Archive for October, 2015

file0001129878874Our lives are filled with endings.

Some we want.

And some we don’t.

After a particularly tiring week or day at work, we’re happy to have an ending. After an argument with a child or spouse, we’re happy for that to end, too. If we’ve had an unusually cold winter, or a dreary rainy and hot summer, we take a joyful breath when all that’s over. If we’re cleaning out a closet, if we’re striving to complete a garden, and certainly if we’re in labor with childbirth near, we want endings!

But we may not want an ending to that last bite of pecan pie, or the sight of a gorgeous sunset, or a night of celebration with our spouse. We may not want to put down that sweet, sleeping baby in our arms. We don’t want to reach the ending of a wonderful song, or a great book, or a loving kiss.

Except endings come. We lose people who mean much to us. Maybe they simply leave, or maybe we we lose them to death.

Endings that come to us by death are the hardest to assimilate. A parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, who are here with us on a given day, and the next day gone.

We grieve these endings. They take a toll on the rest of our lives.

I have always believed that the veil between life and death is very thin. I have always believed that death is another beginning–for each of us, and for our loved ones. I have felt an active connection with those who have left this world for another. I don’t believe they forget us anymore than we forget them. I ask for their prayers, and give them mine. And I do have faith that I will see them again.

How Opinionated Are You???

Posted: October 15, 2015 in World On The Edge

file000426117560Do you have strong opinions?

Are they so strong that no one can tell you any different?

If anyone disagrees with you, do you fold your arms around your chest, plant your feet in the concrete of your opinions, and stand your ground?

I must admit that I’ve been like that. I went from having no voiced opinion to someone who voiced an opinion on everything— whether I knew what I was talking about or not.

When we come across to people as entirely opinionated, not only do we close our arms to them, but they will not open up to us. This is an important point when raising children, especially teenagers. If we want them to let us know what’s happening in their lives, then we have to plant a fertile ground for that. And that may mean keeping some of our strong opinions to ourselves. It doesn’t mean we let them have a free ride, but that we allow them to have an opinion as well, and that we listen to it. We greet them with open arms, and then we discuss pros and cons on both sides.

This is important in connecting with all people; family, friends, acquaintances. When we close ourselves off with our singular opinions, we may close them out of our lives entirely.

And it’s the same with our relationship with God. People with such strong opinions often ‘buck’ God’s laws because they ‘just don’t agree.’ How prideful is that!

How many times do we–especially as Catholics–say “Well, I believe this teaching, but I’ll never believe that one.”

Or, “I’ll love this person, but not the one across the room.”

There is certainly a time for opinions. We need to have them. But we also need to be careful not to close our arms completely to those who may disagree with us.

Will You Raise Your Hand???

Posted: October 14, 2015 in World On The Edge

file000126098408If you’re a sinner, raise your hand.

Okay, mine is the first hand up.
I find comfort in the fact though, that there is no one on earth without sin. Each of us comes from a long line of sinners.

But think about this: How many of us have felt closer to God after repenting of a sin?

Maybe our sin brought us so low that there was no way but up. Or maybe we saw how we’d hurt someone we loved, and promised, “Never again.”

When God gave us Free Will, He knew we would misuse it and sin. And of course, we did, and do.

Two classes of people make up the world: those who have found God, and those who are looking for Him – thirsting, hungering, seeking. And the great sinners came closer to Him than the proud intellectuals!

Pride swells and inflates the ego. Gross sinners are depressed, deflated and empty. They, therefore, have room for God. God prefers a loving sinner to a loveless ‘saint’.

Love can be trained; pride cannot. The man who thinks that he knows will rarely find truth. The man who knows he is a miserable, unhappy sinner, like the woman at the well, is closer to peace, joy and salvation than he knows.”
― Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

If we don’t recognize ourselves as real, honest-to-goodness sinners, our chance of salvation is shaky at best—because we’ll never change what we won’t admit to.

Afraid to Make Someone Mad??

Posted: October 12, 2015 in World On The Edge
Photo by Alvimann, 2008,

Photo by Alvimann, 2008,

A three year old boy playing with matches accidentally lets a match fall near the hem of his mother’s living room drapery. But she’s calling him from the kitchen to come eat his dinner.

On his way out, the boy glances at the drapery and sees a tiny smoldering hole, growing wider. Still, mother is calling him to come, “Right now!”

And he’s thinking, “She told me not to play with matches. She’ll be mad.”

So he walks out of the living room, closing the door behind him as if that will get rid of the problem. During supper, the boy’s father lays down his fork. “I smell something burning,” he says. Quickly, the boy’s parents push away from the table and follow the smell to the living room.

Flames are leaping from the drapery, burning out of control and endangering their home. The mother calls 911, but by the time the Fire Department arrives, half the house has burned up.

The three year old wasn’t thinking of the house, or the safety of his parents. Three year olds rarely think beyond themselves. He was trying to avoid the thing that would immediately affect him–his own discomfort if his mother became angry.

Lighting the match, leaving the room, and finally, not revealing that the living room is on fire–each of these acts has the consequence of expanding danger.

The little boy’s responsibility is lessened because he isn’t mature enough to understand. But I’m an adult. I understand that every act I perform has a consequence.

Or do I?

Do I recognize that a dangerous culture has been ignited in my country? Am I leaving the room and simply closing the door behind me to avoid discomfort? Why haven’t I called it to the attention others? Why haven’t I spoken out against it?

Where is my courage?

Am I just too busy with myself–or am I like the little boy, afraid someone might get mad at me?

Need a Good Cry???

Posted: October 9, 2015 in World On The Edge

crying-2The phrase “having a good cry” suggests that crying can actually make you feel physically and emotionally better. Many people believe this, and some scientists agree. They assert that chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress, and so emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products.

Some scientists also say that crying has a signaling function–a signal to others that we need their help in fighting off an aggressor. When we cry we convey the impression that we are innocent and weak – like children – and need the protection of another. Crying is a way to send a social message.

But what good do tears do? We could vocally cry for help without shedding any tears, and yet our tears are so unique to our species, a way to let others know that we are in distress precisely through showing them only the tears in our eyes.

Children, especially babies, shed many more tears than adults do which is what you expect if crying is about wanting protection. Women also cry a lot more – about four times more – than men do, and this again is what you expect because women tend to be physically weaker and more defenseless. Crying means we need understanding. We need empathy.

And what do we normally do when we see someone being tearful in our presence, signaling for our help? Our automatic response is to offer our support, because we feel empathetic toward them.

Empathy is a distinctively human characteristic, but it was first a characteristic of God, in whose image we are made. Because of His merciful empathy our Creator actually took on our human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, and for our sake submitted to a horrible and shameful death. Jesus Christ knows pain and sorrow! He relates.

When we go through terrifically hard circumstances and turn to prayer, it is often with tears that we plead for Jesus to help us.

Can we picture Jesus crying for us as well?

Why wouldn’t He—God made Man—cry when we cry? Why wouldn’t He care when we fall, or lose someone, or mess up so badly we think we can’t be fixed. And when we turn to Him, our faces streaked with tears, why wouldn’t He— out of empathy— rain even more Grace and Love upon us ?

Got a Mission??

Posted: October 8, 2015 in World On The Edge

file000370626123Do you know that you are here on this earth for a reason?

We were not created by mistake–not one of us.

We do indeed have a mission here.

Many might link ‘mission’ to their career, their job.

Yet many of us do not hold jobs or careers we feel are important enough to be called our ‘mission.’ Actually, a so-called important job has nothing to do with why we’re here.

In fact, I don’t believe we personally determine our mission. We’re part of a much bigger plan than our small thoughts can produce. The trick is to know that–to be open enough to allow ourselves to be used in whatever way God lays before us.

After all, God knows the bigger picture.

As parents, we see a bigger picture than our children do because we’ve had certain experiences that they haven’t had. We know of behaviors that won’t be good for them in the long run, so we present opportunities in which they might excell. We try to instill good character in our children, and though we may at times think we failed to do that, we hope that eventually our child will remember, and respond to our efforts.

Sadly though, if a child doesn’t come around, we sometimes give up.

God never gives up. His effort is always consistent. He wants us for Himself, but He also wants us to want Him. This is our ultimate mission–simply to want Him, to make a covenant with Him. So God hangs around for as long as it takes–waiting for us to “get it.”

He is always behind us, longing for us to fulfill the mission created for us, and waiting for us to turn to Him and say, “Here I am, Lord. I want to do your will.”

Who Do You Notice????

Posted: October 7, 2015 in World On The Edge


Who is prime in your life? Who do you notice? Are they the gussied-up people of celebrity? People on television or a movie screen? Famous leaders in government?

Or do you notice the plain people? Those who have nondescript jobs, but provide for their families?

Do you think one is better than the other? Which would you rather be?

I think the answer depends on whether we are thinking long-term, or for the moment.

I think we need to be real about ourselves and others. Real about our purpose in life.

A lot of attention used to be paid to the difference between fact and is fiction, to what is a dream and what is reality for most people. But mostly, attention used to be paid to what kind of a person each of us was meant to be, no matter the position we held.

For the most part, that has changed greatly.

The people who get the most attention are often very unsavory, shallow people, concerned about themselves, not others. Too bad, because our eternity depends on how we take care–really take care–of others.

Photo by rykooda,, 2014

Photo by rykooda,, 2014

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” –Mt 18:1-5, 10 

What is it about children that God would have us be like them?

A child depends on his parents, can do nothing on his or her own. A child loves easily. A child forgives easily.

As parents, we see how children are drawn to other children, not to dominate them but just to be around them, as if they immediately see kinship.  Young children do not judge other children. If they judge as they grow older, it is because certain judgments are usually passed on by their parents.  So if the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must be like children, then they must be like those who have accepted others as brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God the Father.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Photo by dpbrucks, 2012

Photo by dpbrucks, 2012

In the world we live in, grace is always surrounded by evil. Why is that? Because without evil we would not need, see, or experience grace. We think of suffering as evil, but suffering is the flashlight that lets grace be seen, even the vehicle that produces grace. Grace comes to us when we freely choose to recognize it and allow its entrance into our lives.

Evil is all around us and within us. We are not perfect people because there are no perfect people, no perfect situations on earth. But we also have the image of God within us–thus our own unique battle between good and evil. The image of God within us has to do with our intellect, our memory, our imagination, and our free will; all potential vessels of grace

Grace is a tremendous threat to evil. If the window of grace is raised, grace can destroy evil. If left closed, evil will flourish within each one of us and we will spread it to others. Grace has an accumulating effect. Each of us can assist in changing not only our lives, but also the world.

So, let’s look around. Let’s look at our own individual lives. Are we personally opening–or closing– the window of grace?

Broken Relationship??

Posted: October 2, 2015 in World On The Edge

Minolta DSCHow do you react when relationships are broken?

First–if it’s a relationship you’ve invested in– you probably try to fix it.

But if that doesn’t work, do you wallow in its fall-out debris?

Do you hold grudges? Do you go for payback?

We know that one day, all things–including us– must end. And as we grow older, we see that ‘new and shiny’ doesn’t last. We also know that people aren’t perfect, and some are bad for us. We may have to give up on some relationships.

But I think it’s important that we don’t give up on the miracle of life itself.

To let go of life is counterproductive. Because when one door closes, another will open—if I don’t get bogged down in my own needs, and if I allow myself to notice it is opening.

Most broken relationships are thought of as negatives. But maybe some of them aren’t. There are some relationships that honestly can’t be fixed, and really shouldn’t be pursued any longer. In the long run, the breaking may be a positive thing for us.

Yes, we may need to grieve for awhile, but we ought to be careful that grieving isn’t what we spend the rest of our lives doing. Taking our own eyes off ourselves and shifting them elsewhere—to the need another may have– is what helps us grow in character.

And we should never let go of what will make us a better person, in the eyes of those who love us, and especially in the eyes of God.