Archive for August, 2016

mouthWhen was the last time I argued with a spouse, child, friend, or business associate? What tactics did I use? Were they strong-armed with a my-way-or-the-highway feel?

When we argue—and all of us do at one time or another—our goal is often to break the spirit of our opponent with relentless words until he/she gives in. We use the bit and bridle, the saddle and spurs technique to control him or her. Mostly, because we want to get it over with quick, or we just want to vent. Venting is not arguing.

Attempting to break the spirit causes a lack of ongoing trust, and sometimes even fear. It can destroy the connection or bond we might have had with the person, when what we’re really after is that bond or connection.

Winning an argument can be done with no harsh words, and sometimes with no words at all. It can be accomplished with only touch and body language. Try getting down to the level of your young child. No, do not throw your own childish tantrum–but stoop to a squat where your eyes meet his. Open your arms as if to hug him or her and see what happens.

Try stroking a spouse, or a friend, while making your point in a soft and steady voice. Don’t attack your business associate with what he might have done better by using words such as “You should have . . .” And literally, don’t stand over him. Always assume the same posture as his.

Successfully winning an argument, where respect is sustained on both sides, is like riding a horse bareback–no paraphernalia in between your skin and that of the horse. No reins or bit. No bridle. And no harsh words. Only a very gentle feel, an emotional exchange.

The American Indians never broke a horse by breaking its spirit. They did not ride and ride it until it gave in. Instead, they handled it with care for many days, whispering to it, feeding it, and stroking it to gain its trust. Then and only then did they very, very gently get on his back.

I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. ― Max Lucado

Fooling Yourself???

Posted: August 30, 2016 in World On The Edge

truthI don’t know many people who would say they want someone to lie to them. Yet today is a time of mass deception by one political candidate.

And what are we doing about it? We say we want truth from our leaders, but we’re going for the reverse. We’re going for her lies.

We may cover it over and say that her lies are best for us. Well, we’re fooling ourselves. Lies are destructive.

We may even admit her lies are wrong, but we don’t want to hear the truth out of some self-serving motive. We even become defensive. We use her brand of political correctness to define what is true because–why? I want what I want, and in politics it’s okay??? And then we might even attack the messengers of what is actually true.

We are going down the road of ME with this political candidate, where truth is relative, because no one else is as important as she is. Why do we take this?

Hers is a Pontius Pilate deception. She uses clever words. She washes her hands, so she won’t be blamed, and she allows the real truth to be hung on a cross.

Sadly, some of us barely notice the hanging.

The general population seems more concerned with the newest electronic device, or the latest reality show. Don’t we care about the ethics, morality, and honesty of our political leaders? Don’t we care if they lie?

Many must not care, because they react to her lies like G.K Chesterton says, as dead fish floating with the current.

All sorts of clever ‘talking tools’ are used and passed by a silver tongue to make her misspeak to seem correct.

BUT–no matter what she does to put a mask on it, the real Truth is still there.

Truth is the light that truly leads.

And if no attention is paid to it, Truth will be the light that follows–until it grabs the necessary attention of all of us.

Let’s fix this, and fix it now!
Let’s follow the real light of TRUTH, and let it guide us home to the America we love and respect and are proud of.

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Each of us has our particular flaws. We may be disposed genetically or environmentally to certain behaviors that take us down wrong paths that don’t make us happy.

Inside, we may want to change that behavior, but can’t seem to actually do it.

How long will we go on like that?

Unless we make a difficult commitment, we may stay on that path for the rest of our lives.

If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.– Fulton J. Sheen

So how do we avoid the evil that is in this world? Well, we can’t. At some point, good and evil touch in each life. Two opposite forces confront each other. And that causes an action. And action takes energy and that produces growth. From physics to psychology to spirituality, opposite forces cause action.

BUT sometimes that action causes change.

When we want to change our undesirable behaviors, we are facing the opposite force; we are in battle with it. We are confronting the ‘self’ we are, and the ‘self’ we really want to be. But we need help in doing it, and we need mercy.

Catholics love mercy, so we make good use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation; Confession.  And how happy we are once we have been!

Here’s why:

First comes knowing that we can be forgiven. Second is reconciliation with God and those we have hurt through honest sorrow.  Third is recommitment–our personal recommitment to change.

Why a Sacrament of Reconciliation?

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation–2Corinthians 5:18

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1441-1442

Only God forgives sins, but since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.

Christ has willed that in prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.”The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.”

When we are reconciled to God, We are happy, and even more. We have a real peace, so that no matter what comes, or what we do to ourselves, we get through it, and rise above it, with His merciful love.

 

spider and fly

Nobody talks much about the devil anymore. In fact, nobody talks much about evil at all, as if it doesn’t exist, as if anything we do is A-Okay as long as we think it is.

So NOT true.

Like a spider, the devil has many eyes, many ways to get to us.

The devil attacks us in our complacencies, where we are, through what we love. And sometimes the devil has a very attractive face–one that’s hard to resist. He lures us by our addictions, the things we think most about, the things we’ve tied ourselves to. He yanks on the chain of those addictions, leading us further and further away from what is good, to what is evil–until we become his devoted ‘pet.’ Then he’s got us just where he wants us.

No, we don’t want to hear this. We say, “Look, I am who I am, and who I am is okay.”

Well, that depends. Because we weren’t given life on earth in order to fulfill ourselves. Believe it or not, each of us has a greater mission than our own existence. There is a reason for our having been born. God knows our mission even if we haven’t yet discovered it. And it has nothing to do with evil, and everything to do with good.

To determine what is good for us requires an informed conscience—an objective conscience, based on what we know to be true. We have to be able to stand outside of ourselves and look into the mirror of what we are becoming. And then, we have to (pardon the expression but I can’t think of a better word)… ..we have to have balls enough to admit it.

The Devil is a liar, who will use any means to get to us–flattery is one of them. That misguided axiom we hold to–“I’m okay, you’re okay no matter what I do, or what you do” is one of his tools. We see it growing day by day in our present society. I think this children’s rhyme sums it up pretty well:

“Will you step into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing:
Your robes are green and purple; there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily flattering words, came slowly flitting by.
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlor; but she ne’er came out again!
And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Will we allow the devil to lead us wherever he wants to? Does he have us where he wants us right now?

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Sometimes we’re concerned only about appearances; the outside of things. We stuff closets with things we don’t want any visitor to see. We cover our faces with make-up, and our bodies with just the right clothes to make a favorable impression. We say all the things people want to hear whether we believe in them or not.  We all do this to some extent.

On the surface it may be harmless–unless we are covering-up–and yes, hiding– an ugliness going on inside us. When we are concerned only with what others think about us, we have no principles. When we say one thing in daylight when everyone is watching, but do another thing in the dark when no one sees us, then we are hypocritical, self-serving, and false human beings who should not be trusted.

Isn’t this what we despise about politicians? Their dishonesty. Their hypocrisy. Their self-grabbing. Politicians polish up the outside of themselves so that they appear to care for the downtrodden, when the downtrodden are only a means to votes.

We see this today, as far as I’m concerned, in the Democratic Party candidate, when nothing is too sacred for her to use toward her own gain, not even our national security. Where are those principled stops that ought to be there?

There are times when any of us may consider an action that is completely self-serving, BUT we don’t, because some life-principle we believe in, stops us. However, there seems to be no life-principle to stop this candidate’s self-aggrandizement. No lie she will not tell, no people she will not use, no person she would go out of her way to honestly suffer for.

In the last thirty years, a lengthy time in which she has been in a position to actually help, the people who depended on her are not better off, but worse off.

Inside each of us, is the potentiality to do right, or to do wrong. By our life principles  we choose the path for one or the other. And before doing so, we make must make judgments.

If there is no judgment, then evil is good and good is evil.–Fulton J. Sheen

I must judge this candidate. As an American Citizen and voter, I must ask: where are her principles?  Which path is she taking??

I suggest it is not the right path. I suggest that time and time again it has been the wrong path of plunder and self-indulgence.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”  –Matthew 23:26-27

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It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong. ― Terry Pratchett, “I Shall Wear Midnight.”

There are some people who don’t care where they came from (which family, or the lack of a family, town, country, or region) because they don’t see their ‘roots’ as particularly outstanding, and may even see them as negatives.

But where we came from always affects us. Memory is memory and doesn’t just vanish. To a great extent we build our lives around what we’ve known by either relishing it, or trying to rid ourselves of it. Either way, where we came from can make us strong as steel, if we allow it to.

And if we go far enough back, to the moment of our birth and the fact that we were even given the gift of life, we will see how very valuable we are.

Each of us was chosen to be here, chosen by God to be put where we are. Chosen for a purpose that only we can carry out. There is no other us to do the work.

Are we ready to take on our singular and unique purpose in this life? If not, here is a reminder.

Snowbear, 2009, MorgeuFile.com

Snowbear, 2009, MorgeuFile.com

When you prepare for an action, how do you gear yourself up? We could learn a lot about preparing from Bumble Bees.

At rest a bumblebee’s body temperature will fall to that of its surroundings. If it wants to fly the temperature of its flight muscles must be raised high enough to enable it. What does the bumblebee do? It shivers. Sort of like we do when we are cold. This shivering can easily be seen in a grounded bee when her abdomen pumps to ventilate the flight muscles. And then she’s up!

If we want to succeed in something, we need to prepare ourselves. If we are involved in sports, we train hard. If we want a good job, we educate ourselves. If we want to go on a great vacation, we plan it. If we want to be successful parents, we learn patience. And if we want to play a musical instrument, we have to practice. (Can’t wait for you to see the video below!)

But above all the training, education, planning, patience, and practice, there is an even greater preparation, and that is the sincere trust that God will lead us in our endeavors, all of our endeavors no matter how big, or small. We can achieve this through prayer.

We don’t have to be on our knees to pray. We can pray anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance. Our prayer does not have to be rote, or long, or complicated. A sincere “Jesus help me,” or “Lord lead me,” or any heartfelt words that link us to God, is enough. So when you want to do something beyond yourself, and are shivering like the Bumblebee, PRAY.

I simply couldn’t do anything without prayer–I mean that literally. I know many of you feel that way. But for those who haven’t tried it, I have one word. DO. And keep doing it. Why? Because prayer is a conversation that opens, and then continues, our relationship with a God who loves us and wants us to love him back.

For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. – Saint Therese of Lisieux