Tag Archive: Our Father

Today, is May 21, 2011. We hear and see many declarations of the world’s end. Could it end today? Certainly, it could. Could it end tomorrow? Again, we have to answer with a “yes”. It could also end a thousand years from now or any day in between. Each day has the same degree of possibility. As we hear in the Bible, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away. But of that day or hour no man knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is.” -1

Man has a fascination with the end-time. What will happen? How will it happen? What will be left? Man’s curiousity and inquisitiveness comes into play with full force, here. And yet, we should just ask ourselves, “Why do we want to know”? “Are we changing our lives for the better?” The only thing we know for sure is that time will most certainly, run out. The when should really not be important to us. What is important is what are we doing with the time available?

Let’s suppose that you did know the exact time. What would you change? Or, maybe better said, would you change? Curiousity can be just morbid, or it can prompt reform. An anticipated fearful event is NOT enough to prompt reform. Reform can only happen through our view of our lives, and our recognition of the gap between where we are and what Jesus asks of all mankind. But even then, the reform would be nothing more than a conforming to a plan laid out by someone else.

It is our relationship with Jesus, which sparks our feelings of love and affection to Him that can and will prompt the necessary reform. We cannot undo our past. We cannot remake our lives based on something that may happen in our lifetime. Our reform can only be brought about by our recognition of His love for us. His life, His teachings, and His death were all because of His love for us.

Padre Pio, in his writingspoints out, “…Jesus did not measure the blood He shed for the salvation of humanity, could He possibly measure my sins in order to lose me? I do not believe so.”-2 Our awareness of the completeness of Christ’s love for us, only that is what will prompt us to change and reform our lives. His goodness and warmth that we feel and recognize will be the mechanism which will spur us to joyously follow Him. The end time is as important as what kind of washing machine we will buy next. His love is our life.

1- Mark 13,31-33
2- Secrets of a Soul, Padre Pio’s Letters to His Spiritual Directors


He Is Risen!!

Today, we celebrate. Today, we rejoice. The Christ, who suffered and died, has done what He promised. He has triumphed over sin and death. He has risen from the dead, as He said He would. This one triumphant act, this, the greatest of all of His miracles, shows to the world that His words are true. He IS lord and master of the universe. We CAN believe in Him. If we ever doubted, we have no reason to doubt any more.

But even now, in this jubilant and glorious victory, how does Jesus conduct Himself? He meets two strangers on the road to Emmaus and hides his identity from them. He quietly mingles with His apostles, continuing His teaching of them. If we were in the same position, would we not stand in the face of our enemies, gloating with every fiber of our body shouting out, “I told you so”? Thank God, we are not God!!!

So, today we have cause to celebrate. We know that our faith, our beliefs, do hold water. We are reminded, once again, that all mankind has been bought back, has been brought back to the loving embrace of the Father. (See the blog: Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting.)

Our struggles, our trials, our sufferings can be more than just some negative happenings that we experience in this life. We can merge our sufferings with those of Jesus. Together, we can offer them to Our Father in Heaven. At Mass, we say, “Through Him, With Him and In Him, all honor and glory is Yours almighty Father.” Attaching to the sufferings of Jesus, our own sacrifices, we acknowledge and recognize our own unworthiness and need for forgiveness.

So, we have been renewed. We have been exonerated. And, we didn’t even have to lift a finger.!?!?  WRONG!!!! We may act like we have nothing further to do, we may live our lives as though nothing further is required from us, but that is terribly, terribly wrong. The actions of Jesus were for our benefit. But they were just that, actions of Jesus. We have a commitment to make and to live. Jesus said, “Unless you take up your cross and follow me…” He has shown us how to live, how to conduct our lives. His words, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”… are not just poetic niceties. He is showing us our commitment. In Matt, Chapter 11, 28 He says, “Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you”, and again in 30, “For my yoke is sweet and my burden light”. He is not asking us to die on the cross. He did that. He is simply asking us to love one another. And, in loving one another, in living in such a manner, we embrace Christ’s life, death and Resurrection. We will rise, as He has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is Jesus?

How Do You Answer?

Who are YOU? That seems like a simple enough question. We might mention the job we have. We could respond with the size of the salary we have. We might call attention to the position we have in the company that we work for. There are many ways how that simple question can be answered. But these kinds of answers are NOT really for the question, “Who are you?”, but for the questions, “What do you DO?” “How WELL do you do it?”

Rather than playing a guessing game, I’ll just mention a few ways how, “Who are you?” can be answered. I am a human being. I am an animal, but with the ability to think. I have the ability to make good and bad decisions because I have free will. I can see, hear, and feel, but these are because of physical things like eyes, ears and nerve endings. I can think. Thinking is not physical. Thinking transcends, or rises above, the physical world. Thinking involves the spiritual realm. So, I am not only physical, but spiritual, as well.

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 16, vs. 13-17, we see Jesus asking the Apostles, Who do people say that the Son of man is? Their answer comes back with what they heard people saying, namely, John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremiah or a prophet. The question then turns to the Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” -1 This is a question that He also asks us, you and me, to answer as well. We know Peter’s response, “You are Christ, The Son of the living God”. To which Jesus replies back to him that Peter has been blessed, because he doesn’t know this by his own doing, his humanity, but because of Jesus’ Father in Heaven, God.

So, Jesus asks us, also, “Who am I”? All of the ways we have been taught, from our earliest years on how to answer this, we know. We know them so well, that they have almost become meaningless to us. Jesus is the Christ! Yep, yep, I know that. What does that mean? He is the Savior, the Redeemer. What did He save? Who did He save? Why? What is this Redeemer business? Remember, we are animals, with the ability to think. We need to know the answers to all these questions. These answers should mean something to us. They must mean something to us! What does His life and death mean to me? To you? Did He really die for us? What is the relationship we have with Him, because of His life? His death? His Resurrection? If we are really being honest with ourselves, we must not just read these things, but internalize them. This is not question-and-answer time. This is question-and-what-does-this-really-mean-to-me time. Our life on this earth and for all of eternity is determined by how we answer these questions.

If we logically think through this process, we would hear our thoughts go like this: Christ, who is the Son of God, came to show me how to live. Mankind, of which I am part, has brutalized God. I turned my back on Him. I separated myself from God, through actions which I knew were not in my BEST interests. Jesus came to repair the damage. He died on the cross for me. For His life and death to mean something to me, I must know why He came into this world. For it to mean something to me, I must accept that He died because of things I have done.  For it to mean something to me, I must finally show my acceptance, by living in the fashion that Jesus showed me, namely, through love, concern and acceptance of others.

We look at our lives and realize we have grown soft. We like the comforts which we have become accustomed to, no matter how small. We don’t like to be inconvenienced. We are intolerant of others actions, especially when they disturb our peace of mind. We seek every creature comfort that we can afford, or want. The thought of right and wrong, we try not to think about. Our heads hurt when we think that deeply, so we turn up the sound box a little louder, so we can’t think, don’t have to think. Our children have become responsibilities that we put up with. They are no longer little people craving to learn how to cope with life, how to embrace their God, how to learn, how to love. We seek only ourselves and in so doing, are in the process of losing ourselves.

Christ knows how we are, with all of our deficiencies, and inclinations. He saw us before we were born and knew then of our shortcomings. And, He still loves us. Knowing our actions, He loves us and dies for us. He loves us, as we are NOW. How do we explain that? We who can’t tolerate another person’s awkward glance or stare, how do we explain a love that will die for us as we are? Infinite love is as incomprehensible to us, as the thought of an infinite God.

Knowing everything that we have said above, what does Christ want from us? He wants us to recognize who we are, complete with our deficiencies (our sins and evil inclinations), and still know that He loves us, right now! Does He want us to move towards Him? Of course, He does. But, He still loves us as we are, with an infinite love. We, for our part, must simply trust Him. We must totally accept His love, while acknowledging that our lives fall so very short of where they should be. How completely can we accept Jesus? Our life’s story will continue to play out, as we struggle to rein in our lives. Christ knows us for what we are, and we ashamedly, know what we are. The difference is we can’t tolerate ourselves, and Jesus loves us infinitely. He wants us to raise our minds, our hearts, our very existence, and offer them to Him. Take our lives, Lord, hold them, and do with them as You wish. We trust in You. If we trust Him, in this fashion, our lives will change. We will see others in a way we have never seen them before. They are our brothers and sisters, all struggling with the same problems we have.

-1 This is covered a little more thoroughly in the blog, “Who Do You Say I Am?

Are We Free or Not?

Puppet or Free Will?

We speak of God as being our father, our creator; and, that He is love. In our mind’s eye, we picture some elderly person with a long flowing beard, dressed in a white robe. These are our attempts at trying to comprehend, something that defies comprehension. So what can possibly be said about God that contains objective truth and is not mere speculation?

This whole discussion is predicated on two beliefs. The first is that He is responsible for the creation of all that is in the universe. We look at the order that we see in the universe, and in ourselves. This did not just happen by chance. Someone, something is responsible for all the order. This someone we call God. The second belief, that we are holding here, is that He must be perfect. This is essential in our concept of an infinite being. And since perfection involves all positive qualities, and love is positive, God is love.

Before I go any further, I acknowledge that these few lines do not constitute a proof of the existence of God. They are just intended to present a summary of many lines of thought about God, His existence, His makeup, His love.

Having stated these things, picture a box. In that box is every person that has ever lived, or will ever live. Everything that has ever been in this universe is in that box. Holding this box is God. This box is time. We are in time; God is outside of the box, beyond time; He is infinite. He can see, right now, from one end of the box to the other. He sees (now) what we see as having happened in the past, and he sees (now) what will happen in the future. We on the other hand, living in time, we see everything as having a cause and effect, a start and an end. This start and end view constitutes what we call time.

Having said all of this, an interesting position comes forth, namely Free Will. There are some that deny the existence of free will. Instead, they claim that man is pre-ordained, or pre-destined to do things, even to what his eventual end will be. They say, “If God knows what we will do, then we must not be free; we do not have free will. It is already pre-determined what we will do.” Think back to the box. We can do whatever we wish. We can do good or we can do evil. The choice is ours. We are free to decide what we will do. God knows (now) what our eventual choice will be, because He is outside of time, outside of the box.
What we do, what we say, what we think, how we treat others, our lives are determined by ourselves, not by God. We cannot blame outside events, or other people as to why we do, what we do. We, and only we, are responsible. We may allow events to affect us, but it is WE that do the allowing. People may hurt us, but WE allow their words and actions to affect us. God has given mankind, and only mankind, free will. He has given us the intelligence to cope, to understand, to act in ways that we see fit. It is OUR choice to act as we do. What is your choice?

I am Sorry

I am sorry. Three simple words, and yet they convey so much feeling and emotion. Continue reading