Dad’s, waste time with your family

“And I regularly asked fathers if they played with their children; if they had the courage to have the love to waste time with their children.  The answer wasn’t good, eh!  The majority would say: “But, I can’t because I have so much work to do…’ And the father was absent from that child that was growing up and didn’t play with him, he didn’t waste time with him.”  Pope Francis

Last Saturday, I had a plan.  It was a nice day and I like to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast on our screened in porch while reading.  I got together my breakfast and sat down.  The kids weren’t up yet and my wife was out running a road race.

My children typically like to get up, watch something and eat their breakfast – a good hour of time spent.

My plan was to run a quick 4 miles on the treadmill when the kids got up, while they watched their show.  As I sat and ate, my son woke and came out on the porch.  For the next hour, he told me his thoughts on the Marvel movies, we took 3 on-line quizzes to discover what our Marvel weapon should be (mine was Dr Strange’s Eye of Agamotto ???), which Marvel Hero we are most like (Thor) and which Marvel villain we are most like (can’t remember).

Well, I didn’t get my run in.  I thought about asking my son to go watch a show or tell him I wanted to exercise.  Pope Francis’ words did echo in my brain and I decided to waste time with him.

The Father loves us.  As Fathers, we are called to love, like the Father.  When we pass to the next realm, we hope we recognize the Father by saying, “I know you, your love was with me all the while.”

I’m not looking for a clap on the back, I don’t always get things right, but I just want to reflect on a moment in time when I got something right.  I wanted to do my thing, but I choose my son instead.  I choose to waste time with my family.

Waste time with your family.

God Bless

The Ark is Mary

To Moses, by God’s very word: “You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.  Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it.”   Exodus 25:10-11

The Lord has the Ark made of pure gold and spends a few chapters explaining how the Ark is to be made pure, flawless and blessed.  Later in Exodus, the dwelling that Moses erects to house the Ark is often covered, or overshadowed, by the cloud of the Lord.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 1:35, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  Like God overshadowed His Ark, God will overshadow His new Ark, Mary.

The Ark contained the word of God, and Mary now contains the Word of God in Jesus, becoming the new Ark.

Remember that God was very specific in the creation of the Ark, having it made pure.  No less than 5 Chapters are dedicated to the making of the Ark.  Knowing the pains God takes to purify His Ark to house the Ten Commandments, it only stands to reason that His new Ark, Mary, would also be pure prior to Her housing the Word of God, Jesus.  This is a major reason Catholics believe in Mary’s purity and her Immaculate Conception, because the Ark is made pure and Mary is the new Ark.

The Ark continues to have significance as David takes great pains to secure it and it continues to bless him while in his possession.

David sets out to Judah to retrieve the Ark to bring it to Jerusalem but while transporting the Ark, it begins to tip and a man name Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark.  Because Uzzah believes he can steady the Ark, rather than God protect it, God strikes Uzzah dead.  David now fears the Ark and leaves it in the hill country of Judah with a man named Obededom.

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed Obededom and his whole house.”  2 Sam 6:11

Mary, after she is with child, in haste rushes to her cousin Elizabeth who lives in the hill country of Judah and remains with her for three months.  The parallel with the Ark is gaining ground here, as the Ark was in the hill country of Judah and remained for three months, just like Mary travels to Judah for three months.

As David brings the Ark into Jerusalem, he dances before the Ark.  “Then David, girt with linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon as he and all the Israelites were brining up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn.”  2 Sam 6:14-15

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  Luke 1:41-42 The child with Elizabeth is John the Baptist and John here, like David before, dances (or leaps) before the Ark with abandon.

Turning to John in the book of Revelations Chapter 11:19 to 12:1-2 we get to the final point of Mary as the Ark.  “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.  There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.  A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” 

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” Rev 12:5

Clearly, its Mary John speaks of, who is with child that is destined to rule all the nations.  John notes he sees the Ark and directly after noting the Ark, he sees Mary.  Mary is the new Ark – she is significant.

God Bless!

The Cock’s Crow!

“Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”  Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Mat 26:33-34

Did every nation East of Jerusalem, as the sun rose while the world spun, awake to silence?  Did the world cease to hear the morning call of the cock?

I like to imagine that the good men and women in the East stopped in wonder.  Was something wrong?  Was something happening?

The answer is, something was happening, The Son was accepting His death, a death alone on a cross for all mankind.  Yes, something was happening, but no one but a few knew.

Did the cock not crow for all mankind during this time or was the cock’s crow at that moment just for Peter’s ears?  I believe the rooster called it shrill cry for Peter’s ears, to teach our first Pope of his great sin.

Our God is a patience and deliberate God.  Had the cock not crowed for all mankind for the 10 or so hours it took between our Lord’s prophesy and Peter’s denials, it would have been just curious and resolved the next morning as the cock resumed his predictable noise.

Something was going on, but that happening is not just a curious event at one moment in time but one that an everlasting, ancient one made sure still rings today.  That bird’s call is forever memorialized to this day.  An insignificant beast played his part, oblivious of his role in history.

Its not just spooky that Jesus knew the future, rather, we come to learn that even in Jesus’ greatest time of need, Peter couldn’t stand firm, and he ran.  Peter was far from Jesus, but the sound of the cock’s crow is the Father calling to Peter, come back.  It calls to the man, repent/ turn back.

Peter does repent:

“At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.”  And immediately a cock crowed.  Then Peter remembered the words that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”  He went out and began to weep bitterly.”  Mat 26:74-75

Peter weeps bitterly, which is our great saint’s display to all of us, that despite our sins, our Lord calls us back for His mercy, we only need to weep bitterly.  Peter knows he’s failed, yet unlike Judas who commits suicide, Peter repents.  Later, the risen Lord demands Peter’s words of commitment.  Peter must answer Jesus three repeated questions, “do you love me?”  Peter must undo his three denials.

Christianity spread like wildfire after these events.  Our God is a patient God though, and His plan and will was to bring the good news to others at the time He felt was right.  The America’s, for example, would have to wait 1500 or so more years before the Good news was spread.  Many still wait today.

All of the world’s roosters probably sang their shrill cry to the unaware while we waited for Peter’s denials because it wasn’t just some weird event in history, but is an everlasting call, sustaining through the ages by a perfect and patient storyteller.  A storyteller pulling you in even today, 2000 plus years later.

Hear the cock crow and if your sins are great, then weep bitterly.

God Bless!

Thanksgiving

My daughter was tasked to write a grace for Thanksgiving dinner.  Apparently, we are going to dispatch with the traditional prayer – “Bless us o Lord for these thy gifts which we are about to receive from the bounty.”  Bounty, of course, references the bounty given to our first parents, Adam and Eve in the garden, where the Lord our God created all things in variety and abundance.

This grace my daughter is to write is basically a statement about for which she is thankful.  Later she asked me how to write it and I responded, “Dear Lord, I’m thankful for:” then fill-in the blank.

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks.  It is a very secular holiday, although it was memorialized by Abraham Lincoln as: “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  Clearly the nation in 1863 wanted to give thanks to our Father in Heaven.  While many thinks of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians having a harvest feast, the feast was to give thanks for the abundance of the harvest which the Father creates.  Thanksgiving doesn’t really have any notion of being religious today, and it certainly doesn’t have to be for anyone, but its perfectly acceptable to make this holiday about our Lord our God, as it was once intended.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining,” John 6:11

As we contemplate and remark to what we are thankful for during this Blessed time, let’s not lose sight of to whom we are thankful.

BTW – my daughter is thankful to the Lord for a great family, food and water.  (Nailed it!)

God Bless!

Love your enemy

I’ve been a manager for some time now, over 10 years, and during that career I have regrettably had to fire 3 people during this time.  Most recently, I ran into one of them at a function and try as I might to have been nice to her, she clearly resents me.  I’m sure that it would make her day if I too had something bad happen to me.  I wonder how she would feel if I got promoted?

I share her feelings of someone in the workplace that I too dislike.  I briefly worked for a company that determined success by how many people liked you, not how you performed; constructive feedback, no matter how well framed and accurate, was not good if that person was well liked.  Add to it a very close nit group that would bad mouth those doing well and I failed.  I knew I wasn’t wanted, so I ran for it, and thanks be to God, I found a better job.  I hold resentment towards my manager and if honest, I want him to fail but I’ve been praying for him.

My prayer for my former boss is simple, I leave it up to God.  I can’t pray my boss is successful because I don’t think God determines success as one being promoted.  The prayer is one of smooth sailing and if it gets rocky, that those challenges help him grow to know God better.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?”  Mat 5:43-46

First, there is not a commandment in the Old Testament that you should hate your enemy, just that at the time, most believed that it was ok to hate your enemy.  Think about it, if someone came to you during Jesus’ time and said, ‘boy I sure hate those Romans who keep taking our money and making salves of us,’ your response would be, well, yeah, me too.

Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies.  That is really hard.  Of course, justice always gets served, after all, we all live on this broken world and none can avoid the final judgement, of which is determined by the Father alone.

If there is a murder on trial, it is ok to want that person to be convicted and serve his life in prison.  During that time, we should pray that the person repents and turn towards God.

God loves me.  I fired someone who hates me and probably considers me her enemy.  Thank God I’m loved.  I know I’m loved and I know I’ve done wrong.  I don’t deserve God’s love.  It would be wrong for me to think that God can overlook my faults and love me but not others.  To that end, I know God loves my former boss as well.  We have a God that doesn’t discriminate His love of us sinners and His mercy is endless and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks be to God.

You need Jesus.

People often wonder, why doesn’t the youth go to Church and what is wrong with young people and their faith.  In fact, as I write this, there is a month-long Synod in Rome going over just this issue.

We should always listen to the youth, they have a fresh perspective and I am all for bringing the youth back to Church, but I’m not the youth.  I’m going to write about the people I know.  I run with the suburban parents.  I live in Suburbia.  Many of my parental friends don’t go to Church, so its not shocking to me that their children don’t go to Church.

In my circles, I engage those that are willing to listen regarding their faith.  I try and press and see what happens, and I’ve gotten deep into some conversations with many a fellow Mom or Dad.  Its my way of evangelizing.

These parents are good people.  I really like my town and the parents here.  Sure, some of us are crazy and not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but these are generally happy people.  We have good lives, good children, nice cars and houses.  That’s my circle.  We’re all basically middle class, but some friends of mine do have some really nice houses.

Life is good.

I can say to a fellow Dad, eat right, exercise and you’ll feel great.  I can say, work hard, be confident and you’ll get ahead.  If I say, love Jesus, you’ll….(that’s hard to explain to someone that thinks life is good).

There are some that will say that loving Jesus will give you joy, but loving Jesus doesn’t mean there won’t be hardship.  I don’t know a Mom that if I say, “Jesus brings joy to your life,” that she will just start smiling and won’t stop.  Its hard to just convince someone that your life will be joyful if you love Jesus.  Talking about Heaven is too abstract for many as well.

So, here is my attempt at why you need Jesus:

First, God (Holy Trinity) is involved.  If you call out to the Father, He will hear your prayer and He will act – if He wants.  If you ask God to let you win the lottery, that doesn’t mean He’ll grant your wish, rather, He knows what’s best; there are plenty of people whose lives have been ruined by the lottery.  If you ask for a promotion and you don’t get it, loving Jesus means it doesn’t matter.  Think about it, if you want a promotion and you don’t get it, you’re going to be mad.  If you love Jesus and trust in Him, not getting the promotion is His will and the disappointment is easily dealt with.  God has a reason.  Maybe there’s someone else who needs the promotion more, maybe you’d turn into a jerk with the power, maybe that team would get laid off in a year, who knows…God knows.  Loving God, loving Jesus turns this life from a panic filled world to a calm ocean, knowing there’s a loving, active God in our lives is comfort.

Here’s a quick example of God’s plan.  Thomas Merton was traveling through the back country of France when disaster struck.  He developed a tooth ache that devolved into a serious infection.  His mouth was infected and he began to run a fever.  He managed to make it to a small medical facility in Italy that subsequently pulled out a few teeth, let his infection drain and nursed him back to health.  This was a hard time for Merton.  Years later while living in America, Merton contemplated a life as a monk when war broke out and he was told to report to a medical evaluation prior to be drafted into WWII.  Merton decided God would guide him, if he went to war, life as a monk would be gone but if somehow God could steer him from the war, he’d enter the monastery as he desired.  Merton turned it all over to God.  At the evaluation, the doctor took one look at his mouth and said, “this man doesn’t have enough teeth to be fit as a solider.”  Why was Merton struck ill and had his teeth pulled, because God had a plan, one that led Merton to Him.  God has a plan, and only He knows it…and thank God for it.  We have a God that can strike you ill 10 years prior, just to save you today – that’s an awesomely involved God.

Second, life is good….or is it.  Is mankind so great?  You only have to look up just a little to see the world around you.  Watch the nightly news, or surf through foxnews.com for a bit and tell me if life is so good.  Death surrounds us, we’re just immune to it.  When we stop thinking we don’t need to ask Jesus for protection, then you’re not paying attention.  I worry about my girls, but I can’t protect them all the time, but Mother Mary hears my prayers and She intercedes.  I can’t protect my girls, but Jesus can, and I take comfort in knowing that Jesus is really doing just that thing, protecting my girls.  (I don’t just take comfort in believing that Jesus is watching them, but rather that He is actually watching them).

Third, there is a joy to loving Jesus.  It’s hard to explain, but its like a good friend that’s always listening.  When you feel low, Jesus will pop up for comfort, provided you know Him and His call.  You have to try and get to know Jesus, and when you do, you’ll see His loving Grace and His Providence everywhere.

Fourth, if you travel far from Jesus, deeper and deeper into sin, you’ll not hear His call.  You’ll not hear His warnings and you may find yourself worse off.  If you drive recklessly, you may get home ok.  If you continue to drive recklessly, you may be ok for a while.  If you drive recklessly, don’t be surprised if you get hurt.  Same applies with Jesus, the farther you travel from Jesus and His ways, you may be ok for a while, but it is reckless and it will catch up to you.  Justice from the sinful man is demanded – often here on earth.

Finally, without Jesus, life has no point.  Sorry, it doesn’t.  I heard some group that really wanted everyone to be an atheist.  Their slogan was, “Stop worrying, God doesn’t exist.”  I’d be terrified knowing that God doesn’t exist.  Life would be just one experience to the next, each more fleeting than the last, knowing it all ends in death and nothingness.  Life without God is a bubble.  Life with God means there’s more to life than this one.  Life has a purpose, but without God, life has no purpose, it ends and then nothing.

I want to stress here that loving Jesus doesn’t mean all will be ok, we still live in this broken world.  Loving Jesus and trusting in Him makes this world bearable.  There’s a plan, God is in charge and He wants what is best for us.

To answer my question as to why you need Jesus, here is my summation.  If you love Jesus you can find true peace.  No matter what happens in this world, you’ll know the Lord is watching and He wants what’s best for you.  Take a deep breath and relax, God’s in charge.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  Mat 11:28-30

God Bless!

Wait, was that a miracle?

I’m very close to a family where the daughter became sick and was diagnosed with a malignant tumor.  I love this little girl who was now sick and worried.  My heart ached for this little girl and her father, mother and siblings. 

I turned to God.  I did everything I knew how to do, dedicated rosary prayers, fasting and pleading to the Lord.  I asked God for a miracle.  I pleaded with the Mother Mary to intercede, who herself had a child that was killed.  Mary knows what it means to lose a child and I asked that she not let another mother experience this loss.

I felt at one point, during a tearful prayer, that Mary answered me, that she had already interceded. After all, it was amazing that we caught the tumor so early. 

I was sure, the Lord had heard my prayer.

After a long hard few weeks of surgery, tests and scans, nothing more was found.  The cancer diagnosis though is both rare and aggressive and has a 65% chance of returning with a vengeance.  We were all scared. 

One week later, we learned there was a mistake, the diagnosis had been wrong.  The tumor was not malignant after all. 

Wait, was that a miracle?  God had answered my prayer.  How quickly can we turn to the thought, well, it was all for nothing.  How quickly can we dismiss the prayers, the sadness and turn to one of indignation at the treating physician. 

When I was praying, I was never closer to God.  When I sought Him, I felt comfort.  When I heard the Mother telling me it would all be ok, I felt her love and compassion.  When it was all over, I felt normal, not sad, not worried and I didn’t cry out to God day and night.  The strife brought me closer to God during the battle.

God put this challenge before us, to bring us closer to God and it worked.  God answered my prayers because He is loving and He granted this prayer.  Was it all for not, no.  I was reminded and strengthened when all else looked bleak, that it’s only Him that I desire and it’s only Him that can answer the call. 

Not all cancer ends with a miracle but all challenges can bring us closer to God if you let it.  One thing is for sure, without God, no miracles can occur.  The universe is not a sentient being that grants things, only God can deliver. 

Miracles are everywhere.  He is always at work, He never rests and all things are possible. 

God Bless!