Complaining Isn’t Enough

20 May

 

The Cross of Christ calling multitudes to salvation, calling you and me, calling our family. Givng us identity, continuity. Letting us help God in making and remaking sociiety into an image of his Kingdom.

Why is faith in God a decreasing reality in the modern world? How can we show forth the goodness of God and the blessings of faith?

According to a news report, only about 70 percent of polled Americans claim faith in God. That’s a decrease of about 10 percent in about a decade.

I’m skeptical enough to ask, “But do the people who claim to believe, actually believe in God or simply believe that there is a God?”

The Disease of Distancing

Among us older folks, we sometimes complain about the generations coming after us: They live too fast; they always have their nose stuck in their I-Pads or smart phones; they show little interest in our Catholic faith or our history as a nation.  They too often show little or no interest in family history.

However, I do sense a certain tendency to treasure distance between persons. Just think about the last time you were in an elevator or doctor’s office with four of five strangers.

And, of course, “us older folks” often complain about how the world has become so violent and volatile.

Well, complaining isn’t enough.

For Consideration

Perhaps, for the sake of solutions rather than complaints, we might (1) take a new look at the younger generation; we might discover some good traits we’ve been missing, and (2) seek the reason why people of all ages no longer believe in God.

Please consider the following and feel free to share your own thoughts.

  • Perhaps a number of people in church on Sunday have little or no sense of being part of the People of God—a people whose life flows from and in the love and presence of God. They may not experience the Scriptures as God speaking to them “right now.” They may view the liturgy as locked in time rather than an experience that transcends time—letting all of us live, here and now, the saving grace of the Crucified Lord.
  • Some people, maybe many, attend Mass and formation classes to find the strength to live their lives in a world filled with fear, violence, family divisions and personal economic crisis. They want to be good and faithful people right where they are—in what some have called “the real world.” They may not realize that the Church and the Gospel of Christ are in that “real world.”
  • Do people in church feel welcome and do they have a sense of belonging? I know a number of parishes which strive to welcome people—regulars and newcomers—with genuine love and hospitality.
  • In some parishes, music is geared for each of the weekend Masses for folks who generally attend their “favorite” Mass.
  • And some parishes offer coffee and donuts after each weekend Mass to help strengthen community. Parishioners at the various Masses are considered special sub-communities of the overall parish community.
  • Some parishes have a concierge after all Masses to help people find what they need to know to become a member of the parish family.

It Takes Work

Healing broken hearts and spirits demands deep faith and innovative outreach.

Complaining and posturing as wounded and hopeless believers will never attract unbelievers or those who do not know God intimately.

A sourpuss gets nowhere fast.

People need to see joy in our lives.

 

You Are Invited–Retreat on the Seas

28 Apr

For Blog 011

                                                                          A happy invitation  

DEACON HENRY’S RETREAT CRUISE 14

on RCCL’s Serenade of the Seas. 

Time flies! We’ll be setting sail before you know it.

November 13-23, 2015

Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL with stops at Tortola, BVI … Bassettere, St. Kitts …Roseau, Dominca …St. John … Antigua … Philipsburg, … St. Maarten

To sign up and for more information, please contact:

Vacations by Annette

http://www.AnnetteTravels@aol.com

Phone 407-971-1971

Starting at $1,087.00 per person.

You will need a valid passport.

Retreat Outline:

Moving into God … How to Live the Faith More Effectively

          Session One: Conversion, Moving from Darkness into Light

Wonderful and Wounded Humanity

      Finding the Light

Move into the Heart of God

Session Two: Move into God’s Embrace

Called into the Community of Faith

Why Belong to the Church

The Mass—Perfect Prayer

          Session Three: Prayer is Living the Mystery

               The Five ‘Words’ of Mary

      Adventures in Prayer—Getting Personal

           Session Four: Move into the Mission of Christ

                Called to Give What You Have Received

(Note: Each session will be held while we are at sea and will run from sixty to ninety minutes–plenty of time left to shop, tour the ship or, hopefully, win a bit at the Casino.)

‘One Mell of a Hess’

24 Apr

 

It's time for Catholics to come in for a check-up.

Many Americans think we are going nowhere in a hurry. Others think we are going backwards. Others think we are doing just fine.

 Americans are suffering insecurity. We no longer feel safe.

Our world is rocked by violence, untruth and inhumanity. Terrorists run loose, unfettered. Their boldness is beyond imagination. They commit unspeakable atrocities.

We are in “one mell of a hess.”

For the sake of our families and of all people, government leaders must make the right decisions to defeat ISIS, tame Iran and put Putin in his place. They must decide better how we are taxed and our money spent. Our military must be strengthened instead of weakened.

The Real Problem

However, domestic and worldwide challenges to freedom and peace cannot be solved only by diplomacy and military strength. We have to go deeper.

In the midst of that terrible malaise of Americans, there is a growing sense of anger, frustration and disillusionment. Some people, perhaps too many, simply give up. They lose hope. They no longer believe they can make a difference. Some even stop looking for work. Some citizens think their only recourse is public demonstrations.

We are descendants of courageous immigrants who came to our land because America was the greatest nation on earth; because the United States of America offered personal freedom, the opportunity to find work, to become citizens. Here their children had a chance to become productive citizens.

Our forefathers saw no limits to the American dream. They knew they had to work for that dream—and they did.

Their faith in God energized them, activated their imagination, and fortified them with hope.

They had true faith in God, not just a mere nod to God.

They trusted God through thick and thin.

And Now?

We are plagued with the most deadly of all malaise—lack of belief, lack of faith.

Too many Americans perhaps believe that there is a God. But they no longer know their God—a God who loves so completely and tenderly, who became man and sacrificed himself for the salvation of all peoples, a God who sanctifies and strengthens his people.

As a nation, we must return to the God who gives us life, the God who inspired and was trusted by our Founding Fathers.

There you have it: Faith in God and commitment to our national heritage are the only answers to what plagues our nation.

Simplistic?

No.

It’s just that simple.

We Are to Die with Them

28 Mar

forest1

We may walk in shadows because we are too busy to see one another and the light of faith.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Cor 12:27).

Isolation—that is one reason we feel so alone. Everyone seems to be so busy, so involved in so many personal duties and pursuits.

We are so accustomed to the busyness of isolation that we are numb to the suffering of others. No, not to our family and close friends—but how do we think about those other Christians, the ones being slaughtered by ISIS?

In his death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ, calls us into an intimate communion with him and one another.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor: 12-13).

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Cor 12:26).

In faith and love, we share their terror, pain and death. We pray for them as we would pray for ourselves.

We are all one Body—the Body that was nailed to the Cross, the Body that rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

We all have been called to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4: 5-6).

 

The Power of Lent

20 Mar

                                                          christ of juan batista vazquez (

 

Have we truly recognized Jesus? Have we asked Jesus to rescue us from the darkness of doubt, shallow faith and indifference to his love and law?

 

Lent reveals the marvelous wisdom of God and the pastoral love the Church has for all of us.

Just think a bit about what the Lord has given us in the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent:

  • The Samaritan woman had gone from man to man. She was regarded by her contemporaries as an outcast. She came to the well to draw water—but she was thirsting for more than water. She wanted happiness, peace of mind and soul. She found it in the mercy of God—but only as she gradually recognized who Jesus was.
  • The man who was blind from birth had no hope beyond the kindness of passersby. He had no idea that God loved him so much. He felt unimportant. He merely existed. Jesus gave him physical sight—and more. The man was given fresh hope. Did he follow Jesus for the rest of his life?
  • Finally, we rejoiced in the resurrection of Lazarus. Here was a miracle of miracles: Jesus raised his friend from the dead—after he had been in the tomb four days.

In what ways do we still walk in, or maybe even cling to, spiritual darkness. Are we ready to leave the death that is sin and move toward the Voice that bids us to come forth?

Let’s reflect together, honestly see where our love and trust lie, and then put our entire hope and trust in Jesus, who died on the cross that we might live in the light of love and the power of grace.

  • Are we hooked on the “latest gadgets” or the newest clothing styles or the latest model of that special car? Are we suckers for every “savings offer” that comes along? Are we not happy unless we shop until we drop?
  • Do we place our faith and trust in gaining wealth—or even what we call a “comfortable life?” Do we “need” to surround ourselves with things that help us feel important with the hope of impressing others?
  • And think for a moment about your quest for sensual satisfaction. Do you live to eat? Are sexual pleasures ruling your life? Are you involved with sinful actions and relationships—and what about pornography?

Enough. I think we all get the picture. But this is only the first step. If we think only of how we have failed God and others, we are sure to become depressed.

God’s mercy is endless, but not unconditional.

The one condition is to search our minds and hearts, to review all our relationships, to recognize and confess our sins. This, then, is how we open ourselves to dive ever more deeply into the embrace of God.

God’s mercy and his grace move us from the death of sin into new life, from the shadows of conditional faith into the fullness of life in Christ.

The Joy of Lent

9 Mar

 

 

istock_000004205378small

On that old rugged Cross …

Lent? Joy? In the same breath?

I venture to say an enthusiastic “Amen!” since “Alleluia!” is improper in Lent.

Just a few minutes ago, I concluded a telephone conversation with a long-time and very dear friend, Msgr. Michael Eivers of the Miami archdiocese.

He mentioned an article (which he is sending me) about Lent penned by a woman author. She said that our Lenten spirit was a bit dark—all the emphasis on penance, fasting, reparation for sin. While all these are important, Msgr. Eivers told me that she said we might emphasize love during Lent.
What a joyous thought! The paschal mystery—the death and resurrection of Jesus—is all about love: the love that the Father, Son and Spirit have for all the errant children created out of love.  That same divine love moved the Divine Son of God to assume to himself our own human nature. He was like us in all things except sin. He healed, taught, inspired and raised the dead—all because God does so love us. He went to the Cross because Jesus—in his human and divine nature, along with the Father and the Spirit—so loves us.

How can we not be overwhelmed with joy when we realize that at the darkest and most sinful time in our lives, God loved us enough to die for us? And that love never ends, never falters, never becomes conditional: “If you love me and obey me I will love you.” Never. Not at all. His love is everlasting. God is love. How can he not love?

Peg and I have lunch every Friday with two very dear friends. We laugh a lot. Maybe gossip a bit—but we’re always quick to say, “I’m not judging, just making an observation.” We do have some somber moments as we think about fellow parishioners who suffer in one way or another. Yes, we are sometimes somber, but always sober!

Msgr. Eivers knows a lot about joy and God’s love. He’s “retired,” but says Mass in the parish he built up from scratch. When he retired, among the accomplishments he, his staff and lay leaders achieved, were 800 people dedicated to perpetual adoration, more than sixty cell groups dedicated to evangelization and a liturgy which touched people’s minds and hearts.

I say he’s “retired” because this octogenarian has about two thousand people on his e-mail list for whom he writes reflections on the Scriptures, the saints and the truths of our Catholic faith. In the chapel in his home, he has a “Prayer Basket” which overflows with the names of people requesting his prayers. He has Peg’s and my name in that basket.

Lent—a season of repentance, to be sure; but were it not for our Lord Jesus Christ, we would know so very little about repentance, God’s love and the joy of knowing both salvation and our Savior.

 

Fighting (?) Anger

25 Feb

 

iStock_000001377427Large

There is a difference between the Passion of Christ and the passions to which we too often surrender–for example, anger.

“Henry, tell us what you really think!”

I’ve heard that gentle barb many times in my life, especially since I’ve become engaged in, and enthralled with, our Catholic faith.

It seems that people think I speak too quickly and too frankly, and sometimes too heatedly.

And, I do.

My name invokes the patronage of three saints: Henry, Pierre (Peter) and Joseph.

I’m not a king or a saint like Henry—and not a quiet and forever-gentle man like Joseph.

 But, alas, I am so very much like the impetuous, vacillating Peter. Sometimes, as the old saying goes, my mouth is in motion before my brain is in gear. In other words, I know what needs to be said (at least according to my great and innate wisdom), but I don’t always think about how to say what needs to be said.

I have little patience when others are dancing around a problem that needs to be discussed. For example, let’s say a group of us are discussing strained relationships in the parish. Then, someone gives a dismissive shrug of the shoulder, accompanied by, “Oh, well, it is what it is.”

GRRR! (Oops!)

All that being said, this is my focus for Lent: I will work on putting my brain in full gear before I even think about opening my mouth.

This is an effort to overcome anger. Please, dear Jesus, help me.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 141 other followers