A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat - Michael J.

Spoula

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A JOURNEY TO EMMAUS – A 15 MINUTE A DAY RETREAT
A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat - Michael J. Spoula

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Dedication: These pages are dedicated to my wife Mary who always inspires me with her courage and fortitude. I thank her for her great love and her kindness towards me. I also dedicate this work to all those who Ask for the Word of God tells us that they shall receive To those who seek, for the Word of God tells us that they will find, and to those who knock for God will answer their call.

© 2008 Michael J. Spoula

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat - Michael J. Spoula

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Day Zero - A Day of Preparation (Read this the night before retreat begins) A friend asked me what qualified me to write this retreat. I told him that I am qualified because I have a soul. I told him I was qualified because I am a busy person and do not pray as much as I should. I am qualified because I am just like you, hungry for spirituality but caught up in the work of the world. I dedicate this work to my wife Mary, a spiritual person in her own right.

We live in a busy world. Our lives are filled with schedules, things left undone and the guilt that accompanies it. We rush here and there and do this and that and while we may take excellent care of our body, our souls languish for want of care. What follows is a thirty-day retreat, but don’t panic, it takes but fifteen minutes per day and everything you need is in this book. You need no Bible; the passages to reflect upon are written here. You need no prayer book, besides the prayers you carry in your heart; the suggested prayers are in this book. All you need to do is to take fifteen minutes a day for the next thirty days and you will become closer to Jesus. Take the fifteen minutes a day suggested here and you will start to become the man or woman of peace you want to be. Invest this fifteen minutes a day and you will begin to acquire a fresh spiritual way of thinking. Things you have to do before the retreat starts: 1. 2. Reserve the last fifteen or twenty minutes before bed to do this retreat. Fifteen minutes before going to bed tonight, turn off the television, radio and stereo. Put the newspaper down and just relax. Breathe in deeply, hold your breath for a count of three and let it out slowly. As you do this, think or better yet say the name “JESUS” softly as you exhale. Do this several times until the
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tensions of the day begin to leave you. When ready, talk to Jesus in your own words and tell him what you want to get out of this retreat. Talking to Jesus in your own words has a technical name, it is called praying. When you are done talking to your friend, do the breathing exercise again except this time say “THANK YOU JESUS” Now, go to bed and let your last conscious thought be of Jesus. Good Night.

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

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Day 1 - I am a miracle, I am loved. Biblical Passage: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He sent His only beloved Son…” These few simple words capture the whole of the Spirit of God. God’s response to us is always love. Un-love is the only thing God chooses to be incapable of, because it is completely foreign to his nature. His love for us is independent of any response on our part. It is not like the love between spouses. The love between spouses, no matter how long it lasts on this earth, had a beginning, a point in time where we can point to and say; “This is when I fell in love with her (him).” God’s love on the other hand can never end because it never had a point in time where we can make the statement; “This is where God’s love began.” God’s love, was, is, and will be forever. Think back now to the day in your life when sin was your master, the day you were farthest away from God. Think back to that day when you sinned and did not care that you sinned. Think back to the day when you made your will superior to God’s. On that day, your soul was as far away from God as it ever could get. Yet, God’s love for you had not changed one iota! God loves you the same on the day of darkness as he does on the days when you do his will. He loved you even when you did not love Him. His response to us does not depend on our actions towards him. God is love. Then what is the point of doing what is right if God’s love for us never changes? Is it so we can enter heaven? No, heaven is a free gift, purchased for us by the obedience of God’s Son. No, we should do what is right because it is right and we know that it will please God. We are called to respond to others as God
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responds to us. Our response must be love. Our loving response will also help us to become whole people. A person in sin is a divided person. A person that is following the will of God is a whole person. This is where we get the word holy. A holy person is one whose loyalties are not divided between heaven and earth. We are all called to holiness because we are called to be whole, to be undivided as God is. Tonight, fifteen minutes

before you go to bed dwell on the following questions. Read all of them first. Spend time on the one or ones that captures your attention the most. You need not worry if your fifteen minutes are up before you “do” all of the questions. There are no grades and your answers will be written in your heart only. It is more important to dwell on the question or questions that speak to your heart. Talk to God about what you feel in your heart. : True or False: God and I are very close friends. What good qualities does God see in me right now, tonight? In what ways have I positively responded to God’s love in my life? How have I failed to respond to God’s love in my live? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need… Good Night.

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

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Day 2 - What are we waiting for? Biblical Passage: John 11: 43 “Lazarus Come Out!” The story of the raising of Lazarus is a familiar one to all Christians. Remember that Lazarus was in the grave for four days. A four-day-old corpse was dead indeed. Jesus had heard of his friend’s plight well before the tragedy of death struck Lazarus down. Yet, Jesus did nothing, he allowed his friend to die. He then went to the sisters and they professed faith that God would do anything Jesus asked him to. It was a touching demonstration of faith and yet when Jesus ordered the rock to be removed from the tomb Martha showed how little faith she really had when she said, “He has been dead four days, surely there will be a stench.” Then, when the rock was rolled away, Jesus commanded Lazarus to “Come Out.” And out he came, all wrapped up in his burial ensemble. His friends untied him and he went home. How do you think Lazarus felt? Had he been to heaven? Was he happy to be back on earth? The Gospel is silent on this but if it was me and I was called back from the bliss of heaven, I would be ticked off to say the least! But today let us compare the raising of Lazarus to our own Baptism. Before we were baptized, we were enemies of God. When we were drowned in the Baptismal font we died to our original nature and became an adopted child of God. But is that enough, just to be a child of God? We were brought to life like Lazarus by our baptism. This was an action of God, and like Lazarus we are called to “Come Out” and take up our
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duties as the son or daughter of the Great King. Those duties are simple and at the same time profound, they are to “Love one another as I have loved you.” Like Lazarus we have to depend on our friends to remove the bindings that hold us back from being a full partner in the redemptive work of God. That is why Christians get together. We get together to worship God, of course, but we also get together to help one another. Will we truly open our hearts to let Jesus in or like Martha will we say, “Surely there will be a stench!” Today’s questions follow. Once again, fifteen minutes before bed reflect on

each of the questions. If one of the questions really speaks to your heart, stay with that question as long as necessary. Don’t worry if you don’t “finish” all of the questions. Speak to God as if he were your best friend. Then try a very painful experiment. Silence your prayer and listen for God. My Baptism made me a Christian. Can others tell that I am baptized? How did I fulfill my duty to love others today? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

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Day Three - Preparing for the End Biblical Passage: Luke 21: 5-8 Some were speaking of how the temple was adorned with precious stones and votive offerings. He said, “These things you are contemplating - the day will come when not one stone will be left on another, but it will all be torn down.” They asked him, “When will this be, Teacher? And what will be sign that it is going to happen?” He said, “Take care not to be misled. Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he’ and ‘The time is at hand.’ Do not follow them.” What would happen if at 7:00 AM you opened up the following email message: “From: God To: My Dear Child Please make all preparations for tonight at 11:04PM you will die in your sleep. Do not be afraid, it will be very peaceful, but you must get your affairs in order today. With All My Love God” In our Bible passage, the apostles are asking when the end will come. Jesus cleverly answers by not telling them. In other places in scripture we are told that the day and hour are known only to the Father. So be it! When someone tries to talk to me about the end of the world, I get a case of terminal boredom. This is not because I don’t care, it is just because I trust in God to do what he must do in his own time. All of the hand wringing and preaching about raptures, being “left behind” and antichrists is a waste of time. The
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concept of “an antichrist” is not a difficult one for me to accept. . I know that one exists and he is alive and that he is well and he is living amongst us today. That antichrist is me, every time I attempt to place my will above the will of God in a process that has been named “sinning.” I am the antichrist when I ignore the cries of my brothers and sisters and go my merry way. Call me the antichrist when I do not take up my cross and follow Jesus. Every generation from first century until now has thought they would be the generation that would see the return of the King of Kings arriving on clouds of glory. We are still waiting for Jesus to return on these clouds of glory, just as he left us after ushering in this New Advent time. The angels at his Ascension said it all in Acts 1:10-11 “They were still gazing up into the heavens when two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the skies? This Jesus who has been taken from you will return, just as you saw him go up into the heavens.” In other words, they were being told to get on with it. Instead of gazing heavenward, have we let Jesus infuse our hearts with his love? Have we tasked ourselves with the work that will further his kingdom? Have we rooted out the antichrist attitudes that reign in our own soul? First let us welcome Jesus into our hearts and work for the kingdom in the here and now before we start gazing heavenward looking for his physical return. We know not when he will physically return. The date and time of his physical return does not matter, because right now he is as close as our heart if we let Him in. As Christians we can be assured that God will win the ultimate victory and as a matter of fact it is already won!. It is in this victory I can place my trust in for it is before us. Jesus will return and that is uncontestable truth.. If I am open to the movement of God and his grace
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in my life I will be able to be faithful and not be misled by the many false prophets going about for the ruin of souls today. I believe that it is more important to live our life as if we were going to be called home tonight then it is to worry about the end times. For each of us, at a time and place of God’s choosing ,we will be called home. This day will be our personal rapture and our personal end of the world. In this respect, therefore, we live in the end times, but then again so did the apostle Paul ,Christopher Columbus, John F. Kennedy and the large class of dead people that populate our cemeteries. What is most important is that we should not put off doing good until some other time. Nor should we worry about the time of the return of Jesus. Certainly it is good to long for his return and to pray for it. But we must remember that Jesus will come and we as Christians, those of us that are still alive and those of us that have already gone home to heaven, will be there to see it, no matter if this return is tomorrow or ten thousand years from tomorrow. Today’s questions follow. As usual, fifteen minutes before bed, reflect on them. If one question really speaks to your heart, dwell on it and do not be concerned if you don’t finish them all. The questions are not important, what God is telling you in your reflection is. Try not to do all of the talking, listen for the voice of God. If I received an email from God this morning telling me I was going to die that night, what would I do today? Who would I reconcile with? What would I say to my spouse or children? Why haven’t I done these things already? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need….
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Good Night.

Day 4 - The Fate of the Traitor Biblical Passage: Luke 22: 31-34 “Simon, Simon! Remember that Satan has asked for you, to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may never fail. You in turn must strengthen your brothers. “Lord,” he said to him “at your side I am prepared to face imprisonment and death itself.” Jesus replied “I tell you Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have three times denied that you know me.”

John 21: 15-17 “When they had eaten their meal, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do love me more then these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” At which Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he put this question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, Peter said, “You know I love you.” Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” A third time Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because he had asked a third time, “Do you love me?” So he said to him: “Lord you know everything. You know well that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” You cannot be a traitor to someone or something that you have never pledged allegiance to. Peter told Jesus that no matter what, he would be loyal to death. When Jesus was
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taken away, Peter followed. The big fisherman, I believe, had the intention of being loyal. He was admitted to the yard where guards were warming themselves by the fire. Here, his heart began to flutter. Those were real spears the guards had, he could be in real trouble here! Then he was given a chance to show his loyalty, and Simon was supremely loyal as we can read in the Bible, except he was supremely loyal to Simon! He denied Jesus. When the going got tough he got going - he bravely turned tail and denied Jesus! But let’s contrast his actions with those of another traitor, Judas. Peter left and wept bitterly. Judas left and killed himself. Peter went on to be called Saint Peter, one of the greatest saints in heaven. Judas never rose above his intrinsic nature, he remained Judas. Peter accepted the gift of the forgiveness of Jesus. And Jesus forgave Peter three times. Judas simply despaired and went his own way. The point here is this: No matter what we have done. Jesus is ready to forgive us. He is never farther away then arms length, for that is as far away as we can push him. His love for us keeps him riveted in that spot. His eyes are upon us, waiting for us to invite him back, and he will come at the first hint of our first call. Can we do less to those around us? Can we nurse a grudge? Can we remain unforgiving and expect forgiveness? Today’s questions: How many times have I been the betrayer of Jesus? Am I more like Peter or Judas? Who do I need to forgive? Why haven’t I done this? Whom do I need to ask for forgiveness? Am I too proud to do this? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need….Good Night.
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Day 5 Mary - a model for us Biblical Passages: John 2:5 His mother instructed those waiting on table, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 19: 25-27 ear the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, there is your son.” In turn he said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” From that hour onward the disciple took her into his care.

Here is where I just might loose some of the readers that are of the Protestant tradition. I hope that the mere mention of Mary, the mother of Jesus, does not frighten anyone off because she does have a lot to teach us. She speaks infrequently in the New Testament but the words that come out of her mouth are more powerful then one thousand sermons; “Do whatever he tells you.” These are her words to the waiters working at the wedding feast at Cana and they echo down through the ages to us as well. As a matter of fact in all of the stories that circulate about Mary it is significant that she never points to herself, she always directs us to her Son, Jesus. She was single hearted in his service. We should heed her advice and do whatever he tells us. We also know that Jesus loved his mother dearly. From the cross, knowing that she would be all alone in the world, Jesus provided
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for her by entrusting her into the care of the “disciple he loved.” Early Christians had a reverence for Mary and we Catholics continue this devotion to Mary as the Mother of God. (There go some more protestants…) There are many reasons for this. Even before Jesus was born, she showed her love and trust of God. She agreed to become the Mother of God. This put her in a most dangerous position. In that day a pregnant unmarried woman would be taken out and stoned as an adulteress. She was betrothed to Joseph and while that legally conveyed all rights of marriage on to the couple, the custom of the time was to wait until the marriage to exercise those rights and if Joseph had testified that he had no knowledge of her, she would have been executed. Yet, she trusted in God and uttered the “yes” that echoes through the corridors of time and which nullifies the “no” uttered by Eve in the Garden of Eden. Mary carried Jesus in her womb and of course was there when Jesus was born. She chastised him when he seemingly went astray in the temple. She propelled him into starting his ministry at the wedding feast at Cana when he probably wasn’t ready to start yet. Finally she held his lifeless body in her arms and she cried her mother’s tears as she helped bury her son in a borrowed tomb. Through the whole saga Jesus remained the center of her life. My argument is not necessarily that we should pray to Mary, although I regularly do so and I encourage it. What I say is that we must become more like her. We must be willing to say “Yes Lord” when we are called to do something for God. Mary’s faith in God was absolute. Mary’s faith in God gave her the ability to trust in God to bring things to a good conclusion in his own time. So let us be more like Mary, even if the doctrine we follow seems to preclude us praying to her. Let us imitate Mary and be loyal to Jesus, doing whatever he tells us to do. Let us be
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more trusting in the promises of God even when the evidence of our own senses seems to say that it is time to surrender to despair. . Here are today’s reflection questions for you to ponder fifteen minutes before you sleep. Which one speaks to your heart? If one speaks louder, spend more time on it. Mary said “Do whatever he tells you…” What is Jesus telling me to do in my life? Mary cried at the foot of the cross when Jesus was taken down. How do I feel about the sacrifice Jesus made for me? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day Six - Pharisees and Samaritans Biblical: Luke 7:36 - 38 (Jesus said) “Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned. Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will they pour into the fold of your garment. For the measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” The Pharisees get a bad rap in the Gospels. The Pharisee represented the educated gentry of the Jesus generation. They were the ones that tried to observe the law and in doing so, they tried to please God. But when you mention “Pharisee” to the average Christian, he or she will most often think of an evil person that was always trying to trip up the Lord. Now let me play devils advocate here. The Jews of the first century were under the thumb of the Romans and they longed for the Messiah to come and deliver them out of bondage. Every week saw so called messiahs arriving to the acclaim of the great multitude and the Pharisees were very cautious because the Romans didn’t like would be deliverers coming to save the Jews from the beneficent care of Caesar and they decorated many crosses with the false would be messiahs. But even allowing for this natural and very human skepticism we see that the Pharisees went out of their way to try and trip Jesus up. Yet unlike the false messiahs, Jesus would not be tripped up. In spite of all the evidence, the Pharisees would not believe. They had faith that the messiah would come but they were not ready to receive him into their midst. So here we have the educated and
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powerful men of the age rejecting the Savior that they longed for from the bottom of their souls. To have had him so near and to have rejected him is to be in the worst kind of poverty, a deep seated poverty of soul. Then in startling contrast we have the strange case of the Samaritan woman at the well. She was an “anti-Pharisee” if there ever was one. She was a Samaritan and worse then that she was a woman. This dual status relegated her to the lowest social position in the Jewish world, probably just above leper. Yet in spite of this, she came to believe that she was speaking to the Son of God. The Pharisee was concerned with strict obedience to the Law and with right thinking and correct doctrine. It has been my experience that those of us that get so very passionate over doctrine can lose our compassion for people. When we loose our ability to love, our doctrine might as well be woven into a shroud for our faith is truly dead. How can we feast on roast beast and argue the fine points of the law while outside our doors children are starving? How is our sparkling pure doctrine helping them? I want to be more like the Samaritan woman at the well and less like the hair splitting mandarins the Pharisees became. What does it matter to my salvation how God chose to create the world? It is enough for me that I know he did it. Why should I care how or when Jesus will return? It is enough for me that he will. I want a personal relationship with Jesus, not with a lawyer or theologian because in the end it is our love for Jesus that will count more then our observance of the Law or holding to a particular doctrine. Doctrine is important. Without it Christianity would splinter into meaningless groups of devotees to whatever belief the world held to be true at the moment. To follow Jesus I must love. If I love and do the things that love requires my obedience to the Law of Jesus will follow de facto. To love I
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must do the things that Jesus lays out in our Bible passage. I must be compassionate to others as the Father is compassionate to me. This is a tall order, but no one said being a follower of Christ was easy. After all, the teachings of Jesus brought him death on a cross. As his followers we should expect no better. Here are today’s reflection questions. As always, if one question demands more of your attention then another, stick with that question. It is not important that you finish all of the questions. Listen for the voice of God as you reflect. In my pursuit of pure doctrine have I lost compassion for souls that need Jesus? Am I more like a Pharisee or the Woman at the Well? Jesus went all the way, to the cross. How far am I willing to go? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 7 - Meet the Owners of the Kingdom Biblical Passage: Matt 20: 13-15 At one point, children were brought to him so that he could place his hands on them in prayer. The disciples began to scold them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And he laid his hands on their heads before he left that place. So, now you know who owns the Kingdom of Heaven. It belongs to children. Does that mean adults have no place there? Well, sort of. Do you remember when you were very young? Life was much more simple when you were younger. When you were a child you trusted the adults in your life. You took things as they came and you were thankful for things. Small pleasures meant a lot and only a child can see the beauty of a frog sitting on a lily pad in the middle of a muddy pond. For a child, a sunrise brings a new day and the new day brings a new adventure. There is no light so bright in this world as a child’s smile and no creature that has the ability to trust more. There is no crime so shocking and depraved as one perpetrated against a child.

One of my fondest memories is of a time when I was out west visiting my sister. My nephew was about seven or eight and I shared his room. The first morning we awoke together and the smile he gave me lit up his whole face. There was no way to disguise the pleasure he felt just because I was there. Heaven belongs to those of us that can accept heaven as a child accepts his or her world. We need to be childlike in our trust of God.
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The problem with adults is that we trust too little and reason too much. Only man could argue so much about God and yet understand so very little about him. We argue about how to worship him and in doing so we forget to worship him. We argue about how best to win the kingdom of heaven and on paper our theories look good, but we spend so much time arguing that the stuff of earth robs from us the stuff of heaven. We condemn the other and smugly point to our way as being the only way and in doing so we lose the way to the kingdom. Let us strive to be more childlike, not childish, but childlike and learn to trust the promises of Jesus…”This day you shall be with me in Paradise.” A child is an open book with blank pages. Our hearts and souls must be like that of a child, open, blank and ready to receive the ink and pen that our savior will use to convert us. Our heaven begins now if we allow the God -child within us to see it. Today’s questions to follow. Reflect on them fifteen minutes before you retire for the night. Keep it simple tonight and remember to be childlike in your trust of God. Listen for his voice as you reflect tonight. How has my spiritual life changed since I became an adult? In what ways have I reasoned God out from parts of my life? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day Eight - Forgiveness is an obligation to the Children of the King Biblical: Matthew 6:14 (Jesus said) “If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. If you do not forgive others neither will your Father forgive you yours.”

Heaven will be a place of great beauty and great peace for us. We can never really imagine what our heaven is going to be like because our minds are finite and heaven is infinite. We equate our pleasures and happiness based on what we feel and experience here on earth. I imagine my mansion in heaven to be a house with four tower rooms, one in each corner. I love tower rooms! I know deep in my soul that heaven will not really be like this, that it will be more beautiful then I can imagine, but I have to reduce it to the level I am at right now so my finite mind can make sense of it. The place that is heaven will have no discord. All will be full of love for one another. It will be a great place because there will be no hate, no war, no difference between peoples of many races and colors. Heaven is a Christian’s ultimate goal. Jesus opened the way to it by opening his arms on the cross and it is a free gift from our heavenly Father to us. The very nature of heaven presents a challenge to us here on earth. Heaven will be a place of perfect bliss and no one there will be able to spoil it with unloving attitudes. Therefore for us to enter heaven we need to learn the law of love that Jesus presented to us throughout his life. To accomplish this we need to forgive others as Jesus forgives us. When our sins are forgiven they are cast as far as East is from West. God no longer remembers them. It is
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this type of forgiveness we as Children of the Great King are called to dispense in our own lives. This obligation is one of the most serious ones we have. It is also the obligation that will bring you the greatest amount of freedom as a Christian. My mother died as the result of bad doctoring. She worked at a doctors office as a secretary, office assistant. She discovered a lump on her shoulder and since it was in the terms of her employment that she receive free medical care, she showed it to her employer. The doctor she worked for could care less and gave her some ointment to treat it. Several months went by and the condition only got worse. Instead of looking further into the problem this doctor kept up treating with the ointment. My mother was concerned and visited another doctor friend. He looked at her and immediately diagnosed cancer. She went into the hospital and the growth was removed. They thought they got it all but several months later an x-ray showed the cancer had spread to her lung. To make a long story short, she died about a month later. My heart filled with pain and hate for the doctor who did not care enough about another human being to treat them as they would want to be treated. We buried mom and I sunk into depression. It was my habit to make the sign of the cross when I passed a church because I knew brick walls could not separate me from God. One day on my way to work, I passed a church and as I made that sign of the cross God opened my eyes and showed me that I had to forgive that horrible, uncaring, incompetent excuse for a doctor. The rage I was holding inside was changed to forgiveness and I realized that the depression I had been laboring under had left me. I forgave that doctor and freed myself from the burden that she was on my soul. I forgave much, make no mistake about that. But what this did for me was to make it just about impossible for me
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to harbor hate against another human being. I forgave what I saw as the murder of my mother. What more could you do to me? If I could forgive such a large hurt, I could forgive all of those smaller hurts of life. This makes me a free creature and closer to what I should be. So in the long run, to forgive is an action that makes you free. Also, since heaven is a place where love reigns we must forgive now to live in heaven later. Hard? Yes, forgiving hurts and wrongs done to us is among the hardest things we are called to do as a Child of God. Today there is only one main question to ponder. Fifteen minutes before bed meditate on this: Who do I need to forgive and whom do I need to ask for forgiveness from? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 9 - Dealing With The Disappointments of Life Biblical: Matthew 26: 36-40 Jesus went with them to a place call Gethsseani. He said to his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, and began to experience sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My heart is nearly broken with sorrow, remain here and stay awake with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Still, let it be as you would have it, not as I.” When he returned to his disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not stay awake with me even for a hour?”

Jesus was fully human. This is a point to remember. He came to earth and experienced life as a first century man. I believe that among all of the emotions flooding the all too human body of Jesus was one of disappointment. He brought with him three favored friends and looked to them for comfort and assistance in his time of need. What did he receive? He came back and found his helpers asleep. He must have felt some disappointment. Peter had just moments before said that he would die by the side of Jesus if need be. What did Jesus ask for? He did not ask for his friend to die, just to pray with him. Peter for his part went to sleep. Two more times Jesus asked for them to pray, but sleep invaded the very bones of his beloved ones and he faced the agony in the garden alone.

In our lives we too will have disappointments and we will be disappointing to others as
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well. We must handle these times as Peter did. Peter accepted the forgiveness of Jesus and went on spreading the Word, eventually being martyred in Rome. The person we need to forgive first is ourselves because we hold ourselves to higher standards then most others hold us to. So, weep and mourn over our failings. Ask for and receive the forgiveness of the Holy One and then move on. Also, life will present us with occasions that disappoint. The job that you lost, the investment that has gone bad, the hurt inflicted on you by an unfaithful friend will all fill the heart with disappointment. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on. Remember the fate of Jesus. He died on a cross. Can you expect a better fate? Actually you can, because the cross you cannot carry will be carried for you by Christ if you let him. Be open to Him and you will be able to reconcile all of your disappointments in the blood he shed for you. Today’s question for the fifteen minutes before bed follow. If you had been in the Garden with Jesus, would you have slept or kept watch? What would you have said to your friend in His agony? What disappointments are you willing to place into the hands of Jesus tonight? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 10 - The Humility of Jesus Calls Us to Be Humble Biblical: Philippians 2: 6-11 Though he was in the form of God, He did not deem equality wit God Something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, Being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, Obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! Because of this God highly exalted him, And bestowed on hum the name above every other name, So that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! Paul is addressing the Philippians and reminding them of the humility of Jesus. Earlier in chapter two he tells us to “never act out of rivalry or conceit; let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves.” As I stated before, Jesus was fully human. He was also fully God. He did things that others of his time would never think of doing. Jesus sat and ate with sinners, tax collectors, lepers. A teacher with a good reputation would never eat with sinners or publicans. At that last supper before he died, he did something that is so out of character that it must have meaning. Jesus washed the feet of his friends. It was out of character because this was a job reserved for the most junior of menial house servants. Yet Jesus ministered with basin and towel to his disciples and tenderly washed their feet which were dirty from the long walk to the feast. He was the leader, teacher and
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Rabbi and yet he donned apron and he served those at table. He gave us the example of what we are to do for one another, we are to wash each others feet. We are to serve one another in love and out of respect for the dignity that is infused in each of us by our mutual Father. What are some practical things we can do to make ourselves more humble. First thing we can do is to really look at ourselves. Do we realize that the sum total of what we are is no more or less then what we are in God’s eyes? Can we reconcile who we think we are with what God thinks of us? Do we realize that God loves our enemy just as much as he loves us? Are we ready to serve as Jesus did? I fear we are all very willing to proclaim Jesus as Lord and quote scripture proving this point. But how many of us will get out the basin, towel and apron and stoop so low as to wash the feet of our brothers. Will we serve in the soup kitchen? Will we volunteer in the homeless shelter? Will we even bother to donate excess clothing from our closets? Will we forgive the careless driver that cuts us off in traffic? Will we give a dollar or two extra for a good cause and NOT take a receipt for income tax purposes? When was the last time I did something

nice for someone, a real act of random kindness, without the expectation of thanks or recognition? When was the last time I prayed for someone who does not like me? Today’s question: How do I believe God sees me? How do I see myself? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 11 Secret Ambition Biblical: Mark 10: 35-45 Zebedee’s sons, James and John approached hum. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to grant our request.” “What is it?” he asked. They replied, “See to it that we sit, one at your right and one at your left when you come into your glory.” “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup I shall drink or be baptized in the same bath of pain as I?” “We can,” they told him. Jesus said in response, “From the cup I drink of you shall drink; the bath I am immersed in you shall share. But as for sitting at my right or my left, that is not mine to give; it is for those to whom it has been reserved.” The other ten, on hearing this became indignant at James and John. Jesus called them together and said to them: “You know how among the Gentiles those who seem to exercise authority lord it over them; their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all. The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve - to give his life in ransom for the many.”

The way of life Jesus wants us to live is counter culture. Today’s reading is longer then most of the readings you will find in this retreat and it can stand on its own without too much comment from me. But it is interesting what Jesus is telling us to do here. If we are to lead, we must be ready to serve. As followers of the Christ we must be ready to follow the way of our Blessed Lord. Our acts of selfless service will not garner us favor in the world. As a matter of fact, we must be ready to suffer the fate of Jesus who gave up
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everything for us. The bath he was immersed in is ready for us. The cup he drank from is waiting for us to take it to our lips and to drink fully and deeply. Looking back at this incident you have to admire James and John for the boldness of their request. Yet, Jesus tells them that before reward must come sorrow. Christians will suffer in this world as they honestly attempt to do God’s will. We will be laughed at and demeaned and thus share in the passion of Christ. We can expect nothing else. To be a servant is to be every Christians secret ambition. I fear in our churches (both Catholic and Protestant) we see examples of people who have ambition, but not the right one. Such was the case in the time of Jesus as well. The difference is now we know what our true calling must be. We are called to be servants. We are not to lord it over our fellow travelers in this life but rather we are to walk along side and serve. Our service must come from our heart and our heart must be filled with the awe and wonder that the Cross of Christ should inspire in us. Today’s questions: Do I lord it over people in my life? Am I a true servant of the Christ? What does the Cross of Christ say to me? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 12 - Faith Biblical: Luke 23: 39 - 43 One of the criminals hanging in crucifixion blasphemed him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Then save yourself and us.” But the other one rebuked him: “Have you no fear of God, seeing you are under the same sentence? We deserve it, after all. We are only paying the price for what we’ve done, but this man has done nothing wrong.” He then said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter upon your reign.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you: this day you will be with me in paradise.”

Judge Roy Bean once fined a corpse the amount of money found in his pocket for “laying around.” But what the good judge did is not as strange as the conversation we just witnessed above. Imagine, three men, each nailed to a tree, fighting to hold themselves upright so that they could breathe. Imagine the pain and how difficult it was for each of them to hold themselves up. Crucifixion was a slow agonizing death, a death by inches. You held yourself up so you could breathe, but your arms tired and you would sink down and be unable to breathe and you would struggle to raise yourself again. This would go on until you finally could raise yourself no more. Luke places the incident with the “good thief” near the end of the ordeal. I think it had to happen early on when the three men were still fresh and their arms could hold them up long enough for them to speak to one another. Let us look at what happened here. The unrepentant thief was being all too human and spit venom at Jesus, a fellow sufferer. The other thief had come to grips with what was happening. In this last few brief moments of life he saw his life is stark relief
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and he measured it against the life of Jesus. He realized that he was suffering because he deserved it. He knew he was to die that day and he wanted to be reconciled. He came to the stunning realization that Jesus was who he claimed to be and he did what he knew to be needed. He confessed that he was a sinner and he begged Jesus to remember him. Jesus accepted this repentance at face value and forgave the thief and promised him heaven. The Gospel is silent about this, but what do you think the priests from the temple thought about this conversation? I think when they heard it that they heaped rebuke and scorn on both Jesus and the thief. They probably found the conversation silly and further evidence of the dangerous nature of Jesus because he continued his “crime” even from the cross. The winner in this case of course was the good thief. He led a life worthy of hellfire and at the last moment his repentance and his faith in Jesus got him into heaven. The question comes to mind is why be good if we can claim heaven at the last minute? The answer is simple and yet profound. We do what is right because it is right and because we know it will please our heavenly father. As children of the Great King heaven is our home already. We need not steal it. When Jesus opened his arms on the cross, he gave each of us the key to enter the kingdom. I think what our biblical passage teaches is not so much how to steal heaven, but to encourage us to remember that while we live we can always call upon Jesus, even at the last moment of our life. Today’s questions: What am I waiting for? Which thief am I most like? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 13 - The Poverty of Wealth Biblical: Luke 12: 16-21 He told them a parable in these words: “There was a rich man who had a good harvest. ‘What shall I do?’ he asked himself. ‘I have no place to store my harvest. I know! I will pull down my grain bins and build larger ones. All my grain and my goods will go there. Then I will say to myself: You have blessings in reserve for years to come, Relax! Eat heartily, drink well. Enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him ‘You fool! This very night your life shall be required of you. To whom will all this piled-up wealth of your go?’ That is the way it works with the man who grows rich for himself instead of growing rich in the site of God.” In our Biblical reading tonight we hear of a man who seems to have it all. He has every right to feel proud of himself. After all he has worked hard and has much to show for it. Or does he? What he has are things that will sooner or later decay and rot. What he has are the makings of a success story, but he stops short. He decides that he is going to save all of these things for himself. He is going to take it easy. But alas, the Almighty has different plans for him. So the man is very poor in his plenty. How does he stop short? He fails to look around him and see the world for what it is. A place where there are needy people, ones that he could have helped with his excess. He falls short because instead of being selfless he is selfish. There is none so poor then the person who keeps everything for themselves. There is no one so rich as one who opens their hand in generosity. As Christians we are called to be generous with the gifts we have received from the Lord. We are called to remember that everything we have comes from Him and
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is placed into our care. Does that mean we have to impoverish ourselves? It means we must make ourselves free of the entanglements that the temporary riches of this world bring us. We are called to recognize that often we reap what others sow. We are called to remember the beggar might just be Jesus in disguise. “But, charity begins at home,” I hear you say. Really? Then perhaps we need to define just what our home is. We live on a small blue planet. This planet contains everything that is human. It is here that the Son of God lived among us and thus made our home, this little blue planet, a holy place. It is this home where our brothers and sisters live. They are our brothers and sisters because they share the same father. So when we give to them, we honor our Father. When we extend help, we truly become sons and daughters of the Great King. By giving, I mean not only money, certainly we should share that. The most valuable thing we should give is ourselves. Any fool can write a check. But only you can make the unique contribution that comes from simply being you. That is what our Father calls us to do, to share ourselves out as our Brother Jesus did. Our Lord and Brother gave his all. He sacrificed his very life for us. Rather then storing up our stuff in barns, we should share what we can. How poor am I when I consider all the riches I have stored up? What can I do to help another that I am not doing now? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 15 - The Half Way Mark Biblical: Psalm 91 You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, Say to the LORD, "My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust." God will rescue you from the fowler's snare, from the destroying plague, Will shelter you with pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God's faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come. You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see. You have the LORD for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. o evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. II Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high. All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor. With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power.

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Today we have reached the halfway point of our thirty day journey. There will be no comment on the reading, which is Psalm 91. I chose it for no other reason then I like it. Here is tonight’s special assignment. You need not write anything down unless you want to, but please spend the entire fifteen minutes thinking about the following: How am I different today as compared to when I began this retreat? Do I love Jesus more or less since I began? How have I shown this? What failings have I discovered as the result of my meditations? What good things have I discovered about myself because of my meditations? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 16 - Sacrifice Mark 12 41-44 He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." Before the break we spoke of a rich man and how he gave so little. Now we read about a poor woman and how she gave so much. We build on our previous reading and see more clearly that attitude is everything with God. When I was in class the good sisters taught me the difference between a venial (not too serious) and mortal (deadly) sin. They told me that stealing a dime from a millionaire was a venial sin. While stealing a dime from a poor man could be a mortal sin. Our attitude must be one of generosity to those around us. We must give all we have in imitation of our Master. Our attitude must be one of gratitude. I believe that the widow knew her contribution was meager. She knew that in the grand scheme of things it was worth very little but she gave all she had. She put herself out, perhaps she even condemned herself to a hunger filled day because she gave the temple all of her money. But she did so happily and she asked no reward or acknowledgement. We all have things we can contribute. Can you make a sandwich? Then the bereavement ministry at church can use you. Can you sew or do hand crafts? Then you can use your talent to beautify God’s house. Can you hold a paint brush or
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operate a broom? Ask your pastor, there are always things that need to be done and never enough money to get paid help to do them. If you can’t do any of these things due to circumstances such as ill health, can you pray? If you can pray you can contribute. If you cannot pray because the pain is too great, can you offer the pain to God? There is a movie I saw once where the main character says: “In a situation where little can be done, one should at least do that very little.”

What can I do to improve the world even if I have to start small? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 17 Is He Kidding or What? Biblical: Matthew 5: 38-41 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Okay, I admit it. I find the above passage hard to take. I am a twenty-first century American and I have not been taught to turn the other cheek. On the contrary in our country if a person does the least bit of harm to you, take him to court and sue! If a person hits you, hit him back, twice as hard! This is exactly how the world works today. Look at all of the things that have happened. Cowardly terrorists destroy buildings, airplanes, trains and lives, all in the name of revenge for real or imagined slights. This eye for eye philosophy may be okay for the world, but, young warrior, it is not for you. To be a Christian means to be one who is able to forgive. Our history is rich with examples of what a Christian is expected to do. Jesus himself from the cross said: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” 1 Stephan, the first martyr forgave his tormentors and many of the martyrs that followed him in the persecutions of the bloody first and second centuries followed Stephan’s example and forgave those bent on destroying their body. The blood of the martyrs converted many souls in those first troubled years of the church. They taught by example, and all without a seminary education! If they who had given up their very lives for the faith were able and willing to forgive their executioners,

1

Luke 23:34

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how can we hold grudges and hatreds? It is against human nature to turn the other cheek. We are called to rise above human nature and take on a higher nature. Once again, generosity is required of us. (Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.) A non-believer may hear a hundred sermons and see dozens of movies about Jesus. But, if a non-believer does not see clear evidence that being a Christian makes a difference in how one lives life, then he will not be attracted to Jesus. On the other hand, if he sees that you are living out your Christian life and sees the principles of Jesus put into action, then he may consider Christianity a viable way of life. All to often we leave Jesus in the pew after Sunday worship is over. We come together to worship and recharge our spiritual batteries so we can go out on Monday and bring Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him. So Jesus is not kidding when he asks us to turn the other cheek. He turned the other cheek. He went the extra mile and he calls us to do the same. To do this we may need to ask for his help and his mighty strength. Today’s questions follow. Am I ready to turn the other cheek, to forgo my revenge, to be a good example? What is the difference between turning the other cheek and standing up for myself? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 18 - Praying 101 Biblical: Matthew 7: 7-8 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” I believe that many relationships end today because people do not talk to one another. Take for example a couple that has been married for many years. Many words have passed between them over the decades and some things are just taken for granted. Sadly, the words “I love you.” often are heard less and less over the course of time and that is unfortunate. As human beings we need verbal reinforcement in our relationships. In our relationship with God, we need to verbalize as well. It is true indeed that God knows our needs and will provide for us. His response to us is always one of love. So, if God will give without being asked, why should we ask? My opinion is that we have to ask God for the things we need because that reminds us how utterly dependant we are on Him. It pleases God to give us what we need. He is truly a beneficent Father and he will withhold no grace that we need to get to heaven. The promise of Jesus is that if we ask, we will receive. If we seek the Father, we will find Him. If we knock on the door of the kingdom, it will be opened for us. It is a humbling thought that at any moment, day or night, we have direct access to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Millions of people the world over call God their Father and He for His part hears each of his children and he answers every prayer. I have a Palm Pilot and one of the free programs I downloaded was a prayer journal. It has a check box you can mark after you enter the details of what you are
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praying for that says “answered.” I have to mark each prayer as answered because I am confident that God has heard my prayer and has answered it. His answer may not be the one I want, but I have to believe that it is the best one for the ultimate salvation of my soul. There are three possible answers God sends to prayers. They are YES, NO and WAIT. Yes is the answer we long for. No is the answer that causes us to adjust our sights and goals. The hardest answer for me is WAIT. I don’t have patience and what I want I want now so WAIT is a hard thing for me to do. What I have to remember is that no matter what my particular prayer is, I am asking God, “Do you love me.?” and no matter what answer he sends it can be translated as “Yes, I Love you.” Today’s questions:

In my walk with the Lord, what were some times that I experienced a YES, a NO and a WAIT. On each occasion how did I feel? Am I still waiting for something I prayed for? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 19 A ew Hymn Biblical: Revelation 5: 9-13 They sang a new hymn: "Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth." I looked again and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing." Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." The four living creatures answered, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped. The Book of Revelation is one book that has everything going for it. It was written a long time ago, addressed to a people long since gone, in a language form that is quite foreign to the modern American. This is not the forum to debate the prophesies the book is said to contain. I include this quotation because I want to speak about persecution. The Book of Revelation was written during a time when the Church was being persecuted and blood was being spilled for the sake of the work of the Kingdom. Jesus is praised over and over in this book and in our quote we read “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might…” I think the important phrase here is “every creature.” This is a prophesy that Jesus will be the final
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victor. We need to remember this in this day and age. We live in an age where the Church is under siege from all sides. The Catholic Church is feeling the blows especially keenly of late due the actions of a small minority of renegade priests and the work of the anti Christian press. Someone once told me that the Church is clear evidence of the existence of the Holy Spirit because there is no way any human institution could survive two-thousand years with all of the bad management that has afflicted it. (Protestants, please don’t smirk or nod knowingly - scandal has touched your churches too!) But, we are treating here of things beyond our ken. When Nero threw Christians to the lions or set them ablaze he was engaging in persecution on a monumental scale. We Christians engage in persecution on a much smaller scale and usually in modern times anyway, we leave the body alone and only persecute the spirit. It can be no less deadly. The Catholics condemn the Baptists. The Baptists condemn the Presbyterians. All sects and denominations find fault with Islam. On and on it goes. Now hang on because you are in for ride here. If at the end of time every creature is praising Jesus in heaven, doesn’t that make all people regardless of doctrine members of the same family? If we are all going to praise the Lamb together in heaven why don’t we honor each other here on earth? If we truly believe that Jesus died for “those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation” then lets start treating them as our brothers and sisters and stop persecuting them. Today’s questions: In what ways do I persecute other believers? How can I change? How will my reflections tonight change my life tomorrow and in the future? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need….
A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

Good Night.

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Day 20 A Promise of Future Glory Biblical: John 14: 1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” In the whole Bible I do not think that there is a more beautiful passage. I cannot know what heaven is like because I see with the eyes of a mortal. My most extravagant imaginings of what it will be like fall infinitely short of what it will be. Years ago I used to have to drive through a very rich Chicago suburb to get to work. I would pass these magnificent mansions with beautifully landscaped grounds and as I went by, I liked to think that my mansion in heaven would be ten thousand times more beautiful then the best of the homes I passed. What a wonderful promise Jesus gives us here! First he promises us a home, a dwelling place with God. He also promises to come back and take us with him to the Father. What joy fills my heart as I read this passage. If we know Christ then we can be where He is and He Himself will come to take us. This is a short reflection tonight because it is rich enough for a person to meditate on for a lifetime. Today’s questions: Am I truly looking for the day when Christ returns for me? Am I afraid? What will heaven be like? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 21 Peter Biblical: Mark 8 27-33 ow Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Messiah." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." I simply love Peter. He is so much like me. When I get to heaven I am going to make a special effort to meet him and get to know him. One minute he confesses that he believes that Jesus is God come to earth and in the next he vacillates and rebukes the Messiah when Jesus’ plans go in a direction that Peter does not agree with. So it is with us. When the plan of God follows exactly the plan we have in mind for ourselves we walk the path joyfully. Yet, if the plan deviates from what we believe it should be, our walk slows. We drag our feet, we beat our breasts and despair. Do you think it is a matter of trust? If Jesus truly is Lord, then shouldn’t we trust that we are where we should be precisely at the right time? I could never understand how Peter could confess that Jesus was the Messiah and in the next second take Him aside and rebuke the Messiah. Yet I do it all the time when I lose my trust in the plan God has for me. Today’s reflection: Where is my life going? Am I dragging my feet or joyfully following the Lord’s path? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 22 - Walking on Water Biblical: Matthew 14: 23-36 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once (Jesus) spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Okay, calm down, I am not going to belabor the lack of faith issue here. The fact is Peter did show a lot of faith when he left the boat. He showed more faith then I would have been able to display. I have read this reading a dozen times and normally I see clearly that we need to have faith in Jesus. This time I observed more. What I saw is the fact that Jesus enabled Peter to walk on the water. Jesus ennobled Peter and gave him the ability to do something special. Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water because Jesus enabled him to do it. When Peter faltered Jesus was there and held the struggling Peter up. My friend, search for the mission Jesus has for you in this life. Embrace the mission and work at it. He will give you the power to do what needs to be done. You need not be concerned about the results. His power and might will sustain you and He will be there if you falter and grow weak and tired. He will reach out his arm and support you. His Word will give you comfort and even if you cannot see results with your eyes, you can be sure that His
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will, will be done. All too often in this world we are timid in approaching the work of the Lord. We need to be bold and daring when doing the Lord’s work. We may feel that our strength is not enough to carry us through, and it may not be. That is okay because our weakness is our greatest strength for it is in our weakness that God manifests Himself. What we cannot do he will do through us. Bold positive action with complete trust in God is what we need to do his work in this world. Oh, by the way, these bold, positive actions do not have to be for earth shaking things. It can be as simple as bringing a crust of bread to a hungry man or a glass of cold water to moisten the lips of one who thirsts. Sometimes it can be a word spoken in kindness to one that hasn’t heard a kind word in a while. It could be something as simple as being extra kind to a spouse, friend or child. Maybe the bold positive action could be going just a bit out of your way to accommodate another at a time when your body is crying for rest. Sometimes it can be forgiving as God forgives us. All in all these actions can be more effective in spreading the Kingdom then any other spiritual weapon we might have. Today’s questions: It’s time for me to get out of the boat, what is it that Jesus wants me to do? What is preventing me from fulfilling my destiny as a Child of God? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day23 - A Most Important Reminder Biblical: Luke 17: 3-4 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him."

Forgiveness is a commodity more rare in our society then gold. If a “brother” sins against us, instead of forgiving we are more likely to teach him a lesson by grabbing a lawyer and hauling him into court. If we want to live in the world and be a closet Christian, then this is most appropriate behavior. On the other hand, if we want to be truly Christian, then we must learn to forgive. Is it hard to do? Yes it is. In some cases it will seem to be impossible for us to do alone. There are many hurts that can accumulate in our souls over a lifetime. Many, if not all of them can only be healed by prayer. To forgive is to act as God acts towards you. His Son came to earth and died for us. From the Cross he forgave those who crucified Him. If he can do this as an innocent man being executed, how can we not forgive those around us? Some of the hurts in our life have been great ones. The actions of some may seem to be almost unforgivable. When this is the case, remember that Jesus forgave the unforgivable. Today’s questions follow. Write a mental list of the hurts that you have buried deep within you that have accumulated over your lifetime. Give each of them to the Lord and pray that they be lifted from you. Who do you need to forgive? Forgive them at least mentally tonight and pray for strength to know and do the next step according to God’s will. I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 24 Judging Biblical: Matthew 7: 1-2 Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. There is nothing so pitiful as a self righteous person. He (or she) is pitiful because they spend their time judging others, setting themselves up as a person to be emulated. We are what we are in God’s sight and nothing more or less. I wear glasses because I am

nearsighted. If I take my glasses off everything in sight becomes a soft blur. If I never wore glasses and no one told me that my eyes were defective I would think that my view of the world was the view of the world that everyone had. If then after a very long time I was given a pair of glasses to wear my sight would then be one hundred percent and the things I could not see before would jump out in stark relief. Those things that were fuzzy would be sharp. What Jesus is reminding us about here is very simple. Human beings do not have spiritually perfect eyes. We see dimly at best. We see what is on the outside. God sees clearly what a person holds in their heart. So, avoid judging others. If you do judge others be sure that you are on solid ground for the standards you set for others will be the ones that you will be held to. Of course if you see a wrong, attempt to right it in charity but avoid making rash judgments about the perpetrator. Today you judge another. Tomorrow another will be judging you. At the end of time you will be judged by the one who is inerrant in His judgments. In the face of your judge you will find mercy if you have extended mercy during your life. Reflect on the following: How do the standards I have applied to others stand up to the way I live my life? I want to thank God for……Lord this is what I really need….Good Night.
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Day 25 Great Love Biblical: Luke 15: 1-7 The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. If Jesus has a great love for sinners, then he loves me a awful lot. The fact is God loves us so very much that he will give us every chance to come to him. More then that he will go and look for us when we get lost. When we were lost and could not find the way back to the Father, Jesus showed us the way. Understand that we cannot measure the amount of love God has for us. Each one of us is precious in his sight. A lamb is a small thing when one considers the vastness of the universe. Yet when we find our way back to Jesus there is more celebration in heaven then for ninety-nine of us who never got lost in the first place. We need only to turn around to see the Gentle Shepherd waiting to carry us back to the Father. His touch will bring us mercy and healing. I know that I am but a lost lamb, but how lost am I? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 26 - Who is my neighbor? Biblical: Luke 10: 25 - 37 There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Let’s look at this story carefully. On first examination we can read it and shake our heads at the behavior or the priest and Levite. We ask ourselves why they didn’t stop to assist this poor man that had been beaten and left for dead by robbers. Well, the Priest did not know if the man was alive or dead. If the man was dead and he touched the body he would be unclean for eight days and unable to lead his congregation in prayer. He passed by, honoring the law over the needs of a fellow traveler. Remember they were on the same road. The Levite on the other hand was a smart man. He had heard the stories
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about people feigning being in trouble only to jump up and rob the person stopping to help. No, the Levite would take no chances. He would pass by, maybe next time. Both of these people had legitimate reasons for doing what they did. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem was known to be very dangerous and only those who had no other choice walked this road alone. The Samaritan was a man on whom the two that passed by would look down on. Samaritans worshiped differently then the people in Jerusalem. But in spite of being a second class citizen he was a first class human being. He stopped and helped where he could. He took the risk. Is it my contention that we should stop on the highway and help everyone we see that is in trouble? In this day and age that would not be prudent. But we could watch for opportunities to help other when they come to us. I also believe that there is a deeper meaning to this story if we look carefully. I believe that Jesus has given us a portrait of the Father here. We as humans travel down dangerous roads. Sometimes we are hurt and left on the side of the road by the circumstances of life. Many times our fellow creatures pass us by. When this happens we can ask and The Father will come along, bind up our wounds and show us the way to go. He has already done so much, it would not be beyond him to do just a little bit more. Today’s questions: Who is my neighbor? How can I emulate the Good Samaritan in my life in concrete practical ways? Which family member is hurting now? How can I bind up their wounds? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 27 What Would Jesus Do? Biblical: Philippians 2: 5-11 Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father This ranks as one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible. I believe it tells us just what Jesus did in every day of his life. It is stated pretty clearly that he emptied himself, he humbled himself and was obedient unto a most horrible death on the cross. He did these things for us in a sacrifice that never needs to be repeated. His obedience brought him the name that will vanquish the enemies of the People of God forever. Our triumph is already forecast and victory is already ours through Jesus. Every knee will bend to Him when he returns in glory and even his strongest enemies will acknowledge his name. We too are called to imitate our Master. We must be ready to empty ourselves, to humble ourselves and even to accept death. This is what Jesus did and what we are called to do. Being a real Christian is not always an easy job. We can discuss doctrine and determine with
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mathematical precision how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But what good will that do us in the long run? At our judgment he will ask us not what we know but how much did we love. He will not ask us how many infidels we put to the sword but how many of them we loved back to life and brought back to the family of God. Yes, we must do what Jesus did and that requires us to cultivate Christian Humility. Humility is simply the recognition that we are what we are in God’s eyes, nothing more or less. Humility is recognizing that we have brothers and sisters that are outside of the family and that we must love them too, no matter how hard that is. If you don’t believe it is hard, think of some of the people in the news. Aren’t there some people we would be hard pressed to love? Loving a person does not mean we agree with their conduct. It means we recognize them for who they are, estranged family members. In short we must learn to love the unlovable and humbly acknowledge our common heritage with them in the God of Love even when they do not acknowledge the Father. We must empty ourselves in God’s service. What we lack He will provide and in doing that he will display his Glory for all to see. Can I trust God enough to do what Jesus did? Can I turn the other cheek? Am I a humble person? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 28 Home Biblical John 14: 1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also” A few years back I worked in a town that was some twenty miles distant from my home. I traveled a road that took me through a very rich suburb. The estates, you could hardly call them homes, were beautifully landscaped and the buildings were built without the tight use of space found in more modest accommodations. As I went through there each day I rejoiced in the fact that my mansion in heaven would make these wonderful houses look like tar paper shacks. God is going to be very generous to us. We cannot imagine the joy we will feel when he shows us what he has prepared for us. Heaven will be our home forever. Forever we will praise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Forever we will walk with the Saints that preceded us. Imagine walking up to Moses or Aaron or Samuel and asking them questions about their life. Imagine walking with Jesus. Yes when we get to heaven man will once again walk with God in the cool of the evening as we did in the Garden in the beginning of time. All will be equal and free. All will be in love. What will my mansion be like in heaven? What do I need to do now to prepare myself to receive such a gift? Who would I search out and what would I say to them? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.
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Day 29 - Beyond A Reasonable Doubt Biblical: John 15:13 (Jesus said) o one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

A friend, a person whom I have a lot of respect for event though he is not a believer, once told me that he would have an easier time believing in the Wizard of Oz then believing in what he called the “claptrap of the world’s religions.” He says that he can see no evidence that religion makes any difference in a persons life. Our belief in Jesus simply has to make a difference in our life. If it does not, then what is the point? Jesus laid down his life, are we prepared to do the same? In the first century AD when the Church was young it as very difficult to be a Christian. The authorities were hostile to the movement and being convicted of being a Christian meant a horrible death sentence. The belief at that time was that anyone who died for the Faith was immediately taken to heaven. The bodies of the martyrs were reverently buried and their names were revered and they were considered to be saints. Their faith testified clearly and loudly that they believed in Jesus not only beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond all doubt. Today we Christians are not in danger of losing our lives for the practice of our faith, at least not in America and other free countries. No, we may be in danger of losing much more. The world is hostile to us. Babies die under the guise of ‘freedom of choice.” Prayer is banished from public view under the guise of separation of church and state and the enemies of God erode our freedoms a little bit at a time. It is time for Christians to say by word and deed that they believe beyond a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God and our savior. It is time for us to say that beyond a doubt we will live a life worthy of our calling which is to be the adopted
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sons and daughters of the Great King. It is time for us to demonstrate by our actions of love that God’s Kingdom is alive in our hearts and that we hold our beliefs beyond any doubt. For me I believe beyond a doubt in God the Father Almighty and in Jesus Christ His only Son. I believe that he was born of the Virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried. I believe that on the third day he rose again. I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that His love for me was so great that even if the whole world was sinless and I was the only sinner that he would have come to earth and went through crucifixion just for me. I believe beyond a reasonable doubt and pray that Jesus helps me in my unbelief. Today the questions before us are: Will I surrender to the world or hold fast to my faith in Christ? Does my belief in Jesus Christ make a difference in my life and how do I transmit my belief to others? I want to thank God for…… Lord this is what I really need…. Good Night.

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Day 30 - End Game Biblical: Matt 28 16-20 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." This is a rather predictable place to end our thirty day retreat. This is one of the most powerful paragraphs in the entire Bible. Once again Jesus is on a mountain. God speaks from mountains. They disciples saw but they doubted. Unbelievable that they still had doubts, but they were as we are, human. Jesus approached them, he did not wait for them to come to Him. He told them that all power was His and charged them and us as his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them all that he taught us. This job is a hard one for us to do, so he makes one final promise us and that is that He will be with us until the end of the age. But how is he with us? Certainly for Catholics he is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. But he is present in other ways too. He is present in those around us. He is present in those in need of our help. He is present in our wife, our husband, our son and daughter. He is present in our co-worker, in the beggar on the street, in the prisoner and in the guard, the millionaire and in the pauper. We need look no further then our neighbor to see Jesus. He also reigns from heaven and protects and loves His children on earth. So as we end this retreat of thirty days, we arrive at Emmaus and we thank Jesus for his presence in our life. We then put on our sandals, pick up our walking staff and bravely go forward be Jesus to Jesus. For He is in us and in our brothers too. Can we help but love them because when we look
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at them, we will gaze upon the face that saved us.

Tonight, no questions. For fifteen

minutes simply think and pray about how you can be Jesus to those around you. There are many ways to be Jesus to others. We must search to find them and we must ask in prayer for help to see more clearly. Amen!

Good Bye!

We have come to the end of our journey. Thirty days ago we began with a single step, a single Bible verse and the realization that we were living miracles, that we were loved. On day thirty we were challenged to share that love with our brothers and sisters.

This retreat is over, but I pray that you continue to spend at least the last fifteen minutes of the day with Jesus. If even one of my readers does this, the work will I put into writing this will have accomplished its mission.

May the Good Lord bless you, Young Warrior, Shout his name from the highest hill and proclaim his mighty deeds. Walk with God and work with God and be safe in his strong right hand.

A Journey to Emmaus - A 15 Minute a Day Retreat

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