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BE JESUS!

this-is-my-body

At Mass today, at the Consecration, a thought came into my head. I was not thinking along these lines, but there it was… “This is as it was at the Last Supper”! Jesus standing there facing his Apostles, and saying over the bread, “This is My body”.

Why? Why did He do this? Why would anyone say or do that? What did he intend, when He said, “Take this and consume it, for this is My Body”. He gave us a sign of Himself just so that we could remember Him? No, He gave us Himself! With this blessed bread, He told us that He would always be with us. But more than that, He told us that we were to become like Him, become Him.

Through this simple but profound statement, He told us that we were to be Him, and bring Him, through our lives to others. Our sufferings were His sufferings. Our headaches, our worries, our pains, our fears and tears, all of these are to be accepted and carried FOR Him. Accepted? Why would we accept these? This attitude of acceptance is contrary to how the world views them. But there it is, nonetheless. Yes, we are to willingly and even lovingly accept these negatives of the world and turn them into positives. Don’t misunderstand this. We are not to revel in the pain and suffering, but only willingly accept it, and not complain about it. Our willingness to bear these trials in our life for Jesus, is our acceptance of Jesus’ Words and Love into our lives.

Only then, when we are united with Him, can we bring Him to others. The love, the joy of being with Jesus at that Supper becomes part of us and this is what we bring to others. The world does not see suffering as something to be embraced, but rather to be shunned. This is because the world does not see Jesus’ hand stretched out to it. He continually says, “Come take my hand and be Me. Come see the joys and love that I offer you. Come to Me and take Me to the world, by your actions, by your love.”

This is what Christianity is all about, striving to bring Jesus to the people we meet, we encounter, and we live with. Accepting Him is more than a nod of our head, a weekly encounter with Him at Mass. No, to be a Christian is rather an embracing of His life and making it our own. His sufferings become ours. His patience becomes ours. His love for others becomes ours. If we really want to be Christians, then we must become Him.

1) Life’s Actions
2) Our Strength
3) Let Me Use You

The Power of YES!

Hail, Full of Grace

Hail, Full of Grace

I have often wondered why people, who believe that God created the world from nothing; who believe that He created planets, and mountains, and stars and seas; who maintain their belief that this same God could make human beings with all their faculties and the delicate workings of veins and arteries and synapses, and yet, these same people maintain that this same God could not conceive a child in the womb of a virgin. I know that first sentence was extremely long, but I could not see any other way of showing the disparity between what God did for mankind and the claim that a virginal birth was impossible.

Realizing that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, He could not be conceived as you or I. The Spirit of God will “overshadow” Mary. And in this way, Jesus becomes implanted in her virginal womb, to allow the human process of birth to take place.. This I know sounds like a child’s story. It sounds incredible. But therein rests our belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Mary is to carry this pregnancy for nine months, as would any other mother. The only difference is that she did not forfeit her virginity.

One other aspect about this article of faith that often gets overlooked. God created mankind. God gave mankind all sorts of abilities. We can laugh and cry, think and plan, and say “yes” and “no”. Mary had the human right to say, “No”. She had the right, the free will, to decline the offer. She could have said, “I don’t have the time”. “I am not worthy, so no, I can’t do that”. I have other plans for what my life will be. I don’t want to go through what lies ahead for the mother of that child. These choices were all available to her. And so, the sending of the Redeemer into the world, hung in the balance, waiting for her decision. God would never take away the gift of free will. God will never force her, or us, to be good, to do the right thing. We always have a choice. The choice will always be ours, to be answered with our free will.

And then the magical words, the beautiful words were uttered by Mary, “Be it done unto me, according to Your will”. With those words, the Heavens opened up, choirs of angels must have sung their loudest, most beautiful sounds. The entire universe was wrapped in joy. It is not a child’s story. It is not a fairy tale. For once the news was not of warring nations, was not of tragedies overtaking people. Relief was in sight. Mankind could once again function as it was meant to, as a caring, loving people. Such is the power of Redemption, of Salvation.

1) Our Strength

2) Take Her Hand
3) Pies and Surrender
4) Let Me Use You
5) Use Me As Your Mirror

Responsibilities of Citizenship

Used in RNC Speech

Trump

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I… come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” -1 And, at the Republican National Convention, we heard: “Friends, delegates and fellow Americans: I…”

The words about the Roman issues portray the overthrow of the political state of the Roman Empire. With last night’s words, what is Mr. Trump attempting to overthrow?

The Steppingstones doesn’t normally enter into the political arena, but this is not a time to be still and watch how things play out. Every American, every Christian, each person regardless of race, color or creed in this country, must sit up and take notice. This is not a time to play politics. This is not a time to sit back and see what unfolds. This is not a time to do nothing. Democracy is not being played out here, but rather there is a play on democracy. If we are sincere in our love of democracy, then we must be part of the solution, we must do what our conscience requires.

If we sit back, look on and play the “wait and see” game, we just might find ourselves under a totally different form of government in a few years. Hitler’s Germany started out in very much the same way. Apathy among the citizens and the leaders of the time, allowed the dictator to wrest control and lead the German nation down avenues it would later despise. The whole concept of democracy is that “We the people” strive to act to make things right. We don’t throw up our hands in a “what’s the use?” way and let events flow from a few mouths. If that is how you feel, then recognize that you, too, are part of the problem. Democracy was and is a work in progress, for all of us.

We have many areas to address, many wrongs to correct. But to sit back and watch from the sidelines to see what happens is an extremely dangerous game. “The British are coming”, that was the call to arms, back in the 1770’s. But imagine where we would be if, the people in the room, looked up from what they were doing, looked around the room, saw no one else moving, so they went back to reading their book. You cannot, WE cannot adopt this attitude. We cannot afford to.

Please, I implore you, take a stand. Become active. Look at the persons who desire to lead our nation. What solutions do they offer to us? What part of their background will be beneficial to the United States? Which peoples will benefit most from their leadership? Are all peoples going to benefit equally? Are the solutions that are offered, by your candidate, geared for each audience, or just those that are in attendance, at that particular time? We must learn to ask questions. Read, even if you don’t have time to! How are we to learn and grow, if we do nothing? How do we get the best leader we can…if we do nothing?

Why should we become involved? What good will it do? “You can’t change city hall”, is a famous fall back line. Stop for a moment and think about our beliefs. Are we to just pass by, when we see someone needing help? Are we to pass it off as: “It’s none of my business”? Do you think God gave us a mind, an intellect, a conscience so that we can just shrug our shoulders and do nothing? You are called. We are called to get involved. If each one of us does one thing that prompts someone else to do one thing, then we are getting our message out to the world.

One thing that you can do is to forward this post to all that are in your email contacts. ((If you do, PLEASE remember to put the email address in the Bcc.. area. This will prevent anyone else from seeing your friends’ addresses.)) The forwarding, of itself, is not the important part, but rather getting people to think about the consequences of their action/non action. Not knowing what else to do, I am sending these thoughts and concerns to you to pass on. If you feel there is merit in this article, please help in reaching as many voters, as possible. Thank you.

https://thesteppingstones.wordpress.com

-1 “Julius Caesar” , play, by Shakespeare

Meeting Jesus

Meet Jesus

Did you ever look at the different ways the four Gospels begin? Matthew begins with the Genealogy of Christ and the virgin birth. Mark skips the birth and conception, and goes right to John the Baptist baptizing in the desert. Luke, like Matthew, addresses the virgin birth and also the conception of John the Baptist. John goes directly to the Divinity of Christ and John’s heralding of the Messiah.

Why is, any of, this pertinent to today’s post? Mark does not address the conception, or the birth of Jesus or John. He does not address genealogy. He goes right to the heart, to the beginning of the Christ’s public life. Before the first chapter concludes, Mark has addressed Christ’s purpose, His baptism, the manifestation of God’s approval. He shows Jesus curing people who have come to Him, and casting out devils. And Mark depicts the questions and doubts of some who are witnessing the actions of Jesus. All of this in the first 45 verses of Chapter One!

To these same doubters, by the time we reach Mark’s second chapter, he shows Jesus telling them…. AND US, “I came not to call the just, but sinners”. The healthy don’t need the doctor, but it is the sick. Think about it, who has not committed a sin? Who is walking this earth and is perfect? No one! We are all in need of what it is that Jesus offers. We all have our imperfections, our sins, and our pasts that we try not to think about. These are not mentioned to bring us down, to make us squirm. No, He wants all of us to know that He truly loves and understands our weaknesses. But he does want us to know and face those weaknesses.

Louis Evely, in his book, “That Man is You”, points to the Samaritan woman at the well. She exclaimed to her fellow townspeople, “‘Come and see: I’ve met someone who told me everything I’ve ever done’… In revealing Himself to her through His words, He also revealed to her who she was.” The beauty of what Jesus is offering is not just Himself, but our recognition of who and what we are. For, it is only in knowing Him, that we can truly know who we are; know what we are. How can any of us grow, if we don’t know where we are, what we are starting from? It is only through Him that we have the courage to truly look at ourselves, our motives, our cravings, and our fears.

These are not just fancy words. This is not being said because it looks good, or looks right. How else except with Jesus’ love, do we have the courage to view our actions, and our motives? He did not come to chastise us. He did not walk this earth to shame us. He came to give us His love, to shower us with it, to immerse us in it. It is only with His support, that we can have the courage to question our motives, our actions. In short, in knowing Him and His goodness, we have the luxury of looking at and understanding ourselves. He reveals us to ourselves.

The question then is, “How do I get to know Him better?” He has walked this earth. He has manifested Himself to the world. He has shown us the way to live, the truth about life and that He is the life. God has left His Word with us. The Bible is not just a book. It has instructed and caressed each and every civilization that has ever existed. It has brought peoples close to their God. It continues to reveal God to all who immerse themselves in this wondrous volume. The Bible doesn’t just come alive to us, but it reveals to us, ourselves. For in knowing our God, in knowing about his Love for us, we receive the courage to face ourselves and embrace our God that much tighter. In the reading of the Bible, we can see Jesus interacting with us, and we can see our interaction with Him, as well. What better way to get to know Jesus, than to converse with Him directly? Meet Him in the Bible.

1) God and Me – Part 3
2) The Tree
3) Just One Thing: Take His Hand
4) Peace and Emotions
5) A Phone Call To Jesus

Let Me Use You

allgood

My confession… I don’t go to daily Mass as often as I used to go. I still pray my prayers and try to live a good Catholic Christian life, but I fall short when it goes to daily Mass. Why? I am not too sure of the reason. Oh there always seems to be a valid excuse, my health isn’t what it should be, my 75 years are preventing me, or I just don’t have the strength anymore. All of these seem valid enough, but there is a part of me that simply wonders if I am just manufacturing excuses. Why all of this breast beating? Well, today, I went to Mass. I really didn’t expect to go. I hadn’t thought about it last night, or planned for it. It kind of just happened. A thought, a single thought, popped up and said, “Mass, today??” Why today? Why not yesterday, or last week? Thankfully, no negatives crept into my mind. And so, I went.

You have heard me speak of God whispering to us, and how He uses our own minds, our likes (and dislikes). He speaks to us often, but we sadly don’t want any part of it. We are too busy. We have things to do, places to go, and joys to be experienced. We don’t have time to converse with our God. Who has time to read the Bible? … where He continually speaks to us? We treat God more like a myth, than the very reason for our existence. And so, we hurry on to our “more important” things, to tasks that, when all is said and done, are quite meaningless. But we pursue them anyway.

So, here I am at Mass waiting for the priest to come out. Really, I am amazed that I am actually here. Mass proceeds with the readings from the Old and New Testament. After the Gospel the priest begins talking to us, not in the form of a sermon, but rather, as a friend confiding in us. Telling us how his life moved from seminarian, to Deacon and to priest. He spoke of the various parishes in which he had administered to the people. But at the end he said something, very casually, almost like an afterthought. He mentioned that wherever we are, whatever our past, God is intent on USING US to do His will, NOW!

Think about it. We spend so much time worrying about our past, what we could have done, what we should have done, and what areas we had passed through but shouldn’t have. We dwell so much in our past life, regretting our mistakes, wishing we had done better. And through all of this “what if…” and “maybe I…” concerns, we handcuff ourselves to the past. We think so much about what we could have or should have done, we never ever get around to focusing on the positives we can do now. Don’t you think it is time to bury the past? Time to put away all of those “what if’s” and “maybe I’s” and focus on the here and now!! In that casual, simple sentence, I knew why God wanted me to attend Mass today. He is telling me, directly, “No more excuses. No more imaginary barriers. It is time to seek me out in the lives of others. Don’t worry, about what to say, or to whom. I will use you. I will act through you.”

“God is intent on USING US to do His will, now!” Think about that thought. Focus on it. Let it permeate you, wash over you. Our God, our LOVING God, knows our past, knows our mistakes, our missteps. He has already forgiven us. Almost impatiently, he is telling us, “Move on with your life”. See me in all around you. Treat everyone around you as you would Me. If you see Me in them, then you will treat them as you would Me. Don’t worry about what you should do. Don’t worry about what you should say. Treat them with love and I will USE YOU, so that your actions will help them find me, too. And in finding Me, they will find themselves.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming

1) What Would Jesus Do?
2) Where Do We Find Truth
3) People We Meet
4) Are You Loved? Do You Love?
5) Our Strength

The Peace That We Desire

His Gentle Love

His Gentle Love

Who are You? Really!! What do you like about yourself? What do you think of others? Are you critical of others? Do you want people to act or talk a certain way? How do you feel if they don’t comply? We are so full of conflicting emotions. We want things to be just so, and when they aren’t, we get bent out of shape. We don’t want to be bothered by things. We don’t want to have to adapt, to adjust, or to change our way of doing things. And yet… we are not satisfied with where we are right now. As I said earlier, “we are so full of conflicting emotions”.

It is not an easy task to look at ourselves. We want things to be just so, and when they aren’t, we excuse them, we soften them, we ignore them and/or we change our focus. We will do anything so as not to have to cope with conflict, our conflict. What does Christ say to us? “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”, (Matt 18, 3); “you cannot bear fruit … unless you abide in me”, (John 15, 4). It sounds so daunting, so stringent, so demanding. And yet, remember who is saying this? It is the Christ, the Word made flesh, our God of Love. We really don’t want contention; we want peace

Read the following prayer of St. Teresa of Avila. But don’t just read it, ponder it, understand it, let it permeate you. Feel it grow inside. Allow the love of God to enfold you, and wrap you in His arms.

May today there be peace within Accept who and what you are, as you are, Accept Jesus, at His word, He has come to bring peace to us, to the world. Accept Him.


May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be All have made mistakes in our lives. We are what we are, where we are as a result of our past life. A past that God has seen, and still truly loves us, as and where we are.


May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith God is infinite. Think of the most outlandish and most beautiful accomplishment that you can think of. It is yours…if you strive for it and work towards that goal.


May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you What do you have right now? What gifts has He given you, enabled for you? Your ability to smile, to love , to laugh, to cry, to be gentle and tender…these are all gifts that He has lavished on you. What will you do with them? With whom will you share them?


May you be content knowing you are a child of God Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t wish for the accolades of the crowd. Rather, strive to accept the fact that God has created you, loves you and is happy just being with you.


Let this presence settle into your bones, Recognize that God’s love surrounds us and permeates us, always. This is true joy. Allow this fact to take control of you, of your existence…


and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love This realization will dominate all that you will do and a taste of Heaven on earth will be yours.


It is there for each and every one of us. All we need do is to say, “Yes” and accept Him into our life, our total life.

 

It sounds so simplistic, so uncomplicated. But, do we really think that Jesus, who sought to have the little children surround Him, would give the world complicated directions? He is just telling us, “Pursue your wholesome dreams, pursue those glimpses of joy and love, you so fiercely desire. In them, I will be waiting for you.”

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming

1) Peace Within
2) Our Weakness, Our Strength
3) Our Demons
4) Our Strength
5) Thy Will Be Done

The Wedding Feast

wedding garment

Just recently, at Sunday Mass, we heard the Gospel of St. Matthew (chap. 22). In this Gospel, we hear the parable about the wedding feast being prepared and no one wishing to attend. All made some excuse as to why they could not. Eventually, the King, (the master of the house) had his servants go out to the highways and find people to come to the wedding feast. The banquet hall now being full, could proceed. But the King sees a person who is not properly dressed for the feast, and asks him why? “How did you get in here without a wedding garment?” But the man gave no response. At this, the King has the man bound and thrown outside into the darkness.

I don’t know about you, but I always found this scene disturbing. A man is sought out and brought in, but punished because he wasn’t dressed properly. It didn’t seem quite fair. Some scholars believe that the king would provide the garments to all of the guests, regardless of their state in life. Thus the man’s not wearing a garment, was an act of defiance against the King. He would eat the food and drink the wine provided, but not follow the “rules of etiquette”. Other scholars felt that the wedding garment signified living a good life, repentance, a change of heart and in so doing, warranted the acceptance of the banquet. The wedding garment signified the responsibilities of accepting the reward.

Let’s apply this to today’s day and age. What do we know that is being provided to you, to me, to all of us….FREELY?? If you are Christian, you believe that Jesus came into the world for one reason, one purpose. He would show us, how to live, how to believe and that He would die for us, paying the price of our salvation. It was freely done, freely given. If we exist, then He died for us, and we are invited to the banquet, to the kingdom. Every person, regardless of faith, conviction or life-style, everyone is freely invited to the Father’s Kingdom, to the banquet. But, likened to the king in Matthew’s Gospel, He asks that we clothe ourselves, with a proper garment. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is to be our garment. He showed us how to live, how to treat others, how to bear with pain and suffering. He didn’t enter this world, just to die. He gave us the garment of His life, His way of living. This is the garment that we are to put on.

If we are to accept the reward of the wedding feast, then we are to accept the garment necessary for entrance to that wedding feast. All it takes is our “yes”. Yes, I will try to do that. Even though I trip and fall, I will get up and try again. God knows our free will. He knows it will challenge us again and again. Our choices may not always be “spot on”. They may not always be glowing with light and greatness. He forgave us, as we are. He redeemed us, as we are. He loves us, as we are. All He wants from us is to continue to try to accept Him, to try to strive to be like Him. All He wants from us is to accept the wedding garment, He holds out to us. Can we accept it? Will we accept it? Let’s try. See you in the banquet hall!!??!!

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming

1) Triggers In Our Lives
2) We Must Ask Ourselves, “Where Do I Stand”
3) We Are All Alike
4) I Live, Now Not I
5) Masks, We Hide Behind

Pies and Surrender

apple pie

In the Novena of Surrender to the Will of God”, the ending prayer is: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything”. I mention this novena, because this current post speaks about ehhh, shall we say, my recent butchering of this novena. Let me explain…

I was in the process of making two apple pies this afternoon. The alarm on my IPhone went off. It reminds me with the prompt “Surrender” to say the highlighted prayer at the top of this post. (I like to think that I have my IPhone serve me and not the other way around.) Anyway, back to my pie making, I was adjusting the oven to the second temperature setting, that I use half-way through the process. I glanced at the IPhone, uttered a quick (un-meaning) prayer, and completed the temperature setting process. The pie already looked absolutely beautiful. The crust was turning a nice soft brownish color around the edges. It would soon be done.

Twenty minutes later the oven timer went off. The pie was done. Juices were bubbling out of the little slits in the top crust. “This has got to be my best yet”, I thought. Now here is where the gentle story about a pie, turns into a tirade of curse words, shouts of grief and anger you would not believe. (My Italian temper is always with me.)

As I said the timer went off. Normally, I take out together, the pie AND the pizza stone on which the pie is baking. But this was a special occasion and I was making two pies. I needed the stone for the next one. I brought the pie and the stone over to a pie rack and tilted the stone so that the pie would slide off. ….. uhh…. slide off.
Nothing happened. The pie sat right where it was. I tilted it a little more, but still nothing. The pie just sat there, kind of laughing at me. I had the heat gloves on, so I tried nudging it just a little. (The next two minutes I would like to leave out, but you are already aware that something not right is going to happen.)

As I discovered later, some of the bubbling juices had spilled onto the stone and were preventing the pie from moving. Pushing (or nudging, or hitting it with a sledge hammer) wasn’t going to dislodge it from the stone. That’s really not correct, though. The top half of the beautiful crust slid off exposing the cooked apples and juices that were inside. Fortunately, for me, the kitchen door and windows were closed, so my pretense of being a sane, calm, well-balanced neighbor was still intact. The invective that poured from my mouth and my vocal chords would have made an old-time sailor on a deck, proud.

My thoughts went back to my IPhone alarm. Surrender!!! I write this post with egg on my face, and the day’s events proved to me how much, once again, I do not surrender to His will. It is easy to rattle off words, “I surrender myself to You”. But to say them and let them mean “WHATEVER you allow to come to me, or  to happen to me, I accept… that is not so easy. How can I, how can we possibly mean that? It has to be more than words, more than pious platitudes. That surrender has to focus on His love for us, what He means to us, how can we possibly love Him back for ALL that He has done for us. It must focus on our true trust of Him, knowing that His love will not harm us, knowing that everything that happens to us…the good, the bad and the ugly, He allows for some better good, for something more positive, something that we will dearly cherish. Our trust in Him, will bring us into His loving heart. Every negative that we experience, and accept as passing through His will for us, brings us closer to Him, closer to His loving heart.

POSTSCRIPT: For all you bakers out there, there is kind of a happy ending. The pie was fixable. It kind of looks like scar face, but the taste will decide its’ worth.

And lastly, I don’t think I did a good job of accepting the crisis, when it happened. But I can say this, “It led to this post, which is trying to show how to make use of a mishap and strengthen our love of Christ.”

(At the top of TheSteppingStones page, you will see a little white box. On it are the words: “Search this site…” Type over those words with “Dolindo Ruotolo”, the author of the novena mentioned above.) This will take you to 3 posts. The first post is labeled “A Prophet in our time”…this contains novena days 1, 2, and 3. The next post contains days 4, 5, and 6; and the last post contains days 7, 8, and 9.

The 3 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 1
2) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 2
3) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 3

God and Me part 3

jesus-christ2

Third in a 3 part series on God and Mankind

In two days, we have gone through creation history, and most of salvation history, the life of Christ and the beginnings of Christianity. All in two days??!!??… This is obviously nowhere near enough time to address the beauty and wonder of that time frame. But this is not an historical account. It is attempting to join the Goodness of God with ourselves.

Yesterday, we left off with the Apostles teaching and living the Good News of Jesus. The day before He was to be crucified, Jesus did something very astonishing. He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper with His Apostles, He took bread, broke it and gave it to His Apostles saying, “Take this all of you and eat it. For this is my Body”. And again, with the cup, He offered them the wine and said, “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the Blood of the new covenant. Do this in memory of Me.” Jesus was telling His Apostles and us, that the old ways were gone. Sacrifices to God by killing a lamb, or even of offering bread and wine, were no longer valid ways. A new covenant was being established. Jesus, by His life and death, would be the new lamb that is offered. Any sacrificial reference to bread and wine would be to His Body and Blood. From that time on, this is what would now be sacrificed by the priest at the altar, the Body and Blood of Jesus. For Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, would be the sacrifice that would be offered from then on to His Father in heaven.

Look at the purpose of this sacrifice that He would make on the cross. He was redeeming ALL of mankind that ever lived or would live. He was making amends for mankind’s pleasuring lifestyles, the affronts against God, the attacks on our fellow man, our brother. All were being bought back, redeemed, so that man could once again hope. He did not say to His apostles, “This is a symbol of my Body”, nor ”This wine will be like the Blood of the new covenant”. No, only He could satisfy the debt owed to His Father. This is MY Body. Anything less, and we, (you and I) the peoples who would come after Him, would have had only a symbol to adore, to kneel before, to accept as our Redeemer. If this were a symbol, then His infinite action would take on a temporal role.

Jesus is with us, today, just as He was 2,000 years ago. Yes, we can still pray to Him and silently express our problems and concerns. We can sit in a darkened room and pray to an unseen God. But that wasn’t sufficient for Him. He left us His Body and Blood to be with us, as well. His love transcends life itself. It transcends time. There are no limits to His love, or to its presence in our life. We receive Him in Communion and spend a precious moment with Him. We tell Him of our sorrows, our concerns, and our love. He listens to us as a brother, and comforts, guides and consoles us through our own thoughts. WE are aware of Him, His love and at one and the same time feel uplifted and so tragically embarrassed. We find it difficult to forgive ourselves. But He has already forgiven us. Seven times seven…Seven was a mystical number, back in those times. It correlated to our infinity symbol. Infinity times infinity… now… that’s a lot of forgiveness. Each day at Mass, the priest offers Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself, now under the appearances of bread and wine, once again to His heavenly Father. Infinity times infinity!

Let me take this one step further, before this post ends. At Mass, we hear some scriptural readings, on which the theme of that day’s Mass rests. A homily (sermon) is given that is based on those readings. Then we have the Offertory. (This is commonly, but rather mistakenly, called the collection.) Briefly, the Offertory is when those things that have significance to us, in our life, are placed before God. An act of kindness, time spent with the sick, our pains or anguish, our joys and sorrows, in short, everything that makes us…US. Each of us place our lives on that dish on which the wafer of bread rests. The priest, later on but before the Consecration, says while holding the dish elevated, “Pray, friends, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” And the people reply,
“May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good, and the good of all his Church.”

Everyone in the church, everyone is offering their life to be merged into the life of Christ, in that piece of bread. The Church (capital C) is not a building, but rather it is all of mankind who strives to bring Christ to the world. In offering our lives on that dish, we are asking Jesus to make us acceptable, to bring us also, to the Father. The Church is on that dish. When the priest says those all-important words of Christ, “This is my Body”, and again, “This is my Blood”, our very lives on that dish are transformed into something worthy of offering to our Father , but only because we are coupled with Jesus. It is, at one and the same time, our expression of love, of sorrow, of joy, of reverence, and of hope. Earlier we spoke of Faith as being the leap necessary to see Jesus in that consecrated Bread. Without faith, people will see the bread as just that, bread. But seeing and believing in the life of Jesus, seeing His love for mankind, His desire for us to be with Him, His desire for us to be Him and imitate Him, then we know He craves to be with us. And so, at that Supper, His Last, He gave all who weren’t present, the joy, the opportunity to be joined with Him just as the Apostles of that time were. He desires for us to “Be Him”. We are to Be Him in how we take care of others, how we strive to radiate the goodness of the Christ. We cannot do this by ourselves. But with Him, physically and spiritually with Him, we can do anything. Faith, true faith, can move mountains. 

We have now come full circle. God created mankind. But mankind has, and continues to walk away. With the Crucifixion, Jesus has redeemed us. He has given mankind the promise that He will be with us forever. The infinite love of God surrounds us. We strive to live the life that Jesus has laid out for us. We strive to, ultimately, be re-joined with God, our Creator. This is why you and I have been created. We can fulfill that purpose, only by living the life of Jesus, accepting Him into our heart and soul. For without Him, we can do nothing. But through, with and in Him we can give glory to God and be re-united with Him. We do this by living the life of Jesus, accepting Him into our heart and soul. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, But with Him, we can move mountains.

Pray, always, for the gift of faith. For that is what it is, a gift. It cannot be gained through logic. It cannot be intuitively understood. It can only be thankfully accepted.

It is appropriate to end with words of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

“When you look at a crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you NOW”.”

The 6 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Help My Unbelief
2) Our Intentions
3) Be the One
4) Embrace Life: Embrace God
5) God: Faith or Logic
6) God and Man part 2

God and Man part 2

jesus-christ

Second in a 3 part series on God and Mankind

Yesterday, we spoke of ten Truths. They are important enough to be re-stated, again:

1- There is a God, He exists, and He was not created.
2- God is Infinite.
3- He is infinitely good. (Can do no evil)
4- God has every positive quality, to an infinite degree.
5- Love is one of the positives that God has.
6- God existed before any material thing came into existence.
7- God created the world and mankind. He is the prime mover.
8- God crated mankind with a soul, and free will.
9- Through man’s free will, man can choose evil over good.
10- God loves us with an infinite love.

God created man, but why? Was He bored? Did He want to see what the result would be? “Bored” is a quality that mankind experiences, it is a negative and not within God. “Want to see what the result would be”, God is infinite, is not limited by time, and therefore knows what the result is. So why would God create mankind? Did you ever experience something so wonderful, so joyous that you wanted to share it with others? God’s love is like that. He gave us feelings, and thought, and memory, and soul. All of these take pleasure in joyous occasions. God could not help Himself, so to speak. His infinite love and infinite goodness demanded that they, also, be given to the greatest of His creations, man. The gifts that God gave man, would make mankind be His greatest creations. He created mankind so that they, too, could experience this wonder and joy. But He did not create us to be robots. He created persons who could think, feel, hope, laugh……and choose. Robots cannot feel; they cannot make abstract decisions; they can only do what they are programmed to do. God gave man the ultimate gift. He gave man Free Will.

This gift, allowing us to choose what we wanted, opened Pandora’s Box. We can do whatever we wish. We can temper our actions by whatever means possible. We can choose to love or hate God. We can choose to treat people kindly or with contempt. The choice is ours to make. This Infinite God has tied his own wrists together, so to speak. He allows the gift of free will to even go counter to His Will. Mankind was free, free to do whatever it wanted. Mankind could freely choose to love and serve His God, or he could laugh in the face of that loving God. Such was the gift, the nature of free will.

With such unlimited power, mankind chose again and again to fly in the face of his maker. Wars were started. Atrocities were done. Mankind did every crime imaginable against his fellow man. And still God loves man. Time and time again, God sends His prophets, leaders and, priests so that they will instruct, guide and pray with His people. He sends His Son. He will show them how to live. He will manifest the goodness that they are to share with each other. He will be the model of how to live, how to treat others, how to love their fellow mankind.

For three years, Jesus walks among the people reminding them of the goodness that they are to give to one another. He preaches what makes goodness, and who is their brother. Through His love, the sick are healed, the lame walk, the dead are raised back to life. He does all of this and then He thinks of all the people not present, you and me. We aren’t with Him. We didn’t see the love in His eyes. We didn’t feel His hand on our shoulder. There are many who haven’t seen or heard. How can he reach through time and ask us “Hello, how are you today, my friend? Walk with me and tell me what is bothering you? What can I do for you, today?”

Throughout these three years, Jesus has a small band of followers. They walk with Him, and listen and learn from Him. These men are fishermen, they are not theologians. They are not very learned. They do not logically come to the conclusion that this Jesus is someone special. They SEE that He is special. There is a goodness and love about Him. He really means what He says. Slowly, but gradually, they come to the realization that this man is special. He means what He says. He loves everyone, not just a few. He treats everyone equally, judges, tax collectors, the lame, the leper. He loves everyone. His message to them is go and do likewise. These men, the Apostles, live their lives as Jesus lived His. They taught, they loved, and they cared for others. Through them, they brought Jesus as best they could to those who hadn’t met Him. They wanted these peoples to see Jesus through the lives that they brought them, their own lives. See me, see Jesus. Through the years, the Apostles through people they reach out to, bring Jesus to all of us, you and me.

Tomorrow Link to: GOD and Me part 3

The 6 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) To You, My Friend
2) The Mystical Body Of Christ
3) Be Me!
4) Mankind And God, Body And Soul
5) The Love Of Creation
6) What Does Your Ism Need

God: Faith or Logic?

faithvslogic

First in a 3 part series on God and Mankind

God speaks to us in many ways. Sometimes it is through a feeling, an unexpected thought, or a word spoken to us by someone we hardly know. Truthfully, He speaks to us often throughout our lifetime. However, we are not always ready to listen. Listening, that’s the hard part for all of us. Let me describe a chain of events that happened recently. My sister, Lil, was talking, over the phone, with a very good friend of our family. During that conversation, the friend asked her, “Do you really believe that the bread and wine at the Mass are the Body and Blood of Christ? Or, do you think of them just as a symbol of Jesus?” She stated that because of her faith, she believes that they are truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. Well, that started this chain of events. After the phone call, Lil mentioned the conversation to me. As she was talking, I felt a strong desire to have been part of that conversation. I wanted to talk to our friend, so very much.

In that desire to speak with him, I realized that it is very likely that this stance of the bread and wine being only symbolic of Jesus can be held by many… maybe even by many Catholics, as well. Lil answered in the only way that any Catholic could. It is our faith that guides us to our belief in Christ’s physical presence in the consecrated Bread and Wine. We cannot analyze it or prove it. This chain of events brought me to write this post. I can only say that it is NOT to be construed as a proof that Christ is physically present in the bread and wine. It is an explanation that revolves around my belief, my faith.

The existence of a soul, or of God, Himself, cannot truly be proven solely with logic. To assert the existence of God and of the soul, a leap of faith is required; it must always be present. But logic can aid us in the realization that God must exist, that mankind has a special quality, enjoyed by no other aspect of creation. With faith and logic, we believe and know that God really does exist. He really does love us. We believe and know that He created us differently than all of the rest of creation. The presence of our mind, and will and soul urge us and lead us to the feet of God.

How do the existence of God and the Mass come together? How does one lead to the other. I will try to explain how my belief and my thoughts come together. Without faith, however, the explanation, is just so many words, is meaningless.

The following statements have had reams written about them. There is not enough time or space to document the whys and wherefores of these statements. They are fairly basic statements and hope you can easily agree on the following:

1- There is a God, He exists, and He was not created.
2- God is Infinite.
3- He is infinitely good. (Can do no evil)
4- God has every positive quality, to an infinite degree.
5- Love is one of the positives that God has.
6- God existed before any material thing came into existence.
7- God created the world and mankind. He is the prime mover.
8- God crated mankind with a soul, and free will.
9- Through man’s free will, man can choose evil over good.
10- God loves us with an infinite love.

These ten statements have a profound significance for each one of us. Read each one again, and reflect on each one. Ask yourself, “What do these words mean to me”? “Do they mean anything to me”? Spend some time on each numbered line. So what if it takes you awhile? Each line offers help in the understanding of your own relationship with God. After you feel comfortable with each one, then go to the next. When you have finished the review of the ten statements, tomorrow’s post will be waiting for you. Don’t be ashamed to spend some time with these, because they are at the core of our relationship with our God.

Tomorrow Link to: GOD AND MAN Part 2

The 4 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Knowing vs. Believing
2) Tying Our Gifts Together
3) What is the Will of God?
4) On Wisdom and Insight

Pope Francis’ Talk to the World

pope congress

Pope Francis has spoken both to the Congress of the United States, our representatives, and to the United Nations, the representatives to the peoples of the world. Each son or daughter of a given country, like the United States, or of any other nation in the world, each of us, (you and me), we have a mission, a personal and social responsibility. The Pope is not speaking just to the people in Russia, or China, or the state of New York. He is addressing everyone. And, he is not speaking so that we can read a laundry list of “things to do” and then determine to whom it applies. The actions, described by the Pontiff, are ways all of us must seek out to improve our own way of living. Our actions, our lifestyle, will guide us to being concerned human beings. And, in so living, we will help bring change to others in need.

To many groups, Pope Francis holds out hope for a better life, a better world. However, it is not something that will magically appear. We need to open our eyes, the eyes of our heart, to recognize and embrace our struggles and the struggles and efforts of those with whom we come in contact. These may be our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. They should also include the people who are in need of food, shelter, clothing, safety, clean living, and clean water. To this list should be added, all those who abuse not only alcohol, drugs, but also other people, and children. Their instabilities, their hurts, their confusion play a huge part in their abuse of the world. In short, all people with whom we come in contact, we must look at their heart and see how they are suffering. Everyone is!!! We cannot focus on what they look like, how they act, or how they smell. All of these people heard or will hear the Pope’s message. Is this just going to be one more carrot dangled before their impoverished eyes? It will be, unless each of us strives to fulfill our own personal mission, our own social responsibility.

What is our mission, then? When does mission turn into a social responsibility? Our mission is as unique as we are. Our circumstances, our lives, our cultures, each of these play a part in forming what our mission is. On a global scale, to grow wholesomely as a human being. A concerned, loving human being, that is what forms each person’s mission. Our own personal mission is to view our own individual circumstances, where are we lacking, what do we need. The need that we seek, however, is not material, but spiritual. Do we need that 3rd or 4th TV? Do we need the approval of everyone? Do we strive, at all costs, to be liked by others? What are the things that we have grown accustomed to having, to searching for, to expecting? Look within, at our own heart. What requires adjustment? Are we striving to be a better person? Or, is the status quo acceptable to us? How do we view ALL PEOPLE? Unfortunately, for many of us that view falls into: some we like, some we don’t care about, and, some, we just don’t even want to be near.

Our mission is to uncover what it is about us that could be better…should be better. Oh, I can’t do that. That is too much trouble. This is usually our normal response, as we settle back and play one more game on the IPhone, or change the channel to watch our favorite show. We think we are ok, just as we are. However, other people … well, that is a different story. Look at the goodness of Pope Francis, his smile, his concern for others, his patience, his desire to serve, and still we see no need for us to change. “Well, he is the Pope. He has to be that way.” NO, he doesn’t have to be that way. But, he is that way and he is the Pope. Good people desire to be better. They strive to overcome themselves, to understand themselves. And, in that striving and understanding, they see what they are lacking and want desperately to change.

It is in this remaking of ourselves that we ask God’s assistance, because we cannot do this on our own. It is only through our relationship with God and seeing His Goodness and Love, that we will recognize our failings and our mistakes. God’s arms are extended to us, welcoming us, almost begging us to come into His embrace. It is only through our true acceptance of God’s love, our recognition that everything He has said and done is done for us, then, and only then, can we recognize how closed in on ourselves, we really are. God’s embrace showers His love, His kindness, His concern upon us. His example is for us to go and do likewise to the world around us, the people around us, the family and friends around us. This is our personal mission. But we cannot fulfill it, we cannot embrace others, if we keep hugging only ourselves. God has shown us His embrace encompassing all mankind. “I am the Way”, He says. Let me show you how you are to act with the people you come into contact with. Open your arms and embrace them, and, be concerned about their needs above your own.

TO READ THE ENTIRE TEXT OF POPE FRANCIS ADDRESS TO CONGRESS (click the prior underlined words).

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Our Wake Up Call
2) Triggers In Our Lives
3) Love, Do we have it?
4) Whispers
5) Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Prayer for Parents

parents1

A friend of mine, a priest, his mother passed away recently. I was privileged to receive this prayer from him. His mother recited it daily. It is listed below and will be the sole topic for TheSteppingStones, today. When you read it, put yourself into the prayer. Let it be you doing the talking. Reflect on its beauty, power and honesty. Does it not sum up everything that we feel as parents?

When you are finished reading it please, please, pass this on to other parents, those in your family, or friends and neighbors. I promise you that this says everything that every parent prays for, and hopes for as a mom or dad. It is truly for all parents. If you feel uncomfortable passing this on, just tell the person, you do because you value them as a friend and want them to feel the strength of this prayer.

  * * * * *

Lord, as Mary’s son, you experienced the love between parent and child, a love that begins as one of total dependency and matures to a love of equals.

A parent ought to feel a job finished at that point but it doesn’t work that way; at least not for me. I continue to worry about my son and my daughters and their children and their lives, jobs, and families.

If I could, I would probably try to protect them from all problems as I tried when they were small. Fortunately for them and for me, I have no such power. I know they must make mistakes in order to develop maturity. I know their lives will include problems and in fumbling for solutions, they will discover themselves and their values.

I pray, therefore, not that you protect them from all evil, but that you give them the strength to conquer the evil they meet.

I pray for myself, too. Help me to know when to be silent and when to speak, when to help and when to refuse. Develop in me the discretion and tact I need to be a good parent for my children now that they are grown.. .Amen.

* * * * *

The 4 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) To The Sons And Daughters Of The World
2) Parenthood And My Dad
3) Trusting Like Children
4) What Are We Teaching Our Children

your text here

Peace Within

teresaPeacecrop3

Those three lines are the beginning of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer. They will be the central theme for today. Reread them. Each line is bringing us the calm assurance that God is, indeed, with us. Each line is telling us something important for us to know. The entire quote can be found after these thoughts.

Each one of us, everyone, no exceptions, has made bumbling, and sometimes tragic mistakes in our lives. We have all done it, so why do we pretend that this does not pertain to us? We know our past. We fear the effects of our past. We are even ashamed at how crass we have been in our past. Don’t we even try to hide it? Don’t we pretend that it really never did happen? We try to forget it, but it is still there. It nags us. It shames us. It is relentless. Before you read any farther, read again this current paragraph and decide once and for all what it is that is nagging you, shaming you, causing you to flee from your God?

That first line above of St. Teresa’s prayer, it cries out to each of us, “God loves us, be at peace”. He has already forgiven us of all that we have done… AND WILL DO. (Remember God is not constrained by time. For Him there is no past nor future.) We find it very difficult to understand such an all-forgiving God. Does He not understand what we have done? What is this perfect love? All the times that we say, “I am sorry”, “I will do better”, “I won’t do that again” … and then go out and repeat our offense!! In spite of this, He loves us? Does He not understand our fickleness, our shallowness? God knew what difficulties would arise from free will. And yet He says, “Trust me”, “Believe in Me”, “Follow Me”. THIS is the exercising of our Free Will that He wants. Yes, He wants us to freely follow His love, freely follow His directions, but He also wants us to freely follow Him with trust, and have belief in Him. Be at Peace, follow Me.

Each of us needs to focus on all the twists and turns that have happened in our lives. Do we really feel that we are where we are right now, because of those past events? We think that this event caused us to go right, and that action caused us to move in the opposite direction, or further to the right. And then from that vantage point we went farther left or right. Is that what we think? Yes we are free. Free to choose good or evil. Free to walk whatever path that beckons us. But, through all of this our LOVING God watches over us and nudges and makes adjustments, whenever harm or evil will result. We can say, “No, that is not true. I can do something that will result in harm and evil”. Yes you can, but the final result, the final effect of your action will be God’s decision, not yours.

What is being said here is that our God loves us so infinitely much, that He is always watching over us, directing us, guiding us. Because of this, that second line of the prayer means exactly what it says, “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be”. Your choices, your decisions, your intentions may not have been in line with what God wanted of you, desired from you, but He never stopped loving you, and protecting you. Back to that free will, for a moment. Here is the perfect time to exercise it. Freely trust God that right NOW, He sees where you are, what is happening to you, what problems are assailing you (even though they may have resulted from your own actions). He knows what you are feeling, dreading and crying over. Trust Him. Trust His love for you. He will shape events somehow, in some way, so that the final outcome will be more than you could have ever hoped for.

Because of His infinite love, because of His infinite vision, no event is a surprise to God. Furthermore, there is no bucket that says, “All problems must fall in here”; nor, is there a drawer labeled “Put matters of this kind inside”. God is without limits. His vision is without limits. No two problems must, or will be solved in exactly the same way. For example: you and your sibling, though everything, and I mean everything, is the same, the two of you will still be facing different problems, different choices and wind up in different places, with different results. “May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.” Your life does not, will not, cannot be the same as anyone else. God has made you special. There is something special about each one of us. God wants us to find Him, trust Him, and discover His love. And, in that process we will find out what our role in this life is to be. We will find ourselves.

* * * *

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

* * * *

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Christ Transforms Us
2) Our Weakness, Our Strength
3) Our Demons
4) Our Strength
5) Thy Will Be Done

HEADS IN THE SAND

heads in sand

We have all heard that ostriches stick their heads in the sand when they sense danger. This is really not true, and is recognized as a myth. The ostrich can run 45 miles an hour for a half an hour, at a time. There is no need to hide from danger when it can outrun everything on the planet. Though we recognize that its’ burying of the head in the sand is untrue, the saying still persists today. We use it when we feel someone is hiding from the truth, not willing to face some unpleasant facts, or just doesn’t want to be bothered.

How many of us really attempt to understand ourselves? How many of us strive to recognize our own weaknesses? Do we really want to grow and mature? Or, do we just want to sample the pleasures of life, the joys of relaxation, or the satisfactions of stress-free living? Take a look at how many games there are on the Iphone, and on other mobile devices. Why are there so many? It is because, people want escapes. People don’t want to think, it is too much trouble. Look at our political parties of today. They are not seeking global solutions. They are not seeking how to eliminate problems of global warming, of over saturation of firearms. They just want to win the game. They just want to beat the other party. It is a game that they are playing. Who can get the most votes? Who can get the most marbles? They see, that we don’t seem to really care, so they feel they don’t have to, either. If we did care, we would be storming every political platform demanding solutions. But sadly, the rest of us, we don’t want to think, either, so we play the game also. It’s called, “What’s wrong with this candidate, or that one?” We don’t want to play the one called, “What’s wrong with us”?

There will be a day of reckoning. God did create mankind, whether we want to believe it or not. He did give us a free will. He gave us an intellect. And He gave us His Word made flesh to show us how to live, how to thank God. He also showed us the terrible nature of sin and what its costs are, both to ourselves and to Him. He warned us about being lukewarm, “…for I shall vomit thee out of my mouth”. We can blithely go along with our lives, playing our mobile games, worrying about the cleanliness of our house, pretending that we care for others. Unfortunately, we are only fooling ourselves. We are joining in on the game of life, as played by our society of today.

It is a difficult task, to look ourselves squarely in the eye and realize that we are fooling only ourselves. It is much easier to continue the ways that we have learned, and keep walking down that path. Wake up people!! Please, all of us must wake up. It is very easy to say, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket” and then do nothing more than wring our hands. To do something about it, however, is more than hand-wringing. We must understand what we have, and then, offer it to others. We, of and by ourselves, cannot change the world. We can only begin the change in our own life, in our dealings with others.

It seems impossible? Let me ask you a very, very serious question, “How much will the world change, if everyone does nothing?” If each one of us can do some good in this world, if each one of us can help someone who truly needs it, if we can love that person who really annoys us to no end, then that is a start. If each one of us reading these words, begins to look at ourselves meaningfully, and seeks to correct our own life style, then who is to say that that will not affect others to do likewise. Before we get carried away and start thinking that WE are going to make a difference, we must recognize that there is one little thing wrong with that statement. WE can do nothing by ourselves.

WE do not have the insights, the wisdom, not even the love that is required to bring this all about. Wait, before you go picking up that Iphone game again, WE can’t, but God CAN. If we can love Him, accept Him, trust Him much like the Apostles and His followers did, then He can work through us, just as He did with the twelve. The Apostles didn’t cure, heal, and cause the fire in others’ hearts! Jesus did, through the loving, and trusting Apostles. WE must bring Him to the people that we meet. WE must show Him and His love to those that we cannot stand. We must help Him recover the world from all of the wasted time, the pleasure seeking, the laziness, the greed. But to do any of this, we must truly open our hearts and our minds to Him. He cried out on the cross, “I thirst”. He is not looking for water. He is thirsting for souls, yours, mine, and the world. These are not my words. They are straight from Mother Teresa’s prayers and lifestyle. This is what she taught the nuns in her convent. This is what she wants to teach the world. Christ’s thirst is for you and for me. If we love Him, trust Him, give ourselves completely to Him, then He will work through us.  We can bring to others His love, His kindness, His care. Only these actions will quench His thirst.

Lastly, to do any of this, we must stop looking for distractions, diversions, or things to take our mind off of what we are sadly lacking. We must stop burying our heads in the sand. We must look at ourselves in the mirror and see not acne, not gray hairs, not weight issues but rather a soul longing to be at peace, a face that is worried because so much of its life has been seeking meaningless balms. We must see a face looking back at us that wishes to quench the thirst of Christ with its own life. Don’t you see, our life as Christians, as Catholic Christians is meant to be lived embracing Him, loving Him, and bringing Him to everyone? Only through our faith, our love which He instills in us, can we approach and bring Him to others. There truly is no other way.

The 4 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) One Of You Will Betray Me
2) Who Are You
3) Who We Meet Along The Way
4) Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Body and Soul

BSG

Shortly after my sister passed away, the question was asked, “Where is Eleanor right now?” I wasn’t really quite sure how to answer that, so I mumbled something about being with God. I am not really sure if that satisfied the questioner, but somehow the question was dropped. Maybe they saw my own uncertainty, and left it alone.

I recently attended the funeral of a close friend, Dr. John. As I sat in the pew watching the unbelievably long line of friends stretch out the door and around the church, for some reason that question popped into my head, again. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I think seeing all of these people, who he touched in one way or another, helped me listen to my heart and hear God speak. (Yes, He speaks to all of us. We only need to listen.)

Who are we? We can identify all the physical attributes of others, and of ourselves. But what makes you, YOU? We know how tall we are, how much we weigh… (only too well). We know what we find pleasing and not so. But we are describing characteristics, attributes of the body. What is that other “thing” about us? What enables us to think? For that matter, how can we even talk about this very abstract topic? To be able to think, to focus on an ethereal, spiritual topic is only possible if we somehow possess that quality ourselves. For only by possessing that quality can we know what we are looking for. What is the soul? Are we that different from other animals? If you believe you are more than a dog, or any other animal, then you believe in a soul, whether you realize it or not.

When mankind came into existence, God breathed into this creation. That breath was His enabling each of us to think, to wonder, to speculate and to love. He gave us part of Himself. This is what we call the soul. Man and woman participate with God in the act of Co-Creation. The child’s body comes from the parents, but the child’s soul is from God. The body and the soul walk through this life together for a period of time.-1 Each one grows from the experiences lived. The soul’s formation is intimately wrapped up with life’s experiences. How we deal with and accept them will shape our soul. We don’t see the soul. We can’t touch it. But when we are in the presence of someone who loves tremendously, we know that we are feeling and experiencing the beauty of that person’s soul. But sadly, very often we forget that it exists in us, as well, or that we even have a soul. We address only the needs of the body. Nevertheless, this ignored soul is with us, every step of the way. It doesn’t die. And when the body is no more, it returns to its Creator.

All of us will leave this world at some time. It may be through a tragic accident, a lingering disease, a thoughtless action, or quietly in our sleep. But whatever and whenever it is, God permits our death to happen. Why? Why would this loving God permit our death? The body is finite. It withers, grows old, and incurs sickness. And then, it is laid to rest. Being physical, it slowly succumbs to the ravages of time and turns to ashes. But THIS is not the person. THIS is not the loving, feeling, sometimes happy, sometimes sad person that we knew and loved. This is the external trappings of that person.

So, where is the deceased person, right now? Not the body, not the sickly person, not the person who left us, so suddenly, where is the person that we loved? Where is his spirit that we laughed with and cherished? Will we ever see him again? His soul, now embraced by God, takes on the everlasting life that was promised to all of us. God calls us all back to Him.

Addendum: A topic such as this would not be complete without the mention of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. The body can feel pain. Can the soul? I believe the pains of Purgatory and Hell will be the soul’s experiencing the separation from God. Purgatory will at least be alleviated somewhat because the separation will end at some point. As to Heaven, obviously, I can only conjecture what our body, once re-united with our soul, will look like. Maybe, all the good memories that people have of us, will be how each person will see us when we are together, in Heaven. That last is definitely, not dogma, but just a guess. Hopefully, we will all see each other again, looking a lot better than we do, right now. He said…whimsically.

-1 Why abortion is wrong. See: Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Death. How We Deal With It
2) Heads Or Tails
3) Mankind And God, Body And Soul
4) Coping With Sadness
5) Corpus Christi Sunday

Love, Do we have it?

vine branches

Think of someone who you do not like. Think of that person, who just thinking about them, gets you feeling angry, and makes your blood boil. You know who I mean. Even now, you can feel the annoyance growing inside of you. Yes, that is the person to whom I am referring. Can you think of love at the same time? It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet, when Christ says, that we must, “love one another”, He doesn’t say except that person. There is a reason for this, let me explain.

Love is the active concern, for someone else’s health, welfare, growth and happiness. And here we are descendants of Adam, full of guilt, sickness, selfishness and sadness trying to perform a truly divine action, namely, “Love”. We cannot do it. No amount of our twisting and turning will get this shoe on our foot. So how is it, that Jesus tells us to love one another? How are we supposed to accomplish that?

Before we try to answer that, we have another question to focus on. Does He really want us to love everyone? Really? Without exception? Come on, let’s be realistic! But, in John 15:12, we read, the words of Jesus, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” There it is. It is repeated again a little farther on in the same chapter, “These things I command you, that you love one another.” This being a Christian is not for the faint of heart, is it?

This brings us back to the first question, “How are we supposed to accomplish loving one another?” Jesus gives us a hint, as I have loved you. Jesus, God, is Divine. How can we, mortals, tarnished mortals at best, love with a divine love? We might as well try lifting ourselves up by grabbing our feet in our hands and pulling upwards. Impossible. Yes, impossible. Mortals, such as we, cannot perform divine actions. But, He says, “…as I have loved you”. What is Jesus telling us? We know He forgives and loves us. We know He forgives and loves everyone. He even forgives and loves that person we were told to think about at the outset. Earlier in that same chapter of John 15:4, we hear the words, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

I think that brings us full circle, back to the beginning. We, of ourselves, will find it impossible to love everyone, (actually, to love anyone). We are imperfect and perfection cannot flow out of the imperfect. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself.” Our attachment, our connection with, our reposing in Christ, allows this seemingly impossible gift to flow through us. It is really, not our love that goes out to others but the love of Jesus flowing through us to the world. If we do not love all, then we can truly question whether we love, at all. We cannot measure the amount we love. We cannot distinguish who we love. We can only accept the love of our God, freely and gratefully. And in turn, allow His love to pass through us to everyone, (even the person at the top.)

Even now, I can hear the protests of, “I know how to love”, and “I love my children”, and “I treat people with love and respect”. To which I guess the questions need to be asked, “What about the person singled out, up at the top?” Do you love those people who treat you poorly? Do you pray for and respect the people who make it clear that they don’t like you? Everyone? Is love an emotional knee-jerk? Or, is it a true concern for the well-being of someone else, with no exceptions? (If there are exceptions, then we are limiting it. And, limited love cannot be from God, and so, it is not love at all.)

If it is an emotional knee-jerk, then we can truly doubt whether we understand the concept of love and all its’ implications. If it is a true concern, then we must accept the fact that we, as imperfect mortals, can only pass on to others that perfect divine love which we receive from our God. We pass this on, not because we have it, but because God has given it to us to be shared, to be passed on. If we have Love, then by its very nature we must give it away to everyone.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Music In Your Soul
2) Triggers In Our Lives
3) A Time For Love
4) It Starts With Christ
5) Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self

Dr. John

Judge the Living and the Dead

Welcome Home

My friend, John, died today. On hearing the news, I felt this huge surge of tears well up in my eyes. I sat and cried. I knew I was crying because I would miss him tremendously. I was crying for me, my loss. This wasn’t right. Oh, it is normal to cry because we will miss someone. But, his life was not, is not, something that we should ever cry over.

So, I began to search my thoughts about him, about his life. I wanted to think of something about him that touched me personally. There were many things, playing tennis with him, our trip with the soccer team to Ireland, our soccer trip to Canada, to name just a few. But the one that jumped up at me, almost immediately was this. Every week at half time of our older sons’ soccer game, John and my six year old son would go out to the open net and play shooter and goalie. My son was the shooter and John, the purposely faltering goalie. I sat at my kitchen table and cried. Even now, as I type this, the tears roll down my cheeks. But, again, I am crying for what I will miss, what I remember about him.

Each of us has a memory of John, something that is special just to us. All of these memories when put together create a picture of his life. This is not intended to be a eulogy. It is a simple statement that his life and our lives are full of memories. These are how we identify with him. But think about it…all these memories that all of us have of him they come together and form a beautiful life. This life is what he now presents to the welcoming arms of his God.

So, don’t cry for John. Yes, we will miss him, his smile, the twinkle in his eye, the love in his heart. But tears? No, they are not for him they are for what we will miss of him. He and all the memories that he made are now with God. He has gone home.

For us, let his life be a reminder of what our lives are all about. We are building up memories right now. The memories that people have of us will create a tapestry of our own life, as well. We can’t force those memories. We don’t try to shape those memories. They just happen. But the memories will be there, nonetheless. Our lives and how we live them determine the beauty of that tapestry. Congratulations, Dr. John! Thank you for such a beautiful life.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Eleanor and St. Therese
2) Death. How We Deal With It
3) Heads Or Tails
4) A Letter To Aunt Molly
5) Coping With Sadness

On Wisdom and Insight

widsom insight

In the Old Testament of today’s Mass, (Amos 7:12-15), we hear phrases like: “The Lord said to me”, and “The Lord saith to me”. These words spoken by these early believers, what do they mean? Mankind is speaking of what God is telling it, but how does God speak to them? Did mankind, back then, hear words? Did others here them as well? I think we get a better explanation, when we read further in the New Testament.

In the second reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians, (1:3-14) we hear, “…For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will”. In all wisdom and insight, these are words not to be glossed over lightly. And in the Gospel, (Mark 6:7-13) we hear, “So they went out and preached that men should repent.” They heard Jesus’ words directly to them and they went out; contrast that with St. Paul’s words of “…made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will”. St. Paul never met Jesus. He never heard Him preach to the peoples, and yet, St. Paul can say, “made known to us”.

Today, we want so desperately to know what God wants of us. We pray to be able to follow His direction. And still, we wonder, “What does God want of me”? If we pay close attention to these readings we realize that He IS talking to us. We just aren’t listening. Are we expecting words written in the sky? Are we waiting for whisperings in our ear? Anything physical, we would probably just doubt our own perceptions, anyway…and move on. We would think, “That can’t be God talking to me. I must have been mistaken. I didn’t see or hear right.” Maybe we are waiting to be knocked off our horse, like St. Paul and words coming from Heaven. No, St. Paul tells us, “…in all wisdom and insight”. Whose wisdom? Whose insight? Ours: yours and mine.

We pray the words, “Lord, what do you want of me? What should I do?” But, unfortunately, we then gather up our things and move on. We don’t wait for the answer. Actually, we don’t really expect an answer. We ask, but don’t expect a reply. Why? We feel that the answer that we are waiting for must be something momentous, something grand, something soul moving. But, hey, things like that don’t happen to me!! So we move on and wonder why God is not listening or answering today. My friends, we are looking in all the wrong places. His answer will be in our heart, in our wisdom and in our insight.

When we pray, especially when we are in need, we must listen to our feelings. What are we really asking of God? What problem is it that we need relief from? What is causing us to pray so earnestly to Him? Many times, an event triggers an emotion. It is usually an emotion which we have never been able to combat very effectively, in our life. And yet, we focus on the event, not the emotion, and ask God’s help with that. What is our all-loving God telling us? He is infinite, so He can tell each of us what His will is for us as individuals, what He wants of us. Just don’t wait for words to be seen or heard. Instead, listen to the stirrings within. Those feelings that take place within you, a thought of someone else, the sadness others may be feeling, the needs of others, these are God’s answer to your prayer. He IS replying to your prayer. He IS pointing out to you that others are suffering as well. His reply to our prayer will be our realization of what course we should be following.

So how do we know that we are doing the right thing? How do we know what course of action we should follow? God is still an ever-loving God. He knows our desires. He also knows our prior missteps. He hears our plea and He DOES provide. Those instincts, those sudden glimpses of helping actions… they come from Him. Take that step, Trust yourself. Trust Him. Take that first step towards what you think is right for you. “What’s right for you” is not decided by how good it makes you feel, nor what material benefits there are. No. “What’s right for you” flows out of your wisdom and insight. If this is the direction you are to follow, each succeeding step will be easier, and will be filled with God’s love. And, if this should be one more mistaken step that you are taking, God still loves you. He doesn’t wash His hands of you. His love for you will still be present to you. You will know soon enough, if not immediately, that this is not the right direction for you. How will you know? This too, will be obvious to you from your wisdom and insight.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Peace and Emotion
2) The Nature Of Prayer
3) Listening To God
4) How Wise Are We
5) Conversation With Christ

God and Man

breath of life

Let’s look at man’s concept of God. But in order to do that, we must first look at man, himself. Mankind lives and dies. He is born, grows, and with that growth, eventually ages and dies. All matter has this same progression of existence. Over time, matter is formed and eventually ceases to exist. Because of this passage from one stage to the next, mankind can measure how long it takes to go from beginning to end, from start to finish. That measuring stick we call “Time”.

If we could find a box large enough, all matter could be placed in that box. Stars, planets, moons, sun, people, every material thing could be placed in there. Since all matter has a beginning and an end and that box holds all matter, we can call that box “Time”, our measuring stick. Everything in this box is dependent on time. We judge how long it takes for earth to make one complete revolution on its own axis, and we call it a day. We split the day into segments and we call them hours. And so the progression proceeds. We notice also, that the earth while spinning on its’ own axis, is also orbiting around the Sun. As it progresses through that orbit we notice that seasons change. All of this is measured by Time.

Well, what is not in this box of Time? Does anything exist outside this box? If the box contains all material things, then only non-material things could be outside the box. Non-material!?!? What exists, and doesn’t have matter associated with it? We inside the box, only experience the material things. Whatever is outside this box of time, had to be the …person? Entity? that created the box, in the first place. That person cannot be in the box and the creator of that box, at the same time. That force, that entity, we simply call God. God is outside the restrictions of time.

Since that box contains created matter, and since God is not in the box and therefore non-material, He must be the Initiator, the Starter, the Creator of that box of things. And so we have the concept of God, the Creator.

In order to understand a little about the Creator, we had to first start with His creations, those things that we see, and can touch. So maybe in order to continue our admiration of our God, we must, once again, look at His creations. This would be very much like looking at a series of paintings by a painter, to understand the driving force of the painter, himself. All matter, as we said, is in this box of time. We can see majestic mountains, birds flying in the sky, all manner of fish in the deep blue oceans. We see animals of all sorts walking the lands of our earth. And we see…MAN. The best that the animals in the air, or sea, or on the land can do is to live by the natural instincts within them. Only man, however, can think. Only man can make decisions and choose one way or another. These are not instinctual choices, they are reasoned. Man utilizes his thinking, as well as his instincts, his fears, and all of his other emotions to settle on a course of action, to make a choice. He can freely do this or that, seeking no one’s permission, but his own choice. Man is truly different from every other animal on this planet.

Why is this so? Why would the Creator make this creature so different from all the rest? The short answer is LOVE. The Creator, being All-Good, loves us with total abandon. He wanted man to be able to make a free choice to love Him back. What good would a forced response of love back to the Creator be? It would be like a child exclaiming, “Look mom, I made the robot do what I wanted it to do”. No, a free will would be bestowed on a rational creation. This was how God wanted man to be. The love back to his God would be knowing, and willing, as well as loving.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Mankind And God, Body And Soul
2) Memories
3) Who Or What Is God
4) Come Back To Me
5) The Love Of Creation

The Beauty of the Moment

beauty

How often we feel the pressures of the day. One after another they cascade over our heads and come crashing down on us, like so many ocean waves. At times like this, it is very difficult to think of goodness and happiness. We see, or probably better, we feel their weight upon us and we wonder how we can possibly survive. But we can and do.

Not only do we survive, but we seem to look back on these “events” and wonder why we were so worried at the time. But you see, we are now viewing these, after the fact. They are over. They have come and gone. Whatever damage they could do is now a thing of the past. We are already moving on to the next issue, the next challenge.

The only reason we paid them any attention at all, is that they were hitting us, making us aware, at that time. The moment that they happen, they cause us to stop musing about the future, wondering if this or that will happen. When these “challenges” take place, they force us to forget the worries of the past. These force us to focus solely on the present moment. This was not really our choice, but rather something that was forced upon us. It kind of said, “Hello, what do you think about me”? It was probably not so polite, however, but rather grabbed us by the shoulders, shook us a few times, and then growled, “Hey…WANT TO FIGHT!!!

We don’t like to focus on the present. We want to think about our future plans, what our life could be, or our past problems, obstacles that have been endured. But to focus on the now, well, we don’t see any reason to do that. That moment is already history. It is only when the present demands our attention, and chooses to stay with us for a while, then, and only then, do we pay it any attention. Unfortunately, more often than not, our focus is only long enough, so that we can get rid of it.

Just why then would we speak of that nanosecond as having “beauty”? Our life is made up of trillions and trillions of nanoseconds, a seemingly infinite number, strung together one by one. Joined as one they cry out, “Hey, This is my life!!!” Each moment, then, is not something to be rushed through. It isn’t a race. I have to pass this mile marker, to get to the next, to get to the next, to… That, unfortunately, is how we treat our lives. Rush through this to get to that.

People, this is not what our life is all about. Each of those nanoseconds, each beat of our heart is an opportunity to thank God. Thank you for creating me. Thank you for each challenge you have given me. Thank you for the opportunities to grow closer to you. My God, I love you. Thank you for loving me. Each of these nanoseconds may not be the way we would have done them. They would not have been this way, if it were up to us. But then… we can only see the now. We don’t know what lies around the corner. We don’t know what we will need years from now. Each moment of our lives is teaching us something, teaching us for our future.

It is not too late for any of us to think about the now. These nanoseconds are described by some writers with the phrase “the beauty of the moment”. Why? Each hollow second, that we have allowed to pass by, unnoticed, they are special to us. What are we doing with them? Are we embracing them? Are we using it to understand our friends, ourselves, our God? Slow down our perception of life. Perceive this moment, here and now. What do each of these moments mean to us? Are they nothing? Are they simply empty voids? Or is there something in there, something, which we have never seen before? That split second, that blip on our radar screen it is an opportunity to love God, to caress Him, to thank Him for loving us so mightily. String all of them together, these moments, and we have a lifetime of loving our God, our Creator.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Here And Now
2) Pro Abortion is Really Pro Self
3) Are You Loved? Do You Love?
4) Knowing God’s Will
5) About Us

Thy Will Be Done

father love

“Thy will be done”. “Your will be done”. Every Christian in the world, whether Catholic, Episcopalian, Protestant, Baptist, Reformed, Born again … all denominations, every one of them will say those words at least, once or twice, during the week. What do those words mean? What do you mean when you say them?

What are we really saying when we pray the Our Father, and utter these words? It is not a meaningless phrase, just one more line to be raced through as we say (pray) the prayer. We are telling God that we acknowledge His Deity, His Supreme Being. We, His creatures live only to do His will. Though we have a free will, we forego that luxury and tell Him we want to, and will to, accept His wishes, whether joyous or sorrowful. We will not try to bend nor shape the events so that they are more pleasant to us. We trust Him and know that whatever He foresees and permits will be beneficial to us; and so, we accept the events, as they are. Unfortunately, many times we think ‘beneficial to us’ as meaning good things happening to us. We pray like, “Lord, God, we will accept all the joyousness You can throw at us. The Sad, well ehh, not so much”.

We forget that this all-loving God, Who exists outside the box of time, sees the past (our past), present and future in the same instant. He sees all the problems we have let ourselves fall into, He allows the present to happen because He knows and sees the good that can come from it, and He permits all that the future has in store for us, for the same reason. This is not His determination because He truly allows our free will to work, to function, to be directed by us. But one thing He does do is to love us, as only an all-loving God can. So when death, or sickness, or misfortune presents itself to one of our loved ones, or our self, our future is being shaped and will provide us the opportunity to GROW, to become an even more loving child of God. This may sound like some person’s fantasy, a dream world, but it is not, it is reality. This infinite God, who sees everything in an instant, shapes the events of our lives so that even hardships can become the source, the beginning point, of growth. But the key is for us to accept, truly ACCEPT EVERYTHING that comes our way, as coming from a loving God.

Everything covers a lot of territory. It means the times when we get passed over for a promotion. It means the sicknesses that we experience. It means the trials of going through a difficult period. It means rejection, and failures, discouragement and abuse. Oh, everything covers just about …. every event in our life. But, it is because we know how much He does love us that we can trust and say, “Your Will be done”. These are not words that roll off of our tongue just to get us to the next part of the prayer. They are the cornerstone of the Our Father. We recognize how critical it is to joyfully accept these events, good and bad. And we can accept them, only because we already recognize how much this infinite God loves us. Through that recognition of His love for us, the significance of the hardships that come across our path permit us to meaningfully say, “Thy Will be done”. If we can understand, say, and mean them they will bond us to our God in a way we could never foresee.

So the events in our life have great significance to us. But, we have to stop looking at them to see if they are pleasurable, or beneficial, or helpful to our own goals. This view cannot be the sole mechanism to judge whether or not the event has any meaning for us, any good meaning. If instead of depositing them into “good” bins and “bad” bins, we must stop judging the events as they happen. Every event, every circumstance that occurs is directly permitted by our loving Father in heaven. Don’t look at “the what if” possibilities. Don’t judge how beneficial they are to you, right now. Graciously thank this loving God, our Creator for giving us a life, in which we can grow and become even closer to this loving source. We may not see the benefits of events immediately. We may never really know for sure why it was necessary that the events even had to happen. But we can always know that our loving God is smiling on us, all the time. His love for us is all we need to know, to care about. With His love surrounding us, protecting us, we can smile back and say to Him, “May Your Will be done, in my life. Thank you”.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Humanity of Jesus
2) What is the Will of God?
3) Are You Important?
4) Embrace Life: Embrace God
5) Whispers

He waits

waiting

In all humility, I am asking each person who reads this to send it to their friends. When I sat down to write today’s blog, I intended to write something totally different. But this is what came out. I typed, but I do not think that I am the author of this. I think that it is special.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 6:19-23), we are cautioned to “…not layup treasures on earth”. It goes on to say, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. St. Paul continues this theme in today’s Epistle (2 Corinthians 12:1-10), when he speaks of what he has received and the problems he still has. “Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me (‘the thorn in his flesh’); but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’“

What we are being told, time and time again, is to not worry about death, illness, familial problems, our personal failures. Don’t be concerned about money, or the lack of it. Don’t react to problems, but rather accept them. This sounds rather strange, doesn’t it? Accept our problems? Don’t worry about someone being sick? All the negatives that we experience, that we fear, they are to be embraced? This almost sounds ludicrous. Wait a minute, it must be ludicrous!! Who on earth can possibly embrace that which is harmful, hurtful, worrisome, even seemingly impossible? No one can. We are human beings…not God!!??!!

The Lord tells us, “…My grace is sufficient for you”. We, as human beings, do not, will not, cannot believe Him. So we seek to find a remedy for ourselves. We try to extricate ourselves from these problems. People, we are like rats in a maze. We run around trying to find a solution that will get us out of the mess that we are in. We try solutions that we tried before, but we still try them again. We accept encouragement from others. We get advice from anyone that will listen to our problems. We try the same solutions, again and again. We become discouraged. We begin to waiver. And finally, we fall away from God, blaming Him for the mess that we have made.

Isn’t this so very sad? We blame God, who all along is telling us what to do. “My grace is sufficient for you”. These words hold the key to our own happiness, our own freedom. But we ignore these words. We don’t really want to give up those pleasures. We really do want more financial security. We think that people, and the friendship they offer, is all that we really need….Back to the maze…trying the same old, same old.

You ask, “Ok, then, what is, this grace? And how or why will it be sufficient for me?” His love, His spirit, His embrace, grace can be defined in so many ways. But all of these bring us to the realization that God is forever beside us. He cares. He really does care about each one of us. And if He does care, then why would a loving, caring God allow us to be harmed?

Maybe we should take a good look at the things that we fear, that we are running from, that are turning us around and around. Fear? Worry? Suffering? Even, Death? All of these are imbedded in our brains as something that will hurt us and upset our desired apple cart. How does He finish the statement? ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made PERFECT in weakness.’

Throughout our entire life, we have been running and searching for this elusive happiness, a happiness that will make all things right, make all things PERFECT. His hand has been outstretched to us, every one of us. We have ignored that hand. We have tried everything that we felt would make our lives bearable. In all of that running we have ignored His outstretched hand. His embrace is what we so desperately desire. And yet, we run from it. That doesn’t make any sense. Think about it. It doesn’t make sense that we are running from Him. We run, because we don’t believe or don’t trust Him. He waits for us to run to Him, to accept Him, to embrace Him. And still…, He waits.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) What’s Your Addiction
2) The Secret
3) Our Strength
4) To You, My Friend
5) He Is Risen

Our Strength

my strength

These posts have covered many areas, such as Goodness, Love, Trust, Weaknesses, and Faults. The list is quite large and is far more than the few that I just listed. How do we live these areas of goodness and avoid the problem areas of faults? Remember, we are constantly struggling to avoid evil, and are even prone to evil. How do we, a fallen people, pick ourselves up, change our own lives, and live clean and upright lives? The answer is, “WE DON’T”. Oh, we can live upright lives, but it is also correct in saying, “We don’t have the capability of picking ourselves up, of doing the changing on our own”. We do not have the ability, nor the strength to re-shape our lives, to re-direct our lives. So what do we do? How do we choose acts of goodness?

The Christ came into this world to save it, to show it how to live and to act. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. There is so very much contained in those nine words. Why did Jesus utter them? What was He implying when He said them? What do they mean? Simply put, we have to become like Jesus. If we do that, then we follow His way, understand His truth and live His life. But that is really no answer at all. It implies a life time of growth, a life time of trust, a life time of love. He really is saying, “Be Me”. Obviously, we cannot do that on our own. Think about it, can you be Jesus just by saying you want to be, or will be? We don’t have the power or ability to be Jesus.

So where does that leave us? I believe we have to come to the realization that we, of ourselves, are sadly lacking. We know what we should do, but we don’t do it. We see the path that we should walk, but we stray. We want to be like Him, but we are swayed by other things, seemingly more desirable, and follow those instead. “Lord, you see all my weaknesses. Please, help me. Guide me. Show me what I must do”. … NOW WE ARE BEING HONEST!!!

It is only when we admit, truly mean it and admit, that we are helpless, that we cannot do it on our own, that we need the help of Jesus, then, and ONLY THEN can Jesus take over. It isn’t because He wants to see us helpless. No, He wants us to understand our own helplessness and gladly accept His involvement in our life. Don’t forget that He loves us more than we can possibly imagine. Remember, that infinite love involves respecting our free will, also. We must truly ask Him for help. We must truly set aside our dependence on our own free will and stretch out our hands to Him.

To set aside our own free will sounds simple enough. It is just one more choice. Right? Wrong! That is the way the fickle world would see it: “Just one more choice, and if I don’t like it, I can always take it back”. No, that is not the way we reach for Him, stretch out our hands to Him. To accept His involvement in our life is to TRUST Him. It is setting aside our choices, our wants, our desires and WILL-ingly, acquiesce to His will. Trust is difficult, but oh so freeing. “My Jesus, I trust in You. You take care of it” (or Thy Will be done). Will you accept what Jesus decides is best for you? Can you accept what Jesus decides? If you can answer, “Yes”, then you have gained a strength that will never fail you. To place our lives into His heart, to accept His love, to accept the will of God over our own….how can these be a cause for alarm?

Are we not saying, “O Lord, I love you and I know you love me. You love me with an infinite love and you care for my well-being more than I possibly could. With such a love for me, how can I not trust you? Lord, I accept all that you will allow to come into my life. I may not understand the reason why, but I know that your love protects me always and that is sufficient for me, now and for all eternity. You are my strength.”

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Jesus Meets His Mother
2) The Power Of God
3) Our Wake Up Call
4) Embrace Life: Embrace God
5) What is the Will of God?

THE SECRET

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I strongly recommend the book, “The Story of a Soul”, the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have only just begun reading it… no savoring it, would be a more appropriate phrase. There are many statements in it that force us to put the book down and THINK. If you wish to call it meditation, fine, but associate her life style with that of our own. On page 19, she states, “I was sure that I was born to be great and began to wonder how I should set about winning my glory…” She continues, “This aspiration may seem presumptuous, considering how imperfect I was and still am…yet I am daringly confident that one day I shall become a great Saint.” Then she says the key phrase, the secret if you will, “I am not relying on my own merits, because I haven’t any. I hope in Him who is Virtue and Sanctity itself. He alone, content with my frail efforts, will lift me up to Himself, clothe me with His own merits and make me a Saint.”

Think of our self, now. If someone were to ask us, “Are you going to be a saint?” What would our answer be? I believe all of us would respond with, “ME?? You must be joking. I barely pray”. Or, we might say something similar. But our response would be looking squarely at ourselves, our life style, at our faults. Then we think about this person (us) being a saint. If it weren’t so disappointing, so depressing, it would be laughable.

Isaiah, one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, speaking of the Lord, says, “If your sins be as scarlet, they will be made as white as snow.” -Isaiah (1, 18) Jesus said, “Which of you is without sin?” Who can stand up to this accusation? No one can. So sainthood is not based on our merits, our life style. Because the truth is, we are fallen creatures….ALL OF US!! Oh, yes we do acts of charity. Yes, we do pray sometimes during the day. But the source of our goodness is not from within our bodily frame. It is bestowed on us, by Christ. Why does He do that? Why doesn’t He do it to everyone? With the snap of His fingers, Goodness could reign throughout the world. Wars and crime and evil would cease. God, a loving God, gave us a gift called Free Will. He will not, EVER, take that from us. He will not, EVER, force something on us. We are free to act. We are free to do. We are free to choose. We are free to accept His Will.

Re-read the key phrase at the end of the first paragraph, and then come back to the next sentence…..…. St. Therese is not relying on herself, her own merits. She quite accurately states, “…I haven’t any.” This isn’t false modesty. This is a fact. Not one of us merits eternal life. But what we can do, must do, is to hope in Him, trust in Him. Hope and Trust are one-syllable words that can be easily said and spelled, but oh so difficult to do, to accomplish. We say in the prayer Jesus taught us, “Thy will be done”. Don’t we silently add on something like, “…if it goes along with what I want?” Do we really accept WHATEVER God allows? Are we always happy with what God sends our way at times? If you can really do that, add two letters in front of your name…”S” and “T.”.

The point is that each of us, with our problems and faults, our worries and sins, our failures and our pride, with all of these we must still accept our self, and love our self. This doesn’t mean we can gleefully continue on our way to destruction. To accept ourselves, as unpleasant as we are; to accept Christ’s love for us and realize that He wants us to love Him back, truly love Him; these are what make the Christian’s relationship with his/her God the Divine Bond.

So before you think that St. Therese is presuming on God’s Goodness, realize that God’s love is there for all of us. He loves us to the extent we are capable of receiving it. To accept His gift of love presumes not on His goodness, but on our own willingness to love Him back. “Oh, that is easy”, you say. Tell me how easy it is, when you see your loved one dying in front of you. Tell me how easy it is, when your child is diagnosed with a disease that is life threatening. Isn’t the first thing that is uttered is, “Why God?” St. Therese didn’t utter these words. No, she thanked Him for her life and everything in it: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

She never questioned Him. She trusted Him. She knew that in Him was the hope of everlasting life. This was her quest. But strangely, not for herself did she want eternal life, but so that she could give her love to her God, forever. This is what makes her a great saint. Oh, that all of us could love our God that fiercely, that completely. Strive for it. Adapt your life to accomplish that. Recognize your failings. Accept His love, with all its implications.

 

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Here And Now
2) Hope And Trust
3) One Of You Will Betray Me
4) Thou Art Peter- Upon This Rock
5) The Kernel of Christianity

What’s Important to YOU?

importall

A few days ago, I asked you, “Are You Important?” Your answer is between you and God and no one else will know what was decided. As I think about that question, though, I wonder if this question should have been asked first, “What is Important to you?” It probably doesn’t matter which comes first, but I think knowing what is important to us will help us shape our impression of ourself. So let’s follow that question, now.

I will list ten things in no special order. I want you to think about each. On a scale of 1 to 10 grade them accordingly. A one, represents the least important; and a ten, the most important to you. Before we begin, let’s get one thing clear. No one is listening, or raising their eyebrows at your selections. This is a time for each of us to be honest with ourselves, and try to understand our own motives a little bit better. Ok… so here is the list. No numbers yet:

THE IMPORTANCE OF.

– What others think about me?______________________________________
– What do I see as being most desirable to possess?_________________
– What am I afraid that others may know about me?_________________
– Must I have the last word in an argument?_________________________
– What makes people likeable in my eyes?___________________________
– How often do I pray when not in church?__________________________
– How often do I go to church?_____________________________________
– What people(s) do I instinctively shrink back from?________________
– When was the last time I truly praised someone else? _____________
– Do I like myself?_________________________________________________

Ok, so now what? Before you start assigning numbers and erasing and moving the results around, take one question, any question. Start where ever you want to. Don’t begin thinking of numbers, but rather for each question, ask yourself?

– What feeling does this question cause me? Is it happy or sad?
– Do I feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
– Because of this, do I see any faults within me?
– What areas need to be addressed?
– Will this be corrected by reading, talking, or soul searching?
– How critical is this to my improvement?

THEN PUT A NUMBER TO IT.

(This actually is a good way to process our feelings, anytime. It gets us looking at our feelings honestly and trying to understand them.)

They are not in any special order, None carry more weight than any of the others. They are distributed over emotional, psychological, spiritual, financial, and personal choices. There is no right or wrong answer. These answers are just possible avenues whereby we can know ourselves just a little bit better. I am not a psychologist, or anything like that. There may be absolutely no value to what is listed above, or the process outlined. These are listed, solely, to help us know ourselves a little bit better. Why? The next time we pray to our God, or favorite saint and we list our problems, our hopes, our fears, our worries, maybe we will have a little bit better picture of who is doing the praying and the asking. For what is important to us, will surely play a role in shaping our motives, our actions. They might even tell us where our own importance lies and what we need to work on.

The 4 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Purgatory
2) The First Day Without Ashes
3) Just One Thing: Take His Hand
4) Rcia, Jesus In Sacramental Actions

Are You Important?

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Let me ask you a question. How important are you? Before you answer, though, I want you to think about your parents, your children, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your fellow students. Think about the people who you don’t like, and the people who don’t like you. Who are you? What are you to them? Do these people depend on you? Do they expect you to be there for them, when it counts? Do they need you? Do you need them? Do you know them? Any one of these questions you can and should think about. They will help you shape your outlook on yourself.

Now for the next and bigger question … How important are you to your God? We might gloss over all of the people that we see on a daily basis. But, God? Did we even think about our being important to Him? God is infinite. God is omnipotent. What could He possibly need me for? If we think along those lines, we are missing some very key pieces of evidence. Like a jig saw puzzle, these pieces all fit together. The Will of God. God’s Goodness and Love. Mankind’s Free Will. Peace and Serenity. Let’s see how these four pieces, when brought together define our importance.

First, let’s focus on God’s Goodness and Love. God must be a God of Goodness and Love. Why do I say that? How can I say that? For God to be God, He must be perfect. He must be everything He can possibly be and to the nth degree. Evil is the lack of good and therefore no vestige of it can exist within God. So we can truly say that He is complete with goodness and love.

Next, we look at God’s Will, His plan for the world. That plan flowing from this God, (Who is total Goodness), it also must be something positive, something very good, very special. If it were otherwise, it could not come from this all-good God. So these two pieces fit very nicely together. They seem to almost flow into one another. It is very difficult to see where one ends and the other begins.

When this God of Love, created the universe and mankind, His love, out of necessity, flowed into them as well. Do we think that God would create or would allow to be created, an evil that would go counter to all the Goodness that He places in the world? He loves mankind, so much, that He gives every person in the world, their own free will. No one in this world would be forced to love God, forced to do anything that they didn’t want to do. Mankind is totally free. This freedom is a good thing…but, as we know, and have seen, it can be abused!!

However, when each of us uses our free will and endeavors to flow in sync, with God’s Plan for the world, then mankind and God are in harmony. That harmony is the last piece of the puzzle, called Peace and Serenity. The plan is complete. The accord that exists is all of nature being in harmony.

But, unfortunately, we don’t have to make our free will and the Will of God blend together. We can do as we wish. But, in so doing, that is when disharmony results. God’s plan is harmonious. People seeking their OWN will, moving towards their OWN needs, forgetting their purpose in life results not in harmony, but chaos. We then don’t have the perfect world envisioned by our God. We have a world fashioned by man catering to the wants of man. We have a polluted world, a warring world, a hateful world, a dis-functional world.

So I ask you, how important are you? Is everyone? Each one of us has an important role to play in God’s plan. Our actions, our cravings, and our deeds are they flowing from our own needs, our own wants? Or are they striving to follow God’s plan? Each of us has something, just over the horizon, waiting for our response. Sometimes, we don’t even have a clue that that something is depending on us. We don’t know the future. But we do know right from wrong. We do know how goodness should act. We know how the Christ wants us to act with respect to others. No, we don’t know the future, but we don’t have to. All we need to know is that our God loves us, and is waiting for us to love Him back. If we do that, the future will take care of itself. And, we will take care of loving our God and ALL of His creation. Especially, the people I asked you to think about at the beginning of this writing.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They are listed to help complete this theme:

1) Are We Free Or Not
2) I Believe In God
3) Embrace Life: Embrace God
4) The Tree
5) A Meal With Friends

Pentecost: Holy Spirit

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* * * * * * * * * *

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love.
V. Lord, send forth your Spirit, and we shall be re-created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.   O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, does instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that we may be responsive to His inspirations and may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ Our Lord. Amen

* * * * * * * * * *

When we say, “God” we either think of God the Father, as in creation, or we think of Jesus, the Son, His life, death and the example He gave to us, on how to live. However, it seems like we, mankind, relegate the Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit, to the side lines. It is as though He is a bit player in a one-act play. He is hardly noticed, and rarely thought of. We really must re-think what our beliefs are about the Trinity. Reams have been written about the existence of God, the Trinity of three persons in one God, and the relationships between the three. This is not the place to begin a dissertation on the Trinity.

Suffice it to say, “There is only one God”. To God we associate the creation of life, the world, and everything that exists or has existed. We also associate to God the redemption of the world, in the person of the Christ. And then we say, the Spirit of God, what does this mean? The Father and Son, Creator and Redeemer, both co-exist from all eternity. The Father does not exist before the Son, nor the Son, before the Father. And the love, the wisdom that exists between the two, is so perfect that it, too, is Divine. The Sanctifier is no bit player, but the power, the energy that flows from God to mankind. If we seek understanding, we seek the Holy Spirit. If we seek patience, or self-control, or gentleness, or any quality we see as being necessary in us to fulfill our mission in life, then we seek the Holy Spirit. The Creator has given us life. The Redeemer has shown us what we must do. The Sanctifier is the One who will guide us, instruct us, and aid us on bringing our lives into the realm of true living.

Whether we realize it or not, when we say, “God help me”, we are imploring the Holy Spirit to aid us. Devotion to the Holy Spirit is paramount for all of us, if we are to grow in the love of Jesus Christ. If we are to cope with the problems of this world, if we are to strive to grow in our love of others, if we are to understand our own short comings, then it is to the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, we must turn. He is there waiting for each of us to implore His assistance, His guidance. But we must ask.

Grow to love the following prayer. Memorize and meaningfully pray it often throughout your day. It really cries out to God, to help us be the person that He intends us to be:


Come Holy Spirit enlighten my heart to see the things which are of God;
Come Holy Spirit, into my mind that I may know the things that are of God;
Come Holy Spirit into my soul that I belong only to God;
Sanctify all that I think, say and do, that all will be for the glory of God. Amen.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this theme. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Are We Moving To Or Away From Pentecost
2) Head Or Gut- Brain Or Heart
3) Our Demons
4) Peace Vs. Fear
5) Peace and Beauty

trust in God

We hear about St. Faustina Kowalska when we speak of Divine Mercy Sunday. And that is as it should be. The commemoration of this feast day, (the first Sunday after Easter) along with this saint was irrevocably joined by Pope John Paul II. He did this when he proclaimed to the world, at the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, that the Sunday following Easter throughout the Church will be called Divine Mercy Sunday. Why that Sunday? The Resurrection, the most glorious of all feast days, proclaimed that Jesus, the Son of God, had suffered and died for the forgiveness and salvation of mankind. In overcoming death, His divinity is proven. His love and mercy is assured to always be there for all who request it.

Faustina was born in 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland. Fifteen years earlier, in 1890 Sister. Josefa Menendez was born in Madrid, Spain. Josefa has not been declared a saint, so far, but she may very well have been the precursor to the Divine Mercy phenomenon.  Her life, in so many ways parallels that of St. Faustina. (I don’t know if these contemporaries ever even knew of the other’s existence.) But it is not this parallel that is the topic being addressed, right now. No, there is a short paragraph in “The Way of Divine Love” by Sr. Josefa that grabs at your heart immediately. Josefa has been going through many agonies and blessings. Both, of which, she is cherishing because she knows that it is God’s Will. The agonies, she endures steadfastly, but the blessings raise her spirits, her soul to such dizzying heights, she is almost giddy with joy. Within this context, we read, “On the evening of Saturday, October 16th, I asked Him why He gave me so many totally undeserved graces. During my adoration I saw Him crowned with thorns and He gave me this answer: ‘Have I asked you to merit the graces I give you? What I ask is that you should accept them’ ” -1

It is this thought each of us must wrap our arms around. Jesus asks us to accept wholeheartedly, whatever enters our life: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Josefa asks Him, why He gives her all these blessings. Jesus doesn’t expect us to earn the right to these blessings. We cannot. He wants us to accept them. No sense of pride, that we deserve them. No sense of false humility, being glad that we got them, but professing that we are not worthy. Recognize that He, ALWAYS, gives what is best for us. We have no right to these. We didn’t’ do anything to merit them. So we extend our hand and accept them, gratefully, with humility, and above all with trust in Him.

We can understand this in the light of the good things that happen to us, but what about the minor problems, (the Bad)? What about the major problems, (the Ugly)? WE, and only we, are the ones that put the title of bad and ugly on these things that happen to us. WE don’t see God’s Purpose, His Plan. No, we see only our own inconvenience, our sadness. We see the disruption in our plans, our life and deem it to be bad or ugly. Don’t you see? The things that we call negative, or bad, in life are really events that God’s plan has laid out. They are neither good, nor bad, nor ugly. They are in fact ALL beautiful, because they come to us from our loving God. “We don’t deserve that”, we say. “This is too much to bear”. Our complaints are not valid, because we are not looking at the total picture. God… Infinite God… the Creator… the Redeemer… the Sanctifier, He is interacting with us, teaching us, challenging us, loving us. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear “And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing’ ” -2

“Oh my God, why am I so blind? Why do I see only my needs? Why can I not joyfully accept your love, no matter what form it takes? Help me. I cannot change my life, by myself, only You can help me see and understand your ways. But whether or not, I see and understand them, give me the grace to lovingly accept them. I want to be totally yours.”

-1 The Way of Divine Love, by -Sr. Josefa Menendez, FIRST STEPS October 9th–28th, 1920
-2 Luke 12:22-31
-1

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this one. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Accept It, He Really Does Love You!
2) Trust In God Vs Fear To Relinquish Control
3) Who Do You Trust
4) Who Or What Is God
5) Example, What is it?

Example, What is it?

trust vs worry

What does your life tell others? How do you deal with disappointment? Sorrow? Sickness? Family problems? Oh, there are so many things that can go wrong in our life, they seem almost endless. Do we put up with our problems? Simply tolerate them? Wait for better times? Do our problems cause us to take it out on others? These are a lot of questions waiting for us to answer. How we answer them, however, will tell us so much about our life, and what effect it has on others. For us to grow we must strive to not only understand their implications but what is necessary to overcome them, to utilize them.

There is a mouthful, right there. But, I assure you that that “mouthful” is necessary for us, as human beings, to squarely look at and resolve. We cannot prevent any of these from happening. Who stops death? Who successfully prevents all illnesses or family problems? No one on this earth can do that. So what do we do about them? Every problem that besets us, if not correctable or solvable will cause those helpless feelings to grow inside of us. And that is when we begin to take our problems out on those around us.

What did Christ say about these things? His friend Lazarus was ill and when told about it He simply said, “The sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God”. Even when Lazarus had died and was buried for three days, Jesus tells his followers that all of this was coming about for the glory of God. He went to the tomb and called for Lazarus to come out. The rest of the tale we know. Lazarus came out and Jesus told them to get him some food. This was the same with His death. He would ask for food, after His own Resurrection.

What is He telling us? Is it not that everything that we call evil, or problematic, or causing sorrow is a way to glorify our God? If we let these evils conquer us, if we let them weaken our resolve then we have already lost to them. No one seeks out these problems. No one wants them in their life. But they do happen. They do occur. How we deal with them will be reflected by our demeanor, our attitude, our own sense of purpose.

Jesus is telling us that evil in this world will not destroy us, if we believe in His words, if we follow His example. These disappointments and sorrow and sickness and family problems are actually our fire that tries our steel. Yes, we can let these problems overwhelm us. And, in so doing, we live our lives with attitudes of “poor me” or “why me”. All of us will have these things occur. No one can expect to be excused, or overlooked. When they come about, how we address them will really be what proves us. “The sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God”. Our problems will be our proving ground. Our belief in God, our belief in the words of Jesus will be the strength that we will draw on. In coping with these, in addressing these we will see our attitude change. We will not only tolerate others, but amidst our own suffering we will truly see the sufferings of others and seek to help them.

Isn’t this really, what the world needs right now? It doesn’t need individuals only seeking their own goals, their own needs, or their own comforts. The world is full of these people, already. Sorely lacking however, are people believing in a God, trusting in a God, recognizing that this God loves them with an infinite capacity. This God is asking us to recognize that He loves us, and protects us always. Things that we call problems, difficulties, sorrows and sickness, He calls differently. This God, this infinite God, loves us so tremendously that what we see as being a negative is really His opportunity for us to grow in our trust, our belief and our love of Him. Without that trust, belief and love of Him our problems will continue to invade us. But with them, we will embrace Him that much more and thank Him for this opportunity to give glory and honor to Him. And suddenly man looks to helping others rather than himself. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

The 5 Posts directly below, blend with this one. They continue the thought. Thanks for coming:

1) Belief in Jesus
2) Seeing, Believing, Doing
3) Truth. Where Is It
4) What is the Will of God?
5) What To Do About Complaining