Archive for June, 2014


Being Brave

A quote by St. Catherine of Siena that struck me recently was this;

“Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light.                                                                                                                                                                                Don’ look at your weaknesses.                                                                                                                                                                                              Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything.”

The practical, simple wisdom here is profound.

To me this means NOW. Start– begin from this moment forward, no excuses.

Be brave, know your dignity, know to whom you belong, and Who that is. God, the Almighty, the Miracle Maker. God and Father,Provider, and Merciful One. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Everything! No issue to small or inconsequential. The big, messy, complicated. Everything!

Drive our Darkness and Spread light– “The light from a single candle can dispel the darkness.” Be that ligh. LET Christ’s light shine through us. That light is joy, kindness, a smile to a stranger and friend. It is given instead of returning an insult, or unkind word or action. By flavoring the world and letting that light shine we help transform the world.

Focus not our weakness, for in our weakness Christ is strong.

In Christ crucified you can do anything, all things are possible with God. ALL things! Do I believe it? Cause if I don’t, then I won’t accomplish much of anything.

Fear not, do not be afraid, I AM here.

Fr. Matt was our guest speaker at a recent Date Night, the purpose of which is to enrich marriages. We had an incredible turn out and as I sat there smiling to myself and thanking God, Fr. Matt spoke on some common communication challenges. A counselor had shared with him a baseball scenario that could equally be applied to couple communication, or any human interaction.

In baseball there are pitchers who throw junk balls to see if the batter will go after them. The same could hold true for our spouses. One may have had a particularly bad day and comes home in a rotten mood spewing out a “feeling statement” at high speed, “I hate that I always come home to a mess; we live in such a pig sty.” The Mrs. who may have had an equally challenging day has a couple of options:

1-Like a junk ball thrown to see who will swing at it, she can see the statement for what it is, “his feelings” after a tough day, and step back from the plate letting it fly harmlessly by. They are after all his feelings and feelings are not necessarily right all the time.

2-Step up to the plate and take a whack at the statement. This can be a swing and a miss in which case the batter now gets angry enough, throwing junk balls of her own. Worse case, she can make contact with the full weight of her being, and a volatile interaction can begin where there was previously only a wild pitch.

When I heard this analogy I quickly realized with deadly accuracy which kind of batter I am: the kind who swings at anything.

You would think that after light has been shown into the darkness that one is much wiser, sees clearer. Not so with me. Perhaps I’ve been hit with a wild pitch way too many times? Sure it makes sense in theory but, why oh why, can’t I do it in practice?

Just today, a junk ball was thrown by a co-worker in my direction. This person throws junk balls all the time. Most smart people see it for what it is and step way back, in fact they put the bat down and go get a beer until the inning is over.

Not me.

I step up to the plate and for the life of me swing and swing and swing. “You’re out!” See I’m lucky if I am out, because it is so much messier when I make contact.  Kicking dirt, throw downs- and not the kind that Bobby Flay shows up at. Nope, the ugly kind of apology level, tail between my legs kind of contact.

“Toxic waste on aisle five, send in the Haz Mat crew!”

You see, Jesus had it all right when he gave us one commandment, “love one another as I have loved you.” Now go practice on your neighbor. What? My neighbor? But Jesus you don’t understand, they are so nasty and mean. They don’t even go to church, and don’t get me started about their kids.

Jesus just rolls his eyes and loves on us like there’s no tomorrow. I swear sometimes I hear a huge sigh from the heaven when humanity is particularly cruel, or stupid, or forgetful, or hateful, or….

So this person that we said “I do” to. What about them? They were kind of cute and sexy and funny at one time. Now pershaps they bug us something awful. Jesus says, love them anyway. You know why? They are your means to heaven! What? Yes, they are your ticket to heaven if you love them through the bad times, the poor times, sick times and beyond.

Guess what? You are no picnic to live with either.

What I’m trying to say is the kind of love that keeps couples together for a lifetime is the kind of love displayed on every crucifix. Self-less love poured out for the good of the other.

Self-less.

Poured out for the other.

The only way we can do it is through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus. He is the strength on which we rely, the guarantor of success, and the means to make the bitter taste oh so sweet.

I’m still a rookie after thirty four years married, but I am getting better, because I’m letting go of me and relying on Jesus more and more.

As far as swinging at junk balls…someone please just take the bat away from me and bench me, I’m just not ready for the big leagues yet.

– See more at: http://catholiclane.com/swinging-at-junk-balls-and-other-life-lessons/#sthash.7AkWs41Z.dpuf

Kind of rhym-mie isn’t it? It is part of the “Come Holy Spirit Sequence” said each year on Pentecost. It sounds wonderful and mysterious in Latin, Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

The rest of this particular sequence is this: “Where you are not, we have naught, nothing good in deed or thought, nothing free from taint of ill…”

That little piece packs so much wisdom!

Where you are not Oh Lord, we are blind and lost. On our own we wonder off the path, into the unknown dangerous darkness. Without your light we stumble and fall and get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. Our pride gets in the way, we refuse to ask for help we remain in our sinfulness, ignorance and shame.

We have naught.  “Apart from God, you are nothing” Jesus says. Apart from Him we are cut off from life-giving water, nourishment, aid. Can a branch that has fallen from the tree continue to grow and produce fruit? Christ doesn’t say without me you just won’t do as good as you could, or get as far as you hoped. He says we can do “nothing.” Is He being harsh, exaggerating, or just trying to scare us? Those Christians can be such downers. Jesus is simply telling it like it is. Reality right between the eyes. Not sugar-coated, rolled in chocolate and sprinkles and dressed up pretty to fool us. Nope! Just the whole truth, nothing but the truth and wrapped up in love. The truth sets us free. We recognize the truth. We yearn for the truth to be told. I think we are getting tired of deceit and games.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Nothing good in deed or thought. Only God is good. No God, no good. Think empty wasteland. Zero life, dry, parched producing nothing of worth or value. If we do not have God’s goodness in us we cannot produce good. We lack a key ingredient. No substance that makes the deed worth doing or the thought worth thinking.

Nothing free from taint of ill. Defective, stained from its very origin. Tainted, blemished, without purity of intention or effectiveness. Ruined from the beginning. Sure we can cover the stain,pretend its not there, but it won’t withstand the process and will come out twisted, perverted. Doomed from the start if you will.

It doesn’t end there on this hopeless note.

“…Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away: Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray. On the faithful, who adore, and confess you evermore. In your sevenfold gift descend; Give them virtues sure reward; Give them your salvation, Lord; Give them joys that never end. Amen”

Yes, give us joys that never end.

Lord I need you, oh I need you…every hour I need you.

Never forget us, never give up on our stubborn wills. Never ever Lord, we need you!