Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are you aiming to be the best version of yourself?

    This is a Matthew Kelly question, so I do not wish to take credit for it.  This question also encapsulates another question, are you trying to be someone else?  We oftentimes want to be like others.  If only I could do what Susan could do OR if only I could have as much money as Steve.
    We think that we would be better if we were someone else.  But God created us all different from each other.  Even identical twins have differences in the way they act; believe me, I know.  We all have something different to bring.  If we are all swiss army knives, then we all have a different set of tools in various sizes.
    We should not try to be someone else; we should revel in the knowledge that God made us through and for love.  In that way, God does not want us to be someone else.  As a father, I may want one of my children to be more like the other in one aspect, but I do not want them to stop being who they are.  The only reason that I want one child to be more like the other in one aspect is because I see them both and cannot help but compare.  We are after all humans with original sin.  What I really want is for my child to be a better version of who they are.  Not to be more like their sibling, but to be all that they were created to be.  God, as our Heavenly Father, wants the same for us, but from a much more loving and pure perspective.
    Will you try to be all that God in his infinite love wants you to be?  Be you and nobody else.  God created only one you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Love is not either the ends or the means, it is both.

    We cannot love someone with just the ends in mind.  To that same extent, we cannot love someone with complete disregard for the ends.  Parents know this very well.  When a child wants to go outside in the middle of winter without a coat, the parent does not disregard the consequences of such actions.  Likewise, a parent does not disregard their child’s immediate safety for a later good.  Like leaving their young child in the car while running into a department store.  Getting home sooner, but at what cost?
    We cannot give up being loving for either the ends or the means without giving up love completely.  Unity is a great ends that oftentimes is used to prevent us from truly loving.  One cannot unify with a hateful action to achieve love.  Abortion is a great example.  The child in the womb is bringing a division because of the situation the child is being born into, whether it be a teen mother, unwilling father, or anything else.
    Compassion is what is needed when the means appear difficult.  Compassion means to suffer with.  Those who think that assisted suicide is compassionate do not know the meaning of the word.  We do not claim to be God so as to claim masters of our own existence.  We did not create ourselves, so how could we claim the authority to kill ourselves?  God alone has that authority and right.
    Of course, these are large issues, but truly love, both in the means and the ends, is something that we need to do in the small things too.  Oftentimes, to create unity we are silent about our faith.  Yes, there are times to be quiet, but we need to discern whether the most loving action is our silence or our voice.  Those who know how we feel and how we believe do not need to be reminded every time, for example.  Either way, just asking “Jesus lead me” when these times arise can enlighten us to the most loving action.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We are more than we allow ourselves to be.

    We were created in the image and likeness of God.  We are the crowning achievement of all of creation.  It is too much to really take in.  And that is why we do not allow ourselves to live up to this great and awesome gift.
    Having been created in the image and likeness of God, we have a great responsibility to respond to this gift.  We have a responsibility to lift it up to be all that it truly is.  However, many of us see these responsibilities as rules that keep us down.  Going to Mass on Sundays, we praise God in union with others.  We see it as a rule, but it is a blessing.  It was only made a rule because of the hardness of our hearts.
    Waiting until marriage is seen as something that holds us back from something good.  When children are born into split families because of this, we see the pain inflicted upon both the parents and the child.  This “rule”, as many of us see it, actually help us to be all that we were created to be.  It is like putting up a fence for children to play near a cliff.  It keeps them safe.
    There are many ways that we limit ourselves.  Giving into peer pressure, thinking ourselves as better than others, gossiping, and the list goes on.  We were all created in God’s image and likeness, so who can be better than another?  If we allow ourselves to be pressured, why not allow ourselves to be pressured by God into holiness?  All sin limits ourselves from being all that God created us to be.  We are blessed to have a God who came to die for us to remove these limits that we have placed on ourselves.  Go to confession, so that He can remove them right now!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today is the feast day of the first US citizen to be canonized – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

    Born in Italy, she was first refused admission to the religious order, the same order that educated her to be a teacher. She eventually made her vows and took the religious habit.  Since her early childhood, Frances had wanted to be a missionary in China but, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, Frances went west instead of east.  She traveled with six sisters to New York City to work with the thousands of Italian immigrants living there.
    She found disappointment and difficulties with every step.  When she arrived in New York, the house intended to be her first orphanage in the United States was not available.  The archbishop advised her to return to Italy.  But Frances, truly a valiant woman, departed from the archbishop’s residence all the more determined to establish that orphanage.  And she did.
    In 35 years, Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick.  Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.  She became a US citizen in 1909 and died of malaria in her own Columbus Hospital in Chicago in 1917.
    She is a saintly example that hard work and determination can change the world around us all for the greater glory of God.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Do you use your suffering?

    Seems like an odd question to ask.  Regardless of who you are, we all experience suffering.  What are we doing with it?  When we look at Jesus on the Cross, we realize that suffering can do so much.  Jesus’ suffering is the source of our salvation.  Of course, Jesus is God, so His suffering is infinitely more powerful than ours, but our suffering has power.
    Suffering is often an expression of love.  When we think of people that love us, we think of people who have suffered for us.  Most people think of their mother when they think of someone who loves them.  Of course, a mother suffers birthing us into this world.  Mothers suffer much in taking care of their children, which shows their love.
    So, suffering has power and can be an expression of love.  But what do we use our suffering for?  We can offer our suffering for anything.  When used for others, it is an expression of love, which seems to magnify the power of our suffering.  We rejoice when we see the fruit of our suffering.  When offered to God, it expresses our love for God.  This can be very powerful, since we may never see the fruit of our gift.  In this way, we are giving without expecting something in return.
   Let us offer our suffering up as a gift.  Let it not be squandered.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What is your responsibility?

    Jesus said, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” – [Luke 12:48]  So, it seems that our responsibility depends upon that which is entrusted to us.  Or as Uncle Ben said in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
    We all have been given power.  Some are spouses; some are parents.  We all are human being created in the image and likeness of God.  This is a great and enormous power.  But, do we live up to our responsibility?  Knowing the truth is very powerful.  Responding to the truth and changing our lives is our great responsibility.
    Some do not know the truth.  Some do not know their Creator.  If we know the Creator and know someone who does not know his/her Creator, we have a power that they do not have.  This power comes with a responsibility.  Of course, how to live out this responsibility is a great and sometimes daunting question.  Perhaps, we should start by living out this quote by St. Francis:  “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
    The example of our lives is, in itself, a preaching of the Gospel.  Are we preaching the Gospel of Jesus or our own gospel?  Many people have heard pieces of the Gospel, but ignore it because they have heard it in a way that repelled them.  It could have come from a rule-minded person; someone who was a hypocrite themselves; or just someone who simply did not care for the Gospel.  Talking to them may get you nowhere, but living it will be the ultimate witness.
    We have many other responsibilities, like voting today.  But the greatest responsibility any of us has is our responsibility to our Creator, the one for whom we owe our very existence.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Do you fight in the spiritual battle?

    There is a spiritual battle going on, whether you acknowledge it or not.  “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” – [Ephesians 6:12]  All traditional weapons are useless in a spiritual battle.
    So, what are our weapons for the spiritual battle?  Saying prayer is both the most obvious answer, but also an answer that is easily overlooked.  Sure, there are other things we can do (fasting and almsgiving), but prayer needs to be our primary means.
    Prayers to Our Lady are some of the most powerful prayers.  Jesus gave her to us as our Mother, too.  If Jesus is to be our Brother, we must accept His Father and his Mother.  Revelations in talking about the woman that gave birth to Jesus says, “Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” – [Revelations 12:7]
    So, the devil (dragon) is waging war with us, the offspring of Mary.  So, as our Mother, she certainly has a responsibility to take care of us and we can go to her for protection.  And Jesus, as the good Son that He is, will surely listen to her prayers for us.  Let us then ask her assistance in this battle.