Tag Archive: God’s Love


God and Man

breath of life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Strength

my strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Gift

the gift of God

I want you to think about some words and what their meaning is. Take as long as you need to. The words are:

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood,

Soul and Divinity of  Your dearly beloved Son,

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our  sins

and those of the whole world. Amen.”

These are the words I want you to think about. What do they mean? What do they mean to you? Take as much time as you want. When you feel you have a good understanding of them, continue below the Line of Yellow X’s. Read them, maybe, one more time before going on.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

Now, I need to ask you a rather important question. How do we, you and I, have the right to offer back to God the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of his Son? How did we come into possession of them in the first place? It seems rather easy for us to tell God, “This is what I am going to do. I will offer You that which is the totality of your Son and I will do that to earn atonement for my sins.” Again, I ask, “How did we come into possession of them, in the first place?” As the saying goes, “No one can give what they don’t have”.

I know many of us were baptized as infants. In that case, someone made a choice for us. If we chose to join the Christian religion, then we made that choice for ourselves. But, in either case, the choice was, and still is, a promise to believe in, to follow, and to emulate the life of Jesus. About life, and our living it, the Bible says many pertinent things, such as:

John 3:16-17 –“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”.

John 15:8 – “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”.

Romans 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

I asked earlier, “How do we have the right to offer back to God, His Son?” Well, it is not a right. Jesus is a gift that God gives to the world, to you and me. As we all know, a gift can either be accepted or rejected. But this gift, Jesus, is not something we just casually take and stuff into our pocket, while nodding our heads in appreciation. No, my dear friends, we accept Him with gratitude, in awe, and oh, so much humility. That which we like, that which we love, we try to emulate, to imitate, to bring and show to others. Our acceptance of Him spurs us on to look within ourselves and to be aware of what we need to change.

It is that looking within that is difficult to do. Because what we see, what we recognize as not being like Jesus, we know must be eliminated, if we really do accept Him. And it is our own weakness that holds us back. We don’t like to do without, to be without. We want things to be comfortable, to be easy. In short, we are fearful of what this acceptance will entail for us. This, however, is what must be overcome, by us. The first step is always the hardest. It was the most difficult to take when we were infants. We did fall down, but we got up and tried again. The first step onto a playing field is always filled with dread and concern. What if I am not good enough? The first time we meet someone and realize that we really like him or her. Will that person feel the same way towards me? There is always a “what if” to be answered.

Well the “what if” in the case of accepting Jesus into our lives is much more difficult to see, because it involves eternity. We don’t accept Jesus out of fear of loss. That is not the acceptance that God wants of His Gift. He wants us to take that first step at knowing Him, of realizing the love that awaits all of us. Love begets love. Good begets good. That swelling of love within our heart, that is real. The joy that we feel in our life, that is real. It is there for each and every one of us. What we feel within, if it is real, we must, we cannot do otherwise, we must pass this onto others. We will want them to experience the love, the joy that is Jesus. We have taken our first step back to God. And, He smiles. His Gift has been accepted and lovingly returned back to Him.

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

1) Be Me
2) The Courage to Accept, Acceptance
3) Accept It, He Really Does Love You

Jesus Meets His Mother

4th station

The daily practice of saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, especially at 3pm, is one that all of us should do. As recommended in The Divine Mercy Chaplet, I was on the fourth day, and that meant meditating on the Fourth Station of the Cross, Jesus Meets His Mother. Think about and reflect on that most sorrowful meeting.

Picture the meeting of Mother and Son. Think about what each must have been feeling. How would we feel if our son or daughter is being tortured, and brutalized, in the way Jesus is. Yet nothing is recorded about that meeting other than the painful glances that were shared. Her heart must have been bursting with sorrow, choking her very breathing, as she witnessed the pain and suffering that her Child was being forced to bear. What woman has ever experienced such sorrow, such agony?

And Jesus, He, too, remained silent. But He knew what His mother was feeling, what she was enduring. The agony that both endured, remained bottled up inside them. To cry out would only make it worse for the other. And so, they suffered in silence. Yet, inside, both felt terrible anguish, terrible grief and sorrow. This meeting of Mother and Son speaks directly to each of us, both as a parent and as a child.

As a parent, we can feel the agony of what Mary was enduring, when we see our children suffering and feel so useless, because we are unable to help them. We wish that their hurt, their sorrow, their confusion would go away; and yet, we are powerless to do anything about it. And, so we pray. We pray for our child’s strength, and their enlightenment. We ask God to help them overcome their pain, their suffering, or even make it go away.

As a child, we know the strain we have placed on our parents, at times. Though we saw their conflict and agony, we persisted in our actions, in our way of life. What was important for us, at that time, was our own satisfaction, our own benefit, our own need. We were unable to even think of what our actions were causing our parents. They would understand!

But you see, that is the irony of the entire situation. Mary and Jesus were suffering, suffering terribly, yet each knew that what was happening was necessary for all of mankind. The horror of the whippings, and beatings, and insults, and pain, all sorts of cruel injustice, all of these were accepted and carried within their aching hearts, because they knew there was a benefit at the end of this. How can there be a good associated with being whipped, tortured, insulted, and ridiculed? Mary was just a woman, but she had faith, a faith that told her that God was present, that He was aware of all that was going on, and that HE PERMITTED THIS FOR A REASON. Because of her believing, and knowing that God is a God of Love, she knows that He has a purpose for even this horrific scene.

It is here, at this juncture, that we, you and I, slowly move away from Mary. Where she sees God’s love, God’s will, we see just the scene. How does this affect me? How does this hurt my son or daughter? How does this break my parents’ heart? We limit our sight to just the action and its’ effects. Our faith in our God doesn’t even come into play. Or, if it does, it is to ask God to make it go away. This is not how God wants us to believe, nor to act. His love for us is so true, so deep; He wants us to feel, to know and to experience His love. Do we really believe that an all-loving God would playfully allow us to be harmed? Every problem, every sickness, every death has a purpose. We may not see now, or even ever, why such evil enters into our lives. But if, like Mary, our focus is on our loving God and not the evil, we will trust that there is a very good reason. We will trust our loving God even in this.

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

1) Dark Night, Emptiness, Sadness
2) Mercy Sunday and Trust
3) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 1
4) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 2
5) Dolindo Ruotolo segment 3

response2

The last two posts have dealt with our feelings and our God. I would like to continue the theme, today, while focusing on our responsibility in all of this. For you see what we feel and what we do are not tied together, unless we do the tying. Familiar saying that we utter is, “I was so angry, I could…” Anger is a feeling, but we control what we feel like doing, in spite of the anger. We are the masters of ourselves…or at least we should be. Truly, feelings and actions need not be inseparably bound together.

With that thought in mind, let’s consider some of these feelings. I don’t feel like praying. I know it is Sunday, but I don’t want to go to Church today. That person annoys me so much. What I would like to do to him or her. The list goes on and on and on. Feelings are emotions that are prompted by outside circumstances, or perceptions, or even other feelings. But none of them are actions. None affect others, unless we allow them. None determine our relationship with our God, until we follow through with the action (good or bad).

I am not a psychologist. I am just a person trying to understand myself and relaying on to you, my perceptions. With this in mind, let’s consider the very first feeling enumerated: “I don’t feel like praying”. This happens to all of us, and unfortunately, fairly often. The unfortunate end of it is this… we wind up not praying. Isn’t this letting what we feel determine our action? There are other things that we would rather do. These things are more pleasurable, more appealing, more in tune with our likes and dislikes.

But, at some point in our lives we need to address what we feel and how it affects what we do and don’t do. The task is not very difficult. We all know what it is that we feel at any given moment. We are tired, sad, happy, disappointed, angry, intrigued, annoyed, the list goes on. (There are so many feelings) We also know how that feeling influences us, whatever the “That Feeling” is. Notice, too, how one feeling will draw out others. For example: I don’t feel like praying… besides I feel tired… besides I would rather… etc. Eventually, if we follow that list, I think we can get to the bottom of our problem. Maybe, we really don’t believe in prayer. Maybe, we think god is spelled with a little “g” and just a made-up entity. Maybe, we don’t like our not being the BOSS. Whatever it leads to is tying us in knots. The more we allow it to control us, the tighter the knot becomes.

Right now, the thought that comes to mind is, “The Truth will set you free”. If we allow our emotions to dictate to us, to guide us, to direct us, then we aren’t really following the teachings of the Christ. We are following our own set of rules, our own guidelines. Even Jesus, as He agonized, in the garden, did not want to follow the path He was on. He was filled with fear and terror (emotions). Let this cup pass. I don’t want to do it. I don’t feel like I have the strength. But his fear was just an emotion. His will, His love for His Father, was greater than the emotion. Thy will be done.

“I don’t feel like praying”, this is just one of many emotions that dictate to us, what we do and don’t do. If we cave in to this emotion and not pray, are we not saying to God, I will pray on my time, when I want to, when I feel like it? What emotion is bothering you the most? How are you letting it control your life? What attempt are you making to understand it, to grapple with it, to not let it control your life? If we do nothing, then we are caving in to its demands. We are allowing our emotions to rule us, to dictate to us. We are obeying our feelings, and not our God.

So how good is that prayer that we say when we don’t feel like praying it, but pray it anyway? You are about to say, “But I don’t feel like it means anything”. (There is that FEEL word again.) “I am just saying words, as a result”. You have whispered your prayer to your God. You have told Him you feel dead inside. You don’t have any glow within. But, yet you pray. You give Him what you have, what you can. You persist in telling God of your love for Him. Did He not see His Son weighed down with fear and terror, and yet persevere all the way to the cross? And, what will God say of you? As He sees you filled with fear and sorrow, still striving to give Him your love? We already know His words, “There is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” Pray the Rosary!

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

1) God Walks With Us
2) What is God To Me
3) Stop Tripping Over Yourself
4) Trust in God

God hand

This is kind of a continuation of yesterday’s post, “God Walks With Us”. In it we spoke of how we allow our feelings, whether good or bad, to determine our outlook on ourselves. But how we feel is NOT a determination of how we are! And it is definitely NOT how God views us. If we feel righteous, or good about ourselves, we automatically think that God is pleased with us. I don’t believe that that is how it works. I can feel very righteous while disgustedly looking down on a beggar or a sinner. But God looks at all three, myself, the beggar, and the sinner and loves us all. (Actually, we ARE all three.) So what is being said here, is “Don’t be fooled by what you feel. We are not how we feel”.

For a moment, think of who God is to you! What does He really mean to you? Right now…stop reading and answer the question: Who or What is God to me? Don’t answer the question with the tried and true answers. Understand where you place God in YOUR scheme of things. Is He an afterthought? Is it belief or ritual that we are holding on to? This is a question we all must eventually ask and answer honestly. It is a question that we all must understand, and answer because of its implications. This question, when answered, sheds light on our relationship with our Creator. There is a relationship between Him and you, between Him and me, and between Him and us. It is a relationship like a parent with their children. However, this parent is perfect. The love, the tenderness, the concern of This Parent for His children is perfect, constant and infinite.

Let’s now return to our feelings and who we are. Some of the holiest prayers are said when we are discouraged, torn by strife and worries, and ashamed. We cannot always FEEL like praying. We cannot always have that warm and bubbly attitude that goes along with happiness. Does this mean we stop praying? Do we stop thinking about our God? (If you read yesterday’s blog, you know that I am speaking from experience, because I did stop.) A prayer does not have to be formal. It does not require specific words and phrases. It requires only expressions from the heart directed to a God who we trust.

A sigh, then, is an extremely good example of a prayer. What travels along with a sigh? Usually a sigh comes from our heart, burdened with sorrow and grief. “Where do I turn?” we ask ourselves. We struggle with our doubts, our worries, our fears and we feel hopeless, helpless. And, for some strange reason the heaviness of our hearts prevents us from talking to our God, our Creator. The Being who totally understands us, who desires nothing but to put His arms around us, we shun and feel uncomfortable to talk with. Is it shame that prevents us? Is it pride? I really don’t know the answer. I only know that we do avoid Him.

Because this happens to each and every one of us, I would suggest that all of us pray this prayer every morning of our lives. We may not feel like praying, but the entire day that we suffer through, struggle with and endure, we can make into our prayer to our God. This I believe helped me in my most recent struggle with dryness of the heart.

Brown Scapular Prayer of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (here kiss the Brown Scapular), I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with it my every thought, word and action of this day. O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can, and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart.

Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Amen.

It is very difficult to offer God those harsh thoughts, cruel words and hurtful actions that we do throughout the day.

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

1) God Walks With Us
2) Stop Tripping Over Yourself
3) Trust in God

God’s Love, happy, How we feel, our purpose in life, sad, self-pity, Trust, Trust in God

good shepherd

I was alone with my thoughts and was thinking about some things that were going on in my life. They were really not important, but they were in my head. I was thinking about a chess game that I was playing with my son, via internet. I was thinking about some work that I was really into, and was glad that it was finally getting done. None of these were really earth-shattering issues. During this probing, however, I thought about God. I hadn’t thought about Him in a really long time. (Proof of that is my lack of blogging.)

I thought about God!! Why then? Why at that point? I want to share with you, what I really feel was an enlightenment. I hadn’t thought about God, or salvation, or goodness in a long time. So….Why now???? I believe it was because my attitude had changed; my disposition had improved. I didn’t do the improving, I was just the recipient of those kinder feelings. I was feeling better about myself, and so I could, so to speak, look at and think about God, without too much shame, or guilt. Realize this, though: God had not changed. He was still loving and guiding me. But at that point, since I was feeling better about myself, I guess I was more disposed to think about God. Not really sure of the reason. Did I think that I wouldn’t feel as much embarrassment? Was it because, I felt more positive about myself?

I think there is a lesson here for all of us. We get down on ourselves. We are submerged in our sorrow, our worries, our guilt, our tiredness, our frustration. All of this presses in on us and we feel like we are drowning. We cannot look at others with love and concern. How can we? We don’t feel that love or concern for ourselves, let alone for others. We are drowning in our own problems, our own frustrations, and our own loneliness. And, the devil smiles, he is winning another soul.

It doesn’t have to be this way. God, a God of love, stepped into our world to show us how to live, how to treat others. And, all the while, He is letting us know that He understands our plight. He walks beside us, loving us and guiding us. He sees all that bogs us down and we read the words, in Matt 9:36: “…And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.”

We are distressed. We see, ONLY, our own plight, our own problems. And this shortsightedness truly robs us of the joy of Christianity. These worries steal our identity and cause us to fall back into the grips of despair. In trusting only ourselves we become tangled in this mire of hopelessness. Wake up! ALL of us need to WAKE UP!! Our pride is killing us. How we feel is not indicative of our worth.  It does not say that we are doing the right thing. We are happy, and thus we are good? We are distressed, and we are bad. Is that it? If that is the case then we should endeavor to do everything that makes us feel good…and the devil smiles, once again.

Christ came here, into our world, not because He could, but because He loves us, you and me. God shows us again and again, that He really does love us. He shows us how to live, how to act, and how to treat others. But, if we do not believe it, if we choose to wallow in our own self-pity then we are ignoring the path to Christian joy. Oh, we might think we are doing the right thing, but in reality, we are just wallowing in our own self-pity; we are ignoring the truth and reality that Jesus brings to this world, (to you and me).

The sorrows that we feel, the sadness that life brings us, the worries and concerns that flood our minds, when all is said and done, these are nothing but distractions from our God. Evil does exist in this world. We should know. We have brought it into our world; and, then beat our breasts because we are weighed down by it. It is difficult to turn the boat around and start paddling upstream. But really, why are we here? Why do we exist? What purpose and plan does this loving God have for each one of us? We are not the masters of this world. We are placed here to grow in our love for our God. To do so is to trust Him. Trust in such a way so that all that burdens us, that weighs down on us, and that saddens us are recognized for what they are: “obstacles that draw us away from our God, our purpose in life”… and the devil knowingly smiles.

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

1) Come Back to Me

2) Stop Tripping Over Yourself

3) Trust in God

Stop Tripping Over Yourself

Faith and FearI was getting ready to put some thoughts down on paper. I felt badly that I had not written in over a month. I really wanted to write a post, but nothing seemed to be inside me. It is very easy to write and speak of God, of Jesus, of Catholicism when your inside seems all aglow. But, all too often, that glow seems to quickly fade. And, replacing the glow seems to be a dark feeling of loneliness, sadness and an unwillingness to review our own life.

This feeling, however, is not an indication that something is wrong with us. It is just an obstacle that we must deal with, climb over and move on. The problem is, however, that the hollowness inside us seems to militate against any positive movement. We seem destined to wallow in our own self-pity. The more empty we feel, the less inclined we are to want to strive vigorously forward. Sadly, it is just easier to feel sorry for ourselves.

The expectations we have for ourselves actually get in the way of any forward movement in our lives. We become disheartened. We are ashamed. We feel hopeless and alone. The more we allow these negative feelings to bubble up inside us, the less likely we are to realize that the answer is there waiting to be discovered by us.

Think of EVERY possible reason for you to feel down. Maybe you are worried about health issues, or even concerns about death. Maybe you are worrying about loved ones, or problems that you cannot seem to resolve or conquer. These are all major issues. I don’t think there are any worse kinds of concerns. And yet, what is the sadness that they bring about in you? Why the hollow pit in your stomach? What can worries do to correct any of these issues? Nothing.

We are imperfect human beings. We are hampered by poor judgments. We feel a hollowness inside that we try to alleviate with possessions, or wealth, or addictions, or anything else that we think will satisfy us. “If only this or that would happen, all will be better”, we reassure ourselves. But even if this-or-that were to happen, we would only find something else to bring us down. You know that this is true!

We are placing our trust in…. ourselves. We think WE can correct these negative feelings. We are sure that WE can set the matter straight. STOP trusting in yourself. It is that simple. We don’t have the answers. We don’t have the capability to correct problems that we have no domain over. When are we going to believe that? When are we going to realize that we are creatures and not Creator? God, and only God, can write straight with the crooked lines that we scribble.

If we believe, truly believe, that God loves us, if we believe, truly believe, that God wants only the best for us, if we believe, truly believe, that God came to this earth to show us how to live, then we can stop the useless trust of ourselves and trust, truly trust, this God who loves us.

His love for you and me has no limits. He patiently waits for us to wake up, and to realize that He is eminently trustworthy. Why should we put our trust in weak earthen vessels, when our God is waiting with arms outstretched to embrace us?

I think all of us are really afraid of God. We are afraid that what He wants, what He will allow, is not what we want. And so, we worry about the outcomes of events, and try to manipulate them in some way. If we can trust a doctor, or a pharmacist, or anyone else who has been trained to know, recognize and diagnose our ailments, why can we not trust our God?

This past January, on the 4th, 5th, and 6th, I posted a blog each day talking about a novena of nine days which Father Dolindo Ruotolo advocated. On the 4th I posted days 1-3 of the novena. On the 5th I posted days 4-6 and on the 6th of January I posted days 7-9. Each day of the novena may take about 5 minutes of your time. But, each day strives to awaken within our souls the loving trust for God that is dormant there. I urge you to look at January 4th. Pray the first day of the novena. I promise you this, if you pray this novena, really pray it and desire to trust God, your fears and worries will become like so much snow, melting under the warmth of the sun.

cat and mirror

How often we see people and almost instinctively form an opinion about them. In a flash, we observe their clothes, their attitude, their cleanliness or lack thereof. We go farther and look to see if they are of our ethnic background, or of our race. As a result, through all these observations we get an impression. And, that impression, positive or negative, forms the opinion we have about them. How sad that is. We blow off their lives, their struggles, their background, their health issues, their family life all because of this initial impression, that first observation.

Think about it for a moment. We as Christians, a people believing in a loving God, easily, readily make judgments about others. Is this really the way our lives are to be led? Is this what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”? “Come, follow me”. The main belief, NO, let me correct that, the whole concept and belief of Christianity is that we are a fallen humanity. We err. All of us make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are things we are too ashamed to admit, even to ourselves. That is what Redemption is all about. We right now, should fall on our knees and thank God for creating and saving our miserable lives.

“But, I AM grateful”, you say. How so? In what way are you grateful? Do you feel joy, that you AND the rest of mankind are loved by a God, Who sent his Son to redeem us and show us HOW to live? Do you accept the fact that ALL mankind has been redeemed, not just you and your friends?

These are difficult concepts to recognize, to believe, and to accept. We do fall on our knees, weeping that we have been saved. But the WE, in our mind, is often limited to those who we approve of, who we accept. “Oh, no, I didn’t say that! I know all people have been saved. I just don’t have to like their way of living”, you shout back. Now we get closer to the truth.

You don’t like the way they are living. What are your likes and dislikes? What shapes those feelings? What inside you holds you back from accepting others who are different? Look at those people who bother you. Think of them with those characteristics that you don’t like. Magnify in your mind, what it is that turns you off about them. Get a good look at it. Feel the aversion, the contempt, the anger that this person instills in you. With an open mind, try to understand just why it bothers you. You might say, “I just don’t like it”. That is not a valid reason. You already know that you don’t like it. This exercise is to try to understand the WHY. What inside you, your formation, rebels at someone’s manner of dress? Why do you feel repulsed by someone else’s uncleanliness? When people speak harshly, or thoughtlessly, or critically about you or someone else, why do you feel attacked?

Whatever it is that turns you “off”, it has already touched a weakness residing inside you. Through those negative feelings that you experience about others, they tip you off as to what needs to be attended to, addressed, and fixed within yourself. They are, in a manner of speaking, an insight into your own makeup. If you never address the weakness, you will always be condemned to bear the burdens that go along with it. But I am not a psychologist and much of this is the domain of that realm. For it addresses the workings of the mind.
But, in the workings of the soul, in its’ aspiring to a nobler life, our faith has much to teach us.-1 In order for us to love ourselves, to think positively about ourselves, we need Someone to love us, Someone who is above our lowly state. It cannot be another person because he or she is already as imperfect as ourselves. No, for that we need God to tell us that He understands us, He loves us and He forgives us. Redemption.

So, we go back to the original premise, namely, that we dislike the imperfections of others, the faults of others, the flaws of others. But, we are in the same boat that they are in. They fail, and we fail. They have one weakness and we have another. They have been forgiven and loved, and so have we. WE together have been loved, saved and forgiven. How can we put on airs of superiority? How can we look down on someone else? We are, all the same, wanting to be loved, wanting to be forgiven. We do it differently, but we are looking for the same embrace.

-1 The atheist says there is no soul, for it cannot be seen. Though not seen, our faith tells us that this soul, this spiritual entity was breathed into mankind, at its creation, by God. The atheist says there is no God, because He cannot be seen, either. This post will not attempt a proof of God’s existence. Reams have been written, and will continue to be written on this question. The gift of faith is just that…A Gift.

Just One Thing: Take His Hand

take hand

I wish I could say just one thing, or put down one sentence, and the world would know and understand the goodness of God. That I don’t know that one word, that one sentence, means I guess I have a long way to go. I am in a very melancholic mood. I have been watching the History Channel’s presentation of “The Bible“. One event after another we see man’s readiness to branch away from God. Mankind murders its brothers, it pursues illegal love. Again and again, mankind manifests its pride in its own abilities… abilities given him by God. But he thinks it is legitimate to pull away from God. Since mankind has the freedom to move away from their God, and has the power to do so, it does.

How does God react? What does God do? He sends one wake-up call after another. He sends things and problems and people to help man come to his senses. But it accomplishes nothing. God has promised his undying love. He forms a covenant with man. But mankind casts that aside. So God sends His Son. The Christ comes into our world, showing love, preaching peace, doing acts of kindness and tenderness. Mankind not only casts this Messiah aside, it crucifies Him.

People where do we go from here? How does our world come to its senses? It is not enough for us to just sit back and wring our hands, and then feel justifiably wrought. We rock back and forth, as though in terrible anguish, but still we do nothing. “The world” that sounds ominous. How does one change the world? The world is made up of people, you and me. The world changes only when you and I change. Living a life, a Catholic Christian life, will affect others. And if enough “others” live that kind of life, the world WILL change. We are called to pray, fall on our knees and pray.  We are called to do something with our lives. We are called maybe to change our lives, help others, teach others, and lead by example. We are called to remember what it means to really and truly love our God. Whatever it is that God wants of us, of you, of me, are we doing it? Do we know what it is? Do we even care?  Hope and Trust in God. If you don’t, then we fall back and trust only ourselves, only mankind. That was the theme throughout the Old Testament, and still exists today.

We treat life as just so much gathering of things, as though they will make us happy. We gather. They fall short. So, we gather some more. We want security. We want comfort. We want pleasure. We want our sons and daughters to love, but give them no example to follow, to learn from. We don’t do any of this. We want. We want. We want… And yet, what we need is God, a relationship with God. We ignore his word, we ignore his church, we ignore his community, not only do we ignore, we will take advantage of any of those if it will serve our desires, our want.

God calls us to LOVE Him and TRUST Him. If we could do those two things with fierce intensity, EVERYTHING else will fall away into insignificance. We would realize just how insignificant they really are. He wants us to re-direct our lives, if we have to. He wants us to grow closer to Him, to love Him. How do we get closer to God? Well, for starters, do we read His Word in the Bible? Not like a novel, should we read it, but with thought, and understanding, and personalization of those words. We must internalize those thoughts, and honestly apply them to our own lives. Do we talk to Him in prayer? Prayer is not just rattling off some words that we have committed to memory, but with our hearts, our feelings, and our thoughts. Can we simply talk to Him? Tell Him how our day is going. And thank Him for that day. Tell Him of our concerns for others, and ask Him to enlighten us as to what we can do for them. These are all tasks that we will discover on our own, in our own way. We won’t find the how-to-do-it in a book. We won’t be given a magical pill that will bring these things about for us. We need to strive and learn of God. There is an urgency for us to love Him for all that He has done for us and for our families. We have to move away from the step by step monotonous ways of our lives. We need to look at Him and take His hand. He waits for us. He wants us to be with Him. And He waits. How can you NOT take His hand?

Trust or Control?

In today’s first reading, we see Moses striking the rock, not once but twice. In verse 8 of Numbers, chapter 20, we hear God tell Moses, “Take the rod, and assemble the people together, thou and Aaron thy brother, and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters.” They were instructed to just speak to the rock. St. Augustine on this passage, tells us that they were not commanded to strike the rock at all; and when the water did not come at first, they struck again. In verse 10, then, they speak as if the work that they performed was of their own doing, “Can we bring you forth water out of this rock?” For this prideful act, Moses was reprimanded by God and told that he would not be the one to lead his people into the promised-land.

Then again, in the Gospel we hear Christ telling Peter, “Thou are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:v18) But shortly after saying these elevating words, we hear Jesus tell Peter, “Get behind me, Satan”. This was said, because Peter refused to accept that Jesus would be crucified. He was thinking as man and not as God would.

In both passages, we hear quick rebukes being uttered by God, because of man’s refusal to simply allow God’s plan to play out. These readings today really cry out to us, trying to shake us into reality. Don’t we realize that God’s work will be done, must be done? Man strives to dictate how and by whom things will be done. When we see things happen that we don’t understand, we cry out, “How can God let these things happen?” Why does He allow the baby to die? Why is there so much suffering in this world? Why does He allow evil to co-habit the earth? We don’t understand and like the Hebrew nation of
old, we cry out against God.

We have often heard the adage that God writes with crooked lines. Isaias (Isaiah) in his prophecies pointing towards the Christ, says in 42: verse 16 “I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight: these things have I done to them, and have not forsaken them”. These are powerful words, comforting words from our God. We think He abandons us, has forsaken us. We can’t see the reason for things. We don’t know why things can happen to us and to others. And because we can’t see, because we don’t know… what do we do? We blame God. WE abandon Him!! Our faith gives out. We weep. We use this as an excuse to turn away, to seek our comfort in other things.

God continually urges us to trust Him, to believe in Him. What is faith, if not TRUST? If we really believe that Jesus is God, if we really believe that Jesus, our God, loves us totally, unconditionally, why do we find it so hard to trust Him? We are so reluctant to relinquish the reins of control. We think, “If I don’t hold onto these reins, if I don’t control these horses pulling this carriage, I will truly be hurt. I will suffer.” So we grasp the reins tighter, refusing to let go. We are totally unaware that the horses are running because God lets them run. Will God really do something that will hurt us? Isn’t it really, we are afraid that what God permits will be something that we don’t want. So we refuse to let go. We resist allowing our lives to be guided by our God. And in that resistance we prevent Jesus from working through us.

Memories

When we were born and placed here on earth, God placed in each one of us a memory of Him. Throughout all of our lives, we strive to touch that memory, to re-kindle in ourselves that fiery love of our God. We are not perfect, however, and that memory fades and gets twisted around. We strive to get it back. We strive to feel that love again within us. It is in that striving that St. Augustine speaks, when he says, “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.”-1  What he hints at is that we seek Him in so many varied and imperfect ways.

It is that restlessness of which I speak to you today. We are not perfect, but yet that memory of Him pervades us. We want to, oh so very much want to feel that love, unite so perfectly with our God again. But our humanity, our imperfections get in the way. So, driven by this memory of love we try to re-kindle it. The ways that we try to do this are probably as numerous as the stars.

We seek to re-live, to find that memory, again and again. We seek it in our friends, in the company that we keep, in our pleasures, our wealth, our power, and our addictions to drugs, alcohol and sex. In so many ways we seek to once again feel that spark, that joy which makes everything right again. We want to feel alive again. And, possibly even, momentarily we think we feel relief. But it is fleeting. It passes by leaving us, once again, drained and restless.

In all of this confusion, we drown out the very spark that we seek. We get so entangled with the search for this memory of love that we don’t realize we have lost our direction. Floundering and frustrated, we are willing to let that ember die. But God did not give us something that we could abandon, that we can live without. So without realizing it, this memory grows stronger in us, this love will not die.

Here and now, I am telling you that that ache, that gnawing search within you is your own quest for God’s love. The stronger you have that ache, the more pronounced it is within you, it is to that extent God is loving you and wanting you to love Him back. “This cannot be”, you say, “I do so many horrible things”. God’s love for us will never diminish. We will never be able to comprehend the extent that He loves us.

When we don’t know which way to turn, or rather, when we continue on our fruitless path knowing it is still not the answer (for we have tried it so many times before) then is when we should just ask Him for help. Do you think that God, who loves us so very much, will let this cry for help go unanswered? We already know that we need help. We already know that which we have sought out in the past has not given us what we seek. We already know that that ache, that restlessness deep within us will not go away. What is it, if not our craving for God’s love, for His embrace once more?

Just let our prayer be, “Lord, I believe in You, help my unbelief. Lord, I want to love you, help me to love you more.” Our God will not turn a deaf ear to our pleas for help. Pray this daily and let the restlessness go away. Remember His love once again.

-1 Confessions of St. Augustine

Intercession of Saints

(13th in a series of a presentation on The Apostles Creed)

This phrase is really a continuation of the presentation on the Church. The Church, as was stated, flows directly from Christ. In this unity with Christ, the Church (all of us, not the building) is sanctified, is made holy. Christ ascends into Heaven, so that He may send to us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the binding love of God. It all blends together, think about it. From the start of time, God’s love is being bestowed on creation, on mankind. Christ’s entrance into this world, a result of God’s love; Jesus’ life and death, a fulfillment of God’s love; the sending of the Spirit to His people, a promise of love for all time. Christ establishes His church, a means to grow in love and at the same time attain fulfillment in love. All mankind is called to be part of this holiness. We are called to be holy, to be saints.

The holiness of Christ flows through to His Church. Christ then is the Head of this Mystical Body. We, the believing Church, make up the rest of the Mystical Body. Our belief in Christ, our desire to be one with Christ, these enable us to participate in this Mystical Body. We are the eyes, mouth, hands and feet of this Body. Through us, Christ will, if we let Him use us, see the world’s needs, speak out against wrongs, help the sick, the dying, the needy, and go to where help is needed. In short, what we become, whatever good we do, whatever level of love we attain will help bring Christ to the world. We are part of the Communion of Saints.

Saints? We don’t think of ourselves, very often, in that capacity. Yes, we are tainted, we have our shortcomings. But our belief in Jesus, our cooperation with the love that Jesus offers draws us into this Mystical Body. We are His disciples, here on earth, who continue to spread His word and work.

Those who have died and rest in Christ’s peace, but not yet dwelling in Heaven, they too are in this communion of saints. Their suffering, like ours, continues until such time that all vestige of sin has been removed.  They are as much a part of the Mystical Body of Christ, as we are. Our good works, our prayers, our sensitivity toward others can and does extend to these souls. And their good works flow to us, as well.

Those who are recognized on earth for living good and holy lives while they lived, these are the ones we usually think of when we refer to saints. Their holiness strengthens the church. Though in Heaven, they continually intercede for us either alive or dead. The merits of their good works on earth, they present, through Christ, for our benefit. So we, the Church on earth, are continually sanctified and strengthened.

This communion of saints is not some pretty poetry. It isn’t just some nice thoughts brought about by someone. This is, and has been, in the Divine Plan from the beginning. God’s intent for us, as gleaned from the Old Testament and New, from the writings of the Fathers, as handed down to us through Tradition, God’s intent has always been to be with us. His desire has always been that mankind should perceive, recognize, understand that His love has been and will be with us always. God will be with us always. What we see and call love is our limited view of God. To live our lives in love for others is to live in God.
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