Tag Archive: God’s love for us


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

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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: 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

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

What is The Will of God?

trust-gods-willsmall

Have you ever noticed that when something bad happens, like when someone is ill, or has recently passed away, we immediately speak about it being God’s Will. We seem to associate all the bad things that happen to us, as being because God wanted them to be that way. Really?!? Do we think that God goes over His charts and thinks to Himself, what kind of evil will I bring down on him or her, today?

Why is it we never speak of God’s Will when things are going smoothly? When was the last time we said something like, “It’s God’s Will that He wants me to be happy”? He wants my children to be healthy? God is watching over our family and protecting us? I believe we are entrenched in time, waiting for the next shoe to drop. We measure time from event to event. And so, not knowing when the event will happen, and never thinking about the good events, we seem to expect that the next thing that does happen…will be bad.

We don’t pay attention to all of the good that happens in our lives, so we never treat the “good days” as anything special. But they are! Each day we wake up holds the promise of hope. Anything might happen. And all of it is seen by God, and He allows the events to unfold, to happen. He doesn’t dangle the good days over our heads like a carrot, just to coax us along. He loves us. He truly loves us.

We continually put God in the box of time. We find it impossible to think of a Being, or an Intellect that transcends time. If we are in it, then He must be in here, too. God, our loving Father and Creator, knows each of us by a unique name. When He calls that name, we will recognize it; and as fast as we can, we will fly back to Him for all eternity. The whole reason why we are here on earth is to live our lives in such a fashion that we will be doing God’s Will, not fearing it.

He does exist. He did create all of us. He loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He wants only what is best for us. As the days unwind, as they play out before us, each of us has the opportunity to mesh with God’s Will. This infinite God, with an infinite plan for each of us lovingly waits for us to embrace the events of the day, to accept His plan, to embrace our God.

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

1) Worries In Our Lives
2) Trust Or Control
3) God’S Call Of Love
4) God’S Plan For You

“O Lord, help me to understand your ways. At times I am
unable to understand them and I cannot see them. But take
me by the hand, as if I were a child, and lead me where you
want me to go, so that your will is done in me. Amen.” -1

Rather than putting a picture at the top, as I usually do, I felt that this prayer was much more explicit. I urge you to get a copy of Neil Velez’s book, “By His Wounds”, and read it. No, that is not correct, don’t just read it. Let it pour into your soul. Let it lift you up and let you feel the closeness and love of Jesus.

The prayer at the top, pray it slowly. Right now, stop reading this blog and pray the prayer with feeling, wanting desperately, to be one with its words. I will wait………. Now, isn’t that prayer saying everything that you feel, that you want? “O Lord, help me to understand your ways.” We spend our lifetime, looking for how we are to lead our lives, and never really being satisfied. What should we do? What magical way is there for me to become a better person? This quest, this desire haunts us, continuously. But our error lies in thinking that WE can do something, through our own efforts. You know, we do think too highly of ourselves, of the value and validity of our efforts. Lord, help me understand what you want, what your ways are.

This prayer continues on as to why we need the help of God. We don’t understand His ways, and most times we don’t even want to see them. We know what we want. We know what we desire, what we expect, and what we look for. But, truly, think of your life, how have you lived, and are living. Does it really mesh with God’s Will? For me, I know most often, I wrestle with a problem as to what direction I should be going. In the tossing and turning, something enters my mind, and I believe it is good, and so, I pursue it, AS THOUGH IT IS GOD’S WILL. Is it? Is this really what He wants of me? I don’t know, but it seems right, and so I clamor after it. I fear that most often I like the feeling, the emotional uplift, and as a result, proclaim to my mind, and my heart that this must be God’s Will. How is it for you?

God loves us. He really does love us. He created us, not for his own enjoyment, but that we could experience what Love is all about. What He is all about! Think of everything that this Heavenly Father has done for us. Life, no matter how difficult, provides us with the opportunity to love and be loved by God. We can see His beauty in the snow-capped mountains, the amazing sunsets, and a baby’s smile. He is all around us, loving us, and yes, protecting us. So, it is only natural that we be not afraid of Him, but trust in Him. Take my hand, Lord, as if I were a child and lead me where YOU want me to go, so that your will is done in me. We both know, Lord, that left to my own devices, I may not be able to find, nor follow your ways. I willingly give you my hand. Take it. Lead me. I trust in you. I, truly, trust in you. Amen.

-1 By His Wounds by Neil Velez, MDJ Ministries, Inc.
http://www.missionerosdejesus.org

A Birthday Gift for YOU!

happy birthday

I thought I would do something different today. Today, July 21st is my birthday. I am not saying this to garner gifts. Birthday cards and well-wishes are not being sought after. No, on the contrary, I am giving you a glimpse into my life. This is my gift to you, so to speak, of how I, a real, living person have experienced God throughout his life.

I grew up in North Philly, a few short blocks from a gang hangout. I was strong for my age, but fighting other gangs did not have any appeal for me. If I walked a little distance farther to the north there was a park. Now, sports, they DID have an appeal for me; and whatever the season I could go up there and play until it was time to come home for dinner. This was, for the most part, how I grew up. Competing and playing, striving to win, and on occasion, bearing the weight of losing. On looking back at this time of my life, I realize, now, that God was gently guiding me. He gave me a burning desire for sports, and NOT for gang fights. A shorter walk to the west and my life’s path would have been totally different. I have no desire to know where that path would have led me. But I believe, even then, God was nudging me in the direction He wanted.

Our family life was poor. Let me re-phrase that, we were poor, but our family life was rich in love. We never knew we were poor. Finances never seemed as being oppressive to our parents, so we, the children, never considered ourselves as ever being in need. (I am sure my mom and dad thought about the lack of money in the house, but they never once succumbed to its need, nor showed us…………….) We grew up knowing we were loved, and that was all that we needed.

Sadly, when I was married my maturity hadn’t grown very much. I thought primarily of myself, my needs. It is a miracle that my wonderful wife even consented to being married to me. Here again, I (we) believe that God stepped in and let us meet each other, and grow together with each other. My marriage was the most important step that I had ever taken to begin growing. And, I didn’t even realize it at the time. We complimented each other. We completed each other. We grew together in a marriage that was guided by God.

The first twenty or thirty years, of our forty two year marriage, seemed to fly by. We had been blessed with two sons, who I, unfortunately, gave them the same craving to compete and to win. (The sins of the parents fall, sadly, onto the children, I am afraid.) And, to some extent, my immaturity prevented me from giving them a stronger foothold on life. However, I can truthfully say that during this time, I was feeling a need to “DO” something. What it was, I wasn’t sure. But I felt that I should be doing something. I ought to be doing something. (More on this later.)

My first realization that I wasn’t invincible came in 2002 when I had a heart attack. But the real kicker was the removal of my cancerous bladder, in 2008. We often ask, “Why, God?” But these …negatives, by worldly standards, were really God taking a more active step in my life. See my “Padre Pio” blog for a better understanding of what I mean. After this last operation, and the Padre Pio experience, I started to realize that the “should do” and the “ought to do” that I mentioned earlier are nothing more than the language of obligation. (As if I could ever pay back my indebtedness to my God and Savior.) I began to want to do something. I want to love Him. I truly desire to help people see His goodness, His love for them. God’s ways are not our ways. We are constricted by time, He is not. We want to see progress immediately. God allows the progress to come when, and as, we are ready for it.

After the operation, as the months and years passed by, different people came into my life. Situations came up that required a move in a slightly different direction. I had to read more, to accommodate these situations. None of these people did I seek out. They seemed to just materialize into my life. Once again, God was gently nudging me. Opportunities to teach RCIA, to be a Eucharistic Minister, to visit people in the hospital, all seemed to gradually enter my life. More paths appeared before me, and gingerly at first, I tried them out.

The purpose of this piece is not to be a biography, but rather an example of His goodness. He bestows His love on each of us in an infinite manner, in an infinite way. We could not hold any more, if we wanted to. Each of  us have lives that travel different routes. No one’s life is better than the life of someone else. Each life has its bumps, its valleys. And each life has God guiding us, helping us, encouraging us to embrace Him. Our lives, yours and mine, have good and bad spots. Sometimes we can think that the bad spots will never end. Do we truly believe that a God who is good, that a God who loves us, that a God who sent His Son to die for us, doesn’t care about us? His love for us is endless. He is constantly aware of us (you and me). His arms are embracing us, always. Be patient. Be aware that He loves you. Trust Him as you have never trusted anyone. He does love you. He is aware of you. He is simply waiting for you to reach out to Him and trust Him. Thank you, God.

Come Back to Me

return to God2

I have not written anything new since June 13, of 2013. To those who have been patiently coming back to see if anything new was published, I can only say, “I am sorry, and thank you”. To all I offer my sincerest apologies and hope that it won’t happen again. Having said that, today’s blog is a continuation of the 6/13/2013 blog: “Mankind and God: Body and Soul”.  I don’t blame you if you don’t remember what it said, so just click the underlined title above and it will take you to that blog.

Starting from there then, we have God as our Creator bringing into existence the entire universe, planets, stars, moon, sun and our own planet, earth. The infinity of God’s beauty and love surrounds us, each and every day. And, all of this beauty was created for one purpose…us. What other aspect of creation can appreciate the beauty of God? What planet, or star, or rock, or plant, or animal can see all of these wonders and experience the overwhelming magnificence of an eternal creator? Only mankind can. We say that God is infinite. We say that His love for us is infinite. He not only created us, out of His infinite love, but that same infinite love surrounded us with everything that we could possibly need, or want. (If you or I had been in the place of God and doing the creating, how much would we have done after the creation of the person, himself? Would we have thought about where he might want to go, to explore space, when he was ready (thousands of years from then)?)

In each person, in you and me, God elevated this human animal to a state that we had no right to expect. We have a body, a mind, and a soul. He put in each of us, a part of Himself; He gave us a soul. The soul is that part of us that craves to be re-united back with God. The body and mind stop functioning after death. But the soul, participating in God’s divine plan, strives, no, yearns to be embraced by God, again.

So, this infinite God breaks out His infinite plan. In each and every person whoever walked, walks or will walk on this earth God has placed a part of Himself in them. And in this soul that we possess, each of us has implanted in it a purpose, a goal, a piece of God’s plan. We are ALL called to be holy. We are ALL called to fulfill that portion of God’s plan that is in us. Each part of that plan is different for each one of us. We must find out on our own, what God’s plan is for us. The fulfillment of His plan culminates in our re-joining our God for all eternity. We call it Heaven, but is it not the presence of God that makes it heaven? And, sadly, if we don’t re-join our God for all eternity… what do we call that?

This all sounds like a pretty story, a fable with a happy/sad ending. But God gave us something else, when He created us. He gave us free-will. What kind of a gift would this gift of life be, if like a robot, we walked this earth, doing what our maker programmed into us? His infinite love for us also gave us this freedom to decide what we wanted to do, to say, and how to act. This free will to choose also applies to our response to God. If my love for you existed only because you have a gun to my head, then that would not be love at all. (You cannot dispute that statement.) So too, God does not force us to love Him. He does not force us to carry out His plan. We have a choice. We have free will.

Summing up then, God’s plan, for each of us, is that we have life, we have our own goal, and we have a portion of God’s plan. If we put that plan into motion, it will bring us back into the arms of God for all eternity. The ONLY thing that can prevent that plan from coming to fruition for each of us is our free will. What is our choice? There are many things to decide upon. What do we crave? What pulls our attention away from God?  Popularity, wealth, material goods, power, position, sex, drugs, complacency, laziness, hatred, anger, pride, worry, fear, jealousy, the list is endless. If we are to truly be a thoughtful, reasoning person, then we must look at this list and decide what it is that is interfering with our love of God. All of the above will move us farther away from Him, until He becomes a myth, a child’s story, a fable. Yes, we are free to choose our own life style. But I would caution you, that before you choose your life style talk with God and find out what His plan is for you. Then put your free will into action.

Mankind and God: Body and Soul

breath of God

We all know the story of creation, and how it is told in seven days. On the sixth day, God is depicted as breathing life into mankind. The writer, in Genesis, with imagery so prophetic, has life itself being breathed into man. And yet, the other animals living in the sea, in the air and on the ground are simply made. Something special is being depicted here with the creation of mankind. God is breathing life into this human animal. Why?

Whenever reference is made to the spirit of God, in both the old and new testaments of the Bible, it seems to always be being depicted as wind, breath or even a sigh. It is never described as something physical. It is not something that can be touched. The writer shows God as “breathing” life into man. There is something special, something unique about this creature, mankind. It has rationality, yes. It can think and plan, yes. But it can also contemplate concepts, non-physical realities. To do this, there must be, has to be, something non-physical in mankind’s makeup.

We speak of human mankind as being made up of body and soul. We know the body. We can see it, cut it, and look inside it. It is very physical, very apparent. But what of the soul, where is it? We can speak of its characteristics, its spirit, its goodness, but these are all byproducts, if you will, of the soul. What is the soul?

When God breathed into mankind, He imparted part of Himself into each one of us. He did not lose anything of Himself, but rather He shared something of Himself with us. This something, this spiritual aspect of ourselves, we call our soul. We have been entrusted with this goodness. Through this process of breathing into us, our animal nature has been elevated to a sublime condition. We are not god. But something, what it is we don’t know, is within us, craving for that re-union, once again. St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”.-1

But here is the rub. Each one of us has this craving within. However, we don’t always recognize that it is for closeness to God. We feel the craving, but try to fill it with other things. This is where we get confused and mixed up. We try to satisfy this craving with material things of this world, with wealth, with possessions, with power over people, with prestige, with food, and drink, and drugs and sex. We judge others that don’t measure up to our standards. We set ourselves as the measuring stick, having nothing to do with God. We console ourselves that everyone else is pursuing these goals, so it must be alright. In the process, we ignore God. He is shoved to the back of our minds. He is no longer the center of our pursuit.

I know it is anthropomorphic (ascribing human characteristics to God), but I almost wonder if God feels sadness, or disappointment when He sees us (mankind) pursuing worldly glitters as substitutes for Himself. He sends His son to show us how to live, how to pray, how to love our God. And mankind nails Jesus to a cross. Forget it. No thank you. We will take our golden calves, our pleasures of the world. We will seek out the glitter of temporal things and shove the Christ to the back of our minds… or out of them completely.

Oh God. What are we doing? You created this entire universe, not for yourself, to see if you could. You did not create it for the mindless animals, but for a mankind that can think, and love and laugh. You have put some aspect of yourself into each of us, so that we all could experience the joy of meshing with each other and ultimately with You. In seeking out the goodness of sharing, the goodness of helping, and the goodness of loving we would learn the highest form of life possible, namely, one of caressing creature with creature, creature with creator. We have forgotten how to deny ourselves for the good of others. We have chosen rather to seek out only that which will advance ourselves, make us happy, or fulfill our needs. How many times we have said, “We are sorry”. And yet, we don’t change our ways. We still seek out only those things which reward ourselves.

Help us learn to realize the beauty of Jesus’ words, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.” -2 The re-union of man’s soul and God is the only reward that should be before us. We wonder what Heaven will be like. Heaven will be the re-uniting of creature with Creator. The sublime joy of once again being caressed by God, our heavenly Father.

-1 The Confessions
-2 John 14:6

Jesus 1to 5

No matter what your “ISM” is, it still needs Jesus. Let me explain. Agnosticism (Don’t know about God’s existence), Atheism (There is no God), Islamism, Buddhism, Shintoism, (all of these believe in a god or gods as their basis of religion but go no farther), Judaism (belief in one God but still waiting for the Messiah), Protestantism and Catholicism, (belief in one God and the Messiah came in the person of Jesus), all of these need Someone to represent their god.(See NOTE below)

Without a Jesus, God would be an impersonal deity, perched somewhere, probably above, looking down at his creation and who knows what. And that is exactly, my point. Who knows what? He would be impersonal. How can I say that? To be personal with his creation, he would have to reveal himself to it. Would nature alone be sufficient for man to develop a relationship with his god? I can’t see how a tree, or clouds, or mountains (though beautiful) would help man feel a closeness with his god, feel a bonding with his creator. Without Jesus, god would be mysterious, unknown, and probably looked upon as one to be feared.

So Jesus is not a myth to be viewed at Christmas time. He is not a child’s fairy tale. He is not someone who was dreamed up to impress people. No. He really walked this earth. In fact, He made such an impression on His times that people tried as best they could to put together a chronicle of the events that surrounded Him. He did live. Even natural historians of the time, wrote about him in their writings of the day. And, His followers also documented the events, not for historical purposes, but so that others might be able to glean a glimpse of Him, to impart a feeling of the importance of this person.

With statements, like ‘…the Father and I are one”, and “…he who sees me, sees the Father”, we get to realize that this MAN was not like any other. That same God, who we hold as the author of life, the creator of the universe, He came to live among His people. He came to show them how to live, how to treat one another, and how important each person is on this earth. Through His goodness, His love, His willingness to die for His creation, we get to know our God as a God of love. Yes there is a moral law. Yes we will be held accountable. But we also know that this God really cares for us. How do we know it? Because of Jesus! His way of life, His concern for ALL people, His stressing, again and again, the importance of living lives that are selfless, all of these showed us a God who is personal.

Ok, of all the “isms” then, Catholicism and Protestantism are the big winners! Right??? WRONG!!!! If their Jesus is merely a figurehead, then these religions aren’t any better than the other isms. If we put Him on a pedestal to be adored, worshipped, and prayed to… BUT NOT imitated, nor emulated, then He might as well be a myth. If we put Jesus on a cross accomplishing salvation for a mankind that grossly ignores and does not care about His message, then I hope He was a myth. I can’t imagine how a God/Man would feel knowing He sacrificed His all, He suffered almost intolerable pain, He was mocked at, ridiculed and scorned by His executioners, and the people who He loves, who He dies for, didn’t care. His life and death really didn’t matter to them, at all.

It is time for all of us to seriously look at our own lives. Don’t view your lives through those tinted glassed you have been wearing. WHAT IS CATHOLICISM? It is not just following a bunch of rules and regulations. I must go to Mass on the weekend. I should not eat meat on Good Friday. I must observe Holy Days of obligation. It is not “do this” and “don’t do that”. It is your loving of Jesus so much, that you want to be Him. You want to live as He lives. You want to view other people, not as you want them to be, but as they are, right now, struggling, dirty, foul mouthed, uncaring and still be willing to help them, care for them, still be willing to die for them. But to love Jesus that much, you must know Him, talk with Him, and view yourself as He sees you, as you are, not as you want to be. It is time to put away those rose colored glasses and see the world as it is. It is time to recognize that Jesus was not saying “Hey, look at me”. He was saying to all of us, “Hey, BE ME.”

NOTE: This is not a dissertation about any religion (including Catholicism). It is intended only to point out that it is time for ALL peoples of this earth to start seeing each other as brothers and sisters, and not as someone to be taken advantage of, nor persecuted. We ALL look up at God, the same God. We ALL are children of that same God.

love one another

Yesterday, after Mass, a woman approached me, and asked if my name was such and such. I told her it was. She then told me how much she enjoyed “TheSteppingStones“. I was surprised and pleasantly pleased inside. I am writing this to let her know that she doesn’t realize what a gift she gave me. For you see, I was having my doubts as to whether or not this blog site was of any benefit to anyone. In short, I was doubting the words and authority of Jesus. I was doubting that Jesus could work wonders, even with my puny attempts.

I would like to use that encounter as a springboard to this topic, namely, Our Actions: Their Influence on People. We have spoken many times about doing good, being kind and thoughtful, giving people the opportunity to laugh and we always have that action ending with bringing Christ to people. I would like to try, here and now, to connect the dots. How does a good action, or a kind or thoughtful word, or bringing a smile to a person’s face…how do these actually bring Jesus to people? In and of themselves …… they don’t. It is not like any action of ours will force Jesus’ presence to someone. We can’t think to ourselves, “That person over there, I will make him smile and he will think of Jesus”.

The answer lies in our love for Jesus. That is NOT a stretch. It is the truth. It is staring us in the face. God does not want us to be super heroes. He does not expect extraordinary sacrifices from us. He created man a little less than the angels. We are human beings. He wants us to be HUMAN. The woman after Mass did not think to herself, “I will help him feel better. I will tell him I like his blog site.” She doesn’t know if I am concerned about the blog site or not. She does not know what my thoughts are. She was just being human and told me of her appreciation of the site. That was it pure and simple. End of story….????

No, not the end, it is the beginning. Jesus showed us how to act, how to love, how to treat others, how to respect others. Why do we do this? Why do we listen to Him? Do we get a gold star? No, if we treat EVERYONE with love, concern and respect, because we love Jesus, then we give Jesus the opportunity to work through us. We might want to say one thing, but it comes out just a little bit differently. We might even wonder afterwards, “Why did I say that”, or “Why did I use that word”. We will probably never know if our words had any effect on someone. And so, we walk off wishing we could do something for Jesus, anything.  Meanwhile, the other person has a glow in their heart, a feeling of warmth, that wasn’t there before our action. Don’t you see? We can’t plan what good actions we are to do. We can only love Jesus for all that He has done for us. We can only thank Him for the example He has given us.

His words to us are, “Love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” -1 If we, the church of God, the Body of Christ, loved Jesus above everything else, there would be no stopping the flow of love throughout the world. We wouldn’t have the madness that exists, today. If we love one another, AS Jesus loves us, how could we NOT love one another?  Don’t relegate your prayer life to an after- thought. It is your talking to Jesus, your God. Grow to know Him, grow to feel His presence in and around you. Grow to love Him. If you do this you WILL love all that you meet. You won’t have to think, “What should I say to him, or her”. Treat them with the love that Christ gives you. Your words will speak for themselves.

Finally, to the woman in church, if you should be reading this, “Thank you. This is one of those occasions when you DO know that Jesus used you to speak to someone.”

1- John 13,14

Our Purpose in Life

Lord, you are so beautiful. You and you alone will satisfy my hunger. All that you have created is beautiful. Why do I not seek you out, every moment of the day? Why am I only thinking of myself? Every time we rush to get ahead of someone, we think only of ourselves. Every time we lust after a woman or a man, we think only of ourselves. We don’t care about the other person. We wish only to use them for our satisfaction, for our pleasure. We hate. We steal. We abuse. We murder. When do we do all of these things? Whenever, we put our own interests above those of other people.

Why is this so? All that I desire should be you and you alone. But, very often, you are farthest from my thoughts. This world, our world, your world is filled with such beauty. We would see it, if we would but only stop for a moment and quietly look. Every tree, every flower, butterfly, lady bug, squirrel, rabbit, everything …has a purpose. We have a purpose. I have a purpose. If this were a painting, each aspect of it would occupy an integral part. But, this IS a painting…Your painting. And each of us has a role to play, a purpose. You have created this world for the benefit of mankind. Its beauty reflects your own beauty. It is your gift.

Each of us has been created and is part of your loving, divine plan. Each of us has a purpose in your creation. And yet, our lives many times shout out, “To hell with my purpose”. I want only to satisfy myself. And in so doing, THAT has become our sole purpose, our own satisfaction, our own gratification. In short we are saying, “To hell with others and their needs, only I matter.” You do matter. You are important to others. Others are important to you. We are the dots of paint that blend into the entire theme of life. We are part of creation. We depend upon others and others depend upon us. You cannot abandon other people. To do so, you will abandon the purpose of your life.

If God can cry, or hurt, or be disappointed, we can only imagine what is felt when we and all that we do are seen by God. His love for us is infinite. His patience for us is infinite. His just reward for us will also be infinite. This is not to discourage us, but rather to help us grow and come closer to Him. The only way we can do that is to pursue our purpose in life, the purpose He gave us when creating us.

You say that you don’t know what your purpose in life is? He has told us through His Word, His Son and His Spirit. The Scriptures cry out in every passage about the love of God, the mercy of God or the justice of God. Jesus, his Son, said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. He has shown us how to live, how to act, how to grow close to God. The Spirit of God fills us continually with His love. What is our reaction to all of these? Do we look within and see our faults, our waywardness. When we see this do we try, really try, to resolve our ways? Do we burn inside with a desire to reach out for God? Do we realize that in reaching out to our fellow man, (the rest of creation), we reach out to God, Himself? Or… do we turn our heads away? Do we rationalize how good we are most of the time? Do we favorably compare our self to others? At least I am not like…

      I came across this, and immediately wondered how I could get as many people as possible to see and read this.  This is not an easy read. I would recommend you reading as much as you can, but stop when it seems to be  being labored. Just think of what you have read and meditate on it. Maybe the next day or so, continue where you left off and repeat that process. There is much here. It is re-printed, as it is. No changes have been made. The author and the work that this is found in is printed at the bottom of this excerpt.

THE COURAGE TO ACCEPT ACCEPTANCE by Peter Van Breeman, S.J.

There is a basic principle in theology which states that faith or Scripture contains the answer to the deepest questions of the human heart.  Faith is about life, my life.  Faith is like x-raying my human existence.  It helps me to live better, to be more human, to be more integrated.  Faith is to discover that there is only a oneness:  God is the deepest Ground of my being.

The Question

One of the deepest needs of the human heart is the need to be appreciated.  Every human being wants to be valued.  This is not to say that everybody wants to be told by others how wonderful he is.  No doubt there is that desire, too, but that is not fundamental.  We could say that every human being wants to be loved.  But even this admits of ambiguity.  There are as many varieties of love as there are species of flowers.  For some people, love is something passionate; for others, it is something romantic; for others, love is something merely sexual.  There is, however, a deeper love, a love of acceptance.  Every human being craves to be accepted, accepted for what he is.  Nothing in human life has such a lasting and fatal effect as the experience of not being completely accepted.  When I am not accepted, then something in me is broken.  A baby who is not welcome is ruined at the roots of his existence.  A student who does not feel accepted by his teacher will not learn.  A man who does not feel accepted by his colleagues on the job will suffer from ulcers, and be a nuisance at home.  Many of the life histories of prisoners reveal that somewhere along the way they went astray because there was no one who really accepted them.  Likewise, when a religious does not feel accepted by her community, she cannot be happy.  A life without acceptance is a life in which a most basic human need goes unfulfilled.

Acceptance means that the people with whom I live give me a feeling of self-respect, a feeling that I am worthwhile.  They are happy that I am who I am.  Acceptance means that I am welcome to be myself.  Acceptance means that though there is need for growth, I am not forced.  I do not have to be the person I am not!  Neither am I locked in by my past or present.  Rather I am given room to unfold, to outgrow the mistakes of the past.  In a way we can say that acceptance is an unveiling.  Every one of us is born with many potentialities.  But unless they are drawn out by the warm touch of another’s acceptance they will remain dormant.  Acceptance liberates everything that is in me.  Only when I am loved in that deep sense of complete acceptance can I become myself.  The love, the acceptance of other persons, makes me the unique person that I am meant to be.  When a person is appreciated for what he does, he is not unique; someone else can do the same work perhaps even better than he.  But when a person is loved for what he is, then he becomes a unique and irreplaceable personality.  So indeed, I need that acceptance in order to be myself.  When I am not accepted, I am a nobody.  I cannot come to fulfillment.  An accepted person is a happy person because he is opened up, because he can grow.

To accept a person does not mean that I deny his defects, that I gloss over them or try to explain them away.  Neither does acceptance mean to say that everything the person does is beautiful and fine.  Just the opposite is true.  When I deny the defects of the person, then I certainly do not accept him.  I have not touched the depth of that person.  Only when I accept a person can I truly face his defects.

To express it in a negative way:  acceptance means that I never give a person the feeling that he doesn’t count.  Not to expect anything from a person is tantamount to killing him, making him sterile.  He cannot do anything.  It is said that children with rickets scratch lime from the walls.  People who are not accepted scratch acceptance from the walls.  And what are the symptoms?  

  • boasting:  in a subtle or obvious way they provide themselves with the praise they want so badly.
  • rigidity:  a lack of acceptance causes a lack of security on the path of life and, a fortiori, lack of courage to risk one step to either side of the path.
  • inferiority complex:  this simply defines the above conditions.
  • masturbation or any other superficial joy:  deep down there is so much lacking that they endeavor to get whatever they can out of life in an easy way.
  • the desire to assert themselves, the frightful power to impose themselves, the excessive need for attention, the tendency to feel threatened, to exaggerate, to gossip, to suspect others:  these are other symptoms of lack of acceptance.The really balanced person does not have to indulge in these measures.  Erik Erikson in his book, Young Man Luther, writes:   In (his) first relationship man learns something which most individuals who survive and remain sane can take for granted most of the time.  Only psychiatrists, priests and born philosophers know how sorely that something can be missed.  I have called his early treasure “basic trust;” it is the first psychosocial trait and the fundament of all others.  Basic trust in mutuality is that original ‘optimism’ that assumption that ‘somebody is there,’ without which we cannot live.  In situations in which such basic trust cannot develop in early infancy because of a defect in the child or in the maternal environment, children die mentally.  They do not respond or learn; they do not assimilate their food and fail to defend themselves against infection, and often they die physically as well as mentally.1

The Answer

I am accepted by God as I am–as I am, and not as I should be.  To proclaim the latter is an empty message because I never am as I should be.  I know that in reality I do not walk a straight path.  There are many curves, many wrong decisions which in the course of life have brought me to where I am now and Scripture tells me that “the place on which you stand is holy ground” (Ex 3:5).  God knows my name:  “See I have branded you on the palms of my hands” (Is 49:16).  God can never look at his hand without seeing my name.  And my name–that’s me!  He guarantees that I can be myself.  St. Augustine says, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still accepts you.”  That is the dream we all share: that one day I may meet the person to whom I can really talk, who understands me and the words I say–who can listen and even hear what is left unsaid, and then really accepts me.  God is the fulfillment of this dream.  He loves me with my ideals and disappointments, my sacrifices and my joys, my successes and my failures.  God is himself the deepest Ground of my being.  It is one thing to know I am accepted and quite another thing to realize it.  It is not enough to have but just once touched the love of God.  There is more required to build one’s life on God’s love.  It takes a long time to believe that I am accepted by God as I am.

How often have we been told that it is important that we love God.  And this is true.  But is it far more important that God loves us!  Our love for God is secondary.  God’s love for us is first:  “This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us” (1 John 4:10).  This is the foundation.  Karl Rahner once made the remark that we live in a time when there is much interest in Church politics (e.g. the pill, the reform of the curia, celibate priesthood).  This may be the sign of a deep faith.  It can also be the sign of a lack of faith.  The basic faith is that I know myself to be accepted by God:  “We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves” (1 John 4:16).  This is the content of our faith–“God’s love towards ourselves.”  The whole Apostles’ Creed is nothing but a statement twelve times over of belief in this very love which God has for us.

On the night before he died, Jesus prayed to the Father:  “that you love them as you loved me…so that your love for me may live in them: (John 17:23, 26. NAB).  It seems incredible that God loves us just as much as he loves his son, Jesus Christ.  Yet that is exactly what Scripture says.  We human beings are divided in many ways:  1) in time–For us, one minute comes after the other and our time is spread out.  It is not so with God.  God lives always in one ever present now.  There is no division.  Eternity means that the whole of time is condensed in this one moment which lasts forever; 2) in space–We have certain limited extensions  It is not so with God.  God is completely one; 3) in love–We are divided in our love.  We like a person very much (90%) or in an ordinary way (50%) or very little (20%).  God does not measure love.  God cannot but love totally–100%.  If we think God is a person who can divide his love, then we are thinking not of God but of ourselves.  God is perfectly one, the perfect unity.  We have love, but God is love.  His love is not an activity.  It is his whole self.  If we but grasp some idea of this, we understand that God could not possibly give 100% of his love to his Son and then 70% to us.  He would not be God if he could do that.  When we read the dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, we get the impression that God has nothing to do but simply occupy himself with Catherine.  And that is right.  The undivided attention of God is with her and with each of us.

Tillich defines faith as “the courage to accept acceptance” and he means acceptance by God.  We may think that such faith does not demand much courage.  On the contrary, it may sound sweet and easy.  But courage is required and very often it is courage that is lacking.  Why is it courageous to accept acceptance:  Firstly, when things happen to us which disappoint us, we are inclined to complain “How can God permit this?”  We begin to doubt the love of God.  It takes courage to believe in God’s acceptance no matter what happens to us.  Such an act of faith goes beyond my personal experience.  Faith is then an interpretation of life which I accept.  Secondly, God’s love is infinite.  We can never grasp it, never get hold of it, much less control it.  The only thing we can do is jump into its bottomless depth.  And we do not like to jump.  We are afraid to let go.  The Swedish convert Sven Stolpe says that faith means to climb a very high ladder, and there while standing on the very top of the ladder, to hear a voice which says, “Jump, and I’ll catch you.”  The one who jumps–he is the man of faith.  It is courageous to jump.  And there is the third reason which is more subtle but nonetheless real.  It is fairly easy to believe in God’s love in general but it is very difficult to believe in God’s love for me personally.  Why me?  There are very few people who can really accept themselves, accept acceptance.  Indeed, it is rare to meet a person who can cope with the problem “Why me?”  Self-acceptance can never be based on my own self, my own qualities.  Such a foundation would collapse.  Self-acceptance is an act of faith.  When God loves me, I must accept myself as well.  I cannot be more demanding than God, can I?  

van Breemen, S.J., Peter G. As Bread That Is Broken (Denville, NJ: Dimension Books, Inc., 1974) p.9-15.
1 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1958), 118.

Why Are You…. YOU?

Hello….??? Rise and Shine!!! It’s time to wake up…… And, so begins (sort of) our emergence from death’s sleep into …eternity. Who is standing before us when we are awakened? Is it an angel? Is it someone from our past? It wouldn’t be God…. Could it? There must be a hierarchy even in death. Who (or what) wakes us into eternity?

That is something we will discover when we read the eternal blog. Until then, maybe we should think a little about death, our death. This is not intended to be a morbid subject. Actually, I hope that it is anything BUT morbid. I used to know a priest friend that meditated on death. He had a full scale skeleton in his room. He did teach medical doctors about the anatomy of mankind, and hence, the skeleton.

Anyway, I digress. You may wonder what value is there in thinking about the hereafter. This is not an exercise to scare us into proper living, or ethical actions. This is just a reminder that an eternity does exist. This is to call back from the depths of our earliest memories, the fact that God, a loving God, created us with a purpose. He made this purpose unique for each one of us. Look at yourself in a mirror. There is something special about you, something that God gave to only you. That, “specialness”, entails a quality of thought, of feeling, of longing that you, and only you, have. And depending on that “specialness”, is a single purpose that you, and only you, have.

We need to examine our life. We need to look back and identify all the times, the many times, that God’s finger touched us. Those times, that God was involved with our life, may have guided us away from danger, or gently gave us another option to choose. However it was, whatever it was, His love for us moved Him in our behalf. Love is a strange commodity. It demands that the lover is ready to give all, just to help the one loved. The same demand exists for our God. His creatures, mankind, you and I are so totally loved by Him that He did give His all for us.

So what is it, that we have, that makes God take such an active interest in our life? An artist does not worry, or sacrifice for his creation, his art. Why would God be concerned about us? Worry for us? Die for us? I believe it all goes back to that single purpose that each of us have. Someone exists in this world whose path has crossed, or will cross, ours. That someone needs something which we have. His life depends on that single purpose which God has given to our life. Each person in this world has a need for someone else’s single purpose. And so, a web-like connection exists between all peoples. It is love that binds us together, that prompts us to be concerned about others. And through that love we are able to give what we have been given.

So why are we … here on earth? What is our purpose in life? God surely did not create mankind to see who could acquire more wealth than anyone else. God doesn’t jump for joy, just because we have more technical toys than others. The quest, for mankind’s purpose, is one that is very obvious and yet most difficult to attain. To discover our purpose in life, probably takes a life time. And the only way we can discover it is to see where God has been guiding us throughout that lifetime. What  thoughts, feelings and longings seem to be consistent, and constant, in our lives. Our life’s overall direction and the intertwining of those feelings and thoughts that we seem to always have, together they help us determine our purpose in life. They seem to be a compass showing us the direction our lives are headed, showing us what God has given to us to pass on to others.

We want to live so that our purpose is fulfilled. We want our lives to cry out that we thank our God. And, we do thank Him, whenever we treat ALL of His creatures with genuine love and concern for THEIR well-being. We give to our fellow man, whatever it is that we have, whatever it is that we have been blessed with, whatever it is that we have learned throughout our lifetime. We give ourselves.

So, who is it that is waking us up into eternity? Is it a smiling God, beaming with pride, that this creature found their purpose in life? Is it all the people that we helped throughout our lifetime? I hope so. I truly hope so.

Our Humanity Is…

What does it mean to be a human being? What are we speaking about when we talk about our humanity? What does the word humanity mean? Humanity is… (Don’t use ‘human being’ in the definition of humanity.) That which makes us feel? Or think? Or rejoice? Or love? Can humanity grow? Can we grow? Albert Einstein said that, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” What does that statement mean? More importantly, what does it say about mankind’s efforts to grow?

You can read this piece and say, “hogwash”, or maybe “that’s awesome”, or still maybe “so what?” The question doesn’t go away just because we ignore it. I remember hearing on TV once that if the automobile industry had made the same progress that the computer industry did in just its first 10 or 20 years, we would have all been driving in cars that would run all day on a gallon of gas. (… Or, maybe no gas at all??) Where would we be if we, as human beings, had made the same progress? Where would our world be, right now? What would our humanity be capable of at this time?

Our humanity is something special. Our creation by God has woven all mankind, the entire universe together. We are not distinct from one another. We are not competing with each other. We feel each other’s pain (or rather, we should feel the pain of the wounded, the dejected, the hopeless, and the ashamed). We are not distinct; we have a common bond. The common bond that joins us to one another is simply God. Whether we call Him, God, or Yahweh, or Mohammed, or whatever, we are revering the One Supreme Being that brought this world together. Yes, together. We in our infinite stupidity are separating this world. We think we are distinct. We think we are separate and must trample one another, be better than the next person, have more friends, more wealth, and more possessions. Why? Why, you ask. Why of course to get ahead and … be liked. We find it difficult to like ourselves, so we feel that no one else must like us either. So we accumulate … things … to prove our worth to ourselves, to show that we are lovable.

Christ walked this earth, showing us, showing all mankind, that we are truly brothers. “I have come to save sinners”, were His words. But they mean something. Who in all of mankind, other than Himself, does not fall into that grouping? You are no better or no worse than your next door neighbor. Each is loved by their Creator. Each was saved by their redeemer. The same “stuff” that went into their creation went into yours, as well. That “stuff” is the very spirit of God. The fire of His love burns in you, in each of us. Yes, of course, He knows how wretched we can be. He knows our depravity, our selfishness, our unwillingness to bend or yield. He sees the very depths that we are ashamed of… and wonder of wonders… He loves us!! He loves all that we can be. He sees us, as we were meant to be. And, He sees us as the struggling people that we are. Like the dog chasing his tail, we do not know how to get out of this endless repetitive circle.

But what if we could? What if we could break the circle and move on? Breaking that circle would mean that we start treating those around us, right now, with respect and genuine concern. Do YOU deserve to be treated with respect and concern? Then so do THEY! Don’t look at their home, their belongings, or their life style to determine how you will treat them. They deserve your respect and concern, because they, too, are loved by God. They are His creations, as well. Slowly, our thoughts don’t center on ourselves, but on others. Slowly, the human race starts to look at each other as brothers and not as obstacles. This cannot happen overnight. Much prayer and introspection needs to be done. We must see ourselves as Christ sees us, struggling but with great potential, falling but picking ourselves up and trying again. Then, and only then, can we see others as our brothers, as well.

I often think of the amazement that the Disciples had when they had gone out and cured people both physically and spiritually. You could almost hear the laughter in their words, “And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils also are subject to us in thy name”-1 For believing Jesus and His statement that anything they did in His name would be granted to them by God, they went out and treated their fellow man as brothers, maybe for the first time. And so, they were no longer the fearful followers of Jesus, but believers whose humanity grew. They became closer to their fellow man and in so doing became closer to their God.

Isn’t it time that we allow our humanity to grow? It’s time, to stop seeing only our needs, our limitations. Belief in Jesus, belief in a loving God, our Creator, will help us become one with our God, with ourselves, with our fellow man. In that bond of love we may, for the first time, see the connections that draw us together, and not simply focus on what separates us. Lord, Help my unbelief.

-1 Luke 10, 17

A request: If you feel there is a truth in this article that would help others, please pass this on. All of us, all humanity needs to start growing.

TheSteppingStones
https://thesteppingstones.wordpress.com

What is Bad For YOU?

Today’s Mass is in honor of St. Lawrence. The Psalm 112: 1-8 states, “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord…his heart is steady and will not be afraid.” These words typify the Deacon, St. Lawrence. God’s guarantee of safety, in the face of all forms of danger, was the only assurance that he needed. He faced his own torturous death with calm, with peace and even with humor. While his torturers were actually grilling him to death, his reply to them was, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.”

This display of immense courage and calm in the face of this terrible torture causes us confusion and bewilderment. How can he possibly remain like this? He must be someone God has granted unusual peace and long-suffering. We know that we could not display this same courage. We can’t even imagine ourselves even being willing to allow ourselves to endure such harsh punishment.

But the truth is, we can be. We truly can be. The direction of the above mentioned Psalm tells us how. “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord”. Blessed! Endowed with peace and serenity! Trusting in God! If God is my ally, what evil can possibly upset me? That, however, is the fly in the ointment. We go to church. We pray to God. We speak of our love for Him. We leave church … and forget everything that we said and felt. Trust is so very difficult for us. We have gotten so used to relying on ourselves, so totally, that we don’t even allow God to direct us.

“Fearing the Lord”, is not intended as a dread of God so that we are afraid to do anything contrary to His word. But rather fear in this context, implies a bond so close that we are happy to be aligned with Him. We understand His love for us, and so we trust Him, implicitly. We know a true love of a mother or father would not, and could not possibly harm their child purposely, but would protect him/her at all cost. Even though correction and discipline are sometimes employed by the parents, the child recognizes that he/she is loved. As a result of this secure feeling, the child responds, listens and tries to emulate.

With God, as our Father, our life becomes more than just a natural animal’s life. We are special to Him. If we are not special then, why would He have given us intelligence and the ability to reason (no other animal has it)? Why would He give us free will to make choices (no other creature can do that)? His love, an infinite love, has been and will continue to be totally engulfing us. You might ask, “How then can we suffer and die”? The ONLY evil that exists is the loss of our soul, the total disruption of the bond that exists between God and man. All other things that are regarded as evil are temporal, are fleeting. Loss of possessions, loss of health, disabilities, and even death — none of these bring about the loss of our soul. They are hindrances. They are things that we must endure; but they cannot, they should not take our gaze away from God.

So we see that what is important to us is what determines what we call “evil”. We are all called to greatness. We are all called to being re-united with God. If, however, our value system puts our job, our possessions, our family, our friends and acquaintances, our pleasures, even our health above God, then loss of any of these will represent evil to us. On the other hand, if our call to greatness, our call to being united with God is of paramount importance to us then we can understand St. Lawrence’s total disdain for himself and his almost humorous reply, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.” To reach this unity with God is what we must strive to work at the rest of our lives.

Suffering

I was thinking about Padre Pio, and reading about how he not only accepted the pains of the stigmata, but that of all the pains that he had to endure. Very selfishly, I thought, “How easy it must be to accept the pains if you know they are given by God.” I immediately felt guilty for having that thought. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t really grasp just why it was wrong. That guilt started me on a path of thought that I believe enabled me to view how all pain and suffering can and should be endured by us.

If you really believe that God is God. If you really believe that God loves you and is truly concerned about you. Then I hope that the following will help you with your pains, with your suffering.

Yesterday, was Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate three persons in one God. A mystery, yes! Can our finite minds understand it? No. We cannot understand it anymore than we can understand infinity. The glass can only hold so much liquid. Our finite minds can only hold (and understand) finite things. We, as Catholics, believe that God, a perfect Being, has three persons (aspects, If you will) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “…he that sees me sees the Father”. -1 And later, He said, “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete (Comforter/Advocate…my insert), that he may abide with you for ever” -2 For ever? The Holy Spirit, also must be a person in God.

God, our God, is a loving God. His creation of love continues even now. He loves us so much, that He sent His Son. “By this has the charity of God appeared towards us, because God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him.”-3 All of these above references show the Love of God, the Persons in God, (or, if you will… aspects of God, that because of God’s perfection must take on existence , and do so separately, but one.) This digression, I feel, was necessary so that we can address the loving nature of God. God, truly does loves us, and said in very simplistic terms, can do anything. (This is not a treatise or proof about the Trinity. No amount of writing can explain the infinite.)

At the beginning of this article, I spoke of Padre Pio’s acceptance of all the pain that he experienced. How should we, you and I, view our pain? What pains do you live with? Physical pain and suffering that stays with you every day. You feel the ache every time you move? Does someone in your family, or maybe you, yourself, have an addiction to alcohol, to drugs, to pleasure? What worries or fears consume you? What are all of the negative experiences in your life that you wish would just go away and disappear?

If God loves us, and can bring about anything He wishes, why does He allow us to suffer, to bear these pains, to experience all these worries and cares? If we view St. Pio’s life we would see an emerging growth. The more he suffered, the more pain he endured, the more closely he became united with Jesus. He, Padre Pio, did not glory in the pain itself, but rather the acceptance of the pain was his gift back to God. It was his thank you.

Our attitude towards God, where we allow Him to be in our lives is extremely critical for us. If He is distant to us, if we talk to Him only when we want or need something then our fears, our worries, our hurts and pains will consume us. Our life without God will revolve solely around ourselves. The more distant we hold Him, the more we will focus on the pain to ourselves. We will only see our life and the things that are good and bad for us. How can we willingly accept the pain or the hurt if we do not cherish the existence of God in our lives?
St. Pio’s words, in one of his letters to his spiritual director, say it best. “My face blushes. I know very well that the cross is a token of love, a pledge of pardon, and that a love not fed and nurtured by the cross is not true love, but rather is reduced to a fire of straw.” He continues on that he “…feels the cross weigh heavily on his heart, and many times (do not be scandalized or horrified, O father, by what I am about to say) he goes in search of a merciful Cyrene to relieve and comfort him.”-4
Each of us is asked to establish our own love affair with God. Each of us is unique to God and He wants nothing more from us than to love Him. He allows our pains and hurts, just as He allowed the stigmata of St. Pio. The fire of our love is tested, is tempered, and is enhanced through our sufferings and pains. We may understand all of this intellectually, but until we allow this love of God, this understanding to flow deeply in our hearts we will be offering God an empty or half-filled bowl. It should help us to realize that even Padre Pio, at times, wished to find someone else to carry his cross. It is easy to say, “I must accept my sufferings.” This, however, is a task that will carry on throughout the rest of our lives, becoming easier and easier as we grow in the love of our God.

-1 John 14, 9
-2 John 14, 16
-3 John 4, 9
-4 Secrets of a Soul (Padre Pio’s Letters to his Spiritual Directors)   Pauline Books and Media

Come Holy Spirit, Come

(11th in a series of a presentation on The Apostles Creed)

Six words! In today’s world, they sound like something from the movie, “Ghost Busters”, or from a séance. They don’t sound real in today’s hectic, fast moving pace. But make no mistake, they are very real. The Holy Spirit is not only present in this world but is active in it, as well. In all honesty, I feel very insecure in trying to write something about the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, I will try to write what my feelings, my beliefs are.

There is so much to try to get our arms around, when we speak of one of the three Persons in God. Our belief immediately is called into play. How do we, finite persons, think we can adequately describe or attempt to explain the inexplicable? And yet, we try. Maybe it is pride on our part. Maybe it stems from our desire to understand, to behold, and to further adore.

My belief is this, we must first try to, in some way, try to explain what the Trinity means to ourselves. For some reason, those of us who believe in God, find it easier (or at least less difficult) to associate all of Creation to God the Father. Maybe this is so, because we think of Him as being the older one of the group. But, we believe, we know there is only one God, but three Persons. We can only shake our head in wonder. But the belief that we have been given is a grace. We don’t believe because we know, because we understand, because it seems very logical to us. No, we believe, because it is God’s gift to us.

So, we associate creation to the Father Almighty. Likewise, we attach salvation and redemption to the Son. All the while, we know that the two, together with the Holy Spirit, are the Triune God. As we said earlier, this is not something that can be easily said nor comprehended. What then is the task of the Holy Spirit? Keep in mind we are talking about the One God who created us, who loves us, and want us to be joined with Him forever in Heaven. God came to us, in the person of Jesus Christ, to save us, to show us what was necessary for salvation, to show us the importance of love for God, to show us the extent of the love of God. And so, we see Jesus saying to His disciples, “But I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you -3”. We begin to discern that Jesus saved us, redeemed us, and showed us how we must live. He died and rose for us. And now, when He ascends into Heaven, then and only then, will He send the Spirit. What work was left undone? What else is required?

The Holy Spirit has one task and continues to this day to have the same task. He, the Holy Spirit, will renew us with his spirit. He will remind us, daily, what our lives are all about. He will give us the strength to live and cope with the problems of the day. He will continually bolster our faith, repair our shaken faith, or freely give the seed of faith to mankind. It is the Sprit who breathes life into us. Not the life of living and dying, but the life that refreshes, renews and elevates us. We can call it grace. We can call it faith. We can call it good works. But however we look at it, it still remains the gift that our God continually bestows on us. For the Holy Spirit IS the spirit of God. He is our Paradise. In the Holy Spirit resides our Garden of Eden. Come Holy Spirit, come. Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of your love. Renew us, again and again. Help us to understand our role, our responsibilities in this world. Surround us. Flow through us. Permeate us with your love, which we know is the Love of our God for us.      goto next segment

-1 Each is distinct from the other two Persons, but of one Divine essence or substance.
-2 Catholic Encyclopedia, topic Holy Spirit: Synopsis of the Dogma
-3 John 16:7