What Would You Ask For

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It’s Sunday which means it’s time for Reflections on the Mass Readings! Today’s readings are brought to you by God, and they are 1 Kings 3:5, 7 – 12, Romans 8:28 -30 and Matthew 13: 44-52wayward catholic

What would you ask for? If God came to you and said “I will give you anything you want, no strings attached?” what would you ask Him for? Would it be for riches, fame, health, to be a winning professional golfer? In the first reading this is what God asked of Solomon.

“The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, ‘Ask something of me and I will give it to you.’”

Solomon could have asked for anything, but all he asked for was wisdom. He was looking for the wisdom to be able to govern God’s people, to judge them fairly, knowing the difference between right and wrong. How many of us would ask for this today? I am willing to guess probably not many. Yes, I know I am cynical, but I believe that so many of us have been living in a world full of materialism, individualism, hedonism and minimalism that we would think of “things” first, not wisdom. As I have said before in this blog, we no longer distinguish between right and wrong, I fear we may no longer know the difference.

Elsewhere in Matthew we are told:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” – Matthew 6:19 – 21

Yet most of us would still ask for treasure, for things,believing they would make us happy. Since finding my way back to God, (I know you get sick of me telling you that) I have truly come to realize that “things” are not the most important things in life. There have been times when I have had nothing, and I thought things could get no worse. Yet, I got by, something always would happen to get me out of the hole I was in. That thing was Jesus. As the passage from the top of this blog says, God won’t let us fall so far we can’t get back up.

We spend all out time gathering things, things that we can’t take with us when we go. I don’t remember where I heard this saying, but it goes: “I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.” I often think if I had read the Word of God when I was a lot younger, I would not have made the mistakes I did. There are some passages especially which I wish I had learned, studied and understood. The whole of Matthew, Chapter 6, being one of them. I spent a good part of my life, pursuing “things”, trying to gather treasures here on earth, instead of trying to gather treasures I could store in heaven. Because of this, I wasted much of my life, not taking the time I needed for my wife and family. It was always work, work, work. We need this, we need that. And no matter what we had it was never enough.

Now, I realize there are things that are more important. Faith, love, hope, charity, family and friends just to name a few. In my case I have alienated my family and never had time to make true friends, but I am working on these and the others as well. and how did I get from Solomon asking for wisdom to this? Hmmm, I am not sure, sometimes I think the Lord just makes my bone weary fingers typr things.

Actually, there is a connection. I should have asked God for the same thing as Solomon did, for Wisdom, to know right from wrong, to know what is good, and what is important. Not that God ever asked me what I wanted, but I could have done this through prayer, as I have been doing for the last few years. I truly believe this would have made my life different. But, then, maybe I had to go through all I have to get to where I am now, closer to God.

After all, God does have a plan for all of us.

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No More Excuses

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Excuses-You-will-always

While doing some research for a writing project, I came across this quote from the writings of Jose Maria Escrevia, the founder of  Opus Dei. It is about excuses.

“Excuses. You will always find plenty if you want to avoid your obligations. What a profusion of well-thought-out nonsense! Don’t stop to consider it. Dismiss it and do your duty.” – The Way Chapter 1 Number 21

I would say this is true for most of us, I know it is for me. We can always find excuses to avoid doing certain things, usually things we dislike. Thing like doing the dishes, emptying the cat litter box and washing the car certainly come to mind. But I don’t think Escrevia was referring to things like that. I believe it was probably more about our spiritual and Christian obligations.

It wasn’t too long ago that finding excuses not to go to Mass could have been said of me. Okay, that isn’t true, I didn’t need to find excuses, I just didn’t go. But I don’t think he was referring to that either, well, perhaps a little but I think it is more like living the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. – Gal 5:22

How many times to we find excuses not to be generous? To not love? To not have any self-control? To not be kind? We may not go out of our way to be unfaithful, joyful, patient or loving but we don’t go out of our way to be any of these things either, instead finding excuses to not. Like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan we cross to the other side of the street instead of helping. In crossing the street, the priest and the Levite made excuses. Maybe they had to make an appointment of some kind and didn’t want to waste any time to help. Maybe they thought the man was just an unemployed bum and didn’t want to help himself. Maybe they figured if they helped their would be no payback. They were full of excuses.

In this day and age we have become an uncaring society, full of people who only think of themselves. “What’s in it for me?” is the motto we tend to live by. It takes time to practice the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.  We have to actually think about them first. Like flossing and exercising it is easier to find excuses to not practice them instead of crossing the street to help someone, to be kind, patient or generous. Unless, of course, we make it a habit to practice them. Then like the flossing and exercising, they will become habits, something we will do automatically every day, without thinking.

Who knows – maybe we will have to make up excuses to actually perform some good deeds. Now wouldn’t that be a change?

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Sunday Reflection: Separating the Wheat and the Weeds

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Today’s Gospel reading was from Matthew:13:24 – 30. This is Jesus telling another one of his parables. It talks about a man who is planting his wheat field. After he and his workers sow their seeds, one of the man’s enemies comes around at night and sows seeds for weeds among the wheat. When the seeds begin to grow, the man and his workers can see there are both weeds and wheat sprouting. When the workers ask the man if they should pull the weeds, he replies “No, for you run the risk of pulling up the wheat as well.We will wait for the harvest and separate them then.”

What is the meaning of this parable? You don’t have to be a wheat farmer to understand it, that’s for sure. From where I sit, I look out the window to a fence between my house and the neighbor. On my side of the fence I have various plants along the fence. Each spring, usually right after the first warm day, all kinds of things begin to spring up from the soil. The problem is when they first come out I can’t tell what each sprout is. I have to wait a week or so before I go out and start the weeding. If I were to start before the plants were large enough for me to be able to tell the difference, I would run the risk of pulling up the “good” stuff by mistake. 

For you wheat farmers out there, you also know that there is a weed called Tares or Darnell. This would be the weed the enemy sowed. As you can see by the picture to the right, the two look very similar and it is not until they are fully grown can you tell the difference.

Waiting creates another problem however, when I wait too long, the roots of the weeds and the roots of the good stuff will become intertwined and when I pull a weed, I also may pull something good. I take this chance only because if I wait too long, it isn’t very attractive and the neighbors complain. It seems they believe in “Love Thy Neighbor” as long as he keeps up his yard. When it comes to the parable of Jesus, he says to wait until the wheat is ready to harvest and then they can separate the weeds from the wheat and the weeds will be burnt. The owner of the field knows that his enemy has come and sowed the weeds in with the wheat.

What does this parable mean? It means several things.

  • God plants the wheat but the enemy, Satan, comes in the dark of night, when we are not awake and plants the weeds. They grow and try to choke the good wheat.
  • If we try to remove the weeds, we run the risk of pulling up and throwing out, the good with the bad.
  • When it is harvest time, God will separate the wheat from the weeds and burn the weeds while putting the wheat into His house, Heaven.

We can relate this to our lives today. When we are born, God makes us all the same, we are all good seeds with the potential of growing into wheat. But as we grow, we allow Satan to come into our lives and sow weeds which try, and I know in my case succeed, to choke out the good, trying to kill it. With some of us though, it is not always easy to tell the difference, whether we are weeds or wheat, we can go back and forth. I believe most of us are like this. Therefore, if we decide to pull the weeds we could pull up wheat instead. In the case of people, we might destroy a good person who happens to be in the weed stage.

We must strive to become wheat and stay wheat as much as possible. God is keeping track and when the harvest comes, He will know who is wheat and who is a weed. He will separate them and the weeds will burn in the fires of hell while the wheat will be stored in heaven. God knows none of us are perfect. He knows there will be times when we might become weeds, but He also knows if we are doing our best to be wheat, and when Judgement Day comes, He will use this to help in his decision.

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The Catholic War on Women

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Okay, it’s finally out there in the open, all Catholics hate women and they have declared war on them. It’s obvious isn’t it? After all it was those Catholic Supreme Court justices that voted to deny women the right to health care. How dare they! Women everywhere will no longer have access to contraception or abortion inducing drugs, oh the horror.

The National Organization for Women has called for a boycott against what they call “The Dirty 100″ a list of the 100 companies that have filed lawsuits against the HHS mandate requiring companies to provide contraception and abortifacients (abortion inducing drugs) as part of their mandatory health insurance plan. See the problem with this is that those evil Catholics, or at least the real ones, believe that abortion and contraception are wrong. They kill babies or prevent life from happening.  What is wrong with them? NOW asks that you stand with them and boycott these companies so they get the message, as stated on the NOW site:

“Stand with NOW and tell them it is not acceptable for employers to impose their personal beliefs on their employees.”

Here is the problem, and what the folks at NOW and the Huffington Post, et. al. seem to forget. If an employee doesn’t like the health insurance, they do’t have to work for the company. It is as simple as that. It is like the people who want a Christian photographer to photograph their same-sex wedding and he or she refuses, find another photographer. If the one they wanted doesn’t want the business that is their prerogative. The government does not have the authority (contrary to popular belief) to dictate to whom someone can sell their goods or services to.

Then of course there is the fact that not one of these companies, organizations, churches, or individuals, is stopping anyone from obtaining contraception or abortifacients, they are freely available to anyone for the asking.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had filed an amicus brief against Hobby Lobby, claimed that the Hobby Lobby ruling allows employers “to decide what birth control an employee can use,” charging that this is not an “exercise of religion,” but “of tyranny.” – National Catholic Register

Again, no one is stopping anyone from deciding on whether they use birth control or not. But then this is the secular left and their “Everyone is a victim” mentality.

I guess it is only a matter of time before Catholics are accused of waging a war on children as well, after all we are fighting against abortion and taking away a child’s right to die.

 

Peace Be With You

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So many things to write about, so little time.

I could write about today’s readings, I could write about marriage and how and why mine failed, I could write about the “Culture of Death” or even the upside down morality in the world today and how we have replaced God. But… instead I want to write about how now that I have let God into my life, I have an inner peace I have never had before.

I have written before about how I finally figured out the purpose of life, to do all you can to get to Heaven, and it’s funny how once I figured that out, everything else seems to not matter as much. No, I m not saying I don’t care about anything other than that, but I think once I figured this out, there was this level of stress which seemed to be lifted from me. Somehow knowing that there is going to be something better when this is done, makes this life that much easier to take.

I was reading one of my old blogs I wrote way back when, after my divorce but before I came back to God and read all these posts about how unhappy I was, how much stress I had, all my financial problems,how I kept falling into bouts of depression causing me to do some bad things,  and on and on. I have come a long way since then. I no longer have these bouts with depression, I am happy, and I no longer stress like I did. Yes, I still have financial problems I am dealing with, I am worried about losing my job due to circumstances I can’t control, and I have various health issues I am dealing with. Yet, I am filled with an inner peace I never had before.

I know that no matter what happens God is there, He has my back. He always has, although for way too long I never realized it. Now that I do, I know I can handle anything. If I lose my job, I can handle it, I am working through the money things and the health issues, well I only need to think about how much Jesus suffered on the cross for us, and I am dealing with nothing compared to that.

I realize that there are things I can’t control, like if I lose my job because of the recent merger, I can’t control what other people do, I can only control myself. As it says in “The Serenity Prayer”

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I also realize that I can’t change the things in my past. I can’t change the decisions I have made, something I have dwelt on for too long. I can only live for today and for the next life. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, I can only prepare for the end and hopefully after my stay in Purgatory, I will spend eternity with God. I will do whatever I can in this life to get to the next. Maybe somehow I can help that cause through here and my writing, I don’t know, or maybe God has different plans for me. Only He knows.

Stay tuned and maybe we’ll find out together.

Culture of Death A Rant

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As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of Patrick Madrid, a Catholic Apologist and speaker and his radio show, “Right Here, Right Now” , well except for the fact that after listening my head hurts from thinking too much about what is discussed. But this isn’t a promotion for the show, rather I want to talk about last Thursday’s topic which was the divorce rate in the US. (You can listen to the show here)

Patrick made the point that most of us think the divorce rate is higher that it actually is. We have been led to believe 50% of all marriages end in divorce, when the actual number is much lower. So, this got me to thinking, which is always dangerous. If we have in fact have been led to believe in the higher numbers, why? What would be the reason anyone would want us to think our marriages are going to fail? What is particularly interesting to note is how (at least in my opinion) the same people who actively try to convince us our marriages will end in divorce are the same ones who are promoting same-sex marriage.

And that is the answer. What I truly believe is behind these movements, as well as the abortion industry, the attacks on religious liberty and others, is the destruction of the family. Who is most interested in the destruction of the family? The Evil One. He doesn’t want a new generation of believers, he doesn’t want to take a chance that a new generation will take us back to a culture of life instead of one of death, one where sin no longer prevails, one where God is first  our lives, not materialism, individualism, narcissism and hedonism.

We kill our children, deciding whether we want them or not, killing those who might be an inconvenience. We have even begun to murder our elderly and infirm deciding they are no longer productive and are a drain on our society. Throw away lives, that is what we have decided they are, part of the Culture of Death.

“Death battles against life: A ‘culture of death’ seeks to impose itself on our desire to live and live to the full. There are those who reject the light of life, preferring ‘the fruitless works of darkness’ (Eph. 5:11). Their harvest is injustice, discrimination, exploitation, deceit, violence. In every age, a measure of their apparent success is the death of the innocents. In our own century, as at no other time in history, the ‘culture of death’ has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, ‘final solutions,’ ‘ethnic cleansings’ and the massive ‘taking of lives of human beings even before they are born or before they reach the natural point of death’ (cf. Dominum et Vivificatem 57).”

If we don’t change this, where will be? If we don’t replace ourselves, who will? Forgive my rant, but I don’t like what I see happening, and but for a few of us, it seems no one cares. Yes, there are some good signs, there are some of us who are fighting back, but it takes all of us together. Yes God will win in the end, but are we ready for the end now?

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If I Knew Then – Reflection of a Wayward Catholic

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One of the first things I did when I decided to find my way back to God was to read the Bible. This is something I had never done. I remember once as a teenager, perhaps when I was in college, picking it up and starting to read it but I didn’t get very far. This time I had more motivation and actually read the whole thing … twice.

One of the first things I noticed was that the Bible is full of good advice. I am not just talking about spiritual advice, although there is plenty of that, but just plain old common sense advice on life. Whether it be relationships, work or business there is something for everyone. I look at the Bible as a collection of writings with good advice for everyone. Even if you are one who doesn’t believe the Bible is real, that is is a elaborate myth written by people with some kind of agenda to promote religion, it is hard to argue that there is a wealth of knowledge inside it.

Yesterday’s gospel reading is a good example:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1 -2 (NIV)

What does this passage tell us, especially the last eleven words? Time’s up. It tells us that we will get back what we put into something. This is true whether we are dealing with people, work, faith or even writing blog posts. If we do everything half-assed then this is what we will get back. If we treat others like dirt, we can expect to get treated like dirt in return.

In these times, especially here in the US, individualism, Hedonism and minimalism are the norm. Here is a quote from Matthew Kelly’s Book “Rediscovering Catholicism”:

Individualism: When most people today are faced with a decision, the question that seems to dominate their inner dialogue is “What’s in it for me?”

Hedonism: Hedonism is the philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate goal in life. The motto, the creed, the catch cry of the hedonist is, “If it feels good, do it!”

Minimalism: A minimalist is always seeking to exert the minimum effort and receive the maximum reward. (You can get a free copy of this book here. I recommend both Catholics and non-Catholics get it. )

These three terms certainly described me for most of my adult life. I am definitely the product of the late sixties through the early eighties when these traits took over our country. Although in my defense, once I had children my individualism turned more to a “family-ism” where I tried to do everything for them. I truly believe that had I not ran away from the church and the teachings of Jesus, had I studies (or even just read the Bible) I would not have fallen for these three traits and become the sinner I did.

Back to Matthew 7, when we only care about “What’s in it for me?” we don’t care what we do or who we hurt to get what we want. It is also the same with “If it feels good, do it!” I could write a book about my experiences with that one but I don’t write porn, not that I didn’t in another life. And it should be evident that minimalism isn’t really the best course of action. When you do as little as possible, when you only care about what is in it for you or doing only what makes you feel good, you will get back what you put into any situation.

If the measure you use is to lie in order to have as many sexual partners as you can, then guess what? Others will lie to you. If you cheat, you will be cheated on, if don’t give 100% at your job, then your job won’t give 100% back to you. When we strive to be materialistic, hedonistic, a minimalist of an individualist, we spend more time worrying about those things than we do about the truly important things like our health, family, friends and our faith.

I’ll leave you with one more passage from Matthew.

 “For this reason I say to you, [n]do not be worried about your[o]life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the [p]air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his [r]life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [v]care for itself. [w]Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25 – 34 (NASB)

Isn’t this good advice, even if you leave the source out of it?

Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Feel free to comment below.

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