Archive for February, 2015

And Then Life Happened….

Posted: February 13, 2015 in World On The Edge

mother and boyThis blog is for parents, especially for mothers. It’s sort of a Valentine.

Do you remember when your first child was placed in your arms? Do you remember what a miracle you thought it was that you were holding another human being that you helped to create? You began to see all the good things that would occur in his or her life because you couldn’t imagine that your child would have anything but good.

And then life happened. Maybe things didn’t go as well for your child as you anticipated.

So, what did you do?

I know what I did. I drew on the memories of my own childhood. I did as my own mother did, and I’m sure I made some of the same mistakes. But always, my mother was there for me. And in the end, I believe I was there for her.

The manner of parenting in a family is almost like a carousel that continues going round and round. The passengers who ride in each generation are different, but they bring passed-down ideas with them. These can be good and positive ideas or ways of doing things, but they can also be negative and destructive. This is why the job of a parent is so crucial to our very civilization.

Recently, I’ve been going through old 8mm film taken by my grandmother. I see my mother as a beautiful, young woman, laughing and chasing after her daughters. I see myself from babyhood to teenager, with a hand in the hand of my mother, or in the middle of a hug. And always, we’re happily moving in these pictures–a requirement of my grandmother who was filming.

Of course, there were times my mother and I did not see eye to eye, but one thing I knew: whatever I did, or she did, our arms would re-open to each other in love.

Because life, and relationships, are full of surprises. Things won’t always go as we expect them to. And plans we have for our children may not materialize.

The way of a good parent is the way of forgiving–the way of love.

Being a loving parent does not mean over-indulgence, but neither does it mean selfish disregard of one’s child. A parent ought to be a shoulder to lean on, a shelter in sad, and bad, times. A parent ought to be there. My mother was there for me, and I pray I’ll always be there for my children as well.

Made Promises???

Posted: February 12, 2015 in World On The Edge

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet’s look at the word promise as a verb, an action word: To promise is to tell someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.

Probably the greatest promise we give as human beings is to our children. We promise to love them and take care of them. This understanding between parent and child is two-sided. They are ours, and we are theirs. It is a covenant. A promise.

What about God’s promise to us? Well, here it is:

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God
. — Ezekial 36: 26-28

God has promised to be with us no matter what we face. And God has promised us eternal life with Him. But our covenant with Him, our promise, is also two-sided. Our relationship with God is a very personal one, as personal as the relationship we have with our spouse or our children. Are we holding up our end?

Maybe we’ve tripped, or swerved off the road we intended to travel. Or maybe we’ve forgotten our promise to God that we will try to live a good life, a life of love. Of course, we only have to recommit! That’s all. God is always there, waiting for our turnaround. We have a place, our own very special place, in His Sacred Heart.

washington_resigning_his_commission_1The distance between intent and actual result can be very wide indeed. Is it because we lose sight of our intention? Is it because we allow an opportunistic evil to chip away at our noble intent?

Take a look America–a long look at the distance between what we intended out nation to be, and what our nation is becoming.

Here are the intentions for America by our first President, George Washington in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, New York, 3 October 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Wonderful words, yet for many years, we have watched the principles of America decay. Will we continue to ignore what is happening?

The following, very prophetic radio warning was given in 1965! Remember this old English adage–“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Let’s Talk About Temptation

Posted: February 10, 2015 in World On The Edge

ice cream sundaeLet’s talk about Temptation. Lent is coming, and it’s a good time for that.

What is temptation? The common definition is the desire to perform an action that one may enjoy immediately or in the short term but will probably later regret for various reasons: legal, social, psychological (including feeling guilt), health-related, economic, etc.

In the context of religion,  temptation is the inclination to sin. We are all uniquely tempted depending on our personalities, genes, upbringing, environment.

Temptation also describes the coaxing or inducing by a person, other than ourselves, into committing  an act that we know is not good for us– the real danger is that this person makes it appear ‘good.’  Smart huh? After all, we wouldn’t choose it if we didn’t think it was good. But of course, this is how we’re misguided.

The best way to avoid temptation is to accept that we will be tempted. Then we have to know weaknesses and honestly admit them.  Next, we  put on the brakes whenever we’re in a situation that might cause us to fall into the wrong things—— or better yet we really, really try  NOT to be in such a situation. If that means excusing ourselves from an event, or an enticing entanglement, then we must  DO it.

Remember that what looks good to us after we’ve already made dubious decisions, or when we’re under some influence and not our true selves, may be exactly the wrong thing under normal circumstance.  For example, to a lonely man, don’t the girls all look prettier at closing time?

Temptation is controllable, if we’re honest with ourselves about our weaknesses, and then courageous enough to stay away from people, places, and situations that are sure to take advantage of our flaws.
Copyright 2015 Kaye Hinckley

file0001465805005How many people do you know who could be described as completely confident? Probably not many. We all have our hang-ups.

Even if we have great self-esteem, there are times when our confidence level drops. Someone says something to us that pricks an old memory, and the old memory hits us with thoughts like, “See? You’re not so good. In fact, you’re no good at all.”

Sadly, some constantly feel that way—they are no good. Why?

People aren’t born confident. Somewhere along the way–very early on—another person is responsible for planting the seeds of self-worth. This beneficial vision of himself through the eyes of another stays with a child. Of course, the opposite can be true as well.

How can a person re-instill self confidence that has been taken from them?

First of all, the Realization that God loved us enough to make us in His image and likeness , and that we are necessarily good because of it. And then, by reaching out to others, by helping other people, we see and understand their own valuable uniqueness. We receive appreciation from them, and may even see ourselves differently, too. And that is a great builder of self confidence.

When we treat others as we’d like to be treated, when we love them for who they are–our brothers and sisters in Christ–we are actually bolstering our own self-worth as well as theirs.

DanceMy father was a true Southerner, a gentleman, and a wonderful banker for nearly four decades. People liked to be around him because he was funny and because I think they knew he cared about them.

His best friends were always those he served with in the Eighty First Division—-The Fightin’ Wildcatsin the Pacific during World War II. Born in Tuscaloosa, AL, he loved Southern expressions, and used them to get points across. This one was one of his favorites:

Dance With the One That Brung Ya’

And it meant much more than an instruction to his teenaged daughters as we left the house for a party. That saying encapsulated one of my father’s most important values: Loyalty. To him, loyalty meant respect for those to whom he owed a great deal; his family, his friends, his country, and his God. My father, who grew up as a Southern Baptist, was a convert to Catholicism. Outside of Mass, he wasn’t a man who regularly read the Scriptures. He was a man who lived them.

Dance With the One That Brung Ya’

If we follow today’s news, we see our world filled with disloyal people who’ve forgotten their debt to others, and even use others to pave their own way to power or pleasure. But what we rarely see are those people who continue to respect their families, their friends, their country, and their God. Despite today’s news reports, I believe these are the people in the majority, and only in need of a louder voice.

    To whom do we owe Loyalty?

Video by Asleep at the Wheel

New Orleans 041Recently, on a late afternoon walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans, I considered that the place was like a microcosm of our world. Teeming with people of every nationality, speaking different languages, dressed in different ways; all against the backdrop of a destination that had appealed to them, one they had chosen.

It  wasn’t yet Mardi Gras, but the regal purple, green and gold colors of the carnival marked nearly shop and restaurant. There was the spirit of ‘celebration’ in the air, along with the smells of food mixed with stale whiskey and garbage cans that hadn’t yet been emptied.

In the middle of it all, was St. Louis Cathedral, rising above the rest of the nostalgic iron work of lovely, old buildings. The church. A symbol of God on Earth.

As the shadows lengthened, and afternoon faded into night, more and more people appeared, walking the sidewalks of Bourbon Street; not after the shops, but the after-hours pleasure; a time when women hold onto their purses, and men gape into the strip-club doors to catch a glimpse of skin, and people pass the dark corners where those, often called grace-less, crouch like discarded, broken dolls. These broken, imperfect people, I pass by. I do not let my eyes meet theirs. I give them no notice at all—-out of fear? Or out of a smug superiority?

These are the people in the corners of life who, when they were born, may have been held in loving hands, or not. These are the people who may be prostitutes, drunks, drug-addicts, or thieves. These are the sort of people, these sinners, that Jesus called friends. They were created, as we all are, by a God who loved, and still loves, them. Yet they are here, huddled in the sometimes dim shadow of His church. (more…)

Need to Clean up Your Act???

Posted: February 4, 2015 in World On The Edge

 

file0001297925420Evil exists in the world. Who can deny that? We see it in the news every day. Often its inexplicable, and we are shocked when we see the ugliness of it.

The reason we are shocked is because evil goes against the grain of the image in which we are made, the image and likeness of God who is goodness itself. Because God created us in His image and likeness, He is within each of us here on Earth and we are meant to return to Him in Heaven.

Still he loved us enough to give us Free Will. We are free to love Him back, or not. When we do not love Him, when we ‘mess up,’ when we sin; we have chosen to do so by our Free Will. And the reverse is also true—when we recognize our faults and ‘clean up our act,’ that decision also comes from our Free Will.

But evil–Satan–doesn’t desire to give us a choice. “Cleaning up our act” is not something Satan wants us to do. He twists what is evil into an apparent good, making it seem sensible for us to choose wrongly. He is a liar and a charade.

Maybe you’re saying, I don’t believe in Satan. Well, then you’re just who he’s after. Don’t be manipulated.

Satan is real. That beautiful fallen angel once loved by God is real. And he is among us. Look at the state of our world, the demise of our culture, our disintegrating values. Look at the lying, stealing, killing, raping, selfishness, all around us.

Based on the teaching and example of Jesus (Mt 4:1-11; 12:22-30; Mk 1:34; Lk 10:18; 22:31; Jn 8:44), the Catholic Church has always held that the devil is real, not a mythical personification of evil.
Pope John Paul II, in his general audience of August 13, 1986, expounded at length on the fall of the angels and, in speaking on the origin of Satan, said:

When, by an act of his own free will, he rejected the truth that he knew about God, Satan became the cosmic “liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). For this reason, he lives in radical and irreversible denial of God and seeks to impose on creation–on the other beings created in the image of God and in particular on people–his own tragic “lie about the good” that is God.

Satan does all he can to get us to deny God and His commandments to us. And of course, it works.

Some of us deny God in what might be considered small ways. Others of us go whole hog. But any small chiseling away of the goodness God set within us is a danger–to ourselves, to others, and to our world.

God has a plan, a plan of goodness, and He’s showed us what it is. Satan has a plan for evil, enough evil to destroy us, and he disguises it as good because he understands our human nature. He understands that we choose what we perceive as good. So he makes evil appear as good.

How can we fight this? First, we have to be able recognize evil as evil, no matter how it is disguised. We do this by reading God’s word, by listening to truth from the mouths of those we know we can trust, and by being open to God’s grace.

And then we have to consciously make the decision–indeed thousands of little decisions throughout our lives– to reach for the goodness of God, to turn from evil and, quite honestly, run for our very lives away from it.

Hollywood starsYoung people are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many answer with a plan to follow in the footsteps of a person who is well-known –a popular singer or musician, a sports hero, a movie star, etc. As a general rule, when we’re young we say we want to Be Someone.  Many times that means Someone Famous. These are the dreams of children, but often a child’s dream doesn’t come true.

These unattained dreams are what Robert Burns refers to in this line from his poem “To a Mouse:” “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.)

We can’t control everything in our lives, or everything about who we are, much as we’d like to think so. There is no fast car to take us to our dream–no free ride. But there is also no certainty that even if we have the talent, even if we put in the work, that we will obtain our dream of notoriety. There are many singers, musicians, athletes, and actors who are as talented and hard-working, or even <em>more</em> talented and hard-working, that those ones who actually become famous. So why don’t those talented people ‘make it?’

Let’s consider that ‘making it’ may not the reason God gives us talents. His plan is not one of ‘Mice and Men.’ It is far more reaching and complicated than that. We are advised by scripture to use our talents, not hide them; but that doesn’t mean God is ready with a contract in hand for a movie deal, a hit recording, or a football championship. God does not give us talents for our personal notoriety, though some may attain personal fame. But our talents–those things we love to do, or feel called to do–are given to us as personal expressions and as joyful gifts for reaching out to others.

Who Are You Following???

Posted: February 2, 2015 in World On The Edge

shadowWhen we follow a person on Twitter, it’s because we either admire him or her, or because we’re curious. We may not be a fan, yet; but we want to see what makes this person tick, how he or she goes about things, even what he has to offer us in return. If we like what we see, we’re enthusiastic. We’re devoted. We are a Fan.

Are we true fans of Jesus? Do we attempt to shadow His goodness?
Shadowing Jesus isn’t about showing up for the church committees we may serve on. Following Him isn’t about putting in an appearance at Mass on Sunday. Following Jesus is personal: Jesus and me.

My path to growth is taken as a child of God. This path involves others, but if it doesn’t begin with me, it is a fruitless and futile effort. Once we have that personal beginning, we will naturally reach out to others.

On our new path, we attempt to emulate–to be like Jesus. In the beginning of our imitation of Him, we discover the stirring of a fact we may not have realized: we are already His. We are made in His image. We are made to be good.

And He wants us. He wants us to freely choose Him. But we have the ability to say yes or no. On our path of following Him, when He turns to us and asks us to be a reflection of His goodness, how many times have we said, no? I would suggest many.

However, each step we take with Him, each communicative step, each conversation with our God—whether positive or negative on our part, is a step to growth. Because God will never leave us, though we may leave Him, time and time again.

The trick is never to give up on the following. To learn what makes Him tick. How He goes about things. We have to understand what He offers us in return.

Outward discipleship can be an off and on thing, like pulling petals off a daisy in a reversed child’s game: I love Him. I don’t love Him. I love Him. I don’t Love Him. After all, we are flawed and fragile.

But God is perfect. God is always. His grace through the Holy Spirit is forever present. We have to choose, and sometimes re-choose it; nevertheless, our genuine path as Human Beings is to continue to follow Truth in our walk with Jesus.