Archive | July 2014

Repent ~ For I Am With You

This is my first reflection Article for The Passionist Eastern Province Website:


Thursday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time
[403] Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
Psalm 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
Matthew 13:44-46

Prophet-Jeremiah-by-Michaelangelo1Who among us has not known the sorrow of our sins and who among us has also known the joy of forgiveness?
”For me I know that there have been times that I questioned God myself, wondering where God was, where is the mercy?

In the New Testament it says, “all have fallen short of the glory of God”. God is Love, God is mercy, God is forgiveness.
The Lord told Jeremiah, “If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; . . .for I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the Lord”. The Lord is just waiting for us to acknowledge our sinfulness and pride, to ask forgiveness. When we ask, the Lord delivers forgiveness and boundless love for the Lord delights in all creatures.

In Psalm 59 we declare, “But, I will sing of your strength, and revel at dawn in your mercy; You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress.”

This is what I believe about forgiveness:

When my oldest daughter was about 5 years old she was standing beside me as I was putting my makeup on to go somewhere. She wanted to fiddle around with my makeup items and I asked her not to touch them because I was afraid she would drop them and make a mess.

So, being the curious 5 year old that she was, Megan picked up the bottle of liquid makeup and promptly spilled it. The look on her face was one of fear because she just did what I asked her not to do. I said, “Megan! I asked you not to play with this stuff and now look what’s happened. Why don’t you listen when I tell you something?” Megan just looked at me with big tears in her eyes and said in a stuttering voice, “I’m really sorry mommy!” with that she began to cry. All I could do at that point was hold her, rock her and tell her that it was ok, I am not mad. She was truly sorry, she was not just saying it to get out of being yelled at, she really meant it.

This is what I believe about God and forgiveness:

When we are truly sorry for what we have done against God and each other, truly sorry, God can do nothing but forgive us because the heart of God is compassion, the heart of God is LOVE, the heart of God is forgiveness.

Now we can sing with the Psalmist: “O my strength! Your praise will I sing; for you, O God, are my stronghold, my merciful God!” (Psalm 59:17)

– Sandy Ozanich – Pittsburgh Passionist Associate

Meditation on a Rainy Day

O Lord, how bountiful are your clouds, what a beauty is your painting in the sky.  I love to gaze upon your handiwork and ponder how mighty you are.

O Lord, how rich is the rain that falls from these creations of delight!  How powerful are the drops that fall to enrich the land, grow our plants and give water to drink.

O Lord, in my own country and other parts of the world they hunger and thirst for rain, the people call out to you, where is the rain that nourishes the fields and gives our children refreshment for their bodies, our cattle rain to drink?

O Lord, Creator of sky and sea, grace those lands that cry out to you for rain, for water, for nourishment!

May the healing drops of rain bring life to all who beseech You!


Sandy Ozanich © July 28, 2014

Where Is the Joy???

I wonder if you remember the song from way back in 1972 ~ “Where Is the Love” sung by Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway? I just loved the sound of their voices together.

But now I wonder, where is the joy? I’m talking about the joy that people don’t seem to be feeling when they attend church services. What is it that leaves our congregations feeling bored, unfulfilled or mediocre?

I had been thinking about this for some time, especially in the Roman Catholic Church. I found that it seems to be something that is happening around our diocese. I also wondered if this is something that is affecting just the Roman Catholic Church or is it affecting other religions as well?

I was taking a break from something called “Worship Jam” a weekly worship service that uses the 4 Paths of Creation Spirituality to praise God. We were doing some sacred circle dancing and I began to feel so terribly sweaty and extremely warm, so I went outside to get some air. As it happened ~ (don’t you just love it when God points you in a direction that you didn’t know you were headed?) So, as it happened, I picked up a little newsletter from the, which is the site of the Western Pa. United Methodist Church

The lead article talks about parishioners just not feeling joy in their worship. . .

According to Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western PA United Methodist Church he was told by his superintendant, “After making the rounds to the churches in my district, I have come to a very disturbing conclusion. If I were a lay person I don’t know how many of them I would bother to attend.” And, “Many of my churches are dominated with internal and external politics. They are consumed with meetings that have no disciple-making consequences. The worship services are boring. Frankly, there’s a stark absence of joy.”

This is a big question and one for which I don’t have a complete answer. I believe we all know that sometimes we just don’t blend well with the personality at the pulpit.  It could be just a personality clash or a misunderstanding. Whatever the case, those things do happen. It is one of those things that some people use as an excuse to not go to church, and if that’s the case I would hope they would find another church community that more suits their taste. I hate to put it that way, but sometimes a person just needs a change of scenery to make worship better.

Getting back to Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, he said he calls himself “a self-professed music lover”. The night before his cabinet meeting he had seen Pharell Williams sing his Oscar nominated song from Despicable Me 2 ~ Happy.” He played that song at the cabinet meeting and here is what he writes: “Then a remarkable thing happened. My cabinet ~ my staid, professional, reserved bunch of Panera Bread eating, early to bed sleepy-headed group started dancing! It was a release of sorts, a chance at being given permission by a song to let it flow. Even the most reluctant of rug cutters got into the act.”

I find the Bishop’s remarks very encouraging. It seems that what the people need is a big dose of joy and “permission” to enjoy their worship. Doesn’t it say in scripture to “come before the Lord with dancing”?

Of course this isn’t the only thing that needs looking at or “fixing” to help the people of God find their worship more meaningful. And so I am asking all of you what does your worship service do to help your relationship with God??? For me, joy is a good sign that things are going well in your church community.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Sandy Ozanich © July 18, 2014



a hard Gospel!

Br. Andre is a friend of mine and I wholeheartedly agree with what he has to say here. We are living in times that call for Christians to stand up and speak out when we see injustices. One of those injustices is the persecution of Christians.

Andre's Hearth

Today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:16-23, is filled with challenging statements by Jesus.

“… I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves …

… they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues …

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name …

but the one who endures to the end will be saved!

Strong words uttered by Jesus to His disciples of two thousand years ago; strong words that are uttered to you and to me today.  Christians throughout the world are discriminated against, harassed, persecuted and killed simply because they believe in Jesus Christ.  Conditions are particularly horrific in many of the Islamic countries, e.g., Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan and the list goes…

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This is CHURCH! This is the mystery. . .

I want to share this short video with you.  It made me cry for joy at the relationship between this father and his ill daughter. Kenzie has mitochondrial disease and lives in her wheelchair.  You will see her smiling as the video goes on.

Life happens in all forms ~ I believe we are given this wonderful opportunity to live life as it happens with confidence, knowing that God is there in the midst of the mess or the beauty!  Can we accept the challenge that our life is?  Can we be human enough to admit our failings and offer gratitude for our successes?

Watch this video and witness how this father has embraced his own life and his daughter’s life as it is and in the embracing, embraces God and the people this video touches.

This is what God is all about. . .this is the mystery, this is the path we all walk. We walk it in love and in great fortitude. . .

THIS IS CHURCH! Not some building with stiff rules and regulations. . .this is LOVE!

If each of us treated others, no matter their condition or social standing, as this father treats his child, the world we live in would be a most peaceful and wonderful place everywhere!

May you be a blessing because you ARE blessed!

Sandy Ozanich (c) July 2, 2014