Friday, May 29, 2015

Scarlett or Saint?

A recent essay entitled, Strap on Your Bib, It’s Time for Humble Pie, contemplates our need for humility and childlike trust in God. When we 'let go and let God', we're admitting that it's not ours to resolve the tempestuous aspects of our lives. Like Peter, walking across the sea to Jesus, we aren't in control. But, in his weakness of faith, Peter knew to call out to Jesus for help. Our own fallen human nature often brings us to a spasm of fear so paralyzing that we shy away from the very One in Whom our safety lies.

We aren't particularly unusual in this frail human reaction. Therefore, scripture continually admonishes us to offer our trials and fears to Jesus. The same Jesus Who gave His very life for us. 

The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in him will I put my trust. My protector and the horn of my salvation, and my support.  Psalm 18:2

Finding the wherewithal to do this, however, is not an easy task. Our mortal, life-preserving instincts all too often send us in the opposite direction – fleeing away from His assistance. 

When we are finally spent - having fled away from the things we fear and breathless - the exhaustion we feel blunts our emotions. It’s then that we're able to resist the eerie pull of terror.

But is this faith? Or is it an attitude of "I'll think about it tomorrow"? The answer lies in our will. Do we thrust those abysmal fears away, into the deep and dark recesses of our minds – hidden from all but our subconscious mind? Or to we bring them to the glaring light of day and then offer them to God?

The answer to that question will show whether we are successfully working toward being a saint – or imitating Scarlett O’Hara, from the 1936 novel Gone With the Wind.

“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.” Scarlett

If we deny ourselves the opportunity to faithfully present our fears to God the Father, we are doing nothing more than repressing our trials for another day. On the other hand, if we face them head on, we are putting our faith and childlike trust into the all-powerful Hand of God.

“I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Strap on Your Bib for Some Humble Pie

Never say never. That’s what they have always said. And how true it is – both in this world and regarding Eternal Life!
If you’re beyond a certain age and have children, you may already have experienced the phenomenon of becoming your parents. As a child, you resented their constraints and swore never to replicate that which had you straining at an imaginary leash. Your children, however, see a much different you. You, their parent, are full of odd sayings and rules and boundaries. Because you’ve grown, both in experience and knowledge, you are now able to see the wisdom of restraint.
Now might be a great time to thank your parents!
As parents, you might also have been on the receiving end of your share of humble pie. Maybe your first foray into tending to God’s little souls found you with pliable, obedient children. Your self-worth (and pride) moved up a notch or two – because you knew how to parent. If only those other parents out there would use such proven methods, you thought. The arrival of a subsequent child or two might have had you singing a rather more humble song. You see, not all children get the memo. Great, tried and true, parenting skills aside, they march to a much different drummer.
Grab your fork – humble pie time!
Our adult life doesn’t go unscathed by the copious supply of humble pie either. Have you ever said, “well, I’d never… (Fill in the blank)”, only to find yourself at the crossroads of rock and hard place? Unforeseen circumstances sure have a way of keeping us humble. What we once viewed as incomprehensible, may now be our best available course of action.
Humble pie!
So it goes with our spiritual life as well. Peter had a taste of humble pie when he asked Our Lord to lead him out onto the water, toward Him. All of his bravado quickly faded as he perceived the reality of what he had requested. In saying he would never deny Jesus, the huge helping of humble pie served by his three-fold denial must have been chastening, to say the least. Yet, even though we’ve read and heard about his betrayal multiple times, we all too often fall into doing the unthinkable ourselves.
It’s time for humility, closely associated with the Cardinal Virtue of Temperance.
When life hands us an unexpected trial, we are cast into doubt and fear. All semblance of hope fades and we become afraid. All this even though, He who clothes the lilies and feeds the sparrows, has promised us His Shelter from any storm.
When will we learn? That depends on us and our free will. How hard are we willing to work toward complete trust? Will we be able to ‘let go, and let God’ when it comes to our most difficult trials? The answer lies in our motivation. Even then, our human nature can lead us into falling back into desperation at any time. The feeling that we’re flying without a net is contrary to our mortal sense of self preservation. Spiritual strength, a determined will, and spiritual exercises are a great way to begin to overcome our human frailty and doubt.
As my own life leads my family into unchartered waters, I’ve taken the counsel of a good priest. A heightened prayer life, along with inspirational reading was his healing guidance. As he put it, “sometimes we need to read for inspiration, rather than information”. He knows me well! It’s time to supplement my studious side with some spiritual reading. At the request of Father I will be readingConsoling the Heart of Jesus, by Father Gaitley. My goal? To find the spiritual strength and child-like trust to offer myself completely to Him Who created me. In humbling myself to God, I choose to consent to Him as He steers me toward the true path. I pray I won’t falter.
Be humbled in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)
What are some of the ways you’ve been served a heaping helping of humble pie? What can you share to help others on their path toward successfully giving themselves to God?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reaching For Our Wants

Sometimes we strain and reach for something that we want so badly only to get it and realize it wasn't in our best interest after all. This is a conclusion we draw more easily, later in life, after our bubble has been burst a few times.

Try as we might, we aren't always the best judge of what it is that we need. Only when we begin to listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit are we able to discern what is in our best interest.

Today, let us reach wholeheartedly for the Will of God instead of our own human wants. Only the Creator of us all knows what it is we truly need. The answer lies in the thirst of our immortal souls for Eternal Life with Him Who created us!

Happy weekend, friends!

There are many thoughts in the heart of a man: but the will of the Lord shall stand firm. 
~Proverbs 19:21
Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven
~Matthew 18:3

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not Your Parents' Scouts

This isn't your parent's scouting!

As if it's not bad enough that the Girl Scouts of America are in cahoots with abortion giant Planned Parenthood, enter the push within the Boy Scouts of America for openly homosexual leaders. As it is, they already accept openly gay scouts into the fold.

But now we have more, deeply troubling developments in the world of scouting.

The Girl Scouts have decided to embrace cross-dressing children into their club. So if your little girl doesn't want to share her troop with a boy in girl's clothing, too bad!

The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, have decided to show their feminine side. Not to appear overly male, their leadership has decided that water guns can be forbidden! That's right, it's too violent to point a colorful plastic toy, containing water, at a fellow scout. Not to be forgotten are the equally enlightened parameters for water balloons - they must not be larger than a ping pong ball.

What are we to make of this trend to turn the world of scouting upside down? It looks a lot like an outright assault on Christianity and the family. The normal gender characteristics of yesterday are being shamefully turned topsy turvy.

Boys in girls' clothing are sharing your little girl's scouting troop, while the boys' troops are being feminized. This blurring of gender lines isn't exclusively being carried out by deviant adults, lurking in the shadows. Today's radicalization is being thrust into the once innocent world of our children by formerly wholesome clubs.

Meanwhile, children are also being force-fed an overly sexualized and homesexual agenda. All the while, girls are selling cookies that benefit close associates of abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. Additionally, more and more homosexual characters are appearing in entertainment on a regular basis - even though same sex attracted individuals make up less than 2% of the general population.

Tragically, this sexual trend feeds right into the business model of Planned Parenthood, where children are groomed for promiscuity at younger and younger ages. You may be surprised to find that the sex ed programs in most school systems are created by Planned Parenthood. And they're teaching children about all types of sexuality - as early as kindergarten.

This means that by the time our young, sexually active girls become pregnant, they are offered the morbid 'solution' of abortion. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is raking in the big bucks. The plan is simple: teach sex, provide inferior condoms, and they will create 'customers' for their abortion mills where the butcherous doctors kill innocent babies and maim their mothers.

Boys fare no better because valor and chivalry are no longer encouraged. Instead, they are conditioned to seek nothing more than animalistic gratification. This affects the relationships formed between the genders and doesn't bode well for a grace-filled outlook on the sacrament of matrimony. Men no longer emulate the masculine characteristic of protector and provider.

On their part, girls often fail to fully develop their uniquely female characteristics of nurturer and the loving mothers of children. In the lack of gender-specific role models, they grow up with a muddled image of self.

Also affected is the sanctity of  Holy Matrimony, which becomes nothing more than a temporary rite of passage all too often. Of those marriages that do survive, far too many become mechanical and sterile. This leaves children out in the cold, with no one after whom to model themselves.

It's time for us to take back the responsibility of parenting. Too many outside forces are having a detrimental impact on our children and families. God gifted us with children so that we could teach them to know, love, and serve Him. He gave us the faithful partnership between husband and wife as the sacrament of matrimony. In this way, He intended the nuclear family to be a shelter from the stormy world of secular life.

Tough decisions must be made. What good is membership in an organization, if their leadership betrays our faith? When parents relinquish the upbringing of their children to the world, their children will become of the world. This endangers their eternal souls. That's not the intent and purpose of the godly institution of family.

With a renewed commitment to prayer, the sacraments, and the God-given role of parents, we can ensure a faith filled future for ourselves and our families. Isn't that worth our very best effort?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kindness in the Face of Unkindness

We all have our trials when it comes to others. Sometimes these trials even involve those whom we love. A sudden, or lifelong, controversy grows over time and becomes an all-encompassing thorn in our side.

How we react, however, is what's most important. Do we feed the turmoil by being equally abrasive - adding to the fray? Or do we make it a point to be kind - to treat others in the way that we wish to be treated?

The most difficult line in the Lord's Prayer is, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". That's no small, insignificant sentence. It also can't be dissected to refer only to the forgiveness we, ourselves, wish to be given. The full impact is that we are asking God to use the same measuring stick for us that we use when dealing with others.

Wow! That's no small request. If we dive fully into the meaning of these simple words, we come away with a profound concept. Always deal with others in the same way - with kindness. Not only the ones who return the kindness. Not only the ones we love. That would be the sinfully simplistic way to look at our Lord's order to love.

In today's Pentecost Novena we are asked to pray for kindness - one of the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord.
Today, let us seek to be kind - not solely to the obviously simple to identify recipients - but to the ones who don't return our kindness. After all - Jesus would have us do no less. That was His living lesson for us while He walked this earth!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Following A Winding Path


Oh, how we humans cling to it in certain aspects of our life. We're comfortable in our own little niche of the world and we like it that way. No muss, no fuss - that's how we define comfort and security.

Yet how many times is that desire to keep things the same - to avoid the discomfort of change - detrimental to our growth?

After all, growth = change. It's been said that nothing stays the same - things either get better or worse. Yet, if the truth be told, we'd like the option to stagnate in our self-defined comfort zone.

What's that say about our faith, though? If we fear change, of flying without a net into the unknown, aren't we a lot like Peter? He sought to follow Jesus as He was walking on water but faltered in faith to the point of sinking.

As much as we would like to take the shortest path - a straight line - our lives will always be dependent on following a winding path.

As we traverse our way toward Eternal Life, let our faith in God help us to trust the unknown directions He presents to us as life's challenges. After all, to do otherwise would be to deny His trustworthy love!

Let it not be said of us, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?" ~Matthew 14:22-34

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How the Parable of the Two Sons Is Relevant to Us

In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus shares the parable of a man's two sons. When asked by his father, the first son refuses the request to go work in the vineyard. Yet, after his impulsive denial, he goes and does the work dutifully. The second son, fails to go as he had agreed - giving an affirmative answer with no intention of obedience. 

How many times are we in a similar situation with our Heavenly Father? He asks something of us that we don't find particularly appealing and our first impulse is to push back - to say, 'No, I can't possibly do that!" But, after a bit of discernment and a twinge of conscience, we go and do His bidding. 

There are other times, however, when God places a duty (or cross) squarely onto our shoulders. In a reflexive reaction, we answer in the affirmative. Yet when the time comes to follow through, we falter and fail. Our good intentions (we've all heard were those lead) fall flat and our lack of effort leads nowhere.

As we mature in both age and faith, it should follow that we become like the best parts of both sons. Saying yes to Our Lord's requests AND following through!

There's another aspect to be considered as well - when we make the choice to obey, do we approach the request with joy or resentment? In either case, the job gets done, but our state of mind greatly influences the value of our obedience. 

If we function from the aspect of resentment, our begrudging assent has little value. On the other hand, a joyful and loving obedience reflects the love and care given to us creatures by our beloved Creator.

Today, I pray that this will be my approach - a willing 'yes' and a joyful 'performance of the request. After all, no sacrifice is adequate when measured against the love - to the point of death - we have received from our Risen Lord!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Onward and Upward


Most of us don't like it - especially when we're involuntarily thrust into it. Yet, as people of God, we are mindful that our heavenly Father knows best.

As we are consistently told, both by scripture and our good priests, change is a necessity. It makes us who we are. If we accept it, and even embrace it, we will continue to cherish what life has in store.

If we fight it, tooth and nail, we will not prevent it - we will only make our road that much more difficult.

This is such a time for our family. Please remember us in prayer, as we traverse an unfamiliar road.

And as scripture tells us, let us remember the words "Be Not Afraid"! He goes before us and lights the way!

Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my just one hath upheld thee. ~Isaiah 41:10

For thoughts along the same lines, check out When Will Be the Last Time?