Friday, April 29, 2016

Brother, let me be your servant.

Every year droves of people leave organized religion behind. They do this because organized religion has lost its relevance in their lives. Even the great gubernator Jesse, The Body, Ventura referred to organized religion as a crutch for the weak minded. Who can blame them for feeling this way? Whose fault is it that church has lost relevance in so many lives? Can we blame the devil? How about the culture? No, the blame falls squarely on our shoulders.

Each and every one of us has been given a cross that we must carry in this life. For some of us, that cross is more than we can bear. God will always provide. Sometimes he provides exactly what is needed. Sometimes he provides more than what is needed. When he provides you with more than what you need he expects that you will provide the extra to someone else in need. He is providing you to that person. Too many of us keep the extra for ourselves or fail to recognize the abundance that we have been blessed with. We let others go without so we can have more.

Organized religion is not a crutch that weak minded people lean on for help. Jesus’ own example shows us what we are to do. Jesus could not physically bear the weight of his cross on the way to his crucifixion. Simon of Cyrene was pulled from the crowd and made to help Jesus carry his cross. That is what Jesus has done for us. He has provided us with a church to help bear the weight of the crosses in our own lives. We are to be Simon to each other.

Pope Francis has referred to the Church as a field hospital after battle. We must love the wounded and heal their wounds. As the Pope so eloquently states, “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds.”

People are leaving the Church in droves every year because they are tired of carrying their crosses alone. They are tired of hurting or being judged by those who are only supposed to love them. Whether they know it or not they go in search of Simon. They go in search of a cross bearer. Many times what they encounter instead is Satan disguised as Simon. He convinces them to drop their cross and embrace the self. God doesn’t want you to suffer under the weight of that wood. He made you this way so it is good. Embrace who you are and what you want. We all know where that road ends.

If we want to make church relevant in people’s lives again we have to start by becoming cross bearers. We have to be Simon. We have to minister to the injured and wounded. We have to see the person first and treat him or her with the dignity God gave them. We have to live beauty, joy, and love. Just as a light draws in the moth so too does a joy filled church draw in the sinner.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you

Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow

Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony

Will you let me be your servant? Will you be my servant too?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How do you eat an elephant?

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Artwork courtesy of Sean Gallo @
Answer: One small bite at a time over a long period of time.
If a person had to eat an elephant in one big bite or all at one sitting it couldn’t be done. If you take small enough bites over a long period of time you could eat an entire elephant without even knowing it. This is exactly the tactic the devil uses to change a culture for the worse. He knows that if he were to introduce his plan all at once it would be outright rejected even by the most ungodly of us as being too extreme. But, if he introduces his plan in gradual steps people would accept it with little effort.

After gastric bypass surgery the stomach is left very small. A person having this surgery can only eat small amounts of food. With the drastic decrease in caloric intake the person loses weight quickly. This surgery only addresses the symptom, the added weight the person has. It does not address the real problem which is the fact that the person has an eating disorder where they eat more than they need. If the root cause of the problem is not addressed the surgery will only provide a temporary solution to the problem. The person will begin to eat just a little bit more, not enough to kill them but enough to stretch the stomach just a little. Now the person’s stomach can hold more so they eat a little more stretching the stomach just a little bit more again. Given enough time the stomach will return to its original size and the person will gain the weight they lost back and more.

Satan wishes to corrupt society and turn it away from God. He wants us to eat the elephant. He convinces the culture to push the limit of what is acceptable. Stretch that line just a little. When we have accepted and even embraced the change he gets us to stretch it some more. Given enough time something that was once considered morally reprehensible can become the norm to the point of being considered a human right. Take abortion as an example. At one point in our history no one would have supported killing an innocent baby growing in the womb. Now in our backward time it is considered a choice and even a woman’s reproductive right to do this horrid abomination.

How many people, even the avid prochoicers, would be on board with this if Satan had just come out at the beginning and said, “Sacrifice your children to me! Eat that elephant!" No way Jack. But when spoon fed one small bite over forty plus years half our population has eaten that elephant. A stomach once stretched can never return to its original size without drastic, long lasting change.

Not all change is bad. Any change that more deeply recognizes and respects a person’s dignity is indeed good and required. Any change that goes against the natural design God intended should be strongly fought and always resisted.

Don’t eat the elephant.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Walk the Talk, Pro-lifer

How many people who call themselves pro-life have limited themselves to just one or two children? How many use some form of contraception? How many pro-lifers visit the sick or those in hospitals? How many know what the inside of a nursing home looks like? How many pro-lifers sought vengeance after the World Trade Center fell and how many support capital punishment?

There is more to being pro-life than just being against abortion. Being against abortion is a good thing. Conception is when life begins and needs to be protected from that point forward. Conception is not where pro-life begins however. Pro-life begins by recognizing the dignity in all people. All people have dignity because each and every person has been created in the image and likeness of God. Dignity is like God's fingerprint on the soul. Pro-life continues by being open to life as God sees fit to provide it. Many pro-lifers are only willing to be pro-life when it is on their terms.

When most people hear the term pro-life they automatically associate it with those who protest abortions. Life runs from conception to natural death. True pro-lifers support all life. Womb to tomb. The elderly living in a nursing home are just as important and just as much a life as an unborn baby. We often forget about those at that end of the spectrum. Nursing homes and care centers are full of people who were left there to die. They go on basically forgotten. Many never receive a visitor outside of their care givers.

To be truly pro-life also means to love and care for those who hate you. They are still created in the image and likeness of God and they all have the same dignity as we do. We are called to love, not hate, our enemy. To love means to will the best for someone. Jesus loved his scourgers even as they flayed his flesh with their whips. If Jesus could do that we surely can love those who wish us dead.

Being pro-life means to hold all life sacred, not just life that is dear to us. Being pro-life means to see the sacred in even the worst among us. Can you see the dignity in the serial killer on death row? Can you love him enough to pray for his soul and not rejoice when they execute him? If that serial killer murdered someone close to you are you pro-life enough to forgive him? That is what Jesus asks us to do.

My heart is full because the tomb is empty.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Blind Faith

You Catholics are stupid you know? You mindlessly believe whatever the Church tells you to and do whatever the Pope tells you to do. You are sheeple.

I cannot tell you how often I hear something along these lines. Are we required to believe whatever the Church tells us? Well, as with most things with our faith the answer is a mix between yes and no.

Catholics are required to believe 100% of what the Church teaches on faith and morals. This is a nonnegotiable. You cannot believe something contrary to what the Church teaches in these areas and still be Catholic no matter what you call yourself. We believe this because we believe the promise Jesus made to this Church, his Church, that he would be with us until the end of the age and that even the gates of the underworld would not prevail against us. We believe that the Church is infallible in these matters because Jesus would not allow her to enter into error.

Infallible is a word that means without error. We believe that our Pope, by his appointed position as head disciple of the disciples, is infallible. Does this mean that we believe that the Pope is without error in all things? Absolutely not. The Pope’s infallibility only extends to his official teaching done from the Chair of Peter in union with his bishops on matters of faith or morals. When it comes to something like the sanctity of human marriage he cannot be wrong. When it comes to something like what flavor of ice cream is best, what color papal robe to wear to bed after Labor Day,  or in the case of Pope Francis, global warming, he is subject to the same possibility of being wrong as any of us.

The Church has never changed a single one of her teachings in the area of faith and morals, ever. What Jesus taught the twelve is the exact same thing the Church teaches today. A truth is a truth and, like God, is not subject to change. The Church may use different words today and may have clarified teachings but the teachings themselves are the same. Words and definitions of words change with the culture and so the Church must always update her teachings with each generation. An author who marries himself to a generation will be widowed in the next.

As Catholics we are required to believe 100% of what the Church teaches. That does not mean we cannot question those teachings. Indeed, the path to understanding comes through question, through seeking to understand. The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary that she was to conceive Jesus. She did not blindly say ok. She asked how. How can this be? How, why, and who are all valid questions anyone who is seeking knowledge should ask but we do not start with rejection. We start by accepting a statement and then seek to understand it. God is good. Ok. Why is God good?

Unfortunately in the culture in which we live in today, especially in America, everyone is their own pope. Everyone is an expert in every subject even if they know absolutely nothing about the subject at hand. It must be true; I read it on the internet. Instead of seeking to understand a truth we form our own opinion on it based upon what is most desirable to us. Then our opinion becomes fact for us and nothing sways us from it, even the truth. We have an entire generation of people who now stand up and say “I believe” in Mass on Sunday but then get to the parking lot and say “But the Church is wrong on…”

Are we called to have blind faith? Not at all. The truth is out there. We just have to open ourselves up to it. Not only does the Church teach what Christ passed down to us but she goes to extremes to teach the hows and the whys. Many people don’t want to know the whys because then they wouldn’t have an excuse to disbelieve. The more I learn about this faith the more beautiful and brilliantly genius it becomes. The more I learn the more it becomes abundantly clear that it was the hand of God who designed this faith. I want to proclaim from the mountain tops so everyone can find what I have found.

Instead, what I encounter most of the time are closed minded people who have already determined for themselves what truth is and will not seek to understand. Who really has the blind faith?

My heart is full because the tomb is empty.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Angels Among Us

In 2008 doctors found one small block in an artery of my heart. It was too small to fix. In 2012 I started to have increased symptoms of a blocked ticker. I tried to get in to been seen by the VA but was only ignored. Two years later the symptoms got bad enough that I finally went back to my civilian doctor. He put me straight in for an angiogram. We expected that the one block had gotten bad enough that it could now be ballooned open. As expected it had become 80% closed. What was not expected was that the other two arterial branches were also blocked at 90 – 95%. My heart was a time bomb with little time left on it. There was no option but to have open heart bypass.

As I was wheeled off to recovery the doctor went out to talk to my wife. She did not take the news well. It filled her with fear and worry and she was a mess of uncontrollable emotion. Then at her side appeared a man. He was shabby in appearance, almost looking homeless. He was holding a bible in his hand. He told my wife not to worry, that everything was going to be alright.  Then he asked if he could pray with her for a while. When she wasn’t looking the man slipped away and she never saw him again.

True to his word my surgery went without a hitch. I was up and walking in the ICU just hours after leaving recovery. Everyone was amazed how the life returned to my face.  I healed quickly and without complication. I was given a reprieve, a second chance at living past fifty.

The man in the waiting room, I have no doubt that he was an angel. An angel, by definition, is nothing more than a messenger. In celestial form an angel is a servant of God. They are pure spirits who occasionally are allowed to take human form to perform a task. We are assured by Holy Scripture that each of us has a guardian angel whose job it is to watch over us and guide our way to heaven. So was this guy a celestial angel sent to calm my wife or just a good guy with nothing better to do than hang around a hospital waiting room looking for someone to comfort? You can decide that for yourself. As for me, he provided my wife the comforting words she needed to hear and that makes him a gift from God either way.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Masculinized Feminism

We have never had a true feminist movement in America. A true feminist movement would extol and celebrate the traits that make a woman strong and unique. Instead, what masquerades as a feminist movement are masculinist women who believe the only way they are considered equal is if they can say and do everything a man can. The extremes in this movement wish to minimalize or completely remove the male of the species from as many things as possible. This has nothing to do with praising femininity, which most, if not all, of the hardcore feminists view as weakness, and more about control and power.

The word hierarchy is the English translation of the Latin for holy order. When God created he created everything with a specific purpose, function, and holy order. When things happen according to their designed purpose it is said that they are ordered. When things happen contrary to their designed purpose they are disordered. When things are ordered they lead to happiness and disorders lead away from happiness. This is God’s design for everything.

At the top of the hierarchical order is, of course, God. But even for God there is a hierarchy. We have one God that contains three unique and divine persons. We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Son answers to the Father and the Holy Spirit answers to both the Father and the Son. There will never be division among the three because all wills conform to that of the Father. They are equal but different with different functions. The Father is the head of all creation. The Son sits to the right of the Father and all rule and authority of creation has been given to him. The Holy Spirit carries action forth from the Father and the Son. All are God. All are equal but all have a different purpose. Each performs their purpose perfectly so God is always perfectly ordered. God is the Order from which all order flows.

After the Trinity the next in line of the Holy Order is not the Pope as many might think. The next in line is woman. Woman holds the highest position in God’s hierarchy for the human person. To woman God gave the greatest honor he has bestowed upon any of his creation. He made woman the Tokos, the life bearer. Therefore woman is the most exalted among all of God’s creation. The most exalted among the exalted would then be the Theotokos or the mother of God. We know her as Mary, the woman who conceived and bore the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus. She is the greatest human person who will ever live and that is why Catholics venerate and honor her.

And then comes the Pope right? Um, no. Next in line after woman is another “woman”, the Holy Catholic Church. The Holy Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded and promised he would be with until the completion of time. In poetic speech the Church is the bride of Christ. Jesus is the bridegroom. The book of Revelation, commonly believed to be about the end of the world, is in reality the story of the wedding celebration between Jesus and his Church. If you want to know what heaven will be like attend a Catholic Mass. It will be like that only with every creature in heaven worshiping together at once. Words do not exist to describe the magnitude of that celebration.

Last in the hierarchy is man. We are the bottom rung in God’s Holy Order, not the top as so many of us believe ourselves to be. So where does that put the Pope? Don’t worry, we won’t forget poor Cardinal Bergolio, now Francis.

Everything was made in an order and for a purpose. The designed purpose for woman was to be the tokos, the life bearer and to ektrephó or nourish. Woman was given the ability to bring forth life and to bring it to full maturity. Man’s designed purpose is to protect and provide for woman and her offspring and to “till the garden” or care for the rest of God’s creation. Everything that we do as men is supposed to be towards those two ends. It was never intended that we lord over or dominate anything.

The Pope, the bishops, the priests, and the deacons are under a separate hierarchal order, the order of servitude. Their designed purpose is to serve the Church Jesus started and all of human kind. The order of servitude is not a chain of command like you would find in a military organization. This Holy Order is upside down. The Pope is on the bottom rung of the ladder and has the responsibility of lifting up all those above him. He does this in unity with his bishops who then serve the priests and the deacons above them who, in turn, serve the Church and all of humanity. The Pope is a bishop who leads the college of bishops. He has the responsibility of every living soul on this planet on his shoulders. Bishops are both the head priest and the head deacon in their diocese and have the responsibility for every soul living within their diocese. Priests and deacons are different arms of the bishop. Priests are the right hand and responsible for sacrifice. They are responsible for each and every soul in their parish. The deacon is the left hand of the bishop and is responsible for being the servant to a servant church.

The devil is a very cunning creature. He has successfully convinced many women that their value is tied to being equal to a man. They are only truly equal if they can do everything a man can do. Feminism convinces women to lower themselves, to be less than what they were created to be, to become the inferior of the race. He gets them to mock the very thing that makes them unique and most favored among all of God’s creation. He gets them to willfully turn their backs on the gift God shared only with them.

With woman stepping down to fill the man’s role man has stepped away all together. We no longer have to be the protector and provider. We no longer have to care for the garden. All of God’s creation suffers when we do not fully assume this role for which we were made. The family is the building block on which all human society is based. The father is the head of the family. A beheaded family has no life within it. When the family ceases to live all of society crumbles.

A mother’s job is to nourish the family. If the mother concentrates her time in trying to be equal to the father by being like the father the family does not get the nourishment it needs and it does not mature properly. When the family fails society fails and the devil triumphs.

True feminism extols the virtues of womanhood, the virtues of the tokos and the ektrephós. Mothers should be exalted yet most are demonized as accepting something less. When you see a mother with three, four, or more children desperately trying to keep chaos at bay thank her for embracing her womanhood and her yes to God’s design. The future of mankind depends on it.
My heart is full because the tomb is empty.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Barabbas - The Choice is Yours.

Barabbas, the man chosen for release by the crowds during the trial of Jesus. Was Barabbas just a character in the story or did his presence have deeper meaning? This event happened two thousand years ago and eye witnesses are hard to come by these days. One day we will be able to ask Jesus himself but for now we can only speculate based on what the scriptures tell us…..or no longer tell us.

Some of the oldest copies of the Gospel of Matthew list Barabbas’ full name – Yeshua bar-Abbas or Jesus Barabbas. Early Church Father Origen was deeply troubled by this. He thought it was impossible that a criminal like Barabbas would share such a holy name with our Lord and concluded that it must have been added by a heretic. In those days they did not have printing presses. Each copy of Holy Scripture was hand copied, one from another. From that day forward the name Yeshua bar-Abbas was simply written as Barabbas.

I am not one to disagree with a Church Father but there are some things about our Lord that I do not think people fully comprehend. I do not think people fully grasp how much God became like us in all things. This is exactly why the Jewish people do not believe that the Messiah has come yet. This is precisely the reason why Judas betrayed our Lord. They both expected a great king to come, a military leader who would kick the Romans out of the lands of Israel and restore the Jewish people to their rightful place as the chosen people of God. Judas expected Jesus to do this very thing and expected to be put in a place of power after Jesus reestablished the throne. When Jesus didn’t show any interest in doing this Judas thought his betrayal would force Jesus’ hand and get him going on conquest.

We all know that Jesus is the greatest king who will ever rule and his rule will be forever. Before his name every knee shall bend and every head shall bow. This is not how Jesus entered into the world. Jesus was born an innocent, fragile, helpless baby. He was not born into a rich and prestigious family. He was born in a barn and slept in a hay bunk. His parents were poor. His foster father was a tektōn, a day laborer, a carpenter. Saint Joseph’s only claim to fame was that he and his wife, Mary, were distant relatives to the once great King David.

Yeshua a holy name? Maybe after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven to become the greatest king ever. When he walked the earth the names Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were among the most common names in use. Jesus not only became like us in all things but he became like the most common and lowly of us in all things. Before he started his public ministry it would have been difficult to pick these three out of a crowd of three. Jesus did not live an earthly kingship. Instead he ascended from the lowest of human kind. He came up from the very bottom so that no one was below him in anything. A rising tide lifts all boats. This is what Jesus did for humanity.

Yeshua - one of the most common names in use. As ordinary as they come. Translations of this name include Joshua and Jesus.

Barabbas - this one gets interesting. The early texts list this name as bar-Abbas. Bar means “son of” and abba is commonly translated as “father”.  Abba actually has a deeper and more intimate meaning than father. A more precise translation of abba is “daddy”.

So the Jewish people were presented with the following choice; whom do you want, Jesus, son of the father or Jesus, the Christ? We know who the people chose. But why is this even in scripture? What purpose does it serve? The true reason is not known to us but much speculation exists. This is mine.

Jesus, son of Mary, is the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. I believe Jesus Barabbas was the incarnation Satan, the visible image of the invisible devil. The people were given the choice between keeping good or evil. We chose evil and Satan rejoiced. We chose to put God to death and the devil danced in glee for he was victorious.

But Jesus was more than just innocent. He was divine. He was tortured and his divine blood was shed. This not only satisfied the price of death but the price of death for all humanity. Death could no longer hold Christ and it could no longer hold anyone in Sheol, the land of the dead, who accepted Jesus as king and followed him out of the netherworld.

In the midst of his victory the devil was defeated and lost hold of all under his authority. Now the devil only has authority over those that choose themselves over God. Satan only has authority over those who choose Barabbas instead of Christ.

Barabbas is not only the choice given to the Jewish people by Pilot but is the choice each and every person must make on their own. It is the question we all must answer. Do you stand and scream "Barabbas!" or do you live for Christ?

My heart is full because the tomb is empty.