Emotions/Feelings

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

Forgiveness is a Tough Job

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Just the other day I was flipping through TV channels and came across a show about a guy who picks up road kill for a living. I thought, “Why in the world would anyone want to watch this?” And then, of course, I couldn’t turn it off! That show was called “Dirty Jobs,” and Mike Rowe was the man who became famous for trying some of the dirtiest jobs on the planet. He has waded through sewers, castrated horses, farmed worm poop, and sorted through medical waste, just to name a few. He goes out and learns about the jobs that none of us would ever want to do, and gets coached by the people who do these jobs every day for a living. It’s not just for entertainment, because Mike goes deeper in order to pay respect to the men and women who roll up their sleeves and do these challenging jobs every day. Read More

Fear or Faith?

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More than 19 million Americans have this, and it causes difficulty in some area of their lives. What is it? It’s a phobia. A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear, whether it is of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific. Here are a few of the most common phobias:

  • Altophobia: Fear of heights.
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of confined spaces.
  • Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Theophobia: fear of God.
  • Ecclesiophobia: Fear of church.
  • Homilophobia: Fear of homilies. (Maybe even Deacon Allen’s homilies!)
  • Testophobia: Fear of taking tests.
  • Phalacrophobia: Fear of becoming bald.
  • Chaetophobia: Fear of hair (other people’s hair).
  • Xenophobia: Fear of the unknown.
  • Ephebiphobia: Fear of youth (teenagers).

There is an old proverb that goes something like this:

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things will be yours.

Notice, “Fear less” is at the top of that list of what needs to be done if all good things are to be ours. Moreover, “Fear less” was high on Jesus’ list of things you need to do in order to experience wholeness of life.

Jesus wants you to know beyond all doubt that you and I are important to God; that God wants to be in a relationship with us. You may turn on the busy signal if you wish, but God never will do that. We can always count on God’s constant care for us.

Each one of us is called to go out and serve those in need, the most vulnerable in our society – and that can be scary. We are often afraid to speak the truth, to stand up for what is right, or afraid of those who might try to hurt us. We might be afraid to try new things, or meet new people who are different than us. But Jesus promises us that God is in control: “Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.” Jesus reassures us of the value that God places on us. You and I are worth more than many sparrows; and we are also precious in God’s sight. With God by our side, we have nothing to fear.

What is God Like?

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Once upon a time there was a little boy named Johnny. Johnny was always coming home late from playing outside.

One day his mom and dad had enough of it. They said, “Listen, Johnny! You never come home in time for supper. Your supper is always getting cold. We always have to warm it up for you, and this has got to stop. The next time you come home late, we’ll give you bread and water. That’s all. No butter, no peanut butter, no jelly; just plain bread and water.”

Well, the very next day Johnny came home late for supper again. He walked into the house and sat down at the supper table. His mom and dad, who had plates with meat and potatoes and vegetables in front of them, didn’t say a thing. They quietly gave Johnny a plate with some bread and a glass of water.

Johnny was crushed. He never thought his mom and dad would do such a thing. How could they? But he was wrong.

Johnny’s father waited for the lesson to sink in. Then, silently, he took his own plate full of meat and potatoes and vegetables, and put it in front of Johnny. Then he took Johnny’s plate and put it in front of himself.

Johnny is now a man. And not long ago someone asked him, “Do you know what God is like?” Johnny said, “I’ve known it all my life. I’ve known it ever since that night when my father switched plates.”

Each of us is called to love and serve God with all of our being and direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God.  We are to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which then enables us to see more fully God’s presence in the world.

If we can love God with our whole being – heart, soul, mind, and strength – everything else in our lives will flow forth from there.

Are You a Seeker?

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While on retreat a few months back, my spiritual director asked me this question: what am I seeking? (She asked me this question because it states that I am a seeker on my website and business card.) And, it was a good question for me to ponder while on my retreat. And ponder and pray I did – while walking and sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan. Here is the answer to this question as it came to me.

I am seeking to grow ever closer to the God of love. I want to continue to deepen my relationship with Him so that I can help others to have a personal relationship with our heavenly Father through a solid prayer life.

I seek to learn more about our faith.

I seek to become a better husband, father, and man of faith.

I seek to discover new and fresh ways to show the importance, relevance, and need of our faith to teens and young adults.

I seek to help others know that God is always present and with us – no matter what we do, say, or think.

I seek because I never want to be complacent or stuck with where I am. I may not always know where I am headed, but I want to try to enjoy the journey. And I am always looking forward to the surprises that God has in store for me.

I am seeking to help others find the way.

I am seeking; forever seeking.

What about you? Are you a seeker too?

And Now, I Wait

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I am one of the disciples of Jesus. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am in hiding because of the events that have recently taken place. After what had happened to Jesus, I feared for the worst. All I could think about was could this possibly happen to me as well? I was terrified, and I fled for my life. Here I thought that my faith was strong enough to withstand anything; but man, was I wrong. I abandoned my Lord, and I feel awful. He told us to trust in him, but I didn’t. But can you blame me? I’ve never been so frightened in my entire life.

And now, I wait.

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The Cocoon of Self-Absorption

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One of the many wonders of nature is a cocoon. A caterpillar encloses itself in a type of tomb and then emerges transformed and flies through the air in the form of a beautiful butterfly. We view this as a type of death and resurrection.

An image for the Gospel today is that of a cocoon. Rather than a transformation into beauty, we witness a deformation into misery. The Gospel never says that this rich man committed any crime, but it seems that he is just so overly focused on himself that he cannot see beyond his clothes, his meals and his own doorstep. His wealth is something that he spends on himself and not something he shares with others. He is so tightly woven into his cocoon that he cannot seem to break out.

This disturbing parable tells us to not be absorbed with ourselves, to pay attention, and to wake up. We need to remember that our possessions are not owned by us, but loaned to us. They are entrusted to us; not only that we can meet our basic needs, but also so that we can help others. St. Augustine described sin as being caved in on oneself. Sin closes us in on ourselves and charity draws us out of ourselves and that is where we find joy.

We’re instructed to pay attention to Moses and the prophets; that is, to pay attention to God’s word given to us in the Scriptures and by Jesus.

And we need to wake up because most of us at times can be like the rich man. And the five brothers – they represent us too. We are not to expect some sort of personalized message, but should instinctively live out our faith by loving God and our neighbor. Actions have consequences, and so do our inactions. We can sin by what we do but we can also sin by what we fail to do.

This Lent, let us pray that we receive the grace to not be imprisoned in the cocoon of self-absorption. Rather, let us strive to live generous and joyful lives not selfishly but selflessly.

St. Leo the Great

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Today, November 10th, is the Roman Catholic Church’s memorial of the fifth-century Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great.” Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions. Read More

Made Out of Love to Love

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20131008_180315I am always telling my wife Stephanie how much I love her. I tell her that my love for her burns with a fiery passion, that she completes me and makes me a better person, and that she fills me with joy and happiness every single day. And I often tell her that my love for her is so deep that she truly doesn’t know how much that I love her.

When I read today’s reading from St. Paul (Ephesians 3:14-21), I immediately thought not only of how much I love my wife, but also how much God loves us. And the similarities are quite amazing.

  1. Our relationships are rooted and grounded in love. We were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made out of love to love. God created us out of love and wants us to love others the way he loves us – unconditionally. That’s the same type of love that each of us longs for in any relationship.
  2. We can never fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of that love. God’s love for us simply surpasses all knowledge. Just like when I tell Stephanie that she doesn’t know how much I love her, we cannot grasp how much God loves us – despite all our flaws. I often think that if I love my wife as much as I do, how much more does God love me? I cannot imagine and it simply blows my mind.
  3. We are filled with all the fullness of God. In other words, God completes us. Every longing is satisfied when we place ourselves in His divine presence. We are filled with joy and happiness and our hearts burn with a passion when we spend time with our God who loves us so much and desires to be with us (and is with us) every minute of every day. When we spend time with God in prayer, we become whole, complete, and one with our heavenly Father. That is a fullness that can never be emptied.

It’s no coincidence that God compares the love he has for us as the love that a bridegroom has for his bride: filled to the brim and forever overflowing, abundant with joy and happiness, growing deeper with each passing day, and always rooted and grounded in unconditional love.

Unconceivable Beauty of Heaven

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What do you think heaven is like? Do you envision a place filled with white, puffy clouds with angels playing miniature harps while flying to and fro? Do you envision a place where there is no more pain, suffering, grief, or affliction? Is heaven found in your sweetheart’s arms? Or is heaven the most ginormous all-you-can-eat buffet you’ve ever seen?

These are just some of the visions of heaven that have been documented over the years in books, movies, and music. But what do we really know about heaven? Read More

You Are Here

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It’s not like I don’t want to be here, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being here. In fact, sometimes I really enjoy being here. It’s just those other times that make me think twice about being where I am; and what can be worse than utter confusion? It’s like being sandwiched between novel prospects and bitter memories. It may lead a person to an undiscerning decision. Read More

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