Archive for December, 2016

I Am Not Alone……

Posted: December 30, 2016 in World On The Edge

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A new year is coming. We do not know what it will bring for us. All we know is that on January 1, 2017, another new dawn will happen.

Some of us feel uneasy about our life, and even afraid. We may feel that life is an unending storm for us, and that we have no control over where the water and wind will take us.

Uncertainty is downright scary when we have no real anchor in our life. Of course, anchors are available. If we haven’t made use of them, why not?

Maybe self-pride has taken us over, and we consider only “our way,” until “our way” doesn’t work.

Maybe we have alienated family or friends through petty disagreements neither will forgive.

Maybe there are habits we have that we know are wrong, but we keep them up anyway, feeling guilty.

All these situations cause uncertainty, and are common to everyone at one time or another. But without an anchor, they can become unbearable, until we feel the words, Happy New Year, do not apply to us.

But hear this:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
–Isaiah 43:2

These words are about the life-saving anchor we can all have in life–if we choose to grab onto it. The words do not mean that we will have no storms in our life, but that when we do, God’s anchor is available.

The anchor, because of the great importance in navigation, was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. The Christians, therefore, in adopting the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence, gave a new and higher signification to a familiar emblem. Just as an anchor secures a boat in rough waters, so does faith in Christ secure us, and indeed, becomes our safety net.

But to achieve faith in God requires a certain amount of surrender:

Forgiving when we don’t want to forgive.
Realizing that we don’t know all the right answers.
Looking at our real self and what we are doing without making excuses for our wrong actions.

When we give up control of our life in favor of God’s plan–done His way, not ours–then we enter onto the road called: Trust. And what does Trust in God prove? It proves His faithfulness. I can certainly say that I’ve seen His faithfulness in my own life. And if you look upon your circumstances, whatever they are, with spiritual eyes, I’m sure you will see it, too, and know that you are not alone.

Got Respect for Yourself????

Posted: December 26, 2016 in World On The Edge

file0001993853011No question self esteem plays an important part in a person’s life. And acquiring it comes early. Psychologists believe that by the time a child is three years old, self-esteem–either positive or negative–is fairly well established. So it’s important that parents, brothers and sisters, teachers and babysitters show love, kindness, and respect to small children. If you’ve been treated this way, your self-esteem has grown.

But—

When a parent or teacher’s goal is to make self esteem more important than genuine accomplishment, a child becomes egotistic.

Me. Me. Me. Not You.

He or she believes the world is created for them and that he can do no wrong. That leads to narcissism. And narcissism can be deadly. Because we are not here to love and serve ourselves alone, but to love and serve God.

The narcissist is incapable of love because he cannot see another as equal in dignity to himself. What he, or she, loves is a false image he has created of himself, and he needs to see that image reflected in the eyes and approval of others. A narcissist manipulates and uses others for his own personal gain.

Though it may sound harsh, well-meaning parents and school systems who give children the false expectation that they can never fail, can be breeding grounds for narcissistic personalities.

Our education system has practically removed the word “fail” from its vocabulary, believing it is harmful to self esteem. Today, the whole education system seems to be about getting only basic credits, and getting them in any way possible, even to the point of re-designing tests so many students as possible will pass. That way no one really fails.

But what happens? Children become arrogant, hard to correct and can’t deal with the failures that will surely come to them during their lives.

True self-esteem does not come from outside of us–with a trophy for something not so special. It comes from within us–when we have honestly worked to accomplish a task, a job, a talent. Most importantly, it comes from the deep certainty that we are loved by God who created us in His image, and who gives dignity, meaning, and purpose to our lives.

Christ’s own life was filled with sufferings and temptations. But His purpose on earth was before Him, a purpose He accomplished through His own blood, sweat, and tears. And then He was able to rejoice because He had done God’s will.

There will always be peaks and troughs in each of our lives, and in the lives of our children. We should not give them the false expectation that they can never fail. But what we should give them is genuine respect as a child of God, the knowledge that they are loved, and that they are made for more than this world–that they were made for eternity.

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Most people assume they will automatically feel cheerful during Christmas.  Not only does the Church celebrate the birth of our Saviour with joy, secular society also promotes the idea that everybody is happy during this season, bombarding us with images in the media of lighthearted people giving gifts and enjoying each other’s company.  In fact, there is so much pressure on people to be in good spirits during Christmas, many sink even deeper into depression when they are unable to force themselves to even crack a smile.  Often, I also feel depleted and empty during the days leading up to Christmas, dismayed my emotions do not line up with my beliefs and certain there is something wrong with my spiritual life.  The more I try with my own willpower to get in the Christmas spirit, the worse I feel.

God is God and I Am Not

You would think by now…

View original post 1,250 more words

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Recently, America’s our soon-to-be former First lady told a celebrity that after the Presidential election, there is no hope left in our country—or something like that. It was not a memorable quote, or even one that made sense. And it was just plain wrong. The poignant word, hope, a word that every human being recognizes as good, was used to divide—as usual.

Divisiveness, promoted as a false equality, has been used for eight years to push agendas that do not benefit a truly free America, but only pretended to do so for the benefit of the political party formerly in charge. And this is where there has been NO HOPE. Because we cannot hope in something contrived. We cannot hope in something false.

And in those eight years of artificiality, all citizens have been harmed.
But this is can be repaired.

Hope is one of the three theological virtues. Indeed, it is the ‘center’ virtue of the other two–Faith and Love. All three are necessary. If one of these is out of balance in a human being (or a country) then the other two are deeply ‘messed-up.’

Before Hope, must come Faith. The basis for Faith, the first virtue, means to have Faith in something that is always TRUE. For example, a well-made, three-legged stool is steady enough to stand on, but none of us would have faith that we can stand on an unsteady stool with only two legs.

So, the first requirement of faith is that its object must be genuine enough to trust.

Hope comes afterwards. It is our desire for an object, or an objective, that we trust implicitly.
Finally, comes Love. Love is distinctive from Hope, because Love is not desire for something. It is action—an absolute action to procure a desire based on what is true, not false. More than that, Love is commitment. It does not back down, but with courage and empathy, stands strong.

I would suggest that all three–Faith, Hope and Love–have been missing for eight years.
So, despite what the soon-to-be Former First Lady said, we do have hope. We have elected a new president in whom a majority of Americans have expressed overwhelming faith. And now, we hope that his new leadership will be expressed in actions of common sense, and steered by love.

Love of God, Family, Neighbor, and Country. When we sincerely unite behind all these true things, there will be no more divisiveness.

May God continue to bless America.

gray-area
Life isn’t black and white. It’s a million gray areas.

Because we live in a world of infinite possibilities, people often disagree when addressing important moral and ethical questions. At times, we may not see–or we may not want to see–a black or white answer. So our beliefs take on areas of gray, and these beliefs may not be based on Truth. Many times they are based on a kind of warped freedom, called relativism.

In Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Saint Pope John Paul II, writes:
Freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.

So what about the grey areas in our particular lives? Do our beliefs lack an essential link with truth?

I’m a writer, so the grey areas are a favorite theme of mine, but as a Catholic author, those themes are always linked to an absolute truth, the underpinnings of the novel. The underpinnings should enhance the literary merit of the novel by bolstering that absolute truth, not by beating the reader in the head with it.

This is an example of a novel linking to various Truth/underpinnings in a book I’ve recently completed:

That there is purpose in every human event whether it is tragic or joyous.

That opposites can indeed attract– as when one fills a void in the other.

That human beings possess a similar common eye, but also, a ‘seeing’ eye that differs in intensity, depending on the character traits each has been given. ( My novel is about a woman with a ‘seeing eye.’)

That every person is capable of stooping to the depths of evil, but also capable of great good.

That, ideally, concrete human laws are based on spiritual principles.

That fragility can be stronger than force.

That loving the unlovable takes courage.

My interest in gray areas came about when I was an Art major at Spring Hill College. I learned about the shadowing color Grey–not only as it appears in Art, but in life. Now, as a writer, I see it this way: In my characters–and in each of our lives– there are always two extreme actions–Good and Evil. To ignore them in Fiction is to ignore Truth. Think of two ends of a horizontal line. At one end is the bright white of absolute Good. At the other end is the darkness of absolute Evil. In between those ends are lighter and darker hues of the color of GRAY. ( areas of relativism.) The farther we travel from either end, it becomes more difficult to see, or find our way back to the other.

The fact is most human beings travel daily along a line like this. They travel toward one end or the other, to the light of truth, or to the frequent darkness of a stubborn relativism. But in between the two ends is a lot of area in which to turn in an opposite direction—–either a fall, or an epiphany.

This is core for a writer of Catholic Fiction—the possibility of spiritual epiphany is always present in the work, though it may not always be accomplished by a character. The difference between creating a story and real life is that the fiction writer is pretty much in control.

In our regular everyday lives, possibilities and the choices those possibilities present can be puzzling. This is why an informed conscience is necessary. And this is why we have to look for absolute truths, not relative truths, to guide us.

“Why is it so important to understand and embrace the concept of absolute truth in all areas of life? Simply because life has consequences for being wrong. Giving someone the wrong amount of a medication can kill them; having an investment manager make the wrong monetary decisions can impoverish a family; boarding the wrong plane will take you where you do not wish to go; and dealing with an unfaithful marriage partner can result in the destruction of a family and, potentially, disease.”–gotquestions.org

As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it, “The fact is, the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.”

Nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Here on Earth, we can’t afford to ‘just get by’ using gray area reasoning. We have to form a conscience that perceives genuine truth and then use it to guide ourselves through life. Because eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.

Having it Our Way????

Posted: December 12, 2016 in World On The Edge

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Many people keep their faith at a distance. They attend Mass or church on Sundays, and that’s that for them. But God is not a Sunday God. He’s an everyday, every hour, every minute, and seconds, God. Every time we make a decision, He is there to assist us. When we are sad–or bad–He is there to help us through whatever the situation. Why? Because He is madly in love with us. We ARE His children.

His presence is pervasive. His help is there, if we only take note of it. If only we listen to His voice. If only we see Him in others who may be trying to help us.

In our families, we express love for our children, but don’t we also correct them? We correct them because we love them. We hope they listen, we hope they will see their error and do something about it.

Of course, many, many times our children do not listen. They are no different from us in closing their ears. They do their own thing, as we often do, and may suffer because of it. We are crushed to see them suffer, and we don’t want to suffer ourselves. Yet, perhaps through that hard time, we discover a better way, even a better version of US, if we just hang on.

We don’t give up on our children. There is a covenant between parent and child.
God doesn’t ever give up on us, either. Because there is a covenant between God and His People.

No matter what any of us have done, no matter how we have turned our back on Him, His merciful love awaits our return.

What does our return entail? Personal Action.

Except, even when we are trying hard, we often have to wait on the change we pray for. We may become discouraged, thinking it will never come. We may think God has deserted us.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. –Psalm 13

Unless we quit, change will come.

We need God in our lives. He is the only Truth we can be sure of. No question about it. Our covenant with
God is the Reality of why we’re here.  When we trust in His unfailing love for us, we are at peace.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations.–Saint Francis de Sales

Our covenant with God works both ways. If we are waiting for God’s help, we should consider that He may be waiting for us–to do something that shows our trust and love for Him.
 

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I decided to add an extra blog this week, because there are particular people I know personally who’ve subscribed to Translating a World on the Edge, and receive it in their emails. And these precious people are hurting, especially now during the Christmas season, because of great loss. So, here is my love, and hopefully, encouragement to you.

Dropping to her knees in the black, black muck, she longs for the white images of gentler times; the white linen cloth of her Baptism, the white mother-of-pearl missal of her First Communion. If only to be a child again, to unwrap every first thought and see it spiral and dance like the striped metal top her father once gave her. She was certain those thoughts came from angels, stone angels in a garden, but other angels, too–everywhere, and not one looked the same.

She laughed a lot then, pointed at nothing, and played with children no one else could see. Colors amazed her. She drank them in, tasting red and orange leaves, purple dawns, and dark velvet skies that sparkled with diamonds. Into her skin, she drew the softness of a breeze. Into her ears, the symphonic twitter of birds, the lazy sloshing of the Mississippi, and the sweet sound of silence.

In time, she responded to conversations not yet had, and answered questions not yet asked. Her mother called her my mystical princess. Her father put his arms around his inventive pet. And she played out her childhood in a shadow-less world where nothing was hidden, where she saw beyond seeing, and heard beyond hearing. And then, with the death of her parents, the gift withdrew from her, as if the fresh bloom of a rose had somehow tucked itself back into the bud. —Kaye Park Hinckley, Copyright 2016

In our life journey, the innocence we were born with will leave us. We will be broken in some way. There may have already been a time in your life when everything changed and life seemed in ruins, like it did for the girl in the paragraphs above. What did you–or are you–doing about it?

Of course, none of us wish for brokenness, but all of us will suffer in some way. What sort of action will we take when that happens? We might moan and groan about the trouble that has befallen us. We might strike out at others. We might wound ourselves up, like a tight ball of yarn, and wish the world would go away and leave us alone, leave us wadded in our misery.

The girl in the story above was betrayed by someone she trusted. It breaks her for awhile, but then….well, when it is published, you’ll find out.

The point is there comes a time when we must trust God. If we allow God’s grace to unwind inside us, our inner sight will change. We will make an attempt to understand how much God loves us, and when we understand that, we will see things differently. We will no longer be broken. We will be ‘put together’ and able to surrender our lives to Him. And follow Him.

Our earthly lives are like jars of clay. They can be beautiful but they are fragile and easily shattered, many times by our own sins. And of course, our lives do not last forever. The genuine treasure of this life is that it continues beyond the container of our bodies. It is not temporary, but eternal.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.–Corinthians 4:17-18