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No Good Excuse

I admire those who can speak the truth in all seasons. Those whom I am bringing to mind have a holy zeal that doesn’t allow them to remain silent in the face of untruths. They are bold in their love of the Lord.

Thank you for your witness.

It seems for years that my lips were sewed shut in the face of overwhelming dissent. Part of the problem was that I too was overwhelmed by the unexpected realization that we Catholics were NOT all on the same page in the basic beliefs and tenants of the faith. (big belly laugh from the peanut gallery!) It is an especially hard lesson when one works for the Church. It is there, I feel, that we meet at times, the most resistance. What my experience has shown me too is that “personal theologies” don’t always mesh with Church teachings.

Another important lesson I continue to learn is there may be many ways to look at the same truth. Not that I have gone from black and white to grey, but to realize more specifically, that my measure is not THE measure. My expectations are not God’s expectations, and most importantly, people don’t know what they don’t know. Their family and formation (or lack there of) plays a huge role. The outside voices, (and there are many in our current times), can actually speak untruths, misguided tolerance, and out right lies.

To whom do we listen? Where do we seek truth?

What saddens me most, is we cannot always expect to hear the complete truth from those we should expect to hear it from. Those whose lives are dedicated to work in the Church, those who collect a paycheck from the Church and have a perceived  hot line to heaven, and those who who are at times wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Perhaps it was poor formation, poor role models, decades of misinformation passed down in an attempt to make the load a little lighter on the faithful, to not judge too harshly, so instead hand out lollipops where a good spiritual whooping was required.

I don’t know?

Servant of God, Madeline Delbrel wrote this, “For, even in the midst of a world populated with good people, the goodness of a heart converted to Christ does not resemble other forms of goodness…It demands that we love no matter whom, all the way to the end, and no matter when it may be. It accepts no good excuse for not being good.

Yes the world is populated with lots of good people. What she is writing about I believe, is there still is a distinction between ordinary worldly perceived goodness and God’s goodness and light in someone. What convicted my heart more than anything was this little line, “…it accepts no good excuse for not being good.”

I’ve used a lot of excuses over the years.  What I even felt were good excuses for not speaking up when I should have; even if it meant the loss of a job or a thousand arrows in my heart. I have found new courage again and again when the brave, bold voices of truth do not remain silent.

Thank you for your witness, for it gives us all courage to go and do the same.

Closer Babe

This Advent hasn’t waited for me to get it together yet.

It hasn’t paused while I spread myself so thin attempting to buy, sell, close, prepare, shop, wrap, pen cards, post or consider gift giving.

It simply has marched onward, ready or not.

I keep trying to refocus on the coming Babe…

Stuff, and decisions, and distractions, and life keeps getting in the way.

But the Babe…

Babies do not wait, they come when they come.

Let us make haste in preparation for what is truly at the heart of this season of seasons

Prepare the way of the Lord!

That other stuff can take second place for once.

May your Christmas preparations, make straight for the coming of the Babe in the manger.

Why have a national holiday that’s very purpose is gratitude oriented? For all intense and purposes it offers folks a few precious hours to stop, reflect, and  remember that everything is gift. It is right and good to stop and celebrate each other, the bounty and the abundant blessings we all can take for granted more than we would like to admit.

Each moment, each life,

Each breath, even strife.

Each person and place,

Gratuitous grace.

The bed we sleep in, and dawn awake,

The mountain, valley, and tranquil lake.

The snow and rain, every ache and pain,

subtly remind us, our lives are not in vain.

We are wanted and desired,

like precious metal fired,

refined, by purity inspired,

by the ONE who made something from nothing, so long ago.

Realize your worth, and each precious fleeting day

lift your eyes and heart in silence say

Thank you Father, for your generous way

in blessing me today.

 

Glad You Asked

“Why do you bring God into every conversation?”

This simple question was posed to me recently by someone I love dearly. Let me attempt to explain.

How do you not bring the Author of Life into life itself? How can I speak of the reason for my joy, my hope, my strength without naming its cause? What is the reason for oxygen if not to breath, or for water if not to cleanse and satiate?  How do you describe a rainbow without using color?

How can I not give recognition to the One, who animates all things and brings everything into existence? Without God there would be no bird to sing a melodious song, no leaf to sway in the invisible wind, no eye to glimpse untold beauty or ear to hear boisterous laughter.

Through His great love we all came into being, and it is His immeasurable, inexhaustible, unconditional, and infinitesimal love that helped me find my beloved and together in love, incarnate five unique,  unforgettable, exquisite human beings we call sons and daughters.

How does one speak of conquering mountains and surviving floods without mentioning the lifeline that pulled them up or saved them from drowning? God is the blood that courses through my body, and the air that fills my lungs.

God is the lens through which I see the world and even if I should lose my eyesight it would not dim nor alter how I interpret the world around me. He is the glue that holds everything together, the stream connecting every water way, the thread that binds, assembles, and weaves all matter.

He is at once the question and the answer, the reason and purpose, movement and motion itself.

Because of God I am here and so are you. I am able to listen, respond, love, laugh and cry with humanity.

In a world that constantly shifts, betrays, disillusions and deceives, He is the objective truth that I anchor my existence to as storms thrash and attempt to overwhelm me. I may get beat up, pulled under, and resemble death more than life, yet God is the tether that holds firm, keeping me safe and steadfast through it all.

God is light in the darkness, joy in hardship, hope in disaster and the answer to every human cry for help. He is love, forgiveness, mercy, justice and so much more. Only He can make sense of the senseless, or bring good out of evil.

So, my sweet friend, I can only say with conviction and certainty that it is nearly impossible for me not to bring God into my conversations. I am hopeful that because of this fact, that deep down inside, you realize this, and it is why I am worth speaking to at all.

May you one day find this inescapable verb to be inseparable from any sentence uttered from your lips and fondly remember this question, you posed so long ago, and now equipped with greater knowledge,  wisdom, and understanding do the same.

 

Published on: http://catholiclane.com/glad-you-asked/#sthash

Dear Brittany Maynard

You don’t know me, and sadly, I don’t know you. Why should you care what another voice among the millions is saying? Because, I believe I have good news. Like so many, your story has crashed into my world, just as cancer crashed into yours. As expected in your very public decision, you have captured the world’s attention and brought the cause you mistakenly want to “attach your name to and leave as a legacy,” to the forefront.

In interviews you have shared that it is “cancer that is ending your life,” but you are “choosing to end it sooner with a lot less pain and suffering.”

Suffering is a part of life, and no one escapes it. Some, like my father have suffered for many decades. I imagine when he was told at 30 years old, that he would never walk again, and would live every day in incredible pain, he may have seriously considered in the particularly painful days, ending such misery. I thank God every day that he did not. What my father, and many others like him who suffer, have taught the rest of us, is that we are stronger than we think we are-that even in the midst of a disability, cancer, or even terminal illnesses, there is something essential they have to teach the rest of us. Something so valuable, that when one prematurely chooses to end their life, humanity is robbed, especially those closest to them, of an important lesson.

What is that lesson?

Dignity. Our worth, both healthy and strong or terminally ill, is priceless. We are not just animals whose value is measured by productivity or contribution. We all have irreplaceable worth just because we are human, and loved into existence. We are a unique and unrepeatable gift brought to humanity. There will never ever in all time and history, be another you!

Here is the good news to the question that has haunted humanity forever; why is there suffering? John Paul II, a man who knew great personal loss and suffering said this in 1987, in an Apostolic Address to Americans and Canadians, “suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a ‘civilization of love.’” For me, this has been the very key that has unlocked the greatest mystery of humanity. It makes sense out of the senseless.

Why should you or any other human care what a deceased Pontiff had to say? Because we recognize truth when we hear it.

Think about what happens when we hear of the plight of fires, tornados, senseless shootings, or 911 victims? As human beings we naturally want to respond out of concern and love. It is often those kinds of events that shake us out of our busy-ness, our lethargy, and self-centeredness. When illnesses, disasters, and human suffering present themselves they are opportunities to respond to total strangers in love with works of mercy, kindness, communal and financial help. It releases love on the receiver but also on the giver. In giving love, we are gifted in return in love, and thus transforming civilization.

I know you are scared, who wouldn’t be? It is ok to be scared to death-but you are not alone, and never will be. Ending your life prematurely, is not “dying with dignity.” Rather it is robbing those closest to you, and those you don’t even know, of the rare and beautiful opportunity to pour out love in abundance on you in your time of greatest need. I imagine this is already happening to some degree. Your mother said it best, in it being an “honor to take care of you.” Anyone who truly cares about you would do whatever it took to be with you, and to spend every single second of your precious natural life, by your side. If you end your life, they will only be left wishing they would have had more time with you.

I congratulate you for not ending your life and extending the time with your family. Never feel pressured to go through with your original publicized decision. Know there is grace in abundance, strength, and fathomless love available to you as you walk this journey. Pray and never stop believing in miracles, they happen all the time.

I beg you instead, to consider letting your legacy be an instrument that released tremendous love on humanity. We desperately need your witness. Thank you for your courage. It is already through your witness that love is growing and we also got a chance to meet the beautiful young woman we would have never known without this event in your life. Be strong and take heart, you are no

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

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

These five little unassuming words by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, (Padre Pio), are as simple as they are powerful!

Pray– God is waiting there beside you, closer than the very air you breathe. Speak, but learn to listen. Ask, but don’t be afraid to act. Trust and surrender, God is in control.

Hope-A light at the end of a tunnel so dim and far away that we don’t always wait for it. Or perhaps, so close and blinding that we ignore it. Never loose hope, because sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn. When hope wains, pray harder!

Don’t Worry-Seriously, don’t! Nothing comes of it. It is counterproductive, stressful, wastes time. When you begin to worry, repeat in your head as many times as you need to eradicate worry; Jesus I trust in you.  He said to say this, He usually means what He says!! Still worrying…go back to prayer.

In the end, it really IS that simple. We try to complicate things too many times. I have seen it work in my own life, yes even with really major things. We have so little control and we need to realize that. Everything is in God’s hands. Repeat after me, “Everything is in God’s hands and serves a purpose beyond our understanding.” A good purpose, a purpose for our good. If you don’t believe in God, then it must get pretty heavy out there all on your own. For that I am sorry. It doesn’t have to be. You need not go it alone in the small, temporal box you may exist in.

This life is but a journey and there is a destination not of this world. One greater than any of us can imagine and I’m going to place my wager there. If I am wrong, I have little to loose. But, if you are…..

Holding Ourselves Responsible

“If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.” Ezekiel 33:8-9

Those are scary words. Why? God is asking us to speak to the sinner to try and turn them from their evil ways, and not only that- if we do not at least speak up,we will be held responsible for their death.

Whoa, wait a minute. Who am I to point out others “wicked ways” when I am a sinner myself? I believe that is the bone of contention for most of us. I’m busy pulling logs from my own eyes here, who am I to judge the splinters in others?

The key word here is we are not to judge. The “J” word isn’t even used, and therein lies the rub. We think too often that if we even allude to the fact that a friend or relative may be heading in a direction dangerously close to sinfulness, we are being judgmental of that person. So we remain quiet, or talk to others about it, or worse we close our eyes and mouths to the possibility of saying or doing anything. Why? If we care about the eternal well being of this person, or any person, why won’t we take the risk out of LOVE, to have a conversation?

The actual request is to “…dissuade the wicked from his way.” That means at least trying.

I am learning the importance of listening more. Specifically, listening to others journey, their experience of life, of God, of hurt. When we take the time out of deep love and concern for another, and invite them into dialogue, we can learn much about their journey and the motivations that drive their decisions. Actively listening- not fixing, interrupting, anticipating, or correcting, is really hard. We are so used to doing that- by we, I mean me.

What I am finding is that I am getting a rare and beautiful look at the depth of the other person I am listening to. I get to see their life through their eyes for just a brief time. It is from there that I can begin a dialogue. When someone knows how much I love and care about them, and my authentic concern for their well-being, the possibility of receptiveness arises. It is only there that I can offer an alternative. A person has to be willing and open before I can throw out another option. Closed minds, closed ears, closed hearts do not receive words, they bounce right off like rubber balls on cement. Receptivity is crucial, and that takes time, commitment, love, and lots of prayers.

I attempt to speak more on this here.

Practice love, be patient, and most importantly live a life worthy of imitation. Leave the rest up to Jesus and His wonderful, amazing Mother Mary. As St. Paul writes in Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another…” If we act out of love- Love Itself, will open doors.

Leave It

I came across a great quote by St. Teresa of Avila, “Leave it in God’s hands, where it belongs.” It struck me as do many writings of the saints, of the pure simplicity of that statement. Whether you are Catholic or a Christian of another denomination, one should appreciate this humble wisdom.

I have heard it said all my life, that it is written more than 365 times in Scripture, not to worry or fear. That’s a lot of reminders! As human beings we seem to pride ourselves on the level of anxiety and worry we allow to creep into our lives.

A man runs into an old friend in the street,

“Sam, is that you? How ya doing bud, its been years.”

“David? Can it be? Wow!”

“Sam, dude, catch me up.”

“My boss is nuts he’s got me stressed outta my mind, I’m worried sick about this project. Meg and the kids are great, but she found a lump and we are going nuts wondering what that’s all about. My parents are getting old and are going to need more attention. We’re totally stressing about how we can handle that, along with all this other stuff going on…..”

Some times we let our worry level define who we are. Why?

Modern medicine points out the toxicity that stress and worry puts on our health. God reminds us again and again to  hand it all over to Him. Why are we so reluctant to do so?

My guess is its about perceived control. If I let something go, will it get taken care of pronto? Will it be handled in the way I want? I also know from experience that we are pretty impatient as a race, homo sapiens, that is.  This is because of all the above reasons and our obsessive IMPATIENCE. The right here, right now instantaneous technology doesn’t help, but I would suggest we have been impatient from the beginning so I can’t blame it all on the new technology as much as I would like to.

At a time in my life when I was really burning the worry lamp, and pummeling heaven with my anxious prayers, I came to mass one morning and noticed that the priest was going to be the one not known for his rousing homilies. I sighed audibly with most of the old regulars there, but I stayed and opened my heart. I can’t remember the opening lines of his homily but I have never forgotten this poem he read:

Broken Dreams

 As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend,

I brought my broken dreams to God, because God was my friend.

But then instead of leaving God in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help, with ways that were my own.

When, at last, I snatched them back and cried, “How can You be so slow”
“My child,” God said, “what could I do? You never did let go.”

 Author Unknown

I thank God that my pompous, prideful, arrogance did not get in the way of the message because of the messenger. This was true of me and why to this day it rings so powerfully in my heart. I was praying, but hanging on out of a false sense of control. There is much to be learned in reflecting on both what St. Teresa writes and the unknown author above. First, give it all over to God because it is where real solutions happen. There is so little we really have control over; not people, not their behaviors, not illnesses, their reactions, and certainly not life. Realize this! God knows us and is doing us a huge favor by telling us not to worry and to let go. Trust that!

It would be like telling the mechanic all about my car problems and he responds saying,”oh yes I’ve seen that before, bring it in I can fix it” and I just keep tinkering with it at home and wondering why the guy hasn’t fixed it yet. It’s ludicrous.  If we can see the stupidity in that, we must also see the absurdity in hanging on to things outside the realm of our ability to resolve them.

Two, everything in life happens for a reason. I believe this to my very core, and my life has shown me this unceasingly. God knows what time and circumstances need to be in place for the solution he has in mind, to bear fruit. Everything, every single situation has merit and God can do something good with it. As the great Architect, Author and Artist- He has a plan and a purpose. Let the Master work and see what beautiful things come from our mess. He can make magnificent stained glass masterpieces, from the shards of our brokenness.

We need to take God’s simple, straight forward messages, as the means to our ultimate happiness. It is not as complicated as we tend to make it. It really is just that simple, trust Him!

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.