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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: May 26, 2020
Posted: May 26, 2020 at 6:49 pm
Nonprofit hospitals are posting huge losses for the outset of 2020 as analysts predict an even grimmer second quarter to come. However, though losses in the first three months of the year dragged St. Louis-based Ascension into the red, the provider behemoth is still in a relatively good position to weather the pandemic, with current assets of $38.3 billion and 231 days of cash on hand.
Though patient volume was up prior to the pandemic, revenue from providing medical care flagged in the three-month period, as inpatient and ambulatory care slowed as the coronavirus surfaced in the U.S. In mid-March, Ascension deferred all non-essential procedures as stay-at-home orders kept potential patients in the home, impacting the system's volumes.
Total net patient service revenue was $5.7 billion, down 3% year over year. Net patient service revenues had the sharpest drop off in March, decreasing more than 15% in that month alone.
"COVID-19 has been encountered across all Ascension markets, to varying degrees, and has had an adverse effect," Ascension management wrote in comments on the results.
The system, which operates more than 2,600 sites of care, including 150 hospitals across 20 states and the District of Columbia, has received federal help to make up for lower-than-expected revenue.Ascension said in the filing it has received Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding before March 31. Though a spokesperson declined to tell Healthcare Dive a specific figure, Ascension has received at least $211 million from HHS, according to a New York Times review of the grants finding large hospitals with deep pockets are receiving the lion's share of congressional funds.
Smaller hospitals that serve more vulnerable populations were deeply critical of HHS' initial method to distribute the CARES funds, which put high margin hospitals at an advantage. The department did not take into account hospitals' existing financial resources in distributing the pot.
Nine-year-old Ascension also received just under $2 billion in accelerated loans from the Medicare program.
Normal increases in operations compounded the negative effect of the pandemic, Ascension said. The system was funneling money into expanding service lines and sites of care and standardizing revenue cycle services prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which sharply increased expenses.
Supplies expenses particularly jumped in March by almost 7%,as the system hustled to procure needed equipment at unexpected rates to prepare for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients.
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Posted: at 6:49 pm
River Region Art announces summer camp dates
River Region Art Association is opening its Summer Art Camp on June 15 at its Depot Gallery in Gonzales.
Summer Art Camp will be held June 1519, June 22-26, June 29 -July 3, July 1217, July 20 -24, July 2731 and Aug. 37.
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Age groups and times are: ages 610 attend 9 a.m. to noon and ages 1215 and older attend 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
All safety guidelines put forth by the state, and OpenSafely will be adhered to, according to a news release. The association is a registered business with OpenSafely program.
Fee for summer camp is $100 per week. A camp registration form is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A limit of 8 youths in each week of camp has been set in order to maintain the safe 6 foot distance requirement in the classroom. Masks are to be worn by all including teachers, sanitizing is done before and after class and students will have their own supplies for the week of class.
For any additional information, leave a message at (225) 644-8496.
Tanger Outlets will host the La. 621 Farmers Market near Shopper Services Suite 299 during June.
Locally-sourced products will be abailable from 7 am. to noon each Saturday in June. Products include fresh fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, artisan breads, honey, jams/jellies, pickled eggs and vegetables, tamales, kettle corn, baked goods and specialty food items.
Starting Wednesday, May 27, there will be limited public access to Ascension public schools offices and schools, excluding high schools, for essential business. Limited public access to high schools will begin Monday, June 1. This is to allow our high schools extra time for graduation ceremony activities.
Limited and essential business includes the following:
Job-related appointments with human resources
Retirement and benefit related appointments with human resources
Work permits for students
New student registration
Other meetings by appointment only
Please note, new student registration at Dutchtown High School scheduled for May, 27, 2020, will be online. Visit http://www.apsb.org/DutchtownHigh for more information.
Ascension Public Schools employees returned to work last week following the expiration of the state's stay-at-home order, according to a news release. All employees are following health guidelines such as wearing face coverings as needed and when appropriate, maintaining social distancing, frequently washing hands, and wiping down common area surfaces.
Starting June 1, Ascension Public schools offices and schools will be open Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 7:45 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. These modified hours will last in June. Normal operating hours of 8 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. will resume in July.
For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit http://www.apsb.org.
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Posted: at 6:49 pm
Fellow church members occasionally ask: If all our sin was dealt with when Jesus died on the cross, why must we still confess it?
The answer is partly found in an oft overlooked aspect of Christian beliefJesus ascension. According to the New Testament, God raised Jesus from the dead, and then, 40 days later, took him up into heaven (Acts 1:911). Romans, Hebrews, and 1 John all describe the ascended Jesus actively working for his people in Gods heavenly presence. Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 identify Jesus present activity as intercession. In 1 John 2:12, Jesus serves as an advocate before the Father.
But why do Gods people need an advocate? Is the Crucifixion not enough for our salvation? I would answer no. The single event of the Cross is not sufficientonly the person of Jesus is sufficient. If all we had were the Cross, then wed have no salvation. As important as Jesus death is, Christs saving work involves more. We need Jesus ongoing ministry of intercession for our salvation. Hebrews identifies Jesus ongoing intercession as key for Jesus to save completely those who come to God through him (Heb. 7:25). To reduce Jesus saving work merely to his dying ignores this important aspect of Jesus present ministry for his people.
Salvation isnt accomplished just because Jesus died but because he was also raised and ascended into heaven. There, continuously interceding for us, Jesus maintains the New Covenant better (permanently better) than the Old Testament sacrifices and priests maintained the old. Hebrews and 1 John describe Christs heavenly ministry using concepts drawn from Old Testament sacrifices and priestly ministry. Hebrews looks to the annual Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) to explain how the ascended Jesus ensures his peoples salvation. The earthly high priests entered Gods presence in the Holy of Holies once every year to offer the sacrifice of atonement by sprinkling blood.
But Jesus did something better. He ascended to Gods presence in the heavenly Holy of Holies once for all time. There, as an ever-living sacrifice, he offered himself before the Father the way the earthly high priests offered the sacrificial blood (Heb. 9:67, 2426). Hebrews says that Jesus took his seat at Gods right hand after he made purification for sins (Heb. 1:3). Jesus presently rules on the heavenly throne as Gods exalted Son. Hebrews also affirms that Jesus now serves as the Great High Priest who continues to work for the salvation of his siblings. He is seated, but he is not silent. Even now, the ascended Christ ministers as the Great High Priest in the heavenly Holy of Holies (Heb. 8:12), perpetually interceding for his people (Heb. 7:25). This is part of how he saves us completely.
Similarly, 1 John reflects on Jesus work in the light of Jewish sacrifices: Jesus himself is the atoning sacrifice now located in the Fathers presence (1 John 2:1-2). As in Hebrews, Jesus is not silent in Gods presence. He actively advocates for his people when they sin. This advocacy supplies the rationale for Johns admonition to believers to continually confess their sins (1 John 1:9). The reality of ongoing sin requires ongoing confession and forgiveness of sin. Jesus ascension makes this possible because Jesus, who is the atoning sacrifice, presently pleads with his Father for his people. Unlike Hebrews, 1 John does not identify Jesus as high priest, but Jesus ongoing advocacy clearly implies his priestly ministry.
In Romans 8:34, Paul also highlights the importance of Jesus ongoing intercession at Gods right hand as a central means for preserving relationship between God and Gods people. No one can condemn those who are in Christ. This truth depends not only on Jesus death, but, as Paul says, even more on his resurrection and present intercession at Gods right hand. Paul can therefore confidently declare that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). Jesus love extends beyond the Crosshis death, resurrection, and ongoing intercession at Gods right hand are essential for his peoples salvation. Take out any one of those elements and, like the Jenga tower that falls to pieces when a key block is removed, Pauls confident claims in Romans 8:3539 collapse.
The preceding reflections do not do full justice to the significance of Jesus ascension. They only highlight some of the important implications of this event. They remind us that our ascended Lord is not sitting silently in his Fathers presence. He actively intercedes and advocates for us, ministering before the Father as our merciful and faithful high priest (Heb. 2:17). We need this ministry as we continue to wait for the Lord to return and make all things right (Heb. 9:28). Our salvation is completely contingent on Jesusthe one who died but even more rose, ascended, and presently intercedes for us.
Why do we continue to confess our sins and seek forgiveness even after professing faith in Christs salvific death?
All of this brings us back to our opening question. Why do we continue to confess our sins and seek forgiveness even after professing faith in his salvific death? We do this, boldly even, because Jesus ascended as our great advocate, our high priest (Heb. 4:1416). He has returned to his Father and ours to intercede on our behalf. This present work is an essential part of the ongoing relationship that he, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and we as Gods people share. Jesus ascension, we might say, is part of how he maintains the New Covenant relationship he inaugurated at his death. Atonement in the Old Testament wasnt accomplished simply by slaughtering animals; their bodies and blood had to be brought to the altars by priests with prayers offered. Similarly, Jesus ascension brought him, the crucified and resurrected one, into Gods heavenly presence to minister as his peoples high priest. He is the atoning sacrifice who died, rose, and now intercedes for his siblings. He ensures his people will receive the salvation God has promised them. We still sin and fall short, but we have an advocate in heaven. We can, therefore, confidently proclaim his death, until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26).
David M. Moffitt is Reader in New Testament Studies, University of St Andrews, Scotland
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Posted: at 6:49 pm
Reading Time: 5 minutesWhy are you Jews gawking at the sky?
Well, because God told Abram, Look up at the night sky, for your descendants shall be as many as the stars of heaven. Abram believed the Lord and this was reckoned to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:4-6)
Moses also said, Look up to the heavens, and see the sun and moon and stars. Admire but do not worship them, for the Lord it was made these, and made you for his own people. (Deut 4:18-20)
David, too, looked to the heavens and saw the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn over Jerusalem. He did penance, so God would spare his people from their plague. (1Chr 21:16-17).
After the patriarchs it was the prophets turn to look to the heavens. They said, Listen, you that are deaf, and you that are blind,lookupand see! (Isa 42:18; Jer 3:2; Zech 5:5 etc.).
Well, because wise men looked up and saw a star rising in the East, and followed it to Bethlehem, to the Infant King of the Jews. And shepherds looked up to the heavens and saw the angel host also pointing that way. And apostles looked up and saw Jesus transfigured (Mt 2:1-12; 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 2:8-13; 9:28-36).
Jesus, too, looked up to heaven, and sighed a deep sigh of prayer, when He said to a deaf-mute, Ephphatha be opened and to a dead friend, Lazarus, come out! (Mk 7:34; Jn 11:38-44)
And, on the night before He died, Jesus took bread in His holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven, to His almighty Father, giving Him thanks, He said the blessing, broke the Bread and gave it to His disciples (Roman Canon; Mt 14:19; 26:26; Mk 6:41; 14:22; Lk 9:16 22:19-20; 1Cor 11:23-25)
Which is why Christian priests to this day raise their eyes to heaven at the consecration.
And why the faithful, even great sport stars, often look upwards when they pray. Why are you men from Galilee standing there gawking at the sky? the angels asked (Acts 1:1-11) And still we stare.
Is it just nostalgia? In a sense, yes. St Thomas Aquinas teaches that the history of salvation is essentially one of Gods exitus and reditus, His comings and goings, especially the Son leaving heaven in Christ Jesus to dwell among men, before returning to the right hand of the Father. However sad it was for those left behind, the Ascension celebrates a homecoming for Jesus (Jn 16:5,10,17,28; 17:11,13; 20:17). As His mission began with kings and shepherds looking up to the skies, it comes now full circle with apostles-made-shepherds also gaping upwards. People gawking at the heavens bookend the Gospel.
Which is an interesting part of Jesus story. But why do we, too, feel nostalgia for heaven? Why do we talk of someone who has died returning to the Father or going home when theyve never been there before? Well, Aquinas explains, those goings and comings of the persons of God that theologians call processions and missions are also the principle of our creation and redemption, identity and mission, destiny and completion. If we are made from heaven, we are also made for heaven. Heaven is our homeland.
On great feasts like this one you might notice some tweaking of the First Eucharistic Prayer. You can expect today an inclusion like Celebrating that most sacred day on which your Only Begotten Son, having completed his mission on earth, returned to his throne of glory at your right hand. But no, the focus even here is on what it does for us: Celebrating the most sacred day, the prayer declares, on which your Only Begotten Son, our Lord, placed at the right hand of your glory our weak human nature, which he had united to himself.You see, God the Son didnt leave the heavenly realm, assuming the form of a servant, for some cosmic tourism. It was for our sake, so He could take us back with Him.
Thus in the Ascension window of our cathedral, as the disciples watch Jesus flying through the air, He is not looking towards the Father above but to us below, with love on His face and blessing in His hand. And in the little scene beneath that window we see the two angels encouraging the grieving disciples, Why are you guys gawking at the heavens? Jesus has ascended but He will return to take you with Him.
What to do in the meantime? Consumed by nostalgia, we could easily just keep staring toward heaven and give up on this earth. But had father Abraham done that, hed have had no descendants at all, let alone a whole night-skys worth of Jews and Christians. If teacher Moses had remained sky-gazing, wed all be mired in astrology and nature worship, as he warned. If King David had kept focused on heavenly visions, he might never have repented and saved his people from plague. If the magi and shepherds had kept looking upwards, they would never have seen the Christ child in the manger below. If the apostles had focused only on higher things, they would have neglected to bring the deaf-mute and dead Lazarus to Jesus. And if Jesus Himself cared only for the things above, He would never have condescended to leave us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
When we look upwards in our prayers, it is with knees or feet firmly on the ground. And so in our Gospel today Jesus does not say All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Stay, therefore, and worship me as well He might. No, His great commission is All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them and teach them. Easter is no free pass, its a procession, mission, sending forth into all the world, so we might bring that world back home to heaven. And as you do so, Jesus says, know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time!
This is the edited text of the homily by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, Year A, livestreamed from St Marys Cathedral, Sydney, 24 May 2020.
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Posted: at 6:49 pm
Jesus ascending to heaven by John Singleton Copley, 1775 (Public domain / Wikipedia)
Sunday, May 24, is the Ascension of the Lord (Boston; Hartford, Connecticut; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; and the state of Nebraskas dioceses celebrate Ascension Thursday three days earlier).Mass readings: Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47: 2-3, 6-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20.
An old college friend recently asked me, in a semi-joking fashion, if I thought that the coronavirus pandemic was a sign of the end times. In the course of our conversation, he explained that there is quite an online community of Christian alarmists, according to whom the coronavirus qualifies as the first of four final plagues to be visited on the Earth. Later, as I reflected on this exchange, I thought of the unrest caused by the Mayan calendar several years ago, when some people predicted that the end of the world would coincide with its terminal date: Dec. 21, 2012. I also thought about the 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas, where a group of Branch Davidians, believing the apocalypse was immanent, clashed with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In short, it occurred to me that such prognostications about the end of the world are neither new nor rare.
Whatever else might be said of this impulse to predict the end of the world, it is certain that Our Lord has a ready response to it in todays first reading. When the disciples ask Jesus, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? he answers by saying that it is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established (Acts 1:6-7). It is reminiscent of that moment in the Gospel of Matthew when he admonishes his disciples to remain vigilant since they know neither the day nor the hour that the Lord will come (Matthew 25:13). Jesus emphasizes vigilance to his disciples to prepare them to embark on their mission in the world: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Rather than prognosticate about the time of the coming of the heavenly kingdom, they are to focus on their mission: to witness to Jesus Christ by preaching the word of truth and living it in their daily lives.
It is also clear from this exchange that the disciples are to focus on their mission specifically by awaiting the Holy Spirit. In fact, they can do nothing by their own power to complete their mission successfully; rather, they must rely on the power (dunamis) the Holy Spirit will give them. Further, the nature of this power will be immediately demonstrated in their works (Acts 2): They will be able to heal the sick, cast out demons, and speak the truth elegantly and forcefully to the nations in many tongues.
Although Christ promised his apostles that he would send them the Spirit, they still must have felt some uncertainty in the time between the Lords departure and their reception of the Holy Spirit, especially considering that they continued to be persecuted by the Jerusalem authorities. Yet, accompanying this uncertainty was an opportunity; in these uneasy days awaiting the Holy Spirit, they were able to contemplate all that had happened, thereby allowing the Resurrection appearances to sink in. The time of waiting in Jerusalem thus disposed the apostles to receive the Spirit with open minds and hearts.
In our liturgical celebration of these saving mysteries, we, like the apostles, observe the Easter season as a period of time that allows the significance of the resurrection of the Lord to sink in. Like the apostles, we are asked to open our minds and hearts to receive the Holy Spirit more deeply at Pentecost so that we can focus more intently on our mission of spreading the saving truth of the Gospel by our words and deeds. And if we focus on that with all our minds and hearts, neither the day nor the hour will matter.
Dominican Father Jordan Schmidtis an instructorin sacred
Scripture at the Pontifical Faculty of the
Immaculate Conception at theDominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
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Posted: at 6:48 pm
Ascension "Sonia" Blawatsky, formerly of Havre, 92, passed away peacefully at the Livingston Hospital on May 12, 2020.
A funeral mass at St. Judes Catholic Church will be held at a later date.
Ascension Nieto-Hernandez was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1928 to Santiago Nieto and Ascension Hernandez, the oldest of four siblings.
After completing school, she worked in Madrid for the telephone company. Eventually, she met her future husband, Vladimir Blawatsky, who was a foreign exchange student in Spain. They both emigrated to Canada and were blessed with three children.
With an employment opportunity, Ascension and her family moved to Havre, Montana and had one more child. In Havre, Ascension worked for the former Sacred Heart Catholic Hospital and many years at the hot lunch program at St. Jude's school.
Her husband, parents and siblings Santiago Nieto and Josephina Garcia-Nieto preceded her in death.
She is survived by her sister Isabel Nieto-Villa, children, Sonia, Nicholas, Elizabeth and John, grand-children and great grandchildren.
Our mother had a heart of gold and she loved her husband, children and grandchildren fiercely. She flourished surviving war, immigration, cultures and languages. Our mother loved life and was very social. She loved old movies, being with her friends, gardening, knitting, crocheting and loved a party. She was a great cook and wrote down recipes on any available piece of paper. She was brave and proud, fun and honest. She missed her Vladimiro till her last day. May the heavens burn a little brighter for their reunion.
To share remembrances, visit http://www.Franzen-Davis.com .
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See photos of the new Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital labor and delivery unit – BizTimes – Milwaukee Business News
Posted: at 6:47 pm
Last updated on May 26th, 2020 at 02:58 pm
Ascension Columbia St. Marys Hospital Milwaukee this week opened its new 36,000-square-foot labor and delivery unit.
The $16 million expansion project included 12 labor and delivery rooms with hydrotherapy tubs, 10 antepartum rooms, two recovery suites with private bathrooms, four triage rooms and updated surgical suites for multiple births and C-sections.
The unit, located on the second floor of the hospitals Womens Medical Center, has additional space for patient and family support and clinical education.
Our goal for this project was to continue Ascension Columbia St. Marys strong legacy of excellence in womens services by enhancing our physical environment to meet the needs of mothers and their growing families, said Kelly Elkins, president of Ascension Columbia St. Marys Hospital. We believe that this new unit and our dedicated care teams will deliver on that commitment by providing compassionate, personalized care that begins with expectant mothers and the birth of their children and continues throughout lifes journey.
Support for the project came from Ascension Columbia St. Marys Foundation. Ascension Wisconsin providers were involved with designing the new unit to integrate the latest clinical practice guidelines, the health system said. Patient focus groups also helped inform the plans.
It is the second phase of a larger project to update the Womens Medical Center at 2323 N. Lake Dr. In 2016, the health system completed a renovation of the post-partum unit of the Womens Medical Center.
In the future, Ascension plans expand the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and postpartum services.
Get more news and insight in the April 27 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.
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In Christian spirituality, the Resurrection of Jesus is often linked to our ability to die to our sins and rise with Jesus in a new life of virtue. The sacrament of baptism is the most obvious example of how this symbolism is lived out, as the individual is immersed in water, dying to their sins, then rises from the font with a clean soul.
However, there is one more step that occurs after our resurrection in the spiritual life. We then need to ascend with Jesus in our daily choices.
Fr. William Graham, in the Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching, explains how Jesus ascension correlates to our spiritual life.
[Jesus] was lifted up in His ascension and our hearts follow and are drawn to Him in the throne He occupies, at the right hand of His Father, in the heaven. He opened for us, and wherein He is always living to make intercession for us.
As the fruits of our thoughts on the twin mystery of the Resurrection and the Ascension we may glean a twofold lesson suggested in the words of St. Paul: If ye be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above (Coll. iii, I). We, too, must rise from the dead and ascend, or perish.
Graham goes on to describe how after rising from our sinful way of life, we need to then seek the things that are above, imitating Jesus ascension.
Let us take a lesson from the Ascension, and ever seek the things that are above. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth (Coll. iii, 2). Christ rising again from the dead dieth now no more; death shall have no more dominion over him (Rom. vi., 9). The Ascension, as I said, is the completion of the Resurrection, so, too, the soul that rises from sin, that emerges from the unregenerate natural state to the supernatural,ascends,risesto a new sphere, a new plane of being. It is more than a mere elevation of thought, or feeling, it is a passing from death to life, and abiding therein. Grace, the principle of this inner change of life, is the seed of glory. A soul in grace, is really a soul that has ascended with Christ; hence the word heavenly-minded, so aptly applied to souls thus risen, and ascended with Christ.
He adds one more note on how this can impact our daily life.
[W]hile we make the great doctrines of the Resurrection and Ascension a light to the mind, let us not fail also to make them a guide to the heart. Let moral death, i. e., sin, never have dominion over us, let us ever in the way of life be risen with Christ, and in the realms of thought, of conversation, and of conduct, seek the things that are above.
Essentially what Graham is arguing is that Jesus ascension should point our entire being towards Heaven, and guide our every thought and deed. We should have Heaven as our goal and seek it, using whatever means is most fruitful.
Above all, it is a shift in mindset, no longer focusing on our own selfish desires, but looking towards Heaven and conducting ourselves as citizens of that blessed place. Once we do that, we will experience a profound change in our lives that will effect everything we say or do.
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By Fr. Mike ParaniukSt. Mary Catholic ChurchHillsboro
Note: The following is based on Matthew 28:16-20.
On New Years Day during the Tournament of Roses Parade, people were in awe of a beautiful float filled with all types of bright colored tropical flowers. As the float lumbered down the street, the engine suddenly sputtered and quit. The whole parade was held up while mechanics rushed into assess the problem.
Finally, one of them yelled out to the sponsor of the float, We need a can of gas. And who was the sponsor of this float? The Standard Oil & Gas Company! This float, representing one of the biggest gasoline producers in the world, was out of gas.
Sometimes thats what happens to followers of Jesus. All Gods power is available to you, but you doubt. Your faith becomes weak. It sputters and quits like an engine with no gas.
What are the symptoms of a weak faith? You doubt Gods goodness. You question Gods forgiveness. Youre afraid or worried. Youre disappointed and hurt. You dont feel His presence.
This pandemic is a real test of our faith. So how do you strengthen your faith in Jesus?
You must take your doubts to Jesus in prayer. Remember the story of the father agonizing over his possessed son. The evil spirit would convulse him, throw him into fire and water to kill him.
The father begged Jesus to help his son. Jesus told the father, Everything is possible for one who believes. (Mark 9:23) Immediately the boys father exclaimed, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Jesus later explained to the disciples why they could not drive out this spirit. Jesus replied, This kind can come out only by prayer. (Mark 9:29). Ask Jesus daily to send down the Holy Spirit upon you with the power of faith. Keep on asking. Matthew 7:7 says, Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for..
The last words of Jesus before he ascended to Heaven was a command Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. I have found the best way to bring someone to believe in Jesus is by the witness of your own faith. The witness of faith is more contagious than any virus. You dont have to do anything extraordinary. Faithfully following Jesus in ordinary daily living is all you need. I offer a witness of how faith can spread.
For 27 years, I walked the halls of Cincinnati Childrens Hospital. I prayed daily over sick children. Every day saw me visiting 60 to 80 children in their rooms, asking Jesus to heal them. I was especially moved when I prayed over babies in their medical incubators. I felt their guardian angels watching over them.
I befriended many nurses. One day, a nurse asked me, Father Mike, how can you keep faith in a good God when you see such suffering.
I replied, By the grace of God I keep believing.
She didnt belong to any religious community. She admitted her relationship with Jesus was something she didnt think about. Yet, she liked to see my faith in action when I prayed over her babies.
She remarked to me one day, You really believe in what youre praying for.
I replied, Yes I do. I believe in a good God who looks upon these babies with love.
One day that nurse said to me, I have a surprise for you. Cant tell you yet but youll find out.
I asked her for months, What is it?
She would keep saying, Youll find out.
The day of discovery finally arrived. I was celebrating Mass at the hospital chapel. My nurse friend sat in the back pew. She never attended my service before. I was pleasantly surprised yet puzzled to see her there. I gave out Holy Communion. The last person in line stepped forward. I saw before me my nurse friend with hands outstretched to receive the Communion.
She whispered to me, Surprise. I joined the Catholic Church over Easter.
How elated I was when I congratulated her after Mass.
I asked, What moved you to join the church?
She replied, Just watching you live your faith every day. Your faith brought hope to the suffering. I wanted what you have.
The ordinary daily witness of your faith is the most powerful way to make disciples for Jesus. I always end Mass with the command, The Mass is ended. Go in Peace. Announce the Gospel by your life.
(After her conversion to Jesus, the nurse fell in love and got married. She asked me to bless her womb with children. She conceived quickly and gave birth to twins. She told me, Your blessing worked, but be sure to tone it down a bit.)
When God blesses you, you know you're blessed!
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 6:47 pm
The Ascension weekend has been extremely calm on the Belgian Coast despite the relaxation of stay-at-home rules.
With the mixed weather and strong wind, holidaymakers have not flocked to the beaches or shopping streets of seaside resorts, and social-distancing enforcers have had little work. We are satisfied, was the word from many police zones.
The Coast has thus not seen any major influx even though stores have been able to reopen, owners of secondary homes were authorised to return, and police were no longer really tracking non-essential travel.
Its always a bit busier on a long weekend, but we are satisfied, said Ine Deburchgraeve of the Westkust police zone. There have been a few incidents at most. We also noticed that a few people crossed the border to buy tobacco products although they know its prohibited.
A small group of young people from Mons also came to the Coast to have fries and take a walk. Our officers were also insulted by two youths at a tram stop because they felt they didnt have to wear masks in the tram.
The situation was also calm in Blankenberge, where a few Walloon day tourists were, however, sent back after coming off the train on Thursday. The strong wind there did not encourage walks on the seawall or in the shopping streets.
There were identical reports from the police in Ostend and Damme/Knokke-Heist: very calm, few people and only a few tickets issued.
The Brussels Times
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