Tag Archive: Trust in God


The Peace That We Desire

His Gentle Love

His Gentle Love

Who are You? Really!! What do you like about yourself? What do you think of others? Are you critical of others? Do you want people to act or talk a certain way? How do you feel if they don’t comply? We are so full of conflicting emotions. We want things to be just so, and when they aren’t, we get bent out of shape. We don’t want to be bothered by things. We don’t want to have to adapt, to adjust, or to change our way of doing things. And yet… we are not satisfied with where we are right now. As I said earlier, “we are so full of conflicting emotions”.

It is not an easy task to look at ourselves. We want things to be just so, and when they aren’t, we excuse them, we soften them, we ignore them and/or we change our focus. We will do anything so as not to have to cope with conflict, our conflict. What does Christ say to us? “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”, (Matt 18, 3); “you cannot bear fruit … unless you abide in me”, (John 15, 4). It sounds so daunting, so stringent, so demanding. And yet, remember who is saying this? It is the Christ, the Word made flesh, our God of Love. We really don’t want contention; we want peace

Read the following prayer of St. Teresa of Avila. But don’t just read it, ponder it, understand it, let it permeate you. Feel it grow inside. Allow the love of God to enfold you, and wrap you in His arms.

May today there be peace within Accept who and what you are, as you are, Accept Jesus, at His word, He has come to bring peace to us, to the world. Accept Him.


May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be All have made mistakes in our lives. We are what we are, where we are as a result of our past life. A past that God has seen, and still truly loves us, as and where we are.


May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith God is infinite. Think of the most outlandish and most beautiful accomplishment that you can think of. It is yours…if you strive for it and work towards that goal.


May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you What do you have right now? What gifts has He given you, enabled for you? Your ability to smile, to love , to laugh, to cry, to be gentle and tender…these are all gifts that He has lavished on you. What will you do with them? With whom will you share them?


May you be content knowing you are a child of God Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t wish for the accolades of the crowd. Rather, strive to accept the fact that God has created you, loves you and is happy just being with you.


Let this presence settle into your bones, Recognize that God’s love surrounds us and permeates us, always. This is true joy. Allow this fact to take control of you, of your existence…


and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love This realization will dominate all that you will do and a taste of Heaven on earth will be yours.


It is there for each and every one of us. All we need do is to say, “Yes” and accept Him into our life, our total life.

 

It sounds so simplistic, so uncomplicated. But, do we really think that Jesus, who sought to have the little children surround Him, would give the world complicated directions? He is just telling us, “Pursue your wholesome dreams, pursue those glimpses of joy and love, you so fiercely desire. In them, I will be waiting for you.”

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

1) Peace Within
2) Our Weakness, Our Strength
3) Our Demons
4) Our Strength
5) Thy Will Be Done

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Peace Within

teresaPeacecrop3

Those three lines are the beginning of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer. They will be the central theme for today. Reread them. Each line is bringing us the calm assurance that God is, indeed, with us. Each line is telling us something important for us to know. The entire quote can be found after these thoughts.

Each one of us, everyone, no exceptions, has made bumbling, and sometimes tragic mistakes in our lives. We have all done it, so why do we pretend that this does not pertain to us? We know our past. We fear the effects of our past. We are even ashamed at how crass we have been in our past. Don’t we even try to hide it? Don’t we pretend that it really never did happen? We try to forget it, but it is still there. It nags us. It shames us. It is relentless. Before you read any farther, read again this current paragraph and decide once and for all what it is that is nagging you, shaming you, causing you to flee from your God?

That first line above of St. Teresa’s prayer, it cries out to each of us, “God loves us, be at peace”. He has already forgiven us of all that we have done… AND WILL DO. (Remember God is not constrained by time. For Him there is no past nor future.) We find it very difficult to understand such an all-forgiving God. Does He not understand what we have done? What is this perfect love? All the times that we say, “I am sorry”, “I will do better”, “I won’t do that again” … and then go out and repeat our offense!! In spite of this, He loves us? Does He not understand our fickleness, our shallowness? God knew what difficulties would arise from free will. And yet He says, “Trust me”, “Believe in Me”, “Follow Me”. THIS is the exercising of our Free Will that He wants. Yes, He wants us to freely follow His love, freely follow His directions, but He also wants us to freely follow Him with trust, and have belief in Him. Be at Peace, follow Me.

Each of us needs to focus on all the twists and turns that have happened in our lives. Do we really feel that we are where we are right now, because of those past events? We think that this event caused us to go right, and that action caused us to move in the opposite direction, or further to the right. And then from that vantage point we went farther left or right. Is that what we think? Yes we are free. Free to choose good or evil. Free to walk whatever path that beckons us. But, through all of this our LOVING God watches over us and nudges and makes adjustments, whenever harm or evil will result. We can say, “No, that is not true. I can do something that will result in harm and evil”. Yes you can, but the final result, the final effect of your action will be God’s decision, not yours.

What is being said here is that our God loves us so infinitely much, that He is always watching over us, directing us, guiding us. Because of this, that second line of the prayer means exactly what it says, “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be”. Your choices, your decisions, your intentions may not have been in line with what God wanted of you, desired from you, but He never stopped loving you, and protecting you. Back to that free will, for a moment. Here is the perfect time to exercise it. Freely trust God that right NOW, He sees where you are, what is happening to you, what problems are assailing you (even though they may have resulted from your own actions). He knows what you are feeling, dreading and crying over. Trust Him. Trust His love for you. He will shape events somehow, in some way, so that the final outcome will be more than you could have ever hoped for.

Because of His infinite love, because of His infinite vision, no event is a surprise to God. Furthermore, there is no bucket that says, “All problems must fall in here”; nor, is there a drawer labeled “Put matters of this kind inside”. God is without limits. His vision is without limits. No two problems must, or will be solved in exactly the same way. For example: you and your sibling, though everything, and I mean everything, is the same, the two of you will still be facing different problems, different choices and wind up in different places, with different results. “May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.” Your life does not, will not, cannot be the same as anyone else. God has made you special. There is something special about each one of us. God wants us to find Him, trust Him, and discover His love. And, in that process we will find out what our role in this life is to be. We will find ourselves.

* * * *

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

* * * *

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

1) Christ Transforms Us
2) Our Weakness, Our Strength
3) Our Demons
4) Our Strength
5) Thy Will Be Done

Example, What is it?

trust vs worry

What does your life tell others? How do you deal with disappointment? Sorrow? Sickness? Family problems? Oh, there are so many things that can go wrong in our life, they seem almost endless. Do we put up with our problems? Simply tolerate them? Wait for better times? Do our problems cause us to take it out on others? These are a lot of questions waiting for us to answer. How we answer them, however, will tell us so much about our life, and what effect it has on others. For us to grow we must strive to not only understand their implications but what is necessary to overcome them, to utilize them.

There is a mouthful, right there. But, I assure you that that “mouthful” is necessary for us, as human beings, to squarely look at and resolve. We cannot prevent any of these from happening. Who stops death? Who successfully prevents all illnesses or family problems? No one on this earth can do that. So what do we do about them? Every problem that besets us, if not correctable or solvable will cause those helpless feelings to grow inside of us. And that is when we begin to take our problems out on those around us.

What did Christ say about these things? His friend Lazarus was ill and when told about it He simply said, “The sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God”. Even when Lazarus had died and was buried for three days, Jesus tells his followers that all of this was coming about for the glory of God. He went to the tomb and called for Lazarus to come out. The rest of the tale we know. Lazarus came out and Jesus told them to get him some food. This was the same with His death. He would ask for food, after His own Resurrection.

What is He telling us? Is it not that everything that we call evil, or problematic, or causing sorrow is a way to glorify our God? If we let these evils conquer us, if we let them weaken our resolve then we have already lost to them. No one seeks out these problems. No one wants them in their life. But they do happen. They do occur. How we deal with them will be reflected by our demeanor, our attitude, our own sense of purpose.

Jesus is telling us that evil in this world will not destroy us, if we believe in His words, if we follow His example. These disappointments and sorrow and sickness and family problems are actually our fire that tries our steel. Yes, we can let these problems overwhelm us. And, in so doing, we live our lives with attitudes of “poor me” or “why me”. All of us will have these things occur. No one can expect to be excused, or overlooked. When they come about, how we address them will really be what proves us. “The sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God”. Our problems will be our proving ground. Our belief in God, our belief in the words of Jesus will be the strength that we will draw on. In coping with these, in addressing these we will see our attitude change. We will not only tolerate others, but amidst our own suffering we will truly see the sufferings of others and seek to help them.

Isn’t this really, what the world needs right now? It doesn’t need individuals only seeking their own goals, their own needs, or their own comforts. The world is full of these people, already. Sorely lacking however, are people believing in a God, trusting in a God, recognizing that this God loves them with an infinite capacity. This God is asking us to recognize that He loves us, and protects us always. Things that we call problems, difficulties, sorrows and sickness, He calls differently. This God, this infinite God, loves us so tremendously that what we see as being a negative is really His opportunity for us to grow in our trust, our belief and our love of Him. Without that trust, belief and love of Him our problems will continue to invade us. But with them, we will embrace Him that much more and thank Him for this opportunity to give glory and honor to Him. And suddenly man looks to helping others rather than himself. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

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

1) Belief in Jesus
2) Seeing, Believing, Doing
3) Truth. Where Is It
4) What is the Will of God?
5) What To Do About Complaining

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

Who Do You Trust?

trust known God

I will try to address the following points in this posting:

1) We are worriers, afraid of what life will bring. We are unable to trust in Jesus
2) “Take up cross and follow” is tantamount to guaranteed pain and suffering
3) Why pray for people when we should be accepting His will
4) Can we change an immutable God?
5) He knows from all eternity what will play out.

I believe all of us struggle with these questions and are truly seeking resolution to them. Maybe, in some way, this post will provide you a glimpse into these questions and yourself, as well. The remainder of this, will try to address each of these points, individually. HOWEVER, realize that all of these points tie in together and should not be thought of as being separate issues. They are looking at different aspects of the same concern, TRUSTING JESUS.

Do you worry very much? Are you afraid of what life will bring? Ask yourself, “Why”? Why are we afraid? What do we really fear? What answer(s) do you come up with? Nobody wants pain and sorrow. We don’t go out in search of it. But we don’t shape our life primarily to avoid it. It is, what it is, It comes, when it comes. (This has nothing to do with fatalism). To push against it only heightens the pain and worry. We may feel we are not able to trust in Jesus, because He is asking us to take up our cross. We worry and are afraid, because we don’t know what is coming, and if it will bring us pain or suffering. So we are fearful. We are fearing a cross that a loving Jesus knows will help us, in some way. We don’t know the way to carry it, but that same loving Jesus also said, “I am the Way…[to carry it]”.

You fear that taking up the cross guarantees pain and suffering. And???? Or, may I should say, “So”??? Once again, are you shaping your life to avoid the unknown. How much freer you would be, if you just say, “I trust you Jesus. If it is too much for me, I know You will either lighten it, or strengthen me. In the meantime, I will live my life trying to love as You taught.”

The next three items really address what prayer is. Why pray for people? If we are praying so that something will change, that night becomes day, that cold becomes warm, that sick become well – then aren’t we trying to play God? I want this to happen. I will pray to God and He will change it accordingly. You are right, He is immutable. He is unchangeable. He is not changing His mind. But you, who pray to Him, you who live in a world that does change, are praying to Him for something to happen. From all eternity, He saw my sister, Eleanor’s sickness. He allowed it to happen. Why? Does He not love Eleanor? Did He want her or us to suffer more? That doesn’t sound like a loving God, to me. But, we prayed for cures. We prayed for her relief. We prayed that she would have the strength to bear it. And she did for 20 years. Maybe God’s will wasn’t about Eleanor’s sickness, but by it…. WE PRAYED. Maybe the sickness was the requirement to get some of us to pray, to feel her pain, to understand the sufferings of others. God is not changing. But He is using events that man brings about, to squeeze good out of them. If I learned anything from my own life it is this: “God writes straight with crooked lines.”

So, we are not changing an immutable God. We are asking for the strength to do His will. We are asking that He give that strength to others, when they need it and to the world, which desperately needs it. We pray to become united with Him. We pray that our will can, in some way, be strong enough to say and mean, “Thy will be done”. Let me act and live in the way that You have seen me capable of living and not as I am, right now. To be in tune, so to speak, with Him, so that we, like a tuning fork, vibrate and move with the same feelings that He has.

Yes, He knows from all eternity what would happen. He knew and saw all the twisted turns of my life. He allowed me my free will. But… He took those struggles, along with other people’s struggles and brought about my present life. One that brings me closer and much more aware of His presence.

Please believe Him, He has a unique PLAN for you, just like He has for all of us. It is not too late for us to wonder what it is, nor to find it. He sees you reading this, now. Hopefully, these words carry to you, what He wants to be said. I mentioned this yesterday, but it bears repeating. Most of the Apostles were just fishermen. Men, living a simplistic life style, who trusted and believed in Jesus, and wound up having miracles, performed through them. All they did was follow the plan that Jesus had for them. The key to finding it, however, is to trust Him. Pray for the courage to say, “Lord, I surrender myself to you. Tale care of everything”.

 ALL OF US need to hear this from time to time. ALL OF US have these doubts, worries and fears. And finally, ALL OF US are trying to grow in our trust of God. We cannot do it by ourselves. We must pray for the gift of being able to surrender to Jesus.

Jesus2

We speak of surrendering to the Will of God. What are we surrendering, though? Look at ourselves. We are full of emotions, ideals, goals, desires, wishes. We are fearful of sickness, death, loss of income, loss of tangible and intangible things. The list goes on and on and on. All of the above can be good, but to obsess over any one of these can be very harmful to our well-being.

When the loss of, or the fear of losing any one of these causes us to change our way of acting, they have become an obstacle and not a goal. Let me explain. Just as a child knows that the mother loves it, and all is well when she is present. In like manner, we are that child, and God is that parent. We know He loves us. Surrendering to His will is nothing more than trusting Him, trusting His love for us. When we put our trust in Him, His answer to our prayers, may not be what we want, but He knows what is best for us. Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.

Day 4:

You see evil growing instead of weakening? Do not worry, Close your eyes and say to me with faith: “Thy will be done, You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, and that I will intervene as does a doctor and I will accomplish miracles when they are needed. Do you see that the sick person is getting worse? Do not be upset, but close your eyes and say “You take care of it.” I say to you that I will take care of it, and
that there is no medicine more powerful than my loving intervention. By my love, I promise this to you.

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

Day 5:

And when I must lead you on a path different from the one you see, I will prepare you; I will carry you in my arms; I will let you find yourself, like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other bank of the river. What troubles you and hurts you immensely are your reason, your thoughts and worry, and your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you.

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

Day 6:

You are sleepless; you want to judge everything, direct everything and see to everything and you surrender to human strength, or worse- to men themselves, trusting in their intervention- this is what hinders my words and my views. Oh how much I wish from you this surrender, to help you and how I suffer when I see you so agitated! Satan tries to do exactly this: to agitate you and to remove you from my protection and to throw you into the jaws of human initiative. So, trust only in me, rest in me,surrender to me in everything.

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

Jesus2

On November 19, 1970, Fr. Ruotolo died at the age of 88. Padre Pio said of him, that the “whole of paradise is in your soul”. His life, his words all reflected very high devotion to God and serving Him to the nth degree of his ability. In his profound humility, he was able to hear the words of God. One of the treasures that He learned from the words that Jesus spoke to him was this teaching about total abandonment to God.

Each day of this novena, we hear of what surrender to God’s will requires. In this novena (nine days), Jesus is talking to Fr. Dolindo and also to you and me. The nine days of the novena will be presented over the next three days on TheSteppingStones. Start the novena, and each day, of the nine days, reflect on that particular day’s words. Think and meditate on what that day’s reflection means to you. Pray the conclusion prayer throughout that day. Realize and understand what the words of the conclusion prayer signify for your life.

Day 1:

Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind complete surrender to me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations.

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

Day 2:

Surrender to me does not mean to fret, to be upset, or to lose hope, nor does it mean offering to me a worried prayer asking me to follow you and change your worry into prayer. It is against this surrender, deeply against it, to worry, to be nervous and to desire to think about the consequences of anything. It is like the confusion that children feel when they ask their mother to see to their needs, and then try to take care of those needs for themselves so that their childlike efforts get in their mother’s way. Surrender means to placidly close the eyes of your
soul, to turn away from thoughts of tribulation and to put yourself in my care, so that only I act. Saying “You take care of it.”

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

Day 3:

How many things I do when the soul, in so much spiritual and material need turns to me, looks at me and says to me; “You take care of it,” then close its eyes and rests. In pain you pray for me to act, but that I act in the way you want. You do not turn to me, instead, you want me to adapt to your ideas. You are not sick people who ask the doctor to cure you, but rather sick people who tell the doctor how to. So do not act this way, but pray as I taught you in the Our Father: “Hallowed be thy Name”, that is, be glorified in my need. “Thy kingdom come”, that is, let all that is in us and in the world be in accord with your kingdom. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”, that is, in our need, decide as you see fit for our temporal and eternal life. If you say to me truly: “Thy will be done”. Which is the same as saying: “You take care of it”. I will intervene with all my omnipotence, and I will resolve the most difficult situations.

Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! (10 times)

* * * * * * * * *

OurLadyofFatima

If I mention to you the Rosary, what thoughts immediately pop up in your mind? Let me guess:  A long seemingly never-ending prayer? A bunch of prayers tied together by other prayers? It is made up of an individual prayer that is sped through in five groups of ten, while the tongue trips over itself, as it goes along its’ merry way? This prayer gets such a bad rap from so many people, “It is boring”. “It is repetitious”. “It serves no purpose”. And yet, when understood, it is so beautiful.

The Rosary centers around the greeting by the Angel Gabriel speaking to a young Jewish girl, “Hail, (You are) full of grace, (because) the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among (all) women. And Blessed is the fruit of your womb.”-1 Why is this happening? What is happening? Who is this young girl, probably no more than 15, and very possibly younger? Why would this apparition be speaking to her in such fashion?  Seeing Mary’s fear, the angel tries to re-assure her, and continues, “Do not be afraid, you have found grace with God.” He then tells her that she will give birth to an infant and that her child will be great among men, and will be given the throne of David. Mary balks. You can almost hear her thoughts, “What is he talking about? This is not possible.” She asks, “How can this be, I know not man?” Gabriel replies, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and this child will truly be the Son of God”.

God chose her, from all eternity, to be the path through which He would have His Son enter the world. We may ask, “Why her”? Unlike the first Eve, this woman will be free of sin, because God chooses her to be free of all defects. We live and exist in a box called time. God is outside that box. Our yesterdays and tomorrows are His NOW. His plan encompasses everything. If Jesus is to be born in a woman, in time, then that woman MUST be special, must be different from all other women in the world. She is immaculately conceived and so free from the effects of sin. She is a very special woman, with a very special purpose.She is not only the path for Jesus to enter the world, she will also be the path, through which WE will ultimately travel to return to God. When Jesus said on the cross, “Woman, behold your son” and then to John, “Behold your mother”-2, He is giving His mother to all mankind, not just to John. He is giving all of her motherly instincts, love and concern to you and me. Mary is given a special part to play in this drama of salvation. She is not a bit actor, one who pops onto the stage, sporadically, from time to time. No. By her “Fiat“, her “Be it done to me, according your word”, she willingly accepted whatever role God chose for her. She did this not truly knowing why, nor what the future would hold. She trusted the messenger. She trusted her God. And so the role defined to her by Jesus is to be the Mother to the world.

Saints throughout the ages have sung her praises, have sworn their allegiance and consecrated themselves to her. Why? No other person, who walked the face of this earth, loved Jesus more. No other person grieved as much as she did, while she watched her Son being whipped, beaten, mocked, jeered at, nailed to a cross and die. Her heart suffered more than anything that any of us have ever experienced. Because of her suffering, and her love, we choose to pray to her, to imitate her, to love her and to beg her intercession for us to Jesus, her crucified Son.

The prayer that we simply call,”The Hail Mary“, addresses many things. But the most important aspect of this prayer, and ultimately, the entire rosary, is a beautiful meditation of the various truths that we hold dear in our Catholic beliefs. They are called mysteries, but in reality, each grouping of ten Hail Mary’s portrays an event in the Life of Christ. The mystery, if you will, is the deeper truth that is being addressed. It is that truth which we will be focusing on, be delving into its’ significance for us. Within that deeper truth, we will find its’ application for us. We pray this rosary with respect, and meditation. We willingly choose to be closer to Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces. We are not perfect. Oh God, You know we are not perfect. Our weak offerings, our hasty, hurried prayers are almost an insult to the majesty of God. Please Mary, take our scrubby, hasty prayers, our pitiful lives into your hands and present them to God, as the treasure that you are.

At Fatima, Mary asked the world to pray the rosary. An estimated 70,000 people saw the miracle of the Sun, and yet we still go our own way, ignoring her plea. Mary asked us, (you and me) to pray the rosary, but we feel it too boring? Say the words with feeling, conviction, love and humility. It’s too long? Then only pray one decade, at least until you grow to love it. Don’t rush through the words. Feel them. think of the truth depicted in each decade. Strive to find its significance for you. Let the words settle in your heart of hearts. If you are to find Jesus, your heart is where He will be. Ask Mary, as you pray her prayer, to please help you feel her love for Jesus. Let all of your suffering be joined with hers. Let all of your love, no matter how scant it is, be lifted up with hers. Oh Mary, our mother, you gave birth to Jesus, our Savior. Help us grow in love and be the children that we are meant to be. Mary has asked us to pray the rosary, often. The world needs us to fulfill her wishes.

1- Luke 1:28

2- John 19:26

A Birthday Gift for YOU!

happy birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come Back to Me

return to God2

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do about Complaining

emmaus

This past Wednesday, Pope Francis’ homily addressed the Gospel of that day, about the two disciples walking to Emmaus. The pope noted how they were complaining about what had transpired over the last few days. They were afraid, as were all the apostles, and were unsure of what they would or should do. Not knowing what to do, or where to turn, they resorted to complaining.

How very much that is like us. We complain about so many things. We don’t like how the weather is. We look at the world’s situation and wring our hands and complain. We don’t like the fact that guns seem to be multiplying on our streets. We want to fix it, but don’t know how. Think, right now, what is it that you complain about? The feeling of helplessness usually walks right along with complaining. We see a particular problem, something that really bothers us emotionally, physically, or spiritually. We see no solution. Since, we don’t see the solution. we lament over it. We wring our hands and feel helpless. Unfortunately, the more we feel helpless, the more we complain about it.

This is not something YOU invented. This has been going on since man first walked the earth. When we complain about something, it is usually because we have that helpless feeling. We feel that we could/should do something about it, but don’t know what. So we turn to complaining, or, if that doesn’t work, we turn to prayer and still complain about it.

What did the disciples, journeying to Emmaus, discover? After talking with Jesus and hearing Him speak to them what was it that they said? “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” -1 They spoke with Jesus, told Him of their concerns and then…LISTENED to Him. They gave Him their problems, their worries, their concerns. They talked to Him as they would anyone they would meet along the road. They heard His response to them. They did not hear of any actual solutions to their problems, but they heard the re-assurances of Jesus that all of this had to come about. They trusted Him.

We can pray for all the ills of the world, all the problems that we are encountering, all the things that we see as wrong. But how do we pray? If we rattle off some memorized words, if we are asking for a solution to those problems, is that really prayer? It sounds more like a list of items that we want fixed by the car mechanic. Who made you? Who made the world? That same God loves you, is concerned about you. God loves you. What an awesome statement that is. If you believe that, if you can believe that, then your prayer is not, cannot be a list of troubles that you want fixed. Yes, we tell God that these things are eating at us, are wearing us down but then we thank Him for creating us, listening to us, and loving us.

We may want to see these “things” fixed, right away. But how do you hurry God? We know He loves us. If what we ask for is good, it will be tended to. We believe in God (faith), we know God loves us and we, Him (charity). Can He, will He do something that is wrong for us? No. No way can that happen. Built on our faith, and our love for Him is our trust (hope) in Him. We know he hears us, and cares about us. Trust in Him. Give Him your troubles. Truly forget about those troubles trusting, that He will take care of them. Peace. Be at peace.

-1 Luke 24:32

nothing separates

When was the last time you felt good about yourself? Do you remember what it feels like? Stop a moment, close your eyes and think back to when it was. This is something that is very difficult to do and much harder than we think. It seems that we are always able to remember when we were displeased with ourselves. That is something which almost comes naturally to us. But, feel good about ourselves??? That takes some extra effort.

Why do you think that is? Is it because of the way we were brought up? Do we think that we should always do better, and so are never happy with ourselves? Are our expectations of ourselves too high? Do we think that we are capable of doing everything and when we realize we can’t then we are disappointed? Is that what it is? Or maybe, as a child we were berated constantly, so much so, that we have a very poor image of ourselves. We now feel that nothing we do is acceptable.

This article is not about psychology. That is left to others more capable. We are not trying to find out why we are as we are. Whatever stage of development we are now in, is a given. We are as we are. The desire, however, to improve, to raise ourselves up out of these doldrums, that is what we wish to work on. How is this to be accomplished? Isn’t it true that when we look at ourselves and see what we say, what we do, how we treat others then we become ashamed? We don’t like what we see. We cannot accept ourselves.

We have to ask ourselves three very important questions:

(1) Why are we ashamed?
(2) Why don’t we like what we see in ourselves?
(3) Why can’t we accept ourselves?

Each of these three questions has the same answer at its base. The answers may sound different, but in reality are just different ways of looking at the same thing. The answers might  sound like this: I am better than that. I should know better. That is not who I want to be. All of these answers, however, are based on the same thing, namely, PRIDE. We can’t stand to think of ourselves as being flawed. But it doesn’t stop there. If we are flawed, not only can I not accept myself, but we feel that others won’t be able to either. This is how our thinking goes. And so we hide our deficiencies, our flaws. We deny that they exist. We cover them over with something so others won’t notice. And in the process, we begin to loathe ourselves even more, for we see the falseness inside ourselves. We see the extent we are willing to go to hide who we really are.

The answer to this problem is simply, “Jesus”. Before you say, “Oh, brother, here he goes again.” Think about these facts.  He saw you and me before we even existed. He knew how petty we could be, we would be. He felt the pain of our sins. He knew the price that had to be paid. And what does He say to His Father in heaven? “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” He makes excuses for us to His heavenly Father. He suffers and dies for you and me. Why? Because He loves us, ACCEPTS us. We won’t find one person in our lifetime, who will know us as completely as He does and still love us. He sees our pettiness, our sinfulness, the evil in our hearts that we are ashamed of. He sees all of this and fiercely loves us, unconditionally loves us. He loves you and me. He even, dare I say it again, accepts us.

If He can accept you and me, in spite of all the evil that we are capable of doing, why can we not accept ourselves? God can accept us, but we can’t. Is our value system better than God’s? Are we better than God? It is time to put away the false pride that is eating us alive. Recognize that we, all of us, are truly a wayward people and instead of prancing around with this false pride, accept that Christ loves us and expects us to treat each other with kindness, love and respect. To do this means we have recognized that we, as well as all the people that we meet, are prone to making mistakes, to committing sins. We are flawed. And, just as Christ accepts us, we must accept ourselves … and others! It’s time to forget the foolishness of false pride and get on with living a real Christian Life.A life that glories in the fact that Jesus really does love us, that God knew what He was doing when He created us. His plan for us rests on our acceptance of ourselves, on our acceptance of His love, on our acceptance that God wants nothing more from us than our trust in Him. Our lives will follow the path He sees possible for us, only when we accept ourselves, as we are, and recognize that our strength, our goodness, our wholesomeness rests in Him.

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

Who or What is God?

Not addressing religion for the moment, answer the question above. Not sure? Let’s try a different tactic. Everything we know is finite, by that we mean: it has a beginning and an end. It can be destroyed. It can die. It can cease to exist. This earth, this planet, and all of the planets, are finite. When they began to exist, no matter how many billions or trillions of years ago, time also began to exist, then as well. Things had a beginning and an end, a measurement of time. Whoever, or Whatever started this, whoever created these things… we call “God”. You can’t say, “Well, these things had this ability to exist already in them.” My response to that is, “Who put that ability in them?”

God is. God does exist, and He created all things, even you and me. Why does He care? Why does He do this? Is He just bored and needs a diversion? Every good quality that we can think of: Love, Intelligence, Goodness, Justice, etc. All are in and of God. It is these qualities that we should, no must, think about when we think of God. He surrounds us, flows through us, and is present in everyone. What joy we should feel knowing that God cares so very much about us. How do we know this? We said it above. Every good quality is in and of God!! He cares for you, for us, for the world. “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (John3, 16).

Our life, our existence is intimately bound up with God. This is so readily apparent, and yet is so easily brushed aside. We get so involved with work, with the acquisition of things, with advancement, pleasure, our comfort, or our way that we forget the whole reason for our existence… to be in union with our God. None of these are wrong. But, when they become the driving force of our lives, when they become the main reason for our existence they have taken on a deadly persona. They are blinding us from the brilliance of God. They are stripping away the beauty that God gave us. They have taken the place of our God. These are the false idols that we are warned about. St. Augustine states, that “… evil is nothing but privatio boni , or “lack of good”.

The world would have us forget God. The world, with all of its’ seductive charm wants to replace God. As noted earlier, ‘none of these are wrong’ except when they become the driving force of our lives. To seek a good job, to have a nice home, to succeed, to be happy, all of these are good. But, when they become our driving force, our sole goal above everything else, at that point we have forgotten our God. We do not have to spout religion 24/7. This is not what God wants. He wants us to live our lives aware of Him, aware of His Goodness 24/7. Our knowledge of Him will help us see Him in all that we meet, in everyone that we encounter 24/7.

I would like to end this thought with some words from St. Francis de Sales. “If you have a sure trust in God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful to you, whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment.”

The Gospel in Tuesday’s Mass pulled no punches. Jesus is talking to the crowds and His disciples. He tells them that whatever the Scribes and Pharisees tell them to do, they should do. Observe and practice whatever they tell you, for they are speaking from the words of Moses. He goes on and cautions them, however, don’t do what they do”. For what they preach, they do not practice.

This is the same Jesus who earlier was trying to point out to these same Scribes and the Pharisees their evil ways. He did this through parables, through examples. He did whatever He could to teach them and gently but firmly wake them up. The timeframe is shortly before the Passover and His death. Jesus cannot try to convince them anymore. Time is running out. Time is of the essence. Now all of His efforts must be directed at the people, the followers of the Judaic Law. He wants to point out to them that the words (the 10 Commandments) handed down by Moses should, and must, still be observed. The words spoken by the Scribes and Pharisees are true. But these same leaders do not observe the very things they preach. Don’t do what they do, don’t imitate their actions.

And today, don’t look around you, to see who falls into that category. Don’t look to see which priests, preachers, or leaders don’t seem to practice what they preach. Don’t be scandalized when people come up short in your estimation, for we are all alike. Look within. We know what we should do. We know what is expected of us. We feel, down deep within us, the tug at our hearts when we know we are really not moving in the direction we should be. And yet, we will be the first to say what others should and should not do. We will be the first to observe that, that person needs a haircut. She is looking for trouble. They should be doing this or that. They need to be more concerned about others. Whoa!!! Stop right there. How do we know what others are about? How do we know what they should do? How did we come to this knowledge of their motives, their limitations?  The Pharisees were very good at observing the faults and limitations of others. And so, Jesus tells them and us, not to be like the Pharisees.

It is difficult to assess ourselves. In order to do that, we have to be observant of our actions, and truly critical of our motives. Excuses for what we do, must be non-existent. In the glare of a bright light (our earnest seeking of God’s truths), that is the only way we can ascertain what our true motives are. And yet, after all this, the best that we can come up with is, “I am a sinner, Lord”. For in that moment of recognition, of affirmation, we lay ourselves bare, stripped of all pretenses. It is at that precise moment, that the only thing we have is our trust in God.

Trust in God, that seems like such an easy solution. But, is it? To trust Him and say, “You are in charge and I accept that”, that is no small feat. But that is exactly what God is looking for in us. He doesn’t want to hear how clever we are, nor, how much wealth we have, nor how many electronic trinkets we have. Our lives of serving others’ needs, of giving people our time, of praying for those who are suffering, these are what God is looking for in His people, His creations. If we recognize the brotherhood that we share with everyone, and live accordingly, then we are doing not what someone tells us to do, but what God wants us to do.

How Do We Pray?

Usually, I begin a blog with a theme, or thought in mind. The only thought that comes to my mind, at this time, is the aridity of my soul. The “dark night”, I guess, is what it has been called. I went over to the hospital this morning to bring Communion to any of the patients wishing to receive. There was no jump in my step, no feeling of being alive. I was almost ashamed to be bringing Jesus to these people, in my state of mind. At Mass, prior to going to the hospital, all I could do is ask Jesus to take my lethargy and somehow use it for the benefit of the people I would see today.

It was in this state of mind, with this feeling of apathy, I entered the doors of the hospital. Now, I truly believe that to pray our personal prayers we must recognize and acknowledge the condition we are in. We must be aware of who we are at that time of prayer. For it is in this aspect of ourselves, in this condition, we make our prayer to our heavenly Father. We cannot dupe God. We cannot pretend to Him that we are something that we are not. He sees us as we are. To meet Him in the middle ground, we have to also see ourselves as we are. To me, my condition was one of sadness, of aloneness. It did not shout out that Jesus, my Lord, was with me. It did not manifest the joy of bringing Jesus to others. I felt truly like a hypocrite.

I cannot go into any details about this morning’s actions. I can only say that by the time I had arrived at the patients’ floor my demeanor must have changed. I don’t know when or how it happened. I was not even aware that my apathy was gone. I just went about the business of seeing patients. Usually, as I get tired, the end of the morning sees me cutting shorter the visits with the patients. (As you can see, there is a lot of fixing up needed by me.) Today, however, was truly different. I sat and talked about Jesus. I told people about Padre Pio and what a great saint he is. I felt no need to hurry. I felt no tiredness. It was different, somehow.

What is the purpose of this blog? Why all of this narrative? It is to simply say, “Our prayers do get answered”. It is our openness to God, our recognition and acknowledgement of our current condition, our willingness and desire to be at one with Him, it is all of these that unite us in prayer with God.

This has nothing to do with me. I am simply recounting that I did not want to be a stumbling block to Jesus. I did not want to negatively affect the people I would see today, because of my state of mind. My prayer was simply a desire NOT to be an obstacle but my willingness to be a conduit, if it were His will. The fact of the matter was that I did not know what or who to pray for.

We don’t know all the answers. We cannot pray for events to happen, because we don’t know if those events will be the best thing that could happen. Maybe we are to struggle a little more, and unbeknownst to us, that struggle is what will strengthen us, will purify us, and will make us united with Jesus. All we can pray for is trust. Trust in God, will enable us to truly say, “Your will be done.” Without trust, our prayer will sound like, “Your will be done…if I agree with it.”

Security and Trust

I read something this morning that equated the trust, which peaceful people have in God, with an infant sleeping in the arms of its mother. “The infant is close to the mother’s womb from which it came and secure under the watchful eye of the person who gave him his existence”.-1 This sentence was like being hit with a 2×4 across the side of my head. It shouted,“WAKE UP”!!

Our brain says, “I know that God loves me. He takes care of me, even when I don’t think He is.” Our heart says, “I don’t really believe that. Why do bad things happen? And, it would be worse, if I didn’t take steps to prevent them”. And so, the argument goes on, between brain and heart. The brain proceeds without emotion, thinking logically, as best it can. The heart harbors fears and doubts and cannot let go to move onward to God. The struggle goes on throughout our entire lives.

What is trust? Why is it so difficult for us to place ourselves in the hands of someone else? We allow a doctor to operate on us….but that is because we have no other recourse, and we fear the alternative even more than the doctor. When you come right down to it, FEAR is the anchor that holds us in one place. It prevents us from venturing into uncertainty, even when there are indications that tell us that all will be alright.

What are we afraid of? Why are we afraid? We trust only in ourselves, even though we have so many instances in our life that tell us, we can fail and fail miserably. Yet we only trust ourselves. God, who is a God of love, who IS love has created us and the world that we live in, because of His love. He redeemed us because He loves us. And, He continues to this day to bestow His love on us. If our brain is telling all of this to us, and we still lack trust in Him, then something is wrong…WITH US!

We cannot swim to the other side of the pool, if we do not let go of the ledge that we are clutching. We can’t take the first step, if we have tied our feet together. Christ has His hand outstretched to us. He offers the security which we hunger after. Trust is not only reaching for His hand, but knowing, in our heart, that the security which we crave will be there, as well.

To reach out with our opened hand to receive His, we have to let go of the things that we are clutching. Of what significance is that second job that we are thinking of taking? Is our family healthy? Then we already have what we need. What worries are we pre-occupied with? Does our being anxious about them, resolve them? What possessions would you like to have and why? Are they required for your life, or do you want them because you envy other peoples’ lifestyles? What pleasures do you seek? Does the life of you and your family, demand them? Or, are they just something that you have grown accustomed to wanting, and now that wanting has become a need in your mind? All of these “concerns” prevent us from becoming loving, trusting children of God. We fear losing them. And this fear prevents us from reaching out to God with open hands. To do so, we must let go of these things. Drop them. Throw them away, for they are robbing us of the very life which we crave, a trusting relationship with our God.

 

-1 Paraphrase of words in Living Faith for October 2nd.