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'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


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 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


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

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Is God After Me?

Is God after you?  Does God pursue you?  Some may say yes and some say no.  To some people God would seem like a distant person-less nothing who stays at a distance and continues to do nothing.  Some might experience a feeling of heartache at the very mention of God because they feel as if they have been rejected already by some distant emotionless parent who never really loved them anyway.  We live life on our own and try not to think much about life- it's purpose or meaning- this might be reasonable from a certain point of view...might as well turn up the music...drown the potential for tears in whatever takes our mind off of things.
Another view might be that God is "out to get me."  Much less than being merely distant and unconcerned God is actually out there punishing us for our attempts at enjoying life.  We see things turn out in ways we don't like...maybe we develop a sickness~ a loved one dies~ we lose our job you name it and suddenly we find ourselves faced with the penultimate question, "why?"  For us it would perhaps seem like God first says, "Don't do anything enjoyable" and then because we enjoyed something God says, "Okay...I warned you'll PAY for your actions!"

The final view of God that I'll mention is perhaps more common among the younger generations...maybe very least this is a very common view that faces most of us at one point or another: "God is irrelevant."  It seems like this view could be a result of a total lack of exposure to spiritual considerations (i.e. our growing trend of secularism which seeks to remove the consideration of God from any and all public, government, etc)  It also could be largely due to the fact that the so called, "people of God" don't really live out their call in any practical manner.  The people of God could possibly have forgotten that sharing their perspectives with others is an essential aspect to their own service to God...this makes sense in our culture that has been very adept at draining God out of every's almost impolite to say words like, "Jesus Christ" unless of course you've just closed your finger in a is then commonly accepted.  (Side-note: I also believe the current God-followers have lost their Spiritual vitality largely due to the fact that they have forgotten their own purpose and have taken to spending more time in pursuing what the world has to offer than the abundant life God has already given.)

If any of the above describes you I obviously don't need to tell you that you're not alone.  You know this to be true of yourself and perhaps you don't really care.  You might be resigned to leaving your life pretty much how it is right now.  Sure, you've got your ups and downs like everyone else and to change horses in mid-stream (or change make and model mid-highway) might just feel resigned to your present reality.  In a way this is admirable.  You've chosen to stick it out in spite of it all.  Like captains resigned to "go down with the ship."  If you're still reading this, however, I would suggest that you're not satisfied with the way your life looks now.  You're looking for something.  In spite of all the things I've said here you realize the emptiness of merely pursuing "things and fun."  Maybe you just want some true solitude, "peace and quiet."  Of course I don't know what you want in the short term.  But may I suggest that you might be seeking God and not even know it?  And perhaps you know that you're not even all together sure who God is?  Let me offer a few suggestions that might help you:

1)  Examine your life and ask yourself if you want it to stay how it currently is...meaning...what would you change?  What would you like to keep the same?

2)  Why?  Why do you want to change things?  To simply "be a better person?"  Why would you want to do that?  So people like you more?  So people won't forget you when you die?  If you "wouldn't change a thing" what will you say when things change your life that are completely beyond your control?  (i.e. sickness, loss of loved ones) what then?  Will you maintain your, "wouldn't change a thing" attitude?

3)  If you have not encountered God, do you really even want to?  Would such an encounter mean, perhaps, that a "life like that" would be too unfamiliar, boring, stifled, predictable?

4)  If you have never really pursued God how can you know it's, "not for you?"  We don't like to judge in a negative sense, naturally, but would it not be reasonable to "judge" through experience to a certain degree rather than thinking we know about God from a distance?

God is after you.  God is out to "get you."  But not in any negative way.  I say this because I have experienced the love of God that is greater than any human love.  It doesn't depend on weather or whether or not people like you.  God is pursuing you right now...not as a cosmic-cop to right all your wrongs and turn you into an obedient drone.  God is after you like a long-lost Father or even a long-lost child.  He is meek and humble of heart.  Gentle, forgiving, understanding and very real and has only your good in mind.  Following God isn't easy, I'll give you that.  However it is the only real life-changing decision you can make that will impact your eternity beginning today.  He is waiting in the quiet and He is with you in the crowd.  Look for Him~ He is already looking for you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

You Sweet Idolater You

Coffee...ahhh...warm drink...quiet time...the right time....go ahead God...I'm ready...I'll listen for a few minutes now.... 

We are idolaters. Do you believe this? Perhaps yes and perhaps no? We have often heard that we idolize money and for some this may be very true. But even above money (we’re rarely seen sitting in a corner counting gold-coins) we’ve made an idol out of that which we believe money can or will provide for us…security, independence, efficiency, health, power, prestige, acceptance, preferential-treatment, honor, approval and yes, even love. 

There is an interesting saying that I often, these days, associate with Hippies or Flower-Children but it could have simply come out of the self-help section of any bookstore for the past 40 years or so…the notion of, “I’m okay…you’re okay.” The idea that we are to, first and foremost, accept ourselves “as is” and not feel condemned by any external mores or feelings of guilt or shame…throw them off the thinking goes. Worse yet, “You must first learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else.” Do you agree with this statement? Even a little? If so you are an idolater. Welcome to the club.

 Why are these views so problematic? Firstly, any view, if it is truly your view, is not evil intentioned in and of itself. Truly it is more, simply, a reality that is…not in itself sinful per se. We have inherited many of these ideas from well meaning (although often shallow thinking) people of our times. We are a product of our environments (or products of the rejection of our environments) and this is unavoidable to a great extent. We can’t be expected to live outside or beyond our own times anymore than a gold-fish can live beyond it’s tank…it’s water is it’s reality so to speak. Though, be it probable or not, we are called to live well above and beyond our abilities…above and beyond our natural surroundings and this is frankly where things get tricky.

 “Where your treasure is there your heart will also be.” Jesus Christ said this…do you believe it? By “believe it” I mean, do you live by it? Are you concerned about this statement as it applies to your life? What is it that you treasure? If you want God to fill your heart and to dwell in His is it even possible if your heart is absent from Him and even absent from the TRUE YOU? What do I mean? When you call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to fill you, guide you, guard you…what is it that you are asking Him to be concerned about…about your desires? What do you desire? What are you worried about? What plagues your thoughts? What inspires you? What motivates you? If what you desire or are concerned with is anything or anyone OTHER THAN our Lord Himself then you can’t honestly expect Him to respond…right?  The real "you" is not what you've made but what our God desires to make of you.  Is this true?  Should God be sought on our own terms?

 The question that necessarily must be asked is, Is the Lord your treasure? If you say, “Yes” then you’ve decided to live a life that looks like your concerned about nothing other than Him and the increase of His Kingdom both in yourself and in everyone else you come in contact with on a daily basis. What would other people say that you treasure? I treasure quiet reflective time and chocolate ice-cream with almonds. If I am interrupted in “my” quiet reflective time by a request to “watch me dad” I can become irritated. If I find out that someone other than me finished off the LAST of the chocolate ice-cream with almonds I will quickly be giving a homiletic-discourse on the importance of throwing off selfishness and the importance of mortification for the Christian soul. And you’re just like me. Sorry.

 So what of it? What am I supposed to do with the fact that I generally do prize other things above God and above my sacrificial love for other people? Let our prayer be this:

 “Lord Jesus have mercy on me, sinner that I surely am. Lead me to die that I might surely live. You have given yourself to me that I might give myself to You. Help me Lord.”

 Will this do the trick? I assure you it won’t…not right away. But it is certainly a first-step in the long pilgrimage back to our intended place as sons and daughters of God.  You know this is where you want to be and if you don't I'm praying for you.  I can't change your mind or heart.  Believe it or not:  We are not meant to be sons and daughters of our age. We are meant to swim against the rising tide of self-centeredness…we are to prize the Eucharist and God’s Holy Church above and beyond our own desires. We are to place others first. We are to be heroes of this age and not victims of this age. The cultural norm, in one statement if I could be the one to define it would be: “I decide...I am mine...I decide my own truth.” No you don't.  We are to say, “Lord I am fully and completely Yours…thank You.” Let your life be a “Thank You” and not, “More, more, more!”

Be who you truly are...a son or daughter of God.  Not that false deity you've made yourself out to be.  Live for what matters while you still can.  The first step is the most difficult and that would be to take a few days and consider that which stands as an obstacle between you and God.  Finances?  Hobbies?  Sports?  Television?  Fear?  You name it and ask God to help you.  He will.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I recently read a post on facebook by a close family member that disturbed me greatly. This is not the first time I've been disturbed by a post on facebook (and by "disturbed" I do not mean "offended"...there is a difference and the difference is key) that indicated a very strong, "anti-theist" or "atheist" viewpoint. That being, essentially (not verbatim): "It is ironic that in the same country founded for religious freedom...becomes a nation where the "religious" persecute the freedoms of others." Of course, this could be referring to many things but principally it would appear to be regarding (so called) "Homosexual Marriage" (and I say "so called" because it is NOT marriage and never can be a true Sacramental Marriage)...or it could be referring to abortion...could be "all of the above"...who knows.... At any rate what is clear to me is that this is a prevailing attitude among the self-proclaimed: "I'm spiritual...just not religious" crowd. The serious error in this view that I wish to address (though there are many that should be addressed) is this: the false notion of freedom. Their thinking goes something like this..."It's a free country and everyone here should be able to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't interfere in the lives of others." Or similarly, "Who are YOU to say what I should or should not do with my body?" On the surface these might seem reasonable as they are very broad in their scope and vague. But what lies underneath (and here "lie" is intended) is a false notion that religious people want to subjugate others and simply make others "follow the rules." I would suggest nothing could be further from the's why... A truly "religious" or truly "Spiritual" person (capital S on Spiritual this time...also intended) is one who desires the "ultimate best" for the sake of others. What does this look like? Essentially, we come (as Jesus Christ) to serve and NOT to be served. We do not want to create some "perfect society" simply where others are prone (by force or coercion) to simply "do what we say!" This is absurd to the truly Spiritual person. What we DO want is for Souls to not be damaged and/or destroyed. Much like the example of the loving Mother who does not want her children to eat mounds of candy because Mothers love their children too much to give them, immediately, whatever they happen to want. Or the loving Father who would weep over the poor choices of a drug-addicted is not so much the "rules" that are our main concern...but the harm that we know is caused by giving in to homosexual euthanasia. I would sum it up in this way: it is true we are "free." Free to love and free to throw ourselves off the cliff. Our freedom to love is compromised to the degree we selfishly choose for sin and to feed our own sinful inclinations...just as our freedom to live is compromised by our desire to pretend we can fly off said cliff. It isn't that we "hate" or want to "persecute" those with opposing views but we have simply tasted eternal life...seen glimmers of the purity and holiness of God...we have experienced divine transformation (to one degree or another) in our hearts. The truly Spiritual (born of the Holy Spirit) do not hate anyone...but surely love...and this love leads us to challenge that which we know will kill...either physically, or much worse yet, spiritually kill. What then is freedom? Freedom is to be fettered to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Limited in denial of sin, yes, but here the entire universe is ours to inherit. So many are throwing their lives away for meaningless "tendencies" and sinful "inclinations." Yet, our Lord has taught us that we are to be called, "Children of the Father." What we gain by sin is death and what we gain by denying our sinful inclinations (for the sake of Our Lord) is eternal life. How is such a "fettering" freedom? Because we are free when we live corresponding most closely to our nature and our divine-purpose. We cheapen these things through lack of Chastity and Purity. License is doing what you want...jumping from the plane without a can do this...but this only lasts so long. Whereas eternity in joy is for those who persevere and turn, repent and place themselves in the loving arms of God.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why People Who Aren't Christian Are (Rightly) Tired of Christians

There are as many reasons as there are people who aren't Christian I'm sure. But I'm going to make some guesses based on my own experiences of myself (Yes I'm intending to communicate my own reality and hope it helps you.) I can't be exhaustive in other words because it would be too exhausting.

It is often said that non-Christians are tired of hypocrisy. I can easily understand this because I'm tired of hypocrisy in all other people beside, I'm tired of myself too. The problem is that Christians truly aren't supposed to be hypocritical. In reality, non-Christian people have every reason and can legitimately BE hypocritical and it makes sense. The non-Christian people, I believe, know this intuitively and find it abhorrent that someone would claim to be "in Christ" and a "New Creation" but really don't act any differently than anyone else. Where I see this in myself I'm damn tired of it too. The problem is that our lives aren't really changed though we often claim they are. I think what is often meant is that we've decided that we're "betting on Jesus" than giving our lives LIKE Jesus and this is a serious problem which makes Christians seem ridiculous.

Another thing is that many Christians think more like "Precious Moments" greeting cards than they do in any dimension of the any form of self-giving and sacrificial love. Overly sentimental views of Christ don't fit the Son of God. Like Jesus Christ as "cuddle bunny" or "best friends forever." Ick. Get rid of this view, please, though it might be nice for you to have "God loves me" napkin rings this will not save anybody from anything.

I should have called this article, "Another Thing" because I have another thing...Telling people about Jesus is good. Right? The problem is the sugar-candy version doesn't meet people where they actually live. People need to know that Jesus Christ is more than a story but that He has actually affected your life and how. Like the old saying goes, "You can't be a Christian without Christ." I agree with this but what does it mean, truly, to you to "have Christ?" Does this mean that now you've decided not to cheat on your taxes? Or speak harshly to a loved one. People want, and should be able to expect, results. Do you live like everyone else or has God actually changed your life because you call on his Spirit to help you? Christians must realize that we are poor...poverty stricken with a true inability to love. I have difficulty loving other people and I often forget to ask for the Lord's help to love others. I forget who God is and who I's easy to do.

All in all the bottom line is our inability to love and how we Christians truly need to call on God to help us...quickly...constantly. If not we're just know it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What Were You Thinking?

"Brown Coffee Blues"
(Cue crunchy blues guitar)
I woke up this mornin'
Stumbled out of my bed
Something, something, something
That rhymes with "bed."

I tasted my coffee
Blah blah blah blah
Wanting more coffee
Ya Ya Ya Ya!
(Last line intended to be sung with Swedish accent...Stockholm Blend)

I didn't have enough coffee this morning and therefore my lack of caffeine is even impacting my ability to have the Blues. It would be more true to say I have the "Browns" because coffee is brown (pitch-black in my case.) But, as brown is not symbolically associated in any way with music but more closely with a bad football team from Cleveland...I'll begin here by leaving well enough alone. I digress...whatever that means.

What I actual want to say:

I've come to realize that following the Lord means just that, following Him. It does not mean dressing up our desires in sheep's clothing. I have been able to justify many wrong-headed things in my life on the grounds (not coffee grounds) of the action or intention of following, "God's will." "Justification" is not a spiritual-gift...I believe this is a trap that many Christianesque-minded folks (as well meaning as we might be) when it comes to our pursuit of worldly things, desires and pursuits. Consider the following statements/interior thoughts which are not meant to be absolute statements against what they might represent, but are intended, merely, to allow us to do some self-analysis...

1) "I will do this because, after all, doesn't God want me to be happy?"

My how sly. What is the problem? Personal intention becomes the goal and God becomes a bottled-Genie. Instead of beginning with, "God, I want what you want when you want me to have it." It begins with, "I want it." Of course this is the essential plague of sin on humanity...nobody can escape this entirely. But it should give us pause next time we hear ourselves beginning with our own desires and not beginning with an ear and heart established in God.

2) "God can do anything He if it happens it must be His will."

This is equally, if not more, spiritually dangerous than #1. This view resigns God as the "paddle" and us as the "ping-pong-ball." This view has at it's very root a mis-belief that God is merely a "force" and not personal. This view of God is more akin to Zeus than to the God of the Old and New Testaments. Surely, God allows certain things and will withhold certain things...God does surely act in time and space and in our lives. However, He is personally concerned, primarily, with the state our souls and is not distant and aloof. It would be more accurate to say, "God loves me and all things that happen, He does allow, but that I might be drawn ever and increasingly closer to Him." Therefore, to keep God at a distance (as in statements #2) is to cheapen our view of God. He is involved, though often silent, but whether in silence or in speaking everything is intended to lead us, shape us and prepare us for heaven.

3) "I want to live a little first...I'll get back to God later."

There is no life apart from God. Every breath we draw is a sign of His love and faithfulness. God does not have a "pause button." Either you are moving toward Him or you are moving away from Him. Either you are currently aiming to give all to Him or you are in disobedience. With God there is no "middle-ground" and there is no "neutral." Jesus Christ said, "He who is not with Me is against Me." God is surely merciful but with limits. A day will come (be it at your own death or when Jesus Christ returns...whichever comes first) that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He IS LORD. If we were to do a poll in hell we would find that the majority of people there were surprised to find their souls in such a place. Some would dare to say that there is no hell. Those who maintain this view are guilty of spiritual-wishful-thinking. God is not your play-thing. As Jesus Christ said,

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Key words: fulfillment, kingdom of God, at hand, repent, believe, gospel. Now is the time. Now or perhaps never.

Finally, back to coffee and the blues. Justification of a coffee-addiction is one thing but justifying a life apart from God is quite another. Why would we do this? Simply because we have not had an encounter with God...or if we have encountered God we have chosen a path that is leading in the opposite direction. Return to Him and know true, abiding joy and peace...the best part of waking up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ideas for Lent 2012

We are winding down on the final hours before our foreheads are marked with ash and our Lenten Season begins. This year, more than any other, I've considered more deeply how to celebrate this season and I offer here a few suggestions for you.

1) Prayer. Of course prayer comes first...but why?

Taking a decisive stance on prayer will change your life (and those around you) forever. You'll need to set aside the time (make it daily.) How often have you come to the realization that you need to pray more...listen to the Lord more...and you haven't actually done it. Do it now. Begin Wednesday. Make it in the morning if you can...even better make it morning and evening. Also, don't begin with a marathon of prayer because you will burn out. Just begin with a small time but be militantly faithful about it. Maybe you have an odd schedule like me? Make it less an issue of "what time" but make it an issue of faithfulness. If you aren't for some reason able to pray in the morning~ don't lose hope. Just make sure this time happens and happens every day. Start by just sitting down and saying to the Lord, "Lord, I offer myself to me to pray." He will. You will be changed.

2) Pray with Holy Scripture. The written Word of God...why bother?

Many people wonder what they should do with their lives...with their time, talents etc. Without realizing it, in the Gospels, Jesus Christ (the Eternal Word) has revealed much about the way to live. Of course, the Gospels aren't trendy Self-Help books, on the contrary, they are more directed toward how we might give up our lives in order to find our true lives in Him! "Pray Scripture" means, to read it and "pray through it" in such a way that your heart is attentive. Don't just breeze through but actually take the time to let the Word "wash over you." Drink it in and ask Our Lord how to apply it to your day...for THAT day. Find a the Gospel of John. It will change your life.

3) Turn down the dials. Listen to the right things.

Pope Benedict XVI famously said, ‎"We are no longer able to hear God – There are too many frequencies filling our ears." Do you want to hear from God? Turn down the other things that distract you. For me, Facebook is often edifying but just as often a distraction. Also, reading faithful Catholic books and watching edifying movies about the lives of Saints. The new series by Fr. Robert Barron is a great resource, entitled, "Catholicism" produced by Word on Fire. We're not quite finished with it but I'm considering finishing it up and watching it again during Lent...and turning down the dials on the other "neutral" or even spiritually negative stuff out there. Better yet, give some time for silence. Make it a prayer and then be quiet..."Lord, speak, your servant is listening." How can a loving Father resist such a heart?

4) Begin and begin again. Don't lose heart.

Often for me the realization that I've already "blown it" either by sin or simply by blowing off my resolutions causes me to avoid getting back on the proverbial "horse" again. I have to remember that my failure is merely a sign on my own weakness and therefore my own need for the Lord's help. Our Lord allows difficulties, temptations and "dark days" that we might better recognize the Light. We are sinners all and if we begin expecting in some ways to fall...yet with the firm resolve for when we do fall we will simply get back up again...this is the mindset of a true Victor! Confession! Confession! I always leave the confessional feeling so light and my soul feeling refreshed. I plan on taking part in this Sacrament often during Lent. It is the son who returns to the Father that can receive the blessing of the Father. Don't keep trying to fix everything on your own. You can't. Don't miss out on the true, deep, spiritual healing waiting for you in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Lord gives grace to the humble. Go. Be humble.

5) Mass and Adoration. Be filled with Him...Rest at His feet.

Understand that the Lord loves you and longs to be with you. Do you ever experience how you feel so much better and think so much more clearly after receiving our Lord in Holy Communion? Why? Because the Lord is truly present. It is the same with Adoration (particularly for those who aren't able at this time to receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus)...make it a point to give Eucharistic Adoration a try. Simply go, sit, and don't worry. Maybe you could say to the Lord, "I'm here." Then if your mind wanders don't worry. Consider yourself sitting in the presence of a cherished loved one. Words aren't always needed. Just enjoy His presence.

If you're still reading this you're in my prayers because it is likely the Lord desires to reveal Himself to you in a very significant way. It's no accident that you're reading this page. You are one who is willing to approach the Lord and your desire is not mere curiosity. Even if you're completely unfamiliar with the above ideas and practices don't worry about it. I'm glad to answer any questions you might have and I would gladly assist you personally in finding places to attend adoration or even ways to begin a journey into learning more about the Catholic faith...the faith of the Apostles of Jesus Christ...the very Church established by Jesus Christ Himself.

Write to me:

May the Lord grant you His eternal peace!

Let yourself entertain entirely new possibilities in life. Jesus Christ has come that you might have life and have it in abundance. Nobody is far from God.