Archive for the ‘World On The Edge’ Category

 

We are the world’s arms. We are the caretakers of human hearts. We are natural lovers.

But today’s modern world has confused many of us as to who, and what, we’re meant to love.

This is a time of self-love. Well, we should love our self. Why?

Because we know exactly who we are. And it’s who we are that gives our lives meaning and purpose.

Both men and women spend lots of time looking in mirrors, but there is much more to us than what we see there. Our true image is far beyond the mirrored one. The mirror, like the world, would have us see our wrinkles, a bad-hair day, or the extra twenty pounds we don’t want. The mirror says we have to do something about the way we look to others. It doesn’t show our true self.

The mirror doesn’t see is what’s inside us–all that makes us who we are. Our memories, our intellect, and every choice we have made, and will make, through our free will. These are gifts directly from God that either show, or do not show, the authentic person we are.

We are not meant to be God’s beauty queen or His handsome prince. We are meant to love. We are meant to act, and act lovingly. We are the message of His love in our world.

And that is not something we can see in a mirror, but something we do when there is no mirror around.

thumbs_phils_20150407_themusicman_1805web

thumbs_phils_20150407_themusicman_1805web

Two years ago, my husband and I went to New Orleans to see one of our grandsons in “The Music Man,” playing the role of the infamous Professor Howard Hill. Then, our grandson was a junior at Jesuit High School. Now he’s a freshman at Catholic University, studying Theatre Arts. I will never forget The Jesuit High School production. It was fabulous, and so was my grandson. 🙂 You can see from the above picture how professional it was.

From the onset of the play, the audience instantly recognizes Professor Hill as a Con-man who gains the trust of a small town in order to sell them a bill of goods (in this case, band instruments) and make money for himself. Of course, in the end, he changes his tune, so to speak. The very successful Broadway play was the fantasy of American composer, Meredith Wilson.

But in real life, con-men, or women, are not fantasy. There are many, and they are real.

Can you recognize a Con-man? (i.e. a Confidence man, or woman)

He or she is a practitioner of confidence tricks–an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence, used in the classical sense of trust. He/she makes himself a false shepherd that people will follow. And next, he or she exploits the characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty, honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté and greed.

If we practice awareness, we’re able to see con-men all around us. We deal with them everyday in our government, in business, and perhaps even in our own families.

They stir up trouble and create distractions so that their selfish ways can be accomplished.

A fanciful Con-man (or Con-woman) is great fodder for a play or musical. But a real Con-man is dangerous. This so-called shepherd of the people, does not genuinely work for, or care, for his sheep. He works only for himself and leads people astray to accomplish his personal ends.

Today, more than ever, we need good shepherds to lead our government, our businesses, our families. And I pray that we find the persons to do that–and that they will mirror our ultimate Good Shepherd, whose grace is always present, and available to everyone–even to the worst of Con-men.

I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father
.– Jn 10:11-18

Who Is Immortal???

Posted: April 26, 2017 in World On The Edge
Photo in Public Domain

Photo in Public Domain

“I decline to accept the end of man… I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among the creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.” ― William Faulkner

If we believe there is a God who created each of us, then each of us is a child of God. And each human person has the divinity of God within him, or her. We call this divinity within us, the soul. It is the only part of us that doesn’t die. That makes the soul, and what happens within it, essential.

As Faulkner says, the soul is spirit, just as God is spirit, and capable of great compassion, enormous sacrifice, and inexhaustible endurance. We see these capacities expressed in many good people that we know, and sometimes we express those same qualities ourselves.

But often, compassion, sacrifice and endurance are not expressed by a person’s spiritual nature. Sometimes, he expresses the opposite. To an author, this is food for a story. This is the opportunity to illuminate the battle between good and evil as Faulkner and many other writers of substance do in their work.

Because there is today, and always has been, a battle between what is inherently good, and what is inherently evil, it is natural for an author to write about it. In a story, this plays out in particular characters—-people like us who struggle with what they believe is right and what they know is wrong. All of this happens in the soul, where our intentions lie. And we either shine our soul, or sully it, by our various decisions to accept good, or evil.

Most of us don’t like to hear that we can choose between good and evil. Some of us don’t even recognize evil anymore. We can’t put a face on it because today’s humdrum, saccharine tolerance for ‘anything goes’ has blocked it out and blinded us to the better call in our own souls. But a thing is not good or evil because it’s trendy or popular.

I think, deep down, most of us know that truth is truth. Deep down, we know that absolute Truth endures, that it is not relative to public opinion, and that it is a twin of immortality. For me, it is most important for a writer to remember that, too.

On a Downer????

Posted: April 25, 2017 in World On The Edge
By Dancer in the Dark, Morguefile.com

By Dancer in the Dark, Morguefile.com

A seesaw is a long, narrow board pivoted in the middle so that, as one end goes up, the other goes down. A person sits on each end, and they take turns pushing their feet against the ground to lift their side into the air. Playground seesaws usually have handles for the riders to grip as they sit facing each other.

Life is like that, isn’t it? We face each other. We go up and down. Up and down.

One minute all seems right, the next minute our world comes crashing down. It might be divorce, death of a loved one, debilitating disease, loss of livelihood, a dream gone wrong, or hurtful words or lies, targeted at us by another.

Or we may be the one who brings down our own world by the bad choices we make. We are made to be people of goodness, but sometimes we corrupt ourselves through addictions, hanging around bad company, forgetting who we are—-children of God.

We are on a dangerous end of the seesaw then. We might think it’s over for us. But we should never give up trying to find our balance again.

One problem with a seesaw’s design is that if a child allows himself/herself to hit the ground suddenly after jumping, or exits the seesaw at the bottom, the other child may fall and be injured. For this reason, seesaws are often mounted above a soft surface such as foam or wood chips. In other words, a soft place to fall.

Because in life, we will certainly fall at one time or another. None of us is perfect yet. All of us here on Earth sin against our innate goodness.

And in doing so, we condemn ourselves. Still, don’t give up.

Strangely enough, God doesn’t condemn us. He forgives when we ask Him to. The softest place for us to fall is into His merciful and loving arms.

Need Mercy? You Have it.

Posted: April 24, 2017 in World On The Edge

help-buttonHow you ever wished for an imaginary “help button” that would give you immediate assistance with a significant problem? Well, you do have one.

You have the mercy of God.

What do we know about God’s mercy? Have we seen it work in our lives, or do we notice it at all? Do we notice that despite our sinfulness, God still loves us–and waits for us to love Him in return?

Think of the parable of the merciful father whose son returned to him after taking his inheritance and squandering it. Always, the father is waiting for his son to come home. Finally, when he catches sight of his wayward boy slinking back because he has no place else to go, the father runs to meet him with joy, despite what his son has done.

Did you know you are loved like that? You are loved by God.

Do we think our sins are too big, too disgusting to be forgiven? Are we afraid of what God might do to us because of our sins? But again– He loves us.

I am certain that He will do nothing except love us–loves us through our sins, and His love will rid us of them if we let it. Trust in that.

“Let us always remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind!” Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy

On Wednesday, I blogged about strong women, because strength is required to follow God’s will. God sometimes asks more of us than we think we can do. But there is a battle going on today. To give up, to quit, is not an option for a woman of conviction.

Many times, women hear the idea of quitting from their children. “I don’t want to,” or “I’m tired, and it’s too hard,” or even worse, “Somebody might make fun of me.” The answer I usually gave–a little motherly guilt trip–often did the trick. “Jesus did not want to hang on the cross either, but He did it for you. So can’t you do this for me?”

Except, sometimes even mothers get tired of trying to do what they feel is right. Sometimes they, too, want to quit. And sometimes even strong women worry about what others might think. So, we need to have courage. We need to be brave. We need to remember that God is with us. Our battles may not be large ones. Maybe no one else will even see them, except us. Still, this does not mean we should back down from the Truth. We will always have help.

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.–2 Chronicles 20:17

But this is a matter of Trust. Trust in God is often difficult, especially when one faces a politically correct crowd armed with today’s accepted lies. What can we do then, except to disarm the lies by shining out genuine Truth? This is not done, however, with meanness and deceit. We cannot lower ourselves to such tactics. It is done by showing and emulating in our personal lives the beauty and truth we believe in.

And emulation can only be done by keeping Faith.

Joan of Arc’s strength came through her Faith. On trial, before she was burned as a witch, she said this: You see there is no strength in me, and no strength in my hands. There is no strength in any of our hands great enough to win against the English. Our strength is in our faith. And if our faith is eaten away by little things that God hates, then, though there be a million of us, we should be beaten back and die.

Today the mountains we are asked to climb are high and hazardous. But we are here to climb them. We are here to live out–and shine out–God’s word in whatever situation we are in.

It’s so important for us to be our “own person,” to know ourselves and commit to what we believe in. And important that our beliefs come from a thoughtfully informed conscience, not the politically expedient trend of the day.

Each of us acts based on the sort of truth we allow ourselves to accept–genuine Truth or a concocted, self-serving truth.

During Holy Week, we were reminded of the kind of truth Pontius Pilate accepted. Pilate took the word of a crowd as Truth, even though he thought Jesus was innocent. Then he washed his hands of the situation.

Pilate was a material man. He knew what was right and may have been anxious to do it–as long as it did not interfere with his own interests. He would gladly have acquitted Christ if the crowd had called for it. But once his own position was threatened, he gave in.

Pontius Pilate ignored his conscience. He would not listen to good advice of his wife. He chose his political career over what was right. He chose political expediency over integrity. And worse, he failed to recognize the truth even when Truth was standing right in front of him.

It’s often hard for us to step out of our comfort zone and be courageous enough to stand up for what WE believe in. When the opportunity arises to express our faith in the Truth of Jesus Christ, will we speak up? Or will we be quiet and follow the voice of the crowd?

John, Chapter 19:1-16

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly.

 Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”

When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid,and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.  It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.* And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!”

They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.