Lincoln’s Log 5-29-22

From Contentment to Participation

“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.”
Jesus to His disciples – Acts 1:8

“Beyond contentment, lies intelligent, energetic participation in accomplishing God’s will in our world.”
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart

After we abandon ourselves to God, we discover contentment. God is enough for us. The life He has given us is sufficient. We are grateful for what God has given us and can rejoice in each day as it comes. Gratitude and joy remain, even when our circumstances are difficult or painful. The deeper we abandon ourselves to God, the deeper our contentment.

But our growth does not stop there. God has more in store for us. Out of the deep peace and contentment that we discover when we are fully abandoned to God, a call springs forth. We are not created simply to bask in God’s presence. We are called to work with Him in the salvation of the world!

We don’t just sit back and watch the drama of salvation. God gives us a role to play. An essential part is given to us in the theater of creation. No one else can fulfill our role. It is what we were created for.

No matter how difficult our situation, we begin to act for the good. We discover a power that is beyond us. Because our will is surrendered to God’s will we don’t rely on our meager willpower. Instead, we participate in what God is doing. His will leads us in ways we cannot fully understand, but that engage us fully. We act with God. There is no competition between our will and God’s will but we work together. This is the source of the deepest joy possible and it is the beginning of eternal life where we will reign with God forever.

More on reigning with God next week.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-22-22

From Abandonment to Contentment

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
Jn. 14:23

Last week, I wrote about moving from surrender to abandonment. As we grow in our abandonment to God, we surrender more and more of our lives to him, especially those things that are beyond our control. From this deep abandonment to God we find a surprise waiting for us.

We discover contentment.

Contentment is a type of joy in knowing that we have been given everything we need to make us happy. It is the sense that there is enough. We don’t need to strive for more or seek anything other than what we already possess.

This contentment is born when we discover that God is ultimately trustworthy and that Jesus and the Father have made their dwelling with us (Jn. 14:23). God never abandons us when we abandon ourselves to Him. In fact, as we abandon more and more to God, we discover His presence within us This is enough. It is more than enough! We become content.

There is no need to complain or grumble. God has given us Himself. And as our abandonment deepens we discover God’s presence that was hidden by all of our cares and concerns. Our worry begins to be transformed into gratitude. God has given us enough!

The truth of God’s presence moves from a heady theory to a heartfelt experience. We do not need to strive and worry and fight. God is enough.

But this is not the end of the journey of abandonment. There is still more. Our contentment is the beginning of a new way of life.

Stay tuned!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-15-22

From Surrender to Abandonment

“[Paul and Barnabas] strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, ‘It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’”
Acts 14:22

“… if grace and wisdom prevail in the life of the one who only surrenders to God’s will, he or she will move on to abandonment. Then the individual is fully surrendered.”
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart p. 150

Last week, I wrote about surrendering to Jesus. When we surrender, we allow God to be God. This recognition may be reluctant and we may still try to manipulate God, but we recognize that God has the ultimate authority in our lives.

Abandonment takes us a step beyond this. Abandonment means that we are no longer holding anything back from God. All of our thoughts, feelings, desires, actions, etc… are given over to God. This abandonment includes our circumstances in life. All those things that are beyond our control are given over to God. Things may happen to us that we don’t like (e.g. illness, job loss, financial struggles, painful relationships, grief). These things are allowed by God (although God may not wish them to happen). But when we are abandoned to God, we recognize that God can use these tragic experiences for good. The early church experienced these types of hardships as well, which is why Paul and Barnabas encourage the disciples by saying, “‘It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’” In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “We know all things work for the good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rm. 8:28).

We abandon ourselves completely into God’s hands because God has the power to bring good out of evil and life out of death. In last week’s Gospel we heard that as disciples, nothing can take us out of the Father’s hand (Jn. 10:29). We continue to abandon ourselves to God each day. But there is more beyond abandonment.

Stay tuned!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-8-22

Surrendering to Jesus

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.”
Jn. 10:27

“… united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father.”
CCC 2825 (emphasis added)

Reading through the Acts of the Apostles can be intimidating. We hear about powerful examples of faith in the face of opposition. It can seem impossible to live up to the example of these heroes of our faith. Yet, we have been given everything they had. In our baptism, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. These apostolic deeds of courage and faith started in the same way our faith lives start: with a simple act of surrender to Jesus.

What do we mean when we talk about “surrendering to Jesus?”

We simply mean allowing God to be God. We allow Jesus to rule our lives. We recognize that God is supreme over all things. Nothing can be compared with Him. We know this with our minds and we live it in our lives. Sometimes this surrender is reluctantly given, but our hearts must be willing. We may not like it, but we give in to the reality of God. There may be resistance within us, but we keep reminding ourselves that God knows what is best and has the right to run our lives. In fact, He can run them better than we can.

This surrender is rooted in our hearts, the center of our being. Surrender is the first step to growth as a mature disciple who is capable of living a heroic life like the Apostles. This ability to surrender grows. Over time, more and more of our heart becomes aligned with God’s heart. We begin to want what God wants, even when some elements of our lives resist.

Why do we surrender? We surrender because we know that God loves us and knows what is best for us.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-1-22

From Baptism to Pentecost

“We must obey God rather than men.”
St. Peter to the Sanhedrin
Acts 5:29

“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.”
CCC 1213

Easter is the season of baptism. Every Easter we renew and revisit the meaning of our baptism. But Easter also drives us forward. We don’t simply look back at the beginning of our life as a Christian. We look forward to where our baptism calls us. Baptism is the gateway to life in the Spirit and, like any gateway, it takes us to a new place. It is a door that opens up a new way of life.

The tragedy is that many of us renew our baptism year after year, but our lives don’t change. We seem stuck and mired in unhealthy, broken, and sinful habits. Our lives don’t resemble the lives of the apostles we hear about in the Easter readings. In the Acts of the Apostles, we see a different kind of life being lived. We hear about heroic men and women who confront the evil and brokenness within and around them with joy and power. They look like they have stepped through the doorway of baptism and entered another kind of life. This new life isn’t always as dramatic as the life of the early apostles, but it is real and is filled with peace, joy, and love.

Our lack of progress in faith can be discouraging. But there is hope. This new life was given to us at our baptisms. We don’t need a magical key to unlock it or “Seven easy steps” to live it. There is a fundamental pattern of transformation and classic practices and disciplines that allow us to live the new life of baptism. This pattern, practices, and disciplines are part of what I have been studying the past year with Renovare and have been striving to live for years. For the next several weeks, I will be sharing one of the classic patterns in this log. We will explore the dynamics of uniting our will with God’s will so that like Peter in the reading we heard today from Acts we are not afraid to say, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Stay tuned.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-24-22

Spreading Easter Joy

“Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them.”
Acts 5:14

“The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him.”
CCC 425

The explosive growth of the early church is astonishing. There were no programs for leading people to Christ. Instead, people who had experienced the love and mercy of God told their friends about it. They couldn’t help themselves. The Catechism puts it this way, “From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: ‘We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (CCC 425).

Each of us has had an encounter with Jesus that we can share. Maybe we were freed from addiction or healed or liberated from an abusive relationship. Maybe our family life started us on the right path and Jesus has walked alongside us. Maybe we know we couldn’t make it through the day without our faith. Whatever our story with the Lord is, it is important to share it.

I don’t mean we need to become “preachy” or obnoxious about Jesus. The world has more than enough of that kind of religious talk. No, what I mean is that we are invited to share the joy that we have discovered in following Jesus. The goal isn’t to make people think in a certain way or believe a certain thing, but to share the beauty you have discovered in the Way of Jesus. We always leave the results in God’s hands.

Pretty simple.

That is what the early disciples did, and it transformed the world.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-17-22

Easter Renewal

“I saw water flowing from the Temple, from its right-hand side, alleluia; and all to whom this water came were saved and shall say: Alleluia, alleluia!
See Ez. 47:1-12

Easter is a season of renewal and new life. I renew my baptism every morning as part of my morning prayer. Here is a simple way to renew your own baptism and grow in living the new life that was born in you at your baptism. Simply ask yourself the following questions and respond from your heart. These questions are the same questions asked at each baptism.

Do you renounce Satan?

I do!

And all his works?

I do!

And all his empty show?

I do!

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

I do!

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

I do!

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

I do!

As you express your desire to follow Jesus by renewing your baptism each day, you will find the hidden grace of baptism growing within you. You can also renew your baptism by reciting the Apostles’ Creed with deepening intention. In fact, every time you enter the church and make the sign of the cross with Holy Water you are renewing your baptism. Make it a point this Easter season to revitalize your baptism!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-10-22

Thomas More and The Sadness of Christ

“I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”
Is. 50:6

“In our agony, remember… His.”
St. Thomas More

As we enter these final days of lent and begin Holy Week I am meditating on “The Sadness of Christ” by St. Thomas More. This is Thomas More’s last written work. He wrote it in the Tower of London as he was waiting for his own execution. It is a short commentary on Jesus’ agony in contemplating His upcoming passion and death.

The parallel is clear. St. Thomas More sees his own execution coming, so he turns to the Gospel accounts to draw strength from the way Jesus’ approached His own execution. The saint looks to his Lord for guidance in the midst of severe trials. And Thomas More sees Jesus’ humanity shine forth. He points out the depths of suffering that Jesus experienced because he loved us. Thomas More finds consolation in knowing that he is not alone in his fear and suffering. The Lord has already been afflicted by the terror of death, and has conquered it! St. Thomas More writes,

“… whoever is utterly crushed by feelings of anxiety and fear and is tortured by the fear that he may yield to despair, let him consider this agony of Christ, let him meditate on it constantly and turn it over in his mind, let him drink deep and health-giving draughts of consolation from this spring. For here he will see the loving Shepherd lifting the weak lamb on His shoulders… expressing his very own feelings.”

Why did Jesus do this?

“… so that anyone who later feels himself disturbed by similar feelings might take courage and not think that he must despair.”

Each of us faces death. We are all going to die. But St. Thomas More reminds us that the fear of death is natural. Most likely we are going to be anxious or fearful at the thought of death. But he also teaches us that Jesus has redeemed this fear. He was victorious and did not despair. This is good news for all who are tempted to despair. As fear and anxiety lure us to despair, we can turn to Jesus. When life is too much to bear follow Thomas More’s advice, “In our agony, remember His.”

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-3-22

Acting With God – Lent Part 5

“… forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”
Phil. 3:13b-14

“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!”
Is. 43:18-19b

So far this lent we’ve explored Blind Faith (3/13). Exploring faith (3/20), and faith that is aware of God’s presence (3/27). These past reflections can be found on the Exploring His Kingdom blog linked to our website under “Media.”

This week, we’ll take a brief look at active (or living) faith. This type of faith often accompanies an awareness of God’s presence. It is the type of faith we see in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (above). Here, Paul is striving to live a new kind of life. He is not just aware of Jesus’ presence, but Paul is aspiring to act in a new way. Paul’s faith is not merely the passive perception of the presence of God, but active cooperation with Jesus who is present to him. It is born of the awareness of God and leads to living life in a new way.

This active faith is not the same thing as “blind faith.” Active faith does not believe only on account of the testimony of someone else. No, it is more than that. Active faith is rooted in the awareness of God’s mysterious presence. It is “something new” (see Is. 43:19 above). This faith is the beginning of eternal life (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #163-165).

When we begin to live out of this type of faith our lives change. Our decisions become freer from cultural influences. We aren’t concerned about what other people think. Our decisions and actions revolve around God. Prayer becomes more interactive on the deepest level of the soul. The scriptures open up our minds to seeing and thinking in new ways. Our relationships with others become more loving.

Life doesn’t become suddenly easy. Like Paul, we are “straining forward.” But we are no longer lost. We are following Jesus and living as He would have us live. We have a new source that we live from. This faith is a gift from God and it bears fruit in ways we don’t understand, but we know that God is walking with us every step of the way.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 3-27-22

Experiencing God’s Presence – Lent Part 4

“On that same day after the Passover, on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. No longer was there manna for the Israelites, who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.”

Jos. 5:11-12

Have you ever had the sense that God is with you? It can be a strange sensation. It is easy to overlook. But somehow you know He is there. You sense His presence. You don’t really “believe” it, but you know it. As our life of faith unfolds, this sense of God’s presence often grows. We no longer need to trust in what others tell us (the blind faith we discussed a few weeks ago) or even have a sense of wonder aroused by the things around us (as we discussed last week). Instead, we just know God is with us, just like we know when someone is watching us or has entered the room when we aren’t looking.

This is a common experience in the life of faith. As our faith matures we need fewer external signs and begin to rely on this interior sense of God’s presence. Just as God’s People were no longer dependent on manna when they entered the Promised Land, so our dependence on exterior signs lessens as our faith matures (see above Jos. 5:11-12).

Brother Lawrence, the great teacher of the Practice of the Presence of God, told the mother of a soldier to encourage her son to “put all his trust in God, who is with him everywhere and that he should think of Him as often as he can, especially in the greatest dangers.” After following this practice himself, Brother Lawrence says, “What comforts me in this life is that I see God by faith in such a manner that I can sometimes say: ‘I no longer believe, but I see.’

We can all do what Brother Lawrence did to become aware of God’s presence. His advice to the soldier applies to us as well, “Let him then think of God as much as possible so that he will gradually become accustomed to this little but holy exercise; no one will notice it and nothing is easier than to repeat often during the day these little acts of interior adoration.”

As Holy Week approaches turn your heart often to God in little acts of interior adoration. Maybe you will begin to sense His presence. Then, you won’t only believe, you will see!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Parish Pastoral Leader