Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Easy Diet Viagra

I knew that headline would be an attention grabber. I have seen signs that state this along the highways near my house. I think perhaps that these are meant to be two different offers, but the signs don't make a distinction.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to talk about today: What we want from God, and what we are willing to do to obtain it.

Society tells us that we can have many things in our life, ease, comfort, success; all we have to do is buy this book, use this program, join this gym, and take this pill. We buy into the easy fix because we want our gratification now!

God isn't like that. God loves us unconditionally, and wants us to have lives of abundance, but He also will not enter into our lives unless we ask Him. Even when we ask God to be a part of our lives, we still have to participate in gaining what we want.

God gives us exactly what we want, and has done since Adam and Eve wanted to have knowledge of Good and Evil. Oh to be walking in the garden never having to know of the evil in the world. When we want the quick fix that we get from something, God gives it to us, but then we also have to take the consequences that come along with our quick fix. These consequences can be things like addiction, poor health, relationship woes, work problems, or even worse.

Have you ever pondered the list of virtues? Temperance, prudence, modesty, patience; none of these virtues sound like they would be applicable to a quick fix solution. When we want to change something in our lives, we have to be willing to do the very hard work that goes with that change. If we want a more loving marriage we have to work to get that. If we want a better paying job, we have to be willing to gain the skills to earn the better paying job. If we want to lose weight we have to be willing to use those virtues like prudence, temperance and perseverance and patience.

So, don't expect God to be sending you any easy diet viagra any time soon. What He does send in abundance is His love, and when you ask for His help and are willing to cooperate with His will your life will change for the better. Count on it!


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Things My Mother Told Me

My mom said that staying strong in my Catholic faith would help me when times got tough. I have been through illness, death, disappointment, betrayal and disillusionment in this world. In the roughest times my faith was the shining light that led me through the darkness. My mom gave me that faith.

My mom said that reading was a very important skill to acquire. I have been reading since I was three years old. I still remember our reading times every afternoon when mom read novels to myself and my younger brother and sister. I once heard my mom tell someone that I read everything I got my hands on. To this day, all the reading I have to do in Gradual School isn't a problem because my mom gave me a love of reading.

My mom said that if I prayed for a loving Catholic husband, my guardian angel would help me find one. I have been married to my soul mate, loving Catholic husband for over 20 years. When we first met in college my mom often had us over for free meals, a real plus to poor college kids. Thanks mom.

My mom said that being faithful to God was more important than any success or reward this life had to offer. I have sought success as the world defines it and found that it was a pedestal everyone wanted to knock me off of. Faithfulness to God has brought me much more inner peace and true Christian friendship.

Mom said that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was like spending time with the greatest "Host" I would ever know. I have come to love my visits to be with Jesus in this sacred mystery, the peace I gain from my time with Him is undeniable, and indescribable.

Mom told me that I could be whatever I set my mind to be. Mom made me strong by her example. She finished college when I was in college. She took job after challenging job to make sure that we had a place to live and food to eat. She worked very hard as a single parent from the time I was thirteen. She was much more of an inspiration than any other woman on the planet. Every time I have been discouraged as I worked toward some goal, I could hear mom telling me that anything worth having was worth fighting for.

Mom taught me that being compassionate was more important than being right. This was a lesson that I didn't realize the value of until I began to work. Sometimes it is more important to let someone else take the credit for your hard work, because they need the accolades. All I ever needed was to know that I was doing what God wanted me to be doing. Mom taught me that.

Mom didn't give me many monetary or social advantages, but she did give me everything that I hold dear, and everything that makes me the person I am today. You should meet my mother; you would love her as much as I do.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Seeing One's Name in Print

My previous post was about being humbled. The most humbling experience I have had recently was seeing my name in print for the very first time as a contributor to a book of essays.

It all began a few months ago when I told a very good friend that God was calling me to write about faith for others to read, and she encouraged me to write something about the Eucharist to submit to a website she was familiar with. The website belonged to the Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare in Spokane Washington. Sr. Patricia Proctor OSC was compiling stories which she was planning to publish in a book in honor of the Year of the Eucharist.

I wrote a short essay telling how my father taught me about the Real Presence, submitted it and promptly forgot all about it. I got an email a few months later saying that my essay would be included in the book. About a week or so ago I received copies of the book and what do you know, there on page 20 is my little essay.

I am so humbled by this entire experience. My little offering is in the same book with much more scholarly writings, more spiritual offerings, the words of Church Documents, and the words of our Beloved Pope John Paul II. What a wonderful book it is.

God willing this will be the first of many times I will see my name in print, but no other time will be as special as this one.

If you are interested in having a great book, 201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist is something that you will be able to use the entire year for meditation, adoration and just growing closer to the Heart of Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

being humbled

I learned something very interesting on my retreat earlier this summer, but it took the specific events of this week to remind me that I should be living what I had learned.

This week has been a very humbling week for me. I have been snapped at, ordered around, and totally disregarded by people who I thought wouldn't act that way toward me. It was beginning to grate on my nerves. Why wasn't this person taking my opinion seriously? Why did that person feel as though she should tell me what I am doing wrong without an ounce of charity in her voice? Why was this other person telling me that I should be doing work for him when I barely had time to do my own work?

It was late last night, as I was going over the previous week that I remembered meditating on the passage from the bible that says "humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up" (James 4:10) The realization I came to on my retreat is that Christ is in every created man or woman on this earth. Every time someone humbles me I should take it as Christ and be humbled in His sight. Christ alone will lift me up, not the opinions or feelings or thoughts of people.

So, I have been humbled often in the past week, and as I look back some of the reasons I was humbled were for my correction, some were so that I might better understand the stress or situation that might cause a person to lash out or be mean when it wasn't necessary. It isn't fun being humbled, but then I must remember: Jesus was humbled by the Sanhedrin and Herod and Pilate, humbled even unto death. A little embarrassment on my part is a small sacrifice to make. I know where my true reward is.

So, I go out to greet a new day, with a new chance to see Christ in everyone and be Christ to everyone. What a blessing that will be.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

My School Community

We come. We leave our homes on Friday or early Saturday and we drive from many places. We come from Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.

We arrive on the Hill, and we become community. We settle in, those of us who come on Friday, we dine together. We hug, and talk and get caught up on each other's lives since the last time we were together. We greet the resident seminarians, and monks, faculty and staff.

We are all drawn here by the still small voice of God, calling us ito communion to learn about Him, and to experience His love and grace here on this Hill we will call home for the next two days. We are all here to attend classes in the Lay Degree Program.

We study together, we worship together, we joke around with each other, and we have fellowship.

And when our weekend is over we disburse going our separate ways back to our other lives where we are medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, Ph D's, dentists, electricians, teachers, chaplains, musicians, pastoral workers, administrators, permanent Deacons, Episcopal Clergy, salesmen and retirees. And yet, even as we move back into our separate lives, we are bonded by our study for the next weekend when we will leave our homes . . .

We have entered into a relationship that will last a very long time. We have entered into a relationship that will sustain us as we strive for our goal of graduation, and beyond.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


Friday, September 10, 2004

The Road not Taken

Ask anyone who knows me, I never like to drive anywhere I haven't been at least once before because I am terrified that I will get lost. I don't like being lost. It goes back to when I was a child and a friend and I decided to walk to a store a few blocks from our houses and somehow we turned down the wrong street and five hours later the police brought us back home. I am sure the Police were wonderful, but I never wanted to be lost ever again.

Anyway, I had to drive to the School where I am Gradually learning I no longer want to be, and I had to go from my office instead of my house. From my house I know exactly how to get there and I don't have any problem at all. From my office the directions tell you to drive this one state road that I can only describe as my worst nightmare; no shoulders, very curvy and nowhere to turn off. I drove that way once, and Hated it. Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't use the word hate very often. Dislike yes; don't like definitely; but hate is such a strong emotion that I don't normally throw the term around. I HATE this state road they want us to drive.

So ever since then, I have tried to find another way to get from my office to my School. I found one way, but it was still a little to curvy. Today I took another route, it went past a great big man made lake, and was a beautiful stretch of road the entire drive. My only fear was that somehow I would miss the turn and end up heaven knows where a few states south of the one I am in. I found the intersection. It was really hard to miss. It was a T.

The drive was absolutely beautiful, and restful and I had plenty of beautiful scenery to marvel at as I drove. It isn't hard to see God in all things when the day is beautiful and the landscape stretches out before you like a painting.

The map showed a small road that would have taken me from the road I was on to the road my School is on, but I had never driven on that road before. I had had such good luck so far this trip, I guess I didn't want to press my luck. So I drove about 10 miles out of my way because I knew the road I was on intersected with the road I normally drive from home on. I chickened out.

So, I have decided that the next time I come down here from my office I am going to take the little road not taken, I am sure that the intersection will be clearly marked, and I will have had another adventure and gained a little more confidence in my ability to navigate on my own. Either that, or I will see some wonderful contryside in the bordering state, who knows?

Who knows what treasures I will find on the new road? It almost makes me less gradual about school.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Watching my Daughter Watch the Passion

When Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ came out Mr. Angelmeg and I took the entire angel family to see it; all except our youngest. At seven, we thought it might just be too much for her to handle.

Now she is all of eight, and ever since she found out that it was going to be released on video she has begged us to let her see it. So I purchased a copy (wide screen DVD of course) and Sunday she and Mr. Angelmeg and I sat down to watch.

She had a bit of trouble reading some of the captions, so Mr. Angelmeg and I read them for her. She was transfixed, she didn't squirm or fidget, or any of the things she normally does when we watch a DVD. She watched until the last frame, and as Jesus resurrected walked out of the shot, she said: "See, He is alive."

So much of the story she already knew; and who can fault that she has heard it every year for the past eight Easters at Palm Sunday Masses and Good Friday services. She has seen other movies about Jesus' life death and resurrection. But none has made the impact that this movie has made on her. She says now that we own a copy we need to make it a family tradition to watch it every Holy Week.

This morning she was looking at my screen saver, which says "Touch my computer without my permission and you DIE PIG, love Mom." and said to me "Mom, you really need to change that, how can you have such a mean message on your computer when we have "The Passion" in our house. From the mouths of babes comes the wisdom of the ages.

How can I, knowing what Christ did for me, not live every moment of my life to bring life, not death? How can I not build up my fellow man, and be the image of love that the Holy Trinity; Father Son and Holy Spirit are in this world? How can I not offer every moment of my life to the One who gave His life so that I might live?

Step one: thank God for giving me my little angel baby, to show me how to be more like His Son.

Step two: change the screen saver to something more life affirming.

Step four: Live, for Him because He died for me.

Step five: plan for that family viewing.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

God Forsaken

There is a man who lives near where I work who loves to paint signs with his opinion on them. He uses so much red and white paint that it makes one want to go out and buy stock in a paint company. Today the sign in his yard said: If God loves everyone there would be no need for a hell".

That phrase bothered me all day. I pondered it, and considered it, and deconstructed it from every angle until I found the flaw in this man's thinking.

God does love everyone and must do because God is Love. To do anything else except love everyone would make God a liar, which is impossible because as we know from Jesus, He is the truth. BUT: God is also the WAY, if we follow God, we will always be on our way toward God.

God loves us all, and the deepest longing of God’s heart is for us to live in God’s Agape love for all eternity. That is why God keeps reaching out to us, no matter how much we reject God's love God continues to give us everything we need (notice here I say everything we need, not everything we want).

God must love, but because God created us with free will, we can choose to accept or reject God's love. If we accept God's love, we want to do what is pleasing to God. As Thomas Merton said I do not know where I am going, but I know that my wanting to do your will is in itself pleasing to you (or something similar to that). When we chose to reject God's love and do things that are displeasing to God, we have chosen to live outside God’s Agape (love). God has not made that choice for us.

So, God can love everyone, and there can still be a place called hell, which in this case is the place; freely chosen by some, who wish to live without God's love for all eternity. Not some place I wish to experience.

We are only God forsaken, if we choose to be.

All I can say is God loves everyone, which only proves that God has no taste, Thank GOD!!!!!!!


Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Theology I Learned From Watching a Baby Crawl

NOTE: This is adapted from a posting I made in my Fundamental Theology On-line Course. I wanted to share it with you all:

A working definition of the task of Theology might be: the disciplined exploration of what is contained in revelation." I would like to offer an analogy of my own to help understand this definition and the types of theological exploration.

My friend has a 10 month old daughter named Cecelia, who is beginning to explore her world for the very first time. She is set on the floor of the kitchen where her mother and I are sharing our weekly prayer time. She has faith in the solid nature of the floor based upon seeing her mother and I walking on it ourselves (fundamental floorology). She has seen this action before as she has been carried into this same room(historical floorology). Everyone she has seen has been able to walk on the floor just as we do (systematic floorology) If she walks on the floor she will be safe (moral floorology). If she walks out of the door of the kitchen into the hallway, she will still be able to safely walk on the floor. (practical floorology).

But, say she walks down the hallway to the stairway. This floor doesn't look the same.(revelation) She looks back to see that mom and I are watching her, (disciplined) She reaches up and tests the first step (exploration) and feels that the stair is solid, as the floor she is standing on. She climbs up the stair, and sits on the runner. Then she tries to move up to the next stair in the same way she did the first. (methodology). Then she watches as mom climbs the stairs standing up and realizes that she can do the same, and the next step she steps up onto instead of crawling up (observation and adaptation of others).

I realize as all analogies, this one is limited in scope. I was reading Fr Nicholas' article I kept thinking of how children learn about thier world. Aren't theologians similar in the way they explore revelation? So long as they are disciplined in thier aproach, no question should be disregarded out of hand, and within the framework of discipline, they will be kept from toppling down the stairs, hopefully. As they explore they make implications for the other aspects of life. Our lives are all richer because they take the time to explore.