DYING TO SELF

If we are to believe all the commercials on television, we will have friends, prosperity and a great life if we just buy their products…their cars, their lipstick, or their steamed vegetables.  They continually guarantee a better life by flying to a resort for a wild vacation, or getting the right hair color.  Life seems like a series of spending sprees and wild relationships.  If one never went outside of the house, they might believe it.

However, those of us in the real world have to get out of a perfectly comfortable bed to go to a job where we are unappreciated and underpaid.  Perhaps the car won’t start or our children continue to fight and make a mess of the house.  Maybe we are afraid that we are going to lose our jobs and will fall victim to a life of total fear with no money in sight.  Whatever our dilemma, we know better than to believe what we are sold about life.  But, if that is all you see, it can seem like you are out of step with the rest of the parade.

If we go through life the hard way, like most of us do, we learn that we have to depend on a power greater than ourselves.  On our own, we will not make it.  God is the power I seek because without God I am just another blade of grass with no purpose.  When I connect with God and, more, when I give my life over to God and ask Him to guide my thoughts, my words and my actions.  I must die to myself  (realize that of myself I am nothing…the opposite of all the commercials) and live in Jesus.  I must take on the armor of God and face the world with hope, love and the gift of faith.  I must add to the world.  I must not take advantage of people or try to outsmart the Creator.  Each day this is an important decision…to humbly ask God to take our lives and bless them and make them holy by His grace.

When I am conscious of this in the early morning before the world actually wakes up, I get the right start.  This right start is more than a nutrious breakfast cereal that gives us important vitamins.  It is the right start on yet another journey – one I hope to live in peace following the love of my life.

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ON LIFE MAKING SENSE

If we do not believe in God little in life makes sense.  Life becomes situations where the only response could be to ask why.  I found the more I tried to find out the why of things, the more questions popped up.  I existed in the circle of questions.  Without acceptance of God, there are no answers.

Some say that man invented God.  It would make some sense if man invented life or miracles in life like the iris, the squirrel or the ocean.  We didn’t.  We are the highest level of intelligence in the world and yet we can’t explain love or a rainbow or a duck.  We think ourselves intelligent, but what do we know of anything.  We can attest to our own experiences in life, but we cannot explain our own existence. 

It is springtime.  The bright sun, the bright flowers and the bright blue sky demonstrate a power greater than ourselves.  We did not design this beautiful planet, yet we give little testament to its Creator.  We are responsible for a lot wrong in our world, but we seldom take the blame.  In fact, we pass it on to the Creator.  We blame easily.  We thank seldom.

Who do we think we are?  Our ego is a phenonmenon that challenges description.  How can a lowly being claim to be all he thinks about?  How can we think we are above others when the similarities are striking.  We are capable of great acts and just as capable of barbarous acts.  We can love with abandon and hate with a vengence. 

The only life that makes sense to me (after a lot of years chasing false gods) is one of following the One Who Is All.  The only happiness I garnered is in helping others and forgetting myself.  There is a God and I’m not He.  Let me give thanks and praise to the one true God who gives us the spring and winter and loves us enough to teach us the hard way.  I can relax now and listen to the still small voice.  Ahhh, it is so much easier to live a life that makes sense.

JOY IN TRUTH

St. Paul said “Let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven…but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  We are joyous in knowledge of the truth.  There are many happy moments in life, but the Paschal joy is solidly grounded on the knowledge that we are in the truth, the truth which Jesus the Christ brought to the world and which is confirmed by His resurrection.  The Resurrection assures us that our faith is NOT in vain.  The Resurrection assures us that we do not hope in a dead man, but on a living One, whose life is so strong that it enlivens us.  He said He was the Resurrection and the Life and he that believes in Him, although they die, will live. 

When we see ourselves as we truly are…sinners with many faults and deficiencies…we long to be converted into the new life offered firstly by the Cross and finally by the Resurrection.  We cannot do this ourselves…for we are limited.  But, with God, all things are possible.  With a sincere resolve to purify our lives and be renewed completely, we can come into union with all that is holy.  Believing in truth and living out its instructions will bring us joy.  Not simply happiness (which is fleeting), but joy which is everlasting.  Joy in truth, that is the promise for us.

HE IS RISEN!

“What is it to die, but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?  And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?”  Those words from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran lend me the vision of my spirit melting into the sun and becoming part of the freedom of finding God. 

I believe in life after death because of Jesus Christ.  It has been revealed to us in the words of those who went before us.  Jesus Christ died and is risen!  He is the First Born of the Dead.  Our death is a doorway to eternal life.  We have a supernatural end – not just a natural end.  The supernatural end is life with God.

I want to see His face.  If purgation is the necessary means for the Beatific end, then my soul will be happy being made ready.  I love God for the gift of life, but I love Him even more for the gift of eternal life.  I pray God I will be found worthy of this Divine gift.  I say today with Saint Augustine…my heart is restless until it rests with You.  Alleluia!  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!

Happy Easter!  Happy Life serving the one, true God!

ON BEING WEAK

“That I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’  I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”  (2 Cor 12- 7-9)

We are weakened by the knowledge of our shortcomings.  It seems that no matter how often I pray for a clean heart, I find myself filled with the sharp pain of jealousy or a mean thought.  My prayers for a clean tongue find me cursing over a small problem or speaking ill of someone.  It is not easy wanting to be a saint and living as a sinner.  The good side of all this work is the knowledge that of myself I am nothing.   Another good aspect of living this way is that I come to depend on the grace of God and not on me.  I always fall.  When I think of Christ’s passion and his three falls that are part of the Stations of the Cross, I am amazed that he continually got up again.

Some of the people I talk to think of religious people as self-righteous, pompous.  Maybe some are.  I think most of us are so cognizant of our weaknesses and our dependence on God that it comes across differently to those who don’t even know what we’re talking about.    The world preaches self-sufficiency.  It never worked for me.  Alone I am in bad company.

I am so happy to be a Catholic Christian.  I am so happy to be a member of the universal church He established which continues to teach me as I age and allows me to go deeply into intimacy with Jesus Christ.  There is no end to the wisdom of our faith…no end to the beauty that lifts me up and asks nothing of me but to follow the still, small voice to the journey’s end.

DISCOURAGEMENT

I lived a life of discouragement.  I never seemed to be able to succeed at anything I tried.  Most of my life I thought of myself as handicapped either mentally or physically.  In truth, I know today, I was handicapped spiritually.  I thought I had to depend on my own strength.  My pride always deceived me.  And, I didn’t think to rely on God in times of trouble or in times of opportunity.  In other words, I tried to succeed alone, I failed alone, and I reviewed my actions alone.  I was always discouraged to try again.   How could I expect to garner strength when it was my own lack of strength that made me fail?

St. Theresa of Jesus said:  “The soul must sometime emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God.”  

The greatest acknowledgement of self I ever made is that I have been wrong about almost everything.  I am wrong so often, I wonder how I ever had an ego.  Today I realize that I am merely a mortal being.  I will be here for a while and then I will not exist.  I realize I know only a little…and what I think I know is based on my logic – which is often skewed.  I have lost my opinion about things in this world.  Political figures come and go, national problems come and go, wars and enemies come and go.  We are passing through this world at lightening speed.  What was cool one day is considered weird another day.  One only has to look at hairstyles and clothing styles to have a good laugh.  However, in their hayday they were considered the latest, the greatest of all time.  

With St. Theresa I pray:  “Yes, oh my God, I am happy to feel little and weak in Your presence, and my heart remains in peace.” 

Today I am encouraged by God’s mercy and grace on His people.

THE JUST SAINT, SAINT JOSEPH

Saint Joseph, the faithful foster-father and guardian of Jesus and Mary, stands humbly behind them.  He was chosen by God as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, his wife.  He carried out his duties with complete fidelity.  Through him, Christ was fittinly and honorably introduced into the world.  After our gratitude to Mary for being chosen to bring Christ into the world, we must acknowledge Saint Joseph for not only bringing the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfillment, but for being the kindly caretaker of Our Blessed Lord and Our Blessed Mother.  At a time when Mary could have been stoned to death for being pregnant without being married, Saint Joseph obeyed the words of the angel and took her into his home.

Thank you, dear Saint Joseph, for the justice and the fidelity that enabled the greatest event in human history to unfold.  Pray for us that in our world today men can muster the mercy and grace which you showed to the world.  Help the fatherless families that need your support and help fathers to be faithful to their duties in life.  We need your help, dear Saint Joseph, now more than ever.  I ask in the name of your foster-child, Jesus the Christ.