition for the Homeless


Here are a few facts about the homeless in America:

DEMOGRAPHICS: Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Persons living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless, and demographic groups who are more likely to experience poverty are also more likely to experience homelessness.

AGE: In 2003, children under the age of 18 accounted for 39% of the homeless population. This same study found that unaccompanied minors comprised 5% of the urban homeless population.

GENDER: Most studies show that single homeless adults are more likely to be male than female - 67.5% of the single homeless population is male, and it is this single population that makes up 76% of the homeless populations surveyed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007).

FAMILIES: The number of homeless families with children has increased significantly over the past decade. Families with children are among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In its 2007 survey of 23 American cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that families with children comprised 23% of the homeless population.

ETHNICITY: In its 2006 survey of 25 cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that the sheltered homeless population is estimated to be 42 percent African-American, 38 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian.

VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. A 2003 survey of 100 homeless mothers in 10 locations around the country found that 25% of the women had been physically abused in the last year (American Civil Liberties Union, 2004).

VETERANS: Research indicates that 40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces, as compared to 34% of the general adult population (Rosenheck et al., 1996).

PERSONS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS: Persons with severe mental illness represented about 26 percent of all sheltered homeless persons (Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, 2008). According to the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, only 5-7% of homeless persons with mental illness require institutionalization.

PERSONS SUFFERING FROM ADDICTION DISORDERS: Among surveyed homeless people 38% have an alcohol problem, and 26% report problems with other drugs (National Health Care for the Homeless Council). [Usually this is caused by inadequate access to mental health care and “self-medication” becomes the primary choice to experience relief.]

IMPLICATIONS: As this fact sheet makes clear, people who become homeless do not fit one general description. However, people experiencing homelessness do have certain shared basic needs, including affordable housing, adequate incomes, and health care. Some homeless people may need additional services such as mental health or drug treatment in order to remain securely housed. All of these needs must be met to prevent and to end homelessness.
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

True Religion is to be Found Amongst the Poor

Notable quotes from St. Vincent de Paul . . .

Go to the poor: you will find God. - St Vincent de Paul

It is from your hands that Our Lord, in the person of the sick, seeks relief. - St Vincent de Paul

Lord, help me to make time today to serve you in those who are most in need of encouragement or assistance. - St Vincent de Paul

Let us love God my brothers, let us love God. But let it be with the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brow. - St Vincent de Paul

Outpourings of affection for God, of resting in his presence, of good feelings toward everyone and sentiments and prayers like these ... are suspect if they do not express themselves in practical love which has real effects. - St Vincent de Paul

In spite of my age (79), I tell you before God that I do not feel excused from the responsibility of working for the salvation of the poor. For what could really get in the way of my doing that now? If I cannot preach every day, all right, I'll preach twice a week. If I cannot preach more important sermons, I will preach less important ones. If the congregation cannot hear me at a distance, what is to prevent me from speaking in an informal, more familiar way to those poor just as I am speaking to you right now? What is to hinder me from gathering them near me just as you are sitting around me now? - St Vincent de Paul

When you are called from your prayers or the Eucharistic celebration to serve the poor, you lose nothing, since to serve the poor is to go to God. You must see God in the faces of the poor. - St Vincent de Paul

The poor have much to teach you. You have much to learn from them. - St Vincent de Paul

The net result of my experience on the matter is the judgment I have formed, that true religion - true religion, Gentlemen, true religion [according to the Letter of James] is to be found amongst the poor. - St Vincent de Paul

The poor are your masters. You are the servant. - St Vincent de Paul

Let us, my sisters, cherish the poor as our masters, since Our Lord is in them, and they are in Our Lord. - St Vincent de Paul
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Love Fulfills the Law - No Need for a Lawyer in Heaven

“This is my commandment that you love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12


[The law of freedom] it says to man: “You will love the Lord with all your heart, with all your strength, with all your mind and above all things, and your neighbor as yourself for the love of God.”

Translated: “You will love God more than anything else, and to love him, you will love others as yourself.”

For the Christian, it is impossible to love God without loving humanity; it is impossible to love humanity without loving other people; and it is impossible to love other people, without loving the people he knows, with a concrete and active love . . .
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homelessness, a Saving Vocation?

God brought salvation to the world, metaphorically speaking, through homeless people. Adam and Eve were homeless when they were expelled from their home in the Garden of Eden. Abraham was a homeless nomad and Moses, after all those years in the wilderness experienced homelessness too. The Jews have perpetually suffered homelessness, especially in the wilderness, then during the Babylonian captivity and most recently, for 2,000 years when having no homeland up to the founding of their new home after WW II.

Lastly and most importantly, the Savior of the world was homeless too – Jesus, as well as his mother and father - Mary and Joseph while on the road for the census and then again on the road to Egypt. Jesus was homeless during the three years of his public ministry too.

Question: Today, how does God bring salvation to the world through those around us who are homeless?
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Who are the wicked? They are the ones who do not see the poor.

He sins who despises the hungry, but happy is he who is kind to the poor! Proverbs 14:21



Psalm 112


Praise the Lord! Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

The righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

"He who has compassion on the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his good deed." Proverbs 19:17
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Were Adam and Eve Homeless?

Throughout human history, homelessness is more common than one would think. The reality is that in most cases even today as it was so long ago, homelessness is usually a temporary circumstance -- not a permanent condition. A more appropriate measure of the magnitude of homelessness is to look at the number of people who experience homelessness over time, not the number of “homeless people” who permanently live that way. In that case, the numbers are staggering.

Today, a new quiz poll and survey is launched – Which Bible personalities experienced homelessness? For example, were Adam and Eve homeless? How about Abraham and Moses, or Mary and Joseph? If so, what might be the spiritual message hidden in the historicity of their lives and their stories?

Please scroll to near the bottom of this main page and participate in this new survey. God bless you and thank you for participating in all the polls posted below.
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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Blessed Pain of the Homeless and all who Suffer Greatly

By St. Padre Pio

Jesus tells me that in love it is he who delights me, while in suffering, on the other hand, it is I who give pleasure to him. Now, to desire good health would mean seeking happiness for myself instead of trying to comfort Jesus.

Your most perfect prayer is your pure suffering united to Me and My Mother. The prayer of pure suffering is the sweetest fragrance that reaches and delights the Heart of our Father. This is also the prayer that produces an abundance of fruit. This is the prayer that is most united to Mine as I intercede before the throne of My Father.

Yes, I love the cross, the cross alone; I love it because I see it always on Jesus' shoulders. By this time Jesus is well aware that my entire life, my whole heart is consecrated to him and to his sufferings.

Ah, dear Father, pardon me for using this sort of language; Jesus alone can understand what I suffer when the painful scene of Calvary is enacted before my eyes. It is equally incomprehensible how Jesus can be consoled not merely by those who sympathize with his torments, but when he finds a soul who for love of him asks no consolations and only wants to be allowed to share in his sufferings.

When Jesus wants to make me understand that he loves me, he permits me to relish the wounds, the thorns, the anguish of his Passion. When he wants me to rejoice, he fills my heart with that spirit which is all fire and he speaks to me of his delights. But when he wants to be delighted, he speaks to me of his sufferings, he invites me in a tone which is both a request and a command to offer my body that his sufferings may be alleviated.

Who could resist him? I realize that I have made him suffer exceedingly by my failings that I have made him weep too much by my ingratitude, that I have offended him too grievously. I want nobody but Jesus, I desire nothing else (which is Jesus' own desire) that his sufferings. Allow me to say it, since no one can hear us, I am ready even to be deprived forever of the tendernesses which Jesus lavishes on me, I am prepared to bear his hiding his beautiful eyes from men as long as he does not hide from me his love, for this would cause my death.

(Saint Padre Pio (+ 1968) was an Italian Capuchin priest who suffered greatly the bleeding wounds of Christ in his own flesh for much of his life. He also suffered the despisement of many who hated him and imprisoned him for many years in his own monastery under the orders of holy obedience.)
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Never Judge

St. Benedict Labre was born March 26, 1748 at Amettes, France. He was the oldest child in a family of 15 children. In his later teenage years, he tried to enter various Trappist, Carthusian, and Cistercian monasteries. In some, he was allowed to enter but did not persevere according to their standards. Some say it was due to either his health or his unyielding desire to be totally destitute that prevented him from staying in any one monastery. Sometimes, upon his return home, his family merely said, “We told you so.” He soon left home again, and the last word his parents received from him was that he was headed to Rome to find and enter a rigorous religious order.

After he arrived at Rome, St. Benedict seemed to have received a special illumination as to what his vocation would be–he felt called to make a perpetual pilgrimage to the famous sites of Europe. He wore only the shabbiest apparel, slept on the ground, and never begged for money unless he was sick. He carried two rosaries, a Bible, a breviary, and The Imitation of Christ. Upon Benedict’s entry into a confessional, the priest would often have to brace himself against the homeless odor of sweat and dirt.

Sores on his knees attested to his long hours of prayer. Sometimes, his body would levitate while he was praying. Soon, his intense austerities took their toll. Benedict died on April 16, 1783; he was 35 years old. Leo XIII canonized him in 1881, and his feast day is April 16th.

A couple of years ago, there was a young man twenty-something living homeless in downtown Los Angeles by the name of Nathan. He felt his vocation in life was to be homeless and to minister to other homeless people. After hearing the story of St. Benedict Labre, we probably should not judge.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Some Famous People Who Were Homeless

Jesus:
The founder of Christianity who was born homeless in a barn and died homeless in a borrowed grave . . . In his own words Jesus said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58)

Ella Fitzgerald:
Grammy Award-winning singer and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient . . . She lived on the streets of Harlem in New York City for a year as a teenager just before she won an amateur singing talent contest at the Apollo Theater that launched her career.

Jewel:
She is a Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter who in 1979 lived out of a VW van and was joined eventually by her mother/manager Lenedra Carroll. In her own words she said, "I was homeless when I was 18." (TV Guide magazine, March 16-22, 2009, pg. 9)

David Letterman:
He is an Emmy Award-winning television writer, comedian, talk-show host and author. As host of the television talk-show Late Show with David Letterman, he once lived out of a red 1973 Chevy pickup truck before making it in his television career.

"Dr. Phil" (Phil McGraw):
He is a well-known TV talk show host, best-selling author and psychologist. At the age of 12, he was homeless in Kansas City, Kansas after he and his father moved there. His dad was struggling to make it as he himself interned as a psychologist. In his own words, Dr. Phil once said, “I was homeless living in a car with my dad. We eventually got a room at the downtown YMCA for five bucks a week.”

Joan Rivers:
She is an Emmy Award-winning television talk-show host who frequently guest hosted the Tonight Show for Johnny Carson. She is a best-selling author, comedienne and once lived homeless early on in her career out of her car.

William Shatner:
The star and face of the Star Trek “cult”, he is an Emmy Award-winning actor-director and best-selling Canadian-born author. He once lived out of a pick-up truck with a walk-in camper on the back for a time after his divorce due to financial difficulties and after the cancellation of the television series Star Trek, in which he starred. He travelled in that time the east coast of the U.S. appearing in a play on the summer theater circuit and sleeping in the camper with his dog. Shatner said, "I now had three children and an ex-wife to support and I was just about broke. I even lived out of a pick-up truck for a while." (DailyMail.co.uk, May 11, 2008)
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why did Jesus have to Die?

Why did Jesus have to die? How did he cleanse us from sin? The Bible refers to Jesus as the “unblemished lamb,” (Cf. 1 Peter 1:19) meaning he was pure and holy, made of pure love and charity. As a result, he had to suffer and die and thereby be a perpetual example of authentic love and forgiveness for all those who are to be saved. In his own person and by his own illustration, he became a living sacrifice, a living beacon of love that, by the power of his Spirit at work in the world for all ages to come after his ascension, he can also transform all those who believe in him into similar models of love, forgiveness and charity. He therefore reconciled us to God doing in his own person what the law could not do.

Why did he have to die the most brutal death possible? Because in that death he could forever show us the way to heaven – the way of forgiveness and the life of charity that unites us with the Father, who is love himself and through Christ makes us his adopted sons and daughters.

How did he cleanse us from sin? He reconciled us to God by putting a new heart within us, a new Spirit – sanctifying us with a Spirit of love, charity, mercy and forgiveness (Cf. Ezekiel 36:26). In the Old Testament, those who lived under the times of the law could not do that. But now he has reconciled us to God the Father by placing us under the law of mercy, for “Judgment is without mercy to those who have shown no mercy, yet mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Ultimately, Jesus died because as C. S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity, he had to pay our debt through his pure love and charity. That is to say that no one could pay but him the cost of the debt we human sinners had accrued - similar to when a judge sets the amount of a fine. The fine is to pay for the cost of the crime, the transgression committed. That is what Jesus did for us, he paid the debt, the cost, because otherwise none of us could have afforded it. The debt was beyond our capacity to pay.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lord, Give Me a Heart of Flesh

"A new heart will I give you and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will take away the stony heart and give you a heart of flesh."
Ezekiel 36:26

“Lord, give me a heart of flesh,
To hear your words your love,
I’ve had a heart of stone for so long,
And teach me how to listen close,
And where to hear your voice,
Now Lord, before I sing my song.”
Joe Wise, from A New Day

“Some of your hearts are not worth keeping! The sooner you get rid of them the better. They are hearts of stone. Do you feel today that you have a stony heart? Go home, and I pray the Lord hear my desire that your polluted heart may be removed. Cry unto God and say, “Take away my heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh;” (Ezek 11:19, 36:26) for a stony heart is an impure heart, a divided heart, an unpeaceful heart. It is a heart that is poor and poverty–stricken, a heart that is void of all goodness, and you can neither bless yourself or others, if your heart be such.” Charles Spurgeon + 1892
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Your Light will Break Forth Like the Dawn

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor homeless with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." Isaiah 58:6-7



“For freedom, Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1


Jesus Christ is our true liberator. We pray to him:

R Free your people, Lord!

For those who are called by your name in foreign lands and who are unjustly bound and tortured, we pray: R

For those who are called by your name in the land of the free and who are unjustly oppressed because of the good they do, we pray: R

For those who are trapped in homelessness, hunger, cold, thirst and nakedness, we pray: R

For those who are imprisoned in stony hearts from wealth, arrogance, self-righteousness and pride, we pray: R
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Pity the Fool: A legendary actor uses his Christian faith to help motivate and inspire people to help the homeless


By Mr. T


“My celebrity status allows me an opportunity, allows me a pulpit to preach and reach out to the people. Not even always preaching but just leading, motivating them by being a leader.

“In Los Angeles I take food and clothes to the Midnight Mission the homeless shelter. Ever since ‘Rocky,’ I've gone down there quietly—I never call the press and say, ‘See me helping the people!’
“My mother told me, ‘Son, nobody else but God knows.’ And that’s what I’m about—reaching out to the people, crying with them, giving them hope. Visiting the hospital, visiting the kids with cancer, visiting the adults, and stuff like that. That’s what I do. And so the show sort of reflects those things, and gives me an opportunity to raise people’s spirits, inspire them to help others, to give them hope.

“The show is called ‘I Pity the Fool’, but we’re not calling nobody a fool--everybody knows that that’s my saying. It's not derogatory in no way, I guarantee that when people see the show they’re going to be surprised and they’re going to be hooked because it’s nothing like what people think. It’s a reality show [but] we’re not eating worms, we’re not naked, we’re not having sex with nobody, we’re not wrestling pigs and stuff like that. It’s me doing my thing, but this time the cameras are with me.

“I use my celebrity status to inspire someone, to give them hope. I tell them where I grew up—on the South Side of Chicago. I tell them how I was born and raised in the ghetto, but the ghetto wasn’t born and raised in me. About how I loved and respected my mother, how my mother used to teach us to bless our food, and reminded us to be thankful for what we had. She said if you can appreciate what little you have, God will give you more. And that’s what I think happened when I look back on my life.”

More on the Internet: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Celebrities/Words-Of-Wisdom-From-Mr-T.aspx
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