Tag Archive: Hope


THE SECRET

q q

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Advertisements

The Kernel of Christianity

Judas and Jesus

I heard this poem on the television. Then, I looked it up on the internet, so that I could share it with you. The title of this blog is what the poem has been called. The author is unknown. Please read this thoughtfully, savoring its every word and picturing Jesus speaking to Judas, while He is nailed to the Cross.

Judas, if true love never ceases
How could you, my friend, have come to this:
To sell me for thirty silver pieces
And betray me with a kiss?

Judas, remember what I taught you,
Do not despair while hanging on the rope.
It’s because you sinned that I have sought you;
I came to give you hope.

Judas, let us pray and hang together,
You on your halter, I upon my hill.
Dear friend, even if you loved me never,
You know I love you still.

None of us are perfect. We don’t even come close. To look at Judas and say, “How could he?” is rather a bit duplicitous, or two-faced on our part. We have betrayed Jesus many times in our lives. And yet, we, sometimes, look upon this fallen Apostle with disdain and outrage. If this were a “Morality Play”, the part of Judas would represent all of mankind’s errors, sins, faults, and deceptions. In speaking to Judas, Jesus is speaking to all of mankind (Me and You). He does so, not to embarrass us, not to demean us, but to let us know that He came into this world to give each of us hope. His love is such that it does not depend on how much we love back.

We don’t really understand this totally free, unconditional love that Jesus has for us. Only God can love with that much abandon. We look upon Jesus hanging on the cross, and know that this is being done for us. But we really don’t understand it. We cannot understand a love such as this. We are human, with all of the trappings of littleness, and selfishness. His love is selfless!

He came to give us hope. He came to show us how to love. He came to show us how to live. His life is the blueprint for the rest of mankind to follow. In following His example, by living our lives as closely as we can to His we are accepting God’s love, His total, unconditional and undying love. By following Him, we are placing our hands in His and saying, “I love You, I trust in You. I really trust You.” This is how we thank Him for never stopping His love for us, in spite of our failings that nailed Him to that cross.

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

1) One Of You Will Betray Me
2) Another Look At Jesus’ Humanity
3) Three People In Our Life
4) Thou Art Peter- Upon This Rock?

Thoughts on Pope’s Resignation

pope benedict

A friend of mine sent me an email, with some comments made by a Bob Betterton. If you wish to see his remarks, go to Betterton on Pope Gregory XVI Resignation. This is the reply I sent to my friend’s email.

I never heard of Bob Betterton, so I “Googled” his bio. He attended two colleges, LeMoyne and Fordham, both Jesuit institutions.In one of his books he speaks about going from a compliant catholic, to a curious catholic and now as a practicing critical catholic. I assume we are hearing the critical catholic, now. His statement of “Dear All” speaks a lot. In those two words, we are hearing a pronouncement from the master. (I personally think the Mr. Betterton has an extremely high opinion of himself.) But that is neither hear nor there.

I could be wrong, but it seems that everyone who has a contrary opinion comes out of Jesuit institutions. I suspect that the philosophy of that organization is to teach people to ALWAYS be critical of what is said. In and of itself, that is good. What is bad is that not everyone who is critical has the … wholesomeness??… (not sure that is the correct word) to provide positive counter thoughts. So much for my “argumentum ad hominem”. I will address his statements rather than attack the man.

I think , (I could be wrong, admittedly), that a plot against the church is being depicted. Maybe my head is buried in the sand, but I cannot help but think  that Mr. Betterton must have been privy to some secret conversation. Was he in a Roman wine cellar and overheard a conversation? Who does he know that presented this information to him? In short, where are his FACTS? Speculation is…. speculation!! And that is specious, at best. He sees ghosts and goblins. He expects dire consequences. His own words, “This is one of the most diabolical, Machiavellian, tyrannical, unconscionable and disgraceful plots in history”. Why would this be considered a plot? If perpetuating Benedict XVI’s philosophy is a plot then he, obviously, doesn’t like what has been going on in the church for the last 8 or 9 years..Having another pope with the same mind-set as Benedict the XVI would be devastating to Mr. Betterton. He, obviously wants more change. Why? What areas does he not like? Where is he most re-active? Unfortunately, I don’t know that much about him.

What I feel is that more and more of the people who have our ear, are presenting THEMSELVES.What has happened to hope? Where has trust in God, gone? Jesus said in reference to His church, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Apparently, Mr. Betterton feels that Jesus gave a timeline to those words. Does he think that the church will now flounder and fall? Does he think that this is the time? I feel that the 80 year old, Mr. Betterton, himself, is running out of time and wishes to have some impact on the church that he loves. (my observation, no factual content, deductions that I am making.)

My opinion: The world, the church is going through some very, very difficult times. No one feels comfortable in what is going on. No one person has the answer. The one person that could make a change has already come and been crucified. He did, however, give us the blueprint for conducting our lives. He has shown us how to live, “I am the way…” He was telling us how to live, what to do in times such as these. Pray. Pray for the people who rule. Pray for the countries in turmoil. Pray for the cities and towns we live in. Pray for our families. Prayer: “A lifting up of our hearts and minds to God”. …to Jesus. If  we truly pray (not just words, but our feelings, our convictions) then we will be loving that which we pray for. To live as a Catholic Christian we must believe in God. We must trust God. We must love God and one another. Faith, Hope and Charity…but the greatest of these is charity.

Yours in Christ

One of You Will Betray Me

The Gospel today, focuses squarely on Judas Iscariot. Why? Why not Peter, as well? Both men turned their backs on Jesus. Peter with his denial and Judas with his betrayal, both spurned the Christ. In effect, both men wanted nothing to do with Jesus either out of fear or out of greed.

The only difference between the two is faith. Though both had fallen, as all of us do, Peter never relinquished his faith in Jesus. The realization, of how great his offense was, reduced Peter to tears. And in his sorrow, in his time of trial, he fled back to Jesus who was waiting for him. Judas, on the other hand, on his realization of the magnanimity of his offense, despaired. One, relying on his faith in Jesus, returned with sincere sorrow, grateful in that faith that he would be forgiven. Judas had no such strength to fall back on. His faith in material things delivered no such solace. With no reliance on Jesus, his life proved to be empty, meaningless and he sought the coward’s way out, he hung himself.

No one is perfect. Neither you nor I can point our incriminating finger at Judas without turning that same finger back upon ourselves. Christ said it, Himself, “He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…”-1  This is not an attempt to soften our own negligence, to make light of our own capricious living. We are all struggling to bring our lives into accordance with God. Yes, He understands our frailty. But our weakness cannot be our excuse. Our lives will always be a continuing struggle. Life is a struggle to excel, to succeed, to grow.

In what are we struggling to excel? To succeed? To grow? That is the important aspect of our lives. If material things are of paramount importance to us, then in that, we have placed our faith. What occupies our main focus during the day? Then in that, we have placed our faith. It is not rocket science. What do we want? What do we desire? What moves us, and motivates us? That, and only that, will show us what our primary concern is. Yes, we should be attentive to our finances, our children, our home, and our jobs. But these concerns must always be placed within our trust in God, our faith in a loving, caring God. We can, like Peter, place our trust in Jesus. Or, we can place our trust in things. What will warm you the most? Which will comfort you in your time of need?

-1 John, 8, 7

Here and Now

What do we write…Right Now!

“The beauty of the moment”, “the music of now”… these are expressions that gently remind us to stop worrying about the past, to stop anticipating the future. The past is over. We can do nothing about it. We must move on. The things we worry about in the future exist only in our mind. They have not happened. Our fear portrays them as reality, when, in reality, they do not exist. God IS. He speaks to us in the now. He loves us in the now.

“Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on…Behold the birds of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you of much more value than they?” (Matt, 5:25-26) Christ tells us again and again how much God loves us. But, for some reason, we find it difficult to grasp. We believe it, but we don’t trust it. We say to ourselves, “Yes, God does love me. But I am not a fool, I need to do this, or do that.” No, we don’t.

What we need to do is trust an all-loving God. We have to realize that if He created us, had us in His mind, you and me, from all eternity, then this all-loving God will not abandon us. Brennan Manning, in his book, “Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God” states, “But faith in God without hope in his promises is tainted trust.” You can spend the rest of your life focusing on that one sentence. His premise is that mankind does not really trust God. To accomplish that trust… we must be ruthless in our pursuit of it.

To worry about the past, the future, even about the condition of our spiritual life is to rob us of the here and now. It is in this moment that we honor and praise and love God. In the next one, too, and the one after that. How difficult this is. So much is stealing our attention, is forcing us to think of what was done yesterday, and what we have to do tomorrow. Right now…if you are meant to be reading this, then focus on what is being said. “What happens after this”, I don’t know. It is YOUR moment.

How do we implement this moment to moment living? It just means that the next person you meet is to be treated, no… is to be acknowledged that he/she is the most important person in your life, right then. He/she requires and expects your full attention and concern. But, what if he is dirty? What if he is white, black, red, brown? What if he doesn’t meet my expectations? Jesus is in him or her; does He meet your expectations?

What if it isn’t a person, I meet? What if something happens which I don’t like, I don’t want? How do I see the beauty of the moment, there? Ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?” Each moment is given us, by a loving God. IT IS YOUR MOMENT!

Hope and Trust

Where do we put our faith, in ourselves? In our job? What does it mean to us, when we go to church? Who is Jesus? How can we have hope, or put our trust in Someone, if we don’t know what that someone means to us? Sadly, all of us, at times, will go to church more out of ritual then wanting to go.

Sunday, or late Saturday, means maybe getting dressed a little bit more fashionably, and maybe, not. We gather the kids in the car and we bribe with a promise of a breakfast or dinner out, if the children are good. We sit uncomfortably in the pew, waiting for the Mass to start, or maybe we rush in a few minutes late. We say a hurried prayer, or possibly continue a conversation that was started in the car. The priest walks down the aisle. Some people up near the front sing a hymn or something. We listen, kind of, to the few preliminary readings. Then the big one, the Gospel, is read by the priest (or the deacon). The sermon begins and we sit back into the pew and tend to the children. Our eyes wander, looking at the other people sitting around us. We wonder what they are wondering about. Sometimes we hear a few words of the sermon, and speculate what he is talking about. We then hear more readings from the book, at the center of the altar. The singing, the getting up and down, the Our Father, all begins to run together into an amorphous confused cloud. Pew by pew, we get up and receive a piece of bread. Our thoughts wander from the bread is stiff, to it is like cardboard, to it is stale, to watching the people walk past our pew. Every now and then we think to ourselves, “God what’s wrong with me?” The final blessing is made and we all go back to our homes.

If this sounds familiar, then we need help. The pivotal part of our week, around which all of our life should center has become meaningless to us. We have let it slip and fall, until it has become… we are not sure what! I asked earlier, “How can we put our faith, our trust in Jesus, if we are unfamiliar with Him?” It is not his fault that you don’t know him. His life, His work, His message is contained…no it resides in that Book they read from at every Mass. (But we don’t listen to that, do we. We are busy with other things.) It is not the church’s fault either. At every Mass, the sermon relates how the various passages that are read that day, affect us. (But we don’t listen to that either. We are busy with other things.)

Somewhere in our lives, we came to the conclusion that the Mass wasn’t important. Actually, we didn’t understand its importance and rather than try to understand, we decided it was easier to just let it drift away. A decision, made in the past, now erodes the very hope and trust that we so desperately need. That decision, fortunately, is not irreversible. All we need to do is resolve to understand. Read about the Mass and why things are done; read about Christ’s life and His message to all of us; read what our Baptism really signifies and how it empowers us. Our Faith tells us it isn’t Hopeless, if we Trust. All we need do is sincerely ask Jesus for guidance and hope and trust will become part of us.