Tag Archive: Belief


A Birthday/Reunion Party

birthday cake

Yesterday, I attended a birthday party…mine. Yes, it was for me and about 17 others. It was, perhaps, the best party I have ever attended in my 75 years of life. Nothing has, nor will, ever touch it. What made this one so special? It wasn’t a surprise party. No, it was arranged by many people. So, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone. It wasn’t even the day any of us were born on. So what made this party so special, or for that matter, a birthday party?

Twenty five years ago, the travel-soccer team that I had coached for six years was disbanding. They were a good team, a very good team. Two years in a row they had won their division championship. I knew they would all make their high school teams. Their days in high school would be consumed with classes, studies, soccer practices and soccer games. What they didn’t need was additional soccer practices or games. Their time would be severely tested, so something had to give. I thought it wise that we break up the team and let them move on to the next phase of their life. Well, that is the background, so what about this party? And, what made it so special. Bringing us back together…that was special.

They would all turn 40 years of age, sometime during this year, so we will have a combination re-union and birthday party. There were close to eighty people at this affair. There were children, spouses, parents and grand-parents. Again, I ask, “What made it so special?” I truly believe that everyone who was at the party was present because of someone else. Someone needed to receive affection, words of love and kindness. Parents were present because their sons were being honored. Wives were present because of their love for their husband. The team was present to honor their coach. And the coach and his wife were present because of their love for the team. There was no thought of self, at this party. If there was, I did not see it. Yes, people wanted to have a good time, but what brought them all there was their affection for someone else. The party was simply beautiful. Memories were shared, and love was in abundance.

Imagine a world where people, every day, looked to other peoples’ needs, tried to anticipate what someone, other than their self, craved for. In short, no thought of what do we need, want, desire, but rather, who needs something that we have, that we can give. I am not talking money, or possessions. What part of ourselves can we give to others? Who really could use our love, our affections, our kindness, our tenderness? Imagine what that world would be like, if everyone thought along these lines!! Wouldn’t it be a joy to live in that world? No thought of self, but only of other. A world where people would look at people not with a thought of taking advantage of that person, but rather, of being attentive to that person’s needs… what would that world be like? Wouldn’t it be like Heaven on earth? That can only happen when all of us start believing in that life style, as individuals.

Here are some other Posts that blend with this one. Continue the thread:

1) To All Mankind
2) God’S Touch In Our Lives
3) The Power Of God
4) Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
5) Prayer And Reform

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Belief in Jesus

palm sunday

We are now in the holiest week of the year. It began with yesterday’s Mass of Palm Sunday. During it, we remembered the celebrations of the people strewing palm before the Christ. He was their hero, their savior. Truly He would lead them out from under the oppressive heel of the Roman Empire. As the events unfold throughout this week we, like the people 2000 years ago, gradually come to the realization that this is not what He came for. He is not a military leader, nor a would-be emperor. The land flowing with milk and honey is not of this earth, nor should we expect it to be.

As this week wears on, we, like the Jewish people of old, see a mild man, a gentle man, allowing Himself to be led to His death. Is this why He came? What was all that business of curing people, encouraging people, promising a better life? Just to be led to the slaughter like a lamb? Surely there must be more to His life, then this! At least, we have the advantage of knowing what is to come. The people putting Him to death had no idea what would happen in a few short days. And so, they crucify Him.

Which is a better position to be in? 2000 years ago, the people did not have a clue as to: Who or What Jesus is. Their mindset was only of this world. They saw only their needs, their desires for a better life, and so they placed their hopes in this man to lead them. And when they realized that He would meekly submit to the horrors and tortures of the crucifixion, their confidence in Him was shaken. And so, they abandoned Him.

But we, you and I, we have the benefit of 2000 years of history, 2000 years of reflective thinking by men much wiser and greater than ourselves. Our understanding of Who and What Jesus is, is tempered and molded into a belief structure that is strong and …. Wait a minute!! Did I just say, “Our belief structure”??? What do we really believe? You and I? Who is this Jesus? Is He really God? Did He come to show us how to live? How to treat others? How to live our lives? How are we doing with regard to living our lives? What we believe dictates to us, how we live. So how are we living? What is our mindset today? Do we see only our needs, our desires for a better life? This week, this holy week, is a time for us to assess just that.

Our belief… What is our belief? What do we really believe and think about Jesus? Who is He to us? Why did He really come into this world? Was there a purpose for Him to enter our world? Each of us has to answer these questions? We cannot live our lives and ignore the answers. We cannot turn our heads and view life without trying to understand the importance of these questions. For you see our beliefs will motivate and direct our lives. With no beliefs, we have nothing to guide us, nothing to point us in the right direction. We are then slaves to whatever pleases us, and makes us feel comfortable. We no longer are creatures with a mind and soul, but rather, we are robots being directed by our feelings, our desires, our wants, and our needs.

To say, “Jesus is God” and then go about the day with no further thought of Him, or its implications, is like saying, “I will buy that apple.” We don’t even know when we will bite it, or if it will go bad before we bite it. We just appropriated it, and nothing more. Belief isn’t a coat that you can put on or take off. A belief goes right to our core. It shapes us. It modifies us. It directs us. Jesus’ words to Thomas seem very appropriate right now, “Blessed are they that have not seen and have believed.” –John 20:29

Why do we call it a “Belief Structure”? A structure is usually something that stands because it is built with, and dependent on, a strong framework. We have all heard the saying, “Show me your friends, and I will tell you what you are.” Similarly, I think we can say, “Tell me what you truly believe in, and I will tell you how you act.” Belief is the ‘be all and end all’ of our Christian way of life. It is from our belief in Jesus, that He is the Christ, the Savior of the World, from that belief, our actions are guided. A good prayer to pray is, “I believe in you, Lord. Help my unbelief.” What do you believe? What do I believe? Does our belief shape and guide our actions?

Here are some other Posts that have a similar theme. Click on any one of them:

1) Head or Gut,-Brain or Heart
2) Help my Unbelief
3) What Does Unconditional Love Mean to Me

A Letter to Aunt Molly


Dear Aunt Molly,

There are times in our lives when words cannot reflect the ache that we feel in our heart. We know what we are experiencing, but to form these feelings into words seems to be an insurmountable task. Whenever we experience the loss of a family member, a loved one who has been very close to us, we feel that deprivation. It seems that we can only focus our thoughts on what we have lost, on what we had and will never have again.  It is during these times that we seem to go about our lives as if in a cloud. We know that something else is beyond this time, but we cannot see what it is through the mist of our tears. This is when we must live on trust. A trust that tells us that our friends will be there for us; a trust that comfort and consolation will once again, fill our hearts; a trust in a God who loves us and will hold us ever closer to His heart.

We walk on this earth for one reason, and one reason only. God has breathed into each of us a life so that we can experience the fulfillment of His love, the fulfillment of bringing His love to others. This is a task that every person on this earth has. Each act of love that we perform draws us closer to being united with our God. I believe that Rose completed all the acts of love required of her on this earth. God has drawn her back to Himself, completing the act of creation He had started with her.

The love you have for each other is a constant, it will always be there. Her love for you and family will never cease. Her death does not interrupt her love. Your lives have been intertwined with love and happiness and even sadness. And, through all of your experiences together, you grew together. Love is like that. Love draws us towards God and towards each other.

But what can be said of the heartache that we still feel inside us? How do we address the longing, the hurt which wells up in our throats and almost prevents us from swallowing? How do we deal with that? It is a normal response. It is a sadness that cries out for the loved one. We don’t want the separation. We will miss the shared experiences.

It is at times like this when our faith will rescue us. Yes, we hurt, but its focus is one-sided. We see our life without. We see joys missed. We see experiences no longer shared. These are normal, don’t get me wrong, but we can and should look through the eyes of faith. Christ’s death allowed us to see that suffering on earth is not to be shunned but accepted. His Resurrection enabled us to see that there is more to life than what we experience here on earth. His love for us enables us to love one another, and in so doing, unite with others and to God.

So you see, Aunt Molly, the love that each of you had for one another has blossomed into an eternal joy. Rose will always be with you. Your shared memories, your moments of laughter and sadness, the times you worried together, in all of these, Rose is still with you. Cherish these. Don’t let them fade. Your familial love has united each of you with each other and to God. Be at peace. She is.

This rather personal letter is made public for all the Aunt Mollies of the world, both male and female, who are going through a time of suffering and loss. The hope is that you may find some consolation within.

God continuously works in our lives. We may see these times as coincidences or as something special. That decision He leaves to us. I believe, God has been working on my life, well… for all of my life. I will try to keep this short, but I cannot guarantee it, right now.

When I was in seventh or eighth grade, the nun teaching us spoke of a person living in Italy who was a member of the Capuchin religious community. His name was Padre Pio. This was the first time I had ever heard of the name, or of the man. I told my mother that I wanted to be a Capuchin priest. And, in her wisdom, she said something like, “Of course you can, but wait until you finish high school.” I exchanged letters with someone in Italy, I don’t know who. (Oh, how I wish I knew who it had been.) Teenage years came and I quickly forgot my desire of becoming a Capuchin priest.

My life ambled all over the place. Meandered might be a better expression. My immaturity moved me in so many directions, some very good, and some not so. I would like to say I was searching, but that would imply purposeful pursuit. It was more like a reed shaken by the wind.

Fast forwarding to the year 2008, three years ago, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Shortly before this time, Padre Pio again brushed my life. My son’s father-in-law also was diagnosed with cancer. It was through him that I again heard of Padre Pio. I can’t say I really began praying to him at that time, but it did serve to remind me of my first experiences and feelings towards this holy man. (Trying to keep this short, I urge you to click here on Padre Pio to read an earlier blog which describes Padre Pio’s impact on my operation to free me of cancer.

A brief synopsis would be: though the operation was a success a catheter bag would constantly fill up with crimson urine. This condition lasted for close to five weeks. It cleared up on the day I was supposed to go on a Padre Pio retreat. I was unable to go on the retreat because of this condition, so St. Pio came to me. God once again chose to forcefully touch my life and show me His goodness and desire for me to straighten out my life.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my bladder operation. Last week. I went to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital for my six month checkup. The Cat scans, the chest x-rays, the blood work, all of which had been done for the checkup everything came out negative with no new cancer growth. Cathy and I were ecstatic over the findings and both felt a tremendous worry and burden lifted. When leaving the hospital garage, the first car that we see has the license plate:        PDRE PIO.        We looked at each other incredulously. How many thousands of cars go by that hospital every day? How many cars have that license plate? THAT car passes by that hospital, by us, as we emerge from the garage. That car might have even made a wrong turn at some point, and in so doing passes by us. God DOES care for us. He is in each and every one of our lives. He really is.

I have mentioned on many occasions in these blogs that all of us have our problems and struggles. To act like we don’t have these is an affront to our fellow man, ourselves and our God. His desire is for us to reach out to everyone. We must show everyone that He loves and is concerned about us. With God there is no coincidence. He is constantly with us, teaching us, guiding us and shaping our lives. He does not force. He merely presents us with choices, which we can lovingly accept or ignore. The choice is always ours.

If You Hear My Voice

“If you should hear My voice, harden not your hearts.” This is a phrase we hear time and again in the Bible. The God, who made us, loves us and is concerned about us, He cautions us not to turn a deaf ear. If we should hear his voice!! He is not saying, “If I should speak to you”. That is a given. God constantly speaks to us. The question is, “Will we hear it”?

God pours Himself out to us always. His love speaks to us in a cool breeze when we are hot and uncomfortable. He manifests His greatness and beauty in those magnificent sunrises and sunsets. He sends us friends who console us, are concerned about us. He sees our worries and concerns, our fears, our transgressions. Through all of these He assures us that His love is constant. It does not waver. He does not waver. He is beside us, strengthening us so that we can cope.

“If you should hear My voice…” – the important word is IF. How many times do we see, hear, feel and experience all of the above and simply pass them off as “nice”, or “refreshing”, or “co-incidences”? If we truly believe that God is infinite, that He loves us totally, then why would we think that He doesn’t speak to us constantly? Maybe, we need to ask ourselves a question. Do we believe He is infinite? Do we believe that He loves us totally? Do we believe that He speaks to us constantly?  What do we believe?

This infinite God constantly displays His goodness, His love, His beauty, His faithfulness. This same God also gave us free-will. It is up to us to seek Him out, to find Him, to hear His voice. He will not shout His word at us, so that we must believe His message. He presents it in the flutter of a butterfly’s wings, in the rustle of a tree’s leaves, in a cool wind, in the smile of an acquaintance. But, in our anxiousness over an illness, an unsettling day, an unruly child, in all our worries and concerns we can easily miss God’s voice. His voice will be heard in a normal, everyday kind of experience. And, at that time, in that place, under those circumstances it is something totally unexpected but, oh so totally meaningful. “Why, right now, did that happen?” We know it is special to us. We know it is God speaking to us. About what …? Its significance, its meaning is for us to ascertain. Here is where we delve into His words for us and understand their significance. We must be open to His thoughts and apply them to our lives. This is where the rest of the phrase comes into play. “…Harden not your hearts”.

Help My Unbelief

Today’s Gospel has one of the simplest and most beautiful prayers that we can utter. The Gospel is from Mark 9:14-19 and is the one about Jesus curing the boy possessed by a demon. The distraught father wants desperately for Jesus to cure his son, and literally begs Jesus to drive out the evil spirit. He tells Jesus, your disciples tried, but could not. “If you can do anything have pity on us and help us”. To which Jesus replies, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” He is telling the father, it is up to you and your belief. Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe, help my unbelief”.

The father recognizes his own failings, his shortcomings. He needs assurance that God will make everything right. On being told that all things are possible to him who believes, the man cries out, using words such as: I believe, I believe, Oh God I want to believe. Help my lack of belief. I want my son to be cured.
Doesn’t this touch all of us? Deep within us, we know our faults, our short comings, our laziness, our pride. We don’t want the evils of the world to touch us, or our families. We want to be above all of those trials. “I know”, we think, “I will pray to God and He will make everything alright.” So we hurriedly rattle off a few prayers, maybe even from the depths of our souls… and then we look around. What has happened? What has God done for us? We prayed as we are supposed to do. What happened? “Nothing???, Nothing at all???” Dejected, we shuffle off, muttering to ourselves, “There is no God”. Or “God doesn’t care about me.” We move on to our next distraction to help us forget the pain that we feel.

Jesus alerted the man, and all the generations since, that belief in Him accomplishes the miracles we desperately crave. We pray the Creed, at Mass, “I believe in…” Say that prayer. Dissect every phrase. What does it mean? What does it call from us? Do we passionately believe that God created all things? The Earth? Sun? Moon? MAN? Do we REALLY believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do we really believe that He died and rose for all of mankind? These are not pretty phrases designed to fill a void. Our belief structure is being laid on the line. We are not saying we understand these things. But, we are saying we believe in them.

Belief is defined as the mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another, even when logic struggles. Trust, there’s that word again. Not my will, but Thine be done. I trust you, Lord. Yes, I trust and accept whatever you send my way, because you love me… but don’t let my house burn down… but let me be happy the rest of my life… but don’t make me give up everything I want and like. I will do your will, but not right now. This moment is for me.

These are all human exclamations. But they can be so much more. Jesus wants us to rise above ourselves. He wants us to blindly put ourselves in His hands, to trust him, and let Him raise us still higher. I believe Lord. I want to believe, Lord. Lord, help my unbelief.

You may wish to click here THE INDEX TO THE APOSTLES CREED This will branch you to a blog that was presented earlier. There you can go to any one of sixteen different topics on the Creed.

What We Bring to Church

Love bonds us together

Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending Mass at St. Rose of Lima’s Catholic Church, in Gaithersburg, Md. We had had a family function, and Sunday morning we went to my daughter-in-law’s parents’ parish church. While there, the reality of the Catholicity (or Universality) of the Church became so very obvious to me.

The Mass, no matter where we are, the rituals, the liturgy is always the same, providing us that comfortable feeling of being home. No matter what Catholic Church we attend, we know that the liturgy will be familiar to us. The readings and Gospel, the structure, the overall theme is similarly celebrated throughout the world. This sameness is not one of dullish repetition, but of the singular beauty of a belief, universally believed. However, the one thing that will always vary from community to community, from church to church, is the manifestation of these beliefs in song.

The beauty of the Mass is always there for us to be wrapped-up in, to allow us to commune with our God, to humbly give thanks. However, the choice of hymns, the participation in song, the reverence of the people, the feeling of joy manifested by those worshipping their God, these did so much to help people, even out-of-towners feel the closeness of God in that church. We go to church, and too often, it is almost something that is endured. We speak of the Sunday Mass in terms of, “the nine thirty”, or the “eleven o’clock”, much like a train schedule. We have taken something so beautiful and tried to transform it into something mundane, something commonplace.

Each Sunday, we attend, we participate, and we celebrate the Eucharist. For one short period, we can step away from the maddening pace of this world, and kneel before our God. Like Thomas, we can raise our eyes to the elevated host and say, “My Lord and my God”. If we really believe that God is Love, then the bond of love that we have for each other shows clearly what is meant by the Mystical Body of Christ. We are joined with each other. We feel each others’ pains and sorrows. Each person that we come into contact with is a manifestation of Christ, Himself. We cannot love Christ and not love each other. This attitude of love, of concern for others, we bring to church, each Sunday. No, better said would be: we, who are connected with one another, in love with one another, concerned about one another, we ARE the Church. And if we are dissatisfied with the Church, we are dissatisfied with ourselves.

I would be remiss, if I did not say something about the Church of St. Rose of Lima. If I were a movie critic, secretly evaluating churches, I would have to rate St. Rose of Lima’s Church as 5 of 5. I don’t know what impressed me more, the thoughtful layout of the church, the beautiful utilization of a huge tree for both the altar top and pulpit, the baptismal area with its flowing waters, or the soft banners hung high above, pictorially depicting the flames of the Holy Spirit. But, all of this beautiful symbolism would be meaningless without the most beautiful aspect of this church, the people who were present. Their devout attitude was reflected in the harmonious singing of both congregation and choir. The spirit and bonds of these people make this church an exemplar to be held up for other communities to emulate.

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

These words of Jesus to His Apostles are a wake up call for all of us. Continue reading