Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I See Dead People. Don't You?


video
The Sixth Sense (1999) Spyglass Entertainment
Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

From The Holy Gospel According To John
[11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45]
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that [Lazarus] was ill, Jesus remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Remember that movie, The Sixth Sense?  In that movie, there’s a little boy who says, “I see dead people.”  Well, you know what?   I see dead people, too.  I see them all the time. As a matter of fact, you may be one of those dead people.

     Nowadays, many people have become the "living dead" -- they have allowed something to die inside.  Irma Bombeck, that humorous news columnist, once said, "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."

I think she’s on to something!  Let’s follow that line of reasoning:

  • Let’s consider people who have a good job and a comfortable life, but will not take a Saturday morning off to see their son pitch in Little League? 
  • Or people who will not take an evening off from work to see their daughter perform in a dance recital? 
Shouldn’t these people be certified as dead?  For all practical purposes, aren't these people dead to their children?
  • How about people who never take a few hours to visit their aging parents?
  • People who make no effort to comfort sick or lonely friends or neighbors? 

Aren't they dead to those people needing comfort and support?


  •  Or people who are too busy / too tired / have more important things to do / blah-blah-blah, and so they simply “cannot” go to worship God at Sunday Mass?
  •  Or people who even will not make time to pray?

 Aren’t these people behaving as if God is dead?


     When you think it over, you can really see -- these people all have something in common with Lazarus.  Like Lazarus, they have been buried.  

     However, the big difference between Lazarus and them, is that Lazarus was medically dead and was buried by others: the people in our time have buried themselves... alive!   They have chosen to become dead: Dead to God, dead to their spouses, their children, their families, friends and neighbors.  They are dead because no one can share life with them. 

     Like I said earlier: I see dead people. I  see dead people all the time. And so do you! Nowadays, many people have become the "living dead"!   They have allowed something to die inside.   Spiritually, they have become entombed, buried alive –  by hopelessness, by selfishness, by their own plans and schedules.

     You and I can become obsessed with our own blind pursuits of money, ambition, security, popularity, power, pleasure, or sex.  We can obsessively chase after relaxation, entertainment, diversions, escapism.   We can crave these things so much, that we allow them to bury us.  And, then, we become absent, missing, "dead" to the people and to life existing around us. 

     In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Our Lord commanded Lazarus to return to life. And Lazarus emerged from the tomb, still tied-up in the burial wrappings. Then Our Lord Jesus called out for the bystanders to untie Lazarus from the wrappings of the dead.   To be freed.  To resume his life once again. 
     We are called by Christ to be exhumed, disinterred from the decisions and things that we allow to make us dead inside -- from the attitudes that we allow to overwhelm our souls, and which keep us from loving God and others, and from being loved by God and by others.
            Christ wasn’t calling only to Lazarus.  He is calling to all of us!  Listen!  Jesus Christ is calling us – to free us from what is dead and lifeless – to return to living and loving God and one another. 
     Listen: He’s calling you personally,  telling you, “Dig yourself out of your tomb!  Come out!  Come back to life!”


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year Since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Announced His Resignation





I cannot believe it has been one whole year since Pope Benedict XVI, one of the most humble pontiffs in history, announced his resignation from the papacy.  Though his resignation brought great sadness, it is so fulfilling to see the amazing work accomplished this past year by his humility through the graces of Pope Francis.  We continue to pray for Pope Francis and for our Pope Emeritus, who has been such a great inspiration in my life and the lives of many others.  

I can truly say that I am a faithful Catholic, because of the role Pope Benedict has had in my life.  He inspired me through his Petrine ministry and continues to inspire in his many writings.  He is a man full of undying love for God and for Holy Mother Church. 

Below is an article about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from an interview with Archbishop Ganswein:

A year after the resignation of Pope Benedict- no regrets

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sacrament Of Penance, The “Sultan Of Swat”, And Our Lord Jesus Christ



+ From The Holy Gospel According To Saint Matthew [Mt. 4:12-23]
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles,the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by deathlight has arisen.From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

I came across this true story, recounted by Father Mark Link, SJ, who wrote a homiletic reflection about it in 1990. Thought I'd share it with you, our esteemed Academicians!

Ever hear of a guy named George Herman Ruth, Jr.? 
He was also known as "Babe" Ruth
-- The Bambino, The Sultan Of Swat, The Caliph of Clout, The Behemoth of Bust --
One of the most colorful and famous names in the history of Major League Baseball.

The words of Our Lord Jesus -- "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" -- took on a special meaning for Babe Ruth one cold December night in 1946. He explained why in an article in The Guideposts Magazine in August 1948. This is what he wrote:
"While I drifted away from the church, I did have my own "altar," a big window of my New York apartment overlooking the city lights. Often I would kneel before that window and say my prayers. I would feel quite humble then. I'd ask God to help me not make such a big fool of myself and pray that I'd measure up to what He expected of me."
On that cold December night in 1946, however, the Babe was lying in bed in a New York hospital, seriously ill. The Babe realized that the Kingdom of God was, perhaps, at hand for him. He knew he had to take seriously Jesus' words: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Paul Carey, one of the Babe's oldest and closest friends was at his side. After a while, as Babe Ruth tells it, 
In December, 1946 I was in French Hospital, New York, facing a serious operation. Paul Carey, one of my oldest and closest friends, was by my bed one night."They're going to operate in the morning, Babe," Paul said. "Don't you think you ought to put your house in order?"I didn't dodge the long, challenging look in his eyes. I knew what he meant. For the first time I realized that death might strike me out. I nodded, and Paul got up, called in a Chaplain, and I made a full confession."I'll return in the morning and give you Holy Communion," the chaplain said," But you don't have to fast." [It was the practice in the 1940s to fast from midnight when receiving Communion the next day.]    "I'll fast," I said. I didn't have even a drop of water.  As I lay in bed that evening I thought to myself what a comforting feeling to be free from fear and worries. I now could simply turn them over to God.
Babe Ruth's experience of profound peace after receiving the Sacrament of Penance is a common experience among Catholics. It's a peace that must be experienced to be appreciated. It's a peace that comes only from the Sacrament of Penance. 
A peace that Our Lord Jesus gave to that Sacrament when He instituted it on Easter Sunday night, saying to His Apostles: Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.[John 20:21-23]

However, the peace of the Sacrament of Penance comes at a price. And the price is a humble admission that we are, indeed, sinners -- who want to reform our lives.

I think the explanation as to why so many people experience deep peace in the Sacrament of Penance is because they experience the Sacrament for what it really is: An encounter with the merciful Jesus.

  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so gently with the paralyzed man, saying, "Your sins are forgiven." [Luke 5:20]
  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so tenderly with the woman caught in the act of adultery, saying, "Neither do I condemn you." [John 8:11]
  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so compassionately from the cross with His enemies, saying, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." [Luke 23:34]
Right now, Our Lord Jesus is saying to us, "Reform your lives! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This is our invitation to encounter the merciful Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, and to experience for ourselves the peace that filled the heart of Babe Ruth on that cold December night in 1946.

May the prophet Isaiah's words [Is. 8:23—9:3] be fulfilled for us: 
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing ... .

Recalling Our Lord’s Parable of The Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32], let us return to the Father of mercy and say,

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your child.
Purify my heart,
And help me walk as a child of light.



Babe Ruth [1895-1948]
Buried in Gate Of Heaven Cemetery, Mount Pleasant, New York

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prayers for those Heading to the March for Life

Right now I'm sitting at my desk at home watching the snow falling and falling and falling.  About an hour ago a friend called to say that our bus to the March for Life was cancelled by the pastor of the parish.  It's understandable.  We're supposed to get about a foot or more of snow here in Queens and the driving this afternoon was already treacherous.  Oh, well.  You never know what the weather will be like on January 22nd, but generally you can be pretty sure that it won't be that great.  People always ask, why do you have the March in January?  I guess the Supreme Court could have issued its Roe v. Wade decision at a more hospitable time, weather wise.  But, it seems that God had other plans and part of those plans seems to include an added dose of penance that can manifest itself in snow and ice and wind and rain.



So, in this week in which the governor of our State declared that pro lifers were extremists and not fit to live in New York, I'll be joining my fellow "extremists" in prayer from home.  Wish I could be there in person.  There is no greater cause than the defense of innocent human life.  Even if it makes supposedly Catholic politicians think you don't deserve to be heard.







Friday, December 13, 2013

Manger Scene: Joseph

Manger Scene: Joseph
By J. Barrie Shepherd
Copyright 1979: The Christian Century


So where do I stand now?

Oh yes, right here beside Mary. 

I realize that:  
Looking protective, paternal, and just a bit weary, leaning on the staff that holds the lantern. 

But what I mean is, just where do I stand paternity-wise, if you catch my point? 

The angel's message was, the child is God's, not mine, and not to worry. 


All well and good for him to say, but I'm only a rough village carpenter not accustomed even to angels let alone the Son of God.

And what about Mary, my Mary, young, still innocent Mary?  


The child has her open, trusting look -- I'm sure of that already.  

Yet how will Mary be the mother of the Messiah, wipe the tears, and mend the bruises of the Key of David, Israel's hope? 

“Not to worry”... I ask you!


Then where do I begin to explain to the authorities rich gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh?  "Just how did you get your calloused hands on these, Joseph the carpenter?" 
There's a good question to start not worrying about. 

So where do I stand? 

I guess where I began: 
Right here, beside Mary, still protective, paternal, and just a bit worried, leaning on the Lord who sheds his holy light of love upon this scene, and far across our wintered world 
this frigid night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Blessed Mother's Nightmare



The Blessed Mother’s Nightmare
Author Unknown
   
   I had a dream, Joseph. I don’t understand it -- not really.  But I think it was about a birthday celebration for Jesus.  I think that was what it was all about.

   The people in the dream had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought new clothes. They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts. 

   It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren’t for Jesus.  They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows, and stacked them under a tree. Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house! They'd decorated the tree also.  The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments.  There was a figure on the top of the tree. It looked like an angel might look. 

   Oh, it was beautiful! Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. But they gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to Jesus. I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. 

   Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him? I had the strangest feeling that if Jesus had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding. 

  Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everything was so nice, but it made me want to cry.  How sad for Jesus -- not to be wanted at His own birthday party. 

I'm glad it was only a dream.  

How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Solemnity Of Christ The King: Consider Yourself Very Blessed, Or Admit To Yourself That You Are Cowardly And Ashamed


From the Holy Gospel According To Saint  Luke  [Lk. 23:35-43]
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, "He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God." Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."  Above him there was an inscription that read, "This is the King of the Jews."
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal."  Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

A story goes: Once, the top Brass from the Army, Navy and Marines were in the Pentagon, arguing about which of them had the bravest Troops.  They decided to settle the argument with a bet, involving an Enlisted Man from each Branch of the Service, to see which one had the most guts.
The Army General went first.  He called an Army Private in and ordered him to climb to the top of the Pentagon flagpole while singing "The National Anthem."  Then, at the top of the flagpole, salute and jump off.  The Private responded with a simple "Yes, Sir!" and he immediately followed his orders, climbed the flagpole singing, and jumped from the top of the flagpole.  An ambulance came and took the Army Private away.
The Navy Admiral and the Marine Commander were not impressed.  The Navy Admiral ordered a Sailor to climb the flagpole while singing "Anchors Aweigh," to polish the brass knob at the top, to salute, and then to jump off.  The Sailor said, "Aye-Aye, Sir," and followed the Admiral's orders to the letter.  An ambulance came and took the Sailor away. 
The Marine Commander just smiled and called a Marine Private over, and started screaming orders at him.  The young Marine was ordered to climb to the top of the flagpole while singing “Semper Fidelis” – wearing full battle gear, with his pack filled with 300 pounds of bricks, with one arm tied behind his back, barefoot, blindfolded – and then, at the top of the pole, salute and jump off.  The Marine Private remained standing there in front of his Commanding Officer. The Commander screamed into his face: ‟You got a problem with that, Marine?”  The Marine Private looked the Commander right in the eyes, and said, "Sir:  Yes, Sir! You must be out of your mind, Sir!"
The Marine Commander turned to the Army General and the Navy Admiral and said proudly,  "Now, gentlemen, that is guts!"  No ambulance was required.

To speak the truth, and to accept and to live what we know in our hearts is right and morally justified, is to follow Christ.  To follow Him even when He is walking on His Way to the Cross.  It requires guts.
In your life as a Roman Catholic so far:

If you have never been criticized because you are a practicing Catholic;
If you have never been humiliated or cursed at for standing up for the truth or 
   speaking out against immorality, sin or evil;
If you have never experienced prejudice and bigotry, never been hated because of 
   your loyalty to Christ and His Church and His Church's Teachings;

Then, consider yourself very blessed to have been spared those ordeals. 
Or admit to yourself that you are cowardly and ashamed to be publicly known as a follower of Christ.

Courage, humility, selflessness, and trust are demanded of those who would pledge their allegiance to and follow the example of Christ, our Crucified King!

Annually, on the 34th and final Sunday of the Church's Liturgical Year -- The Solemnity Of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King -- Our Crucified and Risen King issues challenges to us.  

He challenges us to prove to Him that we fully accept, and proclaim
   and live the Truths He has taught us in His Gospel.
He challenges us to continue proclaiming or to start proclaiming the Truth about 
   God’s unwavering Love for all men and women.  
He challenges us to prove that we trust and live the Truth about the 
   never-failing Promise that good will triumph over evil, that light will 
   destroy the darkness. 
He challenges us to fully accept and proclaim the Truth by living the 
   moral teachings of our Catholic Faith – teachings which have remained 
   and will forever remain rock-solid, relevant, and true – long after trendy fads 
   and self-indulgences prove to be nothing but evil and empty lies. 

IT TAKES GUTS, LOYALTY, AND TRUST TO FOLLOW CHRIST OUR KING.  

And, yes, it is demanding and it is difficult.  

But it is not impossible, as the thousands of Saints have proven over 2000 years!

Following our Crucified and Risen King is the only path that leads us beyond our  times and our  world ... to live forever in the timeless, infinite vision of the glory of God in Heaven!

We all say that we want that: That we want to enter Heaven and eternal joy.  

We all request from Christ Our Crucified King what Saint Dismas, the Repentant Thief, requested from Him as they were dying on crosses:
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."


We all make that request.

But, while you are requesting that from Him, 

do you have the guts to follow Him?  
The guts to prove how much you desire to be with Him in Heaven?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frightening Stats Regarding Internet Pornography - and - How To Overcome Pornography Addiction



Academicians, I ran across these brief but very informative videos from our friends at Catholic Answers.

More and more men - including Catholic men - are succumbing to the incredibly subtle yet extremely destructive sin of viewing pornographic images or watching pornographic videos which are pandemic on the internet.


-  Every second:   $3,075.64 is spent on pornography;
                            28,258 people are viewing pornography;
                            372 people are typing adult search terms.
-  Every 39 minutes:  A new pornographic video is created in the United States.
-  $13.33 billion was spent in the porn industry in 2006.
-  U.S. porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS and NBC.
-  There are 4.2 Million pornographic websites (12% of total websites).
-  42.7% of internet users view pornography.
-  72 Million worldwide internet users visit adult sites per month.

(Source: Top Ten Reviews


-  Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter
   combined.


(Source: Huff Post Tech


Matt Fradd was addicted to pornography.  He is Australian by birth and Catholic by choice. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt committed himself to inviting others to know Jesus Christ and the Church He founded. As a missionary in Canada and Ireland, Matt proclaimed the Gospel to over ten thousand teens and young adults. Matt has also served the Church through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada and Texas.

Matt has been a guest on the BBC, EWTN, ABC and Catholic Answers Live, where he has shared his personal story of sin, redemption, and healing to people all over the world. Matt lives in Southern California with his wife and three children, where he works as an Apologist and Speaker with Catholic Answers.












and their DVD based parent workshop kit:
UNFILTERED: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Internet Pornography, which features Catholic experts who can help educate parents about the dangers of pornography,
and
The Biochemistry of Porn Addiction-How Your Brain Gets Hijacked.



If you are addicted, you can escape from porn's hold on you.
Our Lord wants to help you save yourself and to be holy and happy again.
Trust Him. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GOD: Dead? Or Alive?

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,835309,00.html
April 8, 1966


From the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke  [20:27-38]
Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.   Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless.  Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out 'Lord,' the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

"God is not God of the dead, but of the living..." Our Lord Jesus said.   
For some people, unfortunately, God is dead. 

Is your God "dead" or "alive"?

Do you pray to a dead God?
To a lucky charm you rub with prayers when things go bad?  

Or are your prayers directed to  the Living God? 
To God who speaks to your heart and gives you direction, and purpose to every choice and challenge in your life?

Do you hear the ranting of a dead God? 
Who constantly condemns,  who seeks only the destruction of the wicked;  who demands, threatens and punishes human beings into submission and obedience?  

Or do you hear the Voice of  the Living God?
Who welcomes you and forgives you;  Who constantly raises you up when you fall;  Whose compassion and desire for reconciliation with His children knows no limits and has no conditions attached?

Do you believe in a dead God?  
Who requires that you have your "spiritual ticket punched" in church on Sunday mornings?  Who never ventures out of His "house", your Parish Church?  Who never ventures out of the compartment of your life where you have enshrined (that is, chained) Him?  
  
Or do you believe in the Living God?
Who is constantly present in your life,  with you at the family dinner table or at the office conference table?  

Do you believe in the Living God?  
Who is the object and center of your life, and not just an accessory?

Our God is not a God of death -- not a God of remoteness, or passivity, or separation.  
Our God is the God of life, of joy, hope, and re-creation.

Very often, we try to make God fit our image of Him.  And by forcing God to fit our yardstick of what is right and wrong --  by forcing God to fit our expectations of who is worthy of blessing and who is worthy of damnation --  we kill, within our souls, the image of the One, True God.

The hypothetical situation the Sadducees concocted to trap the Lord Jesus  reflects a very shallow image of God and His love for human beings.  The Sadducees' behavior mirrors to our tendency to see God as the end of life rather than the beginning of life.  

The Sadducees demonstrate how we try to squeeze and pry God into our image  rather than see ourselves as being made in God's image.   The Sadducees' behavior illustrates how we try to confine God to our rules and expectations,  to our legalistic, "tit-for-tat" reasoning of how we say things should be.

And so, for some people, God is dead.  Forcing God to fit our yardstick and our expectations,  kills, within our souls, the true image of the One, Life-giving  God.  

This can only happen if we allow our spiritual lives to die of neglect and hunger.  

Our spiritual life is the "yes" we give to God's Word made known to us in Jesus Christ; 
our spiritual life is a journey toward God;  it is a process of deepening our relationships 
with GOD and with one another, as the Lord Jesus taught us.

If we let our spiritual lives just hobble along, crippled, avoiding every opportunity God offers us to know Him better, avoiding every opportunity to feel His love for us, avoiding every opportunity to conquer our sinful habits, to do works of charity, to do penance to fast, to pray, and to meet Him in His Sacred Scriptures -- then, God will be dead to us.  

When we allow our spiritual life to wither and deteriorate, then our image of the living God will fade away -- because our spiritually deprived imaginations will eclipse the image of the living God with a distorted image of a dead, lifeless God.

Thanks be to God for His Son, our Lord Jesus.  Our Lord Jesus opens up our narrow vision of God beyond the limits of our imagination -- to allow us to see the possibilities for forgiveness, generosity, and humility that are the life and the love that the Living God has for us!

Our response to the Lord Jesus' call to be His disciples  begins with opening our minds and our spirits  to becoming what God intends us to become: God's very cherished children.  

To become "the children of God,”  “the ones who will rise," we must renew our spiritual lives through immersing ourselves in the Gospel's vision of love of God and of neighbor, 
and by prayer and selfless service, and by the Sacraments of Eucharist and of Reconciliation.

"God is not God of the dead, but of the living..." Our Lord Jesus said.  

So, is your God "dead" or "alive"?

May what Saint Paul prayed for, for all of us who follow Jesus Christ, be granted to us, God’s children:
"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ." 
[2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5]

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,941816,00.html
December 26, 1969 - Cover Credit: PETER GEE


Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Truths About Prayer

THE FIRST TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER: 
Prayer is inconceivably powerful!   
Prayer is the most powerful form of energy a person can generate.  
Prayer exerts a force on reality: a force as real as the force of gravity.   
Prayer DOES influence the outcome of events.  
Prayer CAN change the lives of people. 
  
For example: The deconstruction of Soviet Communism in Russia, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, were not achieved by the leaders, nor by diplomats, nor by the military. The wall, and Soviet Communism, came down because of the Rosary.  Our Blessed Mother asked us to pray for the conversion of Russia. It took 28 years of praying. And the wall came down.

Prayer positively affects our bodies and minds.
The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is just like the influence that the hundreds of glands inside our bodies have on us.  Those glands work without us being aware of them -- and so does prayer. 




THE SECOND TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER: 
We must persevere at praying. 
To experience the power of prayer, to exert prayer’s  force upon reality, we must do what Moses did in Exodus 17:8-13.  The Amalekites came and waged war against Israel. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up in prayer to GOD, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. When Moses got tired after hours and hours of praying, in order to continue praying, Moses asked for support from his companions, Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms so he could continue praying. They also joined Moses in praying.

You and your spouse or family members or friends can agree to pray every morning or evening at the same time, whether together or privately, even “long-distance.” 
It helps to know that while you are praying in your room, your spouse or child or parent or friend is praying simultaneously but in another room, or even another city.
But, persevering in a daily period of prayer still is not enough!  
We must also persevere from day-to-day and from week-to-week.  
We must become persistent in praying.  
Just as persistent as the Widow was in seeking a just decision from the corrupt Judge, in Saint Luke’s Gospel -- Luke 18:1-8 --
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared GOD nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'  For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear GOD nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not GOD then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
We must have a regular time for praying, every day! 
These days, everyday life places huge demands on our time.  
Everyone is in a hurry, with too much to do.  
So, unless we schedule a regular time to pray every day, we probably won't pray at all! 
When something becomes important to us, we schedule it right into our daily life. We don’t leave it to chance. 
We usually won't miss a meal. 
We stop everything to watch our favorite TV show.
We text or phone people to share the latest gossip. 

If we want to deepen a friendship with someone, we schedule times and places to meet with that person: we never leave these meetings to chance; we battle to make space for them in our day. 
And, yet, we do not make any time for GOD:  GOD, who keeps us in existence from second to second!  
What is true for relationships between human beings is true between human beings and GOD.  
If we want to deepen our friendship with GOD we must schedule times and places to meet Him in prayer.  We cannot leave these meetings with GOD to chance, to when we get around to them.  
We must persevere in prayer, if we want to experience the power of prayer day-to-day, week-to-week,  year-to-year!



THE THIRD TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:
We should not look for immediate results when we pray.
While we must persevere in our praying, we should not look for immediate results when we pray.
We are so accustomed to having everything done instantly: 
Instant Coffee, Instant Banking, Instant Potatoes, Same-Day Delivery!  We want immediate results.
Warning: Cancel out that ‟instant” stuff when you approach GOD in Prayer! 
GOD never sleeps.  
GOD hears our prayers. 
GOD keeps rearranging  re-synchronizing events, keeps offering us the answer to our prayer –  His answer to our prayer!
GOD responds to every prayer —  in His own time and in His own way.  
GOD’s time may be years after we first prayed.  




THE FOURTH TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:
GOD’s response, His answer to our prayer may be very different from what we expected or wanted. 


Our Lord gives us what we need, not what we want.

For example:
I think I need a car to travel around the city.

So, I pray, using the song written by Janis Joplin, 



Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 


Instead, GOD gives me a bicycle: 
Because I did not need a Mercedes Benz!  
I merely, selfishly wanted one! 

However, my prayer was answered: 
I got where I needed to go.

Prayer has power. 

To tap that power, we must persevere at it, and not look for overnight results.






Why all this emphasis on praying?



THE FIFTH TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:

We are obligated to pray!

We are obligated to pray, but we often ignore it or do it poorly. 

Our Lord Jesus imparted several teachings about the importance of prayer and how to do it:
Luke 18:1-8 -- Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. Please see the full excerpt above.  

Matthew 6:5-13 -- “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“This is how you are to pray:Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,your will be done, on earth as in heaven.Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts,as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test,but deliver us from the evil one."
Matthew 7:7–8 -- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Luke 11:5–8 -- And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’  and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence."
After Our Lord's Ascension, His Apostles continued to instruct and guide the early Christians about their obligation to pray, and how to pray worthily.  

For example:

Saint John said, in his First Letter, 1 John 3:21–22 -- 
Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.


Saint Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews -- Hebrews 4:16 --  
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.


Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians --Colossians 4:2 -- said: 
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians -- Ephesians 6:18
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
The apostles laid a heavy emphasis on faithful praying because...

Our Lord Jesus constantly prayed to His Father.  
Luke 5:15-16 -- The report about [Jesus cleansing a leper] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Many, many  times, Our Lord Jesus spent His whole night in prayer.  
Luke 6:12 -- In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

So, if He considered praying
to be that important,
so should we.



Don't Fall Asleep During "The Academy's" posts!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
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