Tag Archives: gina

15 February, Saturday – If you could see how much God loves

15 February

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1 Kings 12:26-32,13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.’ So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set up one in Bethel and the people went in procession all the way to Dan in front of the other. He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar. That was how he behaved in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made; and at Bethel he put the priests of the high places he had established.

Jeroboam did not give up his wicked ways but went on appointing priests for the high places from the common people. He consecrated as priests of the high places any who wished to be. Such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth.

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Mark 8:1-10

A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.

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I have compassion on the crowd

Jesus shares that this crowd has been with him for three days, so we know he must be exhausted and hungry. But his thoughts and motives aren’t for himself, they are for all those around him. He doesn’t say, ‘it’s not my problem, they should have brought their own food…’ or anything like that at all. His heart sees the people. He realizes they must be hungry and his strongest desire is to give to them. Even his disciples try to dissuade his compassion and generosity, but he is not deterred. Always thinking of others before himself, always loving all others all the time.

At a recent retreat, I was sharing with Brother Mark about a difficult person in my life. A person I love, but one who is constantly complaining, criticizing and gossiping. Her attitude and words make me want to just never spend time with her, and when I do, I want to point out her mean words and lack of gratitude for all those who are at her beck and call 24/7. My heart was filled with judgement on this person who I loved, but at this point didn’t like. I gave him many examples, and he agreed with me, then Brother Mark said, “ Yet, if you could see how much God loves her, it would break your heart.” Powerful words that immediately brought me to tears. Powerful words that demand – if I honestly want to be a disciple of Christ – for me to change MY perspective, my thoughts, my words so that I act with the LOVE of Christ, and not my flesh attitude of judgement.

I want to live a life of compassion for all those around me. Those I like and don’t like. The good, the bad and the ugly, knowing that I am all those things. If I have strength in compassion in the way that I live, I know Christ will be reflected. Most everyone I come into contact quickly realizes that I am a ‘Jesus’ person, and if we spend more than a handful of minutes together, they will know that I am Catholic. I want to be available for God to use me as He chooses, and I know that when I act in love, I honor him.

My heart’s desire is to do things well to honor God. All things. I will begin anew today.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God, open our eyes so that we truly see all those You have put in our path, and in seeing, are able to be Christ for them.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you for the compassion you have for each of us every second of our lives. Thank you for loving us through all our phases, failings and sinful acts. Thank you for your compassionate mercy, grace, forgiveness and perfect love.

14 February, Friday – Just do the next most loving thing

14 Feb 

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1 Kings 11:29-32, 12:19

One day when Jeroboam had gone out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh accosted him on the road. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak; the two of them were in the open country by themselves. Ahijah took the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve strips, saying to Jeroboam, ‘Take ten strips for yourself, for thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel, “I am going to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hand and give ten tribes to you. He shall keep one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’

And Israel has been separated from the House of David until the present day.

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Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

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He hath done all things well.

We know that He has done all things well. How could we ever want to follow another?  How could we ever choose our way, instead of His? How could we ever refrain from doing what is right and good (going to Mass, daily prayer time, helping a friend, showing up to whatever is scheduled with a present-to-the-moment attitude of love…) just because we are tired, or have something else more fun to do, or just don’t feel like getting dressed, or feel like being around that group of people, or that person, or…

We all desire to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”, yet we procrastinate about being our BEST, being fully faithful at all times, because this person is rude, that person didn’t treat us right, this person has the opposite political view, that person gets on my nerves…that person talks to much…this person…that person…this person.

What you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done unto me.

When I was hungry…or self centered

When I was in prison…or annoying

When I was naked…or needy

When I was a stranger…or ‘different’

When I was……

As Catholic Christians, we know that ‘that’ person is loved beyond measure by God, too.  Jesus is IN that person. And still, if you’re like me, we ignore Jesus’ words and walk, and we become the self centered one. I can’t be bothered right now, because I have more important tasks to finish, more important people to be around…

I recently attended a 4-day silent retreat at a monastery, and the three main takeaways were:

  1. Trust in God
  2. Be present to the moment
  3. Just do the next most loving thing

Those three points are what Jesus lived. He was fully committed to those three things every second of his life. Simple instruction, when followed, will allow us to clearly hear, “Welcome home, my good and faithful servant”. Simple, but certainly not easy for me because I so often choose MY will over His. How easy it would be to walk in His will if I would do those 3 things. And those 3 things bring joy, calm and more joy. Yet, I so easily am distracted from the moment, thinking about what has happened, will happen, what I have to do next, etc. I so easily don’t do the most loving thing. Maybe what I am doing isn’t a wrong thing, but it isn’t the most loving thing.

I want to commit those three guiding principles to my daily walk. I want to review nightly how I did, or didn’t, live well.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God, open our hearts so that we will see you in everyone.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you for giving us a new beginning every morning, every minute, and allowing us to fall into your ways and not our own. Thank you for never rejecting us based on our past. 

13 February, Thursday – 99% isn’t enough

13 February

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1 Kings 11:4-13

When Solomon grew old his wives swayed his heart to other gods; and his heart was not wholly with the Lord his God as his father David’s had been. Solomon became a follower of Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and of Milcom, the Ammonite abomination. He did what was displeasing to the Lord, and was not a wholehearted follower of the Lord, as his father David had been. Then it was that Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the god of Moab on the mountain to the east of Jerusalem, and to Milcom the god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrifice to their gods.
The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord the God of Israel who had twice appeared to him and who had then forbidden him to follow other gods; but he did not carry out the Lord’s order. The Lord therefore said to Solomon, ‘Since you behave like this and do not keep my covenant or the laws I laid down for you, I will most surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. For your father David’s sake, however, I will not do this during your lifetime, but will tear it out of your son’s hands. Even so, I will not tear the whole kingdom from him. For the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen, I will leave your son one tribe.’

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Mark 7:24-30

Jesus left Gennesaret and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not pass unrecognised. A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him straightaway and came and fell at his feet. Now the woman was a pagan, by birth a Syrophoenician, and she begged him to cast the devil out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ But she spoke up: ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied ‘but the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go home happy: the devil has gone out of your daughter.’ So she went off to her home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.

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…and did not fully follow the Lord.

If you’re 99% in, you’re 100% out.

It is so easy to love thy neighbor, when your neighbor is good, kind and loving.

It is so easy to honor your parents, when your parents are good, kind and loving.

It is so easy to keep the Sabbath day holy, when you’re not behind in work, when your kids don’t have sports events, when you’re not overly exhausted, etc.

It is so easy to follow the Lord… some of the time.

It is so easy to justify why our circumstances allow us to follow ‘mostly’, and not fully.

We live in a world so filled with pleasure, so filled with constant voices telling us ‘only do what makes you happy’, that it has become more and more difficult to FULLY follow the Lord. We see so few people, even people in church every week, FULLY following the Lord. Monogamous couples committed to each other under the same roof without the sacrament of marriage. Christians who practice deceit in their business dealings, because it’s business and everyone is doing it. Christians who have left the physical church, for a plethora of reasons, claiming to be spiritual but not religious (believing that the institution of religion is the enemy). Good Christians who truly believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding them to be their own priest and pope. Good Christians following who they have ‘made’ God to be to fit their needs, desires and circumstances and, ignorantly not fully following the Lord.

It seems we have allowed the world to live in us (because we are so smart, and after all, it is the 21st century) and, in doing so, have left little room for God. And therein lies our downfall. Our downfall of our own making, and all the while the enemy is dancing with glee.

I once heard this concept described as FAITH being a glove and people accepting the glove but only putting the glove on 2 or 3 fingers. Therefore the glove doesn’t work. As I shared yesterday, when we choose not to trust in God, we sin. We take things into our own hands, we self-medicate, whether it be with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, lack of food, hobbies, working, any number of things/activities. We take good things and turn them into idols. King Solomon, wise as he was, did this, and once he started to pull away from the Lord, he fell into a cycle of sin. It’s the most common story of humanity.

When we commit to fully follow the Lord, and repent when we fail (because we will) instead of making excuses that take us further from God, we live in joy. His grace is sufficient. We will still suffer at times, sometimes extreme suffering; but, when we trust fully in Him, we fully follow Him, and we experience a joy that surpasses all understanding.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer:  Father God, we desire to fully follow you. We know that only in walking with you fully will we experience peace. We know that you have the answers we seek because YOU are the answer we seek.  

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for fully loving us, even when we are full of ourselves and are turning away from you.  Thank you for never turning from us.

12 February, Wednesday – Trusting in God

12 Feb

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1 Kings 10:1-10

The fame of Solomon having reached the queen of Sheba, she came to test him with difficult questions. She brought immense riches to Jerusalem with her, camels laden with spices, great quantities of gold, and precious stones. On coming to Solomon, she opened her mind freely to him; and Solomon had an answer for all her questions, not one of them was too obscure for the king to expound. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, the food at his table, the accommodation for his officials, the organisation of his staff and the way they were dressed, his cup-bearers, and the holocausts he offered in the Temple of the Lord, it left her breathless, and she said to the king, ‘What I heard in my own country about you and your wisdom was true, then! Until I came and saw it with my own eyes I could not believe what they told me, but clearly they told me less than half: for wisdom and prosperity you surpass the report I heard. How happy your wives are! How happy are these servants of yours who wait on you always and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God who has granted you his favour, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord’s everlasting love for Israel, he has made you king to deal out law and justice.’ And she presented the king with a hundred and twenty talents of gold and great quantities of spices and precious stones; no such wealth of spices ever came again as those given to King Solomon by the queen of Sheba.

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Mark 7:14-23

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

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And I did not believe them that told me, till I came myself, and saw with my own eyes…

The Queen of Saba (Sheba) speaks those words about King Solomon, and they are similar to the words of St. Thomas the Doubter about Jesus’ resurrection. Words that simply say, I DON’T TRUST until I can see it, hear it and touch it. These thoughts are similar to how I often live… not fully trusting. Apparently needing to SEE for myself, especially when I don’t see or hear God ‘doing something’…answering my righteous prayer…I am living without trusting in the Almighty. It is absence of faith

Just this morning, I was listening to a homily by Fr. Mike Schmitz, and he said, “We cannot underestimate what God is doing when it seems like God is doing nothing. Silence isn’t absence.”

The longer I live, the more I look back and see how OFTEN our Father was ‘there’ for me (and so many others), how He was indeed working towards my good in the moments when I didn’t see Him, didn’t hear Him and didn’t feel Him. It is so easy for my thoughts to wander into a mindset of believing that I must act, since He apparently isn’t doing something…anything. I must take this situation into my own hands and handle it. I must move things forward. I, I, I. I must be in control, in other words, I must take over since I can’t trust in His timing, in Him.

When I don’t rest in Him, rest in prayer, rest in WAITING on Him, and instead make a move and walk through a door that not only has He not opened, but He hasn’t led me to, I sin. I recently heard that NOT trusting in God always leads to sin. That not trusting in God leads to self-medicating. Always. As I contemplated this, I could see how this has always played out in my life. My prayer wasn’t being answered in the time frame and way I wanted it answered, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. God wasn’t ‘moving’ quickly enough for me, or in the direction I wanted. Time after time, I mistook His silence for abandonment. And I know better. I know that He has never, and will never leave me, yet I sometimes jump in (not near as much now as in my 20s, 30s 40s and even 50s – thank you, Lord, that I am learning to trust You more completely) thinking I have to do this, or do that. I want to believe that I am ‘waiting on Him’, but I am actually busying myself so that I feel productive. Doing the ‘right’ thing in front of others and not just waiting. I can even sometimes pretend I am being a ‘better’ Catholic by not bothering Him and actually helping Him out by taking control…which makes me laugh as I even write this!

Trusting in God without seeing, without hearing, without believing, that is peace. Fr. Richard Rohr wrote, “Faith and trust are choices, we do not simply ‘fall’ into them.”  It would be so much easier if we just fell into trust, into faith, but God has given us free will.  He has a better plan, and when we trust fully in Him, we have His peace.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are so in need of your constant love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. We desire to trust in you for all things, and yet we fail on a daily basis.  Lord, help us to remember that You are trustworthy every second of our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for your reminder that you are with us always.  And that even when we don’t see, feel or hear you, we do see and hear and feel the works of your hands.