Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints’ Eve.

    There is a name tie in All Hallow’s Eve and Halloween, but that may be all that is left tying the two together.  The notion of “Trick or Treat” basically is threatening to pull a trick if no treat is given.  This is hardly a saintly idea.  Not that I am saying Halloween is always and everywhere bad, but it does not appear to have any authentic tie to All Saints’ Eve anymore.  Name and proximity in date are the only ties.
    All Saints’ Day (Nov 1st) is immediately followed by All Souls’ Day (Nov 2nd).  All Saints’ Day goes all of the way back to the 4th century and was given its current date by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century.  For “the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”  So, we celebrate all of those who have made it into heaven.
    All Souls’ Day is a celebration, but it is more so a day for praying for the dead.  While All Saints’ Day celebrates those who have made it into heaven, All Souls’ Day is set aside to pray for those in purgatory.  They are not yet in heaven, but our prayers can help get them there faster, in a sense.  Those in purgatory still have some perfecting to do before going before the Almighty.  Praying for the dead on a certain day started in the 7th century and the date was set universally in the 11th century.
    Allhallowtide (Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or Hallowmas season) is the three day observation of these days.  It encapsulates All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.  The word was first used in 1471, well before any thought of the word Halloween, which dates to about 1745.
   Before “trick or treat”, the poor and children would go door-to-door on All Saints’ Day receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day.  This was called souling.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When we condemn others, we bring condemnation upon our self.

    This is rather apparent in the Our Father.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  When we pray this prayer, we bring condemnation upon our self if we do not forgive others.  But, what does forgiveness mean?
    Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Forgive your neighbor for stealing.  But if you forget that your neighbor has a weakness for stealing, you will put your neighbor in a situation where he will be tempted.  If every time that you walk past your neighbor, he trips you and beats you.  You are called to forgive him, but it is best to remember and take a different route home.  It preserves your physical health and preserves your neighbor’s spiritual health.
    Our great nation has a great judicial motto, “innocent until proven guilty.”  But do we do the same in our lives?  If we hear about a someone that does something questionable, we immediately assume their guilt.  First, we should understand that there may be a good reason for what they did.  Of course, there are some things that are always and everywhere wrong, but we judge a person’s intentions when we cannot be certain of their intentions.
    We are not to judge others.  Indeed, we need to judge actions, as we need to act uprightly ourselves.  We must keep from assuming, though.  Just as St. Joseph did not assume Mary sinned, though he knew she was pregnant.  “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” – [Matthew 1:19]  He would not have been a righteous man if he knew she had committed adultery and he did not bring her to be stoned.  Though, it would not take much to assume she had sinned, he did not assume anything.  We assume much more than this all of the time, let us learn to be more like St. Joseph.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Bible is the greatest love story, but it also is the story of humanity.

    In the Bible, we hear about humanity as we relate to God.  In a way, humanity grows up during the Bible.  Like little children, God started by giving us absolutes, because humanity could not understand.  Just like parents have to give little children absolutes.
    As humanity continued to grow up through the years, some absolutes were taken away, since they had served their purpose.  The Israelites were ordered not to eat certain meat, yet God removed this through a vision by the first pope, St. Peter.  [Acts 10:9-16]
    Also, as humanity continued to grow up, some things were given to us.  Parents give their children toys and as the children grow up, they give them greater things.  The great bread of the Old Testament (the manna from Heaven) was overshadowed by the great bread of the New Testament (the Eucharist).
    As humanity grew up, we were given reasons for what God asked of us.  As we were able to understand, He gave us understanding.  Just as parents do to their children.  God parented humanity from infancy to now.  He has not gone from vengeful God to merciful God.  God does not change, we have.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How do you bring God’s love to those you meet each day?

    God loves everyone tremendously more than we understand as love.  So, we need to be loving to these people that God love if we wish to be close to God and His Love for us.  There are two aspects of love that we need to give to others.  Mercy and justice.
    Mercy without justice accepts the sinner in their sin without helping them to stop sinning.  Justice without mercy condemns the sinner because of their sin without any possibility for forgiveness.  Jesus loved, and still does, with mercy and justice.  Jesus did not condemns the prostitute, but called the hypocritical religious leaders serpents.
    Justice is difficult unless you realize that it is only to be used in mercy.  Then, if you are exercising justice with the intention of mercy, your justice will stay in love and not become a venting of your aggression.  Mercy is difficult unless you realize that it is to be used in justice.  Then, if you are exercising mercy with the intention of justice, your mercy will love the sinner, and not the sin.
    These are terribly difficult to do.  But let us realize that each mountain can be climbed, but only by one step at a time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is it that God wants me to do?

    This is very difficult to answer sometimes.  But, merely asking the question says something.  It says that you want to do God’s will.  Discerning may be the difficult part, but just wanting to know what God wants of you is a positive step.  Many figure they are doing God’s will, but never actually ask Him.
    Beyond asking the question, we often feel that we are not getting an answer.  The answer can be found in many ways.  First is always the primary vocation that you are given.  If you are not living out your primary vocation, why would God ask for you to do anything else?  It would be like asking the plumber to look at your broken wrist when he has not even fixed the leak you hired him to fix.
    Second, do you spend time in silence asking this question?   “Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak” – [1 Kings 19:11-13]
    If you are hoping for neon lights, you are not looking.  You are expecting God to make it completely obvious regardless without need for looking.  Noticing neon lights does not take any effort for searching on our part.  God is looking for us to make an effort.  There, God knows that you are serious about doing His Will.  Why would He want you to know His will for you, if you were not serious about doing it?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

God is found in community.

    When Jesus taught us to pray, it start with ‘Our Father’, not my Father or your Father, but ‘Our Father’.  While God should be personal to each and every one of us, God wanted us to praise Him in communion with others.  Many ask or wonder, “Why do I have to go to church?”  Here is the answer.
    God loves every one.  And He loves them all a tremendous amount.  So, if you get closer to God, you get closer to everyone that God loves.  The same can be said that if you get closer to everyone that God loves, you get closer to God.  We cannot love God and hate our neighbor.
    “[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’” – [Matthew 22:37-40]