Archive for March, 2017

Will You Let Me Fall???

Posted: March 31, 2017 in World On The Edge
Photo by Ricorocks, 2011, MorgueFile.com

Photo by Ricorocks, 2011, MorgueFile.com

A person’s decisions are his own and no one else’s. That person may or may not listen to advice.

A hard-headed person who thinks his/her way is the only way will not listen to your way, even though you may be positive your way is best for them. This is especially true in some parent/teenage and young adult relationships.

A parent can cajole, beg, pray, and scream, but some children will not listen. And we cannot keep them from falling into error.

But it is said that experience is the best teacher, so sometimes falling is what they may need to do.

Of course, it is painful for parents who did not envision such a fall for their child. They did not envision his/her making so many mistakes, and so they cry and pray for their child to return to them, pray that the young person finds life away from home is not as wonderfully free as he or she thought.

But when this happens, ours must never be a door of no return. When our loved one returns, as often happens, we parents must show our love by opening our arms to receive them in love.

The struggle of someone who’s gone astray–child or adult–is difficult to go through, even if it is of his/her own making. Hopefully, he will come to a point, maybe the lowest he’s ever had in his life, that will cause him to take a good look at who he has become. But the decision to change will be his alone.

This is why anyone’s struggle ( no matter what kind of struggle it is) is not always a bad thing. Even if we are on bottom, we have the God-given ability to choose to climb up. And when we make that hard and courageous choice to climb, we are doing it with God’s gift to us–our free will.

time-for-a-change-2015164_1280

Two months after my husband and I graduated from Spring Hill College and were married, I began teaching at Fourth Grade at Holy Spirit School in Tuscaloosa and he began Law School at the University of Alabama.  My classroom was a makeshift one. At the time, the Catholic Schools were overflowing, so my classroom had been made from the lunch room. Over the top of a partition, wonderful smells of baking bread flowed into the room, churning the stomachs of teacher and students.

The mother of one of my students was the school baker. Every morning in Holy Spirit’s kitchen, she made fantastic rolls, and sent any left over home with the teachers. She was a tall German woman who had immigrated to America, a single parent who I never saw without a baker’s cap. A woman who exuded love, she took pride in her citizenship, her job, her faith, and especially her son. Even today, I remember the face of her son, as well as the faces of my other students. They were faces of freshness, of optimism, and of potential.

But precarious changes were coming. Vietnam had become a full-blown war, and fingers were pointing, condemning capitalism, and touting ‘free love’ and ‘free money’ for everyone.

“The Times They Are A Changin’” Bob Dylan sang.

Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call.

Don’t stand in the doorway.

Don’t block up the hall.

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled.

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’.

 It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls.

For the times they are a-changin’

I don’t know how many of my Fourth-grade students absorbed and acted on the call for change, but young people like to be part of a group, so I think many surely did. Those faces of freshness, optimism, and potential may have heard the call for change with wonderfully good hearts, but very tender ears. I was young then, too, and also heard the admonition that came during the height of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley—Don’t trust anyone who’s over the age of thirty.

Some of us who experienced those many ‘changes’ first-hand are now decades away from their beginnings, so we can come to some conclusions at least. We needed to get rid of dirtied water, but we should not have thrown the baby out with it. We should not have thrown out a proven morality.  We should not have thrown prayer out of the schools, and denied life to the most vulnerable–the person in the womb. We should not have turned over the true meaning of Tolerance to those who would intentionally misuse it for political purposes.

Except, we did.

And then, we tolerated anything and everything under its guise. Like  badly behaving children,  not only ignored anyone who disagreed, but we also ignored the laws of God, as if they didn’t matter at all. And worst of all, we made LOVE a false platitude. The worst of hypocrisy.

History repeats itself, of course, and those under thirty back then are well over it today. Now battles are ragin’ again. And once more, the times are changing.

Except this time, the bulk of Americans have had enough of the old, false tolerances.

People long to return to the real God of love,  not the previous government’s hackneyed platitudes.

So, let’s put a new face on the old song, and sing it with new meaning, loudly as it was sung years ago.

Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call.

Don’t stand in the doorway.

Don’t block up the hall.

For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled.

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’.

 It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls.

For the times they are a-changin’

 

Pixabay Photo

Pixabay Photo

The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred.” In the Catholic Church, the seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. That’s what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s grace.

There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. The purpose of each one is to make people holy, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God; but being signs, they also have a teaching function. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and object, they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called sacraments of faith.–Catholic.org

This blog is about one of the sacraments, the Sacrament of Marriage, and how it can lead us toward holiness.

Marriage is meant to be a lifelong union with the purpose of creating holiness in a man and a woman. In marriage each spouse gives up some rights over his or her life in exchange for rights over the life of the other spouse.

As Fr. John Hardon explains in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary, there are four elements common to natural marriage throughout history:

1. It is a union of opposite sexes.
2. It is a lifelong union, ending only with the death of one spouse.
3. It excludes a union with any other person so long as the marriage exists.
4. Its lifelong nature and exclusiveness are guaranteed by contract.

So, even at a natural level, divorce, adultery, and “homosexual marriage” are not compatible with marriage, and a lack of commitment means that no marriage has taken place.

It is important to remember, however, that the opposite occurrence of any of these points does not keep God from loving that person as if he/she were the only person in the world–He does. Neither does it keep God from continuing His offer of grace to all.

As a sacrament, Marriage is truly a vocation. But there will be ups and downs. Sometimes those ups and downs will be terribly exhausting, and seemingly unsolvable. But then, out of commitment, comes divine grace.

Marriage is a vehicle for God’s grace, his sanctifying grace which helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, as well as helping them together to cooperate in God’s plan of redemption by raising up children in the Faith.

In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. As married Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual salvation, we participate not only in God’s creative act but in the redemptive act of Christ.–Aboutreligion.com

Suffering???

Posted: March 28, 2017 in World On The Edge

file391252950798 (2)How many of us call ourselves Christians? Probably most who read this blog.

But what does it mean to be a Christian, a follower of Christ? Does it mean we’ll be crucified, too?

It may. At the least, we will surely suffer. Life sees to that.

At times, we cause our own suffering by the bad choices we make. Other times, another person, or circumstance, out of our control may cause it. We may even be betrayed, as Jesus was for thirty pieces of silver.

But one thing I know. God does not cause our suffering. God is loving, always and forever. He never changes in his love for each of us. And he showed us that on the Cross.

Every suffering we encounter is difficult. We don’t want to go through it. We pray for a way to get out of it, just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked His Father to take it from Him, but assenting that if He would not, then the will of His Father be done. That is the covenant between Son and Father.

Just as with His own son, sometimes the suffering does not leave us. Even when we pray for it to disappear, God allows it to happen for some purpose we may never know in our earthly life.

As my grandmother consistently told me, “Offer up your suffering.” In other words, we may be suffering for others.

This is what Jesus did. He gave himself away, for each and every one of us, leaving His Holy Spirit within us, leaving us as Temples of Himself, leaving us to use Him by showing His loving way to others. This is the covenant God offers us. The same covenant He offered His Son. But we have to accept it. Do we?

If we really believe that He is within us and that we are to be messengers of His Holy Spirit, wouldn’t we give ourselves to others much more than we do?

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.

Got a Vice???

Posted: March 24, 2017 in World On The Edge

We all have our vices. Our addictions. Our very bad habits.

For awhile, all seems well. We overlook those vices and go on.

Then something happens and we want to get away from the bad habit we’ve allowed ourselves to do. We want to move on, as they say. To another place perhaps, a different scene.

The problem is we take our vice with us. Because it isn’t a change of scene that will rid us of it.
Only a change in ourselves can do that. And that change is something only we can make happen. No one else can do it for us.

Unless we make a difficult commitment, our vice may stay with us 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 awful habits that present themselves to us? 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.

hunterHow many times have you said, “I can’t do that.” If you’re like me–plenty. Sometimes it’s only an excuse not to try.

What causes us to even consider not trying something that just might be good for us?

Fear of embarrassment? Laziness? Too comfortable in our hum-drum-ness?

In America’s early days, if a family wanted to eat, someone had to hunt for food. They couldn’t put it off. They couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Their family was in need, so they had to get out there. Need gives us impetus and courage.

Have you had an idea that you thought was a good one, but you were afraid to attempt to implement it? Have you looked at a family member or friend who needed something important from you, and turned your back because it was inconvenient? It’s easy to do–not exactly exemplary behavior, but easy. I’ve done it myself. Too often, I’ve taken the easy route.

But if we’re going to be the kind of person that God wants us to be, we will be inconvenienced. We will have to overcome fear. We will have to do the work. We will have to fill ourselves with spiritual food–God’s grace. And no one except ourselves can do that.

Where do we find that food?

Amazingly, it’s at our fingertips. We already have it within us. God’s grace is part of us. We only have to notice, and remember, that we are His children. He loves us madly. He wants us to succeed, and has given us the tools for the dance of our lives.

Will we use His tools? Or will we not even try, and say to Him, “Sorry, God. I can’t dance.”