Sunday, January 30, 2011

And So I Cried

I find that I have been crying a lot lately. Oh, you needn’t worry; it is a good thing, and I am writing about it today because I want to record my thoughts, so I can come back to them on those bad days when I need the support and firm knowledge that: “The world is not ending; this too will pass.” And perhaps most importantly, that in my trials I am not alone. Do not be anxious.

I have found, of late, that God is often near to me, and I am acutely aware of His presence, and I don’t know what to say, or how to act, or even like this, what to write. I am in His presence, and I just KNOW. It’s like some kind of different state of being, of being and knowing all those things you might expect, I guess, that you would be and would know if you were in His presence. It happens sometimes when I have bad times --- and I am most appreciative then, but it also happens in good times, times of prayer, times of meditation, and times when I just look out at the beauty of His creation and realize: Wow! This is so beautiful.

When this happens, I know He is near to me, and He will protect me from all harm, even strangely, those harms which may be happening to me at that moment. “How can He protect me from what is already happening to me,” you may ask. “I don’t know,” I would answer, because I can’t express what I DO know: no harm will come to me. No matter what does happen. Even as bad things happen to me, I know He is with me, and the goodness of His presence overcomes the badness of other things. I find I can ignore those other things, which may sometimes seem so bad. But He is so good, and nothing else I can see or feel matters. I don’t know how to express this feeling, this confidence, or even of how to write of it now. But: when He is with me, my body reacts by crying, perhaps because it doesn’t know what else to do.

I don’t know why I am so blessed with this feeling, of late. Perhaps because I am better able to get past MY problems and state them in a way that recognizes them as OUR problems. It’s easy to see God when things are going well, and all seems a blessing, and I can see His hand in matters. But I think when things go bad I rather quickly seek a way out, and strangely (I now think in retrospect) the first one I turn to with problems is myself. “How can I fix this,” I ask myself. “Develop a plan,” is my reaction to ease the pain and gain confidence it will soon end --- I’ll get myself out of it. Or even, in some cases I may say to myself: “Well! This is another fine mess you’ve got us into!” (I always liked those old Lauren and Hardy movies.) At any rate, that is often a norm of my thinking when problems arise --- I must fix them. Of late, I admit, I am much better at thinking and saying what I should ALWAYS think and say: “Well, what do you think WE should do now?” That’s the right attitude to have in any bad situation --- I am not alone. And when I do react in that way, which as I said I am prone to do more of lately, then He answers. Oh, He doesn’t speak to me and tell me what to do, but I do recall some of His teachings, as a father to me. And sometimes I see things in a new light. And sometimes I just KNOW He is there with me. And sometimes I cry.

I began reading a new small book this morning’s meditations: Life’s Purpose --- Wisdom from John Henry Newman, and I began to cry again. I cried even while reading the forward. So much of what I read spoke to me and from me --- and with me. I’ll give a more complete review of that book for you at a future date, but for now, I guess I’ll just give you the short first chapter:

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home --
Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene --- one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.

I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!

I loved the garish day, and, spate of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It Ain't So, If I Say It Ain't So

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal ran a book review on physicist Brian Greene’s new book, The Hidden Reality. The book describes the likelihood of multiple universes. Here is an excerpt:

“So why should gravity, and the other properties of our universe, be ‘just right’ for us to exist? There are two possibilities, often expressed in terms of an analogy with a man who buys a suit that is a perfect fit. Either the suit has been specifically tailored for the client --- made to measure --- or he has visited a large store with an array of suits in all possible sizes, choosing the right one for him off the peg. The best interpretation of the laws of physics, as we understand them, is that we live in an off-the-peg universe. A vast array of universes exist in the multiverse, many (perhaps most) of them sterile, but since life forms like us can only exist in universes like ours, it is no surprise that we live in such a universe.”

I laughed when I read that. The universe can’t be tailored to us (because I can’t measure a God who would create such a universe so I have determined He doesn’t exist), therefore there must be an infinite number of universes (to fit my brain’s understanding of things), and so of course by chance one exists just like ours. Mr. Green’s logic is that of the people who state that “in an infinite number of universes exist an infinite number of monkeys and at least one of them must at this moment be typing out the entire works of Shakespeare.” (And, of course, there must be an almost infinite number of monkeys almost typing out those works, but making many typos. : - ) ) I’m sorry, but that is utter nonsense. That is creating your own idea of reality to fit your own nonsense ideas ---- lesser known people with such ideas have been put into institutions.

And it was with further laughter that this morning that I read John Henry Newman’s sermon on this very subject, probably written fifty years ago. This particular sermon sat unread in my front room for over a month, until just this right time. I like how God does that, giving us what we need when we need it. I imagine He was laughing with me this morning. As I read, I was kind of like the little child who desperately wanted something for Christmas but kept it a secret, and then was amazed when on Christmas morning there was the exact thing of his wishes. “But how did you know?” he might ask of Santa. And Santa would then bend over, smile, and softly whisper into his ear: “It’s magic!” I imagine God as that Santa-like character looking at me this morning, as I read words I needed to see just then, “It’s magic,” and then me reacting wide-eyed to His whispered explanation: “Woooooooooow!”

Here’s what John Henry wrote:

Thus we are enabled to enjoy God’s gifts; and let us thank Him for the knowledge which enables us to do so, and honor those who are His instruments in communicating it. But if such a one proceeds to imagine that, because he knows something of the world’s wonderful order, he therefore knows HOW things really go on, if he treats the miracles of Nature (so to call them) as mere mechanical processes, continuing their course by themselves, --- as works of man’s contriving (a clock, for instance) are set in motion, and go on, as it were, of themselves, --- if in consequence he is, what may be called irreverent in his conduct towards Nature, thinking (if I may so speak) that it does not hear him, and see how he is bearing himself towards it; and if, moreover, he conceives that the Order of Nature, which he partially discerns, will stand in the place of the God who made it, and that all things continue and move on, not by His will and power, and the agency of the thousands and ten thousands of His unseen Servants, but by fixed laws, self-caused and self-sustained, what a poor weak worm and miserable sinner he becomes! Yet such, I fear, is the condition of many men nowadays, who talk loudly, and appear to themselves and others to be oracles of science, and, as far as the detail of facts goes, do know much more about the operations of Nature than any of us.
Parochial and Plain Sermons (Sermon 29), by John Henry Newman

The pomposity of Mr. Greene and others like him are funny to behold. “If I cannot conceive of any other reason than this, then there must be none!” And rather than extend the beliefs of billions of people of faith to fit these facts I have found, I will instead search for new evidence to back up MY BELIEFS --- for I obviously know more than all the other people of the world. For people who believe there is no God, they sure try to act like one. Mr. Greene’s words reminded me of those of an ignorant backwoods hillbilly, hence the title of this post.

I read many books of faith, many books of science, and many, many books of fiction. I won’t waste my money buying this one, however, because I never really liked science-fiction.

P.S. I have an undergraduate degree in Physics, and know a bit of what I speak, from a scientific point of view.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Choose Spring --- Again

This is a picture taken the Spring of 2002, on the Pacific Coast Highway --- shortly before I broke my ankle in a dozen places and rushed home for surgery and a summer in a cast. It was the second day of my vacation. A good time, then a bad time, then a terrible time ---- but good times came again. I think we needed a reminder: Springtime will come again.

I wrote the below in May of 2009; the reminder is worth posting again today.

“It’s hard to admire the beauty of the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.”

I don’t know why I remembered that old saw, but it’s kind of how I felt going into last weekend. There were lots of things to worry about – serious things – and some I feared might bite ME in the a.. . But then the weekend came.

My three nieces flew across the country just to spend a weekend with mom on her birthday. And mom was in rare form. To my surprise, and theirs, she recognized each one immediately and even some facts about their families. And there were many hours of laughter, good food (way too much), good conversation, and good wine (way too much of that, too.). And there were many tears of happiness. Happiness for the good times, not the bad. For the good health, not the bad. For the time together, not the soon-to-be-parting.

And the weather warmed and the flowers on the trees bloomed. Even the earth seemed happy.

There is so much to worry about in life. Things often seem so cold and dark, especially now. But even the coldest winter and darkest night will come to a Spring morning. We are not, as in the Tales of Narnia (by C.S. Lewis), in an eternal winter. But sometimes, by our attitude, we might choose to be.

This last weekend, I saw the beauty of Spring outside, and the beauty of Spring inside. The Spring outside inevitably happened, but we CHOSE the Spring inside. My nieces flew across the country, left their safety (risked Swine Flu!! :-) ), and left their families (Egads! -- in the care of their husbands!!), to see their grandma for perhaps a last time. And there could have been much sadness in some memories which could have been spoken, but they chose happiness. And Springtime arrived in mom’s house. And tears of happiness flowed.

Sometimes it seems that we are bound up by the sadness in our past, the worries about the present, and the fears about the future. We can’t forget or ignore those things; they sometimes come upon us unbid in the night. But like my nieces, we need to get on a plane, and fly somewhere else in our mind. Forget about that boss who fired you, the spouse who left you, the parent who didn’t love you – these were people or times which acted on you, you didn’t make them all happen. Forget about the present economy, the risks to your employment, even that stupid red light on the dash which never seems to go out. And forget about the future of your country, your company, and even your 401k. The past is the past; you’ve learned some things from it. The present I know you are doing your best about, and the big things of the future are beyond your control. But you can choose to bring Spring inside your heart, your home, and even your job, today. You can choose.

So go home and hug your kids; go play that round of golf – and don’t keep score; go to a pond and feed the ducks; go to a church and sit in silence with God. And remember the good things you are blessed with. Before you can make today better – for you, for your family, for your job, for yourself, before you can make ANY impact on tomorrow, and before you can face some bad things which started in the past, you need to change yourself -- today. You need to find some measure of happiness in your life. Now! You deserve it. I know. I chose you for a friend, and despite the fact we don’t see eye-to-eye on – well, you know what I mean :-) --- but I still think you are a pretty great person. Why don’t you think so? Or why do you so easily forget that.

May you find, my friend, the courage to choose to start a Springtime in your life. Look outside yourself; look inside yourself. I’ve seen both, and you are beautiful!

What?! You think I choose bums for friends?? No way, my friend. No way!)

Peace and Blessings to you this day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Celebrating Sin

I used to think sin was an evil, a hurt to God, and that all men seek to avoid it, to live “good” lives. Especially of late, my eyes are opened to how naïve I have been. For many in this country sin is not a thing to be avoided, no, it is a thing to be celebrated with great fanfare and joy. Joy at, in my understanding, hurting God.

You’ve seen some of my sadness at the joy in my local community celebrating the ready availability of pornography in our library --- but of course trying to keep it from children, which I guess they believe then makes it safe, legal, and rare (where have I heard that before?). Then, this weekend Michigan papers ran large stories celebrating the increased financial responsibility of many in Michigan and our country, those who are in financial difficulty and must make hard decisions. Yes, they note, many of these people are choosing to not have children, to save money. They are such expensive “things” to have. So if we don’t have children, we’ll have more money for ourselves --- how wonderful and responsible of us, the paper seems to indicate. I mean, we have to cut somewhere, right? I thought it curious, however, that the article did not comment on listings it showed of states with the lowest birth rates last year, and those with the highest. Among the lowest, virtually all were “blue” states, while among the highest were all “red” states. Other studies have shown that “blue” liberal states have lower church attendance, lower giving to charities, and now lower birth rates. I guess as Americans they want the same things we all want, except they want it for themselves first. Whereas surveys of the red states note that they value marriage, family, children, and giving for the care of their neighbor ---it makes me wonder: are these states REALLY in the same country?

And then there was the New York Times article this week celebrating that New York City is number one in abortions in the country, with 40% of children born in the womb never seeing the light of day. The article notes how wonderful it is that there are so many and readily available ways to get abortions, like a candy store on every corner. In New York City, a black pregnancy would most likely result in an abortion --- what a sad state for their citizens. In New York City I guess they consider abortions as being safe, legal and ….. well, let’s celebrate! This same paper will print little to nothing today about the tens of thousands who marched in the frigid cold in Washington yesterday to protest Roe v Wade, but will devote pages tomorrow celebrating the black tie dinners and a presidential speech tonight which will likely say and do nothing.

Celebrations in our cities and our country, and yet they make me feel sad. Party pooper me? No, I just think about what we are celebrating, and who we are likely hurting: our God. I’d like to think that I’m getting closer to Him in these days and years, and perhaps I am. But if my wisdom and holiness is growing, and I see Him more as He is --- and this is it, then I don’t know if I want to grow any closer to Him. I don’t know if I could bear what He does. I can’t handle that much rejection, that much sadness.

As America celebrates.

As God weeps.

And yet through all this God still loves us, and He gives us Hope. By our actions in these days, my we show that we still love Him, and in our small way, give Him hope also, hope for this country.

At mass the gospel today said: “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” Despite what we may read in the papers, my friends, remember this is the real Good News. This is what is worth our celebration. We must speak up and proclaim the truth of goodness, even as our neighbors may celebrate sin. And our actions and reactions must start in prayer for them. All is not lost. Change, REAL change, can come to America. REAL joy can come to America.

He came into a world steeped in sin, and died for us. Can’t we, for our part, do some small action? Or are we looking at the celebrations, and content to merely shake our heads? Do you need one of the little reminder bracelets, my friends: WWJD? (I think you know.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Must Go On

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

I apologize to any who may have read my recent words here. I do not write this blog to ramble on of my own anxieties, but in hope of relieving yours. (And yet, I honestly admit, we all have them at times, even me.) If I previously wrote about my anxieties it was to give an example of how they were unnecessary. And so relative to my concerns of recent days I now witness that my concerns were unnecessary. In my sorrows, I felt alone and wrote as such, but we are never alone.

These past days, days of sadness for me, I had many friends speak up, giving me words of encouragement. I chose to see these and other friends as ignoring me or my concerns. And so I felt alone.

But then I made another choice, I chose to accept the fact that God Himself was giving me encouragement, some through friends, some through strangers, and some through actions which I now accept as His work --- for me. It would have been easy to ignore all these things; I could have chosen to remain sad. Some people do in such circumstances. But I have faith in Him, and His words that I will never be alone, and His words that: if He cares for the birds of the sky, will He not care for me even more? I choose to believe those words. I choose not to be anxious.

There were some moments, honestly, when I chose to ignore this barrage of comfort and good will. “Leave me alone to be sad,” I was almost saying aloud --- certainly to myself, inwardly, I was. And to God’s comforts, some seemingly miraculous, I also turned away. They were not good enough. It’s as if I were like the Jews crying out: “Come down from that cross, and then I will believe You.” Then I’ll truly know You are with me, and all will be well. Prove it to me.

How arrogant of me, to think I am that important, to command that God prove something to me. But finally, my eyes have been opened.

I think we all have times of sadness, when we feel alone. Deaths, divorce, business failures or stress, rejection by family or friends, or even dryness in prayer--- all can be major challenges. These things make us feel rejected and alone. But as I was shown these days, and almost deliberately tried not to admit, we are not alone. If we would just be open to what we SAY we believe: “God loves me,” we will see His many consolations all around to us. We are not alone in our sorrows; and therefore we cannot stay in our worry and self-pity. We must go on.

There are things God has created us and only us for, things we must do, and in our sorrows we often stop. We are all called to be followers of Christ, and to live out His truth in our unique vocations and situations in life. Those things we are called to do, we cannot ignore in our sadness. Still, there are things not of our primary vocation that we must pay attention to, and we cannot confuse these smaller tasks with our larger one.

As I wrote recently, I saw pornography being spoken up for as a good thing in my community, and worse, I seemed to be the only one who cared. And so I stopped and stayed in sadness, debating what I should do, largely because I felt alone and none of my fellow Christians seemed willing to stand up for their faith in even the simplest way. Some friends said to me: “Forget it; it’s not important; you can’t make a difference.” Some said: “Sue them; I’ll help.” But neither advice is correct for me. I now realize that.

What I did, spoke up against a moral wrong, even if publicly ridiculed, was the right thing to do. It was a simple thing. Martyrs have died for things such as that, but no one will kill me. But now I must go on. God has shown me consolations, thanked me for doing as he taught, but I must go on. My talents, my abilities, my position in life dictate that I am not the one to rally this cause, to pursue it above all else, to right this wrong. I am not Don Miguel de Cervantes; I am not here to right every wrong; I am only the one who He made me to be. And although he expects me to speak up when necessary, and to feed the beggar I pass on the road, He has not gifted me to speak up on all the airwaves of the world nor eliminate world hunger. Perhaps He has challenged --- and gifted --- others to do those things. I will support them, but I will go on with the life and tasks he has given to me.

I read today, on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, some words he wrote on the subject of doing what we are called to do, while still doing devotion to God. He said it well:

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, and by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

Tell me whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganized and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfills all things. In fact, if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

Introduction to the Devout Life

Friday, January 21, 2011

Do You Like Porn?

Sometimes you just feel so helpless. You want to do great things. All you can do are little things, and even they seem to not be done well. Nothing seems to make any difference. You look at your neighbors, and you just wonder.

In my most recent writing I noted that there are some sacrifices which are bigger than others, and some that just seem big to the beholder. Perhaps that is where I am, this night. I just seem so sad, no not for me, but for everyone, perhaps most of all for everyone else. And I wonder how Jesus felt, and how He feels, even now.

I wrote a note to some of my community friends yesterday. I’ll just print it here, because it is the start, and explains many things. I put a title in the subject line of my note to them. It read: Do You Like Porn?

This is addressed to my Canton neighbors:

If you read my blog (no, I’m not suggesting you should), you know I have been suggesting that we “walk the talk,” and stand up for what we believe in --- and I’ve been trying to do just that.

Last Sunday there was an article in the Canton Observer which noted that some library patrons objected to the porn they saw being viewed on some Canton library computers. You can read the article here:

The librarians responded to complaints by saying that it was not illegal to watch porn, and they were actively discouraging people from letting others see what they were watching. The article implied that the library MUST make porn available. That is not true. Further, the library is turning down available federal dollars (which require filters on computers) in order to make porn available.

I wrote a letter to the editor which printed (largely unedited) in today’s Canton Observer, noting that fact and asking if this is what the community truly desires, porn availability, paid for with our tax dollars. I asked for a survey, and said I would support any results. Here is my letter:

Directly opposite my letter today was printed a large and long editorial rebuttal to my letter, citing the library controls and the need to protect our First Amendment rights --- but not disputing anything I wrote. Here is the editorial:

The Observer Editor supports porn in our library and further notes that: “the complaints that spawned our Sunday story are the first two we’ve heard in years.” He is saying, in response to my concern, that no one in Canton cares if porn is available in our libraries.

I dropped a copy of the editorial page at all 3 Catholic churches in Canton; I don’t know what they will do, if anything. All I’m asking you, my friends, is: Do you care? You can address a letter to the Observer editor in Canton, Mr. Brad Kadrich, at:

I pray all is well with you, and yours.

A day has passed. One friend wrote to the paper expressing outrage at the situation, and forwarded my note on. So now there are two in our community of 90,000 who object. Perhaps there will be more, but it just makes me so sad. Oh, this morning as I wrote, I may have had some level of self-pity in my thoughts, but tonight I am just sad for my community.

Were I one of the many priests or religious leaders in my community, the heads of the many churches and temples here, I’m not sure what I would do, seeing these results of my preaching. For all that the church attendees proclaim, and all that they seem to exhibit of their faith, still they can’t take even five minutes to complain about porn in their libraries; porn which may be killing their marriages, and perhaps their children. If they won’t stand up for even simple, basic things like this, just how much faith do they really have. As a priest or minister, are they even worth my time, or should I just “shake the dust from my sandals” and move on to better pastures. I would be very disappointed in my flock – and perhaps myself.

The Michigan Sexual Offender Registry notes that there are 45 sexual offenders identified within our community. My tax dollars are funding computers for them to have access to pornography in my community library. What would it take for my neighbors to get concerned, to find the time to get concerned, about this gun they are providing to those who have used it in the past? Oh, if their children or grandchildren were violated, I have no doubt they would be at the computers, axe in hand, closing the door after the cat is let out, but not undoing anything, just venting their rage --- their rage that they did nothing, when they could have. Would they explain to their children that they knew their grandchild might be at risk, but “well, you know how busy I am. I was meaning to write a protest note about that.” Would that explain things to their kids? Would that explain things to their God?

Tonight I received an email reminding me that tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe v Wade, the beginning of abortion being legal in our country. Today, 52 million aborted babies later, it still goes on. A nation that kills its own children, is a nation without hope. --- John Paul II. When I look at how much we don’t care, we won’t take even the littlest time to live out the Christian faith we say we have, I wonder if there IS any hope for us. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. --- Thomas Jefferson.

I lit a candle and put it outside on my front porch. It is a small light to let anyone know who cares --- if there is anyone who cares, that I care too.

I prayed my rosary this night, saying the sorrowful mysteries, praying for an end to abortion, as I do every night. But tonight was different. I had so many things on my mind, so many of my sad thoughts clouding my thoughts of His sorrows. As I prayed and meditated on His suffering, His pain, His carrying the cross, and His willingly dying on the cross, I found myself asking aloud: “This? This is the humanity You died for?” More than ever, I wondered: why? “Why would You bother? Didn’t you wonder: ‘Will My death matter?’”

All these years later I look at my neighbors and my country, and I ask the question aloud. You died for this?

.... And Some Must Die

Yesterday was not such a good day for me. The local newspaper published an almost full-page editorial which trashed a comment I wrote in support of my Catholic values. I expected my thoughts on the matter would linger, and I would write here today the story of my plight. But as I went into the church this morning, my mood changed.

My self-pity was pushed aside enough to find room for a new thought: later this morning in this church would be the funeral of Officer Larry Nehasil, a Livonia Michigan policeman, killed in the line of duty this last Monday. He left a wife and two sons. The funeral mass at 11AM would be huge, with many thousands in attendance, all praying for and remembering this man, and what he had done. As I thought on and prayed for him at the early morning mass, the worries which started my day seemed tiny, as did any perceived sacrifice I made. Many things were put into perspective.

I’m sure at some points in his career Officer Nehasil must have heard these comments: Why are you doing this? You can make more money elsewhere. This is dangerous. You have a wife and family. Why put yourself at risk? And perhaps he heard this most difficult comment also: Do you really think you can make a difference? Does your sacrifice matter?

I don’t know how he answered those comments and questions, but I suspect that he said something along the lines of: “I’m doing it because it is the right thing to do, and I think it is important.” And so he did the right thing, even if he was criticized for it, even if – by some -- he was disrespected for it. And he knew, he absolutely knew, that his sacrifice mattered. How often are we not able to make such a principled stand, such a virtuous stand, a stand for justice and truth, for even a small sacrifice?

Veritas? Quid est veritas?

Today was the feast day of St. Agnes, virgin and martyr. In the Fourth Century she stood strong in her faith, unwilling to offer sacrifice to the gods of Rome, and so she chose death. She calmly offered the trembling executioner her neck. She was only twelve. Strong faith and strong virtues have nothing to do with age. But they have everything to do with love, love of truth. For what could one so young really appreciate about some of the complex truths of our faith? What could she understand about why there were so many martyrs before her, and what they had died for? No, she could not understand many of these things, but she knew, with the help of the grace of God, she knew the truth of Jesus Christ, and she loved that truth. Quid est veritas – what is truth? Truth is love and Truth is loved. And once you know true truth, the true reason of your very being, you choose to love that truth, and do everything for it, and not count the cost. “It is important.”

Some of us think we know the truth, but are unwilling to stand up for it. If so, then we do not really know the Truth, and we are lying to ourselves. Truth commands love and sacrifice. If we know Truth, we are able to stand up tall, and love the truth, no matter what.

Showing this love, living the life example of Christ means different things to different people. Some must exhibit love and diligence and courage in silence ---and no one, save God, knows of their actions. But, yes, some must bear up to public ridicule, and some must even suffer great physical pains in their life.

And some must die.

That is the way it has always been with the followers of Christ. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you (Jn 15:20). But He tells us that in our times of trial, He will be there with us. He was with me this morning; He was with Officer Nehasil on Monday and his family today, and He was with St. Agnes so many years ago. And therein, I think lies the lesson. Our trials and our sufferings to live out our lives in love of Truth are never forgotten. Whether, like St. Agnes they are remembered publicly throughout the centuries, or whether they are remembered privately in the examples set forth and carried on by their family and friends, or whether they impact strangers who those lovers of Truth will never even see, still, their actions are not in vain. And especially those who give the ultimate sacrifice of love, their lives, their actions are never in vain, for great love yields great fruit. Jesus showed us that.

There was a Man who stood in the courtyard many years ago, being ridiculed and mocked for His love of Truth. Friends and family who He thought so admired and loved Him stood silent, and some even joined in the ridicule. Some must have thought or said: Does your sacrifice matter? But He stood tall through all of it, the little sneers, the loud mockery, and then the deep pains. He put forth a great example for us all to follow --- for those who are able. And even as He underwent all these things, He could see us and the sufferings we would undergo, for love of Truth. And He would be with us. He set the example for all our lives: to attain eternal joy, all must be willing to follow Him, and therefore some must be ridiculed, and some must suffer great pains.

And some must die.

It is a sad thing, but their death, like His, will never be in vain. Never. Their sacrifice matters --- perhaps through all the centuries.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Gift

The host is raised at the Consecration, and again I think: “Father, I thank You for this Gift, this greatest gift that You, a God, could give to me. You give me of Yourself. Thank You, my Father.”

The chalice is then raised, and I think: “Thank You, Jesus, for Your Gift, offered to the Father, for me, a sinner who is so unworthy.” And as I stare up at the cup I realize that this is the greatest Gift a man could ever have given. Not gold or frankincense or myrrh, earthly gifts, but truly a gift worthy of a God, a gift of a God to a God, for me.

Nothing of this earth could ever equal the value of This Gift, offered to God the Father. The Supreme Gift offered to the Supreme Being. No one else could deserve a Gift like this.

And then I realized, it is offered this day to me.

Oh Lord, I am not worthy, I am sooo not worthy.

My Lord, my King, my God and my all,
Who was and is and is to be,
I bow in humble adoration
At what You have done for me.

My Lord, my King, my God and my all,
Give me grace to do my part,
To lay my life down at the foot of the Cross,
And to give You all my heart.

My Lord, My King, by Ann Berger & Songs in His Presence

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Little Thoughts

On this frosty morning I think I will just write down some of the little notes I wrote myself during the week.

On Seeing God:
The local church is celebrating an anniversary of its founding this year, and has various events planned throughout the year. In the grammar school, the children were given a sheet of paper with the large words on it: “Seeing God in All Things”. The children were asked to draw a picture example and write words on where they see God. The pictures were hung from the windows along the hallway outside the church proper. Many children saw God in rainbows, or in the poor or other things you might expect. Some drawings were pretty good and some thoughts deeper than others, but I liked this one on where a child forgot her lunch, and saw God: “My mom gave me her sanwits and ate nothong.” An “A” for religion and a “D” for spelling, but if I were her parent, I would have hugged her.

On Doing God’s Will:
I think it is not enough to do the Lord’s will (although for most of us that is a most difficult thing in itself), we must not only do His will, we must do it with humility. If we gave away every penny we had to the poor, if we preached His Word to all we meet, if we love through our actions everyone we met, still that would all be imperfect if we did it without a love which gives all of ourselves.

Surely Jesus Himself must have been constantly tempted, He the perfect man, who had huge crowds follow Him, whose touch brought healing, who could command any man if He so wished. How He must have been tempted, as a man, to jump up in front of all those crowds, to raise His hands heavenward and scream at the top of His lungs: “Look at me! I’m not only like a god, I am God! Look at ME!”

But He didn’t do that. Of all the things He came and did, and showed us how to be the Perfect Man we should aspire to imitate, perhaps that is the most difficult for us: to be truly humble, to act with true perfect love, to give and not count the cost, and to care for our fellow man, whether he cares for us or not.

On How to Pray:
Lord, open my lips to praise your holy name. Cleanse my heart of any worthless, evil or distracting thoughts. Give me the wisdom and love necessary to pray this Office with attention, reverence and devotion. Father, let my prayer be heard in your presence, for it is offered through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I’ve prayed that prayer each morning for well over the last twenty years. I think it was about the fifth year that I underlined the words “Give me the wisdom and love” --- I tend to underline things I think important in my books, so that I can go back and reflect on those words separately at some time, and to remind myself of their importance each time I read them. I always seriously pray for wisdom and love; I think they are the two most important things, to know God’s will in all things --- to the degree this simple mind is able, and then to love enough to do those things, not for me, but for Him.

It was only in recent years that I circled the words “necessary to pray” in my prayer book. When I circle something it usually means that I’ve already underlined it, but that I suddenly saw something even deeper there, a new insight that I don’t want to forget. This is important! It’s a big reminder to myself.

While I always pray for wisdom and love, I must remember WHY I pray for those things, and not just pray for them out of habit. We so often pray out of habit, and perhaps the reason is that we lack the wisdom and love necessary to pray sincerely. Wisdom and love aren’t just another on the list of things to pray for, they are necessary to really pray at all. Prayer without wisdom and love is just empty words, without meaning, without reason for their being said. If I can remember, however, that wisdom and love are necessary for me to pray, are necessary for me to talk to God with meaning and sincerity, then I’ll remember how important they are. If I pray without wisdom and love, it is like my saying words in my living room with God sitting there on the couch, but I speak my words while walking around looking at the pictures, or while watching the television, or even while in my sleep. If I say my prayer, my conversation with Him without wisdom and love, it is like talking to myself, not even aware that He is in the room --- ignoring Him.

Wisdom and love are the reasons to pray. If I know His will or want to know it, and if I love Him and want to do it, only then can we talk about it. Until then, I’m only talking about me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Too Busy

My friend responded that he was too busy to do something for me. I replied honestly and with much sympathy: “Yes, I understand.”

And I do.

I am the man who worked his way through college, paying every nickel of every bill --- and even earning enough besides to buy a new car, paying cash, of course. At college each day, working a full time job afternoons or evenings --- studying sometimes --- and never refusing the 8-hour shifts of overtime, I remember what it meant to be “too busy.”

I am the man who after college worked a 40-hour per week job, met a cute girl, and then took a 60-hour per week additional job to buy a ring. Looking back, I’m not sure why she accepted it; she never saw me much. Yes, yes, I know what it means to be “too busy.”

I am the man who once had three full time jobs at my employer, the only one I am aware of ever inflicted with this task --- and I enjoyed it. Three jobs, with three desks, in three buildings --- listed in the corporate directory with three phone numbers; it made me proud. When the new vice-president took over the division and set up a day of meetings to be briefed on some of the more important projects going on, people came and went from his office all day --- but I sat in the same chair most of the time as others filed in and out. “I guess I should get to know you,” he said. Oh, that was important to me, that casual recognition. Yes, I know only too well about the rewards associated with being “too busy.”

I am the man who was involved with so many charitable causes, I’m not sure I could remember all the reasons. I volunteered for so many church committees that I was one of the first anyone called. Asked by the archdiocese to start some new program for them; asked by the township to run for office; oh yes, I was important in my own eyes, and I knew what “too busy” meant.

I am also the man twice divorced. I’m not sure I could remember all the reasons there, either. Perhaps I was “too busy.”

Most things God gives us to do will not be acknowledged by men. We will not be a leader, nor be recognized for our efforts to do His will. We likely will not be congratulated. We may very well be despised. In fact, I guess it’s a pretty sure bet that many of the things we choose to do to receive acknowledgment by men are not things of God. But still we do them; we do them because others ask us, and we do them because they then honor us in some way, even if only to say “Wow, what a great guy you are!” The “Great Guy Award,” I think I must have won it innumerable times. It’s value is akin to the “Atta Boy Award;” one thousand Atta Boy’s enables you to be a leader of men, however one “Awshit” deletes all you have accumulated and you must start over again. I didn’t get many “awshits. But the ones I got were, I’m sure, well deserved.

Early in my life I learned the value of hard work: “You can have anything you want in life, all you have to do is work to get it.” Somewhere along the way, however, the working for what I wanted got replaced by the working for what others wanted, and I could not say no to their requests. And so I took on ever more assignments and special projects and tasks, tasks which often no one else wanted either because of their lack of monetary rewards or their long hours or travel. But I didn’t say no. I went from working for things I wanted, to working for “Great Guy” awards, and I didn’t seem to notice the change.

But no one can do everything --- even if someone silly like me tries. I think that may have been a major part of my conversion experience, my “coming to Jesus.” He called me in a way which I could not resist, and all the things “I had to do,” I put aside to answer His call. I’m glad He gave me that grace, that grace to find time for Him. It changed my life. I no longer worked for what I wanted; I no longer worked for what others wanted; my main priority and commitment to find time for, was to work for what He wanted. And I got more pleasure from doing His work than from the things I chose to work for myself, and got more recognition for His tasks than those I did at the request of others. Oh, I still worked for and with others --- and sometimes many hours, but my priorities had changed.

I found real happiness and peace when I found that life wasn’t about achieving things for myself or for others, but achieving things for Him. Sometimes that did mean achieving things for others, only they weren’t the top executives in this world, they were the bottom forgotten, until I remembered them. All the things I wanted or all the things others wanted me to do weren’t important, they had no real value for me, if I wasn’t doing the things He wanted. And I found, much too late in life, that I couldn’t let myself be “too busy.”

“Let me see if I can find some time on my calendar” --- how often I said those words. Oh, if a higher boss called and said he HAD to see me, I made room on that calendar, I did recognize that some people are more important than others (even if some of the things they asked weren’t). Somehow in those early days, however, I never got around to thinking of God as a more important person, who could command time on my calendar, who could out-prioritize other things already scheduled. I thought I was a smart person; I wonder why I never figured that out?

But thanks to His loud and persistent calling to me, I think I finally learned.

Never be too busy for God. Seek first to know and do His will, and your recognition will not be for a week or even a year, but for all eternity, with a pay increase you could never spend. Don’t you remember that he calls some to leave family and home --- and He doesn’t ask if they are “too busy.” Don’t you remember that no matter how much money or praise you could accumulate, you are to “seek first the Kingdom of God”?

Don’t be too busy, my friends. Don’t be too busy. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm Ready

Well, perhaps not totally ready.

This is a picture of my family room after delivery and 2-day effort to put together the new treadmill. My cleaning lady came in on Friday, and just laughed. The monstrous box was delivered on Tuesday and I didn’t have the heart to ask the delivery guy to haul it upstairs to the room where the old treadmill used to be, so I decided to put it in the family room.

Opening the box, I was surprised to see a jillion pieces, and instructions “to be carried out by two persons.” So, me, myself and I set about putting it together. I got enough exercise for a week, I think, in getting it thus far. It’ll probably take me another week to pick up the trash and cut up the box so the trash man will take it. Oh, then there is some programming to be done on the thing, but I figure having done the first 15 steps of the instructions the last 3 should be a snap. Maybe.

Then I’ll be ready! Well, in thinking about it, I guess I’ll be about as ready as I am with the rowing machine and the weight-training machine both of which sit largely unused upstairs.

I’ve always read that God reads the intentions of our hearts ---- doesn’t that count with exercising too?

I have some friends who are very good with exercise programs. They do so many minutes or hours a day or week, they have the best diets of the best foods and read the best books on health and blog on the best websites with others who are doing just as well as they are. And they feel great! But sometimes I wonder if they have time for anything else. It seems that all they want to talk about is exercises and foods, but haven’t read the paper nor get to church too often. I guess you can go overboard with too much, or too little.

I have other friends who have a beautiful bible, great Christian CDs they listen to, and glance at really good Christian books about improving their relationship with God. As a group, however, they tend to fall in that class of people who work all the time, or stress about work-related things. One recently went on an expensive vacation and came back and told me how she really didn’t like the extravagance of everything she saw, especially amidst some of the surrounding poverty. But she still went, and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year I hear the same laments.

I’m ready to get serious about exercising. Another friend is ready to get serious about managing her finances. Another friend is ready to get serious about living a life as a Christian. We’re all ready. But I guess that’s not good enough. We fool ourselves if we say these are our intentions, implying they will lead to actions. Only actions count, not intentions.

Even with God. He reads our hearts and knows our intentions, but it only matters if those intentions lead to actions. Actions may have good, bad, or no results, but actions speak to our real intentions.

As for me and my exercising program, I plan to create a simple plan of action: I will use one of the dozen or so calendars mailed to me to track my daily exercises and progress--- or lack thereof. No room on the calendar for reasons why I failed on some days, just blank spaces there. I’ll not hide from it, not see it, nor try to proclaim greater priorities. On the table, I’ll see that calendar every night ---- and I trust guilt, if nothing else, will spur me on.

There’s a practical reason for me wanting to get serious about an exercise program. I’m not so worried about weight, although I could stand to lose 10 or 15 pounds, but I am concerned with my ongoing ability to lift and care properly for my mom. If I am too weak or lack endurance, I may find myself failing at something I view as critically important for me to do. And so I will design a program to achieve this critically important thing. I feel I have to.

So, what’s critically important with you that you are not achieving? Is getting to heaven later or getting closer to God now critically important to you? It should be. Do you have the bibles, the CDs and the books? Are you ready to move into a closer relationship with God, which will benefit not only you, but all those you meet? BEING READY ISN’T ENOUGH!! What’s your action plan? How will you hold yourself accountable? How will you check your progress?

If I stick to my plan, I expect to feel better. If you are able to stick to a plan to strengthen your faith life, you will feel better also. I know. I already went through that program. It was long; it was hard; it was hard to keep at it, but BOY, do I feel good. And now, the maintenance program is pretty simple.

I wish you a New Year of much improved health, my friends, physical and spiritaul. Let’s see some action out there!

Friday, January 7, 2011


I came out of church and began the drive to the coffee shop this morning. In my mouth I still tasted the communion host, and said again: “Thank You, Lord, for being with me.”

The car was quiet. I turned on the CD and the haunting words of an unfamiliar song rang out: For I am captured one more time. …..And I thought again, “Thank You, Lord, for being with me.” And I smiled as the music softly played out the songs end.

God speaks to me, instructs me, and loves me in so many ways, if I but listen. He speaks to me so loudly sometimes, if I am but open to hear Him. He gives me so much love that I naturally want to reach out and share it with others, if I am first open to receive it.

What I taste, what I hear: He whispers to me.

He whispers to you also, if you would but taste, and listen to His goodness.

The work of God in its daily manifestations is often treated by many Christians as Jesus Christ was treated by the Jews

What we really want to do is restrict His work so that it conforms to the rules and boundaries that our limited reason considers suitable.
You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances and tedious annoyances really are.
Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, yet His beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is.

---- Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Growing Means Change

I constantly hear people say that: “I have to be me;” and “This is the way I am,” as a justification for their actions. (To be honest, perhaps even I have said those words at times.) Those words seem to imply that the people who say them are happy with whom they are and the way they are. If so, then why are there so many people who seem to be so sad and unhappy? I pondered for a bit on what it really must mean to those who say: “I have to be me.” For them, I think, it has a lot to do with “getting the things I want for myself”, and perhaps more importantly, “I think I know exactly what those things are”. It seems as if they are thinking in terms of another truism: “I know what I want.”

I know what I want: I listen for what I want to hear. My eyes see what I want to see. I eat what I want to eat. Of course, that also implies the opposites: I don’t listen to what I’m not trying to hear. I don’t see what I’m not looking for. I don’t eat what I’m not sure will taste good. On the surface those statements appear to be the basis for a somewhat happy life style, and you can understand why people would want to think and act that way, but consider: those are also the statements of a five-year old.

What about everything else around us, these things that we don’t want: other sounds, sights, and foods? Other thoughts? Oh, perhaps you might tell me that you have tried other foods, and might note that you have tasted some pretty vile concoctions. There are, however, many other things which you have not eaten, not seen, nor heard. How do you consider them; how do you not deliberately ignore (like the five year old) the other things of this world, how do you become even slightly daring in your choices? Are you sometimes like my mother, who in her dementia looks at anything strange on her plate and says: “Take that away, I don’t like that,” without ever having even having tasted it, or even knowing what it is? Do you react to strange foods that way? Do you react to strange words or sights or thoughts in a similar way?

This call of all Catholics and Christians to use our life to grow in holiness is assented to by many people: “Yes, of course I want to grow closer to Jesus. I want to love Him more, and I want Him to love me more. Of course.” But do we live our lives in that “of course” mindset, taking for granted or assuming we already know the correctness and rightness of things, without ever challenging our existing presumptions or inclinations? Are we content with our faith by saying: “I am a good person,” implying I like the way I am, and also implying I don’t want to change the way I am? How can we really grow in holiness if nothing about us ever changes? And how can anything ever change if we are not open to change, if we are not open to the possibility that our “of course” may be wrong, or at least need improvement. How can we advance beyond the “I know what I want” if we don’t know what else there is?

If we are not trying new foods, we will never know all the wonderful tastes --- or perhaps wonderful health-giving abilities --- of many “strange” foods. If we do not look about, with real “open” eyes, we will never know the real beauty in all of God’s creation, and in all of His children, in each and every one. And if we do not read or hear new words, words of Scripture, new words our heart has never heard, or listen to the new thoughts of friends, strangers, or saints, or the words whispered to our souls, how we can never grow in holiness? To grow in holiness is to KNOW Him more, to LOVE Him more, and in living our life to SERVE Him more.

These things, these changes, this growth, only comes about when we stop assuming “of course” to things we see and hear and taste --- and think. Change and growth come about only when we are humble enough to admit we don’t already know it all, when we can look into darkness and hear a new voice, and trustingly say: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” This is a new year. You want it to be a better year, then resolve to change, to be open to and to actively seek new things and new thoughts. Old or young, you have not “seen it all.” Eye has not seen, nor ear heard all that God has prepared for those who love Him. Resolve to grow more in love with Him by being open to knowing Him better. Growing means change.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Messenger -- A Book Review

I was listening to Raymond Arroyo on the radio as he interviewed a woman named Jeni Stepanek about the book she finally wrote about her son, Mattie. As I listened to her story I turned up the volume and wondered: What was so special about her boy, that at age ten he was welcomed by Larry King and Jerry Lewis on their shows, and in 2004 at the age of thirteen had Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Carter describe him as one of their very best friends --- as they spoke at his funeral? How had I not heard of this woman and her son, known world-wide, before? All I can think of is that their story was like a book I did not need to read then, but through Arroyo’s show God has taken it off the shelf now and handed it to me. There is something I need to gain from it now. And so I read.

Jeni Stepanek had four children, but only Mattie survived beyond age four. At age three he watched Jamie, the only sibling who he ever knew, die. It wasn’t until after Mattie was born that doctors finally isolated the strange and rare disease which had affected them all --- and their mother, Jeni. With Mattie, the disease and its prognosis were known: Mattie would likely die very young, as his siblings did. As Mattie continued to live however, often more in the hospital than out, he and his seriously ill mother were both faced with the daily question: who would die first?

Messenger was a difficult book to read; by page seven I had to put it down to clear my tears. I put it down often as I read it; the words had such an impact. But it wasn’t Jeni’s words, it was Mattie’s words that struck me most. You see at age four, shortly after Jamie died, Mattie began to have conversations with God, and he began to write poetry to describe what God had said to him. He called it his Heartsongs.

Matties like to touch
Pumpkins and toys.
So, Matties touch them …
But Matties can’t touch
Jamies anymore,
Even if they want to.
So Matties touch their tears instead.

Mattie received his First Holy Communion at age 7, and a week later was waving his hand frantically at the back of the church to answer questions asked by Cardinal Hickey to the Confirmation class. Later the Cardinal came over and spoke to Mattie, and then told his mother “I would like to confirm your son today.” Jeni insisted he study further and wait a year, despite his illness, and the Cardinal finally agreed, but then he said: “Do you know who your son is? He is a messenger.” “I am so sorry,” Jeni replied. “He’s been saying that since he was four years old. I told him he’s free to be a messenger, but not free to go around telling that to people.” “He did not say it to me,” the Cardinal replied. “I’m saying it.” At age 8 Mattie was teaching religion classes from his wheelchair to older children, who “hung on Mattie’s every word. It was like watching Jesus with the children around His feet.”

At age ten, Mattie was involved in writing a book with Jimmy Carter on World Peace, and he exchanged letters with Bill Clinton to get his thoughts. By then he had Oprah’s personal phone number and email address. At age 11 he received his home-schooled high school diploma, and he audited Jeni’s Ph.D.-program classes. He published five best-selling books of his poetry. And throughout all this, and all the television shows and appearances around the country, he was often back in the hospital, sometimes in lengthy comas with major life-threatening tissue degeneration, and doctors telling Jeni to give up and let him die. Mattie was disappointed he missed the presentation he was scheduled to give at the United Nations, but he was thrilled the video he made for the meeting of Nobel Peace laureates was met with a standing ovation. Jeni didn’t give up, and Mattie didn’t either.

Mattie celebrated each new year as a miracle. But in 2003 he noted that “God doesn’t speak into my heart anymore. He’s still present, and even His silence gives me strength. But He’s not giving me answers, and He’s not asking anything else of me. I’ve shared the messages.”

Messenger was a serious book with many sad points, but much uplifting spiritual guidance also. And there were fun times there too, where the young Mattie behaved as the kid he was, pulling practical jokes on doctors, nurses, and his many important friends. And at his request, one of his firemen friends pushed the button on his fart machine, and a sound came from his coffin. Mattie wanted to have the last laugh.

As Christians we are all called to carry our crosses, and to partake of the cross of Christ. Difficult times will come to all of our lives, and death will come, too. But throughout our lives we can see happiness and joy on the horizon, and even in the dark times have faith that happiness will appear again. We go through our lives living like Simon, sometimes helping Jesus carry his cross, but usually reluctantly so. But Mattie Stepanek lived a life much more like Jesus Christ Himself. He had some glory, he saw some recognition as on Palm Sunday, but he always saw the cross and death before him, and it was very near. And he knew the pains that were, constantly, and would be. At age ten they had to put a hole in his neck and insert a trach tube, and Jeni saw her son’s face without an oxygen mask for the first time since age 2, and thought: “Wow, he’s beautiful.” He truly was.

Most people live their lives focused on themselves. I very much enjoyed the book on JPII, Witness to Hope, and Fr. Jack Spaulding’s book Hope for the Journey. Those books described how to live our lives so that our journey ends well. Mattie, despite his youth, was not so concerned for himself, but very concerned for others and for the world. He wanted them to learn to care about others, as he did. He viewed his major role in life as to bring God’s message of love, and to live it. He yearned to help with world peace; he wanted everyone to love their neighbor. Mattie could have lived out his days with pity for his struggles and for being sick: trips to Disneyworld, donations to help pay the doctors, and adulation for being such a “little warrior.” But he would have none of that. His interviews were not about himself and how he lived, but about others and how they should live. He worried about them. He prayed for them. He was not so much worried about his journey, but was trying to be a porter for others’ journies. He wanted to help them carry their loads. He didn’t want recognition for himself, but for what he was passing along, God’s Heartsongs.

Let our breath be gentle wind,
Let our ears be of those who listen,
Let our hearts be not ones
That rage so quickly and
Thus blow dramatically,
And uselessly.
Let our spirits attend and be
Most diligent to the soft
Yet desperate whisper of
Hope and peace for our world …

“I traveled around the world. In fact, since I left the White House, my wife and I have been to more than 120 nations. And we have known kings and queens, and we’ve known presidents and prime ministers, but the most extraordinary person whom I have ever known in my life is Mattie Stepanek.”
---- Jimmy Carter

You should read this book. There is much you can gain from it. Being a porter is a good thing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mary, Mother of God

We greeted the new year last night in prayer. In the church, people of the parish gathered, gave praise, and prayed for the world. And yes, we celebrated; the prayers and hymns were lively and bright; there is much to celebrate, and from ten until midnight, we did. God is so good to us, and I know how good He is to me. And I was thankful for those friends with me, and around me, who help make my life what I can make of it, and what He can make of it. We raised our voices together, but my heart, in silence, sang much louder and more beautiful than my voice.

And in the nearby adoration chapel, the few people gathered to speak to Him very personally, and give Him the never-ending praise, as best we can create while here on earth. Our hearts were joined last evening.

Meanwhile, in the parish where I attend daily mass, a special adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was taking place from eleven to midnight, and the people came to God to give him praise and thanks for the year ending, and then at midnight mass began, and it was God’s turn to give thanks and to come to us. Our commitment to be there for Him, followed by His commitment to be there for us. I was torn, earlier in the evening, which church gathering of praise I would attend. I’m sure He was looking down on my thoughts and saying: “It matters not, as long as we are together.” That’s the way it is with people in love.

The Church designates certain days as feast days, to celebrate certain events or people. On January 1, it is for Mary, Mother of God. I always thought that appropriate. From our point of view, humanity’s point of view, our world started then, our eternal and now never-ending world began then, with her motherhood of Jesus. Mankind was elevated from that of Adam and Eve, cast out of the Garden, but now through Jesus, invited back in. Invited back in to stay forever. That invitation started with an invitation to Mary: “Will you open the doorway to the world of men, for God to enter?” And with her yes the door was opened that would never close again.

The Church teaches that on the cross when Jesus gave His mother to John, His most beloved apostle: “Behold your mother,” He also gave Mary to us, as our Mother. I am thankful to think of her in that way, as my heavenly mother, chosen by God for me, but I also like to put myself in that moment in time, and imagine myself as the one He is speaking to, His beloved apostle. How I wish that I could be thought of in that way.

We started out this new year together, and I know it is up to me to keep us that way. If I have no other resolutions there is this one: I shall try. I hope, my friends, that you add that one to your list also.

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth, and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.