Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Often Than Not

Do you ever wish for foresight? If I had the power to see into the future, I think I would follow my conscience a lot more than I normally do.

I’ve been persuaded by opinions, other than my own, to go against what my gut was telling me. Not that I’m proud of this, but there have been occasions when I’ve chosen not to listen to my rational side, opening my mouth to voice mean and deceitful things.

I hate it when this ugly side of me comes out and I think of this verse from Romans when it happens. “I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

Pope Francis is quoted as saying: “Jesus’ cross shows the full force of evil, but also the full power of God’s mercy.”

Yeah, we’re only human, doing things we shouldn’t have done. It is only by the grace of God that we can get back up and make amends for our sins.

Mercy, grace, and God – I’m beginning to understand, more often than not, what it is that I need to do.

Choose right over wrong.

(Photo courtesy of Sydney Stump)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Notable Notions

Today’s food for thought comes from Clive Stuart Lewis. His close friends and family called him “Jack.” You might know him as C.S. Lewis, the beloved Christian author whose books are full of notable notions.

He has left these words for us to nibble on:

“…People are often worried. They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.”

What a question he proposes.

What would you do – if you were sure that you loved God?

It is easy to say that we love God and we say that we know God loves us. John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This makes me ask: if God gives us the world, what do we in turn give to Him? What is it that He wants us to do?

Ten things come to mind.

The Ten Commandments
(Exodus 20:1-17)
1.   I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of slavery. Worship no gods except Me.
2.   You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
3.   Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
4.   Honor your father and your mother.
5.   You shall not kill.
6.   You shall not commit adultery.
7.   You shall not steal.
8.   You shall not tell lies against your neighbor.
9.   You shall not want to take your neighbor’s wife or husband.
10. You shall not want to take your neighbor’s possessions.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that these are the things He wants from us. Quite an array of notable notions, don’t you think?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Strength in Numbers

As I was picking up sticks from our backyard and throwing them on top of our already large pile, I thought of a story I heard about amazing things that can be done when people come together for the common good.

I won’t give a play-by-play reiteration of the story, but the gist of it was how easy it is to take one stick and break it. But if you were to take a pile of sticks in a bundle and try to break them all at once it becomes difficult, unobtainable.

All this leads up to the importance of uniting together with our fellow beings. By sticking together (love the way the pun fell into play) we make it impossible for others to divide and conquer.

Next time you find yourself within a good group of people, whether it be a family gathering, reunion of friends, congregation at church, or an informal prayer assembly, remember the amazing things that can be accomplished in numbers and the through the power of prayer.

“And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

Gathered around Christ a group of people can change the world one prayer at a time.

If you want to do anything this year of any importance find a good group of people to surround yourself among and say some prayers.

“For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Perfect Little Me

In all frankness, this is a complete fabrication. If it were true, I wouldn’t spend so much time thinking about myself. I wouldn’t be consumed with thoughts on how to master my own advancement in lieu of what I could do to help lift up others.

I know I’ll never become perfect, not here on earth, not in this present form of body and mind. I understand my humanness and I’m quite aware of my own wretchedness.

Perfect little me lives only in my dreams. What wretched me needs is grace and mercy.

Full of Grace, Queen of Heaven, Mother of our God – pray for me.

Our Lady, like the beautiful Mother she is, can ease our aches and pains. She does not disappoint. She tells us that she will not abandon anyone who comes to her, she pleas to her Son on our behalf.

The Memorare Prayer

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto you, O virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the World Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy, hear and answer me.

We live in an imperfect world, where mysteries and questions as to why certain things happen are sometimes unanswerable. But, God who is perfect in every way gives us plenty of help and ample protection. All that is required is that we reach out and ask.

If you find yourself struggling with prayer, turn to our Blessed Mother. Her intercession and grace are there for us, especially when we feel most troubled.

O Mother of the World Incarnate never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

In your mercy, hear and answer us.

(Perfect little me needs You.)

Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Who Knew?

Sure enough, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With that being stated, it sometimes takes personal experience to gain this insight.

Such as the fact that not all “As Seen on TV” products work as shown. For the record, I can testify that the cordless vacuum, which was promised as having the power to pick up a bowling ball, was not super strong. While it is true that I didn’t try to pick up any bowling balls, I can tell you the one I received could barely pick up a toast crumb. I should’ve known if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Just like the legendary Fountain of Youth - a spring where youth is restored to all who drink or bathe in her waters – sounds way too good to be true.

However, this I do believe is true: whatever age you currently are has nothing to do with how you feel. Only you are in control of your feelings.

So, how do you feel?

We have the ability to feel young and free, no matter if we’re 15, 50, or 93! We are in charge of our feelings.

The other day I read about a person who had to have one of his legs amputated at the age of 17. What he did while he was healing from the amputation is a testimony on how we are responsible for our own happiness in this life.

His name is William Ernest Henley. He wrote the inspirational poem Invictus while recovering in the hospital from losing his leg. It was written in 1875, but still today the message is clear. The words tell us that no matter what crosses, which may invade our lives, one can remain unbeaten. One can become Invictus – unconquered, invincible.

I know I feel this when I look at the big picture of life. Where I look in the mirror and can see all the aspects of my life, not just a person who is showing signs of wear and tear. My thoughts become purposeful as I recall these words of William Ernest Henley:

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

Isn’t it about time we played a role in the direction of our destiny? After all, we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls.

(Thank you to the special someone who gave me a copy of the Invictus poem - I find myself being pulled into it’s meaning over and over again. Who knew?)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Real Thing

Thirst-quenching, refreshing, exhilarating are the words that come to mind when I think about Coca-Cola whose advertisement once claimed to be the real thing. On a terribly hot day the brown fizzy liquid poured over ice looks very pleasing.

But is it even close to the real thing?

If I want the undeniably real thing that is both pleasing and rewarding I think about God. He knows my innermost wants and needs, my desires, the sorrows that burn my heart, and all that overwhelms me. He has seen all the joys I’ve experienced, and He knows all the blessings bestowed upon me.

There isn’t anyone who knows what lies deep within my soul the way God does. He does this through love.

And, it’s the real thing.

Once you’ve experienced it you’ll never be the same. His love is so deep for us that it goes beyond this life into eternal life.

“Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.” (Isaiah 41:10)

For me these words from the book of Isaiah are the real thing all right. They are restoring, heart warming, encouraging words that let me know I’m loved and protected.

Some say Love is the most overused word in the English language. Not true for our God.

He is Love.

And it’s the real thing.

"God loves each of us as if there
were only one of us."

(St. Augustine)

Photo credits belong to Shannon O'Donnell (drawing of Coke picture) and Cullen O'Donnell (photograph of ocean waves)