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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!!

 

 

2015 Lent Day 27

Today’s Readings

I was visiting with an elderly friend of mine recently.  We go to the same parish and the thought occurred to them that, since I am a convert, that I am more spiritual than they are.   I disagreed with them about that and mentioned that they regularly attend mass, are with their family consistently and do good in all other areas of life.   We started talking about what my wife and I teach for the Church and they said “see you are more spiritual”.   More knowledge is not spiritual and gut feelings is not more knowledgeable.   So because you can quote book, chapter and verse does not make you a more “spiritual” person, you are good at memorization.

The pharisees thought they were more spiritual than everyone else because they adhered to the law of Moses.   But then along comes Jesus and is present not to abolish the laws but to fulfill them.   And to the father who believes his child will be healed because Jesus told him so, that is spiritual.

Why I am catholic ……. fear of God

Fear the wrath of God!!!!  That sounds old fashion doesn’t it?  The last time I heard about the fear of God was when Charles Heston was holding two tablets in his hands, the wind blowing his ZZ Top inspired beard,  to the golden cow groupies at the bottom of the mountain.

I grew up not fearing God, really.  We were always taught about the love of God.  For instance in Vacation Bible School we always sang “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” ….. (caught ya singing the rest!).   So the “fear of God” has never really entered my mind, until recently.

When Katrina hit New Orleans we heard from Pat Robertson which he said that was God’s punishment for that life style in New Orleans (note, my interpretation).   Not only did Pat Robertson declare this, even some Jewish leaders said God was mad at America.  Does God get mad?  really?

But why do we fear God?  Does God really punish us? 

Why, if we believe that God is ever merciful, every forgiving and loving, would we believe that God could punish us?    So we believe that God is almighty, all-knowing and all that is, was and ever will be.  We pray “Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever will be a world without end, AMEN!”

So WHY do we fear God?

I don’t fear God, I fear me.   I mean I fear that I will fail the faith that God has placed in me.  It is that God will not punish me, I will punish me.   How is that you ask, well God gives each one of us “free will”  to do as we please.  So where, with that free will, does that leave room for God to punish me?  yeah – no God doesn’t, I do.    I failed.  And what is the worse feeling?  Knowing I failed God or that I failed me?  Well, for me, that I failed God.  I let Him down.  I did not live up to His expectations.    We face this type of stress in our daily lives right?  Our spouse expects us to help out, communicate, love, laugh and share our life with them.  Our children expect the same but also food, clothing and shelter.  Our community expects us to volunteer unlimited hours to help out in keeping everything clean and organized.  Our church  If we believe (and I do) that God placed each of us here on purpose to seek a purpose with our own free will then He is unlikely to punish us.  In the Old Testament we read where God seemed to get fed up with the Israelites.  The Israelites kept breaking there covenant with God, notice that God did not break the covenant, man did.

By giving us free will, God allows us to screw things up for ourselves.    Remember when you were learning to ride your bike and your Dad was right there at first, guarding you from falling, but then he let you go!   “I got it Dad!!  I got it,  I got it……I don’t got it!!! ”   BOOM ! CRASH !  OUCH!!  –  “why did you let go?!”  This is how we think of God in times of trouble – why did you let go?   And we become afraid of God because He let’s bad things happen or will cause them to happen.

God did not create us  for us to “Fear” Him, but rather He created us to Love Him!!

So to quote from FDR   “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”  Let’s rephrase that to “the only thing we have to fear is…OURSELF!”

Why I am catholic…….reverence

My baby sister visited us a few years back.  Not exactly for a happy visit because our older brother just past away.  But that’s another story and I have mentioned it here and there in other writings.

But she had never attended a catholic mass, even though one of her best friends growing up was catholic (as was my best friend too!) .   So I, like the big brother I am, instructed her on a few things one of which was concerning the eurcharist or communion.  She could go up if she wished and receive a blessing from the priest.  She choose to stay put in the pew.   After we got home I asked her how she did she like her first mass,  “it was reverent” were her words.   I couldn’t agree more.

At our parish we have a total of five different mass times for you to choose from.   Each one has a little bit of a different flavor to it.  One mass is a little more geared towards the teens and young adults.  It has a little more upbeat  current music flare to it and the teens are more apt to start dancing in the pews or isle if the Holy Spirit strikes them.  But when the procession begins til the last song sung the teens and young adults (and those young in heart) are reverent.   To contrast the teen mass to the early morning mass,  you guessed it, very few teens.  Yet the early morning mass has a different type of reverence to it and a very quiet reverence.  At the early mass you can hear yourself pray and during your prayer it can carry you away.

What is reverence?  According to that ever reliable source,  it states;

Definition of REVERENCE

1: honor or respect felt or shown : deference; especially : profound adoring awed respect
2: a gesture of respect (as a bow)
3: the state of being revered
4: one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman
Let’s look at this a little closer.           The Church  (when I say the Church I mean the Roman Catholic Church….just sayin’), the Church is issued the mission of guarding the deposit of faith to which the Lord intrusted.    And the Church’s responsibility is to keep her guard up and defend these deposits of faith which Christ taught us.  The Church uses not just the books of the Bible that are inspired by God but also those teachings which Christ, Himself being 100% Divine and 100% human, taught His (hand-picked) apostles.  He taught them by way of oral teachings and better yet by example.  What do we say to our kids “do what I say, not what I do” – wait, strike that, reverse it.
But that “teaching” by example is what is passed on down to us today and what in fact makes our faith so strong.
So when I think of “reverence” I think of all those who came before us and showed us how to be reverent.  I think of the what those apostles must of been thinking and did they know and respect what they were witnessing.  Of all the disciples that listen to Jesus’ teachings and the reverence they had for Him here on earth.  And what about those who listen to the words of those who listened to Jesus teaching them the beatitudes.  We are a people of faith.  We need not witness miracles to believe because we believe by those who live by example and  by the greatest teacher, Jesus Christ.
It’s another reminder of when the priest holds Him up high, in reverence and says “Behold The Lamb of God”

Why I am catholic …….it’s One

I recently heard on the radio that a protestant group  or church is coordinating a webcam or a virtual church service to be held and that over 900 churchs have signed up for this event to be held in August.  The goal is so that they come together as ONE church.   (If someone knows more details – please add a link etc.)

For my non-catholic friends who may attend this or sign up their church for it, I have news for you.

Before the first thanksgiving, before the United States, before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and before your church began the catholic Church was doing this – being the ONE Church.

Currently, here in the United States, we are a little bit un-united politically speaking.  Each election we are reminded that we need to improve our education system and that somehow we are lagging the rest of the world.    Sometimes the solution seems too simple.

The Church has been teaching this one marvelous system for years.   And one of the reasons the Church has survived and thrived the last 2000 years is because of one consistent teaching.  It has not deviated in its beliefs which has been passed down through out the years.  Before the Bible was assembled the Church had to teach – orally – the teachings and ways of the Church, the life of Christ and the love of God.  We learned even more from the letters of Paul to the different cities that he preached in and continuously reminded them to “remember what I taught you” , again a reference to teaching orally, using words.   And we learn of Peter and James having to go and remind people of what they taught, again consistently teaching one thought, one way, one Jesus, one God.

So maybe we can learn something from the Church in our education system.  Teach one way, consistently.

Why I am catholic…….confess to the “yes”

Have you ever seen the Jim Carrey film “Yes Man” ?  It’s a pretty good movie and if you like Jim Carrey, it is a very good movie.   Unknowingly (but now I know),  Jim Carrey was raised in the Roman Catholic church.   And as I reflect on that fact I look back at some of his films and that makes sense, well at least ” Bruce Almighty ” makes sense,  “Ace Ventura ” does not.   Well anyway, in “Yes Man” the basic premise is that he can not say no, only yes.

Another reflection is that of Mary when the angel Gabriel came to her to inform that she will bear a child.  Take notice how Gabriel phrases this (Luke 19)  “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”   A bit confused at first but what does she say?  “I am but the handmaiden of the Lord” , in laymans terms – Yes! .    God had to wait for her yes.   Why?   By the grace of free will God bestows on each and everyone of us.

Mary’s yes is the most famous “Yes” for all of us.   But what about Joseph?   Once Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he was very confused as well.  And after an angel came to him in a dream, he awoke and chose to say “yes” and continue with the plans to marry Mary.    It is clear to me that Joseph exercised his free will to chose.

I believe part of understanding the “yes” that Mary confessed is that she had the faith in God that God had faith in her to say “yes”.  Mary may not have understood why she said “yes” at the time.  But with prayer and patience the understanding and the fullness of her “yes” came clearer to her.

What can we learn from Mary’s “yes” ?  faith that the Big Guy upstairs has faith in us to choose the right path and the  patience to wait for it.  We are constantly in a hurry to get somewhere fast.  We want answers now.  We are not patient and are constantly trying to prove ourself to ourself.   I think back to when I was baptized around the age 14 or 15, I was “old”.   I wouldn’t say I was badgered by anyone to get baptized soon but I did feel the pressure all around me.  To me I just wasn’t in a hurry.  Today when I drive almost anywhere I am not usually in a hurry and unfortunately when I start a project at home, I am not in a hurry to complete the task!  But fortunately God has patience with us just like He did with Mary and Joseph and like the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  He waits for us. 

 He waits for our “yes”, patiently.

Other “Yes” men and women;

  1. The Twelve apostles who left their careers and families to follow Jesus.
  2. Paul – left a nice pension with the Roman army, converted to christianity and turned out to be a pretty good preacher and an “apostle to the gentiles”.
  3. Mathias – said “yes” to the apostles after they elected him to replace Judas in the group of twelve.   This process is still relevent today in the Church.
  4. Constantine – saying “yes” to christianity and for no longer outlawing it in the Roman Empire.
  5. St Justin Martyr – writing down the teachings from the apostles concerning the eucharist.
  6. St. Augustine – for saying yes to writing down the early works of the church on infant baptism, the eucharist, original sin and many more.
  7. Jozef (“Jef”) De Veuster – Saint Damien of Molokai.   Father Damien said yes to those in need.  He helped those with leprosy in the islands of Hawaii, when no one else would.
  8. St Frances Xavier Cabrini – she could not swim and was afraid of water yet she said yes to Pope Leo XIII and voyaged across the Atlantic to the United States.
  9. Charles Carroll – signer of the Declaration of Independence said “yes” to financial support to the war.  Later his cousin John Carroll would become the first Bishop in the United States and started Georgetown University.

I am sure there are many more you could add – so please do.

Why I am catholic ……. the majesty

Someday I hope that I can have the opportunity to travel more and get to see all the beautiful  churches, new and old, out there.   And at least I would like to travel to New York  to see St. Patricks Cathedral   and to Rome  to see St Peter’s Baslica     to see all the old churches.   There is something about these old churches that lure people into them to view and photograph.  Either it is the architecture, the statues, history, stained glass work, artwork and I would hope the holinest of the church is what truely draws one in.

Where I grew up and the church building I attended was more to the shape of a barn, but less interesting than a barn.        The reasoning was that the church is about the people and not the buildings.  So this same bland shape was mainly used in all the towns that we visited as well.   It does not have a cross on it or in front of it.  It does have sign on the side to tell you that this is the Church of Christ.  The inside is about the same as the outside, bland.   No windows, except for the nursery and a window for the preacher’s office, adorn this building.  So if was snowing or an actual riot outside we would not know it until we opened the doors!

So why the HUGE differences in the buildings if, as we are told in the scriptures “where two or more are gathered”  Jesus is with us.   Well when Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary, mother of God.   The Magi got it right in that they were bring gifts to a KING!! (no baby gifts)       When Jesus went to the pharisee’s house for dinner His feet was wiped with her tears and annointed with very expensive perfume      from the prostitute, which every one got upset about.   What did Jesus say to them?   “what did you offer?  No water to wash my feet – she wiped them with tears.   No kiss – she has not stopped kissing my feet.”

This being the base for my opinion (and according to Merriam-Webster; a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge )  this is why we should strive to give our best to God. 

If we are a talented artist – then we should design ornate items for God’s glory.  

If we are an artichtect – then we design and build beautiful buildings for God’s Glory.  

We do just as the Magi did for a King – we bring our BEST!  we strive to be the BEST!

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