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August 23, 2007 Edition

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God's discipline: Learning to accept it

Word to Life 

Jeff Hensley 

This week's readings speak of God's faithfulness - and the need to accept his discipline. I can vouch for them through my own life experience.

Like many young people, I wandered from God and church in my early '20s. When I returned to God, I came back with something of a splash.

The charismatic renewal and the institutional church both welcomed me as I experienced the kind of dramatic conversion that convinces you - temporarily - that most of the work of redemption has been accomplished.

21st Sunday
in Ordinary Time
(Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007)
Isaiah 66:18-21
Psalm 117:1-2
Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
Luke 13:22-30

I was surprised to learn that conversion is a lifelong, and sometimes arduous and difficult, process. I'm very glad I'm a Catholic facing that reality, because I believe our faith acknowledges our ongoing need for formation, repentance, and constant turning to the grace of God.

Early on, part of the rough road of living a converted life was my search for my professional vocation. I had a strong sense that God wanted me to be a Christian writer, so I sought to enroll in graduate studies in English. But due to a period of academic failure I lacked the grades to enter grad school in that field.

When I turned to journalism graduate school, I found an open door. It took a great deal of effort to walk through that door and remain motivated, having to pick up 17 undergraduate hours in the field while making my way through the normal master's degree course load. Taking extra classes, studying late into the night, I often questioned my decision.

Many, many times, I would hit the wall, dragging myself through the curriculum, barely making it through each semester's work. It was extraordinarily hard to stay motivated. Except for the certainty I had that this was where God was calling me, and his faithfulness in seeing me through, I would never have completed the degree.

Reflection questions

• Has God given you a sense of vocation?

• What can you do to overcome obstacles to achieving the goals God has for you?

Now, 26 years after graduating, I can see that this indeed was where God was leading me. After 18 years as a Catholic diocesan newspaper editor I can say there is plenty of evidence that this is where God wanted me.

This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

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This week's readings

Week of Aug. 26 - Sept. 1, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I: Is 66:18-21
Reading II: Heb 12:5-7, 11-13
Gospel: Lk 13:22-30

Monday, August 27, 2007
Memorial of Saint Monica
Reading I: 1 Thes 1:1-5, 8b-10
Gospel: Mt 23:13-22

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop
and doctor of the Church

Reading I: 1 Thes 2:1-8
Gospel: Mt 23:23-262

Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Memorial of the Martyrdom
of Saint John the Baptist

Reading I: 1 Thes 2:9-1
Gospel: Mk 6:17-29

Thursday, August 30, 2007
Reading I: 1 Thes 3:7-13
Gospel: Mt 24:42-59

Friday, August 31, 2007
Reading I: 1 Thes 4:1-8
Gospel: Mt 25:1-13

Saturday, September 1, 2007
Reading I: 1 Thes 4:9-11
Gospel: Mt 25:14-30

Pope's Prayer Intentions

August General Intention

Those suffering inner turmoil. That those who are suffering inner difficulties and trials may find in Christ the light and support that leads to authentic happiness.

August Mission Intention

Church in China. That the Church in China may grow in unity and in visible communion with the Pope.

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Prayer for the summer season

For gardens

ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, before our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned, they lived and were very happy in the Garden of Eden. There, as we read in the Holy Book, You would walk with them "in the afternoon air," and they heard the sound of You in the garden.

God, ever since then, a garden is a holy thing. You still walk there with us in the afternoon air. You walk with those who can see You and Your generous and merciful providence working for us in the green things that grow and the trees that blossom and bear such rich and nourishing fruit.

Bless all our gardens and orchards in this broad land of ours, dear God, and give us rich and plentiful harvest. Help us, as we go about our work here, to see You in Your loving kindness, working for us and with us.

Help us to do Your will at all times. Then, some day, we will walk with You and Your Son, and our dear Mother Mary, down the paths of another Garden, far better, far more beautiful than even the Garden of Eden. Amen.

From the National Catholic Rural Life Conference

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