Columnists Mark my words

Column: Read these signs of the times

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

“Where will you be spending eternity? Smoking or nonsmoking?”

Don’t you just love that? This was seen on a church sign outside Salem Luther- an Church in Stromsburg, Nebraska.

I’ve long been a fan of these church signs with their pithy sayings. More often than not, it’s Prot- estant churches that have them. Knowing how amus- ing I find them, a couple

of parishioners bought me “The Great American Book of Church Signs,” by Donald Seitz. So, to celebrate this week of prayer for Christian unity (which goes until Jan. 25), here are some gems found in Seitz’s book from our non-Catholic Christian friends:

Visitors welcome . . . Members expected

Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.

When it comes to giving, some folks stop at nothing.

Exercise daily . . . Walk with the Lord

Prayer is the best wireless connection.

To get a better preacher, pray for the one you got.

Don’t give up. Moses was once a basket case.

God answers knee-mail.

Tithe if you love Jesus! Anyone can honk!

A dam holds water back. It’s not my last name. — God

A sharp tongue and a dull mind are usually found in the same head.

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

Be fishers of men. You catch ‘em. God’ll clean ‘em.

Aspire to inspire before you expire.

An apology is a good way to have the last word.

7 days without prayer makes 1 weak.

Triumph is “umph” add ed to try

With every beat of your heart you are closer to God.

Is your life running on empty? Free fill-ups here every Sunday.

We don’t need more to be thankful for; we just need to be more thankful.

Lots of neat thoughts, aren’t they? God speaks to us in many ways in our lives, but often we’re distracted. We ask God for guidance in prayer, and then miss the answers that come to us — usually because we expect God to speak in a particular way.

One of the best descriptions that I’ve come upon about prayer was written by Stephen Macchia in “Becoming a Healthy Church.” He starts with a story about a child who was told by his father during a concert, “Listen for the flutes in this song. Don’t they sound beautiful?” The child looked up at his father with a puzzled look, “What are flutes, Father?”

“A child first needs to learn what flutes sound like on their own, separate from the whole orchestra, before he can hear them in a symphony,” wrote Macchia. “So it is with us as children of God. Unless we take the time to hear his voice in the quiet moments of life, we will not be able to hear him in the symphony sounds of life.” (Found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)

When people ask what’s the key to a healthy spiritual life, I always give one-word answer: awareness. And awareness comes as a result of prayer and quiet. Those two elements were summarized well in the first reading from last Sunday about the call of Samuel. Eli told the boy, if he heard the voice again, to reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” That should be our attitude as well. We pray for the Lord to speak to us, then ask for the quiet grace to listen to that voice, in whatever way God will choose to communicate — through the Scriptures, other people, nature or even church signs.

Although it’s hard to find quiet time these days, it’s not impossible. This week, challenge yourself to carve out some quiet time. If you can do it daily, that would be ideal, but at least aim for three times, for 10 minutes a shot (but more if you can handle it). Start off by praying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” You may be very surprised at how many messages God is sending your way.

OK, here’s one final sign for you: GOD WANTS FULL CUSTODY, NOT JUST A WEEKEND VISIT. Let the church say, “Amen!”

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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