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September 23, 2004 Edition

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Living the Scriptures
Faith Alive!
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I can't do this Lord: I need you!

photo of Mary Beth Dupuis
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Mary Beth Dupuis 

I think I have a vocation to religious life. Yeah, it's a bit of shock to me, too.

I've thought about it a couple of times before, usually at transitional periods in my life, but I'd move or start a new job or a relationship and the feeling would pass.

Mostly, I think I couldn't believe it. It just didn't seem possible that God would want me - what did I have to offer? Besides, I'd never be able to do it.

The problem was I was focusing on myself.

26th Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Sept. 26, 2004)
Am 6:1a, 4-7
Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
1 Tm 6:11-16
Lk 16:19-31

Today's Psalm (146) praises the Lord for his kindness and goodness to his people. The Psalmist reminds us that it is the Lord who "gives sight to the blind," "gives food to the hungry," and "sets captives free." "Blessed he who keeps faith forever," he proclaims.

It is God who does these things. In his first letter to Timothy, St. Paul describes God as the one "who gives life to all things . . . who alone has immortality, [and] who dwells in unapproachable light." That's quite a God.

It's the God who created the world and all that is in it, who numbers the hairs on my head and the sands of the seashore, who brings a camel through the eye of a needle, and who raised his son from the dead. I guess maybe he could make me a sister if he wanted to.

"See what love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called children of God.  Yet so we are," writes St. John in his first letter (1 John 3:1). God will not be outdone in generosity, and he cannot by outdone in power and love. It is not me who is drawing my heart toward God.

It is not me who is transforming my soul into an image of Christ. And it's definitely not me who is making me want to live out my days in the silence and anonymity of a monastery.

But it is me who doubts God's faithfulness at least once an hour by my worrying. It is me constantly making plans and back-up plans only to be reminded again and again that life isn't about experiences I set up, but about being open to receive what God has prepared for me.

Reflection questions

• How has God shown generosity to you in your life?

• What might you be trying to do on your own instead of asking for God's help?

And it's definitely me who tries to rely on my own strength instead of crying out more often in what I think is one of God's favorite prayers, "I can't do this, Lord! I need you!" (Instead of all those collections of "Favorite Catholic Prayers" they should put out one called "God's Favorite Prayers" - it would be very short!)

Psalm 146 reminds me of the basic truth that I'm going to spend my whole life learning: God is God and I am not. "Praise the Lord, my soul!"

Mary Beth Dupuis is a 2001 graduate of UW-Madison and is a member of St.Paul's Graduate & Young Professionals Group.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • The Bible's people empower us to view our own life stories in faith's light.

  • Naomi and Ruth -- icons of courage, friendship, faith -- help us see that loss, change and transformation can be pathways to new life.

  • The woman at the well became a disciple of Jesus. Discipleship calls us to share the good news; often, this begins right where we are.

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    Washington DC 20017
  •  Food for Thought
    Scripture is literature. It isn't only this, but it is literature. So it stirs thoughts about life's great themes. It captures and redirects our attention.

    The people of Scripture can resemble great literary figures in that they inspire us, prompt insight or bring into view for us a new vision of hope. They may enable us to see how our own life journey resembles that of others -- that we are less alone in our "plight" than we thought. Others we admire experienced predicaments similar to ours.

    We identify with Peter's fears or reluctance at the time of Jesus' Passion. We can imagine how Mary must have felt -- anxiety? confusion and questioning? excitement? -- when the angel came. For each of them, faith then advanced. But did it do so at a moment when events seemed almost overwhelming, larger than what these people realized they could handle, much as often is the case when our own lives are about to advance and grow in ways we didn't anticipate?

    The Bible's cast of characters can put us in touch with ourselves. We see a reflection of ourselves in these people; perhaps we discover by knowing them as aspect of ourselves that we've overlooked, a capacity we've forgotten about -- maybe even that critical capacity to know others very well and still to love them, for example.

    full story

    A Story of Faithful Friendship for Our Times
    By Mary Jo Pedersen

    Catholic News Service

    They were two women -- widows -- whose lives were thrown together by fate. One was young, one old. Having lost those closest to them, neither woman had the love or support of husband or children. The women were homeless, vulnerable and dealing with limited resources.

    These women had no Food Stamps, shelters or employment programs to pull them out of destitution. Unfortunately, having slipped out of the system of social protection, they were "uninsured," unemployed and ignored by most people.

    full story 

    Women Who Shaped the Faith of Future Generations
    By Sheila Garcia

    Catholic News Service

    Three lesser known women of the Bible who exercised considerable influence within their faith communities were Deborah, the woman at the well and Lydia.

    We read about Deborah in Judges 4-5. She was married, a prophetess and the only woman among Israel's 12 judges. Seeking to liberate the Israelites from their oppressors, she recruited Barak to lead the fight against the Canaanites. Barak agreed to do so only if Deborah accompanied him. She did, and the Israelites won a great victory, followed by 40 years of peace.

    full story 

    Three Women of the Bible
    By Jean Sweeney

    Catholic News Service

    The people I see in my counseling office often have to learn to allow things to happen rather than to control situations and manipulate events. The good news is that God takes the events of our lives and, with us, creates new chapters.

    In the Bible, Sarah, Abraham's wife, has a child long after she let go of her expectations. Her story keeps us open and ready to be surprised by God, even when things seem impossible.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    Tell of someone in the Bible who perhaps is somewhat overlooked but who nonetheless stands out in our mind.

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2004 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2004

    Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004
    Reading I: Am 6:1a, 4-7
    Reading II: 1 Tm 6:11-16
    Gospel: Lk 16:19-31

    Monday, Sept. 27, 2004
    Reading I: Job 1:6-22
    Gospel: Lk 9:46-50

    Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004
    Reading I: Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
    Gospel: Lk 9:51-56

    Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2004
    Reading I: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
    Gospel: Jn 1:47-51

    Thursday, Sept. 30, 2004
    Reading I: Jb 19:21-27
    Gospel: Lk 10:1-12

    Friday, Oct. 1, 2004
    Reading I: Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
    Gospel: Lk 10:13-16

    Saturday, Oct. 2, 2004
    Reading I: Ex 23:20-23
    Gospel: Mt 18:1-5, 10

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    September General Intention

    Old people, an asset for the society: That old people may be considered an asset for the spiritual and human growth of society.

    September Mission Intention

    Growth and development of the ecclesial communities in Africa: That in Africa a true brotherly cooperation may develop among all those who work for the growth and development of ecclesial communities.

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