Category: My Musings


Is There Something More

What do you do when you feel this inner pull that wants to move your life in a different direction? When the day to day brings you no joy and you get the sense you should be doing something else, something worthy, that somehow has value and meaning. Maybe you just ended up in the job you have now, it doesn’t bring you satisfaction, doesn’t set your heart on fire, or give you any sense of deep accomplishment. It takes every ounce of strength you can muster to get yourself out the door each day.

Is this all there is, or is there something more?

The finite will never fill the hole you have in your heart, or your life. You were made for greatness.

So what do you do when you wish you were doing something else? When you feel this pull inside of you to take a different route, try a different course, follow a dream you once had before the reality of life kicked in the door.

There is a course of action that will bring you great satisfaction, fill the recesses of your hearts longing even when you don’t know what you are longing for. You can only ignore the feeling, and distract yourself for so long. Cause it’s always there in the background, just under the surface, right around the next bend, calling, compelling, inviting you to stop and sit and listen.

Why are we so afraid of silence? It is but a respite from our frenzied life, a pause button on an irritating song, an exit off the highway that leads to a beautiful park. How do you know what that something more might be if you don’t stop and listen? There is so much noise now. So much confusion than ever before. So much more loneliness, disconnectedness, fear.

It needn’t be so.

So I invite you to find a place each day where you can stop, sit, and listen to the wee small voice that won’t shout, won’t make itself heard over the whirl and pulsations of the world. Take off your headphones,  silence the phone, and stop all the distractions that keep you on the hamster wheel from hell.

Do this for yourself, just 10 minutes each day. You will find that you will crave this time where you can recharge, be free of finite things and ponder the Infinite.

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Blessed Doughnuts

What is the deal with Catholics and doughnuts? I have memories of being bribed by doughnuts through much of my young and snarky life, to either behave in or attend extra masses. My father was successful at getting all five kids to join him at daily mass in the sacred summertime with simply a nod towards Winchell’s doughnut establishment. That sweet, fried, circular vision of yumminess was all the incentive we needed to get up early for over a month.

Sacrileges? Not at all. Any good parent realizes that you can catch more kids with doughnuts than with bagels, at least here in the west. Doughnuts have been used for decades to threaten, bribe, and otherwise make an unruly kid straighten up and think twice about messing around in God’s house. I overhear parents threatening their kids when they are walking into mass, “you better behave, or no doughnuts.” Hey, I’m not pointing any fingers, I used that for years myself.

Jesus used bread to get folks to hang around and listen to the good stuff on many occasions. Fryers just hadn’t been invented yet or I’m pretty sure he would have had doughnuts here and there, to mix it up a bit. Like after the Resurrection when Peter and boys had gone fishing and caught nothing. Jesus would have captured their attention mighty fast, if they saw him walking along the shore with that bright pink box in his hands. “It’s the Lord,” and I think he has doughnuts.

I don’t know if it is just a Catholic gimmick, “hey I gotta idea of how we can get more buns in the pews.” Or, perhaps a Christian hook or if all religions see the value in sweet endings. I suppose it’s harmless as long as we eventually grow up and out, of having to be encouraged with sugared O’s to spend time with the Lord.

We are a people who can nosh quiet happily on junk food for a long time and somehow feel satisfied. Mistaking the counterfeit for the real deal can be spiritually dangerous. No, I’m not suggesting that Catholics confuse doughnuts for the Eucharist. Gees!

In our parish we are undergoing renovations to the sanctuary. Additions include a life-sized Crucifix where there was once a Risen Jesus, and moving the Tabernacle from a side location “among the people” to its new home central to our worship, behind the altar.

Don’t worry, Jesus has a new gig hovering over the Baptismal Font.

Our recently appointed Pastor explained in great detail the catechetical reasons for the proposed changes back in January. He might have had less kickback had he suggested that a Ferris wheel be brought into the worship space. The emails and comments he received were truly unchristian and really unkind. I have to wonder how someone can come to mass, even with the hope of doughnuts after, and have such cruel and heartless words to say. As expected, our numbers are decreasing, because that is how American Catholics show their disproval; in the plate, and in the pew.

Some have shared with me their feelings of our church “going backward” or that they are “not being fed.”

Really?

It’s not, to the first, and impossible to the second! And I’m not talking about the doughnuts! Jesus shows up 100% of the time.

What I believe part of the problem may be, is a lack of good formation and the ability to recognize what is really happening at every mass. The critical nature of entering into the timeless beauty, where heaven meets earth, despite whether we like or dislike the music, the sermon, pews, parishioners, or the priest.  I wrote an article a few years back about lost opportunities in the homily for catechesis and formation. When did it stop being about the Lord and all about us?

When we grow up eating a lot of doughnuts we can get confused about the importance of the Real Presence versus presents. One might get us in the door, but it is the other where we encounter the Lord and He doesn’t come dressed in sprinkles. Plain, simple, and pure love for the receiving. An unquenchable, insatiable, desire fulfilled at every mass if we have our appetites and minds focused on the Real deal.

One round circle can change our lives, transform our hearts, and make us new. The other circle just makes us fat.

 

Down But Not Out

Yesterday I got the flu. I tried to ignore it, but like a thunderstorm, flus do not go away just because you ignore them, they actually pick up intensity. Last night I could no longer hold that storm at bay so I crashed in the way of taking to my bed.

Thunderous sounds emitting from my nose and mouth made sleep nearly impossible. Drugs, where are the drugs? I popped two green nighttime capsules and hoped they would calm the storm. They only took the edge off.

This morning, I looked and felt like something the cat dragged in, but somehow realized that there really was something to be grateful for in all this. Living in a first world country we often take much for granted; clean bed, private bathroom, easily accessible over the counter drugs, and wonderful fresh water to name a few. I can’t imagine living in Africa or some distant island as I tried to deal with this flu and its annoying symptoms. Would my option be to lay in the shade of some distant tree, hoping the wild animals would just leave me alone rather than making short work of me in the way of a meal? Clean abundant water would be scarce, sewer systems, over the counter relief maybe miles away in the big city.

In my home I can crawl into my bed and in the cool darkness rest in relative safety. I could fetch fresh cool water at any time, adjust the air conditioner as needed, and get some relief either by access to a local doctor or the many clinics that surround our home.

We are blessed in more ways than we can possibly imagine. It would serve us well to recognize our many, many blessings and thank God along the way.

Spiritual But Not Religious, Really?

I meet so many young adults who are “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It is like saying I love coffee but I don’t drink it. I love to experience nature but I don’t leave my house. I love God….but I can’t imagine actually going to church and worshiping him.

What we keep in our heads ONLY, what we keep in our hearts ONLY, what we keep private and between me and Jesus ONLY; is NOT faith at all. It is laziness. Sound harsh? It may be.  But let me put something out there for you to think about.

Faith requires action!

God is faithful. God is always at work in his creation and with his children. ALWAYS! What’s our problem? If God kept his faith to himself, it would be a very bleak and dark world.

Faith requires action!

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Spiritual but not religious is a cop out.

Our world is degrading morally at an increasing rate. Imagine if those who claim to be Christian actually lived their faith out loud, fed the poor, clothed the naked, spoke openly with love about Jesus Christ, shared how God works in their lives AND worshiped together weekly.

Imagine!

Listening to Christian songs, getting a big tattoo of a cross on your body, claiming Christianity without actually living Christianity is one thing. Doing Christianity is quite another. Its messy. It requires an integrity of word and deed, it requires courage in the face of a world that screams “keep it to yourself!”

The world will change for the better when we Christians are authentically following Christ. When we are not hypocrites and privately hiding Jesus from the world. Nine out of ten couples I meet do not even pray together. They don’t talk about their faith to each other, they don’t practice their faith.

Lent is a great time to practice that faith you have forgotten about, ignored or hidden away. If you only know a little bit ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t KNOW Jesus it may be more difficult. Prayer is a great place to begin.

God is always listening, always reaching out to us, always waiting to have a relationship with each of us. Simply say, “God, I want you to come and wrap your love around me. I want you to show me who you are, what your plans are for me, and the wonderful relationship we can have together.” That’s all. Say it everyday. Heck, say it a hundred times a day!

Your life will begin to change in a wonderfully surprising way. I promise. Be diligent, hopeful, expectant! This great little clip speaks more about prayer in context of the mass and how you can begin to live that faith out loud with others.

 

Tidings

Watching the rhythmic ocean waves hit the shoreline can be calming and I’ve found reassuring as well. It makes me think about the constancy of God’s love for each of us. It is always reaching out for us, consistently, gently. Always beckoning and inviting us that we might encounter love’s embrace.

We don’t want to get wet sometimes though in the surf, or get sand in our suits because it can get a little messier than we like. So we stay at a safe distance, away from loves reach. Sometimes we just want to get our toes wet, or get used to the water little by little, not trusting that it is safe there, or even FUN…if we let go of control.

This is me at times. I love to watch at a distance. I am afraid of what lies below the surface.

However with God’s love, unlike the ocean, we have nothing to fear. Loves warm embrace longs to enfold us, protect us, caress us.

So throw caution to the wind, and dive into the riches that await when we let God love us and lead us to happiness.

Aloha

Peace, Is It Possible

Today I am away from all my usual craziness and in my own little corner of paradise which makes this time so sweet.

I believe with all my heart  that God wishes to pour his peace on us. It couldn’t have been more evident than when we read the account after the resurrection when Christ first appeared to his disciples in the locked upper room, “Peace be with you.” He didn’t reprimand the disciples for abandoning him or denying him. He just breathed on them and wished them his peace. Wow! That is so unlike any human response I might give in the same situation. Jesus goes on further to say, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus reminds us again, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”

Is there a reoccurring message there we might need to hear?

It is very possible to have an inner peace where it is still, and calm. This is the peace Christ wishes to extend to us. Fr. Jacques Philippe gives us this example, “In order to understand this we can use an image that can be illuminating. Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of a lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly it will be reflected. If on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it. It is like this with our soul in relationship to God. The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it…the more his grace acts through us.”

This imagery makes total sense. We have all seen this.

God’s Word is meant to be for us a source of strength, encouragement, recollection, hope, inspiration, education, and empowerment…need I go on?

Do we “feed” on the Word of God to mine all the treasures God has planted there for us to discover and rediscover?

Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel writes, “…we do not know the great heights at which our holiness lies… we shouldn’t try and hold back this sort of free-fall of the Word into our depths.”

Free-fall? That evokes both sheer terror and sheer exhilaration at the same time. That however, is what we need to do. We need to jump, let go, and freely unreservedly give ourselves over to God who desires to do amazing things with our lives.

What are we afraid of?

Why won’t we let go?

These are questions we must ponder and ask ourselves?

Do we believe and trust God?

Do we live in the fear of what if?

God’s open palms are right there to catch us. Do we believe that?

Will we consent to be the great saint God imagined in us? Are we willing to persevere in the difficult but immensely gratifying work of the Kingdom? Glory, honor, great joy and peace beyond all telling is there waiting for our yes.

Love Creates

At least one hundred times or more I’ve said, “We are created by Love for love.” While I would love to take credit for such a simple yet profound statement I would be lying and taking credit for someone else’s inspiration.

Caryll Houselander, a deceased  British mystic and poet writes this, “The meaning of Creation is love; God created for love, and what he created is love.” There is so much packed into that short statement it is mind-boggling.

God doesn’t need us.

We were created out of the very heart of Love itself. Incredible when you ponder that. I was loved into being. I was conceived in the mind of Love before I ever came to be. I am wanted, worthy, dignified, precious and priceless.

Guess what? So is each and every one of us.

Yes, even the annoying, the creepers, weirdos, and green-haired people.

Creation is here for us. It is God’s gift. It wasn’t an accident or afterthought or randomly occurring cosmic event with no purpose or meaning. Everything God does has meaning and intention. He doesn’t abandon us to prod around in blind desolation, ceaselessly wondering about the point of our origin with no answer to be found. How cruel would that be?

The answers are all around us. The Artist has left his signature everywhere. In all times and places, in every single face, old and young, lost and confused, painted and twisted. It’s like He is shouting in a whisper barely audible “I Am.”

I Am in your laughter. I Am in the quiet breeze. I Am in a newborns cry and the dying sigh of the seemingly abandoned soul. I Am infused in every cell of your being, every thought you think, every word you speak. I Am! Why do you look in all the wrong places? Why do you remain in darkness? Why do you not feel or notice or care? Why?

I long to tell you of My love. I long to wrap you in Love’s warm embrace, to protect and lead you on road’s never taken. To show you My plan’s for your life, everything I imagined for you if you would but ask, and trust, and let go and let Me guide you.

God doesn’t need the warmth of the sun, water to refresh or wine to soothe His weary soul. God doesn’t require the night to repose, bread to satiate, oxygen to gasp and fill His lungs.

Love created these things for us to enjoy and relish in. How thoughtful, how kind, how utterly generous. A disinterested gift, bestowed on humanity out of His boundless depths. God literally says, “See this lily? I created it just for you”. You were on my mind when I formed the islands, how I knew you would laugh and play on its beaches and take your respite there under this very tree. And God smiled to Himself at the thought of you there.

And chocolate, yes, He thought of me. How many times I would taste and savor and squeal with joy. That made Him smile to Himself at the pure unadulterated pleasure it brings me.

So thank you, Amazing Love.

Thank you for it all. For what I have been blessed to experience thus far; the good and the bad. It has made me who I am and who I will become as the days go by, and the wrinkles increase and my pace slows, and my mind goes.

May I never, never forget Your Love. So as You willed it from the beginning, we may one day be together for all time, and share all the stories You want to tell me and remind me of all the things I never saw or noticed or paid any attention to. You were there in everything just watching and loving me all along.

Emmaus Explored

“What are you discussing as you walk along?” Jesus asks the disciples heading to the village of Emmaus. “Looking downcast,” they related the events of the last few days involving Jesus. Their eyes were prevented from seeing it was Jesus Himself to whom they were speaking.

I have wondered over the years why they were so quick to leave the city. These were disciples after all, who had followed Jesus for sometime. They had even heard that very morning that some women of their group “reported seeing a vision of angels who announced that He was alive.”  Yet they depart the city, downcast.

Why did they give up so quickly?

Jesus was right to rebuke them with these words, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!”

With the benefit of 2000 plus years of hindsight one would think we would be so much wiser today. One would assume with our superior forward thinking modern minds we would be so much better off today with the perspective of lapsed time. We should be loving each other, holding each life in unsurpassed dignity and worth. We should be sharing and caring and peaceable by now.

Have we too, wondered out of town and out of the proximity of Love? Do we look downcast because after 2000 years it isn’t much better. Our brutality and lust for power, wealth and pleasure grows like a darkness sweeping the nation. We think in terms of “me instead of we” as we cut people off while driving, in line and in church parking lots. Untold unnecessary victims of murder by choice through abortion, continue to grow because I trumps we.

What is going on? What is needed to push back the darkness?

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “this episode [Emmaus] points out to us two special “places” where we can encounter the Risen One who transforms our life: listening to His Word, in communion with Christ, and in the breaking of the bread; two “places” profoundly united with each other because the Word and the Eucharist are so deeply bound together that we cannot understand one without the other; the Word of God sacramentally takes flesh in the event of the Eucharist.”

Christ is alive. He is risen and can banish the darkness of our lives both individually and communally. He did not abandon us to work it out by ourselves thousands of years later. He left us Himself, in the Word and in the Eucharist. Not a symbol, not a memory, not a feel good bread and grape juice affair NO! In the reading of his Word, in the breaking of His Body. Each and every day, all over the planet, in every Catholic Church. This is where you will find the Church Christ left behind- His Church, His Body Present in every tabernacle around the world. Come and eat, “this is my body” broken and given for you.

Nothing else will do. Come to THE Meal where the “Bread of life comes down from heaven” that we may live forever.

“Faith in him transforms our life, frees it from fear, gives it firm hope, enlivens it with God’s love which gives full meaning to existence.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

And dare I add, banishes the darkness, springs forth everlasting joy and fills us with the strength, graces and virtues we need to persevere until the end.

He is risen Alleluia!

Proposing Love

Exciting news permeates the air as two of our sons posed the question of life-long commitment, and never ending love to their girlfriends. Both said yes and so the fun and planning begins.

I love how our family is growing. The amazing gift of observing them as they become the men God created them to be and the amazing, beautiful and incredible women that He placed in their paths. Watching as they matured from self focused  to selfless young men who put others before themselves. There is no room for ego in real love. Ego is about self. Married love shows the world that seeking what is best for the other above self, leads to abundant fruitfulness.

In giving ourselves away, we receive. What a delightful paradox.

So many young people today buy the lie, going after whatever selfish pursuit brings them temporary pleasure. Fleeting as it is, never fully satiated, they prowl about seeking their next prey to devour in lust. That leaves a lot of empty corpses, young women who have been used and cast aside believing that this is the best they can hope for. That this is all there is, empty lives, empty promises, empty dreams. “Where have all the good men gone” the song sings on and that is the real question. Where are the virtuous men who seek to protect a women’s honor rather than subvert it? Men who have self restraint, discipline,no less manners, seem few and far between. Our culture supposedly loves the “jackass” the Cretan, the fool. But is this necessarily true?

I know you are out there, and even if you have made some mistakes, there is always hope. It is never too late for anyone and always possible to achieve the kind of love dreams are made of. A love that satisfies, a love that makes you better, a love that can heal your heart and make it whole.

I have seen it, lived it and know it is for real.

 

March Forward

Yes, it surprises me too-it is March already. Seriously, it was just Halloween last week.

After hitting the double nickel in December I swear that time has just been accelerated by 55%. Even the people half my age are commenting on how fast this year has gone. What gives?

The other thing I have noticed about 2014, (well two things really), 1-there seems to be a complicated twist to the normal day to day activities. 2-Amazing miracles are popping up everywhere.

Let me elaborate. I have found that an inordinate number of my normal tasks and work happenings are growing in bizarre ways out of whack. For instance what was the normal preparations for a wedding have become more complicated and taken on a life of their own. This apparently is not just happening to me,

There is an elaborate, unexplained weirdness to things of late.

Additionally, I have seen a generous amount of miracles and answered prayers as well, in this new year. This I much prefer to the latter but if one must somehow accompany the other; I assent to the dissonance and paradigm shift.

Well at least for now I do. Who knows where this all might lead in a few months?

So anyone else out there in cyber-land notice these strange goings on?