Either Right or Wrong

Life, for all intents and purposes comes down to the choice of right and wrong.  How we determine right and wrong is a matter of faith, objective truth, and morality created in the understanding of the first two.  This isn’t to say every choice is easy, or every choice will benefit us in one way or another.  Not everything can be a win/win, but in the context of our place in the cosmos and in the earth created by God, we can find joy even on the cruelest of days.  So, right and wrong, a mine field for some, leading to a landscape overwrought with shades of gray, but then for others a starkness of black and white pigments dotting everything seen.  I would put it like having the wool pulled from one’s eyes and suddenly everything makes sense and those things which still mystify can be explained with an understanding only the wise can possess.  This isn’t to say, making a “right” decision is always easy, it’s not for sure, when put into the context of hurting someone’s feelings for the sake of being right, and if we care about them at all, we almost always defer to omission or outright lies.  A more wrong decision can’t be made when we choose to make decisions for others without their consent.  To make a life dedicated to right and wrong, means we aspire to look into the heavens and seek God’s light in all we do.  We embrace agape love and seek the light of truth when we seek “rightness”, and likewise we hide from the voice of God, much like Adam, when we embrace “wrongness” or sin.

So, let’s start with the choice everyone makes daily, sin, a truly selfish and despicable way of life, and yet we all embrace sin as if it were the only flotation device on a sinking ship.  For most of us, we live a rather uneventful life, waking up and going about our days with little a thought on whether we live our lives right-ordered.  We go about pursuing our personal goals, and at the same time, we seek to help those who might need help and by the end of the day, we’re tired and might watch some television before we head off to bed.  Uneventful, right?  Of course, but if we peel back the layers of our day, the ugly truth begins to be exposed.  How many times did our impatience through the day get the best of us, and this impatience cause us to lash out while we’re driving, or fail to stop and render our services to anyone who might need it?  Did we volunteer our time, through the day, perhaps in prayer or in general thanksgiving?  How about when we finally arrived home, did we look at our spouse and tell them how much they meant to us?  Finally, at the end of the day, did we examine our day and give thanks to the Almighty God, with a general realization, our day is nothing without God in our lives?  For most of us, this isn’t something which is a part of our day.  Some might say, you might be thinking it right now, I just don’t have the energy to do all of this every day, or I won’t mean as much if I say it every day, perhaps you just don’t think there is a need to do as much when a little goes a long way.  Whatever the reason, right is based on the objective, and no matter where we stand in life, this objective will remain constant.

Sin doesn’t simply come into the picture like a flash of lightning, set to disrupt the calm of life, instead sin seeps into our very nature and begins to corrupt little by little, and before we are aware, we’ve allowed sin to create its own space in our very soul.  Sin seeks to snuff out the light and keep us in utter darkness, because when we reside in the dark, we delude ourselves into thinking no one can see how utterly wretched we can be.  Wretched is a proper word for sin and those who embrace sin in their daily life, we are all wretched in one context or another.  However, the sin we choose is a matter of choice, not something we’re bound to for eternity, and in our choice we can come to terms with our very nature at any point and choose life, choose goodness, and love.

Love is at the very heart of everything, everything we do, everything we see, and everything we hope to gain in life.  Not one of the Graces given to us by God is removed from love.  Our very lives are centered on a distinct position of love.  Our culture doesn’t exist without the very fabric of family, from parent to child to grandchild, we are all interwoven in such a way as to become a foundational aspect of life which keeps everything moving.  The movement of society is directly dependent on the strength of family.  Take for instance the issues we have in our world today.  From abortion, to homosexuality, to murder and many other moral issues dotting the landscape.  The answer exists in God’s love, and the living example of God’s love is the family.  The family is the single strongest unit in our world as we know it.  It can overcome great obstacles, and the power of a parent teaching their child moral values carries with it more weight than any single act a person can do.   When we give the child moral values to look towards, we essentially teach them to fish for the rest of their lives, and give them spiritual nourishment which will feed them in the rough times which are certain to befall them as we have all experienced.

What then do we do, when faced with a choice?  Do we run? Do we fight? Do we sacrifice?  Questions, we all face every single day of our lives, probably not dramatic choices, but nevertheless important choices which might affect our very souls.  The other night I was speaking with my wife, and I am most dependent on her opinions and points of view to gauge where I’m at in life.  She is more wise than most and has an ability to cut through rhetoric and get to the meat of any matter.  So, as I’m discussing with her the implications of sin on our souls, it occurred to me, the decision of right and wrong as we accept and as we understand them.  Therein lies the problem, we as a society/culture are creating our own basis of comprehension, which is to say, we’re determining the morality of life rather than God.  We are saying, we are competent enough to forgo an objective moral truth for the ability to utilize our senses as a matter of judgement based in our own experiences.  Our point counter-point discussions are devolving into a context of never-ending decision patterns set to meet our subjective points of view.  This is nutso, this is as silly a point of context as any person can get to.  The day we believe we have the wisdom to redesign the context of morality, is the day we have usurped our beliefs and deigned to be gods of our own making.  This is the level of folly on Greek myths can rival.

My discussion with my wife, above all else, illuminated a concept of black and white, essentially right and wrong.  Not that I’ve ever dismissed the notion of right and wrong, but the decision complexity to approach right and wrong and then embrace one context or the other is absolutely paramount to the love we must all seek as we embrace God’s presence in our lives.  Which is to say, family either is or it is not a priority.  If it is, then we must go to it with a full heart and never look back, and in doing so, we’ve made a “right” choice by embracing a God’s Grace in our lives.  Ok, so back to the overall point of my discussion with my wife, our lives are about life and death.  It’s just that simple, we choose life over death when we choose God.  We choose the paradigm of right over wrong when we choose God.  Jesus didn’t hang from the tree and declare us to be wishy washy about our lives or our faith, instead his deliberate actions to die for us, to declare forgiveness for those who sought to kill him, and instruction by his very example were the point to be made.  Our Blessed Lord, Jesus, wants our fervor for his love, how can we turn away from pure love?  The culmination of my discussion with my wife was, our faith is a faith of pain, of sacrifice, and ultimately of death as it depends for all of us.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Going and Coming” (detail), 1947. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

That’s right, death, think about your eternity, think about where you want to go, and think about what it takes to get there.  When we go on trips for just a couple of days, don’t we pack entire car loads of suitcases and supplies so we can get to our destination and then get back with as much ease and comfort as possible?  Can you just imagine what we need to prepare for a life of eternity?  Our faith isn’t a matter of packing earthly supplies, but instead it’s about purification of body and soul to stand in what can only be surmised as pure love and goodness.  Although our lives are precious, we are bound to an understanding of death as it relates to the context of life in general.  After we look upon the decisions needed to prepare for an eternal life with God, our first realizations begin to come into context, I’ve not lived a life worthy of goodness and eternal mercy.  However, this is what God is giving us, this is what God’s love is promised to us.  Mercy, in the sight of our sins, forgiveness in the wake of our actions is what is promised to us, if only we would choose.  If only we would choose to accept a “right” and moral way of living, we might begin to realize the frailty of life.  If we can associate a life which is never promised one day more, then we can begin to realize the need of moral rightness as death is always near to us, for a promise of eternal love.

We would never accept evil, if it didn’t smile occasionally!

Rightness is afoot.  Our choices carry with them the weight of life above all else, this is to say, our choices matter a great deal.  A few weeks ago, I woke up to see headlines about a law, which was passed by lawmakers in the state of New York, and in their decision, they declared life as a matter of choice rather than a gift to be protected at all costs.  When the decision was declared, it was met with cheers and celebrations.  The lawmakers were elated, their steps to secure human choice over God’s will moved one step forward in progress.  However, for anyone who values life, for anyone who holds the bonds of marriage and family as sacred, this was more than abhorrent, it was wretchedly sad.  To know a beautiful life, created by the very nature God created ex nihilo, is being destroyed by the very nature is a cataclysmic explosion of sin and we should all weep for those destroyed in its wake.  However, there is hope, we know this, because Jesus existed.  God lowered himself and became a man, that we might know his pure nature is love.  This is what our hope is foundationally secured to.  St. Paul wrote in Corinthians 13:2; “and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.”

Love is always the right choice, but love isn’t something Hollywood created to make movies, it is the very nature of being to which God is.  Love is a choice, the choice for right, the choice to place life above all else, even when the other choices we think we have seem more important because of our choice to be selfish.  This is what our choices come down to, putting other before one’s own desires.  The moral teachings of the Bible and the Church are not something to be chosen when they suit our daily habits or needs, they are something which much be embraced daily.  They are a sacrifice for sure.  The sacrifice to put away objects of sin, desires of sin, behaviors of sin, and above all to fold us lovingly into God’s embrace through those sacrifices which are inherent in our free will.

Our choices above all else create in us either a clean hear or a heart of stone, and the harder our heart becomes the more effort it takes on our part and the part of God to crumble the façade which seeks to entomb us in darkness.  Remember this, sometimes God must break our heart in order to destroy the wall which surrounds it, but God is the only one who can mend our broken hearts.  I hope and pray if you have an ability to choose life, you do, it is so very important and the children which can be saved may have difficult roads ahead in their lives, but at least they will be alive to experience God’s greatness in all which is done.  May God bless you and your family!!!

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!! 

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You Hear But You Do Not Heed!

Take a step back from your reality today, look at the world around you.  Look at the news, which runs now constantly.  Look at entertainment, focused on filling up every nook and cranny of your time.  Look at art, hardly any of it focused on an ethereal and transcendental elevation of our reality, but instead a deluge of abstract figures and paintings, of nature and a pantheistic pursuit designed to make us feel comfortable, and above all celebrations of mediocrity.  Stories seem unoriginal now more than ever, movies are remakes of once celebrated ground-breaking forms of art sometimes once and twice over.  The criticism each person faces by exposing their art has more to do with an inability to have perfected an art form which required decades to master, and the public’s immediate expectation let down (any Star Wars movie after Return of The Jedi as a perfect example).  This constant criticism of an audience which no more has an ability to critique because of their own deficiencies in the education of art have led studios and executives to pursue the benefits as a means rather than the goal of entertainment.  The inexplicable problem which inherently comes forth is, the quality is poor, and in our deepest recesses we all know it, but since we paid so much for what we are seeing we feel personally obligated and willing to sit through and endure this nightmare simply by personal duress of this obligation.  We’ve all allowed our standards to take a back seat, this includes the executive to the teenager willing to pay.  This is just one facet of our society willing to degrade a standard to have instant satisfaction, and for what?  Jesus, in his words to the disciples said, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

MotherTheresa

Cardinal Sarah, wrote in his book “Power of Silence” about listening to the voice of God, within the silence of our hearts, indicating the rightly ordered understanding of God, ipsum esse subsistens (the very nature of being), as residing in the quietness of our hearts and we must intently and lovingly listen if we want to hear what he is saying.  At the same time, St. Thomas Aquinas points out this imprint of God in all of us, is what causes us to inexplicably drive towards him in all we do, even if we fail to recognize what it is we do.  So, when we choose sin or rather sinful paths to walk down, we understand more fully, the free will to sin is our choice to hear and not heed the loving words spoken to us.

Have you ever been in a situation where you friend, spouse, children, or boss has stated “I told you this would happen” and for whatever reason, you still chose the path which led to failure, or sometimes victory?  Often times, the plight of a parent is seeing a more developed picture of the world than their children, because of poor decisions and failing to listen, and we seek to instruct the child in right behavior and appropriate responses with a picture of failure as a deterrent for poor choice.  Just to have the child fail to do what was advised, and an “I told you so” situation arises, where in hopes by the parent the child will learn from this failure.  Failure, such a negative word, many papers and books have been written about the context of failure as it relates to great catastrophes an then even when it helped to build the character of a person as they ascended the ladder of their career.  However, failure is by definition, “lack of success”, according to Google.  Placed into the simple context of life, we then have to ask ourselves, what is success?  Is success obtainable in a world with such lofty goals in criticism, and yet such mediocre goals in performance?  Are we only as successful as the world says, or is there a more objective standard in which to hold our actions and effects as we run through this life of never-ending pitfalls and slippery slopes?

prayer

The answer to any question, as simple as it may sound to anyone, is God!  God is always the answer, and placed into proper context of any situation, the answer is most appropriate.  For instance, your pregnant wife looks at you, eight and a half months in, uncomfortable and ready for this ordeal to be over soon, and she stares at you and asks the ever mindful question “do I look fat to you?”  Red lights start going off in your brain, images of people sliding down poles to man stations as sirens are going off whirls the imagination of your mind, and as you being to speak images of “Jaws” biting you in half suddenly take the forefront of your mind’s eye.  When you stop for a split second and think about God, and then all makes sense, the waters have calmed, it was just a flounder and not a man-eating shark, and you say “sweetie, you have a baby growing inside of you, you are so beautiful because of God’s gift to you”.  Before anyone thinks, this is mush and sounds cheesy, they would be so right, if you didn’t mean it.  However, your focus on God’s Graces in your life, center your responses and create in you a clean heart willing to example his light in a reflective manner towards everything you do.  Do be afraid to sound silly when speaking from the heart, this is where God is in all of us, and to speak from the heart, lovingly and humbly, is listening to God’s voice and echoing what is being said.

St.FrancisofAssissi

Over the vast expanses of time, we have all read and seen examples of God’s light shining from those who would place their hearts in a position for complete destruction and still were unafraid.  Those people who pushed to show what they heard, no matter what people criticized them for, because deep down they knew the truth, they knew the voice, and it contained within themselves a solidarity of purpose reliant on an unmitigated sense of veracity.  However, when people can listen to God and the works of art which are delivered in such a beautiful manner, it gives us all a glimpse at the potential we all hold as a matter of hearing what is required of us as we live our lives.  From the person we see standing on the corner with a sign that says, “Will work for food” to the relative who insists on telling you about a “great opportunity you would be stupid not to get in on”.  All goodness has an ability to stare in the face of difficulty and be unflinching as a result.

listentome-web

We never seem to heed the advice given by those who love us the most.  I am as guilty of this as anyone, and although I am better than I once was, at times my hubris gets the better of me, and my belief in my own ability indicates my lack of trust in others.  Which is to say, I feel as if I know better than a person who has given advice based on years of experience, especially when I have no experience at all.  The very arrogance I have displayed among friends and family over the years is astounding, because at its very worst, I attempted to disguise my arrogance under a vale of duplicity.  All the while, thinking no one can possibly know, but finding out years later, although people never said a word to me, they always knew and in my self-reflection I surmised, I must have looked completely foolish to them.  This is all as a result of listening by not heeding the advice Jesus gave us on down to the friend who only ever desired to see my happiness.  Just like when you watch a person and for some inexplicable reason, you can tell they are being untruthful, or at the very least they are not telling the entire truth, I was exposed even if they didn’t know what was being exposed.  Trust was cleaved in two, and it would take me years of hard work, pressure, and a fervent desire to meld the two halves back together.

jesus-teaching

When Jesus spoke to his disciples about the impending fate he would suffer at the very hands of one of his own, the Apostles failed to heed his warning.  So after his crucifixion, they for fear of their own lives, sought refuge in hiding.  They huddled together, minus Judas and Thomas (Thomas not yet there and Judas hung from a tree himself by his own hands), and lamented what their lives meant at this point and what they must do from this point forward.  Then all of a sudden, as if always there, Jesus sits among them.  They are astounded, they know all too well, he died upon that cross in a place known as “the skull”, Golgotha (Gospel of Mark), where he would spend the remaining hours of his earthly life in agony.  In Luke’s Gospel, we see two other men who will meet the same fate, and although one of them rebuked Jesus, the other who knew of him, listened to God’s voice and spoke true as his exclamation of Jesus’s innocence and what’s most important his truthful words “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” indicate, although he failed to listen to God’s voice in his sin, he listened finally and heeded what was being said.  His reward, “paradise”, but for those Apostles who remained a fire would need to be lit, literally, and as the Holy Spirit descended upon them like a flame, they were eternally given the words of God to listen and heed.  They walked to the ends of the earth and spoke of the good news, which was Jesus.  To this end, they would all die but John, and they would all do so surrounded by darkness but as the brightest reflections of light possible.

At the end of our lives, we may not all have a chance to reflectively look back on what we did right and especially what we did wrong, in the hopes of rectifying those mistakes of sin we embraced as a matter of selfish pursuit of success.  Instead, death may come quick, death may come as an unfair guest to a game which we thought we were winning, while all along, we never had control of for one instance.  Death may be the sweet release of a life which sought to hamper every effort we had at making a better life for ourselves, it may even be (like JOB) a systematic disintegration of everything we’ve known and loved.  However, this isn’t the end, and listening to advice (morally and principally sound advice) has never and will never be a means to prevent a person from enjoying life, instead it is a means of direction for a path filled with joy, even in times of struggle.  Often times, when we see pictures of natural disasters or inexplicable events, testing the very nature of our faith.  We still see victims who have chosen to listen to the voice of God, and heed what they know to be true.  A life built in pursuance of love of God, is a life where no matter the struggle, a pure focus on what is true, always carries the day.

Advent-Candles

As we are in this Advent season, a time of waiting, and time of listening for the sound of Christ’s birth, we should be reminded of the lessons we seek to teach our own children.  To seek God in all we do, to seek love in every action performed, and in order to recognize, we must listen as much as anyone if we want to live a life in heeding of the words Jesus spoke.  So, when you go out and purchase a gift for your spouse or your kids, think about the implications of what you give them.  Of course, people want the latest or newest gadget, especially if makes their life easier (I know my wife would always like something that sparkles and she isn’t satisfied with the sparkle in my eyes apparently), but is this really the gift they need in their lives?  Don’t give the gift they want, at least not always, but give the gift they need, as a parent you are their protector and guardian, they need guidance from you every day of the year and especially during those occasions where their own inability to listen creates tension.  For your spouse, they are your other half, a union created in a covenant with God.  To be one with one another, it is always best to put your spouse’s needs above your own, but with it, you create a bond to strengthen love day-by-day.  I am reminded of the story of the Gift of the Magi, a wife with hardly any money seeks to buy her husband a gift, her only option, to sell her hair to acquire enough money for the purchase of a chain for his gold watch.  When he arrives home, he can see her hair is gone, he sits her gift upon a table, and she begins to open it when she realizes, it was a set of brushes for her beautiful hair.  Unshaken by all of this, she proceeds to hand him his gift.  A beautiful silver chain for his gold watch, but he looked at her with love in his eyes and set down the box while saying, “I sold my watch to purchase those brushes for your beautiful hair”.  The lesson from this simple story being, both were willing to give what was precious to them for the benefit of the other.  Although it amounted to very little in the material sense of the transaction, their love deepened by the acts of unselfish desire to unconditionally love one another.  The story is called Gift of the Magi because, the Magi were wise men who desired to give what they had to the King of Kings, and in doing so, and this made them wise beyond measure.  The story is similar in a vein of wisdom, the loving couple wisely gave gifts for the pursuit of happiness in the other.  Unselfishly they put the other before their own desires, willing the good of the other in life, especially when it is our spouse, is the very essence of love in action.  Every great saint, every great disciple, and every great apostle embodied the very nature of listening and heeding the words Christ spoke.  Remember, you are loved greatly, God is in your heart, listen to what is spoken to you, and heed it in every possible way.  I pray God blesses you and your family!!!

 

God's light

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Do Not be Terrified, For Such Things Must Happen

In the Gospel of Luke 21:5-11, Jesus speaks the words, “Do not be terrified, for such things, must happen” as a warning and a comfort to all those who seek the His light in their lives.  In my own lifetime, I’ve seen many cults and evangelical preachers assume a role prophesying the destruction of the world.  Some have even blamed natural disasters as a cudgeling response to the sinful ways of a cities inhabitants.  Their narrow minded, half-hearted attempt at drawing a parallels with the Old Testament, shows a misinterpretation of the Bible and further exacerbates the ignorance of the people who choose to listen.  So, why do the fear mongers who live among us, carry so much sway when they make these predictions?  Well, it comes down to our need as humans, to have answers.  We look for leaders in every walk of life, because they have the answers we desire, or at least we think they have the answers we need.  In truth, the answers we are looking for can be summed up in this one line; “Don’t be terrified, for such things must happen”.  My wife has often said, “this too shall pass”, a derivative of the first phrase, what we are instructed to do is stop the worrying our mind will ceaselessly do, and begin to focus on those who truly need our efforts.  After we’ve moved past our initial shock to the cultural shifts happening before our very eyes, we must finally stop our grumbling and get to work on the objective moral solution.

Syria

Currently as I write this, there are at least 10 crisis happening in our world.  From the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh to the cartoon character in North Korea.  All are threats to peace and in some cases have outright destroyed peace.  In Syria alone, estimates of death range from over 350k to over 500k; I Am Syria, a website devoted to exposing the death tolls also places the death toll over 500k.  To place in context, about 600k were killed in four years during the American Civil War.  So, putting it mildly there are reasons to be thankful for the peace and tranquility most of us endure on a daily basis, with only fighting the rush hour traffic, or putting up with the Holidays and those guest who never seem to leave.  Our world isn’t one of bland tastes or derisive points of view as much as it is a world complex in its desires and brutish in the ways in which those desires may be fulfilled.

If we look back at those who wished to possess power the most, we see two who stick out predominantly, Hitler and Stalin, and perspective is everything when it comes to historically looking at these despots of time.  Hitler, of course was on the losing side during the Second World War, and neither time nor the history books have been kind at all, as well they shouldn’t be.  However, not much is said in modern context to Stalin, a thug and paranoid dictator who before the outbreak of WWII, purged the leadership in his military for fear of coup d’état, and after the war, he murdered approximately 20 million people, so as to maintain the fear and control of his country.  His history is less damning, probably because he was betrayed by the other tyrant and his only choice was to join the winning side of the war.  Those people who lived through such times, especially the Jews of Russia, Eastern Europe, and places like Turkey were tested with the phrase Luke writes of Jesus, and it wasn’t as if Jesus was unfamiliar with hard times.  The Jews of the Holocaust were herded like cattle, into rail cars and brought to factories of death, the most prominent being Auschwitz, located in Poland.  A place of sadness and doom for those chosen to walk through the gates and either face immediate extermination or be forced to work until their bodies could no longer work, and then would be summarily killed before the rest of those living.  Living conditions so bad, when we read about what was eaten and the sickness which occurred, we ponder if we’d have the ability to live through what they did.  Since we have nothing to base our perceptions on regarding the treatment of the Jews during WWII, we are left at a foundation of incredulity to grasp at what we can only think of as too outlandish, even for a movie.  The same can be said for what we know of the time when Jesus lived, aside from His omniscience due to his divinity, ancient Jerusalem was a difficult place to be in, from sickness, to wars, to poverty, and death as the result of any one of those paradigms and Jesus lived and embraced those who were meek and humble, poor of spirit, and those who would weep.  Death was at every turn, and to have the very Divinity of All, stand before us and teach us to put away our terror, elucidates just who he was and what he was here to do for us. The irony of the Jews of the early 20th Century having never read the words of the everlasting Christ, although they feared the unknown, the stories of accepting their fates are what true stories are written about.

blacklivesmatter

The events of our lifetime have been, or are in constant turmoil.  Everywhere we turn, there is a person, a group, or a country trying to stir up strife as a means to an end, regardless if they don’t know what this end might be.  Take for instance, the black lives matter movement which took on a fever pitch in 2016 and had people (mostly black Americans) marching the streets and protesting a perceived systemic racial bias being showed to them by the law-enforcement communities throughout the country.  Problem is, the statistics didn’t back their argument, and the police were being vilified by conjecture and supposition leading to the culmination of the deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and countless other brother officers throughout the nation.  The rhetoric being spewed from the mouths of those who would seek their own ends regardless of the means, meant tragedy for those families forced to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.  The turmoil which was created by selfish pursuits left heartache in the wake of destruction by incendiary lies, which prompted those who would find purpose in the lies the devil tells.  At the end of the day, the worst part of the whole situation is when members of the movement were asked on new programs and street interviews, they could neither explain cohesively nor intelligently, why they were there or what they were fighting against.  Instead, the conversation would unravel and words like racism or bigotry were used as facts were dismissed.  A duplicity began to evolve with movements such as this, and although these people still exist and are still marching today, their ever-changing path to truth became too much for a mainstream to accept and it now has become a fringe element of extremism.

water-crashing-rocks

Over and over again, we continue to see fires out of control in our own lives, and if we just take a step back, we see much of the turmoil amount to nothing more than experience based in perspective.  Like the rock which isn’t moved by the turmoil of the sea crashing into it, we must be willing to accept the wave, while we hold fast to our faith.  To the person who has seen and done many things, excitability isn’t something we will see them exhibit too much, instead, a deliberation of effort and calculation of outcome is what we can expect, and when we think about the words of Christ spoken to those, who for lack of a better term, were ignorant of his ways, Jesus was deliberate in the words chosen and the actions taken.  For in his divinity, he is aware of the full narrative of time, and like any of us who’ve read a book more than once, we know what’s coming up, but if the story is good we are no less moved by what happens.  If we think about Jesus’s life on this earth, we are reminded of his power and ability to command legions of Angels, but as he knew this part of the story must happen, he refrained from calling upon them, that we must not lose faith and succumb to terror, because those things would happen.

Portraits-of-Homeless-by-Lee-Jeffries

In the context of the world we live in we need to keep a few things in mind before we abandon all hope.  Our perspective of life is limited, which is why embracing patience and compassion in all situations can never not benefit us, but may limit our exposure to material desires we truly don’t need.  Think about those situations where you failed or even when you succeeded, the failures for me usually came when a lack of preparation and planning was replaced by speed and quick results.  More often than not, when I forced an issue, any issue, I was greeted with mixed results, but when I’ve taken the time to measure out a proper decision, I am greeted with results I planned on and gladly except.  Which is the overall purpose, because there are some who will read this and think to themselves, “it doesn’t always work to take my time and deliberate”, but fringe exceptions to the rule should never be the acceptable proving ground to break a rule of thumb.

Overall, the words Jesus spoke in any context, soothe our weary minds, calm those seas which risk to stir us up into a lather, and above all give us a peak at what is to come if we’re just patient enough to allow the story to be told.  In the major motion picture, “Paul: Apostle of Christ”, Jim Caviezel, counsels the Christians in the temperament needed to face certain death.  He indicates the pain will be there, but in an instant it will be gone, and the light of life will greet every one of them.  As some may find this sophomoric in his attempt to “sugar-coat” a horrific action, and they may be right, the other we can be sure about is the light they will receive by their martyrdom.  Bishop Robert Barron, in his book, “To Light a Fire on the Earth”, makes use of the beauty of both the Saint and the Martyr, not because their lives are full of luxury and desirable to the common person, but because their lives are examples of the beauty which awaits all of us.  Those are the leaders we should follow in life, not the CEO’s or the alphas who exist in every group, but those who have been given the proverbial light to follow and beckon us all to come with them through their unselfish actions.  Barron, remarks in his book, more people have come to Christ through the actions of martyrs than just about anything else.  The beauty in the sacrifice is evident, but above all, the embracing of Jesus’s words is inspiring.

burden

When we face those events in our lives which prove to test our souls, and when we feel just like we’d break at any second, what we need to focus on are the words resonating in our heads.  “Do not be terrified, for such things must happen”, sometimes we need to break down a little, how else can we learn to trust God?  Sometimes, we need to set the structure we designed in our heads and our actions, ablaze because burning it down and rebuilding is what is needed (figuratively speaking).  In my own life, I needed to tear down the structure and the façade my life had built up to a certain point.  Remember, building your life and its structures without the light of God, is like building a house in the dark, with no light whatsoever to look upon your work and make corrections where needed.  When we have the light to illuminate what we do, we still need patience to guide us to the right decisions, and we must overcome the fear of the unknown.  Just like those who’ve come before us, accepting our cross simply means, we’ve are nailed to it, and we have accepted what it is we must do.  It is not a matter of simply removing ourselves from what we don’t like, but instead, making the best of any situation we happen to be in, and praying God will guide us into his love.

MaxamillionKolbe

I will leave you with this one last story to put your mind of the martyr at work.  Maximilian Kolbe was a priest who was sent to Auschwitz prison, during World War II, and while he was there, a function of the evil employed against the prisoners, was a selection of ten prisoners to be killed when someone escaped or tried to escape.  They would be lined up and selected at random (or if someone looked as though they couldn’t work, they would undoubtedly be selected), and during this process of selection, a sickly man was selected, but he protested the selection indicating his family needed him.  So, Kolbe, took his place, and was placed into a cell for two weeks without food, as a means of starving to death.  However, Kolbe, and a handful of prisoners were still alive at the end of the two weeks, and were summarily shot to death.  He was granted sainthood in 1981, by St. John Paul II.  This story is sad, depressing, and full of remorse over the lives of those chosen to die at the hands of the evil.  However, I wanted to point out one most intriguing points which my mind was affixed to, and which I’ve tried to point out in my writing here.  Kolbe, through his own sacrifice, saw the light of Christ clearly, he was moved to take the place of another, solidifying those nails as he was placed on his own axiomatic cross.  His enduring ability to stay alive, for two weeks, and then have it ended by an assassin’s bullet, makes for what seems to be and anti-climactic end to such a magnanimous effort.  However, this is where God exists for us.  In the spaces between, in the cracks of the hardened exterior, and in the silence of our hearts.  Can’t you remember a time, when you’ve done something for someone else, and they showed little response?  Perhaps there was a time when you unselfishly did something for another, and they thanked you, and you walked away, and no one ever knew what you did?  This is the step I am referring to, the fear of putting ourselves out so that others may ridicule, and the willingness to accept our fate is where the light of Christ exists.

JesusontheCross

Do not be terrified, for such things must happen, is the first words anyone should hear, especially when they begin their journey to Christ.  For many years, I allowed my fears to control my actions, and what pitiful actions they were, but fear is liberating, for many reasons, not least of which, overcoming our fear is where God stands, he needs us to do this if we are ever to love him.  Think of when you loved someone dearly, and then they broke your heart, God would never do this. If you’re willing to give your heart to those people, who most assuredly have a chance of breaking your heart, it seems a waste not to at least try the same with God, who will always lift you up because you are his beloved.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“10 Conflicts to watch in 2018” Robert Malley; https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/02/10-conflicts-to-watch-in-2018/

Thank You, Once Again, Thank You!

Last week I was scrolling on social media, and I came across a “meme” and it was a list with two columns with answers based more in perception than anything else.  The message was more a matter of gratitude rather than expressing regret as a measure of action.  This little message blew me away, something so simple, and yet it completely reversed how I interpret what I do.  Now, this isn’t to say, I wasn’t thankful for the gifts and time people ever gave to me, nor was I thankful for the patience I’ve received over the years, but what it exposed for me was although there is a measure of penitence to an apology.  The depth of the pool of repentance comes when we ultimately realize, our apology isn’t about saying we’re sorry so much as it is about thanking the other person for the love they’ve shown us in one way or another.  When we stop worrying about messing up or generally capitalizing on selfishness, we find a desire to put “other” before us and achieve a humble existence.  In other words, we grow closer in our relationship with God.

sorry

The first line of the list said, “I’m sorry, I’m late” on one side, and on the other, the more appropriate response was “thank you, for waiting on me”.  Both responses indicate a measure of sorrow and seeking of redemption, but one response above the other indicates a recognition of the other person and their sacrifice for us.  This perception, in one manner or another, is what life is all about.  Our sacrifices and the recognition of the sacrifices by others, creates within us a humility, allowing us to see the individual actions of another and how they might impact all of us.  In other words, I can see how my actions actually impacted another, and when I realize they had to struggle due to loss of time or worse, situation, then shame is exposed as if by a bright light.  Isn’t this what goodness is all about, a recognition of the light and it’s exposure to those dark areas of sin we all possess?

Our thanks in life should never be about what we see, but instead what those around us see.  I don’t necessarily mean, we should be bothered by another, when we are trying to do well and they just don’t like what we do.  However, how our actions impact another should be quite relevant and going out of our way to mitigate the negative consequence on others.  I think back to a phrase I heard many years ago, “better to act and beg for forgiveness, than to risk being told ‘no’ to begin with”.  This is such a loaded statement, I’m sure I could probably write a dissertation on the positive and negative impacts of such a life’s philosophy, but what I will say is when we seek to manipulate a situation out of selfish desire to see a goal realized, we run the risk of creating a negative impact on all those people like a ripple effect on a lake.  We may never realize, by pushing our self-motivated agendas a short-fall might occur sometime later, which we will never know nor will we be subject to the negative consequences.  Instead, another innocent person might be subject to the consequence and face hardships because of it.  We see this happen daily in companies and in countries all over the world, and as a result we continue to seek more and more regulation and rules/laws to regulate the push for selfishness and immoral behaviors instead of attacking the root problem.  The light of God isn’t in their lives and the absence of light breeds darkness and in the darkness, the presumption of any selfish person, is they can do as they wish because no one will ever see.

Business development to success and growing growth concept, Businessman pointing line dot graph corporate future growth plan

Companies are accused all the time of putting the profits ahead of the people, to satisfy expectations by those who would otherwise seek selfish goals to meet some finite expectation of today, rather than think about the degrading impact of tomorrow.  I’ve heard many arguments over the years about the relevance for making smart financial decisions, within the structure of a company, and although this is correct, preparing for such a day isn’t usually on dais for question.  I once had a business professor who stated clearly, “the role of a manager and a leader is to put themselves humbly into the lives of those around them.  When they can do this, then future of an organization becomes a labor of love and not the first payment on a boat.”  His words, like the list, changed my perspective on how I wanted to approach life and the people around me.  This was at a time when I embraced turmoil and self-aggrandizing efforts, and because of his care for his students and because of the influence of God in my life, I realized I could say, “thank you, for having patience with me”.

This is where it all comes down to, sacrificing what we want, for an understanding of what others need.  We as fathers and husbands provide this for our families.  We counsel our children about lessons from day-to-day, and we must say thank you to those wives, willing to be patient as we learn just how to traverse life and marriage all at the same time.  I once approached my life as a matter of momentary instances, to be thought out thoroughly, some work our way and some don’t.  I compartmentalized events into good and bad, but I never saw the string of responsibility connecting everything I did and the subsequent ripples my actions caused others in life.  Like my son, who loves to do a cannonball in the pool during those long summer days, and the torrential flood of water which splashes those who sit on the edge of the pool, my actions were much like his, but emotionally draining.  When he jumps in, and comes up for air, he usually looks around and says, “oh, sorry” because his focus was on achieving the perfect height and splash radius for his entrance into the pool.  For everyone else, who is now dripping with water, we look at him with disdain because he disrupted what was enjoyable.  Though, there are two perceptions to be taken with this, the first is, he isn’t wrong for wanting to jump in, it’s a pool, and that’s what you’re supposed to do, meanwhile we should understand this and be willing to see his perspective.  Simultaneously, he should know, just because we want to do something, what is the best course of action, when we put people before ourselves and their needs into consideration with our very own?  The usual result is a verbal argument by himself and his sisters, or a few words of instruction by myself or my wife, until it happens again.  On all of our accounts, we’re unwilling to look at the whole of the situation and this is eerily similar to life as we live it.  So many times we are unwilling to thank another for simply being or loving us.  We forget to put them ahead of us in what we decide to do.

political turmoil

Think about the politics of where we’re at, all too often we talk about this side or that side and how they are destroying everything we know.  The irony is, both sides are doing the same thing, we constantly see politicians corrupted by power and selfish desire to have rather than to give.  We see politicians who would rather push a personal agenda sometimes devoid of moral behavior, and as constituents we are so willing to accept immoral behavior to allow for what we truly want, like a law or revenue streams not previously possible.  We all are attempting to get something, but have we really asked what the cost of our desire is, or are we all hoping we can say, ”sorry” later?

I think this is what the politicians in our culture believe, they can capitalize on the turmoil between voters and the immoral stance of their constituents and if they are ever called out on what they’ve done (assuming it’s non-criminal), then they will just apologize and it will be business as usual.  Instead what they should be doing is thanking those people who voted for them and remove themselves from such an important position.  The result, some would argue is two-fold, the first being the call for the resignations of many in office, and the second being a deluge of politicians leaving office and creating a virtual vacuum of disruption for all of us.  This is of course true, but the house we live in is falling in ruins, and we must have the courage to clear off the foundation and rebuild, and do so in a proper fashion.  This starts with the ability to place our needs last and put those needs of others first.  This might start with a thankfulness to those who gave their lives, which you might be able to sit in your chair and read these words.  This is a thankfulness for those who gave everything they had or would ever have, to realize the truth of what men and women should be, even in the face of great evil.  Their thankfulness to those who gave to them, much like they gave to us, strengthened the string of events which has eventually led to our culture today, but the string is fraying.  Our liberties and freedoms are waning under the guise of immoral behavior touting a platform of choice.  Over and again, we bring into focus a need for consistent choice-making and foundations of principled lives of those who wish to lead us.

holiday material

As we head into another holiday season, we will be bombarded with music and advertisements pushing a season of giving, a season of spirit, and above all a season where if you use financing you can get more stuff.  However, I challenge you to look at this as a season of rebirth, much like the birth of the greatest man who ever lived this earth, Jesus, we are called to become reborn in our lives through action and proper reaction to the events which surround us constantly.  We have an ability to place upon us the weight of right and wrong, and always know wrong is ugly and disdainful, but brought to us in beautiful wrapping.  “The road to hell, is paved with good intentions”, a phrase I’ve heard uttered for many years, and a phrase which sums up our culture so quickly.  Good intent doesn’t pay the bills for those workers laid off before the holidays.  Good intent, doesn’t tell the person, who waited hours for you, you understand how they felt by simply saying “sorry” as if it were a passing turn of phrase.  Good intent doesn’t offer redemption, just strings words and actions together to make us feel better about choosing wrongly.  Don’t be this, intend to put yourself in the shoes of another this Holiday season, be thankful, be mindful of everything around you, and be reborn.

Although, I write about my family sometimes, I never truly give them credit where credit is due, and to show them just how thankful I actually am.  So, if you will permit me, I would like to do this with the few lines I have left today.

parents

To my parents, how I love you, thank you for raising me the best way a boy could be raised.  You held me when I was young, and you embrace me now I am older.  Your instructions in my life have proven to be invaluable, and your freedom to allow me to make mistakes have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  Mom, you are the strongest woman I have ever known, tough and tender when it counted, more tough at times, but love isn’t a squishy pillow, it’s a choice and you choose to do it right, thank you so much!  I saw you fight for those in life, who couldn’t fight for themselves, and I was never more proud of anyone in my life when I found this out.  Dad, your ability to approach life with wisdom has inspired me since I was a teen, to seek the truth, your forgiveness of my poor behavior when I argued with you humbles me.  You thoughtful tone when I hear the word “son”, warms my heart.   My perception of a Father in Heaven comes from your ability to be patient as a father to his son.  I love you both beyond a measure of any type, thank you for raising me properly.

To my mother-in-law and my step-mother, I am thankful for your presence in my life.  To my mother-in-law, you have always been kind to me and thoughtful, even when I was awful, you loved me and you didn’t have to, and for this I am eternally grateful.  To my step-mother, you have treated me like one of your very own kids from the beginning, and although, your entrance into my life was later, this has come with no less a profound significance to understanding what life throws at us and how we can choose to deal with it.

brother and sister fighting

To my sister, you are wonderful, you are brilliant and motivated, and yet you allow yourself to be open and flawed for all the world to see, I love this about you.  You accepted me for me, and then asked my opinions of things, even when I was the most boorish.  We haven’t always gotten along, and to this I’m forever ashamed.  I always could have tried harder, but I allowed my selfishness to get in the way, rather than seeing the thankfulness from your presence in every way.

brother and brother

To my brother, I haven’t spoken with you for some time now, and perhaps these words will get to you one day.  We definitely haven’t seen eye to eye over the years, and my bullish desire to seek out my own goals, was sadly to the detriment of our relationship, but I would like to say, I think we could one day be better.  I’m thankful to God for your presence, if for nothing more, than the pathway to walk with you one day as God intends us to walk.  I remember your lessons for me as a kid, how I looked up to you, and in many ways wanted to be like you.  This wasn’t meant for us, I guess, but I know God’s light shines upon you, please look up, please seek it, and please know I am forever thankful for you!

family3

To my kids, y’all are the greatest gifts God could have ever bestowed upon myself and your mother.  Smart, loving, kind hearted, obnoxious, and all around the very best this world has to offer.  Constantly, you teach me to be a better father, and for this I am thankful.  Day in and day out, you provide me with an abundance of love, and my cup is overflowing, and your willingness to accept the faults of your father astound me.  In matters of self and growth, I feel like I have so much to learn from each one of you.  I am thankful for your energy, for your tears, for your anger, for your inquisitiveness, which provides to both your mother and myself, so much joy.  When we realize how much God has given us, our thankfulness abounds into a feeling of contentment and humility all at once.  I see each and every light from you and I want you to know, it’s so very beautiful.

 

propose-live-on-tv

To the love of my life, my beautiful wife.  Thank you, once again, thank you!!!  You are a rock, you are the strength I need in my most dire of situations.  Your forgiveness of me is like none I have ever experienced.  You kindness in truth and of our life together has sustained me more than you will ever know.  More important than anything else, is your love of God.  I don’t know why God placed you in my path, all those years ago, and when I wonder about what I would be like had we never met, the thought freezes my soul.  I shudder at knowing that if I had never had the courage to say, “Hi”, we might never have known one another.  At the same time, I realize God’s blessings give us a pathway of light for us to walk down and see those vipers of sin all around us.  Many years ago, we stood before the priest and committed to the covenant with God, we would be joined as one, and we would walk this life together.  For a time, I forgot how to be thankful, for God, and for you, I am truly sorry.  However, your faith has been unwavering in God, and in me; you are the most courageous woman, you tackle what is before you and you don’t give up, just because everyone says you should.  This is rare, and my decision to love you has come from all of this, your beauty, your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your intelligence, your love of our children, your love of life, your love of the family, your love of me, and most importantly your love of God.  By my estimation, you could have found a million men, just like me, but you choose me, and I am thankful for your patience, for being there, for helping me, for the courage to point out my mistakes, for your understanding, and for your love.  Thank you!!!

Today or tomorrow, if you get the chance, turn to those you know and love, and thank them for their willingness to see you and accept you.  In one way or another, love isn’t something in a box, it’s the two words spoken before any apology, “thank you”.  Have a wonderful holiday season, be reborn.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a speech given about the theologians and philosophers of antiquity.  The context of the speech reminded me of the paradigm shift, I experienced, when I first began to read texts written centuries ago.  I was constantly amazed at the language use, its imagery was either powerful or gave me insight as to the extension of their perceptions we use today.  I was energized by knowing, some theology and philosophy I know and use today, was around for hundreds of years.  I was further encouraged to find, many of the theological practices I put in place now, were originated by those who walked in step with Jesus.  However, as I wanted to explain what I discovered, I found many people either uncaring, or unconcerned with the knowledge of origination for our very beliefs now.  In truth, I found people to be somewhat glued to the belief in our current times as the epitome of existence.  I’m not sure if this is because of technology, time in perspective, or because they’ve been taught from an early age to embrace the present as we relegate the past to ineptness.  Whatever the focus for any one person, failing to recognize the contributions of the past, as they lift us up on their mighty shoulders, is similar in failing to acknowledge the sacrifice of the brave for the freedom we now possess.

apathy

Often times, we are presented with an action, we neither know its origin, nor do we care too much about why we’re doing it.  I once heard an anecdotal story, which has probably been changed many times, but the moral of the story remains solid.  A young woman, was taught from an early age, when she baked a ham, to cut off the very end before placing it into the oven.  She repeated this process for years, and eventually passed this tradition of cutting off the end portion to her children.  As they came of age, and were eventually baking hams for their families, a question was posed by one of their children over a holiday weekend, “Mom, why do we cut off the ham, is it to make the food taste better?”  Bemused by the seemingly innocuous question, she had no answer, she thought about whether or not it would make the food more delicious, but to no avail, she had no good response for her child.  As the day went on, the question continued to nag at her inquisitive nature, and she called her mother.  “Mother, why do we cut off the end of the ham, is it for taste?”  To this, her mother stated, “I haven’t the slightest clue why we do it, it’s just been something we’ve always done”, but just like her daughter, not knowing left her restless.  Soon, she called her mother, who for all intents and purposes no longer cooked, but always enjoyed an invitation to dine with her children over the holidays.  “Mama, why do we cut off the end of the ham”, she asked, “does it have to do with the flavor?”  Her mother said, “Well, I never thought about the flavor, but the dish I got from your grandmother wasn’t large enough to fit a whole ham, so I always had to cut off the end so it would fit”.  At this moment, everything fell into place, the tradition for cooking a ham in their family was purposeful, as long as they understood what the purpose was.  When time moved one, and different pans were used, larger pans were used, the need to cut the ham became a tradition practiced but not understood.

The story for me, was eye-opening.  It presented a paradigm which challenged our willingness to accept tradition, without truly finding out why we were doing what we were doing.  This behavior is human for sure, but it has good and bad consequences associated with it.  For instance, following a teaching, without asking why, makes us like sheep, regurgitating what we’ve learned, but never able to apply a deeper meaning to what we know.  Only until we ask, “why?” will we ever be able to move past our own arrogance as it translates to the life we lead.  Those who bothered to ask questions before our time, and who risked everything to example courage to all of us, seem to be less than a footnote in the annals of history, this is until we bother to really look.  This was where I was at, when I first began to read about who I was, where I was from, why I believed what I believed, and why in my belief I followed practices which were over two thousand years old.

ChurchTraditions

I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, the beliefs of the Catholic Church are antiquated, and either belong in the past or modernized to fit today’s times.  This is often how the movement, to today’s arrogant times is phrased, “today’s times”.  This inoffensive statement proceeds to remove the word morals and replace it with something providing a more effusive term which embraces the now and discounts what is perceived as antiquated behaviors and teachings.  Though one question always bothered me about modernizing beliefs.  If we modernize a belief, does it remove the objectivity, and if we make an “objective truth” more modern, were the people who practiced it wrong?  This is where courage in questioning takes place, because with hardly any thought given to the question, we run the risk of attempting to destroy the lifetimes of people who lived before us, and everything they ever believed in.  The problem with trying to make the past fit the now, is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  No matter how we want to see the past through the lens of today, it will never be quite right, and it creates villains where villains never existed.

Take for instance Rome, a society where their army was always in some conflict, slaves were common, arena fights (not always to the death) were exhibited in grand fashion, and political turmoil and strife was the measure of the day for hundreds of years.  Though, because we largely accept their contributions to our modern society, we’re willing to look past the more negative aspects of their traditions and societal encumbrances, and we embrace what we identify as ours now.  Of course, this is how history works, those who could etch out a description of themselves and do it in such a way as to make their legacy a fitting explanation stand to be lifted upon the pedestal of history.  Those who lost wars, who failed to explain themselves (as if this was proper form) become the losers in history and receive the indignation of those wishing to find a reason for their plight.  The statue removal, currently happening in the US, shows us this hypocrisy in action.  We remove statues which belong to the losers, and find ridicule by diminishing a life’s work into two categories; were they good or were they bad?  The criteria is the simplistic ideology of today’s lens, and yesterday’s actions and we relegated someone who’s life extended for decades into one question, without really looking into who the person was and why they did what they did.

Blurred interior of the church

When I was a child, I attended church regularly.  I did not know why we did what we did, and sometimes when I would ask my father, he didn’t have a clear answer, or would assume my immaturity wouldn’t understand, and so he would brush off my question with an answer failing to reach the crux of my question.  Over the years, I eventually stopped asking and would just accept what I saw, as part of the tradition, and I became sullenly bored with the whole process.  This was until I met, who would become my future wife, and she took me to a play her church was presenting.  The play, in its entirety, was presented to show us a reality after death, and because of the choices in this life the eventual resting place for each and every one of us.  To put it mildly, it scared the hell out of me, and I eventually walked down with a group of people and received a blessing from the preacher.  I was told, I was saved.  I wasn’t sure how to take this, because the people around me acted like I was a prize to be won rather than how I felt.  At the end of the day, this play I watched over twenty years ago, lit the fire of my learning which hasn’t to this day been quenched.

FatherSonQuestions

With my questions, I began with my father once more.  A knowledgeable man, who was able to give me some direction, because of his own formation and training within the theology of the church.  However, I quickly realized, he could only do so much, as my formation was concerned.  I was going to have to live what I learned, and I was going to have to study in order to live this life.  Well, as some have probably figured out from my previous writings, I wasn’t about doing hard work early in life, and I abandoned (somewhat) a desire to know God.  I pursued a life of self, a life where I demanded the Church modernize its viewpoints to suit the Common Era and focus on bringing more people into its hallowed halls.  If the Church was unwilling to do this, the minimum, then I was unwilling to try any harder than I tried.  I would attend church, but I wasn’t invested in why I was there.  I would go and talk about topics of theology and philosophy, all the while I was saying to myself, I’m not sure how much I actually believe.  I was lukewarm, and because I refused to go to the fire of truth, I allowed my actions and mind to be swayed by the great deceiver.  Though, like most of us, who think we can do it alone, I hit a wall.  The proverbial wall of arrogance, knocked me flat, and it took me about three years to regain my footing.  In those three years, I started slowly asking those questions I would ask my father.  Except this time I would ask my Father in heaven, and in the silence of my heart, I started to receive answers, and not always the answers I wanted to hear.  Sometimes, it was an answer of desire to learn more, to know more, and to accept there were people who already answered my question, God just needed me to go in this direction.

The most significant find of my life were two authors, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the humble Dr. Peter Kreeft.  St. Thomas Aquinas, wrote the Summa Theologica (Summary of Theology) and Dr. Peter Kreeft explained it.  What these two authors showed me, was an existence far before my time but just as relevant to my own.  Dr. Kreeft, is a modern philosopher, who has a way of explaining the truth as if it were a matter of discussion over a cup of coffee before hitting your morning commute, and this becomes relevant because we all need explanation for truth, even when we know the truth.  We all need a source of exposition, perhaps a question for us the opportunity to reveal the truth, much like Jesus question to the Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16)

St. Thomas Aquinas though was the cathartic experience which changed how I will forever look at the past and those who spent lifetimes seeking the light of Christ.  In his work, Summa Theologica, Aquinas, details objections to the faith and summarily answers them with finality.  This work was written in the early 13th century and what it illuminates is the very foundational understanding of philosophy, we have today, are based on his courage to answer those questions which seemed impossible but needed to be answered.  His courage, has allowed me to be lifted up on his shoulders, that I might have a greater opportunity to see the light of Christ myself.

"Ralph is doing a preliminary study of re-inventing the wheel."

I always say, “There is no need to reinvent the wheel, when it’s not necessary”, simply meaning, if we can utilize the knowledge of the past, then we need to do so.  This is never more prevalent and understanding than with the faith and traditions of our past.  We can’t frivolously continue to cut off the end of the ham, and not know why we’re doing it.  We can’t attend church, and not know why we stand there and sing hymns, bow, recite prayers, or partake in Holy Communion.  Failing to do so, creates in us a chasm of failure to open our eyes to the beautiful, embracing what we want rather than what it is.  Dr. Kreeft remarked about the boredom of church as it relates to a sporting event, and in doing so, his analogy indicates a vast portion of our boredom come in to practice when we don’t understand or we don’t accept what it is we see.  Failing to do either, when it comes to the very presence of Christ, has more to do with arrogance than with an ability to know and react to what is pure light and love in our lives.

Over the last ten years, I’ve devoted more of my time and energies to study and attempting to humble myself in every which way I can think.  This is one of my primary reasons for opening up about my life, my shames, my expectations, and my hopes for everyone to see what I’ve seen.  My knowledge of the past (what little I know) indicates to me there is a mountain of tradition and understanding those who came before me have courageously fought to answer.

Grace-Fox_nativity-baby-jesus

So going into this holiday season, dig deep, find out a little more as to why we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Recognize, as intelligent and intuitive as we seem to think we are in this modern age, you might be surprised at the intellect and insightful but beautiful language which exists from the past.  Some of the most beautiful language ever written was done so over seventeen centuries ago and our very comprehension of morality is based on this language.  The traditions of the church are steeped in a deep and thoughtful understanding of who Christ is to us all, and not some notion of someone who never took the time to really understand and accept what these traditions were.  Finally, Christ in the Eucharist, is the greatest gift we can ever partake in, and this is one tradition many of the ancient and modern authors all agree upon, and the way I see it is, if it stands the test of time, and it can be argued with a central understanding of objective interpretation, then the application of truth exists.

baptism100

This Christmas, like so many before, offers us all the rebirth we need to be a little more holy, a little more understanding, and above all else a little more willing to humbly accept the ground we stand on is actually the shoulders of the giants who lift us up to see the light of Christ more clearly, and they stand upon the gentle hands of God in every way possible.  May God bless you and your family!!!

 

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!

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Truth2Freedom's Blog

The mindset in postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. But in post-truth, the person believes that objective truth exists, but they subordinate truth to their preferences, or their comfort. In other words, one doesn’t care that truth exists or what the truth is if it doesn’t line up with one’s preferences. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" - George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. The truth of the matter is “no one comes to the Father but by [Jesus].” This blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

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