Tag Archive: happiness


Happiness

happiness

If someone asked you what you thought happiness is, how would you answer? The first thing that might come to your mind is your family and its security. Or maybe, you would think about your family’s health. Do finances enter your picture? How about your friends, or more possessions? A bigger house? A vacation house? A boat? Pleasure? Drugs or alcohol? All of these might tempt you into thinking that this is where happiness can be found. But, think about it. Each and every one of them, even the health and security of our family, ultimately comes back to us, and our own needs. We don’t want the apple cart to be overturned, so to speak. We feel for our family. We love our family. But their health and security ultimately allows us to feel more relieved, in that our duties and responsibilities have been taken care of. No one can point a finger at us.

“Wait a minute”, you may say, “I love my family and it is my right and duty to be concerned about their health and security.” It is your right, duty and obligation to care for your loved ones. But this question is about “happiness”. Will their security and health be the cause of your happiness? Or, will the fact that they are secure and healthy let you be relieved, and indicate to you, that you have performed your responsibilities. The latter is just relief that you didn’t cause the apple cart to overturn, that’s all. This digging, this constant banging at the question, needs to be done on all of our “happiness indicators”. We need to see how, each of the above, eventually, comes back to our own needs, our own gratifications, and our own satisfactions. Pick one. Pick any of those above: friends, house, boat, pleasure, stimulants. How do they ultimately come back to you and satisfy you?

Happiness is depicted as resulting from the possession or attainment of what one considers good. So in order to answer the question of happiness, we must first understand what we consider good, beneficial, and worthwhile. A boat might be considered as a good by one person and thus coveted, but to someone who gets seasick, or who is afraid of deep water, a boat is not even worth considering. One person’s dream is another person’s dread. So, what does every person on earth, without exception, consider as good, beneficial and worthwhile? I think it is safe to say that anything that is man-made, is perishable, or has the possibility of being lost is NOT something that mankind bases its quest for happiness on.

So, let’s ask that question again. What do you think happiness is? True happiness? If we are to not think of perishable, man-made or capable of being lost then the only “thing” left is God. He is what each of us must strive for and embrace if we are to really seek and find true happiness. What does it mean then, to strive for God, or embrace Him? It is one thing to believe in the creation and redemption of mankind, but is that really enough? Does this belief, alone, enable us to partake in the redemption of mankind? Is it this belief that enables our true happiness? The possession or attainment of what we consider good, is where our happiness lies. Did we attain this redemption, or do we just know about it, its’ circumstances?

Our belief, if it is true, must change us. It must cause us to rethink our lives and redirect our purpose. To say, “I believe that Jesus died for me” is nice and is correct. But if we truly believe, then we must look at what He has said, how He has instructed us how to live and follow those directives. On Sundays, we go to church and acknowledge His love for us. What do we do on the following days? How do we live? Do we try to see Jesus on those days, as well? Do we see Him in ALL who we meet? This love, this belief MUST impact our lives. It must change us and our way of living. We cannot simply pay lip service to Him, but must live accordingly. There is no other way. We all must ask ourselves, “What does this mean for me?

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

1) Christ Transforms Us
2) I Live Now, Not I
3) Our Quest For Happiness
4) The Nature of Prayer
5) Trusting Like Children

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love hate

When we hear the word exorcism, our mind thinks immediately to what we know about this rite. We can’t help but think of the movies that we have seen. In them was depicted all sorts of oddities, a young girls head turning around and around on her neck, objects flying across a room, vulgarities and condemnations being slung from a person’s mouth. Strange as all of this is, it is a film maker’s attempts at capturing in the film, the ultimate horror of evil, the degrading of sin, in short, the ugliness of being without love. This being without love is the cruelest torment of all. It is the fate of all who live lives that care for no one but themselves, who seek to take advantage of anyone or any moment to satisfy their own needs. Such is a life without love. It has sought no love, it has given no love, and so, in the end it receives no love.

The Church in her wisdom holds up a scrutiny for us to consider. Last week we addressed the Creed, the articles of faith that we believe. If we haven’t read through the Creed and tried to, at least, attempt an understanding of its contents, we are wasting precious time. Your Baptism declares that you do believe these articles of faith, even if you don’t understand how they can be.  It is not something that we can prove with philosophy, or logic, but that which our heart knows to be true, but doesn’t fully comprehend. This is really what faith is.

So, this Sunday, the Church speaks to us of exorcism. Why? Why the jump from Creed to Exorcism. All that we believe everything that is contained in the Creed, brings us to love.  In the Creed we speak of God, a God who loves and creates, of Jesus and what He said and did for us, and the love He has shown us. In it we pray to the Holy Spirit to surround us in love. We speak of the Church which is the gathering of all who love. Why is the Creed so important to us? Because, it leads us to all that is loving and beautiful in this world. Without this Creed, without this belief structure, we would be nothing but plotting, conniving individuals seeking only our own good and not caring for anyone else around us. So the horrors of exorcism, or rather the horrors, that necessitate exorcism, would be rampant without the Creed and a belief structure that the Church teaches and reminds us to follow.

Baptism brings us into the peace and love of God; we become adopted sons of God. We become part of the mystical Body of Christ, a group of loving individuals. The purpose of Christ, of Christianity, is to bring peace and concern for others into this world. Catholicism is not a club. It isn’t something that we have in our back pocket and pull it out when necessary. It is a living of life. It is an attempt to show God our love, by living lives that reflect His goodness, His love.

And so, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the scrutiny speaks about exorcism. It does this, not for us to focus our attention on it, but to help us realize the horrible lengths that living without the church will take us. We live Catholic Christian lives not out of fear of what may happen, of what condemnation we might endure. No, nothing like that. We live these lives because Christ, who we follow, who we believe in, has shown us how to live. Can we honestly call ourselves Catholic Christians if we don’t live lives that reflect the joy, the happiness, the love that comes with being at peace with ourselves?  This is what we are called to do, this Sunday and every day of our lives. We must recognize that Jesus is beside us, always.  And with Him, through Him, and in Him, we can live a life that presents joy and love to a world that needs it.

People We Meet

I was thinking about people, recently. No one in particular, just people. They pop in and out of our lives. Some make a difference, some just appear and are gone, and some sadly, we hardly notice. I will pose you an example. Think of a doctor, married, middle aged, and has two children in grammar school. The doctor owns two cars, a house, and maybe he/she even lives on your street. The family seems to be happy and thriving.

So now, you know someone else, right? ………………Wrong??!!? What else do you know about your next door neighbor, or the person down the street? Do you know what they really like? How about what bothers them? What hurts them to even think about? What pains and sorrows do they have? What silently do they think about, and worry about before falling off to sleep?  Who is sick in their family? What aspect of life are they struggling with? What are they struggling to overcome? These and millions of other things invade their lives, but we don’t know about, or possibly, don’t even care about them.

Think of someone you see on the television. He or she is not really there in the same room with you. It is just a series of electronic dots of varying colors that represent a person to you. And if you like or dislike that person who is represented on TV, then you will instinctively relive a good or bad emotional feeling about that person. AND…. he/she is not even in the same room with you.

The point I am trying to make here is that we feel towards people and in that feeling, we think we know that person. We don’t have a clue what they are struggling with. We don’t care what they are struggling with. We only can see and feel our needs, our feelings. These are what we lay on the people that we meet. I don’t like you, because you have a body odor, and I will shun you. You are not my color, so I don’t trust you. I don’t like your smile, so I don’t like you. You are filthy, so I will avoid you. People…. We are portraying our feelings and treating these people accordingly.

Think of how Jesus treated people. He bathed them. He healed them. He cried over them. He felt their agony and wept. He saw their problems and they affected Jesus accordingly. We, on the other hand, see OUR feelings and treat people accordingly. In that brief little statement is the huge difference, the wide gap that separates us from a true Christian life. In Matt. 11: 29, we read, “…and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls”. In short, be as Christ is and we will find peace. And again, in Luke 18:9-25, which begins with, “…And to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others, he spoke also this parable: …” In which, Jesus compares those who judge others with those who judge only themselves.

No matter who we think we are, or what we think we are, each one of us has so much to change in our lives. The best way I can think of to help me change my attitudes towards others is to think of Jesus being inside them. If we open our eyes and see Jesus needing water to bathe, won’t we give it to Him? If we see Jesus as a person of different color than our own, wouldn’t we still trust Him? If His smile seemed somewhat off, wouldn’t we make excuses for Him? We see Jesus fallen and lying in a filthy, smelly mess, would we not cradle Him in our arms and wipe the dirt from His face? Jesus suffers today, just as He did when carrying the cross. The trouble is today is just like that time. The only ones who seem to help are those who are forced to do so, or do so because it is their job.

Maybe, it is time to forget OUR feelings, and feel the hurt and shame and suffering of those around us. It may take the rest of our lives to change our ways. For that matter, our whole life has been spent bringing us to where we are right now. Maybe now is the time to nudge our thoughts into a slightly different direction. Maybe now is the time to change our thoughts, our way of thinking about others and to begin seeing Jesus in the people around us, in the people on TV. The trouble is, we love Jesus in the abstract. Can we love Him in the real people we meet and see every day? He is there with arms extended to receive us. How long can we ignore Him?

‘I Wish You Enough’

 

This was sent to my wife and I, by very close friends, who are moving away. After sending it back to them, I felt that this was important enough for all of us to hear and appreciate. To reach as many people as possible, I thought it best to include this on The Stepping Stones. It truly reflects human love and affection. And, no matter what religion is practiced these human values perfectly fit within our hearts. The email is copied in its entirety:

* * * * * *

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the father said, “I love you, and I wish you enough.”


The daughter replied, “Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.


They kissed, and the daughter left. The father walked over to the window where I was seated.  Standing there, I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”
“Yes, I have,” I replied. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?”


“I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,” he said.
“When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”
He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. “When we said, “I wish you enough”, we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.” Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.


I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I  wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish  you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.He then began to cry and walked away.


They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.
Only if you wish, send this to the people you will never forget and  remember to send it back to the person who sent  it to you.  If you don’t send it to anyone it may mean that you are in such a hurry that you have forgotten your friends.
TAKE TIME TO LIVE….
To  all my friends and loved ones,
I WISH YOU ENOUGH

Music in Your Soul

How softly Johann Strauss’ On the Beautiful Blue Danube begins. It gathers strength and purpose until it reaches your soul. There it swirls around and dances with you, sometimes playful, but always purposeful. Gradually, you feel at one with the music and find yourself wanting to move with it. At that point, it has you and lifts you to heights you have always desired. I often have felt that composers, capable of writing songs that are beautiful and majestic, provide us glimpses into their very souls. Like painters and saints, they have the capacity of reaching out to their God, and in so doing, provide us glimpses of Him, as well.

Knowing that all analogies fall short let’s compare music with love. Music, in the mind of the composer, has a purpose, be it to bring you joy, or beauty or something else. Whatever its purpose, though, it is always something positive. A feeling of sorrow can also be positive, as long as it is not intended to leave you there. Music, when performed as the composer intended, lifts you up, plays with your feelings, and delivers you to a better place.

How does love compare with music? True love, not the love portrayed on so many TV and movie screens today, true love seeks out goodness for someone else, never self. When a person feels a love for someone else, their own spirit is joyous. They may feel light and airy, or they may feel quietly happy. Either way, the goodness that they feel is deep inside them and can’t wait to express these feelings to their beloved. When you feel this love, you know, not only that it is true, but that it will be beneficial to both persons. It is never one sided.

Christ has this love for us, you and me. When I see a picture of Christ smiling, for some reason, it touches me so much more than one of Him suffering, or performing miracles, or anything else. The smile that He has seems to convey to me His fondness, His love and His concern for me. Strangely, it is at these times, I realize how I fall so very short of being able to return His love. Knowing His love is there for us, though not demanding anything in return, how very much I desire to love Him. His smile, His love picks me up and dances with me.

Knowing His love is there for us, realizing it is continually there for us, we are invited to join Him. Once we recognize His love, once we see how it is freely given then our love that we return to Him takes on a deeper significance. We are loving someone who gave His life for us. We are loving someone who asks us to become Him. Our love for Him has grabbed us, awakened us. How can I say I love Jesus, if I do not love my fellow man? It is impossible. No excuses. No golly gees.

That person is of a different color. That person is dirty or slovenly. That person is not charitable. That person is downright evil. All the people that we have difficulty with… we must love, have a true concern for their growth, their sickness, their lack of morals.

Christ came into this world, for sinners, YOU and ME. Our expectations that others clean up their act, goes equally for ourselves, as well. With this love that Christ brings us, it swirls around us, it lifts us up, and it makes us better than we ever dreamed. We are then, finally, caught up in the music of love.

Welcome Home

(15th in a series of a presentation on The Apostles Creed)

Man was created both body and soul, both physical and spiritual. He was placed on this earth to live and enjoy the beauties of this world, the beauty of God. God did not put man on earth to live for just a limited time and then die. No, man brought this on himself. “When did this happen”, you ask? It happened the moment man chose to follow his own wishes and not God’s. At that exact moment, the need for redemption was born. The sin happened in time, thus redemption must be completed in time, in the physical world. In the resurrection of Jesus, God’s original intent for mankind is fulfilled. We were created for a bodily existence. In a bodily existence we turned our back. And so, in Christ’s bodily existence, we are redeemed. His resurrection, a victory over death, told us we were back on track.

Our own resurrection would take place after our death. This is not speaking only to the soul, but rather to the whole person, as he had been created. Both body and soul will be re-united, trumpeting the victory over death, as God had intended it, all along. These are not just words. Man’s first sin brought sickness and death into this world. And so it is still today. We do grow old. We do get sick. We do die. But Christ has shown us, through His resurrection that belief in Him is to believe also in our own resurrection. “And every one that lives, and believes in me, shall not die for ever”-1   All of this is predicated on our living and believing in Jesus.

We cannot stop here, though. Our bodies rising and re-uniting with our souls is a pleasant enough thought….but then what? Tied closely to this is “Life everlasting”. We are coming close to speculation here. But what is heaven? We all can close our eyes and imagine what heaven might be like. Strumming on a harp and sitting on a cloud doesn’t really sound like something I could do for more than five minutes. Whatever we do imagine it to be, I know it will fall far short of reality. “…eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for them that love him”-2

My belief is that we are all made by God, with a potential and beauty that only God knows. We will finally be free of the effects of sin, either through a Purgatory required, or a life of suffering willingly endured, out of a love for Christ. When we attain that potential and beauty envisioned by God, and can feel the love of God pulsing within us and surrounding us then we are in Heaven, we are united with God. In that union with infinite Goodness, there is no time, there is no future, there is only now. The peace of being at one with our Maker will permeate us, and happiness and joy will be ours, forever.    goto next segment

-1 John 11:26
-2 1Cor 2:9

Saul, why do you persecute Me?

    St. Paul’s words, And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me…”-1 seems to be one of the best explanations of what Christianity is all about. Much has been written about the significance of Christianity and the meaning of Christianity. In these eleven words, I believe, St. Paul has succinctly described for us what Christian Living is.

Here is a man, who openly persecuted the Christians. “…And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? And he said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest…”-2   He progressed from leading mobs to kill and suppress the Christian Way, to ultimately dying for Christian beliefs.  Somewhere, during that progression, he found the meaning of Christianity. He found the joy of being at peace, of being one with Christ.

Today, we speak of reflecting Christ in our lives, of letting Christ act through us. What we are addressing is no different than what Paul found during his life. If we go out and think to ourselves, “Now, what would Christ want me to do?” Or, again, “What good things can I do, that would make me feel more like a Christian.” Then, sadly, we have missed the point. Our intentions are noble, but this does not reflect Christ. This imitates an end result only. The substance, the reason is missing.

To reflect Christ, to be at one with Christ, we must forget ourselves. Our wants, our needs will be seen as they really are, trivial pursuits after nothing of substance . Our focus must only be on Christ. Know His Life, know why He came into our world. See the extent He truly loves us, forgives us, and loves us some more.  Our desires must see Jesus, be centered on Him. If we can do this, our joy, here on earth, will be such that we never could have anticipated how wonderful it could be.

Now, we, filled with this joy, filled with this love for Christ can see each other in a totally different light. Forgetting ourselves, our wants, our needs, the person beside us no longer is a threat to us, no longer can hurt us, is not someone to dislike. He is a person, like us, like Paul, searching for meaning, searching to be at one with Christ. He may not even realize he is searching for Christ. He may still be striving after his own wants and needs. But if we are centered on Jesus, then the joy that is within us, will emanate from us. Our words, our actions won’t be those of a person focused on ourself. They will be those that Christ would say and do. He can freely use us, to say and do what people need to hear and see. Then like Paul, we can say, “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.”

-1 Galatians, 2: 20

-2 Acts of the Apostles, 9: 4-5

His Gentle Love

Weddings are such special events, and they affect everyone who has the joy of attending. Those who are already married, find themselves thinking back to their own marriage beginnings. They remember their ceremony, their feelings of love and their intentions. The wedding provides for them, a time to remember and renew.

Those not married find themselves caught up in the festivities, the music and the solemnity of the occasion, and, they cannot help but rejoice with the new couple and wish them well.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a most beautiful wedding and reception. Everything about it was so well-planned, the slightest details were so perfectly executed that you knew the couple put themselves, their feelings, their emotions into the preparations. In short, the beauty of the couple’s souls, were laid bare, so that everyone could experience the joy, the love that they had for each other.

The parents of the bridal couple always have mixed emotions. They are happy for their son or daughter. They rejoice with them and wish for them every joy and happiness. And yet, with their own hearts brimming with joy, they feel a tug, a concern deep within. They want everything to be perfect for them, and know that life, at times, is not perfect. Will they be able to handle it? What did we not explain to them? What can we do, now to help them? These thoughts filter in, and mingle with their joys. And so, what should be a time for sheer joy and happiness, for the parents, becomes tinged with concerns and worry.

To this our faith helps us. We know the parable of the Good Shepherd. We know that Christ is the Good Shepherd. He watches over us with gentle care. He stays with us, without our even knowing that He is there. He respects our free will, allowing us to live our lives in the manner that we choose. He is always there ready to help us, but He waits for our invitation, our request for His help. His gentle guidance, His graces, they do not overwhelm.

The parents, in their growth in faith, must try to resemble Christ. As parents of the wedding couple, two days, two months, two years, two decades down the road, they must continue to strive to be like the Good Shepherd. Yes, at times they will worry, they will hurt and they will agonize over what they should do. Like Christ, they can love, they can gently guide by their own example. They cannot intrude, nor invade the couple’s lives. They must be strong enough to let the young grow.

The Nature of Prayer

nature of prayer

Prayer is defined as the lifting up of the mind and heart to God. That is how the Baltimore Catechism describes it. We know prayers. The Our Father, the Hail Mary, The Glory be, the list goes on and on. They are all defined as prayers. Very often we think of prayer and automatically, we recite one of these prayers.

Is the recitation of the words of the Our Father really a prayer? If that recitation consists solely of saying memorized words, while distractions fill our heads, then I truly wonder if that qualifies as prayer. The lifting up of our mind and heart to God involves more than mere recitation.

Look closely at the Rosary. It is a good example of what prayer is and is not. It is not the mere recitation of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. If no thought, no feeling is involved, then we might as well recite “Row, row, row your boat, etc.” No disparagement is intended here. During the repetitive recitation of the prayers, we use our mind to recall different aspects (the mysteries) of the Christian religion and to allow our hearts and souls to embrace these wonders. In this embrace our hearts, our mind, our very being expands and rejoices with these events. This is the purpose of prayer, to become one with Christ.

We do, however, have to go to work. We have to cook, clean, mow the lawn, feed and bathe our children, work with people, in short, we must do other things, that prevent us from formally praying. Is it our lot in life then, to pray to our God, only at certain times? Times that are convenient for us or defined by others? Times that we can push back and delay until tomorrow?
Our whole day can and should be a prayer. We said earlier that the purpose of prayer is to become one with Christ. An act of love to a stranger, suppressing a biting word and replacing it with an act of gentleness, listening to that person we really don’t like, trying to love that person who we really don’t like, helping someone in your neighborhood, all of these can be our prayers. Why? Because Christ told us, He is in each and every person that we encounter. What better way to become one with Christ, then to show Him the love we have for others? His words, “What you do for the least of these, you do for Me”, must resound in our hearts and minds.

To make our day, our whole day, worthy of being called a prayer is not something we can say we will do, and it is then automatically done. If all we do is say we are going to do it, and then do nothing about it, we are back to reciting row, row, row your boat again. We must want to know and love Christ. This love for Him will be the driving force to make our lives a living prayer. This love will expand our hearts to want to help others. Not because we should, but because we seriously want to. Our journey through life is made up of steps, little steps. Sometimes the steps we take don’t move us forward towards Christ, at all. Sometimes these stumbling steps are our wake-up call that we must start anew. But, with each step that we take towards Christ we are that much closer to becoming one with Him.

Trusting Like Children

I was watching some videos of my grandchildren the other night. I noticed how they live almost totally entrenched in trust. They are so quick to smile and willingly offer their hand for you to hold. They know, that their parent will make everything right again. They live in a happy world, full of trust and goodness. Close your eyes for a moment and put yourself in their world, a world of no doubt, no fear, no anguish, and no worry. The only thing that exists in their world is trust, and joy and happiness.

Christ has told us, that “…unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” And here, all along, I thought we, the parents, the adults, were to be role models for children. It is truly the other way around. We are to strive to be as trusting, as loving, as kind, as children are.

I can hear your thoughts. What is he mad? Children don’t know the value of money. They don’t know the evil that exists in the world, and as a result, are defenseless against that evil. They don’t know the people that I know, and how they would willingly serve you up, just to get ahead in the business world. Ahh yes, we are sophisticated, we are knowledgeable. But, a synonym for “sophisticated” is “skeptical”. By saying we are knowledgeable we are really saying we know the ways of the world. We fear the ways of the world.

Christ knows that there are evils in the world. He knows there are snares and traps that are waiting for us. He does not tell us to ignore the temptations of the world, just be aware of them. He tells us to be like little children. Like little children, child-like, not childish! We can be aware of what the world is offering. But we must seek out what Christ is offering. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Christ is that Someone, on whom we can rely, on whom we must rely.

Consider the goodness of Jesus, which we find in the Bible. He leaves the ninety nine sheep to find the lost one. He does not judge people’s lives, He forgives them. He listens to their unspoken worries and He eases them. His love for us, for all mankind, is so evident that we don’t have to turn a page to read about it, to feel it. On Him, we can safely place our trust and be the “…little children that come to Him, for ours is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ Transforms Us

I have been confused for a good portion of my life. I was, and am happily married. Nevertheless, I felt that something was still missing in me. Within these past two years, I really believe Christ decided to wake me up, or at least, give me many opportunities to wake up. The most important thing that I realized was that, in my early life, I was not ready for responsibilities. I was too self-centered, too selfish. A gradual change began when I met my wife. Slowly, over the course of my marriage, I learned, by her example, that happiness did not depend on worrying about self, but rather being concerned for others. The beauty of our marriage blossomed with two wonderful sons, and a family that grew together.    

This transformation progressed over the course of our marriage. It did not happen all at once. It has taken over 39 years and is still moving forward to its conclusion. Things happen for a reason, I truly believe that. God is an all-knowing God, and is very much aware of what we suffer, want, need and feel. He is also timeless and very patient. All we can do is put our trust in Him, and say,“Your will be done”. I have begun to realize that Christ was with me all along, waiting for me to accept His love. He has been gently guiding me. His boundless love for us surrounds us every day. Even in our hardships, He is there with His hand outstretched, waiting for us to slip our hand in His.

The strange part about this awakening, however, is becoming aware how much our actions can hurt so many people. To think only of self is the best way to go to, and live in, hell. When we turn our heads, and look back at what we have done with our lives, we might see the hopes and dreams of others that we may have hurt. A difficult pill to swallow.

For the last few years, I have been obsessed with trying to make things right with Christ. I felt that I SHOULD be doing something for Christ, to pay Him back, so to speak. Maybe I should do this, or maybe I should do that. But that, in itself, was the problem… the words… “I SHOULD”. And I never realized it. So I aimlessly went around certain that I should be doing something positive, something Christian. I just didn’t know what. As I said earlier, within this past year or so, I started to recognize some very important facts. One of these facts was that our God is a timeless God. He does not view our lives at one specific time, or one specific act, but rather as a progression of steps. The meandering path that we take, will at times lead us towards or away from God. We must place our trust in Him, knowing that He will help us find and stay on the right path.  Another fact recognized and understood, was that Christ came into this world, solely for us. He showed us how to live, and most importantly, showed us that He forgave us our sins, by dying on a cross. When I finally realized and BELIEVED this, I knew that the rest of my life was not meant to be a repayment for a life of things gone wrong, of things not done for others. I am to live a life of a Christian, a Catholic and the rest will take care of itself. This is not a rationalization, something to convince myself that all is ok and make myself feel good. I know that I am finally on the right track, moving in the right direction.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am still struggling with my selfishness. I am still a person who does slip and fall. But, that is the beauty of Christianity, we all are. We all struggle with our problems, our lives, our sins. Christ is still there, patiently waiting for us to accept His hand. He knows the price of our struggles and has already paid for them. Everything that I am saying I believe with my entire being. The problem of what should I be doing does not exist for me, nor for anyone. “Should” does not contain any thought of love, but only obligation. The question that we all face is “How much do I/we love Christ?” “What does it mean for us to be His followers?” If we have something that is so beautiful, so inspiring, so uplifting, then we will want to share this with others. Our love for Christ will be visible to those around us in the way we live our lives. Our lives will do Christ’s talking. We will want to do things for others, not because someone says we should, but because we want them to know and experience the happiness that is Christ. What a wonderful world it would be if we all chose to follow Christ, listen to His words, and learn by His actions.

I do believe everything I have said. My should has changed to wanting people to experience His love. With a single brush stroke, Christ has changed my whole outlook. I want to let people know about Jesus. To let them feel His burning love. For this purpose I started thesteppingstones blog site. Not because I should, but because someone might see a benefit by coming here. My Jesus, I trust in Thee.

On one of my normal outbursts in the car about the stupidity of other drivers, my wife just looked at me and shook her head. Continue reading

Early on in his “Confessions”, St. Augustine writes “For Thou hast formed us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless, till they rest in Thee.” Continue reading

On Joy

Today’s post on joy may seem a strange choice during this time of Lent. Usually, that is a time we talk of sacrifice, penance, and suffering. Continue reading