Friday, November 24, 2017

The Glow of Grace


You wouldn’t want to run a marathon while in the middle of a fast. You would lack the energy to go very far. Marathon runners carbo load their bodies with energy so they can successfully run the race.

Many of us think of grace in much the same way. It is a mystical fuel that we can store up in our spiritual gas tanks. When we do something right or partake in the sacraments, God gives us his grace which strengthens us in our day and helps us to live a good Christian life. We take God’s grace and deposit it into our spiritual bank accounts for a withdrawal later.

But grace is more an effect than an object. Grace is what happens to us when our wills and our actions are in harmony with God. When our wills are aligned with God’s the light of God’s loves shines through us, making our souls glow brightly. This glow is veiled to us who can only see the natural world but it is spectacularly visible to the supernatural world.

There have been occasions when the veil has been lifted and man has been allowed to see what grace looks like. The most notable was Jesus' transfiguration on the mountain. When Jesus was visited by Moses and Elijah on the mountain top Peter, James, and John were permitted to see what the angels could. Jesus took on a glow, a light emanating from within that had no apparent source. Jesus, being the second person of God, is always full of grace. On this occasion we were allowed to see him as the angels do.

Mary, mother of God, was conceived without sin and lived a sinless life. Her life was in communion with God’s will from the very moment she came into being. When the angel Gabriel addressed her he refers to he as ‘full of grace’. Mary’s glow of grace is the brightest of all creatures, second only to that of Jesus. She is a guiding light for all humanity and the epitome of what a human can become if we could only say yes to God’s plan for our lives.

When we are in communion with God we are in a state of grace. When our wills are aligned with his the light of God’s love shines through us. As we separate ourselves from God through venial sin that glow starts to diminish. When we commit mortal sin we separate ourselves completely from God and that glow no longer exists. The glow of grace acts as a beacon to all creatures supernatural. Joy filled is the guardian angel whose assignment glows brightly. The glow of grace is a light that hurts the devil’s eyes. No demon can tolerate being in the presence of Mary. Her cooperation with God’s will casts her in such a light that demons flee from her. Having Mary by your side is one of the best protections from evil you can get.

But woe to the man who is not in a state of grace. Just as a bedroom light scares monsters from under a child’s bed at night the glow of grace helps keep demons at bay. When this glow is faint or does not exist at all it is like ringing a dinner bell for those who look to devour a weak will. Fearful are the guardian angels whose assignments lack the glow of grace. They must work harder for those they protect to ward off the roaming lion looking to devour the weak or lost soul.

It would be so much easier if we could see the supernatural. We could see the angels that surround us and the demons that lurk in the shadows preparing to pounce. We could see Mass for what it really is. We could see all of the Saints who have gone before us. We could see those who are in a state of grace and we could see those who are struggling. We could aid the angels and the Saints to help those who were struggling.

But we do not need supernatural vision to do that. We aid those around us by being in a state of grace ourselves. Our glow can help those who don’t. The light of God’s love shining through us can be a beacon and offer protection to those still in darkness. It all starts with us. Partake in the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Align your will with that of God’s so your soul glows brightly with grace. Help make this world and the supernatural one a brighter place.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Anniversary Protestants

It was Halloween, 1517. A defiant Catholic monk nails a paper to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg and shakes his fist defiantly in the air. The Protestant Reformation had begun. At least that was the story taught to me when I was growing up in the Lutheran Church.
For the most part that story is a fable. Luther did write his Ninety-five Theses where he protested the sale of indulgences. He did not intend to challenge the Church but offered the paper as scholarly objection. For years prior to this Luther had begun teaching things more in line with his evolving personal beliefs than what the Church held true and had taught for fifteen hundred years. The Church responds to these things slowly because the charge of heresy is extremely serious. They took time to review each line of the Ninety-five Theses and other of Luther’s writing and teaching. Eventually a case of heresy was cast at Luther who was then called in to be examined.  The hearings broke down and Luther directly challenged Church teaching. An order for his arrest was issued but Luther snuck away in the middle of the night to avoid it. Luther was ordered to recant forty-one sentences from things he had written. When he refused to do so he was excommunicated in 1521.

Luther determined that the Church had fallen into error and that only he knew the truth. He founded his own church based upon his opinions, translating the bible into common German. He took out seven books of the bible that had been in the Catholic Canon for over a thousand years. He even added the word “alone” in Romans 3:28 to support his concept of Sola Fide. Other reformers, like Knox, Calvin, and Wesley, also agreed with Luther that the Catholic Church had fallen into error. They disagreed with Luther that Luther knew the truth and each founded their own denominations of the Christian church. Luther lived long enough to see his own church splinter into denominations of Lutheranism when other Lutherans believed Luther was in error and formed their own churches. As the world becomes smaller and smaller through immediate and electronic communications the splintering of the Christian faith continues at an ever increasing rate. There are currently over 40,000 different flavors of Christianity in the world today, each teaching what they believe to be the one truth passed down from Jesus.

The one thing the Catholic Church can claim that no other church can is that they have the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus physically present in their Church at all times. The Catholics believe that when a priest consecrates a host Jesus becomes fully present in that host through transubstantiation. The hosts are no longer bread and wine but are actually body and blood. Lutherans believe in substantiation, or of the same substance. Jesus exists within the bread and wine but for only as long as communion takes place. Then he leaves from the leftovers.

If what the Catholic Church believes is false there is little reason to be Catholic. Almost any Christian church would work at that point. But, if what they say is true there is little reason to be anything but Catholic. I am Catholic because I do believe what they claim to be true is actually true. God has given us signs and miracles so that we may know that the Catholic claim is true. As with every sign, God gives us enough room to not believe. When we are blessed with a sign the Church investigates it. They will rule if the sign can be believed or should not be believed. They never require that a sign be believed.

So why do I believe the Eucharist is the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus my Lord?

Mystics exist who can tell the difference between a consecrated host and an unconsecrated one. When they look at the hosts a consecrated host had a glow to it. They have been tested time and time again by placing a consecrated host among hundreds of unconsecrated ones. They can always successfully pick the consecrated host.

A consecrated host is needed to perform a proper black mass by Satan worshipers. When we are trained as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion we are taught to be on a constant lookout for those who pose as Catholics to obtain a consecrated host. This happens in no other church. A Lutheran communion wafer does not cut it in a black mass. If they are all the same what would it matter?

Probably the strongest evidence to me are the Eucharistic miracles. There are several well documented cases where a consecrated host has changed in to flesh and blood. When this happens the Church launches a thorough investigation by an independent third party investigator. If the miracle is found to be what it appears to be the Church will rule that it is worthy of our belief. We are still given the option to disbelieve if our hearts are not moved by it.

One of the most recent Eucharistic Miracles happened in Buenas Aires, Argentina in 1996. The short story is that a host was dropped on the ground. It was placed in some water to dissolve. After a few days it started to change. The Archbishop, a man named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, ordered an investigation be done on this host. You may know him by his new name of Pope Francis. (See linked video)

Two samples were taken to laboratories in California and New York.  The scientists looking at the sample were not told what it was a sample of. One of the scientists was an expert in cardiology, pathology, and biochemistry. He said that the sample was heart tissue taken from a man who had been tortured to death. He had no idea that this was taken from a consecrated host.

Then the scientist asked a question. How is it that this heart tissue is alive? It is moving. It is beating. This was three years after the sample had been taken.

You can believe this or not. I do not require proof that what the Catholic Church claims is the truth. I believe it with all of my heart. I believe it to the point that I am willing to die for it. How could I ever consider going to a another church, a church that does not have the physical presence of Jesus in it?

This year the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The world celebrated the anniversary of the beginning of the Church Jesus created being torn apart, shredded into over 40,000 pieces by men who thought they knew more than the Church Christ promised to stand by until the end of the age. Is this something that should be celebrated or a tragedy that should be mourned? Did Luther reform the Church or revolt from it?



Friday, November 17, 2017

Lost in Translation...again.


When I took over doing international support on my company’s products I was asked to go to England. I came home and told my brother that I was going to London. The first thing he asked me was, “Do they speak English there?”

I couldn’t resist. I replied back, “No. They are sending a translator with me.”

In the end the joke was on me. Although we both spoke English many words and phrases don’t hold the same meaning. The first night I was there we went for kabobs, which to me meant meat on a stick. To my London coworkers they were gyros. Over there you can shag and suck on fags. To me the first meant to dance and the second was quite offensive. To them the first was offensive and the second means nothing more than to smoke a cigarette. When my Australian coworker came to the US and went skiing he was told by the female instructor that if he had problems with a run to go down on his fanny. To an Australian that refers to a body part a man does not have. Imagine the look of shock that was on his face.

The fact of the matter is that languages rarely translate smoothly. Words do not hold the same meaning and the best we can do is to get as close as we can when we translate. One of the problems with a casual read of the bible is that we are reading a translation of a translation using modern understanding of words without a historical context or frame of mind. Before the scriptures were written it was passed on orally. Very few people could read or write and paper was made of papyrus and animal skins that were very expensive. It will come as a surprise to some to learn that ancient Jews did not speak English.

Jesus would have spoken Aramaic, the common language of the Jews, and Hebrew, the religious language. He would have also spoke Greek, which was the common language of business, and if he didn’t speak Latin, the language of the ruling government, he would have at least understood some of it. The oral history and stories would have been told in Aramaic and scripture would have been read in Hebrew. When the early Church told the story of Jesus to the Jews it would have been in Aramaic but when it was passed on to the Gentiles and finally written down it was done so in Greek. Not all words translated easily when written in Greek.

One example is that Jesus referred to God, the Father as “Abba”.  This was translated to Greek as πατερ (pater) which was also pater in Latin, père in French, padre in both Italian and Spanish, vater in German, and eventually father in English. The word father often leads one to think of the adult relationship one has with the man responsible for his parentage. When we think of God the Father this is usually how we think of him.

Yet, Abba had a much deeper meaning than father. If we were to translate the Aramaic straight to English we come closer to the actual meaning of Abba with our word daddy. Daddy is a much more intimate term used between a small child and a father. It signifies a different type of relationship between the two.  A small child needs much greater care and has a more innocent love for his daddy than an adult does for his father. So the prayer Jesus handed down to his Church really begins, Our Daddy, who art in heaven… 

The English translation of the bible we have comes from a Greek text. There are many examples where the Greek does not translate the full meaning to English. For example, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?”

Peter answers three times, “You know I love you.” And then Peter gets upset. When read in English it doesn’t make much sense.

We have only one word for love. I can love my wife. I can love my children. I can love my squirrel. I can love my pencil. The word love is used in each of these but we can assume that it is a love of a different type or level for each. The Greek has many words depicting a different type of love. In this passage Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him above all else, with sacrificial love. Peter is answering, “Naw, I love you like a brother.”

This demonstrates the danger of trying to read and gather meaning of the bible on your own. We are reading a translation of a translation of a translation using modern definitions and understanding. It is very easy to miss what is actually being said and receive the wrong message from the text. The devil uses this to direct man into using Holy Scripture to justify every type of evil. We can end up on the wrong road and create our own misguided ad incorrect theology. This is the primary reason we have over 30,000 different flavors of Christianity in the world today.

As a Catholic I am very lucky to come from a faith tradition rooted in an oral history. The Church passed down scripture orally long before it was written. The meaning of a passage was handed down through the ages and I have the Magisterium to teach me that meaning. This does not mean that I don’t read scripture. Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. This also does not mean that I can’t gain a personal inspiration from scripture. What it does mean is that I cannot redefine for myself what the actual teaching of scripture is based solely on my opinion. I do not get to disagree with the Magisterium on the meaning of scripture.

Read scripture. Learn from it. Refer often to a competent guide that can direct you to the things that have been lost in translation.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Wives Allowed


I love each and every one of you reading this blog right now. I would like to have a personal relationship with each of you. I would like to hang out with you and be BFFs. The issue is that I can’t stand your spouse. They are flawed. One has an attitude problem. One isn’t a good house keeper. One has really bad halitosis. We can hang out and do things together but they are not invited.

How good of a relationship do you think we will have if this is how I truly felt? I can tell you from personal experience that we won’t. I have destroyed some of the closest, dearest relationships in my life because I couldn’t accept my friend’s spouse. When you attack a person’s spouse you attack that person.

Yet, this is exactly what millions of Christians do to Jesus each and every day. One of the most used metaphors to describe Christ and his Church is that of the bride groom and bride. The Church founded by Jesus is his bride and he is her groom. The entire book of Revelation is about the wedding feast in heaven.

So many people today have turned their backs on the Church. The Church has no relevance in their lives. They don’t need the Church. All they need is a personal relationship with Jesus. They have Jesus and they have the bible. They have no need for the Church. The Church is flawed. The Church makes mistakes. The Church is human. Jesus is God. Jesus is perfect. Jesus loves me, the bible tells me so.

When we attack the Church we attack Jesus himself. When we cast the Church away we tell Jesus that we love him but want nothing to do with his bride. There are some who believe that Jesus is all sweet and gentle and full of love. They conveniently ignore the passages that talk about justice and wrath. That’s the Old Testament God. He has mellowed through the years. The First commandment tells us that God is a jealous God. He is a God of love, and although he loves all of creation, his bride holds a special place in his heart. So does his mother, but that is another blog entry.

So is just any church the bride of Christ? Is the Lutheran church? Is the Presbyterian church? How about the Jehovah Witness church? I have heard them all make claim to be that church. They are all part of the universal church and therefore it doesn’t matter which church you are part of. Even the people who only want a personal relationship with Jesus are a church. They are just a church with one member.

But scripture is pretty clear that Jesus is referring to the Church he created. That can’t be the Lutheran church. That church was created by Martin Luther in the year 1517. He created this church because he disagreed with the Church Jesus created. He felt that Church had fallen into error so the best thing to do was to cast her aside and begin again in a church of his making. Sorry Jesus, your bride is messed up so we are going with her second cousin.

It can’t be the Presbyterian church. John Knox started that church in Scotland in 1560 for much the same reason that Luther started his church. John didn’t like Christ’s bride either and replaced her with one more to his liking.

And then there is Charles Taze Russell, a Restorationist minister, who founded the Jehovah Witness church in 1931. He believed that the mainstream Protestant religions of the day had also fallen into error and that only he knew the way.

The buzz word of the day is Ecumenism. Ecumenism is recognizing that all Christians belong to the body of Christ and finds a way that we can pray and celebrate Jesus together. Ecumenism is everyone looking for a way to become more unified and grow closer together no matter how far we grow apart. In the end it really comes down to the great mercy of God towards those who have attacked and maligned his bride. I know how I would respond to someone who has attacked my bride in the vicious way the world has attacked Christ’s. But then again, I am a fallen, sinful human. His ways are so much greater than my ways.

If you love God and live your life the best you can trying to love, honor, and serve him we have some common ground to stand on. Faith is a personal journey we each have to walk on our own. We are all on different parts of this Road to Damascus but we all are trying to reach the same destination. This is where ecumenism starts.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?


One of the things Christopher Columbus discovered when he landed in the new world was a fruit no one in Europe had ever seen. It was juicy and sweet like an apple but it was oddly shaped, like a pinecone. Thus, it was named the pineapple.

Columbus took a boat load of the new fruit home with him when he returned to the known world. It was an instant hit and the demand for the fruit grew. It became a status symbol of luxury, being reserved solely for the rich. A single pineapple would sell for the equivalent of $8000 a piece in today’s currency. People would throw viewing parties where a pineapple would be put on a pedestal and unveiled to a group of awestruck friends and neighbors. Then it would be put on display for all to see in a prominent part of the home. The pineapple would often go uneaten, left on display until it began to rot.

Thanks to companies like Dole and Del Monte and the invention of the steam ship pineapples soon became widely available to everyone of every economic class. The allure of the pineapple faded and now you can get it in a can from any mega mart or dollar store for next to nothing.

Human sexuality has followed a similar path as the pineapple. Before 1950 when a woman had sex with a man she did so at the risk of her very life. Pregnancy was the leading cause of death for women, either from preterm complications or in child birth. On June 23, 1960 the FDA approved the birth control pill to be sold in the United States. On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States made laws that prohibited abortion unconstitutional. These two things combined have done more to destroy America than anything else in our history.

Human sexuality is a treasure that was given to man by God. God loved man so much that he included him in his great plan of salvation by entrusting us to fill heaven with Saintly humans. This is a gift that he did not share with the angels. Human sexuality has two purposes, unitive and procreative. Sex was designed to be so intimate that it united two individuals into one flesh. The result of that is procreative, the bringing about of new life into this world. Sex unites husband and wife together and brings about the child which forms a family. The family, not the individual, is the primary building block of every society. That is the design and purpose for which God created human sexuality. Any use of this sexuality that goes against its designed purpose is disordered.

Virginity, therefore, is something to be treasured. It is a unique and special gift a husband can give his wife and wife to husband. Yet, in today’s culture virginity is a dirty word. It is something we try to get rid of at the earliest possible time. Being a virgin can bring with it a great amount of criticism and teasing from one’s peers or even one’s parents. Instead of being a treasure, guarded and given as the deepest meaning gift, it is thrown away in a moment that holds no more meaning than to be able to say, “I did it!”

Besides the sacrifice of our Lord and the air in our lungs there is no greater gift man has been given than our human sexuality. It is the glue that holds a family together and the action that brings about future saints. Because of this nothing is attacked more by the devil. We throw virginity away on a whim and reduce sex to nothing more than an unattached physical action between any number of people. The pill has enabled us to accept God’s gift of life on our terms allowing people to have sex without consequence. This in turn has destroyed the unitive affects of sex. Abortion on demands allows us to correct our mistakes if a sexual encounter brings about a new life we do not want. With the glue between husband and wife severely weakened or gone altogether and sex being done for recreation instead of procreation the American family has taken a serious beating. Rare is it to find an intact marriage after twenty years. Rarer is it to find an unbroken or unblended family.

If the family is the primary building block of the society when you have a broken family you have a broken society. You don’t have to look very far in today’s culture to see how true that really is. The devil has been very successful in getting us to embrace the “I” over the “we” and our world is paying a dear price. We have heard that children are our future so when we stop having children we create for ourselves a very bleak future. Every first world nation is now under replacement rate, meaning we produce fewer children than the number of people who die. Entire towns in Europe are disappearing, like the ghost towns in the Wild West, because there is no one to replace the elders when they pass. Less children means there will be less people to do the work and less people to pay taxes to support those who have retired. Less people to pay taxes means those who do will have to pay more for longer and that services currently provided must be cut.

Fewer children mean fewer priests, volunteers, donors, and people in our pews. Mass greatly needs more crying babies for without them we will have empty churches in forty years. There will be no volunteer groups that do so much of the necessary ministry in our world today.

The devil has done all the ground work to insure civilization's destruction. He hung the noose and we have eagerly stuck our heads in it. He is not waiting for us to jump but he is actively trying to knock the chair out from under us. His pleasure at what we have become is immense.

And God continues to offer us salvation, in this world and the next. All we have to do is recognize the genius of his creation and use it as he has designed it. If we turn back to him, in our hearts, minds, and actions we can save this world he has worked so hard to create.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Chemotherapy for the Soul


When I first converted to Catholicism I carried with me much Lutheran baggage. I professed that the Catholic Church held the fullness of the truth, yet, like so many Catholics today believed that it was wrong on some very important points. I let my pride guide my mind as I set forth to prove where and why the Church was wrong.

My biggest beef was in the way the Church distributed communion. She freely shared the word of God with anyone who would listen but she reserved the body of God to a select few who met a certain criteria. The Church teaches that you have to be in a state of grace to receive communion. Aren’t sinners the ones who really needed the Lord the most? Didn’t Jesus himself say that the healthy are in no need of a doctor and he came to heal the sick?

My logic was sound. Sound logic is what made people like Luther and Calvin so popular during the reformation. As sound as my logic sounded to me at the time it was never the less still wrong. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith begins with the Eucharist, is centered in it, and ends with it. To question the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is to question the very foundation of the faith. Had I really converted or was I just another Catholic in name only?

If we liken mortal sin to a cancer that destroys a soul then we need a very powerful chemo to kill the cancer. The Eucharist is not that chemo. The Eucharist does not remove the stain of mortal sin from a person’s soul. The Church does possess the chemo that destroys the cancer. It is the most powerful type of chemo that can destroy even the most aggressive and deadly cancer. This chemo is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus gave the Church the authority to forgive sin. Jesus gave the Church the medicine to heal those dying from the cancer that devours souls. Forgiveness is the strongest medicine known to man. It is the antidote to the poison we let into our lives.

So if the Eucharist is not a medicine what is it? The Eucharist is the ultimate super vitamin. It takes a healthy body to the next level. The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. When we take the Eucharist into our bodies we are forming a very personal and intimate relationship with him. He lives in us and he dwells in us. If we release our will to his we become one. So why can’t a person receive the Lord at this level unless they are in a state of grace? Why does the Church keep Christ from those who do not believe this simple truth?

Sometimes people are so sick, their bodies so weak, that the cure would kill them. Before we can treat the cancer we have to treat the person to get them strong enough to survive the cure for the cancer. To a healthy body the Eucharist is a super vitamin that will bring the person to the closest state of perfection they can obtain on this side of heaven. To a sick person the Eucharist can be deadly. Saint Paul tells us very clearly that those to receive the Eucharist unworthily bring death upon themselves. When a sinner, who knows that they have committed grave sin, thumbs their nose at the Church and takes the Eucharist anyway they do so at the risk of serious peril.

The Church knows and understands this and that is why communion is restricted to those who hold this understanding of what the Eucharist is and who, to the best of their knowledge, are in a state of grace. The Church has the authority granted to her by Jesus to heal the disease with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then strengthen body and soul with the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. These “medicines” have to be administered in the correct order to be affective. One without the other or administered in the wrong order can be deadly.

There is one less bag I will be carrying through this life. Fortunately for me it was also the heaviest.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

δοῦλος


This is the Greek word – doulos. It is most often translated in Holy Scripture as servant. This is the lesser of its two meanings. A better translation of doulos is slave. A slave is;

one who gives himself up to another's will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men.”

Or

                “Devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests.”

This word is translated as servant in scripture because the modern understanding of slave has been colored by the use of racial slavery in the beginning of this great nation. Racial slavery is a great evil we all should oppose. It has nothing to do with “giving up one’s self” or “devoting to another”. It is all about a stronger will devouring a weaker will. There is nothing good about devouring, even when it is about a plate of barbeque ribs. Nothing should ever be devoured.

But slavery in and of itself is not a bad thing. There are different kinds of slavery and they all have a place in this world.

When I was in the military I was an indentured servant. An indentured servant is one who signs a contract, also known as an indenture or covenant, in which they agree to work for a certain amount of time in exchange for something. I swore an oath to serve no less than eight years in exchange for the benefits I received. The collateral for this oath was my life, which I could be ordered to give up if it were required. I was no longer my own. I was G.I. – Government Issue. I could be punished for something as simple as getting a tattoo because it was considered defacing government property.

Indentured servants were common in the time of Jesus. It was a noble profession. Indentured servants were often well taken care of and some of them were paid enough that they could afford to have their own slaves. Another form of indentured servant are those who have sold themselves into slavery to pay off a debit they have incurred.

I am doulos, in the sense of both definitions above. My life is not my own but of the one who lives in me. At my baptism I invited Jesus into my life. God adopted me as his child. Each time I receive the Eucharist I recommit myself to Jesus. I take the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus into myself. I ask him to live and dwell within me and to make the light of his love push out all darkness within me. I give myself up to his will for his service in bringing him to those in darkness and to bring those in darkness closer to him. Your will, not mine, be done. Although I am imperfect and fail at this task it is what I desire and the goal I try to live to each and every day.

I am also doulos because I have devoted myself to another to the disregard of my own interest.  This should be obvious. I am a husband and a father. My life is not mine to live as I will because it was given up for the welfare of my wife. My main purpose in this life is to get her into heaven. When I became a father that extended to my children as well. Everything I do should be directed to this end, even if that means I do not make it with them. I often think of a scene from The Avengers. Ironman saves New York City by guiding a nuclear missile into space. He cannot go with it and ultimately falls back to earth, seemingly to his death. If my family were that missile and space were heaven I will have fulfilled my purpose if I guide them there, even if I don’t make it with them. One of my prayers before receiving the Eucharist is that God allow me to bare the punishment for the sins of my family so they can enter into his Kingdom at the end of their time on earth. If that means they make it to heaven and I don’t I am ok with that. What loving person wouldn’t take on to themselves the suffering of a spouse or child if they had the ability to do so? That is what it means to be devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. It is what I would do for them and it is what Jesus did for me.

It is also what he did for you.

Are you doulos?


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Time for a Real Solution


In the wake of yet another tragic act of violence there has been the usual knee jerk reaction calling for more laws and more restrictions, more bans and more loss of freedoms concerning guns. The gun is to blame for the killing in Las Vegas. If we only had one more law this could have been avoided.

Chicago has the strictest gun control in this nation. Some of their laws even have been ruled as being unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. The types of guns people use in these senseless acts are illegal altogether in Chicago. On paper, Chicago should be the safest place in this country. Yet, every year Chicago leads the nation in the numbers of murders and the numbers of people who are shot. Their crime is now spilling over to neighboring communities and they too are seeing a record number of murders. Obviously more legislation is not the answer to the problem.

Perhaps the solution is more incarceration. Maybe if we jail more criminals and keep them there longer these sorts of things wouldn’t happen. The United States also leads the world in the number of people we incarcerate. It does not appear that building more jails and filling them with the unruly is the solution either. So what is the solution? Where do we start?

Society is broken. We have lost sight of what is good and true. We hold lies and impossibilities in higher regard. For example, we have institutions full of people we have locked away simply because they believe themselves to be something they are not. Mr. Jones thinks he is Abraham Lincoln so we have to institutionalize him for his own good and for the protection of the population. Yet, Bruce Jenner is heralded as a hero, given his own TV show, and made woman of the year for becoming Caitlyn. Mr. Jones is a danger, Bruce is a hero. Both believe themselves to be something they can never truly be.

Our society has gone completely off the rails. We idolize decadence and debauchery. We kill our children and call it a choice. We extend rights to places they were never intended to exist and take the same rights away from those they are intended to protect. We live in an age where everything perverse is permissible and everything good is unfathomable. Nothing is forgiven.

If we want to rebuild this society to the greatness it once was we will have to begin by restoring our foundation. It makes no sense to fix a leaky roof when the crumbling foundation is about to bring the entire building crashing down. Contrary to popular belief, the foundation of every society is the family, not the individual. As goes the family so goes the society. It should come as no surprise to anyone that our society is in shambles. We have been chipping away at the family for over fifty years now.

The women’s liberation movement started the ball rolling by neutering the male. We have never had a feminist movement in this country. What we have had is an attempt to masculinize femininity. There has been a highly successful campaign to get women to believe that the only way they can be considered equal to a man is if they can say and do everything a man does. They try to shame women who embrace their maternal side to stay home and raise the next generation. We created the pill so women can have sex like men, without fear of getting pregnant, and then made abortion legal so they can kill the unwanted if they still did. These two things combined have done more to destroy our country than any enemy we have ever faced on the battlefield.

The “empowering” of women disenfranchised the men. There is no job a woman can’t do better than a man, including being a father. With the male’s role severely reduced in society his role as father was also reduced. Fathers took a far backseat in contributing to the upbringing of their children. God made us male and female and bestowed upon us different characteristics. Both father and mother are vital to raising a well balanced child.

The glue that holds a family together is the marriage of the father and mother. This too has been under merciless attack for decades. Marriage began as solely a religious institution but state governments quickly got involved because of the importance of marriage and the family in the structure of society. Government used to recognize this and support the traditional marriage. We no longer consider traditional marriage as being the primary building block that forms the cornerstone of society. Marriage is now viewed as an individual right, not important to society. Marriage has gone from a life-long covenant to a dissoluble contract. The family has paid a great price for it. Blended families are now the norm. Fatherless families are not that far behind. The statistics of what happens to the children of fatherless families are staggering. It is rare for good things to come from a family without a father as its head.

If we want to rebuild our society the first thing that has to happen is that fathers have to step up and do the job correctly. We have to restore the value of men and those men have to be the strong examples their children crave.

We have to realize that marriage isn’t about love or what two consenting adults want to do to each other. Marriage is about procreating the next generation and to provide stable unity for those children to grow, thrive, and be loved in. Marriage is a vocation. It is not a right. A vocation is a calling from God. Not everyone is called to be married and no one is called to be in a nontraditional marriage. That is the devil at work in our lives.

With fathers being fathers and mothers being mothers who are committed in a life-long traditional marriage we can raise a well adjusted next generation who can start to right the ship. Until we fix our broken foundation we will just continue the slide into moral decay. The pendulum can only swing so far before it starts swinging the other way. I hope that we are almost at full amplitude.



Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Definition of Insanity


Jimmy’s high school was known throughout the state as having the best football team anywhere to be found. It was a rare year that they didn’t win the state championship. Recruiters from colleges across the country often made stops to watch his team play and every year three or four players were offered scholarships. What made his football team so good? Practice.

The team started practices the week after the fourth of July holiday and went six days a week. Twice-a-days started in August which often became three-a-days if the team did not perform up to expectation. The only two excuses the coach would accept for missing a practice was that you were in the hospital or dead. The football players could not have summer jobs or go away on vacation with their families. Football was life and it was serious stuff.

What was all this practice done for? Eight games. The high school football year consisted of eight games. The players would practice six days a week, eight to twelve hours a day, for months to play eight games.

What is more important – a football game or the state of your soul? Do you practice your faith constantly or do you just show up for the “game” on Sunday? Doing something over and over again and expecting different results is not the definition of insanity as it is so often said to be. It is the definition of practice. We practice in the hopes that our repeated action brings about a change, a different result. Showing up on Sunday solely because it is an obligation or because that is what we have always done does not make one a better Christian. What makes a better Christian is the same thing that makes Jimmy’s football team so good. Practice. We must constantly practice our faith.

Many mistakenly believe that our Sunday services, be that a Mass or other gathering, is our game day. But when we gather in community it is not for the game but in preparation for the game. Game day for the Christian is every day of our lives. We gather together in community to give thanks, become renewed, and to prepare ourselves for the week ahead.

We perform the way we practice. If we actively participate in Mass, offering ourselves fully to God, we will perform better than the person just phoning it in. It is the difference between the championship team and the one that seldom wins a game. It is the difference between a scholarship to an Ivy League university or attending a community college. Where we spend eternity is so much more important than winning eight games. How we practice our faith should be equally as important.



Saturday, September 23, 2017

Holiness


God alone is holy. God too, is love. The two words are so closely related that they can be thought of as the same thing. Holiness is love and love is holiness.  Holiness in a thing, in an action, in a place, or in a person is nothing more than a reflection of the holiness of God back to him. The greater the reflection the more holy something is.

Jesus was the perfect human but he did not have a perfect reflection of God’s holiness. Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore his holiness is not a reflection but the source of holiness and love. On the mountain during the transfiguration the veil of Jesus’ divinity was drawn for an instant to allow Peter, James, and John to see him for who he truly is.

Mary was also a perfect human and was able, through divine grace, to perfectly reflect God’s holiness and love. She is the model for the entire human race of what is possible. If we wish to be like Jesus we only need to imitate his mother. Mary’s holiness was a perfect reflection of God’s because she emptied herself fully and, literally as well as figuratively, became a vessel for the divine. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mary too said not my will but yours be done. More importantly she lived that way until her last breath on this earth emptied from her lungs.

Therein lies the secret to holiness. If one wishes to be holy one only need empty himself completely and align his will perfectly with God’s. Therein also lies the reason why perfect holiness is not possible on this side of heaven. The original sin of the first humans stained the souls of all human kind. Mary was spared this stain so that she would be a pure vessel in which our Lord could be born into this world. That was her reward for her yes to counter Eve’s no.

For the rest of us humans the best we can do is to be imperfect reflections of the perfect God. This endeavor is not in vain. Every Saint in heaven is the perfect reflection of God’s holiness but no human Saint besides Mary approached heaven that way. Purgatory is the place of perfecting, the place where the dirt on our souls is washed away so that we can be the perfect reflection. The closer we are to perfection when we go to purgatory the sooner we will be able to live with God in heaven.

If our lives on earth is like a marathon to heaven it makes sense that the more in shape we are in the easier that marathon will be to run. If I am a glutton who never exercises, a marathon would be agonizing and torturous to run. It would be so painful and difficult in fact that I would probably give up altogether and gladly accept my fate in hell. If however, my goal is to run the marathon well I will do things to make running the marathon as easy as it possibly can be. I will choose to eat right and exercise, to be in the best shape I can be in.

Likewise, if my goal for this life is to become the Saint I was created to be I will do what I can to better reflect God’s holiness and love here on earth. I must actively and constantly resolve to align my will with that of God. I must look past the person to see Jesus dwelling within that person. I must strive to love that person Jesus is dwelling within with the same perfect sacrificial love God has for me. I must recognize the dignity each and every person has regardless of their lot in life because they were created in the image and likeness of God and intended to live in heaven with him forever.

The better I can do these things the better I can reflect God’s holiness in my life and the closer I will become to being the person I was created to be.



Love Thy Neighbor


While driving through the countryside I came upon a house where someone had transformed various objects into planters. There was an old boot with a bright yellow flower growing up from it. There was a claw-footed bathtub and the rusting body of an old truck with different plants growing in them. The thing that caught my eye the most was an old console TV that had a fish tank where the TV tube used to be.

How often do we use an object for something other than its intended purpose? I am always grabbing a large screwdriver when I need to pry something open. The back of a wrench often doubles as a hammer. My teeth show the damage from using them to strip far too many wires.

We do this to people as well. We use people to get ahead in life. We use them to take the blame for something we have done. We use them as places to direct our anger or hatred. We use them for sexual pleasure. We use them for forced labor. We use them.

People were not created to be used. People were created to be loved and to live with God forever in heaven. We commit a grave sin when we use people as objects. God gave us the Ten Commandments so we could know how to live in a right relationship with him and each other. Jesus condensed these commandments down to just two: Love your God with your entire being and love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving your neighbor starts with seeing your neighbor as a person. Take the time to get to know those around you. You cannot get to know someone and love them if you don’t listen to them.

On a recent journey I rode in many taxis throughout the week. I met many interesting people, each with a story to tell. There was Cho the Okinawan. He started driving cabs when the need for Japanese tour bus drivers waned. There was Timmy from Vietnam who came here as a refugee fleeing persecution. There was Chu from South Korea who had three daughters and was greatly worried about what is currently happening in the north. My last driver was Peter, whose given name was Duk. He was a Catholic, also from Vietnam. He had two sons and a daughter.

Each taxi ride began with a person typically viewed as nothing more than a servant. Each ended with a smile and a handshake and a person happy to be treated like a person. I came away with new friends and a wealth of new experiences. I would have never met these treasures if I had sat in the back and simply used them as lowly taxi drivers.

This world is in a sad state of affairs because the devil has convinced us that what the other has to say is of little importance. We have lost the skill of listening and replaced it with the art of screaming. He who yells the loudest is the winner. We seldom extend the hand of friendship but are quick to pump a fist in anger.

On the doorpost of the home of every observant Jew hangs a mezuzah containing the great commandment from Deuteronomy. The great commandment does not begin “Love your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your strength…”  The great commandment starts with the words, “Hear O Israel,” Love begins with the ears before it reaches the heart.

People are not boots we use for vases. They are not screwdrivers used for prying. They are not just the things driving our taxis, cleaning our hotel rooms, or ringing our orders in at the fast food joint. They are people created in the image and likeness of God and they were made to be loved. When objects are loved and people are used a great tragedy occurs. Reverse that and great treasures are found.

Love your neighbor as God has loved you.

Friday, September 22, 2017

This is not a drill!


It was 7:45 on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Hawaii. Sailors were either sleeping or quietly going about their daily routines. Ten minutes later the air raid siren would begin to sound and the General Quarters alarm would blare throughout the ship, causing all to wonder why. This never happened in port, especially on a Sunday. Then came the words no one wanted to hear. “This is not a drill.”

9800 feet above a squadron of ten Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bombers readied to release their specially modified 406mm armor piercing artillery rounds, made into bombs. Out of the ten bombs that rained down, only four hit Arizona. One of those penetrated the armored deck between the main gun batteries of turrets one and two. The round exploded amidst one million pounds of black powder the ship was carrying. The explosion nearly tore off the bow of the dreadnaught. The fireball it created instantly incinerated men where they stood. The ship sank in nine minutes trapping more men below decks. At the end of that fateful day the USS Arizona lay at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with 1177 of her 1511 crew dead.

Why is it important that we try to stay in a state of grace? Like the crew of the USS Arizona you never know when you will take your last breath. Some that morning never even made it out of their racks. Mortal sin is like a cancer that kills the soul. It separates us from God. We are left with only the hope of God’s great mercy if we die outside of his friendship.

God does not want this for his children. He wants every one of his creation to live forever with him in heaven. Jesus gave us the cure for mortal sin. It is one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, one of two Sacraments of healing. It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Jesus gave the Twelve the authority to forgive or retain sin. There are some faith traditions that believe Jesus’ sacrifice alone forgives all sins no matter the disposition of the sinner. Jesus does not forgive sins. He forgives sinners. His sacrifice covers the debit the sin incurred. We all have been given free will and that free will extends to our sins as well. What is the only sin that cannot be forgiven? The only sin that will not be forgiven is the sin we refuse to let go of. Jesus will allow us to keep our sins if we wish to do so. For a sin to be forgiven a repentant sinner has to seek forgiveness. All you have to do is to have a humble heart, be truly repentant, and ask Jesus, through the proper authority he established in his Church, and you can be forgiven.

Why would God condemn someone to hell? The simple answer is that he doesn’t. God doesn’t send us to hell, he finds us there. Every person, angelic or human, is in hell because they have chosen, through their free will, to be there. They are in hell because they have been separated from the friendship of God through mortal sin that they will not seek forgiveness for. They want something more than they want the love of God.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the greatest thing the Catholic Church has to offer, second only to the body, blood, humanity, and divinity of Jesus in the form of the Eucharist. The Sacrament of Reconciliation cures the cancer. It forgives the sinner and restores him to full communion, full friendship with God. Those who die in a state of grace do not have to hope for the great mercy of God. They have already received it.

So why do so many look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation the same way they look at going to the dentist? Why do so many wait until their teeth are painfully rotting out of their head before they seek help? For most of us that is because of shame. We are so filled with shame over what we have done that we do not want to admit it out loud to another person. It is so much easier just to give it to Jesus in the private of our heart than to say it aloud to a priest in a confessional. What would the priest think of me if he knew I wasn’t perfect? News flash – the priest knows regardless. Another news flash – the priest himself is not perfect and also receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The devil will make good use of your shame, amplifying it, to keep you from going to reconciliation. Your mortal sin is his lifeblood. Those who die outside of the friendship with God are his to consume. He will do whatever he can to keep you from restoring that friendship. He will use your unconfessed sins against you to increase your guilt and shame and to keep you as his possession.

If you were dying of cancer you would do whatever it takes to beat it and to live. The state of your soul is much more important. Do not spend eternity as food for the devil. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation often. Death finds most of us like a thief in the night, or in the case of the poor men on the USS Arizona, like a well-placed bomb on a Sunday morning.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Driving Blind


Atheists often accuse Christians of having blind faith, in believing in something they can’t possibly see, hear, or feel. In reality it is the atheist himself who is blind. They only believe in things that can be proven through empirical evidence. They believe in only the natural, not the supernatural, and therefore limit themselves to only half of existence.

Life is like driving a car in the darkest of nights. We can only see for the short distance that our headlights illuminate. Beyond that is the black void of the unknown. We can look in the rearview mirror and see for even a shorter distance. Things past are quickly out of sight and easily forgotten. We all, at times, overdrive our headlights making it impossible to react quickly enough to changes in the road or dangers that suddenly appear in front of us.

The difference between the Christian and the Atheist is in who is driving the car. Through faith, a Christian allows God to do the driving, knowing that no matter what the road ahead may contain, God will never fail to see us through. An atheist, through lack of faith, refuses to let go of the wheel. They are in control wherever that control may lead. The atheist lives in only that small part of the world that can be seen in the dim headlights. They use the car’s “brights” or science to try to see just a little bit more. Christians living their faith can see just as much as the atheists but live in confidence that the One who is driving can see everything, present, future, and past, as clearly as on the brightest day. That gives a Christian a certain confidence an atheist simply cannot have. For an atheist the end could be around the next bend. A Christian knows that Jesus has conquered death and that the road ahead, although maybe rough at times, always goes on.

Faith is synonymous with trust. A Christian who refuses to let go of the wheel and trust in God is no better than the atheist who trusts his own hand to drive the car. Both are only as good as what their headlights allow them to see. Empirically speaking, blind faith has the advantage over dim headlights even in the darkest of nights.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

A text without its context...


A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.”

In other words, if you do not know the story behind a text it can be used to prove an idea the text doesn’t actually support. A good example of this in Holy Scripture is when St. Paul tells the women of Corinth to sit down, shut up, and be subservient to their husbands.

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?” – 1 Corinthians 14: 34-36

This has lead people to believe through the ages that St. Paul was just another one of those old white guys who wanted to oppress women. This has been used as a proof text by men who wish to justify their domination of women and by women libers looking to break the bonds of male oppression.

In reality St. Paul was one of the great feminists of the time and did more to make women equal to men than those around him. Without the proper context what other conclusion can you come to? And now a lesson in history….




Corinth was a major seaport located on narrow strip of land that separates the Corinthian Gulf from the Saronic Gulf. It was an important and bustling trade city. The city had many pagan temples that employed the services of temple priestesses in the oldest profession known to man. These priestesses were known as honey bees and their job was to raise money for the temple by providing their services. It was considered good luck and a noble thing to employ these honey bees.

Because the land was narrow it was faster and easier to pull small trade ships out of the water at Corinth and portage them across to the Saronic Gulf than it was to sail all the way around Achaia. There were companies that employed slaves to land ferry these ships across. The sailors on these ships enjoyed an extended liberty call and like sailors have done through the ages they engaged in all sorts of drinking, festivities, and debauchery, which included visiting the honey bees. The streets were filled with all kinds of deplorable activity.

The Jews are a people set apart by God. They have the Torah which tells them how to live in a right relationship with God and each other. Jews were easy to pick out in Corinth. The women were silent. They were veiled (we veil what we hold sacred) and they were subservient to their husbands. This made them stand out as being different.

Along comes this new religion, Christianity. Women were viewed more as equals. They no longer had to be veiled or be silent in church or public. They did not act like slaves to their husbands. The problem was that they fit into the Corinth pagan society a little too well and became hard to distinguish from their pagan counterparts. This led to the mistaken belief that the Christians were nothing more than just another pagan cult.

But as Christians we are called to be more like the Jews. We are called to be in the culture but not part of the culture. People should look at a Christian, as they can a Jew, and know that there is something different about them.

The context behind St. Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians was basically this;

“To avoid creating a scandal and leading the city to believe you are something you are not go back to acting the way the Jews do while you are in public and in church. It is far better to be mistaken for a Jew than it is to be mistaken as a honey bee.”

This is the same kind of thought St. Paul had when he said that he could eat anything he wants when questioned about the Torah’s dietary restrictions. It is not what goes into a person that makes him unclean but what comes out of a person. However, if eating meat brings scandal upon me I will refrain from doing so when I am with you.

How much more love and respect can you show someone than to change your ways when in their presence for their sake?

St. Paul never intended his instruction to be justification for domination over anyone and he certainly did not see women as second class people who should sit down and shut up.

Context means everything. It is something talking heads no longer concern themselves with.

As Christians we are called to be set apart from society. People should be able to tell us apart by the way we act, the way we speak, and the way we dress. Look around you. Can you tell who the Christians are or are more and more people starting to look like drunken sailors and honey bees.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To Bear the Burden


Yoke



yōk/

noun: yoke

A wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.

 Yokes are fitted to an animal team. The better the fit the better the animals could work together to bear the load. A well fitting yoke is comfortable and barely noticed by the animals whereas an ill fitting yoke rubs, chaffs, and can do damage to one or both animals it is used on. 







There is a tradition that believes Jesus was a master yoke maker. People would come to him from all around to make a yoke for their working team. If this tradition is true then there must have been some people laughing when Jesus said:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 29-30

The yoke maker telling us to take his yoke. Was this holy land advertising?

The Pharisees thought the way to righteousness was by strictly living to the letter of the Torah. This put a great burden on those who tried. You were either lowly because you often failed and couldn’t live by the Law or you became holier than thou, like Saul, who boasted of being without fault in the eyes of the Law. Christians see Jesus as the Law fulfilled, the living Torah. Jesus invites all people to live as he does, in the spirit of the Law, and not to be overburdened by trying to ensure every jot and tittle is in its proper place.

The last time I was watching The Passion of the Christ, which I can only do once every Easter, a particular scene stuck me in a new way. It was the scene where Simon of Cyrene was pressed into helping Jesus carry his cross.
When I saw this image I immediately saw….a yoke, Christ’s yoke. I saw two bearing the burden. I was struck by the way Mel Gibson had “Simon” not only carry the cross but our Lord as well. The two of them worked together to make it to the greatest event in human history.

Jesus goes on to tell his Disciples that if they want eternal life they would have to pick up their crosses and follow him. The way to Calvary was not easy. Nor is it easy to be a Christian. We are called to be better. We are called to be the image of Christ.

Back to the image of the cross being a yoke. A yoke is made for two. We never bear our cross or wear our yoke alone. As Simon helped Christ in his humanity bear the burden so Jesus now helps us in ours. With Jesus as our yokemate is there any burden that could be too heavy? When we stumble is he not there to balance the load. When we can no longer stand does he not put one arm around us and one around our cross and lift us up?

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. Be gentle and humble of heart. I will make your burden light and you will find rest for your soul.

Monday, August 14, 2017

It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini...


I had a friend tell me that he came home from Mass the other day offended and deeply hurt. His adult daughter paid him a visit and they decided to attend the anticipatory Mass together. The problem was that his daughter was dressed in clothes that would make Daisy Duke blush. During the sign of peace an older parishioner took a hold of his daughter’s hand tightly and said, “You should be ashamed of how you are dressed.”

“The lady didn’t look too happy with me either,” he said. When I asked what he was wearing he said that he had on his favorite cut off shorts, tank top, and flip-flops. “Who are they to judge? God doesn’t care what we wear. He’s just happy that we came.”

Personally, I find that to be one of the most arrogant statements I hear. The creator of all existence is overjoyed because we managed to carve out forty-five minutes of our day to go sit in church. My friend’s daughter is getting married at the end of the year. I asked if it would be ok for me to wear my cutoffs and tank top to her wedding.

“What? No it wouldn’t be ok. It is her special day. You’d ruin the pictures.”

For far too many people Mass is a place where they go to get. They get to listen to good music. They get to hear a sermon that makes them feel good about themselves. The get communion. They don’t see anything wrong in wearing beach attire when it is all about them and what they get.

But Mass for a Catholic isn’t about receiving. It is about giving. It is the highest form of worship we have. Mass is where heaven and earth come together as one and we are taken through space and time back to the foot of the cross at Calvary so that Jesus crucifixion is made present in real time to us. When we go to receive communion we don’t go to get a host but to give our lives to our Savior who is giving his to us. It is the most awe-filled solemn event a human can have on this side of heaven. Unfortunately for far too many Mass has lost its awesomeness.

Dress is one area where I think our Muslim brothers have an advantage over us. No, I am no supporter of the full blown burka but I do admire the respect they have for a woman’s body. See, we veil what we hold sacred. Brides wear veils. Our chalices get veiled. The Holy of Holies was veiled. What we hold sacred we cover. They take it to the extreme by covering their women from head to toe so nothing can be seen. What does it say for our culture when women, when our daughters wear as little as they possibly can?

“You should be ashamed of how you are dressed.”

My friend took that to mean “how you are dressed for church”. I am sure the parishioner really meant “dressed in public”. Where is your sense of decency? Where is your respect for yourself? If you hold your body to be a sacred temple of the Lord why do you show it off as if you dance around a pole for a living?

And then to show up for the most holy event in a Catholic’s life dressed as if you were headed to a pool party?

My friend should not have been offended. Instead he should have been humbled and thankful that this person cared enough about his daughter to actually say something to her. Love takes on many forms. Not all of them make you feel warm and fuzzy.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Boiled Frogs


Jake was a high school superstar. He was strong and athletic, excelling in both baseball and football. He took second at state in wrestling. He got a full ride scholarship to a good university and graduated four years later with a degree in structural engineering. By his tenth year class reunion he had landed a good paying job and was enjoying the fruits of his hard work.

By his fifteen year class reunion Jake’s weight had ballooned up to almost three-hundred and fifty pounds. The most athletic thing he did was enter eating contests on the weekend. He had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If he had ever checked his blood sugar levels he would have known that he was already considered diabetic. He was starting to have many other health issues and his classmates were worried.

At his twenty year class reunion Jake was sporting some new body art. He had an eight inch scar that ran down the center of his chest from where he had open heart surgery to correct a clogged ticker. Jake complained of increasing shortness of breath during a physical so his doctor sent him for a stress test that lead to a quadruple bypass. Jake was lucky. The danger was found before any serious damage was done.

Jake’s classmates barely recognized him at their twenty-five year class reunion. He had shed the weight and was now a trim 182. He started an exercise program and was looking good. They all gathered round to listen to him tell his story.

“How did you lose all the weight Jake? What’s your secret?”

“I went on a plant based diet,” was his reply. You would have thought that Jake had three eyes by the looks he received.

“You’re one of those?" someone asked.
“I could never give up mu bacon and burgers,” another added.

“You’ve never had to look death in the face,” was Jake’s reply.

How often are we like Jake’s classmates? How often do we willfully choose something that we know is bad for us? Some drink. Some smoke. Some of us eat too much of the wrong things. All of us sin. Whereas all of the other activities kill the body, sin kills the soul. Much like the other activities there are many of us who don’t know what is bad anymore. We have become increasingly numb to depravity.

There was a time when decency wouldn’t allow a toilet to be shown on TV.  Now even the commercials show all kinds of explicit material that used to be reserved for rated R movies. The family hour has gone the way the VCR and eight track tapes. Our frog had been thoroughly boiled. The water in the pot is at a full roll and we are kicked back and comfortable.

Many of us won’t get a clue until death comes knocking on our door. By then it will be too late to make a life saving change. All we will be left with is the parachute of God’s mercy. Let us pray that we will be smart enough to pull the rip cord in time. An unopened chute kills the sky diver.

Instead, let us be more like Jake. Let us realize that the way we live our lives is actually stealing our lives out from under our feet. Let us make the difficult choice to walk away from the things we think we need and love and live as we were made to live. Let us say no to temptation and yes to God.

That burger may taste good today but it isn’t good enough to go through open heart surgery and suffer debilitating health problems over. That sinful action may be enjoyable now but sure isn’t worth facing the fires of hell for. Jake had to relearn how to eat right. He didn’t do this on his own. He sought the advice of a nutritionist. Likewise, those who have only known sin can’t change on their own. They need to seek advice as well. Where a nutritionist can teach you to correctly feed your body the Church can tech you to feed your soul. Make an appointment today and start the healing!