Archive | March, 2012
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TwoJackLake

31 Mar

TwoJackLake

Natural beauty is only a hint at God’s love for you and only a pale image of the wonders of his Word in your life. (see below.)

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Scripture: The Living Word

31 Mar

In my last entry I said I would discuss how Scripture had enriched my life. However, it is more important to focus on how to pray and reflect on Scriptures. So let me share just one instance in which God’s Word was a tremendous blessing in my life. After this, I will offer one way to read and reflect on Scripture – a way that enriches people in private prayer and in prayer and study groups. 

My Story 

I was addicted to alcohol for 22 years. I nearly destroyed my family relationships. I had prayed and prayed that I could limit myself to one or two drinks so I could drink “socially.” I constantly felt the urge: “Go to AA”. I remember saying, “No, Lord, I’m not one of those. Just fix me so I can drink socially.” 

About a year after my friend prayed with me, I finally surrendered to God’s grace and attended an AA meeting. I went home feeling a bit mixed up. But I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I was cured of this terrible affliction. The next morning, after my regular prayer time, I randomly opened my Bible to the psalms. The Bible  opened to this passage.

Read on: 

I waited and waited for Yahweh,

at last he has stooped to me

and hear my cry for help.

he has pulled me out of the horrible pit. (Ps 40:1-2)

This was a clear confirmation that I was indeed healed. I still do not drink. I do not want to drink. I love sobriety and I thank God and my dear Peg for not giving up on me. (I also thank God for nonalcoholic beer!)

God wants to speak with you, too. 

Here’s a suggestion. Open your Bible to one of the Gospels, e.g., John 2:1-10, the story of the Cana wedding when, due to his Mother’s intercession, Jesus changed water into choice wine. Read it over once as you would a news story. Then think about it. What comes to mind – a word, phrase, question? 

Now read it over again: Imagine that you are present. Maybe you are the parents who didn’t have enough wine. Maybe you have  come along with Jesus and Mary. Think about what’s happening. Again, what comes to mind? What insight are you getting? Do you see that this miracle was performed out of love? Think about how God has touched your life. How will you respond to this Gospel today? 

Many years ago in one of my reflections on this passage, one phrase was burned into my consciousness – the last words of Mary in the New Testament: “Do whatever he tells you.” 

What is your insight from this Scripture? Please respond and let me know.

You gotta read this!

29 Mar

Go to Amazon.com for a brilliant 99-cent e-book by Archbishop Chaput, “A Heart on Fire.” It’s brief, but dynamite — about religious liberty and the diminished Catholic and Christian impact on society.

Peace,

Deacon Henry

27 Mar

This is a partial view from the porch of our son's and daughter-in-law's home in West Virginia. When you at last open your heart to God, you experience peace. See below.

It’s True! It’s True!

27 Mar

In 1934, at the ripe old age of 10 days, I was baptized. From age six to twelve, I attended catechism lessons and at my mother’s knee I learned all the answers to very important questions: Who made you? Why did God make you? And on and on. I often say that I had the right answers long before I understood the questions or their importance. Those answers served me well in later life.

At age 12, I was confirmed and in that sacrament I was to receive the Holy Spirit in full measure and be enriched by the transforming gifts of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-3). I believe that I did indeed receive the Spirit in full measure at that time, but the gifts lay somewhat dormant until many years later.

Married a month before my 18th birthday (it was not a shotgun wedding), Peg and I reared seven children. We attended Mass regularly. I worked full time in the Catholic press from 1969 to my retirement in 1999.

But, you guessed it, there was something missing. I had not yet made a total commitment to the Lord. I had not surrendered my life to him. I believed everything I knew about him in Scripture and in the marvelous tradition and doctrines of our Catholic Church. But it seems, with hindsight, I believed in Truth as something “way out there,” beyond my reach. I didn’t realize that God wanted me to know him in a deeply intimate way.

On Sunday morning, October 31, 1976, when I was 42, God knocked down all the walls.  A dear friend, Franciscan Sister Briege McKenna, prayed with me asking God to open me to the fullness of his love. As she prayed, she mentioned three concerns in my life that I had not told her about. In those words, God told me, “Look, Henry, I do know you and I do love you!” I was weeping and sobbing uncontrollably. What I had never really believed was true! God did love me!

Me! God loves me! It’s true! It’s true!

And it is true for you!

Through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonor, life from death.

                                                                                                                                                             (Pope St. Leo the Great, d. 461)

Next: How Scripture enriches my life.

 

Be Brave, Just Listen

27 Mar

 I have a problem. I can’t say what I have to say in the brief chit-chat exchanges of many bloggers. I find this informal and folksy exchange valuable and enjoyable. But I hope you can bear with me as I try to be eye-appealing (I’m still learning to manage photos on this site) and as brief as possible.

To that end, I will write shorter blogs extended over more time.

What I will do is give you the reason I believe what I believe – and the personal struggles I’ve encountered in my faith in God and in the wonders of his Church. Then, we go into the wisdom and peace of living in the will of God – and the social ramifications of a people of faith.

In the past two days, this blog has presented thoughts on what divides us —  racial tensions, political and  philosophical differences. It also presented admittedly general word-pictures of the values of past and present generations – perhaps unkind to the younger generation and too kind to the older.

It’s Time to Listen

It is time to “just listen.” I don’t dare speak for anyone but myself. However, it is clear that older folks need to admit they do not have all the answers and fail miserably in “speaking the language” of younger folk; and younger people must at last be willing to admit that they are resting on the shoulders of past generations – those who settled the wilderness of the “New World” and those who fought for freedom and equality in the Revolutionary, Civil and World wars – as well as those of questionable outcome such as Korea and Vietnam.

It’s also time to listen to people of faith. Those with little or no faith have the major media acting as their megaphone. Here is the great challenge of the 21st century – to make faith make sense to people, especially to those who people our churches on Sunday. We must, somehow, show that faith in God is foundational to our nation’s future as it has been in our past.

It’s Time to Be Brave

I ask you, especially those of you who consider faith quaint at best or ultimately ridiculous, please consider what I have to say. I speak as an unapologetic and grateful Christian – a Catholic who fits the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic criteria of being born again and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Check “About” for more background.

If you are firm in your belief that God and religion hold little or nothing of importance for you, what do you have to lose in listening with an open mind? I, too, will listen: Your responsible and charitable comments will be received with appreciation and published. (Forty years as an active Catholic editor have prepared me for the rough and tumble of dialogue and debate.)

Tomorrow: My conversion to full faith in Jesus Christ.

Trying for Understanding

26 Mar

Yesterday’s blog (March 25, “Hello Out There”) talked about the differences in our country that create tensions, which too often create mistrust and division – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

We are dealing with a system of values and forces that shape individuals and pull or push them in this or that direction. Everyone is affected – and therefore the nation and the world are affected.

I think that most often we don’t even know we are being pushed and pulled or who’s moving us and in what direction we are being moved.

There are two major political philosophical forces vying to shape our society in this 21st century – capitalism and socialism. Poor God comes in a distant third.

Both capitalism and socialism are “dirty words” depending on your own philosophy of life.

At its best, capitalism creates jobs, funds charities, strengthens the national economy, promotes the common good and challenges people to do their best in whatever they can do. At the other end of the spectrum, capitalism ignores the common good and promotes despotism, poverty of the masses and power in a handful of the wealthy. Also, the quest for wealth leads certain businesses to appeal to the basest of human drives and emotions: pride, lust, greed and avarice.

Socialism is diametrically opposed to capitalism. It tends to attract those who are both economically and psychologically poor. There is such a thing as psychological poverty. I remember back in the 1960s in Southwest Louisiana, we civil rights workers realized that for African-Americans to become free they had to enrich their self-esteem and discern their innate worth and discern their abilities. This would be achieved only in a spirit of equality and fraternity among people working together, ultimately for the common good.

Socialism puts the nation’s fate the hands of a wealthy and politically powerful few. Remember Soviet Russia. Look at what’s happening in the Middle East.

At its best, socialism can never achieve what capitalism can. It simply does not recognize and promote self-reliance, human dignity and the challenge and blessings of self-government. It tends to make peons of citizens rather than responsible citizens.

So, here we are – pulled in two directions. Just consider this statement:

When the scale of values is disturbed and evil becomes mixed with good, individuals and groups consider only their own interests, not those of others. (Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 1965, No. 37)

This document, “Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” marks a renewed sense of “Church” for the universal Catholic faith and hopefully for all Christians. In it the Church seeks to enter into dialogue with scientists, educators, religionists, atheists, agnostics, politicians – with people of all ages, in all walks of life, in all faiths and in all nations.

Is the world open to such a dialogue? Does it dare?

 (Tomorrow, “Be Brave — Just Listen)