Friday, November 27, 2015

Forgiving is hard!

   Giving forgiveness to others is easy to say, but hard to do.  It is especially difficult in the midst of being wronged, but we are called to give forgiveness to others.  It sounds like such a tall task.  How can we do it sometimes?
   First, we must realize that forgiveness does not come with allowing the person to wrong you again.  No, if they are allowed to wrong you again, then they are sinning and distancing themselves from God.  God does not want this and neither should we.  Sadly, not always can we prevent them from wronging us.
   How essential is forgiveness?  After all, it is really hard sometimes.  We are called to “forgive those who trespass against” as we want God to “forgive us our trespasses.”  As Jesus said, “the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” – [Matthew 7:2]
  If we want to be forgiven for our sins and enter Heaven, we must forgive others’ sins.  All of them.  It is hard and in some cases nearly impossible for us to do, but with God’s help we can do anything.  Jesus knows how to forgive in the hardest of situations.  While being nailed to the Cross, Jesus was able to offer forgiveness.  May God’s willingness to forgive our sins inspire and strengthen us to forgive others.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yesterday, we thanked Veteran’s for their service to our great nation.

   These men and women served our nation and for this we owe them a deep gratitude.  They served our nation and, thus, they have served us.  Their service was selfless, courageous, and honorable.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!
   Today, I would like to honor someone who served us all.  Jesus Christ!  A million times, thank you!  Jesus was God, yet He served those whom He created.  Who would think a God would become a servant to those He created?  It sounds absurd.
   Jesus served us because of His love for us.  How immense must be this love for God to become the servant of his creatures?  Sorry, I have a hard time comprehending it.
   But, how did Jesus Christ serve us all?  First, He became one of us and really dug in deep into the human experience, one marked by trials, suffering, joys, and sorrows.  Only after 30 years in the human experience did Jesus begin to teach publicly, which we greatly needed.
   Then, entrusting His teaching to His disciples, Jesus did the ultimate service for mankind.  He suffered and died for us.  Why is this a service?  Because of He did it for others.  No for Himself, but for us sinners.  He served us with all that He had.  His service for us and our nation is irreplaceable.
   Our nation’s motto: “In God We Trust.”  Thank you, Jesus!  I trust in You!

Monday, November 9, 2015

How can God love a sinner?

   Yes, God loves everyone, including all of us sinners.  But, how?  When we sin, we are basically telling God that we know better and can do this without Him.  Such a disregard for God begs this question.
   So, how can God love a sinner, one who shows such disregard for Him?  This is where we should be happy God is God and we are not.  For us, it is terribly difficult for us to love someone who does hateful things.  But for God, who is Love, it is not difficult, but it is painful.  After all, we are His children.
   Perhaps the best example we have is the family.  Parents love their children even after the children have shown disregard for them.  God is the One who created us.  We owe our being to God, much like we owe it to our parents.  The first commandment after the three about our relationship with God:  Honor your mother and father.
   If we were created in the image and likeness of God, we are children of God.  Think about that.  The infinite, all-powerful, all-loving God of the universe calls you son or daughter.  How could God do anything but love you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

We sin when we do not trust God.

   As I have heard, “sin is what is taken and grace is what is given.”  God gives grace and we sin when we take.  It is a slap in God’s face to sin.  We are not trusting that the God that is Love will give us good things.  No, we think that we must take them to get them.
   It all started in the Garden of Eden.  There, Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of one tree.  Only one tree!  Then, the serpent convinced Eve and Eve then convinced Adam that God was holding out on them.  So, they took what was not freely being given to them.  The Original Sin that has been passed down to all of us.
   Then, God banished them from the Garden of Eden, but even that was a gift.  God said, “what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?” – [Genesis 3:22]  If Adam and Eve were to eat of the tree of life, they would have lived forever, but forever separated from God.
   This also points out that God had something much better for them to eat when they ate the forbidden fruit.  He wanted to give them eternal life in union with Him and they choose to try to do better.  Really?!?  Could they have done better than paradise with God?  Every time we sin, we are claiming the same, that we can do better.
   May we all say, as Jesus has revealed thru Saint Faustina, the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You!”  Who else can we trust?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jesus showed us His love for us through His helplessness.

   It is amazing and nearly unbelievable to think that the infinite, all-powerful God became helpless.
   Christmas is a great time to ponder how the all-powerful God became powerless for us as a baby.  At first, it seems ridiculous.  Then, it seems brilliant.  It is easier to accept a child than to accept a full-grown man.  Maybe the man has ulterior motives.  Is he trying to swindle me or kill me?  A baby has no possibilities for that.  They are powerless.
   Even as a man, Jesus was helpless for us while He hung dying on the cross.  Again, dying on a cross seems ridiculous.  Shouldn’t God show His Power?  No, He showed His Love.  While helplessly dying on the cross, one is free to accept or reject Jesus without any coercing.  How much can a man dying on a cross coerce us?  He is completely unthreatening.
   Jesus is also helplessly with us always in the Eucharist.  After all, He did say, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” – [Matthew 28:20]  He desires to be present to us.  He desires to spend time with us.  He desires to be one with us, body and soul.  But, He does not force His desires upon us.  He made Himself helpless like He has done before all out of love for us.  Will we reciprocate?

Friday, September 4, 2015

How much has God given us?

   It is amazing how much God has given us.  First, we owe our very existence to God.  Then, after we sinned against the infinite God, He took it upon Himself (and His shoulders) to provide a bridge back to Him by dying on the cross.  Surely, we have been given many, many great things from God, but these are the most amazing.
   Yes, God has given each of us different gifts as well.  While all of the gifts are from God, there is one out there trying to have us turn our backs on these awesome gifts.  One of our weapons against these attacks is gratitude.
   Do we thank God for the gifts that He has given us?  When we thank God for the gifts, we are acknowledging that we did not accumulate these gifts by ourselves.  We become humble knowing these gifts were not owed to us, but given to us.  Be thankful.  God thank you for your gifts, thank you for your love.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On the sixth day, human beings were created and Jesus was crucified.

   It is rather fitting.  Death entered into the world from those created on the sixth day and on the sixth day, God Himself experienced death.  On the sixth day, human beings were given a way to escape the death that they inflicted upon themselves.
   I always used to think that Saturday was the sixth day, but that is incorrect.  The first day of the week is Sunday.  Just look at a calendar.  The first day of every week is Sunday.
   Many times, God uses symbolism.  Jesus was resurrected on the morning of Sunday, the first day.  This symbolizes a new creation.  He is a new creation and if we align our self with Jesus, we can be brought into this new creation.  Creation started on the first day, so a new creation occurred on the first day as well.
   “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” – [2 Corinthians 5:17]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Do we live the ‘one flesh’ union in our marriages?

   Jesus said, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” – [Matthew 19:4-6]
   Surely, the ‘one flesh’ union that God spoke of from the beginning was never intended for separation.  This was Jesus’ response to divorce, but it also poses an insight for married couples.  Do we live the ‘one flesh’ union?  If we were two and now one, do we act like so?  Do we keep things from our other half?
   Of course, there are other ways to deny the ‘one flesh’ union.  Lusting for another is one way, but also clinging to one’s parents or friends at the same level as one’s spouse does as well.  Sure, we are to honor our parents, but we are to leave them to be joined to our spouse.
   People seem to enjoy poking holes in theological ideas like the 'one flesh' union.  The questions about an abusive spouse, annulments, and others come up.  As for annulments, Jesus said, “what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”  Annulments are an investigation of whether God created a union from two people.  As for an abusive spouse, if your left hand uncontrollably hurt you, would you not look for a way to prevent it from hurting you?  Remember that separation is valid and so may be legal divorce, but attempting remarriage while already in a union joined by God is where sin occurs.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What is your greatest responsibility?

   Determining our greatest responsibility is a great thing.  It can help us to prioritize our life in a way deserving of our greatest responsibility.  But it can be painful.  Oftentimes, we have to admit that we are not prioritizing our life correctly.  And we do not like to be wrong, especially with our greatest responsibility.
   If we are unwilling to change, there is little point to determining our greatest responsibility.  Sure, we figure it out, but it may require us to change.  We will be even more responsible once we know and then not acting upon it is more of a sin.
   So, if we are still willing to determine our greatest responsibility, let’s first look at the most important person(s) in our life.  Friends, family, co-workers?  Well, it would have to be God.  We were created by God.  We are loved fully by God.  He keeps us in existence and walks with us.  He even died for us.
   So, is God our greatest responsibility?  Our relationship with God must be our greatest responsibility.  However, it comes through many ways.
   The most obvious is we need to communicate with God.  Relationships that lack or have poor communication are poor relationships.  So, we must pray.  We must listen as well as talk.  Within this relationship, we have accepted responsibilities.  Marriage, children, religious life…  All of these were responsibilities that come from God that we accepted.  Everyone is given additional responsibilities, too.  These are as different and diverse as we are, but everything is based upon our relationship with God, our Creator, our Savior, and our Brother.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Before we can speak Christ, we must be Christ.

   I am taking this from Fr Simon of Relevant Radio.  Jesus did not start preaching and teaching once He started talking.  No, He first spent 30 years in ordinary family life.  Only after spending this ordinary time of His life did He begin preaching, teaching, and healing.
   If we want to bring others to Jesus, we must first make sure that we mirror Christ to the best of our ability.  Sure, we can invite them to know Jesus and tell them about Him, but at some point talking will only get you so far.  If we mirror Christ, they will see the teaching in action; they will see Jesus.
   Mother Theresa was asked by some of those she helped why she helped them, like bathing the feet of a dying person.  She responded that she was doing what Jesus asked her to do.  They then asked if He would love them, too.  She was Jesus to them and that made them desire Jesus.
   Sure, we can speak Christ, who is love, but only after we show love, do others see Christ.  Both our actions and our words need to be united in the same love.  Sometimes, words are not necessary.  Sometimes, they are required.  But love is always needed.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Are we supposed to judge?

   This is a tricky question because it does not specify what we are talking about.  Certain things should be judged, like food.  You should judge if it is suitable for eating.  Eating rotten food is not good.  Interiorly, we should judge what we say before we say it to fit the circumstances we are in.
   When we speak of judging, though, we commonly mean judging others.  So, are we supposed to judge others?  No.  Jesus said, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” – [Matthew 7:1-2]  We do not judge so that we might not be judged the same way.  Judging others is, as I have heard it, above our paygrade.
   Well, Christians are commonly thought to be judgmental.  Are these just bad Christians?  In some cases, but Christians are thought to be judgmental for other reasons, too.  We are supposed to be careful of what we do and, in doing so, we judge our actions.
   Many times judging actions is construed as judging others.  Someone who steals has acted improperly and judging the action of stealing has nothing to do with judging the person who stole.  If we were able to judge the person, we would do so prematurely.  They are on a journey and God will judge them when their journey on Earth ends.
   Sometimes, we are thought to be judging others when we do nothing.  Our mere presence and faith reminds others of what they are doing.  Their conscience begins to judge them.  There is a judgment going on, just not one from us.  And so it is with the Church.  The Catholic Church’s existence enlivens consciences and makes people feel judged.  They are right, but they fail to realize who is doing the judging in this case.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Today, we celebrate the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

   As with anything that Jesus did, there are many ways to look at the Transfiguration.  Jesus was shown to be the Son of God to Peter, James, and John.  However, I heard another way to look at it that stuck with me.  Jesus was talking with, supposedly, dead people in Elijah and Moses.  He was talking to saints.
   When we as Catholics pray to saints, many protestants take offense to it.  Some thinking that we are treating the saints as if they are gods themselves.  Which we do not; we ask them to go to Jesus on our behalf.  Some think we are talking to dead people that cannot possibly help us.  Surely, Jesus did not talk to Elijah and Moses just for the fun of it.  Everything that He did had a purpose.
   As to the saints being “dead” people, we rely on what Jesus said to the Sadducees.  “As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, [the] God of Isaac, and [the] God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.” – [Mark 12:26-27]
   So, the saints are not dead.  If they indeed are in Heaven, then they are more alive than we are.  They have reached a fullness and relationship with God that we hope to experience.  Indeed, when we ask for their assistance, we are asking our friends in ‘high places’ to ask God on our behalf.  It’s good to have friends in ‘high places’, but it does us little good if we do not ask for them to help us.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

God is Love, everything else is commentary.

   This may sound like an absurd statement.  Surely, there is more.  But truly, what else do you want?  The infinite Creator of the universe is Love.  He created you out of love and loves you.  The most powerful being in existence loves you and wants you to love Him.  If we want more, then we have problems.
   Sure, we sometimes wonder, “If God is love than why” this or that.  Well, we need to correct our understanding of love and then everything will make sense.  Perhaps, the questions we tend to ask are the reason there is so much commentary.
   God’s love for us is why we have the Church and the Bible.  They can help to answer the reasons we are looking for.  Ultimately though, we must respond to the gift of grace that God offers us to understand the reasons.  Do we ask the question, but never seek the answer?  Are we willing to accept an answer or have we become so close-minded that no reason will suffice?
   As Jesus said, “seek and you will find”. – [Matthew 7:7]

Sunday, August 2, 2015

If God does not change, why do His rules?

   “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – [Hebrews 13:8]  Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God, so thus God cannot change.  But things changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  This seems inconsistent.
   Ah, but what has changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament?  In short, humanity has changed.  Humanity had to mature.  Imagine giving the message of God’s love to the people of Moses’ time.  God was expected to be an authoritative supreme being.  Indeed, God is still that, but He is so much more.  Humanity just was not ready for the message.
   So, like a parent rules for their children changes as they mature, so too have God’s rules change for us, His children.  Some rules never change.  Some rules go away, while others become more situational.
   With God, most of the rule changes from the Old Testament to now are actually explained in the New Testament.  Not eating pork?  [Acts 10:9-15]  Not stoning adulterers?  [John 8:1-11]  Some were just so completely understood by all, that they were not actually clearly written in the Bible like moving the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.  We were recreated with Jesus’ Resurrection, for as Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – [Mark 2:27]
   As humanity has matured, some of God’s rules for us have changed.  With that, we must realize that our responsibility is greater too.  It is just like children growing up.  As rules change or go away, responsibilities take their place.  God is allowing us the freedom that comes with maturity.  Are we using it wisely?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

While God is trying to win you, another is trying to kill you.

   God is trying to win you, in a sense.  He loves you and desires to be loved by you.  But the devil is trying to mess it up, so that you will not have eternal life, but die.  Why does he do it?  Perhaps, he is trying to get back at God or maybe he just hates us because we are God’s creation and God died for love of us.  No matter what his reason, we must realize what he is trying to do.
   The one thing that we must remember throughout it all is the outcome.  Eternal life vs. Eternal death.  Siding with God and loving Him brings eternal life.  Siding with the devil and hating God brings eternal death.  God wants us and the devil wants to dispose of us.
   Of course, not always do we know where we stand, though.  It is a scary thought.  Many think that, I definitely choose God.  Well, actions speak louder than words.  Do we listen to God?  Do we obey God?  Do we love God?  First, we must listen.  Only then will we know God’s will in order to obey Him.  Our love for God will be shown in how we obey Him, begrudgingly or with a smile.
   God is trying to win us, but are we allowing the devil to lead us to eternal death.  If we do not watch where we are going, we do not know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why does God love us?

   “[A]ll have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” – [Romans 3:23]  We have failed God and continue to do so.  So, why would God love us?  He is an all-powerful and all-knowing God.  He is perfect, so why does He love us who are imperfect?
   Well, God calls Himself our Father.  So, I believe the question is answered by looking at parents.  Parents love their children.  Even when their children disobey their parents, they are still loved.  They may make it difficult on us parents, but we still love them so much.
   “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” – [Matthew 7:11]  We are imperfect and love imperfectly, but still love our children.  God is our perfect Father and, as such, loves perfectly.
   Sure, being loved does not put a burden upon us to be loved, but remember that a relationship of love takes two.  If we do not hold up at least part of our side, then there is no love relationship.  God still loves us and, as any parent knows, the gift of love is the greatest and yet the most painful to give.  As evidenced by Jesus on the cross.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 14th is the feast day of the 1st Native American Saint.

   We celebrate Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, known as “Lily of the Mohawks”.  She lived from 1656 to 1680 and died shortly before her 24th birthday.  Her mother was a captive Christian Algonquin that was married to a Mohawk chief of the Iroquois.  At the age of four, her parents and little brother died due to smallpox.  The smallpox left her disfigured and blind in one eye.  She then lived with her uncle.
   She was always drawn to Christianity, but it was looked down upon by her uncle.  She refused to marry and decided to convert.  After her baptism, she was threatened and in constant danger.  With a priest’s advice, she fled 200 miles from modern New York to near Montreal for safety.
   She did harsh penances like sleeping on rocks.  She lived out her remaining three years with kindness and a final illness.  Upon her death, it was said that the priest turned away after she had passed and upon looking back, she was completely healed of the disfigurement.  Many marveled at her beautiful and how she looked as though she was just sleeping.
   Quote from Kateri:  “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

How can rules and laws be loving?

   Rules and laws are barriers to one’s conduct.  We hear rules and laws and think of freedoms that are being kept from us.  Freedom is more than that though.
   Think of a school surrounded by cliffs.  The children come out for recess, but none of them go anywhere for they fear the cliffs.  Now, a fence is put around the school and the children now run around and play during recess.  Surely, the barrier that is the fence actually gives the children the freedom that they need.
   So, rules and laws sometimes can actually give us freedom and protect it.  Sure, some may actually restrict freedom, but we cannot lump in all rules and laws.  So, this begs the question of ‘What is freedom?’ if sometimes barriers actually provide us freedom.
   Surely, the children appeared free without the fence.  Indeed, when we say freedom, many times we really mean able to do what one ought, not whatever one wants.  Think about it, some people are murderers and want to murder others or are thieves and want to steal from others.  Surely, being able to murder or steal are not what we talk about when we say freedom.
   So, while governments make rules and laws to protect the body, the Church goes further and makes rules and laws to protect the soul.  Many people do not give proper respect to the soul and eternal life, so they will not see the rules and laws of the Church as loving.  The Church wants us to be free to love God and neighbor completely, with body and soul.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

An complete love is worth fighting for.

   We should always be striving for the complete love that is found in God as shown to us through Jesus Christ.  A self-sacrificing love that is life giving.  Jesus sacrificed Himself as a ransom for our eternal lives.  His complete self-sacrifice brings us a complete life that can only be found in Heaven.
   So, if a complete love is worth fighting for, then an incomplete love is worth fighting against.  We are all in this battle.  Nearly everything we do is part of this battle.  Who we think about first?  What do we do now?  Where we spend our time?  How we deal with others?  And many other ways as well.
   Many times we fall into an incomplete love due to this battle within us.  Sometimes the lines between complete love and incomplete love are less noticeable and at other times they are painted clearly.  This is where the Church can oftentimes help us.  They will paint the line for us when it is always that way.
   The Church does not institute or hold to rules just because.  They always have a reason.  And that reason is Jesus Christ and His teaching.  Jesus Christ is love and, as such, all of His teachings are about it as well.  Many of the rules may seem just old fashioned, but oftentimes, it is easy to see that it prevents hardships for us when we abide by them.  The Church fights for love.  Though others claim the Church is ‘out of touch’, I would claim that those others are merely ‘out of touch’ with love, which we must fight for.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Does God love us all equally?

   I remember either reading in the Bible or maybe it was just how I interpreted it, that God loved certain people above others.  When you look at the saints and especially Mary, it appears that way.  But we know that appearances are deceiving, so let’s look further.
   What is love between two persons?  In this case, we are looking God and one of us.  But, love between two persons requires both people.  One can love the other, but that love would be incomplete if that love was not returned.  In a sense, you can only love someone as much as they allow you to.  Some love another and want a relationship with the other, but it takes the other’s consent and reciprocation of love to complete the love.
   So, with God being perfect love, we are the ones limiting how much He can love us.  He always holds up His side of the love relationship.  Do we complete the love or leave it incomplete?  There are so many things that we leave unfinished, let love not be one of them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions

   Today’s feast day is for more than just one saint, which is not uncommon.  They just tend to be saints from a region that were martyred for the faith, which we have not seen in our country.
   Today’s saints were martyrs for the faith from China.  120 martyrs, in fact.  87 were born in China ranging in age from nine to seventy-two.  The other 33 were mostly priests and religious spreading the faith in China.  Interestingly, these martyrs died at different times ranging from 1648 to 1930 and were beatified in smaller group at various times.
   These men and women were willing to lay down their life for Jesus Christ.  It takes a strong faith to do what they did.  But, they did not compromise the truth or their love for Jesus.  Like most martyrs, they were surely given the opportunity to deny Jesus and save their life, but they did not.  They would not deny their love for the One who is love.
   May we learn from their example and be strengthened by it.  These men and women died terrible deaths and are now celebrated for their great faith.  Now, they spend eternity with their love, Jesus.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How many masters can one have?

   This seems to be an easy question, but it leads to interesting questions.  Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” – [Matthew 6:24]  After all, one master’s commands must take precedence.
   So, who should be our master?  Another easy question.  Our God that is love and died on the cross for love of us.  Can anyone have a better master than an all-powerful being that loves us so completely?  Surely not.  To accept such a master does not take much, if we really know how much God loves us.
   So, how do we accept God as our master?  Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” – [Matthew 11:28-30]  We are to yoke ourselves in obedience to Jesus; what He did and what He told us to do.
   Can we yoke ourselves multiple times?  This is an easy question, but leads to difficult concerns.  No, we cannot yoke ourselves multiple times.  To do so would be trying to serve two masters, which one cannot do.
   Now, comes a very difficult concern.  I merely point out the fact.  To omit it would be uncharitable of me.  The meaning of the word yoga is to yolk.  This may seem difficult, but what does yoga yolk one to?  Interestingly enough, yoga seems to be about discovering oneself.  Perhaps, I am wrong (hopefully, I am wrong).  It seems like yoga is about yoking one to oneself.  In a sense, it sounds like accepting yourself as your own god.
   It would be great if yoga connected us to God, but it seems to be a self-centered practice from everything that I read.  (Again, hopefully, I am wrong.)  The concerns with yoga is yoking ourselves to someone or something other than God.  If you had to choose between yoga and God, which would you choose?
   Who is your master?

Love without truth is no longer love at all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Today is the feast day of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.

   In the early days of the Church, many were martyred for their faith.  These early Christians were different from everyone else and adhered themselves to a higher moral code.  They were accused of a “hatred for the human race.”  They stood strong and did not recant their belief in Jesus.
   I have heard it said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith.”  Surely, many of the early Christians were martyred.  But their martyrdom was compelling enough that many converted.  Seeing the faith of these Christians astounded the people.
   Every age calls for strong witnesses for Jesus.  The early times of the Church called for many martyrs.  Indeed, many are martyred for their faith in Jesus even today, just not in our country.  But, we can still be strong witnesses for Jesus.  To do so, we must live our lives in accord with Jesus, who is Love.
   “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.” – [Matthew 22:37:40]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How much does love cost?

   Sure, love does not always come at a cost, but if you are unwilling to pay any cost, can you say that you love?  As Jesus told and showed us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – [John 15:13]
   Notice how Jesus says that “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” is the greatest love.  Also notice that Jesus is equating love to an action.  He is not relating it to one’s feelings.  Love is an action.  You or I could feel like we are in love, but until our actions back that up, it is just a feeling not a reality.
   Now, not everyone is able to die for the one’s that we love.  Most of us will never have a reason to do so.  However, Jesus did not say that the greatest love is dying for one’s friends.  He said “to lay down one’s life”.  We can do that without physically dying.
   We can lay down our lives every day in service towards others.  We deny ourselves and our wants for our friends.  For most of us, this will first be for our spouse and children.  Surely, God does not want us to forget about those closest to us.  After we serve those closest to us, we can serve others.  One does not feed one’s neighbor before one’s spouse and children.
   Laying down our lives in service seems consistent with what Jesus tells us.  “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – [Luke 9:23-24]
   Love costs a lot, but the benefits are out of this world!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

According to whose plan?

   We know that things do not always go according to our plan.  Sure, we can force them to as much as we want, but sometimes, it just plain will not work.  Our plans simply are only hopes, since there is so much out of our control.  Accept it or not, this is reality.
   So, whose plan is it that is done?  God’s?  To a certain extent, but He did not plan for Adam and Eve’s original sin.  He does not plan for anyone of us to go to Hell, but He does not control us.  No, He gave us free-will.  A great and awesome gift that comes with a possibility of us choosing Hell instead of Heaven.
   So, whose plan is done?  God’s plan to save humanity after original sin has been done.  Indeed, God holds the world in the palm of His hands and can do anything within it.  However, the awesome gift of free-will comes at a cost, even to God.  He goes through the torture of seeing some of His children despise Him and choose to spend eternity in Hell.
   So, who would actually choose Hell?  Well, choosing Heaven comes with accepting and loving God.  Those who say, “I could not believe in a God that would…” are actually very near the choice of Hell.  To think that we know better, impossible.  To think that we could love better, impossible.  God is the all-knowing and all-powerful one that is Love itself.
   We need humility to accept God’s plan for us to go to Heaven.  We do not know better, nor can we love better.  But we can do the best we can and humbly accept God’s attempts to show us where we have sinned.  We are not perfect, so we cannot expect ourselves to never fail.  But we can try.  Our loving Father will surely accept our humble attempts.  His plan, after all, is to love us forever!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where are you going?

   We are always making choices, which lead us in one direction or another.  Even a decision to sit and stay is a choice that negates other possible choices.  And every choice leads to a consequence, whether it is positive, negative, or a combination.  Our choices dictate where we are going.
   Certainly, we may think that we do not have many choices, but our choices are never truly limited.  What seems like a limited choice selection is really a choice selection with lots of consequences that we do not want.  We like to be comfortable, but comfort is commonly the worst thing for us.
   A person driven by comfort may find themselves in a lazy boy in front of a tv with snacks and fast food.  Of course, this does not sound like a healthy lifestyle.  Enjoying comforts like this occasionally is not bad, but never leaving these comforts is very unhealthy.
   So it is with the spiritual as well as the physical.  Many people do not want to go further spiritually, because they fear (or know) that it will take them out of the comforts they currently live in.  But is this not for health, and spiritual health at that.  We all know that the physical world fades away, but the spiritual world never does.  Is not our spiritual health more important than our physical health?
   Many are concerned about their physical health and rightfully so, but many neglect their spiritual.  Let us not be counted among them.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Love without truth is not love.

   How can you love someone while denying truth?  You cannot.  It is a lie.  Lies hurt when we learn that so-called loved ones lie to us.
   The truth sometimes hurts those who are stuck in the lie, though.  No one likes to be wrong and being told that you are wrong is very difficult to take.  It is very tricky to speak the truth in love, but that is exactly what we are called to do.
   Perhaps one way to tell the truth lovingly to others is to say, "I love you and that is why I need to tell you..."  Saying, "I love you, but..." implies that you are divorcing love with the truth.  Saying and instead of but may seem small, but it keeps us on the right track.  We speak the truth because of our love, not in spite of it.
   “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”, Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper [John 14:6].  So, Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is also God and God is Love.  So, Truth cannot be separated from Love, since Jesus cannot be separated from Himself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why do we obey God’s laws?

   There are different reasons for obeying God’s laws depending upon spiritual maturity.  The first level is to obey to avoid God’s wrath.  Basically, to avoid discipline, much like children do with their parents.  The next level is to obey because you love God and do not want to disappoint Him.  Again much like children with their parents.  The pinnacle is to obey because you love God and understand how God’s law is about the Father’s love for us.
   This spiritual maturity is very similar to maturing children.  We start out obeying out parents and authority figures to avoid discipline.  After sometime, we begin to obey to avoid disappointing our parents/loved ones.  Then, after we have matured enough to understand the reason for the rules, we obey because doing otherwise would cause harm to us or others.
   God’s laws are to protect us.  Think of the ten commandments.  If we do not keep a good relationship with Our Heavenly Father, we are left unprotected (1. He is our one God  2. Go to Sunday Mass  3. Do not curse His name).   If we do not keep good relationships with our brothers and sisters, we are asking for retaliation (4. Honor your parents  5. Do not kill  6. Do not commit adultery  7. Do not steal  8. Do not lie  9. Do not desire another’s spouse  10. Do not desire another’s stuff)
   Keeping God’s laws keep us safe in this life, but more importantly in the next.  Ultimately, God’s law is to love.  We just are not smart enough to know how to love without God telling us, so He had to tell us.  He gave us the Church, in order to help us.  She lets us know what love is and is not, which we definitely need as times have changed quite a bit since Jesus was crucified.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Where do we find our hope?

   Our hope is ultimately in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Way to Heaven.  Jesus is the way to unification with God.  We must be perfect to be unified with God, but this should not deter us.  “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – [Matthew 5:48]
   Being perfect is a large and seemingly impossible task, but, again, this should not deter us.  After all, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” – [Luke 5:32]  Our hope is not in being perfect now, though we ought to aim for it, but our hope is to work towards perfection and unity with God in eternity.
   Aiming for perfection may sound like trying to do an impossible task, but, as I have heard it said, it is better to aim for Heaven, miss, and reach Purgatory, than aim for Purgatory, miss, and fall to Hell.
   Aiming and working towards perfection is a great task, but as anything, it starts with one step.  Even the littlest of steps towards perfection is a move towards perfection.  After all, if you are not moving towards perfection, what are you moving towards?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Remember the sacrifice of those before you.

   John Quincy Adams once said, "You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you make good use of it."  We owe many things to the generations before us, especially their sacrifices.  The greatest of these sacrifices being their lives.
   It takes a great person to sacrifice themself for another.  Yesterday, we remembered those who did just that.  They put their life on the line for us and they paid the ultimate price.  Jesus did it best and gave us the most from His sacrifice.  Which is why we remember His sacrifice every Sunday (Son-day).
   Jesus, like our service men and women who died in the line of duty, knew that freedom is not free.  Jesus paid His life to free us from the bonds of sin.  Bonds that prevent us from Heaven.  These terrible shackles are removed for all those who ask Jesus to use the key, which He paid with His life.
   Let us be thankful for the sacrifice of those before us and what we have received from these sacrifices.  Let us never take these gifts for granted, so as to lose them forever.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Love, the Greatest Commission.

   Jesus commissioned His disciples to “[g]o into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” – [Mark 16:15]  This was His final command that He gave before ascending into Heaven in the Gospel of Mark.  His Ascension, which we just celebrated on Sunday.  However, is this the greatest commission?
   I would say that Jesus’ greatest commission, the greatest commission ever given, was to love.  “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” – [John 13:34]  Now, if “God is love” [1 John 4:8], then there can be no greater commission than to bring God, love, to others.  Indeed, when Jesus commissioned His disciples before His ascension, He told them to “proclaim the gospel to every creature.”  The gospel is God’s love for everyone.
   Jesus is, was, and will always be love.  His very nature as God is love.  He cannot be separated from it, lest He separate Himself from Himself.  If you want to bring Jesus to someone who needs Him, bring love and they will receive Jesus.  There is no greater commission; there is no greater duty.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you.” – Jesus

   The mustard seed is very small.  How can a faith that is very small do anything of significance?  It has to do with the one whom the faith is placed.  If your faith is placed in an all-powerful God, then yes, even a very small faith can do anything.
   This very small faith, like the mustard seed, must be whole.  A mustard seed that is incomplete cannot do anything.  Just so, a very small faith can do nothing when doubt accompanies it.  Indeed, how can you call it faith when doubt accompanies it?  In such a case, the faith is incomplete.
   Why doubt God?  Has He failed us in the past?  Perhaps, He has failed to give us what we want.  But have we given Him faith that is whole?  Indeed a faith that is whole, no matter how small, asks and receives.  God, after all, only wants to give.  But as a loving God and Father to all, He will not give us what is bad for us.
   “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” - [Romans 5:8]  God, our Heavenly Father, gave us the ultimate gift of His Son, so that we might be forgiven.  He will surely not take away the very best from us, but give us the best, if we have a complete faith, even the size of a mustard seed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Give God a little and He will multiply it.

   Jesus multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000!  Not only did He supply enough for the five thousand, the leftovers filled 12 baskets!  We look at the little we have (faith, money, love, etc.) and wonder how we could ever have more.  If given to Jesus, He can return it to you and those around you so much that there will still be some leftover.
   If giving Jesus a little does this much, how much more does giving everything get multiplied?  Indeed, Jesus wants this from us.  The more we give, the more we can receive.  If you have a full garage and give from it, you are only able to receive until the garage is full again.  If you empty it, you are able to receive so much more.  This is like our hearts.  However, Jesus loves us so much and desires to give us even more that He would gladly enlarge our hearts to receive more, if only we clean it out first.
   God can do a lot with a little.  Imagine how much He can do with a lot!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How do you celebrate God’s love for you?

   We are still within the Easter Season, so we should still be celebrating God’s love in a special way, but we should always celebrate God’s love for us.  God has created us.  God has given us many blessings.  God also allows us to show love back to Him.
   We have been very blessed to be counted among those who God created in His image and likeness.  Being thus created is a great privilege and honor.  Along with this gift, we have been given many blessings.  Family, friends, and other things that have allowed us to enjoy God’s creation.
   God also has given us an ability to return His love.  Often this is in the form of sufferings.  Only within suffering can we freely choose to love God.  God does not give us sufferings, but He allows them.  Much like a parent allows their child freedom.  They may suffer by any number of ways, falling being a good example of accidental suffering.  But this suffering (a scraped knee), can provide the parent and child the ability to share love.  One by comforting the other and the other by experiencing this love and responding with love.
  God has bestowed upon us many great blessings.  However, we need to remember God the Father’s love for His Son, Jesus, did not keep Jesus from the cross.  How do we celebrate God’s great love for us?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When we hear the truth, does it change us or just entertain us?

   Hearing the truth is a dangerous thing.  Once we hear the truth, we cannot un-hear it.  After hearing the truth, we are often left with a decision:  (a) change and adhere to the truth OR (b) continue to live a lie.  However, this decision bears much more weight than the original decision to live the lie.  Now we know the truth!
   “Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.” – [Mark 6:20]  Herod was entertained by the truth, but it did not change him.

More from the lips of Jesus:
   “I am the way and the truth and the life.” – [John 14:6]
   “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light … but whoever lives the truth comes to the light.” – [John 3:19, 21]
   “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – [John 8:12]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What is The Purpose?

   The purpose of life (why are we here?) is a long-sought and debated question.  Many claim to have figured it out, while only one answer can be correct.  I do not claim to be better than them.  In many cases, they have spent more time contemplating this than I have been alive.  Well, here goes anyways…
   In our country at this time, one thing seems to stand as the noblest of purposes.  Love.  Is this, then, the purpose of life?  If it is not, I would be saddened to find out what is.  However, if love is the purpose of life, then we owe it to ourselves to delve into love.  What is it in its fullness?  How can I find it?  How can I share it?
   We should indeed look for love in its fullness.  If you were a stomach, how could you fulfill your purpose with only a morsel of food?  Just as a stomach needs to be filled to fulfill its purpose, we cannot fulfill our purpose with a bit of love.  No, we need the whole thing.  Why should we settle for anything less?
   As Christians, we believe that “God is Love.” – [1 John 4:8]  So, the fullness of love exists in God, since God is love.  It is easy to dismiss this and go onto other things, but truly this is the heart of it all.  If the purpose of life is love and God created life, then God must be love.  God cannot be separated from what He created (and its purpose) no more than you can be separated from parents or children.  Our very being keeps us connected.  Our very being is maintained by God, maintained by Love.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

“The past is history, the future a mystery, but today is a gift – that is why we call it the present.”

   The past is something that cannot be changed.  No matter how much time we focus on it, it will never change.  Regret for wrongdoings is good, but it should not keep us from living the present moment, which in turn becomes the past.  If we constantly live in the past, we will miss the present we have every day.  The past can help us change what we do today.
   The future is also mysterious to us.  We can plan for the future and do as much as we can, but we do not control it.  Our control is limited to today.  If we focus too much on the future, we will miss what we can do today.  Some people never live to see retirement.  The future is good to plan for, but nothing is guaranteed.  Thinking of the future can help us decide what we do today.
   Today is our gift.  But first, we must recognize the giver.  God gives us every day that we have.  We should be grateful to Him for today.  There may be no tomorrow, yesterday may have been terrible, but today is what we make of it.  It comes as an unopened box, but it remains unopened if we do nothing with it.  Tomorrow, it will be gone.
   Cherish today.  Think of how you would like to remember it.  Think of where you would like it to take you.  I am reminded of the prayer that Jesus gave us “… give us this day our daily bread…”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How strong do we need to be?

   To be holy, we think that we need to find or create an inner strength within us.  Well, this is partly right, but it misses something fundamental.  It is God that will make us strong.  It is not creating something that does not already exist, but getting out of the way.  The Holy Spirit dwells within the baptized and we need to cooperate with and avoid getting in the way of the Holy Spirit.
   God is the source of our strength.  And as St. Paul was told, “power is made perfect in weakness.” – [2 Corinthians 12:9]  St. Paul then says, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – [2 Corinthians 12:10]
   We are made strong through weakness, because our acceptance of weakness is a way to express our love for Jesus.  Surely, love is the strength we attain from weakness.  So, if “God is Love” [1 John 4:8], then our strength is love.  Now, let’s take the initial question:  How strong do we need to be?  Should the question not say:  How loving do we need to be?  As loving as Jesus on the cross.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jesus is the Word of God, but what does that mean?

   We express ourselves in words.  That is how we reveal ourselves to others.  So, the Word of God is the very expression of God.  Jesus is how God expresses and reveals Himself.  God being perfect, His Word cannot be anything but a perfect expression of Himself.  The perfect expression of God is Jesus dying for love of us on the cross.
   An expression of ourselves is indeed a piece of us.  It is an aspect of us that reveals ourselves to others.  Sure, sometimes we may express ourselves in untrue ways, but even these reveal us in our brokenness.  How we express ourselves is so intricately woven into who we are that the expression of ourselves cannot be separated from us, much like God and the Word of God.
   Jesus is called “the firstborn of all creation.” – [Colossians 1:15]  For nothing can come about until God expresses Himself.  Jesus, however, has no beginning, since God has no beginning.  We think about things in a timeline, but time is a dimension and God is outside of all dimensions having created them.  It is a mystery that is hard for us to understand, since we have been inside of time ever since our conception into existence within our mother’s womb.
   “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – [John 1:1

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How well do we know ourselves?

   We all have strengths, but we also have weaknesses as well.  The temptation exists to look at others weaknesses and ignore ours.  As Christ tells us, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” – [Luke 6:42]
   So, what are our weaknesses?  We need to discover them, so that we can remove them.  Of course, some are like wooden beams and are sometimes best removed piece by piece.  We grow attached to our weaknesses, not in that they are our weaknesses, but that we know the occasional good feeling that we get from it.
   Most often, we have allowed the weaknesses to come in and we think them much smaller than they actually are.  The longer that you live with something the less inclined you are to remove it.  It may be annoying at times, but we grow accustomed to our weaknesses.
   To help us identify and remove our weaknesses, we must first go to prayer.  God created us, so He knows the best way to fix us.  He can give us insights and the fortitude to fight our weaknesses.  Many are scared to know themselves and their weaknesses.  Let us not be among them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Will you let God love others through you?

   Oftentimes, loving others is difficult.  But why is it difficult?  Yes, others make themselves difficult to love, but that is only when we are not conformed to Christ.  Not that being conformed to Christ will suddenly change them, but it will change our motives.  If our goal is to love someone with the pure love of Jesus, then we are conformed to Christ.
   One of the ways to make it easier to love others is to look at them through Christ’s eyes.  Jesus loves them.  He wants the best for them.  He forgives them and offers Himself on the Cross for them.  He wants them in Heaven.  If they are separated from Him, He cries for them.
   Our religion appears to have many restrictions; however, we must realize that they exist because of love.  God knows what is best for us.  After all, He created us.  These restrictions are there for our betterment.  Like a parent who restricts their child from playing on the street.  It is because the parent loves the child.
   These restrictions exist for the purpose of love, but we must lead with love.  The restrictions flow from love and are meaningless if we do not lead with love.  “…the greatest of these is love.” – [1 Corinthians 13:13]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why does God demand so much from us?

   There are many ways to look at this.  First, God does not demand; He asks.  We determine if we comply.  We are, after all, given free will.  But there is a problem with free will, my use of my free will has repercussions for more than just me.  If I, as a father, spend money on a new car, my family would feel the repercussions.
   Back to the question at hand, so why does God ask so much from us?  God asks much of us because He has given us much.  Not only did God create us, but the God who is existence itself, keeps us in existence, too.  But greater than both of these is what He did for us through Jesus’ passion and death.  “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much” – [Luke 12:48]
   So, if God asks this of us, He allows us to say yes freely.  If we say no, He will accept our choice.  A choice that lands one in Hell.  To truly be able to love, one must be free to choose between love and hate.  God will not force us to love Him.

If you love someone, set them free.
If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were. – Richard Bach

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Do we allow God to give us His Love?

   God wants to love us to the full extent that He can.  But, how are we able to allow God to love us?  To answer that question, let’s look at how we allow others to love us.
   One of the first things required to allow someone to love us is to spend time with them.  It is difficult to love someone that you never spend time with.  God requires us to go to Mass every Sunday, but He wants to spend time with us along with the many other blessings that we receive at Mass.  As a Father, He wants to see His children come together in His presence.
   And those that spend time in Eucharistic Adoration, they allow Jesus to love them by being in His presence.  By giving our time, presence, and attention to God, He is allowed to love us to His full extent.  Sure, God does not have limits, but we do.  We limit God’s love for us when we do not do as He desires.
   Surely, we cannot always be at Mass or Eucharistic Adoration, but those are the best ways to allow God to love us.  We can allow God to love us other times too by doing what God wants of us.  Intentionally doing something with God in mind, allows God to be with us in a spiritual sense.  In that sense, we keep the door open to God and His Love for us.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

There is more rejoicing over repentant sinners.

   Jesus tells us, “I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” – [Luke 15:7]  It seems odd, but do we not rejoice more over finding that which we have lost than that which we have not lost?
   Wrapped up in this is the love for a repentant sinner, too.  Heaven rejoices for one.  Oftentimes, we do not.  We see the crime/sin that has been committed and offer no forgiveness.  Heaven rejoices and God provides the forgiveness, but we want nothing to do with it.
   How can we give to others that which God has already given to us?  God has forgiven us, but we must mirror this forgiveness.  “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  It is a tall order and not very easy, but we can do it with God’s help.
   When we forgive others, we allow ourselves to love them and God thru us.  If we are to love others as ourselves, we are to forgive them as well as forgive ourselves.  God forgives us all and Jesus asked us to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – [Matthew 5:48]  So, we should aim to forgive all as well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

God Humbles Himself to be Helpless

   The infinite and only God of the universe humbled Himself to be helpless before us.  First, Jesus submits Himself to becoming one of His creation.  But, He did not come as an adult.  No, He came first as a human child within the womb of a virgin.  There He was helpless, relying on the virgin and her spouse for all of His needs.
   And again, Jesus allowed Himself to be helpless for us by dying on the cross.  With His hands nailed to the cross, He could not even swipe away the flies!  He did not take away our sins with a simple gesture.  No, He showed how far love would go, to death and back.
   These both are enough for one to question.  Why would an infinite God do such a thing?  Just show us you are God and tell us what to do.  But God is much more personal than that.  While He loves us all, He has a love for each one of us individually that is as unique as we are.
   God’s desire for a personal relationship with us, takes us to the Eucharist.  Within the Eucharist, Jesus humbled Himself in the form of bread and wine.  There, Jesus is helpless.  He cannot walk, talk, or take Himself anywhere.  But He can love.  And when we receive Him in communion, we can commune with the God that is love in our very being.  There is nothing more personal than becoming one with another.

Helpless He came into the world;
Helpless He died on the cross;
And helpless He remains with us
   in the Eucharist.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Have a great Holy Week!

   This is the holiest week of the year, hence the name Holy Week.  Many things are remembered this week, but around all of it is God’s love for us.  Jesus is the Word of God, the very expression of God.  How is God expressed to us?  By obedience, humility, but most of all out of love.
   Jesus loved us to the end.  He saw it coming, in fact that is why He came down from Heaven.  He came to suffer for us.  His suffering and death is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.  This Love is what opened the gates of Heaven for us.  We choose whether to enter the gates.  We choose if we will accept God’s love.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What is God preparing you for?

   Many times, we wondering why God allows the hardships we have.  Perhaps, God allows these hardships in order to prepare us for His future plans.  We would not know to store up food unless we have dealt with not enough food ourselves.  Other times, we learn from what others have experienced.
   So, what is God preparing you for?  The answer may not be realized until the future.  Sometimes, we may never realize it.  God is constantly preparing us for greater things.  Think of Job.  He lost everything, yet he bore the hardships and refused to curse God.  He then was given twice what he had lost for his faith.  He endured and now his story comforts others when they have hardships.
   God wants to give us more.  He may allow us to be deprived of it for a little while, but He yearns to give us more than we ever had.  That is why Jesus came here.  He wanted to give us more than we ever had.  Instead of just being God’s blest creation, we become sons and daughters of God.  That is what He is preparing us for.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The day that changed everything.

   Yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary.  Everything changed when the infinite God of the universe took on flesh and became human in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  God became part of His own creation.
   The Incarnation of the Word only happened with the consent of Mary, though.  Amazing as it is to comprehend, but God hinged His entire design of human salvation upon Mary’s consent.  Of course, she said yes, which gives us great reason to celebrate today.
   Both the Incarnation and Mary’s consent are amazing to comprehend in their own right.  And they happened at the same time!  Thank you, Jesus, for taking on flesh in order to save us.  Thank you, Mary, for consenting to bring forth the world’s Redeemer in your immaculate womb.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Failure is not an option.

   “[A]ll have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” – [Romans 3:23]  So, we already have failed.  Sin after all is failure.  It is a failure to love, to love our neighbor and our God.  Surely, we feel like we are constantly failing.  But Jesus did not come for those already perfect, He came for sinners.
   We are not to give into our sins, though.  Yes, we are inclined to sin, something that comes from the original sin of Adam and Eve, but we are to love God.  Since sinning is a failure to love, we must do all that we can to avoid sin.
   It takes a lot for us to admit our failures to others, especially those close to us that were hurt by our failure.  But this is a great act of love, often a greater act than avoiding the sin would have been.  Our sinful nature yearns to keep our sins in the dark, yet bringing them into the light allows God to burn it away with His love.
   So, while failure is not an option, getting back up always is.  It takes great love and humility to reach for the hand of Jesus after we have slapped Him in the face.  He loves us too much to leave us, regardless of what we have done.  Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What can amaze more than God’s love for us?

    Often times, I forget how loving God the Father truly is.  Sure, He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus, but His love for us is incomprehensible.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to us.  Jesus tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” – [John 3:16]
    Regularly, I act and pray as if Jesus is the all loving God and God the Father is somehow the stern Father more set on vengeance than love.  I have to catch myself, because I do this unconsciously.  Jesus is the Word, the very expression of God the Father.  Jesus showed us that “God is love” [1 John 4:8] in what He did for us.
    Yes, looking at the Old Testament may seem like that was a different God, but God was being a Father to humanity.  When humanity was young, they had to have lines that are never crossed, so they would obey for their well-being, similar to our children.  As humanity grew up, some lines were changed or even eliminated and the reason for these lines were explained, just as our children grow up.  They now gain permissions that they never had before and are able to understand the reasons for our rules.
    God’s love for us leads Jesus to the cross.  We, as finite beings, had created an infinite debt to God, the infinite being, with our sins.  It took an infinite being to pay this infinite debt no matter the cost.  You are indeed loved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St Patrick’s Day

   Today is the Feast Day of St Patrick, Catholic Bishop from Ireland in the 5th century.  There are many great stories involving St Patrick.  Some legend, while others true.  I am reminded of how he taught the people of Ireland about the Trinity.
   Now, the Trinity is very hard to understand.  1 God in 3 persons.  How can 3 equal 1?  Well, St Patrick used a clover to illustrate the Trinity.  Each clover leaf is a separate leaf, yet they all make one clover.  They are separate and distinct, yet they have one purpose, one being.
   We can spend our entire lifetime and never quite fully understand the revealed mystery that is the Trinity.  We are mortal beings trying to understand an eternal truth well beyond our capabilities, but we can use tools like a clover to illustrate to ourselves and others a piece of this mystery.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do you take the time to smell the roses?

   Sure, we are all busy.  There are so many things for us to get done.  But, we control what we determine should be done first.  We get to prioritize our lives.  After all, God gave us free will.  So, the busy-ness of our lives is actually what we have done to ourselves.
   Don’t worry, though.  The best way to solve this is to prioritize your life.  What is most important to you?  The answer might be easy, but then there is this quote from Jesus, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”. [Matthew 6:21]  This is equally true for time as well as treasure.
   We all have different situations, but we should take this time during Lent to make sure we spend our time (treasure and talents, too) in a way that lines up with our priorities.  If we do not spend our time in a way that lines up with our priorities, then perhaps our priorities are not what we think or want them to be.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Even seemingly small things have large consequences

   Here is a story from the life of St. Padre Pio that illustrates it best.

   There was a girl who was possessed and shouted for hours. Everybody was frightened of her. The child’s mother brought her to church hoping that Padre Pio would free the child from the evil spirit. The child also shouted a lot in the church. One day, when Padre Pio had finished hearing confessions, he met the girl that howled fearfully in front of him. The child was being held back with difficulty by two or three men. The Saint was annoyed by the whole uproar and finally said: "Stop! Enough!"
   The child fell to the ground as if she was sleeping. Padre Pio told a doctor who was standing there, to bring the child to St. Michael, in the sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo. When the group reached the destination, they entered the cave where Saint Michael had appeared. The girl revived but nobody succeeded in bringing her near to the altar of the Angel. In the midst of the confusion, a monk took the hand of the child and touched the altar. She fell down as if she had been struck by lightning. A few minutes later she woke up and as if nothing had happened she asked her mother: "Could you buy me an ice-cream?"
   At that point the group returned to St. Giovanni Rotondo in order to inform and to thank Padre Pio. But Padre Pio told her mother: "Say to your husband not to curse anymore, otherwise the demon will return."

   Some would say, what does cursing hurt?  It can’t be that bad.  Yet, it has repercussions that caused a demon to possess this child.  Even little things that we do, affect those around us, especially those entrusted to our care.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Do you adore Jesus?

   We adore many things.  Our spouses, our children, along with others.  Some even adore things like money, houses, cars.  In any case, do we adore Jesus?  Jesus, being God, deserves our adoration more than any creature or created thing.
   If we want to adore Jesus, we must know what it means to adore.  In looking at definitions or synonyms for the word adore, love continually comes to the forefront.  Respect, honor, worship, and admiration come up as well.  It comes from the Latin word adorare which means to speak to, pray, worship.
   But, how do we do all of these things to Jesus?  Keeping Jesus in the forefront of our thoughts helps, but it is difficult to worship when you are doing something that may seem unrelated to Jesus, like working.  But, we can offer everything to Jesus.  We can try to do our job as if we were doing it for Jesus.  We can do everything, even the small stuff, as if we are doing it for Jesus.
   This is great.  St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower, called this the little way.  It was her pathway to Heaven and was such a transforming concept that she was declared a Doctor of the Church.  She died at 24 and is the youngest Doctor of the Church.
   I have heard it said that ‘small things done with great love are great things.’  Sure St. Therese lived that way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How is Lent going?

   Not everything starts out great.  Look at humanity, we started with the fall of Adam and Eve.  Some things start out great, but then start to deteriorate.  Anyways, Lent can be the same for us.  It can either start well or not so well.  In both cases, we get to choose where we go from here.  God, after all, gave us free will.
    Our free will is an awesome gift.  We are not confined by instincts like the animals.  No, we can go against our instincts as only rational beings can.  Our instinct is to do what makes us comfortable.  It is uncomfortable to go outside in winter to work, yet we do it.  It is uncomfortable to give someone else control of our lives, yet we must do it.  “[W]hoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – [Matthew 16:25]
   Lent is about giving away some of ourselves in order to be more like Christ.  As St. John the Baptist said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” – [John 3:30]  May Jesus Christ increase in us.  In doing so, we will become who we were created to be.  For, we were created in the image and likeness of God.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sacrifice is the currency of love

   How much are you willing to sacrifice for others?  It is directly linked to how much you love them.  We know that “God is love.” – [1 John 4:8]   Jesus is God in the flesh.  His sacrifice for us was His suffering and death.  Of course, this sacrifice is the purest manifestation of love.  Being perfect Himself, He did not need to sacrifice for us, but His unending love for us compelled Him to.  This is why His suffering and death is called His Passion.
   We are called to love God and to love one another, so we are called to sacrifice.  Sacrifice our time, talents, and treasure.  These have been given to us, but God wants to see what we will do with them.  Do we love what we have been given or do we love the giver?  Giving them back or paying them forward is what God is hoping from us.
   Who do we love the most?  Do we sacrifice for them or expect them to sacrifice for us?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

God is All-In on You!

    God, the eternal, infinite, all-powerful, and all seeing being that holds everything into existence, is all-in on each one of us.  Though we fail, He does not pull back our existence.  He does not take away His love for us.  No!  “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” – [Romans 5:8]
    If there ever was a time for Him to pull away from us, it would be after we sin.  But that is not what God did.  God decided that we did not know how much He loves us and wanted to show us.  So, God became one of His creation.  “though [Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” – [Phillipians 2:6-7]
    Becoming human for God can be compared to humans becoming an ant.  But He not only lowered Himself to our level, but He then went on to die for us lowly ants.  But to go further, He wanted to be with us always.  Not only that, but also He wanted to be united to us body and soul.  To do this, He gave us the Eucharist, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
    There is no bounds to what one will do for love.  Jesus is proof of that.  God is all-in on us.  Are we all-in on God?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Our power does not come from who we know, but how we know Him.

   If you know about Jesus, but do not know Him personally, Jesus may say to you, “I never knew you.” – [Matthew 7:23]   I may know about calculus, but unless I am personally acquainted with it (most notably through classes), it does me no good.
    Jesus wants to be our best friend.  Someone that we can count on.  Someone who will always be there even when we do not perceive Him to be there.  It is hardest to know who is there when you are crying and unable to see.  Surely, our hearts work in the same way.  It is hard to perceive Jesus’ presence in our hearts precisely when they are breaking.
    Jesus is God and to be able to call God our best Friend, our Brother, our Redeemer, and our God is almost too much to comprehend.  The One who put the planets into motion and created the stars and sun loves us so much that He wants to be our best Friend.  Talk about having a Friend in High Places!  The saints know this well, but do we?
    Jesus can have an infinite amount of best friends, since He is limitless.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Are you prepared?

    Whenever we embark on an important undertaking, we should prepare ourselves.  The more involved the undertaking, the more prepared we should be.  If you go on vacation for one week, you would prepare more than a one day vacation.  And so it is for us as we prepare for Lent.
    Lent is a 40 day journey.  Jesus journeyed through the desert for 40 days before He began His public ministry.  He was preparing.  So, what are we preparing for in Lent?  We are preparing ourselves for Heaven.  Any other purpose is rather trivial.  Now, we are not going to die at the end of Lent, but we are being called to perfect ourselves on our larger journey towards Heaven.
    Lent is a beautiful time to renew ourselves.  We have put off many important things and now we are being called back.  Life is our larger journey and Lent is our yearly wakeup call that our journey is towards Heaven.  When we realize our destination, it is easier for us to see what is helping us and hindering us on reaching our destination.
    Take time to prepare for Lent.  It will make Lent more meaningful.  It will make life more meaningful.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Will you be my Valentine? – God

    God wants nothing more than to love you and to be loved by you.  If you are like me, that did not sink in.  Read slowly, God wants nothing more than to love you and to be loved by you.  The infinite, all-powerful God that created the universe and everything in it wants to be in a relationship of love with you.  You are kindof a big deal.
    “The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  This is a quote from the movie, Moulin Rouge.  It rings with stunny truth.  God is love and God is also a family, so God is a family of love!
    And how is the truest of loves lived out?  By giving of oneself completely and receiving the other completely, who is giving themself completely.  Jesus gives Himself completely to us at Mass in the Eucharist.  Indeed, He gave Himself completely to us in His Passion.  Will you give yourself completely in return?

    I loved you before time came to be.  Please be my Valentine. – God

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What is your greatest obstacle?

    As Christians, we are to constantly be striving for perfection.  Though, we are all sinners; God’s grace is available to us, if we will only cooperate.  As sinners, our cooperation, though, takes a lot of work.  We fall into sinful habits.  Some habits are plain sinful while others just get in our way in our journey with God.
    We can all easily discern our greatest obstacle.  Just take a moment with your eyes closed and ask God what it is.  Now, the evil one will tell you how this obstacle is really not that bad, but remember that you just asked God and He told you.  He loves you and wants the best you.
    Now that we are this far, we either know what to do about our obstacle or we need to pray for guidance, but knowing the obstacle as an obstacle is sometimes that largest part of the battle.  The evil one tries to twist good things until they are no longer good.   Food is good, but too much is a bad thing.
    Of course, we are coming up on Lent.  Studies tell us that it takes about 7 weeks to learn a new habit and Lent is about 7 weeks.  Amazing how God knew beforehand.  Then again, He did create our very being.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our Vocation is Our Way to Love God

    Our vocation is unique to us.  While God calls may call us to the same vocation, we are all unique and live out our vocations in ways as unique as we have been created.  Our vocation comes from God and it is before God that we commit to them.  So, living out of vocation is our unique way to love God.
    Many time, we think of love as a commodity.  If you give some to your spouse, you have less to give to your children, or even God.  How very far from the truth this is?  Love is not a commodity.  The more that you give, the more you receive.  If God is Love [1 John 4:8] and God is infinite, than love must be infinite as well.  The only one putting confines around love are ourselves.
    God is in our vocation, since it is His calling and we commit to this calling before God.  So, by loving those within our vocation, we are bringing love to God.  If we detest our vocation or those within it, we are detesting God.  God is love and knows all, so how can we tell God that our vocation was wrong?  Doing so separates us from God.
    Most of us are married and during a Catholic wedding, the couple seals their bond in the name of the Trinity.  “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – [Matthew 18:20]  So, we have Jesus in our midst when we are gathered with our spouse.  Amazing!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of St. Agatha

    Little is known about St Agatha.  She was martyred in 251 during the persecution of Emperor Decius.  She is a virgin-martyr.  Legend tells us that she was arrested, tortured, and sent to a house of prostitution.  Her virginity was preserved and ultimately martyred.
    The martyrs of the early Church should be of great comfort to us.  They knew that being a Christian meant that their life was on the line, yet they loved Jesus and knew that only He could bring them to eternal life.  This life is so short, so why not invest is something that will never be lost?
    The early martyrs knew this.  I have heard it said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of faith.  Indeed, the confidence in which the early martyrs faced death seemed to inspire others.  Many were converted because of these early martyrs.  They were willing to give their life for Jesus.
    Surely, we live in a country and time that martyrdom is forgotten.  We store up investments in things other than Jesus.  Yes, taking care of the ones that God has given us responsibility for is good, but what do we do for ourselves?  Retirement plans are nice, but the ultimate retirement plan awaits.  Are we investing?