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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To See Truly

Reflections on the book, "Theology and Sanity" by Frank Sheed.

Seeing, truly seeing involves seeing things not merely in and of themselves.  We see things in their context.  Not seeing an eye in a jar and calling it beautiful-- at least not AS beautiful as it might be within the context of a face, properly placed, with another eye on the same face.  This is to see an eye aright.



In the same way is it right to see all reality through the eyes of the Church as She beholds the face of God.  God, through all, in all, above all.  Just as the sun shines we do not merely see the sun alone but also all the things the sun illuminates.  So it is when we see all things as blessed and held in existence by God.  All things are seen, or should be seen, as "God-bathed."

To me this connects to the idea that St. Josemaria Escriva would often refer to as the, "Unity of Life."  I can't be a different person in China as I might be in Venezuela.  Of course my context would appear very different on the surface but my own eyes, hands and heart would remain the same.  I would be affected by my surroundings, no doubt about it...I might even relate to other people in my surroundings differently according to rules, language and customs but I would still as yet not cease to be me.  Beyond this, as a Catholic, I would not cease to be a child of God.

If I am at work, I am a child of God.  If I am at home, I am a child of God.  If I speak to my wife I speak to her as a husband and likewise speaking to my children I am a father.  In all of these various roles and places I am a child of God.  As a child of God I am simultaneously a son of the Church that He established which provides the only proper overarching context in which a child of God can live.  It is in God that we, "live, move and have our being." because, "everything is created by Him and everything is created for Him...He is the head of His body, the Church."  Yes, and "...the firstborn from among the dead."  Without Him we would cease to exist.

To be a child of God we have but ONE LIFE to live.  Therefore, whether we sit or stand; run or walk; speak Portuguese or order a Porterhouse at dinner....we are to, "do all for the glory of God...Who IS OUR Father.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What God Wants From You Today

This will be brief...already you're captivated.

You already don't believe me.  What is this going to say that I don't already know?  What is this going to say that I haven't already tried?  We are a cynical lot all...it's okay~ God knows this about you and me and isn't less willing to help us.

I start be recognizing that I don't know what God really wants.  Of course He wants me to be conformed to the image and likeness of His Son Jesus Christ but I must confess that my immediate thought doing this, child that I am, is growing a beard, buying some (new) sandals (maybe Keens because I need a new pair...perhaps they're on sale in Winter?) and wandering about the resort areas I live closest to and calling the Bourgeois of our world to repentance and acceptance of reality.  The good part is that I know that first of all God wants me to see that I am a child of His.  What is a child?

A child is one that  is small, powerless, silly, sensitive, boisterous, prone to foolish flights-of-fancy, jealous, greedy, idealistic, prideful, tender, needy, forgetful, funny, self-centered, messy and unaware of real danger just to name a few.  But mothers and fathers know, also, this about their children...their parents would walk through a burning building, step in front of a speeding car, and without thought swim through shark infested waters to save their little ones.  God, your Father, has done this for you.

God wants you to be His child today...and every day.  Don't worry about your faults...they are too numerous to count anyway.  Simply say to the Lord, "Father, I am sorry, please pick me up and hold me close and I'll be happy."  This is what God wants from you.  You will mature only in His arms and by His care and by the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary.  Don't lose your trust~ you will be just fine little one.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unrecognized


I recently encountered a most subtle temptation that is good to expose because it likely affects everyone.  It is worthwhile to shine light on such things to expose the enemy where he lurks to destroy and divide.

There is a way that I serve in the Church that is very slight and truly not worthy of fanfare.  It isn’t even worth mentioning how but it is only worth sharing that it is in a capacity that puts me “up front” in gatherings.  The thought did occur to me (and it was a whisper of the devil) that I have not been thanked for my service to the people...probably ever.  I wondered at first why I had not realized this before.  Could it be that I have simply been so busy that I have not noticed how people don’t appreciate my efforts?  Perhaps then I give too much time to them.  Could it be that I do things so poorly that nobody thinks anything of it?  Then they are ungrateful people.  Could it be that these people really would prefer someone else?  They could not do better themselves but fail to realize it because they do little as it is.

It is easily visible to anyone how destructive this pattern of thought could have been because it would leave me thinking too highly of myself and, therefore, thinking too little of others.  God granted me a special grace immediately after this to see myself for the sinner that I truly am.  He shined a light on me to show me this temptation.  All at once I could see that something was “different” in my thought pattern...it did not follow my own usual, normal considerations within daily life but truly “jumped out” which at first seemed like a revelation.  I asked myself at the Lord’s prompting, “Why would this bother you?  Am I not enough for you?  What would you take from them that I Myself am not able to give you?  Have I not asked you to serve Me...Why then would you seek for others to serve you?  Be satisfied with Me~ I Am more than enough.”

Amazing.  I thanked the Lord for this realization and call to remember Him~ as I too easily forget...getting wrapped up in myself and how I can keep myself from perishing into nothing.  Very funny really...God can be hilarious in the way He shows me my foolishness.  I was then given even more through the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska in her Diary.  I quote:

From Paragraph #36:

“...I saw the complete condition of my soul as God sees it.  I could clearly see all that is displeasing to God...”

St. Faustina was given an experience where she was standing before God in all His Holiness.  She recognized how, in my own words, truly “Other” God is and how far above us.  Yet, it is clear that God continued to call her to Himself despite her realizations and it is this that gives me hope.


Also, another gift of God to me, was a reading I heard yesterday at Mass.  From the Gospel of St. Matthew:

What comparison can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place: 
We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn't dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn't be mourners.'For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He is possessed." The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

It suddenly then hit me on another level.  It is what should be expected by every follower of Jesus Christ to be like their Master.  Unrecognized, unsung, undone.  St. John the Baptist came in one way and they scorned him and killed him.  Jesus Christ came in another way and they scorned and killed Him.  Should we not expect and in many ways delight in being mistreated, forgotten, misunderstood and unrecognized?  It is in this way that we are better able to draw close to the heart of our Savior.  Pray for me that I might love the Lord in my weaknesses...and continue to hear His voice over the shouting crowd, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  To be an unknown is to be more fully known by God~ this is truly enough.  Grant us your mercy Lord.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Psalm: Brothers and Sisters


You have called to me Lord
In the quiet place of my heart
Save me
Let all inclinations to resist
Be turned to strengthening bonds
Turn me toward You my Father
For I am Your weak, sickly child

I learn to walk along the steep path
Without sight and sorrowful
You have called me to yourself
What more can I ask?
What more should I seek?
I only find life in Your voice
Nothing else consoles me
The light of Your presence is enough






Haunted by visions of their destruction
I see in this light
Yet they are nothing but smiles
Emptiness fills their days
They unite in their depravity
They pursue nothingness
Ignorant of Your watchful eye

Turning again and again to the darkness
Away from Your flowing streams
They cannot drink their wealth
They cannot buy their well-being
They will surely die like the others before
Without You to help them

They continually turn away



You stand with us Our Father
You help those who call out in their helplessness
You are our only true joy and life
Why are we so dull and forgetful?
Why can’t we but decide for ourselves?
No, You know our weakness and Your love remains



Grant, Father a heart like Your heart to me
To all Your children~ let them hear Your praise on my lips
I am nothing and You raise me to Your side
Placing me safely in Your embrace
I do not want to go anywhere
But to where Your hand would lead me

Remember those who forget You Lord
Let Your radiant mercy be upon those
Upon those who hate us


Your love is better than this life
Even death becomes life
My enemy is my brother

You are my Father

Friday, December 7, 2012

When Dreams Speak

In the night I was restless though very much overtired.  Having just read a portion of a book in which one of the principle figures had asked the Lord for a Word of guidance in a dream, I thought I would ask the same of the Lord.  Why not?  I thought perhaps, if nothing else, seeking the Lord would be a good thing even if my history with such activities often causes me to lose more sleep.  It occurred to me that even good things can become idols and since this thought came to me I thought it best to not worry about it either way.

The Lord granted me the following dream:

It was in the middle of my living-room where I was standing near the Christmas-tree and among our many decorations.  The room was only illuminated by the light from the tree and some lights we hung around our Crucifix and some icons on our wall.  In this partial light I was able to make out the figure of a strange unidentifiable creature watching me from the corner of the room.  At once I was terrified by this thing as I knew it was not a common animal.  I began looking around the room for something to protect myself with and my mind raced and I could find nothing.  This creature then darted at me and made a hissing sound as it flew by my head.  I ducked and caught sight of it briefly and realized that it was dangerous.  Immediately my concern went to my children and wife sleeping upstairs.  I thought, seemingly aloud, "what if this thing makes it up the stairs?"  I then prayed to God to help me.

It was then I realized that I had been holding a sword in my hand all along.  This sword was decorated and beautiful with ornate carvings of angelic figures along the blade and around the hilt.  I had looked around previously for something else with which I could defend myself but found nothing.  Now with this in my hand I realized that this thing might leave on it's own if I opened the door.  I hoped that by simply opening the door it would see an escape and leave.  It didn't leave but went across the room further away from the door.  This thing didn't want to go anywhere but after me.

It made several more attacks at me which I evaded.  The thing made shrieks as it passed.  It was at this point the Lord said to me, "This will not leave on it's own and this thing must be killed."  I held up the sword to my side in hopes of getting a good swing at it.  I caught sight of it and moved the sword slightly and realized I had inflicted a severe wound along it's side.  This caused the demon to become even more ferocious and it made another pass and this time I took one swing and sliced it down the middle, completely in halves.  I knew it was dead.
I then looked for it and it was gone.  There was no trace of the thing and all.  I could feel a great deal of peace.  All was then quiet.

It was clear to me that after this dream this was a message to me from the Lord and possibly to you if you're reading this page.  What I believe the Lord is wanting to tell me is that I do have real and legitimate enemies of a spiritual nature.  Though I am sinful in countless ways~ many of which I'm sure I'm blind to as well as the ways I am aware~  The Lord wants me to understand that people aren't enemies.  People need to be protected.  My house needs to be protected~ My community needs to be protected but not primarily in a temporal sense.  The Lord has called on me to ask of Him for the protection (ultimately the salvation) of many souls.  And has asked me to inform others that they too are called to offer themselves for the salvation of souls.  The Lord directed me to the verse in Scripture that I had to Google to locate regarding, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood...."  I looked it up.  Here it is:



Ephesians 6:10-19

10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power.

11 Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil's tactics.

12 For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens.

13 That is why you must take up all God's armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full.

14 So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate,

15 wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace

16 and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One.

17 And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God.

18 In all your prayer and entreaty keep praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all God's holy people,

19 and pray for me to be given an opportunity to open my mouth and fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.



Let me know if this has spoken to you in any way. May the Lord be praised forever!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Where It Comes and Where it Goes


“No one can have anything except what is given him from Heaven.”
 St. John the Baptist

Do I believe this?  No one...can have anything…except…what is given…from Heaven.  Wait, wait I have many things that were not given from Heaven (or from God) right?  I worked for my house, car, food and vacations.  I have thought this in the past as I bless God before eating with my family as I say something like, “Lord we thank you for this food.”  Didn’t that food come from the grocery store?  Didn't I work for many years (perhaps harder than others) to have what I now have?  Consider that for a moment.

What do I need?  I need eyes to see in order to believe that I can’t have anything unless it comes from God.  I also need faith to believe that the only good things I have are from Him.  This is a problem inherent in our reality due to our darkened minds…believing that food and all other good things come from God when we ourselves stood in line at the grocery store to buy them.

Think of farmers who were not removed from the soil to such a degree as many of us.  They could see that the seed, soil, water and sun produced their food…it might have even fed their animals.  But even for them, it would be easy to consider their work their own and to stop there with their gratitude.

What I have realized this very day is that the Lord Himself has given all good things to me and hasn’t given me more nor less than what I need to lead me to eternal life.  He knows full well my blindness and brokenness of mind and heart.  He has been faithful and with me all along. 

Perhaps a strange conclusion but this is the connection I see in all of this to my life.  Since it is the Lord that gives what is good I don’t need to worry about anything.  I do not need to be afraid of the world or even for preserving my life.  Why?  Because I am in the Lord’s hands.  I am His and to Him I hope to return.  This is the simple hope of my life.  This does not mean that I go upstairs lay down in my bed and hope food will float into my mouth and that I shirk my responsibility.  No!  After all the very work and struggles, pains and problems I face (both internally and externally) are allowed by God to allow me to come to conclusions such as this one.  That you and I have been called by God for a purpose and that is, first, to be children of God and believe in the One whom the Father has sent.  Second, to co-labor with God and continue the work Christ began.  We are both the inheritance and the inheritors of the Kingdom of God.  May our time on Earth be characterized only by love for God…all good things are surely given by Him and even better things are still yet to come.  Far better things are ours, unseen as yet, that God has in store for those who love Him and surrender all temporal goods for the sake of the One, the eternal Good, Who loves us and gave Himself for us that we might in Him have all things.



You believe you've earned what you have and to a degree you have.  But nothing is yours, as you can see, and if you keep it for yourself you have lost everything already.  Raise your heart to God and you have everything.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wakes


Sun on sacred image glows  
Upon the eyes of dark below
Ancient arches reach across
Span divides of sin and loss
Gained is everything beyond
And the shore we stand upon
Water washing every tide
Glad the life that wakes inside