Tuesday, June 5, 2018

On Finding Fault With Ourselves Rather Than Others...


From the teachings of St. Dorotheus, abbot

The reason for all disturbance is that no one finds fault with himself”



Let us examine, my brothers, how it happens that many times a person hears something unpleasant and goes away untroubled, as if he had not heard it; and yet on some occasions he is disturbed and troubled as soon as he hears such words.  What is the cause of this inconsistency?  Is there one reason for it or many?  I recognize a number of them, and one in particular is the source of all the others.  As someone has put it: Occasionally this results from the condition in which the person happens to be.

            If a person is engaged in prayer or contemplation, he can easily take a rebuke from his brother and be unmoved by it.  On other occasions affection toward a brother is a strong reason; love bears all things with the utmost patience.  Another reason may be contempt; if a person despises the one who is trying to trouble him and acts as if he is vilest of all creatures and considers it beneath his dignity even to look at him, or to answer him, or to mention the affront and insults to anyone else, he will not be moved by his words. 

            The result of this is, as I have said, that no one is disturbed or troubled if he scorns and disregards what is said.  But on the other hand, it is also possible that a person will be disturbed and troubled by his brother’s words, either because he is not in a good frame of mind, or because he hates his brother. There are a great number of other reasons as well.  Yet the reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself.

            This is the source of all annoyance and distress.  This is why we sometimes have no rest.  We must not be surprised when we are rebuked by holy men.  We have no other path to peace but this. 

            We have seen that this is true in many cases, and, in our laziness and desire for rest, we hope or believe that we have entered upon a straight path when we are impatient with everyone, and yet cannot bear to blame ourselves.

            This is the way we are.  It does not matter how many virtues a man may have, even if they are beyond number and limit.  If he has turned from the path of self-accusation, he will never find peace.  He will always be troubled himself, or else he will be a source of trouble for others and all his labors will be wasted.         (From the Divine Office of Readings: Monday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time)

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Job in all of us...

Last Sunday’s first reading spoke of Job and his cry to the Lord for all of his sorrows and anguish in life. He had lost his entire family, all of his possessions, all of his dignity and hope. He had nothing and his body was covered in boils. We all have moments of despair and hopelessness which seems to rush upon us and various times in our life. But I really don’t see how Job made it through it all without Our Lord... He had not come yet. He did not have His True Presence in the Eucharist to bring His Peace in the life of Job and to fill that darkness with His Light and Presence. He did not have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation by which Our Lord binds up our wounds and heals us with His very own. Job did not have the Presence of the Lord.
 
But how many of us are like Job? We all are to some degree and yet, we have recourse to the remedy of our situation. Our Lord waits for us to come to Him but so few really do find their refuge in Him. He waits for us in the Tabernacle and in Adoration to fill us with His Light and Peace. Do we run to Him whenever we have the opportunity? Do I realize He waits there for me?
 
He waits for me in the Confessional to bind up all of my wounds and to fill me His Light and grace. Let us run to Him! Let us remain with Him and never let go... let us cling to Him so we can have hope in the midst of life’s darkness. He waits for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Mystery of Violence and Christianity...

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force." (Matthew 11:12)

Although Christianity is a religion of peace, it is also a religion of violence but not in the way that the world thinks. It takes violence in the opposite direction and reorders it to the Kingdom of God. We do not give violence but take it on upon ourselves in love of our enemies as we pray for them. We look to the Cross at what Jesus did with the most extreme violence by annihilating sin and death and its consequences and taking it upon Himself. Likewise we take violence upon ourselves in the form of penance, mortification, self-denial and fasting by picking up our crosses daily and following Him who was crucified for our sake. We enter into His sacrifice at every Mass. Yes, Christianity is a religion of violence but this violence brings us into true healing, freedom and lasting peace.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Blessed Feast of All Saints to You...

Many think that the lives of the saints is for only those who have lived in the past. But this is not true at all. I know of several living saints personally and of whom I meet with regularly. One had the gift of bi-location and others have worked miracles, but that is not important at all despite how extraordinary these gifts are because this is what God has done in and through them because of their Faith in Him and what He can do. No, what is most important is that each of them are completely open to seeking God continually daily and surrender themselves completely to Him in all that they do without compromise. Now the question I lay before you is this, what is preventing you from seeking God continually in the same way or from following Him without any compromise? He has many more gifts than these for those who seek Him.
~Blessed Feast of All Saints to You

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Excuses...

I find it interesting how many times we have excuses or find something else which is more important than an event where God is present and makes overwhelming graces available to us. Be careful when you believe Our Lord is inviting you to one of His events that you prayerfully consider whether or not you should really miss it.

[2] The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. [3] And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. [4] Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my calves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. [5] But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. (Matthew Ch.22)

[16] But he said to him: A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. [17] And he sent his servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. [18] And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him: I have bought a farm, and I must needs go out and see it: I pray thee, hold me excused. [19] And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them: I pray thee, hold me excused. [20] And another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. (Luke ch.14)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Why you really need to know and have a relationship with your Guardian Angel...

We live in a world which no longer believes in what is unseen. We dismiss the angels, demons, and the saints as if they are just a figment of our imagination or without realizing we are placing ourselves not only in serious jeopardy but also missing out on a way of life that is quite adventurous and extraordinary if we are open to it. 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following: 336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. And Our Lord points out to us in Holy Scripture: [20] Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared. [21] Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. [22] But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. (Exodus 23:20-22) 
Now if we truly believe God is our Father and that He truly cares for us, it seems to me we should heed Him and at least be open to the idea that we have such a friend at our side and seek to know more about them. Perhaps like many of you, I grew up a Catholic and when I was young was taught that each of us had a guardian angel at our side but I never really thought that much of it until one particular Thanksgiving day. 
This happened in my early childhood when our family was living in Frankfort, Kentucky (we moved from there to Houston, Texas in 1984). My friend from school invited me to join him and his family on their float for the Thanksgiving Day parade. I was really excited all to join him. 
Anyway, we hopped into the back flatbed trailer hooked up to his dad's pickup truck. After we had finished throwing out all of our candy to all of the kids along the parade route we came to a gravel road. I remember turning, looking at my friend and telling him how much fun I had. He replied, "Me too!" and gave me a big pat on the back which made me lose my balance and I quickly tumbled underneath the trailer and found myself underneath it lying flat on the gravel road. I quickly tried to pull myself out but I was not moving at all.... I was only moving the gravel with my small arms... kind of like what happens when you make a snow angel.... only this wasn’t helping me at all. 
What was really scary was that the rear wheels of the flatbed trailer were aimed directly at where my head was.... and the trailer was moving a little quicker than I had expected. I pushed even harder in order to try and get out but nothing happened. I then saw that the tires were now only a few inches away from crushing my head so I cried out..."God, save me!" 
I immediately felt two firm hands grab my ankles which pulled me quickly out and safely from underneath the trailer. Once I was clear, I quickly jumped back onto the trailer next to my friend and turned around in order to thank the person who grabbed me and saved my life. There was NO ONE there... and there was no place for anyone to hide, as we were in an open clearing of a large field of freshly cut grass. I looked all over my body and I was also amazed that I did not have even one single scrape or scratch. I did not have the courage to tell my friend or anyone else what happened to me that afternoon.... but I had no doubts to who it was that saved my life that day and I continue to thank him, my friend at my side.
Now that is not the end of the story... not by a long shot. This was just the beginning. Fast forward several years until I was in my late teen years. Our parish priest spoke about coming to know our Guardian Angel as they are always there and asked “Why wait until we die before we really get to know them?” He then mentioned that he came to know his guardian angel by name. This really got me thinking. Now, it is not wise nor safe to name your guardian angel and the Catholic Church strongly warns us about doing so because our angels are real and not some “pet” to control and we can unknowingly call out something else which is much darker in nature if we are not careful by doing so. But, if you look throughout Scripture, there are times where the angels reveal themselves to us and also give us their names by which they desire to be called... like Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael who are all archangels. So, they can help us to get to know them on a personal level. 
So, anyway, I started to pray each and every single night in order to ask my Guardian Angel what his name is. I cried out, “I know you are there even if I can’t see you. You have always been at my side and always will be, even in eternity. It would just be nice to get to know you a bit now rather than later as we are both on this journey together.” So, after several nights of praying like this (and getting more and more emphatic as I prayed), I finally woke up in the middle of the night and had this thought... “Nathaniel”. I was thinking to myself, “Well, that is weird. I don’t know anyone by that name” and decided to go back to sleep. Then another thought came, “You have been asking my name.” I then got all excited! My Guardian Angel told me his name! Wow! 
But I was still tired and decided to go back to bed but not before I spent some time thanking him for letting me know. I put my head back on the pillow and was trying to sleep! Then a thought came again, “Write it down! You are going to forget!” I thought, “No I won’t! Besides, I’m tired and won’t forget your name. It is not like I have any other friends with that name.” So, I tried to go back to sleep. Then the thoughts started non-stop! “Write it down! You are going to forget!”... “Write it down! You are going to forget!”... “Write it down! You are going to forget!”... until I got up out of bed and said, “OK!!!!!!!! I get the point! I’ll write it down!” So, I got a pencil and wrote his name quickly down on a piece of paper and fell asleep. 
I woke up the next morning all excited. And, you guessed it! I forgot his name already. For the life of me I couldn’t remember it! I looked over at the nightstand next to my bed and there it was. He MADE me write it down because he knew how forgetful I am. I then KNEW without a doubt it was him because he knew me so well and he also knows how stubborn I am. I am really blessed to know him... personally. Really blessed. 
Anyhoot... let’s fast forward to my novitiate year in New Mexico. Over the years I learned how to listen for his voice through those thoughts that come but I know that it’s not me speaking to myself and so I began to listen to him. One particular day I was taking a hike in the afternoon up the mesa which was quite hilly up until you reached to the summit which was flat but had great views of the valley. As I was hiking I came across a hill with a small cliff about 8 feet down and, being adventurous, decided to jump it! I headed back just a bit in order to get a running jump when all of sudden this thought comes into my head, “Go around.” I replied to Nathaniel, “No. I want to jump this thing!” and continued to proceed. Then the thought comes back, “Go around!” So, I thought, I better head his voice and at least take a look to make sure it is safe to jump. I headed slowly back to the cliff’s edge and looked down for any rocks that I might hit below but it was just a heap of sand with no rocks. So, I thought to myself, “Ok! I at least checked! and proceeded to jump it again. 
This time there was a barrage of non-stop thoughts... “Go around!”... “Go around!”... “Go around!”... and it didn’t stop until I replied back, “OK!!!!!! I’ll go around!” But I also said this to him, “I’m angry with you. I am not going to listen to you anymore!” And proceeded to descend around the other end of the cliff where I could walk down safely. Once I reached the point to where I was trying to jump towards, I noticed there were 5-6 huge rattlesnakes coiled up just underneath the cliff at its base but slightly underneath to where I could not see it from above. If I had jumped, I would have landed directly before this rattlesnake pit and would have been bitten by all of them! 
I immediately responded back to Nathaniel, “Thank you!”... “Thank you!”... “Thank you!”... “Thank you!”... and told him I how sorry I was for what I told him. I told him, “I am really stubborn! Please forgive me!” He did. That is why he is so persistent with me. He knows me all too well and thank him for our friendship every day. 
Anyway, don’t wait. Your Guardian Angel is already there... with you... at your side. Just wake up to come to know them. You will be really glad you did.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

WHy the 10 Commandments really matter...



"He has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him." (Sirach 15:16-17)

It’s funny how the world seems to teach that God doesn’t really care about the 10 Commandments so much as long as we love each other and do what is good for another person.  We end up following a pillow talk kind of love…  one that is soft and cuddly but has no real substance. 

For example, abortionists say that abortion really is about the choice of the woman… for the good of her body and reproductive rights but says nothing about the life growing in her womb and that life which was created by God and has a beating heart.  The most fundamental right of a human being is the right to life but they want to deny that part of it.  Let me have my rights even if it is at the expense of someone else’s life… even my own childs.  And then we have to face the reality of the precious gift of life that God has entrusted to us with this commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”

The 10 Commandments that have been established by God for us as His children aren’t there as a simple do and don’t list of “Thou shalt not” but rather God is setting out for us what is truly for our good and for the good of others… to do away with the 10 Commandments is to say we really do not care about whether or not we hurt others or hurt ourselves as long as our feelings or others’ feelings are affirmed.  He sets out for us water or fire…. to help ourselves and others in truth…or cause our own downfall. 

Our Lord makes it quite clear in today’s Gospel that the 10 Commandments are not “conditional”.  Rather, Jesus tells us quite clearly, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


We all have choices to make in life and we have to live and die by those same choices and be accountable for them.  Hence, we have to face what is traditionally called “the 4 last things” which are death… then our particular judgement before God and then either Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory (for those still needing to be purified)

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.
At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.

Let us realize the great gift of the law which is truly established for one thing and one thing only… authentic love… to seek the good of ourselves and others in light of eternity. Let us put on authentic love which helps one another to get to Heaven so that we all may have eternal life.