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.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sharing our bread with others...

Share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor… clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin. Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Cry and the Lord will answer; call and He will say, “I am here.” If you give your bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness and your shadow become like the noonday sun.
 
To be a light for others… then you will see the Light of God ourselves.. “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God”
 
It is seeing that others are not strangers… not just some other person… or worse… like in the hospital where many are treated as if they were just another number to tick off the list… Each of us are made in the image of God and are His children… that is my brother… my sister and another child of God. 
 
When we begin to honestly and generously humble ourselves as servants for others… to really serve them, we begin to see the face of God in them. If we were to look back in our lives… to when we were truly the most happy… when we looked back and saw light… the lightest moments would be when we truly gave of ourselves to someone else in need. 
 
It is in those moments that God shines in and through us and we experience His Light. It is true. But there is something more… those who are truly experiencing darkness from gloom and misery will also see the Light of God in and through you….
 
The Light She Lit in My Life is Still Burning…
Mother Theresa went around Australia during one of her mission visits and found an old man in a most terrible condition. His house was all run-down and neglected as if no one had ever lived in it. She went into his home and tried to talk to him and then she said to him, “Kindly allow me to clean your place and clean your bed…” and so on. He snapped back, “I’m all right! I have no need of your help.” So Mother Theresa quickly replied back, “You will be more all right if I clean your place.” In the end, he allowed her to do it. When she was in his room (although it really wasn’t quite a room at all because of all the mess in it), she noticed that he had a lamp… a very beautiful lamp but covered with dust and dirt.
So she said to him, “Do you not light your lamp?” He replied back, “For whom? Nobody ever comes here. I never see anybody. Nobody comes to see me. I have no need to light that lamp.”
She then asked him, “If my sisters come to you, will you light the lamp for them?” He reluctantly answered, “Yes, I will. I will do that for you.” So the sisters started going to see him in the evening and he used to light his lamp for them. Afterwards (he lived for more than two years after her first visit), he sent word to Mother Theresa through the sisters and said, “Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life is still burning!”
That was such a small thing, but it was there in that darkness of loneliness of the abandonment of human life, the neglect of a person! A light was lit and that light kept on burning. The greatest poverty in the whole world is the poverty of LOVE… the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, deserted by everyone. May we carry our torches of LIGHT of Christ’s love which we have gained through the Resurrection we celebrate this Easter night when Christ rose from the dead… that we may carry this light to everyone God has placed along our path in life. To our neighbors who are just down the street and has no one to turn to, to the sinner who is in great darkness and needs the light of God’s Mercy and compassion through us, to the sick and dying who are in need of meals and a companion in their suffering. Let us let our lamps burn brightly in this world of darkness and despair. Let us fulfill Christ’s burning desire… “Oh how I wish the world were on fire, on fire with My Love.”
 
To be the salt of the earth means to be different than everyone else around us… to bring about change for the better… to season everything… like salt. Salt enhances what it touches and everything it comes in contact with. 
 
God has given each one us His Light… the Light of our Faith in Baptism and we aren’t meant to keep it to ourselves. This Light is meant to shine out for everyone to see and to give witness to what we have received and to draw others to it. 
 
This is what Mother Theresa did and what each of us are called to do as God’s children… to share His Light with everyone around us.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to truly be HAPPY....



The Beatitudes…

If we were going to define what will make us happy… many would think… “If only I had more wealth or riches… then I would be happy.”   For others it would be about being satisfied or successful.  Perhaps if I weren't sick or suffering we could be happy... But Our Lord turns this all around in the Beatitudes.  

Our Lord is seeking for each of us to be truly happy… blessed.  This is the fruit of the Beatitudes for those who can accept it.  The beatitudes bring us into the blessings of God and the desire for Him to bless us in our life with His peace and joy which only comes from living a life based in Him and the way of life He proposes for us as His children.  

Our Lady and St. Joseph, if we were to look at the their life, what was it based upon?  Was it riches or power?  Being successful or having riches?  Turning away from sufferings when it came? No… their hearts were set on the Kingdom of God.  Letting go or riches and seeking the blessings of serving God and others.   

There is riches… true treasure to be found when we dig deeper.  The same is true in the spiritual life.  We need to dig deeper than the here and now of pleasure and seek the deeper peace that comes from this new way of life Christ lays out for us as His disciples…

Blessed are the poor in spirit… for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn… over sin and the loss of God and Heaven… that is true mourning… to look at the Cross and realize what we have done by preferring darkness over the Light of God.  The Blessed Virgin Mary truly mourned and teaches us how to mourn as well… to seek to be blessed and truly happy by turning away from the things which offend God and wound our relationships with one another.

To hunger and thirst not for the next meal or sumptuous desert… but hunger and thirst for a deeper life with God and to desire to lead others to Him.

To be merciful as God is to us… to share this blessedness even with our enemies and to pray for them.

To realize we are blessed when we are persecuted and insulted for living a life with God… for this happened to God’s only Son because He acknowledged God as His Father and that He belonged to God.  This is the happiness of those who are not afraid to stand with God and to be acknowledged before others that we follow Him.  

Yes, Our Lord turns the world's understanding of happiness upside down.  And He desires for each of us to embrace this new way of life so that we can truly be happy… to be blessed by having a life with Him.