A Perfect Family ?

Last Saturday 11/12/16, I attended a Faith Formation Day organized by Erin McGeever from the Diocese of St. Augustine. This particular event took place at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville, Fl. This was a great event, and I was especially lucky to be in the “Scripture” classes taught by a very talented and knowledgeable lady – Pat Cook. Thank you all involved in making this event possible.

As usual, for me, I got to the church grounds well before the starting hour and this provided some time for prayer and reflection (a relatively new habit). God did not disappoint and helped me use this time constructively.

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To begin with, the physical structure is indeed beautiful and the church grounds aid prayer and reflection.

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I had this quiet time all to myself and spent it trying to understand some dilemmas and confusions I was working on in my personal growth in Faith. I’m pretty sure God helped me with some new insights, or at least better understanding of the concept of forgiveness and the folly of believing in earthly perfection. To set the mood, I walked through the doors that reminded me that this was the YEAR of MERCY as declared by our Holy Father in Rome.

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The next catalyst to thought was this statue that on first glance made me feel this showed “The Perfect Family”. This is what our families need to look like.

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Here we see a strong husband (maybe St. Joseph) lovingly holding, comforting, and protecting his wife. Wow… cannot get more perfect than this. His wife (presumably Mary… if this represents the Holy Family) is indeed comforted and secure in the arms of her husband. Utter Bliss, one might say. Two loving parents sharing their love and wisdom with their child – destined to grow up in a secure, loving, nurturing environment. THIS is the IDEAL we strive and pray for. In reality, here on earth, we will not see complete perfection in any person or family. Here we make mistakes. We hurt those we love. We fail our children sometimes – especially by not providing for their emotional support and protection from the outside world. We so often let our children down with the same weaknesses and wounds passed on to us from our parents and their parents before them.

Our failures continue by not showing Christian love and understanding to our neighbors. We hurt our friends’ feelings. We become selfish. When we demand (and fail) to be perfect ourselves, we become angry when we see imperfection in others. We treat family and friends as disposable objects when they fail to meet our impossible standards. We are all failures! Impatient with ourselves and impatient with others. As an individual, how can I exist being so imperfect? What can I do to become a better person? How can I help my family function in this imperfect world. As a FRIEND, how can I help others, especially the young, learn to function HAPPILY in this dysfunctional world? This statue is the ideal to work towards, but NOT the reality to expect.

I enter the next door with anxiety having been reminded of all the suffering we impose and have imposed on us. What do I do with this seemingly hopeless situation? I look forward and see the only real answer…… PRAYER.

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We do not pray to God for Him to change his mind and make earthly life perfect. We pray to God that we will learn how to respond to these imperfections according to His will….. what ever that is. Then as I walk closer to the alter I see His Will.

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“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Jesus     I see this as a good start. I pray for more understanding and patience. I pray for more love and more Grace. I pray to remember we are all children of God and we all belong in His community.

 

Prayer Is a Very Serious Activity.

For those that like “TRUTH” here is some truth.

Prayer cannot be taken for granted or treated lightly. The “Lord’s Prayer” (the Our Father”) is frightening if you think about it.

….Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us……”

Do you see what is being said to Our Lord? We are telling GOD that if we fail to forgive our neighbor that has offended us – then we do not want God’s forgiveness for our offenses against Him! As an example, a well meaning neighbor points out to me a bad behavior and near occasion to sin that I am committing. Maybe he is right. Maybe he is wrong. None-the-less, I respond with anger, hatred, and cruelty. I exterminate that person from my life. I never speak to that person again.

Do I really want God to forgive me my trespasses against Him in the same way? Do I really want God to respond to me with anger, hatred, and cruelty? Do I really want God to exterminate me from his existence? Do I really want God to never speak (or listen) to me again? Dear God, please continue to have more mercy for me than I have given to my neighbors.

I see only two choices. 1. Go to Hell. 2. Pray that I do a better job of forgiving my neighbor and THEN DO a better job of forgiving my neighbor. In this example, talking with my neighbor that criticized me will be a good first step that will give honor to God, and Grace to my soul.

Prayer is not a happy story to bring us a quick fix when upset over circumstances. First of all, the circumstances we are experiencing are known to God and He is allowing these experiences to happen. All our neighbors have been given a “Free Will” by God. Some of our neighbors will intentionally use this free will to do bad. Satan rejoices when people are hurt because the resulting sadness is Satan’s way to sneak unnoticed into our souls. Add anger, hatred, and cruelty to this sadness and Satan has easy entrance into our lives.

We cannot expect prayer to change circumstances as much as we should pray that prayer will change us. How we react to an injustice will determine our happiness. We need to pray that our behavior and our response to injustice (or perceived injustice) will be in keeping with the Will of God.

…Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

We first need to change ourselves, not our neighbor and not the world. Prayer is the way to make changes in ourselves for the better with the help of God. THEREFORE, prayer requires introspection. We need to look at our weaknesses and wrongful behavior. This is not easy and a true honest examination of conscience can be down right depressing. In fact, praying harder is more depressing. This is hard work that may make us sad at times but will put us on the road to a happy eternal life. Put off the pain for now, and live the pain later and for eternity. If prayer makes us depressed and ashamed we are probably talking with God. If prayer makes us giddy and happy, we are talking to ourselves or possibly Satan.

We never know when our time here will be up. We do know that we will NEVER reach perfection here on Earth. We do know that God does not expect us to be perfect. He expects us to try to be more perfect today than we were yesterday.

As a child, I would pray that my alcoholic mother would stop drinking. She did not stop until she died. As a child I prayed for laws that would ban alcohol. The government did not ban alcohol and now Satan is adding laws to include mind altering drugs to our society.

As a child, I prayed as a child. God did hear my prayers. God gave me a righteous father that by example kept me from liquor and drugs. So, as an “Adult Child of an Alcoholic” I have some resultant insecurities but I am not a drinker…. by the grace of God. My children do not abuse alcohol. Our friends are non-drinkers or very light drinkers.  My prayers were answered in that God has kept the pain of alcoholism totally away from my adult life.  I feel deeply sorry for those living with an alcoholic.  I thank God He has spared me this “Cross” in my adult life.

As an adult in prayer I ask that the “Sins of our Parents do not visit upon their children”. I pray that this next generation with education and the Grace of God will turn away from all self harming activity.

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The Miraculous Medal

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Apparition Of Our Lady Of The Miraculous Medal

The Miraculous Medal owes its origin to the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris in the year 1830. She appeared as the Immaculata to St. Catherine Laboure, a novice with the Daughters of Charity. On July 18, the Immaculate Virgin, seated in the same chapel, had spoken gentle words of encouragement to the young novice. On November 27, the Virgin Mother showed St. Catherine the design of a medal which would remind people of the love and protection that Our Lady continually offers to God’s children. [http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/MEDALMI.htm]

My fellow Catholics, please remember to wear your Miraculous Medal.

My introduction to The Miraculous Medal came in the 1950’s during my eight years at Sacred Hearts School. There, the Sisters of Saint Joseph provided an excellent loving dedicated environment for our education. The wearing of the Miraculous Medal was strongly and repeatedly encouraged. I have worn a Miraculous Medal all my life and encourage all Catholics to wear one. Among other reasons, for me, it is a reminder that God is watching over me and expects me to follow his commandments and live a Christian Life.

Meditation Prayer with the Miraculous Medal

Mary, this medal is a sign and a guarantee of your presence. You are present because your power is present, your voice is present and your love is present. Therefore, O wonderful Sinless Woman and our Mystical Mother, we call on you now to fulfill your guarantee. Bring us the great graces you promised to those who carry this medal, especially to those who wear it around their neck. Make us perceive our presence now and always. Make us consciously experience your power, your love and your guidance, that in their strength we may begin to share in your perfect response to God and to each of his creatures, and join in your war with the ancient Serpent. Help us utterly abandon our self-centered feelings and preoccupations. Help us hear and understand you. Teach us to listen and learn. Help us respond to you today and always;, that made one with you we might more fully respond with the rest of the Church to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, participating in their life and unity.”

Lately I feel this Medal has also been a reminder to ask for help:

“The images on the medal were designed by the Blessed Mother and spoken to St. Catherine Laboure. Our Blessed Mother said that the rays coming from some of her fingers demonstrate the graces God gives through her to those who ask and are open.

There are some fingers where no rays are shown. Mary said that is to demonstrate the graces that are not given because they were not requested of her. Just another reminder of Matthew 7:7; “Ask and it shall be given to you”.” [https://churchpop.com/2016/03/03/5-reasons-wear-miraculous-medal/]

The Sisters of Saint Joseph told us that those wearing the Medal would be helped at the time of death so as to make peace with the Lord while still here on Earth. As a faithful Catholic, I feel the wearing of this Medal – a visible sign of our Faith – is important.

 

 Carrying Our “Cross” In Peace

 

Another step to grow in my faith was to learn the skills and strategies that help to live a “Properly ordered life” – regaining control of my life with the virtue (habit) of prudence. I went to a chiropractor who successfully eliminated pain in my arm by ‘Adjusting” (straightening) my spine. REALLY. It worked!

In like manner, I went to Confession and got an “Adjustment” that balanced my outlook and understanding and this helped to resolve an emotional pain. My “Penance” from the priest was to read about the Passion of Christ in the Bible and reflect on Jesus Christ’s unfair suffering. (Gospel According to Saint Matthew Chapter 27) It did not take long for me to stop feeling sorry for MY petty suffering. In addition, I have followed this line of thinking to gain a more “Properly ordered life”, through prayer since this experience.    Here is another example:

In this post I try to explain how PRAYER has brought me better understanding of the need to pick up my Cross and follow the example of Jesus. God does not require me to be successful. He expects me to do my best to glorify Him by honestly TRYING to do His work on earth.

This is raw emotion more than literature….. I’m doing my best.

Recently, I tried to do a righteous deed, but with my limited knowledge and limited foresight I feel that I failed. In The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius he writes his 14 rules of Discernment. The second part of Rule 1 Reads: “ … the good spirit uses a contrary method, stinging and biting their consciences through their rational power of moral judgment. Well, I’m sure this works for “Good Spirits” but my attempt did nothing but make matters worse. I pray that the Holy Spirit will protect, strengthen, and Bless my lost “Effort” to ultimately accomplish God’s Will. Prayer brings us Faith and Peace.

It is sad for us when a friend loses his life. We will miss that friend but be comforted, in time, with the happy memories. It is more sad when a friend loses his mind, like in Alzheimer’s Disease, or severe Mental Depression. For in this, the sadness continues for a long time while we watch helplessly in any effort to relieve the suffering. It is most tragic when a friend risks losing his SOUL for there will be no consolation of knowing the joy and happiness of eternity in heaven. All we can do is hope and pray for God’s Mercy and Intervention.

So, here I am with deep regret that I failed to guide a friend confused by overwhelming emotions. In my failure to help and in my resulting depression and accompanying “Panic Attacks” I envision all the bad that might come from my failure. Yes, I forgot that God works on His timetable. Desperately I prayed the rosary for help and this was a day for the Sorrowful Mysteries. (God begins to guide and comfort me.) The first Sorrowful Mystery : “The Agony in the Garden”. Here we are reminded that Christ sees all the “Mistakes” of all his people of all times – past, present and future. My suffering is just over my mistake and the possible harmful mistaken choice of my friend. Then, during this first decade of the Rosary I regained some strength by realizing Christ’s suffering was so much greater than mine. I was foolish, weak, and unfocused for being frozen over so much less pain than Christ endured. I prayed more to be stronger.

The second Sorrowful Mystery: “The Scourging at the Pillar”. People that I love and respect got angry and critical of my trying to help this depressed person in need. I was told to give up… that person was not worth the effort, concern or love. I felt like I was being attacked. Unfairly attacked.  How could I compare the criticisms directed at me when Christ, a total innocent, suffered attacks of violence, mental cruelty, and hate. My cross was nothing compared to Christ’s Scourging. I had not right to complain and feeling sorry for myself was foolish. Yes, I know my emotions are still raw, but my intellect now reminds me that God is with me. I pray for guidance and I pray for my still suffering friend.

I failed to help my friend in need. I was criticized for trying, and mocked for not knowing my place. As a final humiliation, my friend -still suffering depression and panic attacks- exterminated me from our friendship. This really hurt. However when I get to the third decade of my rosary I am reminded how Christ was humiliated with a crown of thorns. Obviously, Christ understands my pain and helps me with the comfort of this understanding. Prayer does help.

By the forth decade (Christ Carries the Cross) I am still feeling the depression from failure, criticism, and loss of a most valued friendship. Yes, I tried to do a righteous act, but in what looks like complete failure I am alone with nothing to show for my efforts other than the knowledge that I tried my best. When Christ carried His Cross, it looked like failure. So I am comforted knowing that my friend may someday benefit from my efforts and prayers. I pray that the “evil one” will never again take advantage of my friend’s depression and panic attacks.

In the fifth decade, Christ dies on the Cross. During this decade, knowing I am “Dead” to my friend, I pray that the Holy Spirit will watch over my friend in my absence. I pray for a miracle.

OK, so this is a sad chapter in my life complicated by the fact that I can easily empathize with the pain of depression suffered by my friend. I have suffered depression – severe depression- several times in my life. I am learning that I cannot let my experiences in life set me into a panic when I see a person living the same nightmare….. even a good and loved friend. A lesson learned the hard way is to try PRAYER first. For now I pray for my friend daily and wait for God to “tell” me what to do and when to do it.

 

 

Leave the Past to God’s Mercy

Working hard on my life in prayer and discernment. On third month of zero TV and TV news and not missing it at all. Still, trying to improve my understanding of how God wants me to be is difficult. Again in this post, I share my readings and thoughts.

In what does your life consist except two things:

Active Duties; and

Passive Circumstances.

The first is under your control; these do in God’s name. The second is outside your control; these submit to in God’s name.

Consider only the present;

Leave the past to God’s justice [Mercy],

The future to his providence.

Perfection of personality does not consist in knowing God’s plan, but in submitting to it as it reveals itself in the circumstances of life.”-Archbishop Fulton Sheen; The Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

Knowing God’s Will takes time and prayer. Of course we know the general basics of God’s Will. The 10 Commandments, “Love they neighbor”, “Do unto others…”, and following the example of the way Jesus lived His life are the guidelines we should follow. But what do we do when we have a specific decision to make or come to the proverbial “Y” in the road?

When in doubt, just follow God’s general rules until we determine specifically what we are to do. Frustration or fear may lead to anger – a sin in itself when acted out. Held in anger leads to depression. Held in depression leads to anger. If God does not answer our prayers, or more likely, if we fail to hear God’s whisper, we need to pray for patience and understanding. Seldom do we need to make a decision immediately without giving time for prayer and reflection. While waiting for specific understanding, just follow the general rules.

Sometimes, knowing when to act is more important than knowing how to act. – Sheen

For me, this is hard because I tend to act first on emotion. “Feelings” have not served me well in my life and I must try harder to avoid decisions made on my feelings.

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.   – Fulton J. Sheen

Patience is hard for me. With my prayer, I shall do better.

Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.   -Fulton J. Sheen

Love God – Love They Neighbor

Dr. M Scott Peck wrote: “I have defined love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love.”

Genuine love not only respects the individuality of the other but actually cultivates it, even at the risk of separation or loss. The ultimate goal of life remains the spiritual growth of the individual, the solitary journey to peaks that can be climbed only alone .

Dictionary:   Love noun

noun: love; plural noun: loves an intense feeling of deep affection.

I think Peck has it right and the dictionary has it wrong. Real love, true love is a commitment to do good and to nurture good. Real love is far more difficult and even more painful at times than simple non-tangible “Feelings”.  The “Feeling” of LOVE cannot be adequately defined – it is poetry not reality. The commitment of a mission “To Love” can be observed, quantified, and defined.

LOVE GOD:

To me, loving God is keeping His commandments, following the examples shown to us by Jesus Christ, and helping those we love do the same. This helping others do the same, works best when we enter a “Synergy” of mutual cooperation. That is when we and the people we love help one another stay on the path to God. This bi-directional commitment is very powerful – synergistic.

I always had a problem when told we need to “Love God”. I thought of the inferior ‘Feelings of love”. Loving God with our actions is a far more powerful and acceptable love for God. This love of God is tangible and easy to understand. Since it is observed, quantified, and defined it is also easier to see when we fail. It is painful to suffer from this failure, but we are now living in TRUTH and in REALITY  and know our God is all merciful. The tangible reality love is far superior to the poetic fantasy love.

Love Thy Neighbor:

Who is my neighbor? Many people will say: “Everyone”. I suppose in a way that is true, but to expand this mandate to impossible limits is an invitation to do nothing. I think it is fair to say, for this purpose, that “My Neighbors” are the people God brings into my life. Not all these people do I like. It may be fair to say that some of these people may not be particularly likable. None-the less, THESE people are my neighbors. If I treat the ones that are less likable with this “Neighborly love” then I feel that I’ll be better able to help and enjoy the “Neighbors” that I find to be more easily likable.

Now loving our neighbor, in many ways, is more difficult than loving God. For in loving our neighbor the path to understanding is not as easily understood – at least for people like me. I know I have a challenging time trying to figure out if someone needs help, and how to help people in the way they need and want to be helped.

Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. – M. Scott Peck

It is leadership”?  Problem number one: Who elected me leader? Who said my neighbor needs help? Is my view of a problem correct, and is my solution the right way? How do I know when to “Help”, when to simply “Listen”, and when to just not get involved?  Well, I finally figured this one out. The answer to all these questions is: “PRAYER”. Prayer is the first and most important step in a mission to help – or at least it should be.

How do I know when I need help?


Maybe I need help when I feel I am frozen with indecision – not knowing which choice to make or which path to follow. Being “Stuck” is a sure sign of needing help.  Again, the first line of attack is “Prayer”. For me, and especially lately, PRAYER and listening for the whispers of God’s guidance has been most helpful and comforting. None-the-less, at times we need to turn to others for help. When their suggestions bring us closer to God, we have chosen help wisely. If their advice does not bring us closer to God, we need further prayer and re-evaluation. Seldom in life do we need to make a decision NOW – this second. There is always time for prayer. In fact, for me, making time for prayer seems to have my problems almost solve themselves. Prayer itself brings clarity to the situation.

Not every human encounter involves a robbery victim on the side of the road and in need for a Good Samaritan. Fortunately, most times, God brings people into our lives so that we can simply enjoy their company. This is a wonderful part of life and we should always remember to thank God for these friends’ existence. God wants us to laugh, enjoy, communicate, and show one another we appreciate them. God wants us to love our friends – “Love being the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” It is right and just that we enjoy this effort.

Now, as a world class introvert, I’ll never be the “Life of the party”, or the person able to make everyone feel great just because I step into the room. I do not easily make many friendships. That said, I am grateful to God that the friendships I have made are usually with very good decent people. It is quality not quantity that counts. The ones with the most quality are those that help bring me closer to God. To those people I am especially grateful for their existence and I am most remorseful when I let them down.

Within “Love” is mercy. “… Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” The “Synergy” of forgiveness is very much in keeping with Peck’s definition of love: “ Love is the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”. Only God will never let us down. The rest of us are flawed humans. I pray that people will forgive my flaws. I pray harder to remember that I must forgive the flaws of others.

In short, LOVE is not an emotion. Love is a commitment to Witness God’s mercy.

Addendum

Just finished reading “How To Listen When God Is Speaking” by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ.  I can see how I may grow to “Feel” love for God in addition to knowing respect and duty to God. My deficiency now, is that I have not been listening to God in my prayers long enough. As I listen more and listen better, I shall know God more. One needs to know God to love God.

Fr. Pacwa writes: “ We should avoid talking so much to God in our prayer that we do not give him a chance to speak back to us.” How can we get to KNOW anyone if we do all the talking?

Fr. Pacwa also writes: “Only after experiencing God’s reciprocal love does a person experience a burning love for God”. Even after this first 2 ½ months of listening better in my prayers, I feel that I am on the right road to achieve this feeling of Love for God.

Fr. Pacwa has predicted my feelings when he wrote: “Many people may be surprised at the peace they experience after a thoroughly honest moral examination of their lives.

God Does Not Fit in an Occupied Heart – St. John of the Cross

Since early childhood, I have spent too many hours watching television. This sick habit has finally changed. For about six weeks now my TV has been off. Only while at college in Western Nebraska did I manage to avoid this  sinfully gluttonous waste of time.. Now that the habitual grab for the TV remote is behind me, I have to ask myself: “What were you thinking?”

The distraction from the true purpose of life does not end with just TV.  Obsessing over the NEWS was a waste of time, and emotion. What did this worry get me? Not any improvement to my lifestyle was accomplished. The anguish of watching our nation becoming more godless did not help. Maybe prayer for our nation would have been a smarter use of my time.

Then there is Facebook.  Oh my, this is an obsessive compulsive’s dream folly. How addictive can something be?  Weigh the balance of the good and the bad. On one side of the scale we have the bad and destructive represented by an elephant. On the other side of the scale we have the good and beneficial represented by a peanut.  This is a true picture of that waste of time.

Where is the harm?  I did not leave enough time or space in my heart for God. Prayer and understanding the Will of God takes time. Discernment takes concentration. Being sloppy and wasteful with our time is an invitation for Satan to sneak into our lives.

“But, as I said, I do not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without also remembering the Blood and the broadness of My mercy, for fear that otherwise she should be brought to confusion. And together with confusion would come the Devil, who has caused it, under color of contrition and displeasure of sin, and so she would arrive at eternal damnation, not only on account of her confusion, but also through the despair which would come to her, because she did not seize the arm of My mercy.”  – Saint Catherine of Siena

Now I don’t know about others, but I had to read that quote twice in order to understand its meaning. Not the kind of thing I can do during a TV commercial.

“Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.”
– M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth

“This inclination to ignore problems is once again a simple manifestation of an unwillingness to delay gratification. Confronting problems is, as I have said, painful. To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary.”
– M. Scott Peck

Godless distractions prevent us from properly evaluating our values and behaviors.  Distractions allow us to accept sloppy thinking as acceptable.  We must accept pain to learn.

“Those things that hurt, instruct.” – Dr.  Peck

Distractions prevent us from feeling the hurt and therefore prevent us from learning. Sloppy thinking prevents us from properly evaluating our beliefs.

“We are often most in the dark when we are the most certain, and the most enlightened when we are the most confused.”  – Dr. Peck

“Know thyself.” is wisdom.  “Be yourself”  is folly.  When one knows himself/herself one is aware of weaknesses that need to be disciplined. One cannot be lazy and know himself/herself.  Being oneself is lazy and undisciplined.  One cannot truly love another without first knowing himself/herself.

“Laziness is love’s opposite.” 
– M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth

Without so many distractions, I plan on being a better person in the Eyes of Our Lord.

 

 

“The Mass of Men Lead Lives of Quiet Desperation. …”

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. …” . This is probably the most famous quote from Henry David Thoreau. The quote comes from the first chapter `Economy` in the book Walden. It is not unusual to read a misquotation of this. Some believe the misquote comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes’s The Voiceless. Here we find: “….Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them.” The combined thoughts will often be attributed to Thoreau.: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Frankly, the erroneous misquote has more meaning to me.

Now, suddenly finding myself in old age – not without a vain detour to recapture the feelings of youth – I find that my anxieties have changed from “What will I do”, and “What will I be”. My anxieties for the bottom of this last quarter are more like: “What have I become”. This very serious introspection I try to answer with prayer.

For many years now, Sunday Mass is the one hour of the week that I know for sure that I am at the place where I should be and doing what I should do……. PRAYING.    At times, I have gone to Church for joy and pleasure, and in those superficial times I have forfeited and been diverted from the opportunity to improve myself in the eyes of God. As the saying goes, “Church is a place to comfort the inflected and inflict the comfortable”. God’s Church is a place for serious reverent worship, hard prayer, and listening for the whisper of God’s Will. God’s Church is not a place for having a hand clapping, foot stomping good old time. Church is a place to confess sins. Church, during the Mass, is a place to gain strength by receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

The comfort from knowing I am doing right by going to Church is outweighed by the discomfort of prayerful introspection, for this thought process confronts me with my weaknesses and regrets. I am forced to resolve to work at becoming a better person. This change is always painful. It can be most discouraging to sacrifice, confess, and amend my life to become a more perfect person when knowing I’ll never be even close to perfection. The most I can hope for is to be less imperfect. One might say that this is desperation.

Community then is a most important aspect of a prayerful life. For praying in community, we get to know and understand our fellow travelers in life. Each and every one is combating personal weaknesses, erroneous thinking, and always Satan. We learn that everybody is having a life of quiet desperation. Everyone in that community has his/her own “Crosses to bear”. Helping one another to carry our crosses makes the burden easier and helps us to focus better on how we have hurt God as opposed to how we have been hurt.

People, even with the best of intentions, make mistakes. People will, because of this, sometimes, let us down. Prayer to God is important as He will never let us down or abandon us. We should have more faith in our fellow travelers, we must have more Faith in God.

We are all wounded.

“How strange that we should ordinarily feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded! Community requires the ability to expose our wounds and weaknesses to our fellow creatures. It also requires the ability to be affected by the wounds of others… But even more important is the love that arises among us when we share, both ways, our woundedness.”
– M. Scott Peck

God intends for life to be difficult. Life is a battle and when in battle we get wounded. We learn best from adversity. Keeping our ship in safe harbor does not teach seamanship. We gain nothing. Bringing our ship into the sea and fighting the elements teaches us how to sail. When the ship is our soul and the sea is the trials of life, we use God’s Words as a guide to battle the waves of evil. In this storm, our soul gets strengthened and prepared for eternity with our loving God. Wounds, mistakes, even sin are part of the battle. Only by bringing these “weaknesses” out into the open can we correct and grow to be worthy of Heaven. A weakness is not to be hidden in shame. Revealing our weakness provides help from God, the Church, and our true friends.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

1. Remember that your Character should always be stronger than your Circumstances.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
2. Remember that your Struggles always lead to Strength.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
3. Remember that God’s timing is always perfect.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
4. Remember that God will never leave your side.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Welcome

Prayer can be a difficult task to do correctly. Prayer involves not just reciting words, but listening for answers that usually come as a whisper. One does not say a prayer and then move on to the next task. After prayer a time for reflection is necessary to hear the whisper.

Discernment can be most tricky.  When seeking the Will of God in our times of reflection, are we hearing God’s Will, our own selfish desires projected as God’s Will, or deceptions from Satan? Discernment is difficult as is understanding and accepting God’s plan.

Much of this BLOG will be devoted to seeking “Truth”.