Faith, Fire, and Division

Posted by James Hahn on

When I was a young boy, my father accidentally left a couple of cans of gasoline in a room in our basement.  The pilot light from our hot water heater ignited the fumes and engulfed the basement in flames.  Thankfully, the fire department was able to put out the fire.  Structurally the house was fine but we lost many personal items including family photos and Christmas decorations.
Fire is an interesting creature.  It has the power to burn, destroy, and consume.  However, it also has the power to purify, renew, and give both heat and light.  The fire in the hot water heater was a great blessing.  The fire in the basement wasn’t.  Fire is a wonderful ally with moderation and control.  It is a fierce and destructive adversary otherwise.

Faith is very similar to fire.  In moderation and with the proper control it can work miracles.  It is a fierce and destructive adversary otherwise.

Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel are shocking – “I came to cast fire on the earth; and would that it were already burning.”…”Do you think that I have come give peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division…”  Here is the One scripture tells us would not quench a burning ember wishing the earth were cast in fire.  Here is the Prince of Peace telling me that He is not bringing peace but division.  What gives?

As mentioned, not all fire is the same.  Not all faith is the same.  Not all division is the same.  The division that Jesus brings and the division that Satan, Diablo, literally “The Divider” brings are very different.  The cause of Jesus’ division is the love of God above all else.  The cause of Satan’s division is love of self above all else.  The result of Jesus’ division is martyrdom for love of God and neighbor.  The result of Satan’s division is murder of neighbor for love of self.

Today the Church celebrates the life of St. Anthony MarieClaret, bishop.  He is an example of fire, faith, and division.  The fire of his faith gave him the courage and strength to be a missionary, found a religious order, start a library dedicated to the Faith, reform seminaries, start hospitals and schools, visit prisoners, be the confessor of the Queen, establish scientific laboratories, and write books.  These works of a faith on fire brought about the very division of which Jesus spoke from friends and enemies alike.  He survived a stabbing from a would-be assassin and continued his work for many years.

Let us pray that we too, like St. Anthony, may have a faith that is on fire and let us pray that we will not be deterred by division.

FROM THE SAINTS - "In the kind of affliction, then, which can bring either good or ill, we do not know what it is right to pray for; yet, because it is difficult, troublesome and against the grain for us, weak as we are, we do what every human would do, we pray that it may be taken away from us. We owe, however, at least this much in our duty to God: if he does not take it away, we must not imagine that we are being forgotten by him but, because of our loving endurance of evil, must await greater blessings in its place."  Saint Augustine

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How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...>

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