Tag Archive: Trust


On Wisdom and Insight

widsom insight

In the Old Testament of today’s Mass, (Amos 7:12-15), we hear phrases like: “The Lord said to me”, and “The Lord saith to me”. These words spoken by these early believers, what do they mean? Mankind is speaking of what God is telling it, but how does God speak to them? Did mankind, back then, hear words? Did others here them as well? I think we get a better explanation, when we read further in the New Testament.

In the second reading of St. Paul to the Ephesians, (1:3-14) we hear, “…For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will”. In all wisdom and insight, these are words not to be glossed over lightly. And in the Gospel, (Mark 6:7-13) we hear, “So they went out and preached that men should repent.” They heard Jesus’ words directly to them and they went out; contrast that with St. Paul’s words of “…made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will”. St. Paul never met Jesus. He never heard Him preach to the peoples, and yet, St. Paul can say, “made known to us”.

Today, we want so desperately to know what God wants of us. We pray to be able to follow His direction. And still, we wonder, “What does God want of me”? If we pay close attention to these readings we realize that He IS talking to us. We just aren’t listening. Are we expecting words written in the sky? Are we waiting for whisperings in our ear? Anything physical, we would probably just doubt our own perceptions, anyway…and move on. We would think, “That can’t be God talking to me. I must have been mistaken. I didn’t see or hear right.” Maybe we are waiting to be knocked off our horse, like St. Paul and words coming from Heaven. No, St. Paul tells us, “…in all wisdom and insight”. Whose wisdom? Whose insight? Ours: yours and mine.

We pray the words, “Lord, what do you want of me? What should I do?” But, unfortunately, we then gather up our things and move on. We don’t wait for the answer. Actually, we don’t really expect an answer. We ask, but don’t expect a reply. Why? We feel that the answer that we are waiting for must be something momentous, something grand, something soul moving. But, hey, things like that don’t happen to me!! So we move on and wonder why God is not listening or answering today. My friends, we are looking in all the wrong places. His answer will be in our heart, in our wisdom and in our insight.

When we pray, especially when we are in need, we must listen to our feelings. What are we really asking of God? What problem is it that we need relief from? What is causing us to pray so earnestly to Him? Many times, an event triggers an emotion. It is usually an emotion which we have never been able to combat very effectively, in our life. And yet, we focus on the event, not the emotion, and ask God’s help with that. What is our all-loving God telling us? He is infinite, so He can tell each of us what His will is for us as individuals, what He wants of us. Just don’t wait for words to be seen or heard. Instead, listen to the stirrings within. Those feelings that take place within you, a thought of someone else, the sadness others may be feeling, the needs of others, these are God’s answer to your prayer. He IS replying to your prayer. He IS pointing out to you that others are suffering as well. His reply to our prayer will be our realization of what course we should be following.

So how do we know that we are doing the right thing? How do we know what course of action we should follow? God is still an ever-loving God. He knows our desires. He also knows our prior missteps. He hears our plea and He DOES provide. Those instincts, those sudden glimpses of helping actions… they come from Him. Take that step, Trust yourself. Trust Him. Take that first step towards what you think is right for you. “What’s right for you” is not decided by how good it makes you feel, nor what material benefits there are. No. “What’s right for you” flows out of your wisdom and insight. If this is the direction you are to follow, each succeeding step will be easier, and will be filled with God’s love. And, if this should be one more mistaken step that you are taking, God still loves you. He doesn’t wash His hands of you. His love for you will still be present to you. You will know soon enough, if not immediately, that this is not the right direction for you. How will you know? This too, will be obvious to you from your wisdom and insight.

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

1) Peace and Emotion
2) The Nature Of Prayer
3) Listening To God
4) How Wise Are We
5) Conversation With Christ

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Our Strength

my strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SECRET

q q

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Kernel of Christianity

Judas and Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40 days

This was originally posted on 2/14/2013, but I felt that rather than being referenced, it should be re-posted. Its’ words still ring true.

Here we are at the outset of Lent. Ash Wednesday has come and gone. The ashes on our foreheads have either been washed, or rubbed away. Regardless of which is true, the end result is that today has started like any other day of our lives. If we allow ourselves to stop and actually think about it, the only thing different is, we are in a very holy time of the year, a very holy time of our lives. These next forty days are leading us to the very proof of Jesus’ immortality. We are in the desert, alone with God. Our actions over these solemn days will speak either of our love for Jesus, or for ourselves.

This has to be a time of prayer for all of us. We know the world needs it, but we, too, need it. All of us have our faults, our problems, our worries and concerns. We are by no means perfect. And yet, with all of these imperfections, we must try to honor our God, praise our God, and love our God. It will not be a perfect love, because we are not perfect; but God is not asking us to BE perfect. He is asking us to TRY. Try to remember Him, try to seek Him out, and try to fall in love with Him, a little more deeply.

All three readings in today’s mass contrast the works of the loving and those of the wicked. The first reading (Deuteronomy) speaks of the good and evil in the world. It begins with, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil…” The choice is ours. It goes on to say, “…if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them.” It is an either, or. We cannot have both. Apply these words to our world, today. If we turn away from God, and not listen to His words of love for us, we will be drawn away and worship other gods. The word “gods”, I’m afraid make us snicker or relegate the words as so much gibberish. Gods of today, will not be golden calves, nor fire, nor wind, nor thunder. They come as distractions, as cell phones, as pleasure, as money, as material things, as power, as comfort, as popularity. They come as anything which grabs our hearts, our attention and makes them the most important treasure for us at that moment. They turn us away from prayer, and substitute themselves for our God.

The second reading though very short, continues this theme. In one short verse it says, “… the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” You cannot get more compact than that. And then Luke’s Gospel addresses why Jesus had to suffer as He did and to die, to be raised up on the third day. He continues, “And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Sounds like a perfect description of Lent. And it goes on asking the question “…For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

These are powerful words. These cannot be any more open and revealing. The choice is laid out for us, we cannot deny it. We may not like being uncomfortable, we may not like having to be a little more demanding of ourselves but no one said Christianity was a cake walk. We can speak of the love of Jesus for us. We can speak of our love for Jesus. But when all is said and done, if we totally believe in something then we will want to totally strip away everything that prevents us from attaining it. That means the creature comforts that we don’t want to give up; that means the lofty attitude that we have of ourselves; that means the friends we need because they will help us advance; that means the power, the wealth, the pleasures, the popularity, to all of these we must lose our attachment. It sounds unbelievable, unattainable but it is what it is. It is Christianity. May our love for Jesus grow to such an extent, that we cherish the very sacrifices that we are called to make.

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

1) Are We Free or Not?
2) Affecting Others
3) The Courage to Accept: Acceptance
4) To All Mankind

a wake up call

Where are we? Where are you? What do we think is going on? It’s time for us to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts. We spend too much time worrying about what people think about us. We spend so much time stressing over how much we earn, what we have, and what we want. We compare ourselves with others and let that comparison determine if we are on the right path, and if we are making good choices? It is time for us to wake up, look around and realize that this world is not really our final home.

We say, “We believe in God”. Do we? What does this belief consist of? Where does it come from? Does it come from our mind, or our heart? Or, is it something that flows out of habit? Do we really think God is Almighty? That He really loves us? That Jesus Christ is both God and man? That He died for us? That He showed us how we are to live our lives? If we believe these truths, then how are our lives shaped because of them? Our lives must be affected by these “Truths” that were just stated above.

These are lots of questions, hard questions that require hard answers. Unfortunately, we utter these truths with a vague look in our eyes and kind of ignore what the effects are on our lives. Well, no more. This is not the time to just read a post and then nod your head in approval, or shake your head in disapproval. This is the time we must begin to answer these questions, from our heart, from our soul.

If the CHRIST really came to show mankind how to live, how to love, how to forgive AND this is GOD doing the showing, then each of us must stop what we are doing and figure out what the impact is on our individual lives. There is no “That’s nice” and continue with the same old, same old, whatever it is that occupies our time, our minds, our lives. Look at our world! The same old, same old is not cutting it. More and more evil descends upon the earth. We tolerate everything and anything. Murder, Guns, Abortion, Apartheid, Civil Wars, Wars. You name it we allow it. All in the name of freedom of speech, freedom to carry arms, it’s not our country. Well, let me tell you something, IT IS OUR WORLD! And we are letting it go to hell in a hand basket.

I can hear the thoughts and grumblings right now. I am only one person. What can I do? I don’t live over there. I don’t even own a gun. Abortion is allowed by law now. Excuse after excuse is given to mollify the fact that we are screwing up. Good begets good. One good action by 10 people means that more people will do good actions. Good can conquer evil. Jesus showed us that it can even conquer death. But….Do we really believe that? In order for us to change our lives, we have to go back to the roots and ask ourselves, “What do I REALLY believe?” Do I really believe all the things that I say I do? If so, then they should be changing my life. I should want my life to change for the better. I should be asking God to help me change. But the effort is not there. Is it?

Christ wants His followers (Christians, Catholic Christians) to recognize that they have received something very special. In the gift of Faith that they were given at Baptism, they also received the Flame of Love. They have been charged with not letting it go out. We do our best to smother it, to douse it, to eradicate the flame. How? By not leading the life that we are challenged to live. By seeking other avenues to follow, rather than the path that Christ knows is best for us. We do our …worst to severely hamper the flame. But every now and then, we say, we are sorry. Every now and then we confess to our God that we know we are not living the life that He intends and that we are sorry, truly sorry. The flame begins to flicker from that near dead ember. What it becomes, what it grows into will depend on our future actions of love with our Creator, our future decisions.

You see, each of us has a mission. We may just be starting out in life, or nearing its’ end, regardless where we are, we must always be trying to learn what God wants of us. What is our mission? Think about it. This loving God has created you, and the maker of guns, and the buyer of guns, and the abortionist, the murderer, the people selling and using drugs, the legions of armies killing and raping. He has created all of us. It is very easy to see that many of us are not attempting to live the life that God intended. Many of us are not trying to find out what is our mission in life. Mission?? I know my mission. It is to get money, or pleasure, or my way… We come to these facile answers so readily. It doesn’t seem to be very difficult to come up with an answer, any answer. Are these what God intends for us? For you? For me?

Each mission is unique to each of us. Why are you, you? Why am I, me? Our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly have all taken their share of ownership into making us who we are, today. One bad decision goes on top of another, on top of a good one, followed by another bad one. We are products of each action of our life added together. We didn’t mean for this to happen. It just did. And now, we are the sum total of all of these. It seems like an insurmountable task to extricate ourselves from all of this …junk. And yet, it isn’t. Jesus saw our utterly dependent we were. Jesus saw that our frailty was such that we could not help ourselves. So He took all of this “junk” upon Himself and paid the ultimate price for us. He died on a cross.

Where does this leave us, then? We are to act, to be the intelligent humans that God created. If we see that Christ died for us; if we realize that He did this to show us how to live; then something must be expected from us. We are to accept His sacrifice for us. We are to embrace His death on the cross. Before you think that is easy, consider what is meant by “accept”, by “embrace”. The only way we can accept or embrace anything is to take it completely, to make it ours totally. Christ wants us to follow His example. This is what He meant when He said, “Come, Follow Me”. Stop the judging of others; Stop figuring out the best angle for you; Stop striving to receive the adulation of others. This is not what Jesus wants of us. Follow Him. Follow Him to the bedside of the sick, of the depraved. Feel their pain and agony. Pray for the people that are turning this world into a graveyard. Recognize that all, everyone, each of us are struggling. Recognize that trusting God does not mean to pray for things to go the way you want them to. Trust this God, this Loving God, who wants only the best for you. Trust Him with your very life. And you shall live with Him through all eternity.

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

1) Are We Free or Not?
2) Affecting Others
3) The Courage to Accept: Acceptance
4) To All Mankind

Embrace Life: Embrace God

embrace2

Who are we…REALLY?? We want. We need. We crave. We are definitely part of the “ME” generation. Everything revolves around us….or, at least, so we think. But, take a step back. Look at yourself from outside of yourself. Really, look at yourself. Look at your motives, your cravings, your acts of “love”. What do you see? Do you see selfless actions? Do you see caring and concern? Do you have genuine love and trust in others? Unfortunately, we see someone totally different from who we think we are.

Taking stock of ourselves, we realize that, in our minds, our happiness, our joy is rooted in what WE WANT. We want people to treat us differently. We want our life to be trouble free. We expect people to see us and automatically treat us with gentleness and kindness. Is this really what our world is? What our world needs? Does it really need self-centered people clamoring for attention, expecting respect? Is this the whole reason for our existence?

Take another step back, this time, a big step back. In the creation of the world, a loving God filled the abyss with planets and stars, oceans and mountains, plants and animals…..and US!!! (No matter if you hold to evolution, or big bang theory, or whatever, it takes an infinite, eternal Being to start the process and get it moving.) This Being, this loving God gave us a free will, so that our choices would be just that…”our choices”. He does not force us to love Him. He gives us the freedom to say, “No”. So we can freely say, “I want, I need, I crave” or we can say, “I love”. The former leads us to turning in on ourselves, seeking whatever it is that WE think will make us happy. The latter, the “I love” portion, frees us to see God’s Goodness in ALL of creation. Everything that happens to us, “the good, the bad and the ugly” all stem from this loving God. He is LOVE and truly wants us to understand His love. He is not tormenting us with these events.

We must try to look at the misfortunes that befall us, you and me, not as obstacles, not as the result of a vengeful God who is getting back at us for our doing….whatever. God is not vengeful. He is loving. As such, everything that happens to us, “the good, the bad and the ugly” are truly part of His omniscient, loving plan for us. In our tormented, warped view, we only see the ugliness and the pain and feel like we are being punished. But this is really not the case. We have separated ourselves from our purpose in life, our God. And, it is because of that separation, we see only the pain, the sadness.

Then, how do we look at the troubles that befall us? All the pain and heartaches that we experience…they are acts of love from our God??? How is this allowing us to grow closer to Him, to become part of His infinite love? In that Love, there is a Divine Plan. We don’t know what that plan is, but it is there nonetheless. Our love response is Trusting Him. In trusting our God, in loving our God we really become enmeshed in God. We may someday understand the why. And maybe we won’t. But of this you can be certain, our “yes”, our “acceptance”, our “embrace” of the events in our life are major acts of trust and love in our God. Our life is to be, must be, a continuous acknowledgement of His love for us. Seek Him out in everything that you do, in everything that comes upon you and you will be locked in an embrace that will take you to eternity.

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

1) I’m Fine
2) Are We Free or Not?
3) Happiness
4) Christ Transforms Us

Jesus Meets His Mother

4th station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corpus Christi Sunday

worry

“The Body of Christ”, so much is tied into that phrase. The Second Person of the Triune God, the Word made flesh, the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church, The Eucharist, The baptized faithful, all of these flow from those four words. What a special day, today is.

When you and I say that phrase, what do we mean? Think of it, “The Body of Christ”, what does that phrase mean to us? We can simply think of Jesus of Nazareth, who died for mankind. And, that would be correct. But, there is so much depth to that phrase because it encompasses our entire belief structure. Think of all the things enumerated above. They all flow from that phrase. Don’t think of them individually. Think of them as flowing together. We are baptized, so we are a part of the Church, the people of God. Believing in that Baptism, we receive the Eucharist, and so we are a part of the Mystical Body of Christ. What we say, where we go, who we help, what injustices we try to overcome, we do because it is what Jesus did, would do in today’s world. Then, it is what we must do, if we believe and love Him. Being a part of the Mystical Body means we are the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Jesus. He works through us, through our actions of love.

The Word of God, Jesus, came into this world, to not only save mankind, but to show us how to live, how we must live in order to be united with our Triune God. We cannot look away from injustice. We cannot ignore the pains and sufferings of others. We cannot look down on ANYONE. The love that Jesus had for all of us, that same love, we have to exude for others, EVERYONE. How can we possibly say that we are trying to be like Jesus, and not care about certain people? We cannot be like Him, if we don’t try to be Him, in all aspects of our lives.

What problems do you have? What is keeping you from being the person, Jesus wants you to be? Each of us has our limitations, our breaking point, one burning problem that is deep inside us. These tie us up in knots. These are the very things which are preventing us from being the person we can be, should be. This is what we must overcome to be free, truly free. It is so easy to say, but so difficult to do. Reams of paper have been written, describing what people must do to overcome their difficulties. What is your main difficulty? It could be physical, psychological, emotional, financial, familial, behavioral, occupational, etc. Now that’s a lot of territory to cover. No wonder so much has been printed. There are so many difficulties to overcome.

What does Jesus say about ALL of these situations? Did He cover them in the Sermon on the Mount? Did He discuss them when He preached in the temple? What did He say about living life? He spoke about the birds of the air, they don’t toil but the Father takes care of them. He spoke of Trust. He asks us, who is the true neighbor to the man beaten by thieves? He tells us of Love. He said, “You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy, but I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to those that hate you”.

His message was simple. Trust our loving God. He, who loves you, will take care of you, provide for you, and be with you. And to that we say, “It is too simplistic for this day and age.” We think that it doesn’t apply to today’s hectic pace, to today’s pressing requirements. Well, we are wrong. We are wrong because we have allowed the enticements of the world to become the most important things in our life. We want peace in our lives, but we don’t really seek it. Rather, we choose to work harder for things which we don’t really need. We desire to appear happy rather than be happy. We seek falsehood rather than truth. We seek appearances rather than genuine truth. We cherish “friends” rather than friendships.

Jesus’ message is relevant in today’s world. It is relevant, more than ever. We worry about our health, are anxious about everything, have fears, doubtful how we will eat, argue with friends and foes alike, cannot control our emotions, wonder about our job and security. To any negative feeling or event that you can think of, Jesus simply says, “Trust me, your God”. Really trust Him. Is someone sick among you, pray to Him, not that they get better, but that His will is done and that all can accept it, that all will grow from it. Trust is very difficult, because it requires us to lay down all our defenses and accept someone else’s will. But this someone is not just anyone; He is our loving God. If we can do that, oh, how our life will blossom, and the joy that we will feel! We will truly be enraptured because of the love within the Body of Christ, and finally at peace.

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

1) Give Your Troubles to Jesus
2) The Mystical Body of Christ
3) Meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ

Peace and Beauty

cloud and hawk

It must be my age because I have grown to love sitting on the back porch early in the morning. If you take away the sound of jet engines flying overhead, (only 8 miles or so away from the airport), if you blot out the sound of the cars’ and truck engines on the nearby interstate and roads, if you screen out the occasional sound of distant trains rumbling in the distance… what is left? Peace. Quiet. Beauty!

The sky, with its’ pale baby blue color and seemingly randomly placed clouds, can be so beautiful. The sounds of many birds, of different varieties, can be heard melodiously singing and chirping to one another. A hawk, gently circling on the thermals, effortlessly flies overhead. So much peace! So much beauty! Where did all of this come from? Why are we so fortunate to be part of all this beauty?

This beauty, this world, could not have just happened. Only a fool would say that this came about by chance. No. There must be an Architect, a Painter, a Creator. Since we know that no person could have brought this into existence, we postulate that there must be someone else, someone who has intelligence, has beauty, has love and above all has a purpose. This “someone”, we call God.

The whole concept of God is that He cannot change. If He did, then He would not be God. He cannot change His mind and He cannot make a mistake. So He knew from all eternity that the world would have problems. Problems that would arise because He gives man the freedom to choose. So He knew from all eternity that Jesus, the Christ, would also need to come in time, into this created world and show it how life is to be lived.

Christianity is not just a club. It is not a member’s-only organization. It is a way of life. It is a brotherhood. People believing in what Jesus did for us, what He said to us, and how He loved us. It is a people striving to live as He showed us. But there is more to it than just imitation, than copying a lifestyle. It is living a lifestyle.

So often, as a Christian we think along the lines of, “what should I be doing?” Should is the language of obligation not love. It has no business being in our mind, with respect to Christianity. Bonding with one another, treating each person with kindness and respect, these are actions that flow out of our love for Jesus. They are not mandates. They are not marching orders. These are actions that emanate from Jesus and the love we have for Him.

At the beginning of this writing I spoke of the beauty of nature and of God, the Creator, making us a part of this creation. What do the two have in common? It is not in the turmoil of the world that we will find peace and quiet and beauty. This turmoil must be stripped away so that we can truly find God. It is only when we can remove our worries, our frustrations, do we find real peace. The world says, “it cannot be done.” The world says, (or maybe we say), that our fears and worries and anxieties are necessary evils. Our fears, our worries, our anxieties ARE the evils. They are what consume us and prevent us from finding our God. It is only when we reach out and take the hand of Jesus which He holds out to us, it is only when we place ALL of our confidence in Him and trust Him, then, we can realize and understand the beauty of God. Think of what in your life is holding you back, preventing you from taking His hand. Do you think He doesn’t care about you? Do you think He is unaware of your worries? Trust Him. Believe in Him. Find the peace that He offers. It is there. It really is!

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

1) Come Back To Me
2) Memories
3) The Love of Creation

Divine Mercy Sunday and You

This is the hour of great Mercy

This is the hour of great Mercy

I am at a loss for words. There is so much I want to say to you, and my tongue is tied. I want to hold you by your shoulders, look into your eyes, and tell you, “The time is now. All of us, we need to embrace Jesus in a way that we have never done before”. Love Him. Thank Him. Profess our sorrow for taking so long to embrace Him. Trust Him.

We don’t have the luxury of putting things off. We cannot wait until tomorrow or next week, or next year. Doesn’t it seem strange to you that the world is in so much turmoil? The climate of the earth is changing. There is so much unrest in the world. Evil is drawing its last breath. Each of us has to make a choice. I am not preaching the end of the world, or preaching calamity. I am just saying it is time to wake up, to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We cannot continue to make excuses for our lives and the manner in which we live.

This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II set aside the Sunday after Easter to celebrate the wondrous, infinite MERCY of Christ. How long can we continue to put off our embrace, our acceptance of his Mercy? He knows that we have problems, and that we have sinned and have turned away from His Goodness. But that is exactly why He came into this world, to save us. We must acknowledge our state of life, the way we are living. We must truly look at ourselves, and honestly see all of our shortcomings. It is only through this acknowledgement and acceptance of His love that we will truly find the peace that we seek.

On the cross, when His heart was opened with the spear, it was symbolic of the love and mercy that would flow out to the world, to you and me. But we, with our free will, can say either, “yes” or “no”. Reading these articles doesn’t make us better. Reading the Bible, even, does not make us better, if it is just words to us. We must give ourselves totally to Jesus, totally to our God. Trust our God. Accept His mandate to love ourselves, to love one another, to stop judging others. Christ said, “Judge not and ye shall not be judged?” Stop. Look at where you are right now. Look at the excuses we make for our life. I am too tired, I am too busy, and I need to work more. I need to exercise. I need, I need, I need. If all we do is take and look out for our own needs, our own concerns, then we are never giving of ourselves to others.

Does it embarrass you to speak about Jesus to others? Do you feel uncomfortable in talking religion? Does your belief in God embarrass you? When all is said and done, the whole reason we exist is to give back to our God. We need to use our God-given free will to express our love for Him, to thank Him, to honor Him. When all is said and done…this is our purpose in life. Each of us has a different path to walk. Each of us has a story to tell. The expression of that story is one of the infinite ways that love is given back to God. Why be ashamed of your story?

On the day we call Good Friday, humanity was “bought” back through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus, truly God and truly man, died for all mankind. We now are asked to accept or reject that sacrifice. Don’t be misled. It is not just a simple, “I accept”. No, it is more than that. It is understanding Who Jesus is. It is accepting what He says and what it means to us and our lives. It means looking at people not as obstacles, not as disgusting, not as annoyances, but as people needing love and care. It means looking at people as Jesus would look at them. Our life style will be changed forever.

Divine Mercy Sunday is the celebration of the mercy of God and His love for us. His promise to Saint Faustina was that His forgiveness, an ocean of mercy, would flow like a fount of water, if we would only ask for it. Realize that you are not alone and that we all have sinned and need forgiveness. Not one of us is without sin. The peace and joy that we are all searching for can be found in the heart of Jesus. Trust Him. Follow the Christ. Follow Jesus.

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

1) Divine Mercy Sunday
2) Day of Divine Mercy
3) Mercy Sunday and Trust
4) Divine Mercy Sunday and Saint Faustina

power of god

In today’s Gospel, the story of Lazarus and his sisters, Jesus tells them to roll back the stone at the entrance of the tomb. Martha, one of the sisters, urges Jesus not to, “…because of the odor”. “Jesus said to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40) These words, I believe, are the key to Christianity. If we believe in Him, if we trust Him our lives will be on the correct path. We will be living the lives of Christians.

We see the Apostles, after Christ’s resurrection, going out and teaching people and being amazed at what “they” can do. They cure the sick and the lame. They raise the dead. All of this is done, “…in the name of Jesus”. They believe in Jesus’ words. They believe that He is the Son of God. What they can do is a reflection of their belief. What they can do shows the power of God.

The beauty of this one passage, this one sentence shouts out to all of us, “Believe in Me”. It is our belief in Jesus, our faith, our trust, our devotion and dedication that permit God to work through us. He never forces Himself on any of us. He gave us free will and He waits for that free will to embrace Him. It is not a simple task. We see the saints’ lives enduring all forms of torture, physical, mental, and emotional, all in the name of Jesus. Why? Because they knew His words were true. If they believed in Jesus, they would see the glory of God.

It seems like such a simple statement, “I believe in Jesus”. But it entails a dedication, a devotion that encompasses our total life. We don’t always manifest this belief, and that is where we doubt ourselves and stop. We feel that this is impossible for us, and we stop trying. And, it is impossible!! It is, if we think that WE are going to accomplish this on our own. Belief, trust in Jesus is truly a dedication of ourselves to Him, to His words, to His way of life. It is a gift. The more we believe, the more the gift increases. We will trip, and stumble and fall as we try to follow Him. He knows that. But do we really think that Jesus is looking for results? Isn’t He rather, more interested in our conviction, our dedication, and our attempts at following Him, at being Him in our life?

We may suffer from sickness, or pain; we may worry about our children, or our parents; we may struggle with guilt; whatever the hurdles are that confront us, God is aware, and waits for our acceptance of Him. Acceptance in His name, belief in Him, not ourselves, this is what really frees us and enables us to see the power of God in our lives. Do you really think the Apostles performed the miracles? No, their belief in God, their love of Jesus, their dedication to His way of life, their trust, this is what enabled God to work through them. “Believe in Me and you shall see the power of God”.

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

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

God hand

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

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

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

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

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

Brown Scapular Prayer of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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

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

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

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

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

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

good shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Come Back to Me

2) Stop Tripping Over Yourself

3) Trust in God

Stop Tripping Over Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Plan For YOU

gods plan

Very often we have thoughts like, “I love God.” “God is wonderful”. “I would do anything for Him”. And the list goes on. At these times we feel like we are walking on clouds everything is right with the world. But then things begin to change. Our checkbook doesn’t balance. We have harsh words with our spouse. Our children are fighting with one another, or, with us. They don’t seem to respect us anymore. Our neighbors don’t like us. They don’t talk to us or maybe say bad things about us. Our Spouse’s job is in jeopardy and we need that money, very much. Everything seems to be caving in on us.

We began to have doubts. What is happening to us? This is not right. We don’t deserve this. God has turned his face from us. God doesn’t like us anymore. Why? What did we do wrong? What’s wrong with God? Doesn’t he realize we’re doing everything we can? We try to begin to try to put an infinite God into our finite box of a mind.

It doesn’t work that way. We cannot bribe God. We can’t think along the lines of … “I will do this and I will, therefore, get that”. It doesn’t work that way. There is no bargaining with God. Petite, little man does not challenge, nor tempt his God. It is implausible to say I will do this or that action, because that action is good. And, because it is good, God will love me because of it. That’s not how or why we conduct our lives.

God has a plan for each and every one of us, for you, for me, for our brothers and sisters, for our mothers and fathers, for our children, for our neighbors, and friends. Everyone has a plan, a purpose in the infinite mind of God. Our task is to figure out what His plan is for us. But we don’t discover His will, by studying God. That would be like trying to solve an infinite puzzle. His will, his plan for us is in our heart, already. He put it there. We cannot be ashamed of our thoughts, our feelings, or our actions. We are creatures that have weakened ourselves, by our striving for our own wishes, desires and goals.

God sees us as we are. He knows us as does a parent. He sees our weaknesses and He loves us, fiercely. The plan that He has put into our hearts, yours and mine, will overcome all of those imperfections that rattle around inside of us. To find that plan in our hearts, we have to trust in Him. We cannot be self-absorbed. It might seem natural to worry about all that is going against us, but that is exactly the time we should manifest our love, our belief in a loving God.

Look into the eyes of Jesus and you will see no disdain. He is not judging you. He is not demanding that you act differently. He is gently loving you, telling you to not be afraid. “Trust in me”, His eyes tell us. He has shown us how to live, how we are to love, who we are to care for. He has told us to follow Him. To love Him. To trust Him. The Apostles followed the plan in their hearts. God put that plan in their hearts, just as He put the plan for you in your heart. They were just poor fishermen, following the advice of a wonderful stranger, who asked them to trust Him. What miracles is He waiting for you to accomplish? Just trust Him.

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.

FRIENDSHIP

friend in Jesus

A very common word, “friendship”, it is one that we use every day, either in our speech, or in our actions. We expect it. We want it. We seek it out. Do we really know what it is that we are in search of? What are the rules of friendship? What are its boundaries? What makes a really good friendship? And, what makes one that is just “so-so”?

A lot of questions were just asked. And, the questions, themselves, still beg the one, outstanding question: What is Friendship? The Webster Dictionary defines a friend as “one who is attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”. That pretty much covers it, I think. Because, to have affection or personal regard for someone, you must spend time with that person, know and understand that person, and appreciate their difficulties. In short, you have taken the time to know each other, and have spoken to them about matters that concern both of you. You are on the same wave length. You may not always agree, but respect each other enough to be open to discuss those things that are of consequence to each of you.

Now comes the hard part. Here’s a question for you: “Are you friendly with Johnny ZZZZZZZZ?” A big Question Mark is above your head, right now. “Who is Johnny ZZZZZZZZ?” You are thinking. You cannot be friends with someone you don’t know! We ALL agree on that. To be friends, there must be a relationship of some kind between the two individuals. Where is all this going? We just laid the groundwork for the rest of this thought.

To be friends there must be a relationship, a relationship of trust, regard, affection and a feeling of comfort when together. What is my relationship with Jesus? That is the question each of us must ask ourselves. We cannot fall in love with a person we have simply read about, not real love, anyway. We must form a relationship with Him, just as we do with the people we hang out with. We talk; we meet; we laugh and cry; we trust. The Jesus that we read about in the Bible, the Man/God that healed the sick, raised the dead, preached love to one another, the One who hung on a cross for us, Who rose from the dead…He is the same person with whom we must form a personal, loving relationship. We shy away from the Eucharist, almost as though we believe… but, at times, are not quite sure. He really is present on our altars, in our Eucharist. We should be almost giddy with joy when we walk up the aisle to receive Him. That very same person, who we have read about in the Bible, who forgave us from the cross, who told us that He is the “…way, the truth and the life”, will be with us sacramentally in a few short moments. As you would a friend you meet, ask how He is, tell Him how you really are (you can trust Him), tell Him what you feel that day, tell Him of your love, and then, listen to Him. Listen to the thoughts that well up in your mind. Appreciate the feelings that you have in your heart, at that moment. The joy that God is with you, right then should be overwhelming.

It is not too late to begin forming a relationship with Jesus, the Son of Mary and Joseph. You have pictures of people that you love in your wallet or purse, don’t you? Do you have a picture of Jesus on you right now? Is there a picture of Him, nearby? What works for me, is to make copies of a picture that I like most, which I feel comes closest to how I picture Him. In my work place, in my car, in my bedroom, I have placed these pictures. I always have a picture of my closest, dearest friend around me. What a joy to have Him present throughout the day. What a wonder it is to receive Him at Mass. What a friend He is. Grow in your love for Him. Talk with Him throughout the day. Your relationship will grow. Your friendship will become greater than any friendship you currently have. And you will love Him.

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

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I was listening to a talk and the phrase was used, “Give your troubles to Jesus”. It got me to thinking about what troubles I did have and what were my concerns about them. All of us have problems. They might be physical, emotional, financial, social, familial, or any other “al” form. The question is, “what are we doing about them besides worrying”? Let’s say you are having family troubles. They can be of any variety. We try to correct them. We try to adapt. We try to ignore. We try anything that we can, to resolve the issue and lessen our own emotional involvement. But it does seem that things like family problems are immune to immediate resolution. There is nothing that we can do to bring about an immediate calm. They need to work themselves out. Our concern is, however, that the eventual resolution will not be to our liking, will not be the solution that we desire. That is really what we are worrying about.

What does that opening line mean to you? Actually, what does it mean? We know that a problem exists but all it causes is for us to be in pain, for us to worry. What does the anguish, the loss of sleep, the internal eating at our soul, what do they accomplish? They accomplish nothing but our own debilitation. “Give your troubles to Jesus”. Sounds catchy but in reality will it resolve the problem? I believe that what the phase is actually telling us is that our trust, our faith in Jesus isn’t where it should be. If we look to Jesus, and really see the love that He has for us, what could possibly exist that is more significant than Him? If we make them the crushing force that they seem to be, then our relationship with Him is lacking, somewhere.

Think of the Apostles as they gather around this Man who they don’t really know, don’t really understand. Peter walks on the water, but then realizes what he is doing and he begins to sink. Why? For a brief moment, he trusted in Jesus. But almost immediately, he realized what was happening and he trusted in himself, not Jesus, and began to sink. Thomas would not believe the other apostles, until he had proof. Even John, flees from the scuffle in Gethsemane, because he does not understand, at that time, who Jesus really is.

So, we trust in ourselves, and as a result, we worry, and fret over things that seem insurmountable. And they very well may be, if we trust only in our own devices, our own strengths, our own feelings. Look to Jesus. This is not some sweet nothing being uttered. This is not some daydream that sounds nice. Jesus tells us time and again, “He who believes in me…”, and again, “I am the way…” He really does love us. He is with us, right now, embracing us. But we are too fixed in our ways to recognize that He IS the answer to everything.

He looks at YOU, and smiles with love. He understands your dilemma, your problem and how insurmountable you think it is. Religion is not a bunch of “Do’s” and “Don’ts”, as in the Torah in the Old Testament.  It is a belief in Jesus. It is the realization that His heavenly Father loves us so much, that He sends Jesus to us. Again, not a pretty little story, but a reality that was, is, and will continue to be until the end of time. He sends Him, why? To show us how to live. To show us that our lives need fixing. To remind us that He is not only the Way, but the ONLY WAY. If we love and trust Him implicitly, what problem exists that could possibly overshadow Him? The “DO’s” and “Don’ts” have their place. But more importantly, we need to understand, love and trust Jesus and what He is to us. With that true understanding our lives will change, and willingly we will follow the “Do’s”. We will see His importance in our lives, and to the world that we live in. With our trust placed in Him and His love for us, we will know and accept that whatever happens in our lives is already in God’s plan.

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.

The First Day Without Ashes

40 days

Here we are at the outset of Lent. Ash Wednesday has come and gone. The ashes on our foreheads have either been washed, or rubbed away. Regardless of which is true, the end result is that today has started like any other day of our lives. If we allow ourselves to stop and actually think about it, the only thing different is, we are in a very holy time of the year, a very holy time of our lives. These next forty days are leading us to the very proof of Jesus’ immortality. We are in the desert, alone with God. Our actions over these solemn days will speak either of our love for Jesus, or for ourselves.

This has to be a time of prayer for all of us. We know the world needs it, but we, too, need it. All of us have our faults, our problems, our worries and concerns. We are by no means perfect. And yet, with all of these imperfections, we must try to honor our God, praise our God, and love our God. It will not be a perfect love, because we are not perfect; but God is not asking us to BE perfect. He is asking us to TRY. Try to remember Him, try to seek Him out, and try to fall in love with Him, a little more deeply.

All three readings in today’s mass contrast the works of the loving and those of the wicked. The first reading (Deuteronomy) speaks of the good and evil in the world. It begins with, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil…” The choice is ours. It goes on to say, “…if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them.” It is an either, or. We cannot have both. Apply these words to our world, today. If we turn away from God, and not listen to His words of love for us, we will be drawn away and worship other gods. The word “gods”, I’m afraid make us snicker or relegate the words as so much gibberish. Gods of today, will not be golden calves, nor fire, nor wind, nor thunder. They come as distractions, as cell phones, as pleasure, as money, as material things, as power, as comfort, as popularity. They come as anything which grabs our hearts, our attention and makes them the most important treasure for us at that moment. They turn us away from prayer, and substitute themselves for our God.

The second reading though very short, continues this theme. In one short verse it says, “… the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” You cannot get more compact than that. And then Luke’s Gospel addresses why Jesus had to suffer as He did and to die, to be raised up on the third day. He continues, “And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Sounds like a perfect description of Lent. And it goes on asking the question “…For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

These are powerful words. These cannot be any more open and revealing. The choice is laid out for us, we cannot deny it. We may not like being uncomfortable, we may not like having to be a little more demanding of ourselves but no one said Christianity was a cake walk. We can speak of the love of Jesus for us. We can speak of our love for Jesus. But when all is said and done, if we totally believe in something then we will want to totally strip away everything that prevents us from attaining it. That means the creature comforts that we don’t want to give up; that means the lofty attitude that we have of ourselves; that means the friends we need because they will help us advance; that means the power, the wealth, the pleasures, the popularity, to all of these we must lose our attachment. It sounds unbelievable, unattainable but it is what it is. It is Christianity. May our love for Jesus grow to such an extent, that we cherish the very sacrifices that we are called to make.

 

People We Meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Letter to Aunt Molly


Dear Aunt Molly,

There are times in our lives when words cannot reflect the ache that we feel in our heart. We know what we are experiencing, but to form these feelings into words seems to be an insurmountable task. Whenever we experience the loss of a family member, a loved one who has been very close to us, we feel that deprivation. It seems that we can only focus our thoughts on what we have lost, on what we had and will never have again.  It is during these times that we seem to go about our lives as if in a cloud. We know that something else is beyond this time, but we cannot see what it is through the mist of our tears. This is when we must live on trust. A trust that tells us that our friends will be there for us; a trust that comfort and consolation will once again, fill our hearts; a trust in a God who loves us and will hold us ever closer to His heart.

We walk on this earth for one reason, and one reason only. God has breathed into each of us a life so that we can experience the fulfillment of His love, the fulfillment of bringing His love to others. This is a task that every person on this earth has. Each act of love that we perform draws us closer to being united with our God. I believe that Rose completed all the acts of love required of her on this earth. God has drawn her back to Himself, completing the act of creation He had started with her.

The love you have for each other is a constant, it will always be there. Her love for you and family will never cease. Her death does not interrupt her love. Your lives have been intertwined with love and happiness and even sadness. And, through all of your experiences together, you grew together. Love is like that. Love draws us towards God and towards each other.

But what can be said of the heartache that we still feel inside us? How do we address the longing, the hurt which wells up in our throats and almost prevents us from swallowing? How do we deal with that? It is a normal response. It is a sadness that cries out for the loved one. We don’t want the separation. We will miss the shared experiences.

It is at times like this when our faith will rescue us. Yes, we hurt, but its focus is one-sided. We see our life without. We see joys missed. We see experiences no longer shared. These are normal, don’t get me wrong, but we can and should look through the eyes of faith. Christ’s death allowed us to see that suffering on earth is not to be shunned but accepted. His Resurrection enabled us to see that there is more to life than what we experience here on earth. His love for us enables us to love one another, and in so doing, unite with others and to God.

So you see, Aunt Molly, the love that each of you had for one another has blossomed into an eternal joy. Rose will always be with you. Your shared memories, your moments of laughter and sadness, the times you worried together, in all of these, Rose is still with you. Cherish these. Don’t let them fade. Your familial love has united each of you with each other and to God. Be at peace. She is.

This rather personal letter is made public for all the Aunt Mollies of the world, both male and female, who are going through a time of suffering and loss. The hope is that you may find some consolation within.

What is Bad For YOU?

Today’s Mass is in honor of St. Lawrence. The Psalm 112: 1-8 states, “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord…his heart is steady and will not be afraid.” These words typify the Deacon, St. Lawrence. God’s guarantee of safety, in the face of all forms of danger, was the only assurance that he needed. He faced his own torturous death with calm, with peace and even with humor. While his torturers were actually grilling him to death, his reply to them was, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.”

This display of immense courage and calm in the face of this terrible torture causes us confusion and bewilderment. How can he possibly remain like this? He must be someone God has granted unusual peace and long-suffering. We know that we could not display this same courage. We can’t even imagine ourselves even being willing to allow ourselves to endure such harsh punishment.

But the truth is, we can be. We truly can be. The direction of the above mentioned Psalm tells us how. “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord”. Blessed! Endowed with peace and serenity! Trusting in God! If God is my ally, what evil can possibly upset me? That, however, is the fly in the ointment. We go to church. We pray to God. We speak of our love for Him. We leave church … and forget everything that we said and felt. Trust is so very difficult for us. We have gotten so used to relying on ourselves, so totally, that we don’t even allow God to direct us.

“Fearing the Lord”, is not intended as a dread of God so that we are afraid to do anything contrary to His word. But rather fear in this context, implies a bond so close that we are happy to be aligned with Him. We understand His love for us, and so we trust Him, implicitly. We know a true love of a mother or father would not, and could not possibly harm their child purposely, but would protect him/her at all cost. Even though correction and discipline are sometimes employed by the parents, the child recognizes that he/she is loved. As a result of this secure feeling, the child responds, listens and tries to emulate.

With God, as our Father, our life becomes more than just a natural animal’s life. We are special to Him. If we are not special then, why would He have given us intelligence and the ability to reason (no other animal has it)? Why would He give us free will to make choices (no other creature can do that)? His love, an infinite love, has been and will continue to be totally engulfing us. You might ask, “How then can we suffer and die”? The ONLY evil that exists is the loss of our soul, the total disruption of the bond that exists between God and man. All other things that are regarded as evil are temporal, are fleeting. Loss of possessions, loss of health, disabilities, and even death — none of these bring about the loss of our soul. They are hindrances. They are things that we must endure; but they cannot, they should not take our gaze away from God.

So we see that what is important to us is what determines what we call “evil”. We are all called to greatness. We are all called to being re-united with God. If, however, our value system puts our job, our possessions, our family, our friends and acquaintances, our pleasures, even our health above God, then loss of any of these will represent evil to us. On the other hand, if our call to greatness, our call to being united with God is of paramount importance to us then we can understand St. Lawrence’s total disdain for himself and his almost humorous reply, “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side.” To reach this unity with God is what we must strive to work at the rest of our lives.

Trust or Control?

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

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

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

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

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

Worries In Our Lives

When was the last time you didn’t have a care or worry in the world? Think back, when was it? It was a time when you didn’t worry about job, or salary; bills and debts did not exist; responsibilities and should’s and ought to’s were not part of your thought process. The last time I can remember I must have been five or six running down the street in North Philadelphia to see my playmates. How about you?

It is a shame since many times we put off thinking about God, praying to Him…because we have so many other things on our mind. I will start going back to Mass, soon, but not right now. I have so many things to do, so many thoughts in my head. Aren’t we really saying, “Mass isn’t the most important aspect of my life? God will understand, because He sees how busy I am?” What is more important than being united with our God? If we think this way, that God can take a back seat and wait, then maybe, we don’t really understand how important He is to our life. Period.

We amass all of these worries and concerns, and then parade them around in our mind as justifying reasons as to why we cannot go to Mass. They become the mechanism why we cannot see good in others, why we should not help those less fortunate. “I am too busy. I don’t feel comfortable around people like that. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” And on it goes, our excuses build up and soon we actually believe these excuses to be real, to be formidable.  So, when we say, “I will go back to Mass, as soon as these concerns are over…,” realize that the last time we were free of concerns was…when??

It is the nature of man, to worry, to fret. It is part of our life. It is almost innate in us. So there must be another way around this issue. Why must our worries be over before we speak to God? Why do all the items in our to-do list have to be checked off, before we can focus on our union with our God? They don’t have to be. It is us! We want order in our lives, so much that we are willing to put off the most important relationship for our lives. But of course, we don’t think of it as so, because … there are so many other things in our life that concern us.

At the end of chapter 11 of Matthew’s Gospel, verses 28-30 speak directly to this point. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” Don’t wait until the trials, and problems and money worries, and sicknesses and everything else that oppress us, end. Don’t wait. Run to Him; Seek Him out. Lay these burdens that are suffocating you, at His feet. “Lord, I can’t bear them any more. I am so troubled by all of this.” THIS IS your prayer. This is how you seek Him out. In two small sentences you present yourself, as you are. A person that is seeking, troubled, weighed down, and confused. There are no pretenses here. This is who I am right now, Lord. Help me. Don’t expect the troubles and problems to magically disappear. Don’t expect magic. Expect peace. Your prayer is for peace, not solutions. Solutions will solve one problem. Peace will be your strength in all of your battles. Christ, who loves you, who hears you, who has told you to do just so, will flood your mind and soul with peace. The problems may still be there, but they are no longer insurmountable. You have peace within. And in that peace, in that calm comes the realization that our life is truly meaningless without Jesus, without God in our lives. And with this realization, we know that all of life’s burdens are not mighty majestic mountains, but merely speed bumps that crop up from time to time.

One of You Will Betray Me

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

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

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

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

-1 John, 8, 7

Mercy Sunday and Trust

First I want to apologize for having published only one post over the first two weeks of April. Many other things have occupied my attention and my time. I will try to do better over the remainder of the month.

Last year around this time, thesteppingstones wrote about “Divine Mercy Sunday and Saint Faustina”. Also published was “Divine Mercy Sunday”. (Click on either publication to go directly to it.)  It is in that  last publication that the following words were quoted:

I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary, 699).

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and extends to the Sunday after Easter. By clicking on Chaplet and the Novena you can go directly to these prayers. Both can and probably should be recited every day. But a strong effort should be made by us to recite and pray these special prayers from Good Friday to the Sunday after Easter.

This time of Grace seems to be most special to Our Lord. It is He who urges us to return to the fount of His Goodness, His Love. It is He who wishes us to return to the simplicity of life and the trust of little children. You need not be a harbinger of doom to recognize that our civilization is seeking everything it possibly can that leads it away from the Christ and towards its own destruction.

Jesus said time and time again, that we should be as little children, and to let the children come to Him. What is it that makes a child, a child? At the core of every child is it not TRUST? Jesus asks us to do nothing more than trust Him, lay our lives out before Him. Instead of wealth, or material things, or prestige, or position, let us trust Him and His goodness. If your child trusts you, will you not do everything you can to put your arms around them and protect them? It is the same with Jesus?