Doing the best I can

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Last week I talked about whether or not this was the beginning of the end times. Evidently the Rapture was supposed to happen last week (a fact I didn’t know about when I wrote that post) and I have to assume either it didn’t happen or I wasn’t chosen.  More


Be Quiet and You Will Hear

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When I take a look at the world around me I just have to wonder what happened. There is hatred and violence where ever we turn. It doesn’t matter who you are, what race, religion or political affiliation, someone out there hates you. Who is to blame?  More

Lost but not Forgotten

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When I first began this wonderful journey back to God, one of the first things I decided to do was to not only read the bible but also to determine if it is real. There are many who claim that it is a myth and that it was written in order to somehow control the world. After all, if these people could instill a sense of fear into others, convincing them there is an all-powerful “being” that will punish them for doing wrong, they could then control those same people. More

The Lord is My Shephard

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One of the readings at Mass Sunday was Psalm 23. This psalm is mostly known from being  read at funerals. Depending on the particular bible translation you use, the NABRE used at Mass reads differently than the RSVCE. The difference is verse 4:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – RSVCE

Even though I walk in the dark valley – NABRE

Not being a biblical scholar I guess this can be taken as the psalmist is on his deathbed, but I look at it differently. I look at Palm 23 as talking about our journey through life in general. It describes what trusting in God is like, how your life journey will be.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

When you trust in the Lord, you shall not want, He will give you what you need, it may not be what you want, but it will be what you need. He will protect you from harm, he will guide you through the storms. He will lead you to green pastures where you can rest peacefully, with plenty of food and out of harm’s way. He will lead you to restful waters where you will be able to drink without worrying about being washed away by rough currents. You will also be able to cross these streams without difficulty. Because your journey is made easier by following Him, your soul will be refreshed and rested.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

The Lord will guide you, making sure you are on the right path. He will make sure you don’t stray from the path, becoming lost, abducted or misled. Even when you are in a dark valley, even after death, He will be right with you and you do not need to fear evil. All you need to do is look at Him, see Him next to you and you can get through anything. I know this has certainly worked for me. I have been on a pretty rough journey, and once I began to trust in Him, letting Him guide me, I was no longer afraid of where I was going or what was going to happen to me. I was always afraid, uncertain of the future, not knowing what was coming next, and what I would do when something happened. No longer do I feel that way for I know God has my back. He has given me the strength and courage I never had before.

You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.

When you follow the Lord, he spreads his table before you, all the gifts you could want, all you need. He does this in front of your enemies so they can see what He has to offer and they will realize they cannot compare. You will see that your cup will truly overflow.Because you follow Him, goodness and kindness will always be with you. You come into the world with nothing and you will go out with nothing. All you can leave behind you is the good works you have done, and a legacy of all the good you have done.

Are you following the shepherd?

Knock and the door will be opened 

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Let me continue with yesterday’s train of thought. Shorty after I began my journey, a journey that began mostly as a fact finding mission. I wanted to learn the truth about what happens next, what happens when our time here is done.

At this time I had a job where I spent a lot of time alone in a truck with plenty of time to think about these things. As I said yesterday I began to look back though the past for any time that God may have helped me.

The first that came to mind was sometime in 1982- 83. I was newly married with two young children and was working for my father. I worked a lot of hours, seven days a week. I also was quite the sinner. I drank- a lot, I had just broken off an affair (okay the person I was having an affair with ended it) and I wasn’t taking it well. My life was a mess and I knew I needed to do something.

One of my uncles passed away at this time and I took a morning off to go to the funeral. It was a bitter cold January morning and I walked into the church. I was in one of the back pews and I knelt down, made the sign of the cross and looked at the crucifix. My conversation went something like this:

Lord I know I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with you and I know I am not one of your best subjects, but I’m in trouble here. You know the things I’ve been doing and I know they are wrong. Lord I need to ask you a favor, tell me what to do. Give me some kind of sign. I can’t promise I’ll suddenly become a church goer but I need your help.

After the mass I headed back to work. As I opened the “back” door there was a man on the other side reaching for the door. This man was the one I essentially replaced after I finished college. He left to open his own store a town away. He had big plans but they never came to be. He began drinking heavily, hosting card games in the back room, closing the store for lunch for three hours a day.

When I saw him his face was gray and drawn. I thought I was seeing a ghost. He was the picture of defeat. We talked for a few, he told me he closed his store, I did him a favor and I went back to work. That night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. Every time I closed my eyes I saw his face, a broken and defeated man.

It wasn’t until morning that it hit me. I remembered I had asked God for a sign and that was it. God was telling me that I was going to end up like that if I didn’t change. At least that’s what I thought at the time. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I got the rest of the message.

I went to work and stopped drinking for a while but soon went back to my old ways. While God gave me that sign I asked for I didn’t fully understand it. And because of that lack of understanding in a few years I left the business my dad spent his life at and it closed.

Let me jump ahead 30 years or so later when I was thinking of this incident. That day I had some down time and as was my habit I would randomly open my bible and read. There have been several times when I have done the same thing and gave me a message. He must have known that I had questions about this, that I was thinking about that time so long ago. I opened to Mt 7:7 – 8

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”

Knock and the door will be opened to you. I knocked and the door was opened but I never went any further, I never asked, I never sought, I never knocked again, at least not for another twenty years. Had I asked I would have gone back to church, I would have studied the bible, and there is a good chance I would have turned away from sin.. I would have stayed on the narrow path, stayed in the light, and I beleive my life would have been different.

But as I said yesterday, God has a plan. We might not always know what that plan is but God does and He is very good at adapting to our mistakes and wrong turns and giving us another chance. Some get this right away, for others like me it takes falling off the back of a truck. Eventually we’ll get it.

How will you be remembered

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How will you be remembered after you are gone? I started asking myself this question last night after I learned of the death of a classmate of mine. He was a patient at the nursing home where my better half works and she told me when I got home. Now I admit he and I weren’t close and I had lost touch with him after graduation until I learned he was one of Tonya’s patients, but anytime someone close to my age passes it bothers me. But there was something more that bothered me more than that.

As I said I had pretty lost touch with him after graduation so I have no idea what kind of person he may have been. I don’t know what kind of demons he may have had or what kind of problems. All that Tonya had to say was that he “was an old and miserable man and hopefully he will find some kind of peace now.”  Is this how you will be remembered? Is this how you want to be remembered? Is this how my classmate wanted to be remembered?

In today’s world we have our priorities so messed up, we think only of what is in it for us. We have become so busy trying to make a living that we forget to live. (I know that isn’t original but I won’t tell if you don’t.) And we certainly don’t live the way God wants us to. Instead of treating each other with respect, instead of treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated, we attack one another over stupid, mindless, unimportant things. When someone doesn’t agree with us, we vilify them instead of sitting down and having a rational and calm discussion.

Since I last wrote here back in August, we have suffered through an agonizing presidential campaign. There were vicious attacks from all sides of the political spectrum. And now after four months, it hasn’t stopped. Both sides are still fighting, one side attacks the other without mercy, and nothing gets done. I will be the first to admit that I was extremely surprised at the results of the election, I never thought the Clinton machine would be brought down, but it was and now the same people who gloated for the last eight years and preached to the other side about how we must all get along and not be sore losers are the loudest voices. If the results had been different and the loser was the winner, it would be no different. We live in a world full of hate and violence. We are in a world where there is an ism for everyone, everyone is labeled, everyone shouts and no one listens. And this is exactly what Satan is after.

Can you imagine if we all lived the words of today’s gospel here on the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary time?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,* go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“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? Do not the tax collectors* do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? – Matthew 5:38 – 48

Maybe if enough of us remember this passage we could actually make progress towards a better world for all of us? Okay, now that I have wandered off from my original theme, how can I get this back to how do you want to be remembered?

Maybe if we follow the advice from the cited gospel we would be remembered as someone who always treated others with respect, kindness, love and generosity. Maybe if we stored up our treasures in heaven rather than here on earth we would be remembered differently.

As I said, I had lost track of my high school friend, I don’t know what kind of life he led, what he was like, all I know is what Tonya said about him, and that is how she will remember him.

Is that how you want others to remember you?

I realize it has been some time since I have written here (or anywhere for that matter) but the last few months have been pretty busy. We have moved and really started over. We have downsized and have never been happier.And I owe it all to God.

Narrow Paths and New Beginnings

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For the past few months, I have been undergoing some transitions in my life. Since about January I have been preparing to move from the house we have lived in for the past 15 years, and the house that could be considered an ancestral home of sorts as it has been in the family for about 100 years, and moving to a new place back where it all began. (You can read more about that here if you would like)

We are settled into the new place now and I am trying to make a decision on whether I want to change parishes. I have been regularly attending St. Anne’s Parish in Sturbridge since returning to church and have been a member there since first moving to Sturbridge in 1980 something. But now I am living in the place that I have always considered to be my hometown, Southbridge, and am closer to my old parish, Saint John Paul II Parish, formerly known as Notre Dame Parish, the parish in which I received all the sacraments in (except the last one as I think I am still alive) and have been gravitating back to this one.

I guess if I rejoin this parish, I will be a new member of my old parish? Or would I be an old member of my new parish? Although, since technically it isn’t the old parish, but a new parish, would I be a new member of a new parish?

I have always had a problem with feeling like I belonged anywhere, whether it was at school, in church, in the community, which is why even after moving from here to there, I always felt like this was still my hometown. I think this all goes back to an incident in my youth when I was left tied under a porch while the rest of the family went to frolick and play up at the same place I just moved from. But that is a blog post for another time. I have always had a difficult time making friends and fitting in with others in the past and am not sure going to a new parish will make any difference.

But alas, enough of that. What I really want to talk about is this: I have been able to turn my life around in the last few years, ever since the day I fell off the back of that tow truck. I can see the difference that trusting in the Lord has made in my life. I have had some pretty low times in the past years, and it wasn’t until I finally gave in and said “Lord, my life is in your hands now” that things really began to turn around for me. I stopped worrying about what happened yesterday, and I stopped worrying about what will happen tomorrow and I began to take my life one day at a time.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. – Mt. 6:25 – 34

I truly believe that once I followed this advice from Jesus, that my life has changed. I know that it could change tomorrow, it could go bad at any time, but I also know that God will take care of me as long as I continue to stay on that narrow path. I stopped worrying about “things” and worried about what comes after this life and it has made all the difference in my life.

It’s been a long road, and I have come a long way, and I know I have a long way to go, but with Jesus having my back, I’ll make it.

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