Archive for October, 2014

Love Hurts!

Posted: October 20, 2014 in World On The Edge

cactus heart
Since I’ve just returned from a book signing event in New Orleans for Birds of a Feather and A Hunger in the Heart, I’m re-posting ‘Love Hurts’ for today.

When is the last time we asked ourselves this question: What is the purpose of life?

Maybe we’ve never asked it—-although we wouldn’t begin a task or a trip, consider a movie or read a book, without asking what those things were about.

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What is Your Image of God?

Posted: October 17, 2014 in World On The Edge

jesus-hugging-girlOne of the first things I was taught about my faith,  was that  human beings were made in the image and likeness of God.  I was a young child and had seen many paintings and pictures of Jesus, and since I was also taught that Jesus is God, I thought, then, that God looked just like us, only a lot more powerful.

Later, when I learned that God is also spirit, I remember being disappointed. I wanted someone I could feel, talk to, cry with. Someone like my father, my mother, my grandparents. They were not spirits. They were real.

And then came lessons about The Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  I puzzled over this mystery of our Faith. In my young mind, I reasoned that any father could be a son, and any son could be a father, and the spirit could be the thoughts I had about any one of them. And all that served me for a while, because I was a child. I did not really understand that my Catholic Faith was actually that–faith.

True faith is where one steps out in total trust. Though there may be times in which we don’t feel God near us, we step out regardless because of Faith.

In the realm of faith, we don’t need to understand the specifics of God because no one can truly understand Him. He is the first cause of being itself; the eternal, ultimate entity, as far above us in power and intellect and reasoning as we are above a grasshopper. Yet, what a grasshopper needs is provided for it through the balances in nature. Certainly God provides for us, His children.

Gradually, we use our memory, intellect, and will, to determine our image of God, and then through it, express our Faith, Hope, and Love with those same God-Given human faculties. We put on the  ‘mind of Christ.’

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ–1 Cor. 2:16

Then putting on the Mind of Christ:

We are not asked to develop a kind of spiritual amnesia—a blocking—out of everything painful. We are asked however to trust Him so our sins can be swallowed up in the ocean of His mercy. We are asked to develop a spirit of compassion so we can look at any person or incident in our past through His merciful Eyes. We are asked to transform our memory through the power of His grace, to sweep it clean of all cobwebs, dirt and superfluities that keep that faculty so cluttered up there is no room for God. –Mother Angelica

And finally, we come to the purpose of our Faith, and what God is really all about–Love.

There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives – the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.–Mother Theresa

All taking us back to our childhood and what we wanted God to be: Someone we can feel, talk to, cry with.  Someone real.

 

THE LITERATURE OF BELIEF

Catholic Writers of The Gulf Coast

Wine and Cheese, Talks,  Readings, Signings

With R. B. O’Gorman, Kaye Park Hinckley, and David Beckett

Garden District Book Shop
2727 Prytania Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Today. 6 -7:30 pm

COME IF YOU CAN!

            If you are unable to attend,  call the book shop to order signed books.   504-895-2266 

08fatalrhythm

Fatal Rhythm: In the pre-dawn hours of the graveyard shift, the ICU at the Houston Heart Institute is quiet, and quietly patients are dying. Surgery resident Joe Morales dreams of becoming a rich heart doctor. First, he must survive his assignment to an ICU rife with land mines–unexplained patient deaths, rival faculty, fellow resident saboteurs, a cost-slashing administrator, a ruthless insurance executive, a seductive head nurse, a jealous wife, a critically ill son, an overprotective mother, and an orderly distraught over his daughter’s death. To salvage the career he thought he wanted, Joe must determine the cause of the suspicious deaths. In the process, he’s forced to re-examine the ethnic and religious heritage that he had rejected.

BIrds of a Feathe

 

 

Birds of a Feather: “The short stories in Birds of a Feather are richly imagined tales full of finely drawn characters who demonstrate how people estranged from faith can bumble through life so distracted by worldly horrors and delights, so full of themselves, that they don’t even notice faint nudges of grace that stir in their souls or recognize subtle emanations of the holy that abound in the world around them.” –The Catholic World Report

 

 

 

 

The Cana Myster

The Cana Mystery: Ava, an MIT graduate student and expert in ancient languages, is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from an old friend, Paul, with a baffling request: Could she fly to Yemen immediately? Hes found something important and needs her help. Pauls subsequent coded e-mail alludes to what he and his boss, Simon Demaj, have found: the lost jars of Cana the very jars that Jesus used at the wedding at Canaand a puzzle to be solved. Are the jars authentic, and is there a prophecy somehow hidden in them? At the same time a shocking global announcement is made: . . . Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will resign for the good of the church . . . Is there a connection?
“David Beckett’s The Cana Mystery, is IPBA’s Silver Medal for best Suspense/Thriller novel. A fusion of the popular treasure hunt, historical fiction, and techno-thriller genres.”

 

 

Do You Hang to the Sidewalk?

Posted: October 15, 2014 in World On The Edge

file000884219889Some of us have gone through events in our lives that have made us afraid to trust.

Some of us have been crushed by circumstances–financial or personal. Some of us have experienced the loss or death or injury of a loved one, and it has knocked us down. And some of us have been betrayed by someone we least expected, shooting our anger and vengeance toward them.

Maybe our circumstance has knocked us to our knees, but maybe it has had a different effect: We won’t fall on our knees at all.

We are angry. We are afraid to trust.

We hang to the sidewalk of what used to be and will not move away from it to take a step forward, a step toward change. We don’t think we can handle it–and worse, we don’t want to try.

We wonder why God did this to us! We are angry and bitter. Maybe we shut ourselves away, or maybe we meet others attempts to help us with bursts of questioning, “What do you know about it anyway? You’re fine, not like me at all!”

BUT that is probably not true, though we may be surprised to discover it.  Because at a given time in our lives, all of us will go through things we don’t want to go through. We will suffer from one thing or another. Every one of us. How do we get through it in one piece?

Oddly, what we don’t think we can do, is the thing we need to do. TRUST in God. And that means trust in ourselves, because God lives within us. And then, TRUST in others who may be serving as Christ among us. We are not alone–never alone–not even when we close ourselves off.

The answer is to open our hearts to God.  And open our physical door to let others in; those who may indeed have had a similar experience, and who may have been called by God  to help us.  Called to help you and me individually, where we are, and as we are, because God loves us that much.

God does not give us our life without His path to walk upon. Let Him  work on our fear and anger by accepting His mercy through His mystical body–the union of all Christians into a spiritual body with Jesus Christ as their head.

God wants to help. Most people want to help. Why don’t we let them?

The Literature of Belief

Posted: October 14, 2014 in World On The Edge

The Literature of Belief                                                                                      ****If you’re near New Orleans, please join us.****

Are You Moving Forward???

Posted: October 13, 2014 in World On The Edge

Pope FrancisIn a recent interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences.

The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion.

But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliche Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.” It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.” You can check out the full list below.

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn off the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

file1791242309948Have you ever put your parents through Hell?

Have you ever put your children through Hell?

Have you ever been in a place in your life when you were a Monster to others?

Did you hit the bottom?

Did you get tired of being tired?

Or hate yourself after every senseless argument, or action, that hurt someone you say you love?

We may not have seen it before, but when those painful things happen, we begin to see ourselves as what we’ve become–Monsters.

And Monsters can change.

First we have to accept what we’ve done and face the fear of what it has done to our lives, and to the lives of family members and friends.

Next, we can make no excuses–none at all. We cannot blame others. We must take responsibility. And then show, and tell, those our monster-status has hurt that we are sorry, and ask for their forgiveness.

Last, we must do everything we can to forgive ourselves. How? Realize that God forgives us as soon as we ask Him to. Realize that He’s never stopped loving us. And simply love him back in the ways He’s shown us; through Scripture, through our church, through other loving people.

We can reform, and we can transform, ourselves into the person we’d like to be.

And so many of us do!

Finally, a very important note. To anyone who has gone through the pain of living with a Monster you love—-please don’t ever say you won’t forgive!!

A Monster should never be without hope that he or she can be a Teddy Bear again.0003_1

Where the River Bends

Posted: October 9, 2014 in World On The Edge

river bendI’ve come to see life as like a river–its waters can be calm and serene, but also raging and terrifying–especially where the river bends. And at its bend, there are decisions to be made–decisions with consequences. Which way do we go?

Don’t we want our choice to be a good one?

Decision making is something we do constantly as we are faced with various courses of action in our lives. Some of our decisions are relatively minor ones, but some are major. These are decisions that require thought: What are the pros and cons? We must use reason and logic to choose correctly.

BUT Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber published a paper in 2011 that concluded many of us use our reason and logic, not to get to the truth or to make good decisions, but primarily to strengthen our position and persuade other people that we are right. In other words we selectively choose data that supports our decision. And we do this selfishly, sometimes without realizing it. When we decide selfishly, our choice rarely makes us happy, and can truly hurt others. In these situations, can we turn instead to the unselfish spirit within us for direction?

We have to pay attention to what the true good is. When we make decisions we should consider their affect on others, too. Because after the long road of life, our eternity depends upon it.

Creation itself began with God calling life out of the water. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2

The water of a river is symbolic of our relationship with God, carrying the image of renewal, promise and hope. It is through water that we are baptized into the community of the church, and of course Jesus Himself was baptized with water in the River Jordan. It was the day he began his ministry, his loving, sacrificial choice to redeem us. On the other hand, do we remember that it is our bad choices and decisions–yours and mine–that makes our redemption necessary?

Northern MockingbirdSince researchers started studying Type A personality over 50 years ago, it’s become a household term. Most people now know that Type A personality characteristics have something to do with being competitive and work-obsessed, and can bring an increased risk of health problems, but it’s not always understood exactly what traits constitute “Type A Behavior”, or exactly how these traits impact health and wellbeing.

Think of a Mockingbird. Have you ever been attacked by an angry Mockingbird? It’s been called the noisiest, most  aggressive, small bird you will ever meet. They sing almost endlessly, even sometimes at night, and they flagrantly harass birds that intrude on their territories, flying slowly around them or prancing toward them, legs extended, flaunting their bright white wing patches. A regular Type A personality in birds!

But aren’t we often noisy, aggressive, or territorial, too, when someone threatens to take something from us that we believe is ours?

While the term “Type A” is thrown around often, it’s not always fully known what specific characteristics make up “Type A” personality, even among experts. For example, for some,the term applies to rude and impatient people. Others see workaholics as “Type A”. Many see competitiveness as the main characteristic.

According to research by Elizabeth Scott, Stress Management expert, the following characteristics are the hallmark characteristics of Type A Behavior:
• Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little of it they have to spare.
• Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse’, for example.
•Competitiveness
•Strong Achievement-Orientation
•Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years, such as Facial Tension (Tight Lips, Clenched Jaw, Etc.)Tongue Clicking or Teeth Grinding, Dark Circles Under Eyes,
Facial Sweating (On Forehead or Upper Lip)

Let’s take another look at the Mockingbirds. They are aggressive throughout the year. Females typically fend off other female mockingbirds, while males confront male intruders. Males disputing territory boundaries fly toward each other, land near the boundary, and face off, silently hopping from one side to another. Eventually, one bird retreats and the other chases it a short ways. If neither bird retreats, they may fly at each other, grappling with wings and claws and pecking at each other. Mockingbirds are also territorial around other bird species as well as dogs and cats.

If we have the personality of a Mockingbird, we may need to tone it down fast–for health reasons as well as how our personality adversely affects others.

 

Those Crazy Christians

Posted: October 7, 2014 in World On The Edge

ChristiansWhat does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean you’re better than most people because you go to church on Sunday?

I don’t think so.

Here’s what the Bible says: “It is not anyone who says to me,” Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

A Christian is a person who believes in Jesus, develops a personal relationship with him, and lives every day according to his teachings and values. The Christian life is an imitation of Christ, but it is more. It is being transformed into Christ, sharing his life, being here and now his hands and feet and eyes and ears. He lives in us and uses us to do now among men the things he did 2,000 years ago.

Being a Christian means coming to understand that there is more to life than just what meets the eye or enters the ear. We realize that God is present to us and touches us, for example, through the beauty of a sunset or a snowfall, the care and concern of our mother, the delight of being in love and our desire to give of ourselves to other people. And being a Christian means trusting that God is always with us, that no matter what we’ve done, he will welcome a repentant soul, a soul who turns back to Him. Being a Christian means we know we can change for the better, and try to.

In other words, It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me….Galatians 2:20

Each Christian, then, is Christ among us. When we look at another person and see Christ in them, only then can we call ourselves Christian.