Tag Archive: love


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

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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

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.

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

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!

Holiest Week

Happy Palm Sunday to all!

This begins Holy Week in preparation for the most amazing event in all of human history-The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Really deliberately think about this event all week. Enter into it. This is love, real love. Laying down ones life for a friend, even when most of those friends never knew you, don’t care or love you, outright reject you or even hate you.

Love acts for the good of another! A disinterested gift of self with no strings attached. Christ did this for us, not Himself.

This is a friend worth knowing. A relationship worth developing. The Holy Roman Catholic Church is not an institution, a building, a set of oppressive rules. It is about a Person, the Person of Christ, a RELATIONSHIP with God.

If you’ve been away from the Church, if you have not made it a priority in your life…I invite you to begin anew this week. This is the most beautiful time to re-enter, and renew your friendship with Christ as He shows you how much He loves you through His excruciating Passion and Death. This is not gruesome brutality that we rival in, this is love to the limits of a human body and magnified by the infinite goodness and love of God.

Christ did all this for us, not collectively, but with each individual person on His mind.
You were worth dying for. The Eucharist cost Christ His very life. Why do we disregard, diminish and reject that gift of love? Why do lesser things take priority?

“Come to me all you that labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest”

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.

 

Why Jesus?

Who is Jesus?

If God, then why bother with humanity, let alone descend into our fallen nature and become one of us? I see the value in what the insect world does, but I would never want to  become one and show them a better way. Yet, God who loved us into being, in whose image we are created has done just that for us. He saw how lost we had become, how far we had drifted from truth, from his love, and from the light. So Light became light to show us the path to true and lasting happiness.

“For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly…God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)

That thought alone is worth pondering. Who dies for someone who hates them, ignores them, blasphemes them? We don’t even like to talk to someone who rejects us that out-rightly. In our little sinful mindset we want to let well enough alone . So be it if you hate me, it’s your loss after all. We easily tell folks to “go to hell” and dismiss them as not worthy of our time or attention. But thankfully, God is not like us and is willing to pursue us, be rejected and ignored… all because we are worth dying for.

I don’t know about you, but I want someone to care that much about my well being and eternal destination. I want someone who isn’t going to give up on me even when I give up on myself. I want a being so wise, so loving, so caring, so much wiser than me that He will never give up, give in or go away.

That  is authentic love and true friendship. Unlike the advice of the day that says let people hang themselves if they choose. Do your own thing, I’ll look the other way, even if it costs you your life. Jesus stands in stark contrast to the false friends and says, I care.

That’is Jesus, and someone just standing there at the door of your heart knocking.

Go ahead, open the door. You will never be the same, I promise.

Devil Business

Saint Catherine of Siena writes, “…what the devil can’t do by himself, he does by using other people…” At times, we humans are attempting to navigate the world in all its storms and confusion on our own. While we are surrounded by the complexity and exquisite beauty created by God, it is important to be aware of a dangerous, lurking menace that lies in wait.

The prayer to St. Michael the Archangel reminds us that the “devil prowls about the earth seeking the ruin of souls.” That is predator language, and yes, it should give us the creeps.  The verbiage reminds us that he actively searches for ways to pull us into his lies, twist our thinking about God and one another, and seeks with deadly precision ways to destroy our souls. The devil has much at his disposal and as St. Catherine reminds us, will even use others if it suits his purposes. If he can get us to “see what doesn’t really exist,” then it is easy for us to misunderstand, limiting our trust in others and in their goodness. “Words lead to actions, and this is how he divides those who love each other.”

Is it just me or is there much more division in the world these days?

What can we do to be a unifying power in our families and in our areas of influence? St. Catherine tells us to have “hatred and contempt for ourselves, opening our mind’s eye to know God and His Goodness…He neither wants nor seeks anything but that we be made holy.” If we place our littleness at the forefront of our mind, and seek to place others before ourselves, we grow in humility and love. Pride puffs us up, which can lead to thinking less of others, becoming paranoid, defensive, and distrustful.

Love unites!

I am  attempting to practice, ‘thinking the best about others’ this new year. This is a difficult task at times. I can quickly remember past experiences, hurts, and betrayals when I hear gossip, and immediately think the worst. It takes heroic strength and Divine assistance for me to have any chance for success in this endeavor.

How have I been doing so far? Not so good.

However, every new breath is a new opportunity to beg for help, and start again. Realize this, God, “allows the devil to cause others to torment and harass us, only to prove the virtues of love and true patience” in us. Why you might ask, would God allow this? So that our “imperfect love may become perfect.”

God loves us too much to leave us wallowing in the muck of our habitual sinfulness. So He let’s the devil do what he does best, by giving us lots of practice in seeking what is good and right and holy. People don’t get good at something unless they have lots of opportunities to practice. How merciful that our Heavenly Father loves us that much.

So while we might get discouraged when we keep messing up, we must remember that our love is proved when it is tested. We are not alone, and never have to go it on our own either.  We have an advocate in Christ, His angels and saints. And not to be outdone, Jesus left us a mother too and not just any Mother, His Mother. Mary is here to help us, desires to grow us closer to her Son, and lead us to heaven. She has loads of grace, all for the asking.

The devil may want us to think we are without any support, especially when we have really messed up and feel that there is no way back to God’s love. Make no mistake, there is an army of warriors in heaven, ready at a moment’s call to battle with us, and fight the good fight.

Never Give Up.

Never Give In.

Never Lose Hope.

You are loved beyond compare!

Just in case you need a little reminder, here is Whom Shall I Fear– by Chris Tomlin,  🙂