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2015 Easter Time

It always happens doesn’t it?  We are cruising along the highway of life.   Something happens,  a loved one falls ill,  an accident happens or a tragedy.   We don’t expect it, we can not foresee it and we never want it.   We have to adjust, adapt and move forward because there is not a rewind button.

The excitement of Holy Week rushed by.   And now I am finding myself standing in the pool of exhilaration like when you go down one of those big water slides!   It is Easter time!

Easter (FYI – the resurrection of Jesus) doesn’t end on Easter Sunday.   Jesus shows Himself multiple times to many different people (One of the many reasons that the christian faith is so strong is the fact that many people testified to this fact and not only was it recorded in many letters (aka the Bible), but it also had to be passed down, verbally, to many more friends and family.  Which makes up our deposit of faith.)   One of my favorites is on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) when Jesus comes upon two men walking home from Jerusalem, three days after Jesus was crucified.   He walked and talked with them.   He explained to them why He had to be crucified.  They were amazed.   They wanted more.   Later that day as they were about to dine with Him  I think they were astute enough to ask Him to say a blessing before breaking the bread.   And Jesus “took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them” , their eyes were opened and then Jesus vanished.

This year during Easter time, let us be willing to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts and recognize Jesus in our lives.   Now Jesus can appear in many ways such as; movies, music, children, animals, scenery, sports, work or even old family pictures.   The funny thing is if you seek Him, you are more likely to find Him!

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2015 Lent Day 32

Today’s Readings

March madness is all around us.  We pick our teams based on their record, RPI, BPI, FBI and grade point averages. We discount those teams that we have never heard of and we have to do a little research.     The problem with making logical picks is we discount what those teams possess in their heart and soul to thrive.

People discounted from where Jesus was from as well.

“What good could come out of Nazereth?”

“Isn’t he the carpenters son?”

“This is the Christ?”

But blessed be those who believed with their heart and soul!!!   For it is by their faith that they passed down to each generation that we believe that this IS the Christ that is among us even today!!

 

 

Christmas Trees and ornaments

Around this time of year, each year.  We remember….. well we hope we remember where we put all those Christmas decorations, tree lights and yes the ornaments.

Over the course of time and thirty years of marriage, we have been given ornaments, our children have made numerous love made ornaments and we have purchased numerous ones as well.    We have added another one this year, one that is as special as that first Christmas ornament that we received over thirty years ago.  This one comes from Ireland and will hold a special place on the tree.

As each ornament is placed on the tree, each one brings back memories of those moments in time.  Each moment is relived as I place each ornament on the tree.  Some of them are placed near the top where all will see, some face the window out of direct line of sight but they are still loved and then there are the rest.  The rest that are no longer the favorite ones and have been replaced with the newer ones.   Today we have more ornaments than branches on the Christmas tree and one year when I did not put ALL the ornaments on the tree I was the grinch who stole Christmas.  I have now just accepted that title and ALL the ornaments do not make it on the tree but if God’s grace and mercy came in the form of Christmas ornaments then maybe we are well blessed!

So now as open up each Christmas box and to my surprise, more ornaments, I thank God for His abundant graces that He as bestow upon our family!

Merry Christmas!!!

Why I am catholic ……. the crucifix

I grew up in a “non-denominational” church, Church of Christ.   Our building had no decorations or windows.  We did have a very large baptismal pool and vaulted ceilings.  It was never decorated for any season or purpose ( maybe weddings had some decorations).    The outside was just as boring.   All brick and no signs that it is even a church, other that the road sign that says “Church of Christ”.

So why do some churches profile a plain cross and the catholic church show a full crucifix?    Well I grew up with neither.   So here is my observation, years and decades later.   The plain cross is a “nice” reminder.  It reminds us of Jesus’ death, that it He suffered on the cross for our sake.  It helps us to remember His sacrifice.  The cross was once a symbol of suffering and ultimately death by cruel methods.  But Gods use of it has turned  that symbol upside down for us to be able to see  past the suffering and death.   The cross is now a symbol of hope, love and the life to come.

So why is it so important to remember this?  What can the cross do for me?

When I read the bible and it details the not so pleasant events of the process of torture, hatred, humiliation and the hammering Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross.   When we reflect upon Jesus hanging there on the cross one does wonder why did God do this?  Why would God put His Son through this human suffering?   In Luke 23:35    “The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.””   So the question is why do we need reminded of this?  Well, I, us, we tend to forget.  We want to look past the suffering and only be reminded of the positive.   Well that is what I usually want to do, I want to look past my past.  I only want to look at the positive, never the negative.   I do not like to look in the past and the mistakes I have made in life.  Now God did not make a mistake, but we need to be reminded of His sacrifice and His love for us.  Remember that He came down to us, to show us how to live, love, laugh and to follow Him.

So now we begin to understand the crucifix, not just a cross, but we see Jesus’ agony on the cross.  We are reminded that He was 100% human and 100% divine, we need this reminder.  We need to see the suffering,  we need to see that our agonies and sufferings are miniscule compared to His!   So we need this not-so-nice reminder.

God may we begin to understand your love and mercy for us through your Son who died on the cross for us!

Why I am catholic ……. I confess

Let me tell you a secret.

Close the doors.

Pull down the shades.

Turn off the sound on the computer.

I ……. am ……. not ……. perfect!!!!

Okay…phew! 😉    I feel better.     That is such a relief to be able to confess to you.   And if you said this out loud with me it would be even better because misery loves company.

Some may think that confessing your sin to someone other than the Lord is ridiculous or just a way for the church to “control” you.   Why not just confess your sin(s) to God directly?    To which I say – “I do!”  and I did.   (I think God is one of my followers – I know I follow Him, I just don’t read “every” blog, sorry God – another confession!)   So let me try to give you my point of view on this.

I always thought I could handle it,  I’m a man, I’m an old fart, I can correct my sins and turn it around.   (insert chuckle here)

I am not the first one to think this way, nor are you.   Remember Adam and Eve in the garden,  they had it made – they had hit the jackpot.  ( I wonder where we all would be if Adam and Eve would of said “No thanks we’re good!” )  Well they thought they could handle it on their own and they didn’t need someone else to tell them what they could and could not do!  (dang it “free will”).     This is what Satan does to us,  scatters our thoughts, makes us think we are better off doing it ourselves.    After all don’t you feel good when you buy that new bookshelf at Target, open the box and follow the instructions and “Shazzam!”  it’s done and you do not have any parts left over!   I know I feel good – “I” did it!  Well yes and no,  did you catch what I did?   I followed the instructions (these had pictures!!).  Mmmm.  Simple.

Why do we complicate things?  God spoke to Adam and Eve with instructions of how to live in the garden.  Satan took a big red crayon to those and scribbled all over them to confuse us!   So then God spoke to Noah and gave him a set of instructions to build an ark – it worked!  Then Satan came along and kicked our ball away and we were confused once more.  Along came Elijah and Moses – they mostly followed but since they did not it fell apart.   Then along came Mary.

Who better to give us instructions (be it with words and examples) than God himself, Jesus (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).    He not only lived liked us so that He could sympathize  with our struggles, but He could also heal us right on the spot if He so choose.  But more importantly by selecting 12 men to be with Him 24/7, He taught them not only by words but by deeds and He taught them privately as well (Mark 4:33-34).  The most effective way to teach anyone is by example.

I will assume at this point you know a little bit about Jesus’ life (If you do not please say so and I will do a follow-up post).   So when Jesus arose from the grave and appeared to the 12 apostles;

Gospel of John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The apostles received the gifts of the Holy Spirit from Jesus himself.   And in James 5:15-17 we are told to confess our sins to one another.

Have you ever gone to apologize for an error of words or acts that you did?  It is difficult and causes a big lump in your throat or stomach.  It’s easy when you say it to yourself in the mirror or in a room by yourself, but put another person in front of you it is not so easy.   When you confess to a priest it can sometimes be difficult because he is representing Jesus, our Lord and God.   The priest has professed to do his best to imitate Jesus and walk in His footsteps and be a living example for us.

Reconcile with God; open your heart and reach out for God’s forgiving, loving mercy.

 

I am one Lucky Dog! …….

I am one lucky dog!   

I found the love of my life when I was seventeen.    It’s kinda of funny, I mean, who would of thought that?  Not me.   But I can honestly say (why do we say that? “honestly say?”  do we assume you/me are dishonest from the get-go or is it that we assume you are honest until found out that you are not?  Maybe I should ask a politician) that I dreamt that she was the one from the first kiss, yes really, THE one.   And as it has turned out these short 35 years that we have been together (29 married) that, in short, I am one lucky dog!!

This first half of life has gone by pretty quickly, and I mean that at times the clock did stand still at few points in my life.    Do you remember Andy Warhol’s famous quote “everyone has fifteen minutes of fame”  or something like that, and it depends on what you call “fame”.

My “fame” is that I did marry the ONE that I wanted and with any “luck” I am hers as well (if I may quote St. Joan of Arc “If I am in the grace of God, I pray that I stay there, if not I pray that I might”).    I am a firm believer that it not only takes divine intervention for a couple to come together, but the almighty God above is also involved throughout your whole  life, dating and marriage.

So I raise my glass to us “Lucky Dogs!”   you know if you are one.   May we continue to be in this state of grace of “Luck” and be forever blessed!!

Why I am catholic ……. Easter Time

We are now in Easter Time.    Some of us are still in amazement that Christ has risen!

Luke 24:13-35

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma′us, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cle′opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning 23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us[b] while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

We have two guys walking home after the crucificition.  They may have been in town for business and got caught up with trials etc. and hung around.   It appears they are on the fence as to if they believe what they have been told.   They did however go to the tomb and did not see Jesus there, in the tomb.   They must of saw Him hang on the cross as well and listen to stories and deeds that Jesus said and did.   Afterall they, themselves and HOPED that Jesus was the one.   They were hoping for redeemption.   Then on the third day, they lost their faith.   They gave up hope!  They gave up hope like a team who is behind by 10 and gives up hope with one minute to go!  They gave up hope and started to head home so they could waller in their misery.

Has this ever happened to you?   We all (okay – maybe just me) like to waller in our misery and we try to pull others into the mud puddle with us.   Then, out of the blue, comes the happy happy happy person that you want to slap-up-side the head!  Here Jesus just happens to join the two pitiful merchants and teaches them about what the prophets had been telling them.  Now, in my mind, Jesus did not whip out the Torah or scrolls of scripture, nor did He teach in a way of rattling off verse after verse (i.e. In Genesis chapter 1 verse 1….etc.).   He spoke and taught so they could understand.  He had developed a dialogue with them that they readily devoured.   He left them wanting more, so much so that they invited Him to enter under their roof.
Then, when Jesus was at the table, “he took the bread and blessed, and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened” 

We have this miracle happen at every mass!!

Why I am catholic – I see the signs

And the sign said, “Everybody welcome.
Come in. Kneel down and pray.”
And when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper
And I made up my own little sign.
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me.
I’m alive and doin’ fine.”

Whoo! Sign, sign.
Everywhere a sign.
Blockin’ out the scenery.
Breakin’ my mind.
Do this. Don’t do that.
Can’t you read the sign?     The Five Man Electrical Band

Everytime you hear this song, admit it, you start singing out loud!  I can’t help but jump back to to the early 70’s, long hair, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes.  This song has truly lasted the test of time and will probably endure onto the next generation.  

How do signs of the time continue on to a new time, a new period, the next generation?  Maybe if we look back at some other signs that have endured the test of time.    The Church teaches us about the sacraments and that they are outward signs of God’s grace that is given to us.   (Just a quick hint about the grace of God, God’s grace is like the low-hanging fruit, all you have to do is reach out and grab it.)  I did not understand these sacraments at first.   I was not taught about the sacraments or in fact about any sacraments.  I was taught that God is a loving, forgiving God.   But the sacraments are signs from God that help give us reassurance that God is with us.   Each of the sacraments also represents our life journey and our walk with God.   With each outward sign that we profess, show or do, we reach out and grab the endless supply of grace from God. 

Why did Jesus want to be baptized by John?  Maybe to give us a sign and to show us that He indeed is the Son of God.   Why did he break the bread with His disciples at the last supper and say “this is my body” ?  Maybe it was to give us a sign that when we break the bread and drink the cup, that the bread becomes His body and the cup becomes His blood and we are one with Him.   Why did Jesus breath on the apostles and the Holy Spirit was aflamed upon them?  Maybe this was a sign that He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them to do great things.   Why did Apostles preach that those who are sick and dying should be prayed for and annointed with oil?  Maybe to give a sign to them that God is forever with them and to never give up hope for through God all things are possible.

Why I am catholic – it’s steadfastness

When I was a freshman in college and I was undecided, like many, on my major, a senior gave me some advice.   Frank (the senior) told me how he decided to major in accounting.  He reviewed all the employment figures for marketing, general business, economic majors etc. and how they had pretty steep ups and downs in the job market over the years.  Then he notice how steady the jobs were for those in the accounting field.  Well, that is how I decided to major in accounting as well,  I always wanted to be employable.  Now I have had some ups and downs in my career, but I can say that I have, for the most part, always been able to find a job for this average accountant.

How does my employment history have to do with why I am catholic?
Well when I was going through the RCIA process (I would recommend it for all,  even for you cradle catholics) I was struck by the fact how the church survived various attacks, accusations and even some internal conflicts.  But the church continued to march on.   My next question to myself was this, if this was a false teaching, false church, false everything, then why or how did this catholic church survive?  It appears from all history books and any thing I researched online from other non-catholic sources, everyone agrees that there was one church that followed Jesus Christ, therefore called (in Romans, Paul called the churches of Christ) church of Christ or christians.  No not the same as those churches that are named “church of Christ”.

So if we look at that timeline chart of the history of christianity, you will notice that the catholic church is the straight middle line of the chart.  And all the little branches off of this main line, did not happen until approximately 1600 and since then the branches off those branches have gone wild.

Like a tree that looks very full and beautiful, underneath, at the core, is a very strong trunk that holds up all the branches and even keeps the tree from blowing over against strong winds – like the catholic church.

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