Give Yourself a Great Gift

27 Mar

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It came in the mail—a gift from a good friend from Cajun days back in Louisiana.

Father David Knight sent me a copy of his recently published “The Mystery of the Cross, Praying the Stations with Pope Francis.”

This is a thought-provoking, challenging way to make Lent, and any time of year, an occasion for contemplation of the great love of God. You can’t pray these reflections without discovering how special you are to God.

A man of vast experience, he has preached parish missions, directed retreats, ministered to college students and faculty—and now he is helping his readers develop greater comfort as they are called to ever deeper prayer and the gift of contemplation.

In “The Mystery of the Cross,” we find ordered reflections on the Stations complete with quotes from Pope Francis and brief, but enlightening, content to be shared alone or with others.

Give yourself a great gift—not only for the annual Lenten season—but any time you want a spiritual boost. Order this devotional from Twenty-Third Publications: 1-800-321-0411.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of God

22 Mar

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O Lord, help me to know you.

For a long time, I have been captured by the humanity of Jesus. More than fifty years ago, while reading “Theology for Beginners” by the late Frank Sheed, I realized with a rush of joy that Jesus had a human mind, a human body and a human soul.

I had believed that his divinity was his “soul” and that, of course, completely dehumanized him.

Freed from that misunderstanding, I began to realize just how much love is encased in the Incarnation of our Lord.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, had to do what we all do—eat, sleep, perspire, grow tired, laugh, suffer misunderstanding, revel in friendship and weep.

Now, in my later years, I am revisiting his divinity.

I am Henry Libersat—that identifies me. But Jesus is more than Jesus of Nazareth. He is, as I have said, the Son of God. Ascended into heaven, he maintains his humanity—but his Person is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

I wasted a lot of time trying to understand (solve?) the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. It is not a mystery to be understood as we might understand worldly puzzles—it is to be celebrated with the conviction of faith.

It’s the Mystery of the Holy Trinity—one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

Mom’s Death

9 Mar

 

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(Originally published December 6, 2012. Minor editing here.)

She died in her room–alone.

She had sent Dad, who sat with her daily in the nursing home, off to lunch. She died while he was gone.

Mom died alone.

I was saddened by her death—and angry because she died alone. I had wanted to be with her as she had been with me at my birth, through my childhood and all my life.

But she was in Louisiana and I was in Florida.

She had suffered long and hard—nine surgeries in six years for cancer of the tongue and jaw. Her gentle and beautiful face was gradually disfigured as they tried to save her life by cutting away jawbone and bits of tongue. She had a lot of radiation. She suffered gallantly, faithfully.

A Painful Question

About a year before her death, I was with her in the hospital—her 150 pounds depleted to a mere 75, her abdomen pierced for feeding directly into her stomach.

Sadly, she said, “Son, I don’t know what I’ve to God to deserve this.” That was the only complaint I ever heard from her during that terrible illness.

I told her, “Mom, you didn’t do anything to deserve this. I don’t know why you are going through this, but I want you to know something. Your faith and courage have touched the hearts of doctors and nurses — and our own relatives as well. They marvel at your strength and your faith in God.”

She thought a bit and then said, “Then it’s all right.”

Her favorite hymn was “That Old Rugged Cross.”

Her funeral Mass was at our home parish, St. John the Evangelist in Henry, La. She was buried in a tomb long before prepared for her and Dad.

We went home and I still stewed over her dying alone. My brother had told me, “She didn’t die alone,” and I sort of took that with a grain of salt since he hadn’t been to church in years.

A Blessed Consolation

After her death and before her funeral I had gone to the nursing home and stood by her bed and prayed for her.

But, back home in Florida about a month later, I had a dream. I was standing at the foot of her nursing home bed and, with their backs to me, stood Jesus on her right and Mary on her left. They reached out to her and she shook her head “no.” Jesus said, “He will be all right.” She smiled and the three disappeared. She had hesitated, I feel sure, because of Dad.

No, she did not die alone!

That dream gave me both comfort and joy.

I’m convinced our Lord gave me that dream—to comfort me and to help others who may hear or read about it.

 

The Ultimate Imprisonment

27 Feb

Many years ago, as a lay minister, I regularly visited a Florida prison. I can still see the pain and longing in the eyes of the prisoners there.

Each time as I left the prison, I would look back through the bars and wire. Their anguish was more pronounced. I was free to go. They were not.

This is not to excuse them of their crimes. It is to draw attention to the basic yearning in each and every one of us: that innate desire to be free, to live without pain or regret, to be accepted and loved.

We are all “imprisoned,” in the sense that we yearn for something beyond ourselves. We look here and there and try this or that—to no avail.

To put it simply, we yearn for the highest level of “who I am.” We yearn for the source of life itself. We detest death and want to live forever.

Whether we realize it or not, we yearn for God.

God is eternal.

We are trapped in time.

 

 

When I Look Upon a Baby

22 Feb

When I see an infant, even when I see a toddler, I experience fascination and a near-inexplicable joy.

What is there about this baby or that one? They are different one from the other: some Asian, African, Hispanic and still others Caucasian. But each one captures my attention.

Why?

Is it the baby’s undeniable helplessness?

Could it be that I wonder about the child’s future, about what this one or that one will do with life?

Do I wonder about whom the baby, once grown, will love and will he or she be loved as well?

Yes, all that.

But there is something more—something begging to be embraced and revered.

It is innocence.

 

What Evidence Faith?

19 Feb

It is said that one reads Scripture to find peace of mind or to experience the gentle warmth of God’s embrace.

And that’s good.

But God’s Word can be a challenging wakeup call as well. Pope John XXIII said that God “comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.”
Recently, after a rather long period of what some call “a dark funk,” I was experiencing great consolation and was truly enjoying and congratulating myself.

Then, in Morning Prayer, came the challenge—and the discomfort of that challenge in Habakkuk:

For though the fig tree blossom not
nor fruit be on the vines,

 Though the yield of the olive fail
and the terraces produce
no nourishment,

 Though the flocks disappear
from the fold
and there be no herd
in the stalls,

 Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
and exult in my saving God.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

OUCH!

A Timely Reminder

14 Feb

At times, I become somewhat discouraged in my efforts to write things that will encourage and inspire people.

But I shouldn’t really. After spending forty-plus years in the Catholic Press, I should not be surprised when responses to my brilliant messages never or rarely show up.

This past week, when I mentioned I was about to give up writing, Susie, our daughter-in-law, reminded me about something I have always believed but had forgotten or ignored.

She said that if only one person is helped by what I write, that it is worth the effort.

I recalled that many years ago, a man called to tell me that one of my columns in The Florida Catholic newspaper encouraged him and his entire family to return to the Church. The column was on marriage and family.

I realize that if no one else was ever moved by my writings, all my work was worth it for that one wonderful response.

So, maybe my misgivings were due to the fatigue of old age or pride—or both.

Anyway, you folks are stuck with me until our Lord tells me otherwise.

Thanks, Susie.