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Chris Lyford

notes from a pilgrim

Month

March 2012

Pilgrim Family starts prayer concert tour

For the last 11 months I have been on sabbatical with my family for the purpose of reflecting on my experience in order to re-focus my work.

During this time we have chosen to step into what we call a ‘home-free’ lifestyle; placing our belongings in long-term storage and accepting invitations to visit various homes, rectories, monasteries, and even camp grounds as we bring our ‘message’ to whomever we can.

Of course it has been challenging, but we needed it!

What is our message? Our message is simple and (sadly) potentially forgettable. Our message is this: “families need to pray”.

Our call is to all families, and it is a call to prayer, and to peace.

The news of “wars and rumors of wars” has become a constant distraction, both consciously, and subconsciously. The economic and social pressure on the majority of families has immobilized the ability to pray and to hear God’s voice. In our world of ever-increasing connectivity we have lost our connection to God. The need for hope to be strengthened and protected has reached a critical defining moment.

Our call is for all families, but our call is a call from one family.

Our story is unique. We have been blessed to be able to be connected with a WASC accredited home schooling curriculum which affords us the flexibility to remain mobile.

We have also been blessed with the gift of music and the ability to speak to families from the perspective of being in the midst of raising our own family. Currently at ‘home’ we have three teenagers with one about ready to graduate. We have an older daughter who with her husband has just welcomed their first child (our first grandchild).

Another way to put it is to say that we as a family; husband and wife, kids – all of us – had noticed that even though we had a ‘good’ life; with the boys playing Lacrosse all the kids in youth symphony, advancing in school every week, living in a nice (rental) house on the golf course; there was something wrong with us. We were losing ground spiritually.

First of all we consider it a great gift from God to be able to notice that we had begun to fall prey to the ‘odorless, tasteless gas’ of ‘busy-ness unto blindness’. We realized that none of the ‘good’ things in our life (and believe me we enjoyed them) were worth the trade-off if it turned out that our faith life was going to simply coast to a stop and then disappear.

We had always talked about the value of ‘detachment’ or being able to live a life without emotional attachments to any material comfort, and we had always tried to live the beatitude of spiritual poverty, but even with our trying, we still were coming up short. We were losing it.

So we offered up a prayer that God in His kindness answered: “Dear Lord, please don’t let our family disable or destroy itself and become absorbed into the world’s statistics. Don’t allow us to lose our ability to be a support for others, let alone ourselves. Do whatever you need to do to keep us purified vessels, ready to be used by your Spirit to encourage others to ‘hang in there’ and continue to hope against hope”.

For eleven months God has answered our prayer by allowing us to spend more time together as a family than we ever have, re-connect and reconcile each of our relationships, grow in strength of soul and spirit, and become a light of encouragement to countless families, friends, and new acquaintances.

We would like the honor of coming to your church community in the next month or so, to share some of the best of the stories from the past months in an effort to encourage your community to reconnect with prayer, reconnect with each other, and begin to work together to identify and eliminate the threats to peace in our own hearts, homes, and communities.

We have about an hour’s worth of music, reflections, and prayer to share.

Please let me know what you think, and if there is a free evening in your church or hall and I will send you some bulletin announcements as well as a simple flyer to promote it.

My current income is from ministry work in various locations and we have established a 501c3 non-profit corporation which provides our foundation, we do not request a stipend, but graciously accept donations.

Click the play button to hear a sample and explanation of our “Open the Doors” evenings.

Open dates through May:


open dates 4-3-12

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Open the Doors

Open the doors of the church

Open The Doors (click to play audio)

Face it: people are becoming more and more confused and worried about the future. This mood cuts across all demographic lines and creeds.

Concerns that the economy has only just begun its downward cycle cause more and more people to be distracted by questions concerning the welfare of their own families.

Healthy families have parents who deal with these kinds of challenges in stride, and those marriages that have been built on the solid rock of a strong faith in God have the built-in protection necessary to protect against these storms.

But even the healthiest of families and marriages need respite from the constant and ever-increasing demands our society places on us. As Catholics, we have respite in the form of the Sacramental life of the Church and the infinite wellspring of graces from which we can draw streams of living water as strength for the journey.

We really don’t need to quote statistics to know that fewer and fewer professed Catholics are showing up for Sunday mass?

Why would a harried husband decide to come on a Tuesday night when it seems like an act of God to get him there on Sunday?

What can a parish community give to those in need of hope without taxing the already thin resources?

It’s simple. Just open the doors!

How many movies contain a scene in which a character runs into a church to escape the menacing world bent on his destruction?

How many times have we all “just needed space”?

“Open the Doors” is a movement within the Church that takes advantage of the sacred space each parish offers through its own architectural beauty.

Every parishioner knows the church is always there for them, yet how often does the ‘average’ Sunday Catholic take advantage of the physical presence of the space inside the doors of the church on a day other than Sunday?

Why do we wait until the world is crumbling around us before we walk through the doors of the church to seek God? The act of making ourselves physically present to God is a prayer we can only make by symbolically entering into the building created to evoke His presence. Or is it the only way?

As Catholics, we have something no one else does: the physical presence of Jesus Christ!

Every ecclesial ministry takes its power from Him. Every diocesan department serves Him. Every Catholic School teaches that He is truly present in the tabernacle.
Then why don’t we spend more time with Him?

Sadly, many parish churches have had to close and lock their doors during times of day and evening when no activity is scheduled in the church. Pastors would like to know that the church would be available to all who are inspired to make a ‘spontaneous visit’ to their spiritual home, but need to be protective of the sacredness of the space and the safety of his parishioners. As a result, most parish churches remain locked unless there is a scheduled mass or activity such as choir rehearsal, etc.

As we look at the headlines each day, we see news of economic hard times, job loss, natural disasters, family disintegration, and a growing sense of pessimism if not despair. But we possess the hope that is the fruit of our faith and the assurance of ultimate victory over darkness and despair.

Sometimes we need a moment to step away from the battle in order to remind ourselves that we already know the outcome, and to let that knowledge wash over us like a spring of living water, renewing and refreshing us.

Now is the time for all of God’s children to know that they can come into the very presence of Jesus Christ their redeemer and brother, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, to experience peace, grace, and the respite from the cares of the world. One moment away from this world that can produce the hope necessary to return to our homes, work and loved ones with renewed appreciation, mercy, and love.

Sunday is not enough anymore. Even though statistics show that only 31% of Catholics (people who call themselves Catholic) actually attend mass every Sunday. Regardless of the reasons for those who do not attend, the truth is that even faithful Catholics who attend mass every Sunday would easily admit that another visit to the sanctuary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus couldn’t hurt, and perhaps be more needed now than ever before!

Open the doors:

To silence – Let the atmosphere of the church speak

To scripture – The Word of God proclaimed has the power to heal!

To simplicity – What the average family needs is more silence – not less

To Mercy – To approach Jesus who waits in vulnerability and quiet.

To Music – Which has the power to lift the soul into the presence of heaven

“Open the Doors” is a movement in the local church that has no structure other that the day and time it occurs. It is an invitation to all parishioners to take advantage of the great gift of the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and to let others know that in truth, the “Door of Mercy” is open for all people at all times through Jesus Christ. It doesn’t have to happen every week (although it would be better because people need to know it is happening on an ongoing basis) and it doesn’t even have to involve adoration and exposition (although that would be ideal).

It can be as simple as the pastor, or two parishioners sitting in the church from 7:00 – 8:00 PM with the door open, or as a time of grace and prayer punctuated by song refrains, quiet recorded music, and a few scripture readings.

For more information on this new ministry, or to schedule an evening in your parish, contact Chris Lyford at Christopherlyford@gmail.com

As of today our open dates through May are below:

Interview with Founder of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph

Happy feast day (MARCH 19TH) to my good friend Fr. Vito Perrone, founder of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph.

Fr. Vito at the altar in the Chapel where daily prayer calls the world to a deeper life of contemplation in action!

Their monastery is in the heart of the city of South San Francisco. Please visit their website at http://contemplativesofstjoseph.com

Support them with your prayers and encouragement by attending one of the many prayer events listed on their website!

Here is the first part to a series of conversations with Fr. Vito:

Interview of Fr. Vito with Chris Lyford from New Life Family Mission

Click on the above link to listen.

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