Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Christmas Wish List

There are times when God opens my heart, and I can see His will, and do it.  And I feel a great joy.  But there are other times, and other things I do, which looking back at them I feel nothing but regret.  If I were permitted to ask for only one thing on my Christmas list, it would be that I have no more regrets.
Sometimes I have regrets over things I have chosen to do:
§  I didn’t prioritize helping that person in need; I had “better” things to do.
§  I spent long hours at work, alone, when there was community, family, that needed my presence.
§  I spent time at play with friends, and God was alone.
§  I loved those who could love me back, not those who couldn’t.
§  I built a career, a home, and now I am alone.
§  Late have I loved Thee, ever Ancient, ever New.

While I have these (and many more) regrets over things I chose to do, I feel much more agonizing regrets over things I would NEVER have chosen to do --- but I did them anyway.  I did those things not as chosen actions, but instinctive re-actions, actions of my heart.  These reactions showed who I really was, not who I wanted to be.  And God reads the heart.  I deeply regret my poor reactions and my being the man I was --- and in many ways still am.  How I wish I could change my heart, and my reactions:
§  I was angry at the actions of those who couldn’t control their actions.
§  I was irritated at those who made mistakes, but didn’t know they made them.
§  I looked down on those who failed to see what I saw, not excusing their blindness.
§  I gave the short, convenient answers, not the complete explanations that would avoid confusion, and hurt feelings.
§  I acted in haste, not love.
§  I told the lie someone wanted to hear, not the truth they needed to.

How I wish I would have no future regrets, such as these.
The Gospel today had the poor woman giving to the temple her only two coins.  It’s actions of the heart which matter, even in little things.  Do them with no regrets, no anger.
What is it that I really want this Christmas?  I want no more regrets.  I want to live as He created me to live, to love as He loved.  Then my gift would, in some small way, be a celebration of His gift, and my re-birth a celebration with His.
I picked up the worn copy of My Imitations of Christ from my coffee table last night, and opened it at random to read:
I know thy secret thoughts; I know that it is very expedient for thy soul that thou shouldst sometimes be left without consolation, lest thou shouldst be puffed up with much success and shouldst take a complacence in thyself, imagining thyself to be what thou art not.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Blessings

Morning mass time had changed, at the church I usually attend while on vacation here in Arizona.  I arise early and so sought an earlier mass than the 8AM one at the local church.  Most other churches offered nothing earlier, but one I had never visited offered a 6:30A, and so I went there.
As I arrived at 6, a group was already saying a rosary, and nearly 100 showed up for the weekday mass.  I thought I might also visit this church’s adoration chapel, and so asked someone after mass for the passcode to enter.  At first no one did, but finally someone knew it, but then we realized we had no pencil, so stopped someone else to borrow that.  Then I went to my car and back to the hotel for the complementary (included in the outrageous price) breakfast.
That night I went to the beautiful adoration chapel I usually attended when visiting, but realized I had forgotten my prayer book in the car.  I did without it that night, said my prayers, and again went back to the hotel.
The next morning, arriving for the 6:30A mass, I realized I didn’t have my brievary prayer book.  I searched the car thoroughly.  So, when I went into the church I thought I might find it laying on the table where we had been exchanging info the day before.  It was not.  After mass I found the lost and found table; it was not there, either.  So, I went back to the hotel, expecting a call after someone found the book and my address and phone number inside.  No one called.
Time spent here with my nieces was delightful, as always.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.  We played cards each night, and sampled the wine I had sent. 
The next morning there was still no prayer book at the church, and I again searched my car, to no avail.  That night --- last night --- more relatives were over, and the card games got bigger and louder.  And fun.  And late.  So, heading back to my hotel I decided to skip my evening prayers, saying a shorter version in the car as I drove back.
This Thanksgiving morning, I intended to visit the usual church I visit when down here for Thanksgiving Day mass.  But my rental car had other ideas --- or rather my senility put me into an automatic mode, heading for the church where I had attended the 6:30A masses.  Oh well, I thought, maybe God wants me to find my prayer book there this day, so I continued on my way.  Once there, I decided to search the car again --- and there, under the passenger seat found my lost prayer book.  But I KNOW I had searched there twice before.  So, I asked: “Lord, what is it You would have me do?”
I enjoyed my morning prayers, and gave sincere thanks, to God and St. Anthony and all the saints I had appealed to.  My prayer book is over 25 years old, and has many personal notations and prayers in it.  And I read some of the prayers I had not said last night, when I skipped my evening prayers.  And then I felt an urge to give one of the prayer books to one of the visiting relatives I had played cards with last night.  I don’t know why God seemed to be asking me this; she did not seem a particularly religious woman.  But before I could think or pray on it much, I noticed the title of the book again.  The first letters of the title words spelled out the woman’s name.  So, I’ll give it to her this afternoon.  And I WILL stop for night prayers on the way back to the hotel tonight.
Tomorrow I head back home.  It has been a pleasant time here (although it is supposed to be 90 degrees today!!).  I am so blessed.  Even when bad things seem to happen to me; I see good.  I guess that is a side benefit of trusting in God.  I know my prayer was that if I had truly lost my prayer book, never to be returned, then I trusted that God had a better use for it.  I know I can always trust Him to find a better way than my way.  And that makes thanksgiving come easier.
I pray your Thanksgiving Day is a blessing for you also.  We have so much to be thankful for, and we don’t do it nearly enough.  And I think God misses that from His children.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review: A Season of Grace

The subtitle of this book is:  Embracing God’s Gifts in the Autumn of Our Lives.
This is Carolyn Bassett’s first book.  It’s timing is perfect for me, and many in my life.  The book consists of 75 short meditations --- 2 pages each --- and closing prayers.  The meditations are on the life experiences of herself or those she met, and the meaning of those experiences, the deep meaning.  Unlike other books of this ilk, almost every one of her meditations evokes memories in me, which causes the prayers to be read with deep sincerity.  She writes of God’s love, family, celebrations, and life’s sharing of experiences and memories.  And she addresses sadness, loneliness, suffering and dying.  Her positive meditations on all these situations end with confident prayers to God.
·         Father, regardless of what trials I may endure, you promise that you will never leave me or forsake me.  I embrace your love ...

·         Father, your faithfulness toward me brings me joy and peace.  Help me be faithful in turn to the people in my life.

·         Father, your mercy knows no limits.  Help me to grow in mercy and to be more effective in supporting others close to me.

·         Father, thank you for all the people in my life.  Help me to stay engaged, even when I am not feeling well.

·         Lord, you know what concerns I have about the future.  Help me to work through them with great hope, no matter what the circumstances may be.

This is a book for anyone over the age of 60, for caregivers, and for those despairing of any age.  In every life there is hope, there is reason, there is value.  These meditations open your heart to the fact that you are not walking alone.  Many will receive this book for Christmas from me, and copies will always be on my bookshelf for those in need.