Archive | November, 2013

The Mystery of Me

27 Nov

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Into darkness, light will come!

I remember how difficult it was to come to grips with my personal identity. The real struggle occurred during the years of adolescence and late teens. For some reason, I thought little of myself. I was a klutz in sports, the smallest boy in high school and a bookworm. It was hard for me to gain a social footing among my classmates.

This struggle lasted for decades. It was in 1976 that, through the prayer of a dear friend, I experienced for the first time God’s unconditional love for me. His presence filled me until I thought I would burst. I never before knew such joy.*

I began to understand things I had always said that I believed: God made me; he wanted me to live; he created me because he loves me; I am special to God. From this personal “conversion to reality,” everything else began to make sense: The Church was real and relevant – the Body of Christ on earth, continuing his mission of salvation; the Sacraments were alive and life-giving—not just some traditional ritual that “good Catholics” embraced; I realized that God’s Word is alive right now and he speaks to me, to us, all the time.

It was a new lease on life—no, a renewed life. The darkness that had kept edging into my mind was gone. Now there was light.

To be sure, there were struggles ahead—against temptation and discouragement. There were also the need to admit my sins, to repent, and to rush to God for mercy and forgiveness.

But, there was always that light—the light of God’s unconditional love, his immense, immeasurable patience and the gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.

I invite you, no, I urge you to surrender to God, to let him lead you into the freedom of his love and mercy.

Everyone who has done so finds true happiness, freedom, strength and joy.

*See Sister Briege Mc Kenna’s “Miraacles Do Happen,” Epilogue. Also, Henry Libersat, “Caught in the Middle,” pp 7-15, and “Way, Truth and Life,” pp 88-90.)
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Pet Grammatical Peeves

25 Nov

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Some pets are cute as can be–but not my pet grammatical peeves.

I lay no claim to grammatical perfection. However, I do strive to employ what my teachers taught me in grammar and high school.

It was a little country school with only 200 students in grades one through 12—but we had, I think, some of the best teachers in the world.

I have to admit, too, that my first editor, Father Alexander O. Sigur, tried his best to put the finishing touches on what my teachers, try as they might, had failed to pound into my little Cajun head.

A case in point

Father Sigur was editor of the Lafayette, La. diocesan paper. He read all our copy. We usually were busy writing or laying out the paper on deadline when, suddenly, we would hear a loud, “Number!” as his palm slapped the surface of his desk.

He had discovered one of our grammatical sins, for example:

“Each person must bring their own Bible.” For you, dear reader, who did not have the blessing of such an editor: “Each person” is singular, and “their” is plural—and that ain’t right. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

            Solution: “Each person must bring a Bible.” Or, “Participants must each bring a Bible.”

Another case in point

“The cop chased Bob and I.” Now, that is rather silly, is it not? I can’t imagine you’d ever say, “The cop chased I.”

Another Pet Peeve

What bothers me, you know, it’s like, you know, I mean, when people, even preachers and teachers, like, you know, can’t say anything without “like” and “you know” and “I mean.”

It isn’t “like” people who use such lame lingo, it’s the people. And if I already know, don’t bother telling me. If I don’t know, just tell me. And, dear friend, don’t tell me that you “mean” what you are going to say, just say what you mean.

We use speech and language to communicate. Watered-down grammar is a sign of a slothful society, a society on the verge of losing both class and focus.

Now, just for the sake of honesty: I sent this along to my Dear Proofreader who constantly saves me from grammatical embarrassment.

Daily Prayer: Why and How

22 Nov

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A Review

Ghezzi, Bert, “The Power of Daily Prayer, The Way to Experience God’s Love,” The Word Among Us Press, paperback, 159 pages, at Amazon.com, $8.60

Bert Ghezzi learned the hard way not to make prayer secondary to his daily schedule. Many years ago while he was overwhelmed with work and duties, he decided to pray while driving to work. That cost him a nice seventy-five dollar fine for driving seventy-five in a twenty-five mile zone.

In the interest of “full disclosure,” Bert Ghezzi and I are close friends—and that friendship is built in part on honesty with one another— sometimes, uncomfortably so. Regarding this book on daily prayer, I can only say that it is a good and valuable read.

In this work, Ghezzi demonstrates that the desire and ability to pray stem from the fact that God shares his divine nature with us (2 Pt 1:3-4). And he maps out for his readers a logical and, I dare say, a Spirit-filled process of growth in love of God and the ability to pray well and fruitfully.

The author is a realist: He understands how difficult it is at times to maintain one’s commitment to prayer. He admits that for many months he lost the desire to pray as he wanted to be able to pray.

His book moves forward invitingly in the following themes: coming into God’s presence, immersion in the Holy Spirit, reflecting on Scripture, listening to God, and interceding for others.

Ghezzi’s book is filled encouragement. In its final pages, he states that the “essential spiritual disciplines” of disciples include “prayer, Scripture study, fasting, evangelization and care for the poor.”

And he adds: “Daily prayer plays a special role among these disciplines. It opens us to the Holy Spirit who instigates the other activities and directs us in doing God’s work.”

A Story for Thanksgiving

15 Nov

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To be a Christian means more than praying. It means to thank God for his many blessings by sharing with those who need the most.

She stood on the elevated median on a busy Florida intersection. Cars were lined up waiting for a green light.

It was August, mid-afternoon, humid with the temperature hovering above 90 degrees.

The woman, about 30 or so, was dressed poorly but modestly, perspiring profusely, and she seemed in distress. She had no sign announcing hunger or joblessness. She alternately stood or walked up and down the median. She did not speak—but the pain in her face, her apparent fatigue and hunger were quite evident.

A man, in the car ahead of me, apparently called out to her as he held out some money. She hurried over, took the money and said, if I lip-read well, “Thank you.” Then, she burst into tears.

The traffic light changed and we were all on our way.

What was her story? Was she homeless, a widow, an abused spouse, a grieving mother? Was she an unemployed single mom with children to support? Was she in trouble with the law? Where had she been and what had happened to her— what put her at that intersection, totally vulnerable and apparently hopeless?

That evening as I supped well, I actually felt guilty as I wondered whether she had something to eat.

But the thing that still gives me pause was that “Thank you” and the tears that streamed down her face.”

So much gratitude for so little.

Happy Thanksgiving.

So, What Is a Deacon?

6 Nov

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I’m not the oldest deacon in the world and I’m certainly not the brightest or holiest. But after nearly 28 years serving the Diocese of Orlando and our own St. Mary Magdalen Parish, I’d like to share a few thoughts about those men called “permanent deacons.”

First of all, a deacon is not a lay person. By ordination he is a clergyman and ministers with the approval of his bishop and pastor.

Second, he does not have a corner on Truth simply because he is ordained; he knows a little or a lot. He works constantly to learn more, and understand better, God’s revelation and the Church’s teaching. He learns from others—by listening to his family, friends and fellow parishioners.

Third, the deacon was ordained to serve—but all baptized Christians are called to serve. So, what’s so special? It has to do with authorized and graced ministry as a member of the clergy—and it has a lot to do with deacons being still “in the world.” The permanent deacon is doing and coping with what lay people have to face every day of their lives. Since the deacon is “in the world” as well as in the sanctuary, he is a sign of the Church (all of us) in the world and the world coming to God.

Fourth, the deacon is not only called to be a disciple of Christ, he is called to help form disciples and enrich their lives by his own witness, preaching and by the sacraments he is authorized to administer and witness: baptism, Eucharist and marriage. He is a disciple of Christ, in the midst of all the other disciples in the midst of the world.

These thoughts are just a sampling of my constant musings.