Archive for September, 2014

What It Takes to Be a Man

Posted: September 30, 2014 in World On The Edge

Rudyard Kipling

IF…

By Rudyard Kipling

 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Falling Off the Edge?

Posted: September 29, 2014 in World On The Edge

YUlrOExqNGJUT0kx_o_man-falls-off-the-edge-of-grand-canyon-caught-on-videoAre you in the midst of a difficult time in your life? We all have those times, and some of us, it seems, have more difficulties than others. How do we cope with events that could literally bring us to the edge of total despair–those times when we may feel completely alone in our suffering?

One important thing to remember is that everything on Earth is temporary. A change–though maybe not the change we expect or pray for–will eventually come.

Artists, poets, and writers, being sensitive persons, are particularly good at empathizing with and depicting hard times and struggle. Additionally for the artist, the hard times and struggles produce an automatic, kindred audience because any one on Earth can identify with difficulty. So this is why an author keeps putting up obstacles for his/her characters–and then a change that produces a climatic ending–more often than not, an ending that is satisfactory to the reader.

Change is as important in life as in literature. In essence, we’re writing our own story by the things we do, or don’t do, during the days, months, and the many–or few–years of our lives. We have been given free will to be who want to be. So, if we’re unhappy with ourselves, or our lives, change is possible. It may even be needed. But we can always make that day of change the first day of the rest of our lives!

For life events, such as disabilities of various kinds, that we cannot outwardly change, we may need to change interiorly in order to cope, and then ultimately come from despair to Joy. An offering of our suffering in Love, just as Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, can cause that interior change. Here it is in poetry:

“And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

–from “Christmas Bells,”  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Longfellow wrote ‘Christmas Bells’ on Christmas Day, 1864, after the untimely death of his daughter.

We Need Manly Men

Posted: September 26, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001145812666I may be old-fashioned, but I like real men. I’m the wife of a man who’s glad to be a man. I’m the product of a family led by strong men who’d never imagine having their fingernails painted, not even by the little girl they adored. I’m the offspring of men who provided for their families, who listened to the problems of a wife and children, and then tried to solve them, not run from them. I’m the child, grandchild, great grandchild, great-great grandchild, and on and on, of men who served their country with courage, bravery, and the spilling of their blood.

Strength, reliability, and action, are all still core parts of what makes a man, a real man.

Today, I ask, “Where are men like these?”

I think many in our feminine society have emasculated them. I think many of our young boys are in danger of the same. A man is a man. A woman is a woman. They are not alike, except that both are children of God. Especially today, we need strong men, strong fathers. We need strong women and mothers. We do not need a world in which one cannot be differentiated from the other.

Remember that, for better or worse, the strongest influence on a boy is his father. For a girl, it’s her mother.

Again, I may be old-fashioned, but I don’t think it’s in the nature of a woman to desire a womanly man. Or in the nature of a man to desire a manly woman. That is a bill of goods sold to us–and to our children when they’re too young to decipher it–through advertising, movies, TV, sit-coms, and politics. And it’s a dangerous bill of goods because it’s confusing to a child. So, I say, “Quit messing with their minds!” It’s no wonder we have so many children on prescribed drugs, or any sort of drug that promises them a false clarity.

It’s evident that society needs to relax. Not everything needs changing, or equalized to the extent of confusion. More important, not everything CAN be changed, or equalized. Some things are as they are. To paraphrase Shakespeare: A rose by any other name is still a rose.

file1401253770839Most of us have a dream; something we aspire to do, or be. Maybe we’ve already accomplished our dream, or maybe we’re still in the process. What does it take to make a dream become a reality?

First and foremost, an accomplished dream requires a committment–we have to want it badly enough to stay loyal to it. This can be very inconvenient, and we may be criticized, or even ridiculed. I think of Christopher Columbus who for years pushed for someone to finance his idea of a western route from Europe to a “new world.” People thought him crazy; yet he persisted until the King and Queen of Spain agreed. And you know what happened next.

Then comes the trying, because without hard work the dream probably won’t see daylight. Without hard work, a person is dealing only with a ‘wish.’ “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” is an English language proverb and nursery rhyme, originating in the 16th century, used to suggest that it is useless to wish and that better results will be achieved through action. Hard work is that action. We have to be very good at whatever our dream requires.

And then, there’s confidence. A person committed, and willing to work hard, must have confidence in himself. Confidence is an inner quality of the mind and requires that we face our fears. Many of us face our fears by trusting in God.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision,

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” —Genesis 15:1 –

Finally, we should be enthusiastic about our dream. Sometimes that means asking someone for a chance. We must be enthusiastic enough to say: “Put me in the game. Let me show you what I can do!”

How Do You Get to the Truth??

Posted: September 24, 2014 in World On The Edge

Faith and reasonGod comes to each of us in a uniquely personal way, geared to who we are, geared to the way He created us.  Do you know someone who has only a elementary view of God, a person who may have a “simple” faith, but a faith that is truly genuine? On the other hand, do you know someone whose faith comes from an intellectual consideration of God?

We don’t have to be an intellectual, don’t have to be the smartest person around, to be one of the most virtuous people around. But we can also be virtuous, and intellectually savy, too. Neither cancels out the other. Faith and Reason are in harmony with one another.

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves. (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2). Encyclical Letter, Fides Et Ratio, Pope John Paul II

What wonderful words–by knowing and loving God, we come to know the truth about ourselves. He sees us as we are–His children. And He loves us whether we’re smart, or not so smart; whether we’re beautiful, or not so beautiful, whether we’re successful, or not so successful. He sees the light within us because He put it there. He knows its capability. He knows us. Simple Faith or Complicated Faith, we are His.

people pleasersI admit that I am a People Pleaser. And I am happy being so. But today, People Pleasers get a bad rap, and a lot of negative comments. We are said to be:

Afraid of being rejected or abandoned
Preoccupied about what others think and feel
Fearful of saying no, setting limits, or seeming “mean”
Hungry for the approval of others
Stuck in relationships where we give more than we get
Overworked because of an overdeveloped sense of personal responsibility
Neglectful of our own needs
Exhausted, overbooked, and burned out trying to take care of others

BUT WAIT…What is wrong with any of those so-called negative attributes?

JUST LOOK at the opposite of any one of the above:

Not loving oneself enough to care about rejection or abandonment
Not caring what others think or feel
Saying no to another’s request, no personal self-limits, meanness
Not being appreciative and thankful for other’s opinions that may help us grow
Not giving one’s all in a relationship
Having no personal responsibility, and instead blaming others
Thinking only of one’s self
Not willing to go through any struggle to care for others
In other words: It’s all about ME. Not about YOU.

Anita E. Kelley, Ph.D Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, has this to say about children who grow up to be People Pleasers. “Who wouldn’t encourage their kids to be people pleasers? And who wouldn’t want to be around such persons? After all, people pleasers pay their fair share of expenses, do their fair share of work, and have in general a high regard for other people. Yet far from being weak, they are the very ones who will stick up for you when you really need it.”

If we can’t please people, we can’t please God who lives in each one of us. If we do not remain loyal to the goodness in others, we will not remain loyal to God.

The free will we have been given allows us to make our own decisions during our personal life journey. To please… or not to please. And pleasing is often a struggle. We do not want to be someone’s doormat, but we want to help. If asked, we want help another steer the vessel of himself toward goodness–just as we expect another to assist us in that way. Because we are all God’s vessels, brothers and sisters in the same human race.

Here’s a powerful prayer for the ability and insight into pleasing our Lord and our fellow man.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.—Psalm 19:14

The following video is not by members of my immediate family, but nevertheless by members of our human family. And it is a wonderful example of young girls attempting to please, to lighten the burden of someone they love.

Close But No Cigar?

Posted: September 22, 2014 in World On The Edge

Golf ball at edge of holeWhen I was a student at Spring Hill College in Mobile Alabama, I was taught by many wonderful Jesuits. One that I will always remember was Father Alfred Lambeau, who taught French.

He was small and wiry, had a glass eye, and a unique, sometimes biting, sense of humor. His method of grading papers began at the bottom with a failing grade, “Egad!” Next up from that was “Close But No Cigar” and upwards again was “So-So,” and finally, “Lollipop!”

“Close But No Cigar” was my favorite. It meant that I was at least on the right track, and with a little more effort I might finally get to “Lollipop!”

To put it into context for this blog–Life is surely like Father Lambeau’s grading system, isn’t it? Life is hard, but something–some spark–within us keeps us going, and trying, and sometimes succeeding.

What is that spark?

In one word–HOPE.

Hope makes us more human than anything else. It gives us wings, so to speak. It draws us closer to who we are created to be. This is not to say we will achieve material success because we’re hopeful, but we will achieve a peace and because of that peace, happiness, even joy.

Without hope, we’re spiritually dead. Hopelessness is the cause of an enormous amount of personal misery, and our hopelessness affects others. How many criminals act from a sense of hopelessness? Hopelessness often makes us feel alone and alienated from others. We may feel powerless, or even have a sense of doom.

So the term, “Close But No Cigar” used by Father Lambeau actually was a challenge for most of us. Keep going. Keep trying. And you’ll get there.

How would any of us get through difficult times without that hope–the language of God, eternally calling to us?