Posts Tagged ‘#christian’

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

Blessed are the Peacemakers…

November 4, 2016

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God. ( Matthew 5:9)

How is it exactly that I am a peacemaker ? Let’s take a quick jump ahead in Matthew a couple of chapters to Mattew 7.. where we are quickly reminded that we need to ” remove the plank from your own eye, before tremove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” ( Mathew 7:5)

Being a peacemaker is primarily about the renovation that is necessary in our hearts, and preparing our hearts as a suitable place for Jesus to dwell, more so than it is a resolving conflict between others.

Preparing to be a peacemaker brings us to a place where we have to understand what peace is, how it is that we need to form our hearts, our conscience, our own understanding.

First, everyone sins. every single person no matter who we are, what our position is, what our vocation is, indeed no matter how hard we try.. we all suffer from the effects of sin. You might say to yourself. .” Well that’s great ! So why do I bother even to try ?”.. Thats a good question.. God did not promise us that our lives would be easy once we tried to live a faithful life. In fact, its going to be nearly the opposite. The people who are living easy lives that are not worried about life at all, those are the people who need to start asking questions. But I digress, back to ourselves.

In being a peacemaker we should be engaged in a daily examination of our own consciences. A review of where we might have failed today… This week.. This month.. It is a point where we look inside and see where we have acted, or failed to act. Did I cause conflict ? Did I cause pain ? Was there something I could have done to make a situation better for one of my brothers or sisters and I failed to do so ? Did I fail to show Christ to my brothers and sisters in difficult situation ?

Could I have helped ? Was the way that I helped part of the issue … part of the conflict ? Did I get of the way, to let Christ shine through the work I was needing to do ? Remember that NO converts were ever won with a sledgehammer.

“Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace”. By the blood of the cross , in His own person he killed the hostility, He reconciled men with God and made his Church the Sacrament of unity of the human race and of its union with God…” ( CCC# 2305)

The Church is, just as we should be the sacrament of Peace within the world, and within ourselves and within each brother and sisters, whether they are inside or outside the Church. Just as being a peacemaker has to start within the individual and their relationship with God properly formed. Those individuals then formed may work on the formation within the Body of Christ ( the church) and let that be an outpouring of peace unto the entire human race.

Peace requires sacrifice. It requires commitment, it requires work. Jesus showed us how to love our brothers and sisters. He showed us how it is that we are to have peace with God, and then with our brothers and sisters.

We have not listened…

We have not learned…

We have not loved …

Saint Francis’s Peace Prayer begs ” Make me a channel of your peace…. ” This is our prayer, and our mission. If we love our brothers and sisters, then peace with reign and flow through us. We become what we profess. We become the instruments of peace within our hearts, within hour houses, within our Church, and within the world.

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

All Is Not As It Seems…

September 10, 2016

All is not as it seems..

A few months ago, I noticed a change in the neighborhood.  There was a house, that at one time was being used for one man, who lived there, but also ran a plumbing business out of it.  THe house was sparsely furnished, and the plumber who lived there seemed to be quiet, and only on an odd occasion would have friends over and have a get together with his friends or possibly they were employees.. but they did not seem like employees.

Anyway, one day while I was on my walk to work, I noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.  I never saw anyone going there to tour the house, and not much later the sign came down.   Approximately a month later, all of a sudden the house we filled with about 4 or 5 older gentlemen, and the only vehicle that was there was a white unmarked van.    Walking past the house a couple of times a day, The people who lived there would say hello as I passed.

During those moments where I passed, I began to wonder who they were and why they were there all the time.

One Friday afternoon, while I was on my way home they invited me over to share a beer with them.  I explained that I did not want a beer, however, I would come over and sit down and visit with them for a while.  They instead offered some water, which I greatfully accepted.

Some of them, because of the Tau Cross I wear, asked me if I was “one of those church people who wanted to convert them,,,,”.  We have a number of different religious groups who frequent the neighborhood knocking on doors and asking to share their faith with us.
We also have them not only in English, but also in Spanish by well meaning folks who only speak a single language.

I proceeded to explain to them that I am still working on fixing the things that need fixing within myself, rather than trying to fix others, but if I could help someone else on their journey, then I would happy to share.

Once we got past that hurdle, they were all very warm and inviting, and would greet me as I passed on my way to or from work.  If I was not in a hurry, I would stop and talk for a bit and see what was going on.

Soon I finally learned what was going on with the people who lived there and how it came to be their home.  It seems that these men, were all homeless veterans, and one city employee, who owned the house, had provided the house to these men, so they could transition back into what ever their normal life was, prior to their homelessness.

In talking with these men, I learned a little about their journeys.  One of them, used to get up early in the morning, and would greet me every morning, and in his way attempt to give me encouragement for the days journey.  On the way home he was always there waiting to welcome me back home.  A few times, he waited for me to pass the house, and joined me in my walk to the bus stop.  In those walks, I learned that he was going to visit his family from whom he was estranged.  He was taking food, and going to do work at the house and help out the family.  He said it was not much, but it was everything he could do in showing his love for them.

One day the man was not there any more. He was gone for a couple of days and there was no one outside to greet me on my walk.  A few days ago one of them was sitting outside as I passed on my journey home, and I asked him what happened to the other gentleman, as I had not seen him for a while.  He explained that the man had returned home to his family and they had moved north together to begin rebuilding their lives again.
The point is that in the beginning of this journey, the very human view, might have been to be afraid of these people because they could have been any type of criminal, or addict.   It would be easy to judge from outward appearances that these would be people who were not desirable to have living in your neighborhood.

Investing ones time and effort in reaching out by inviting conversation, by hospitality,
by being open to anothers story, we can break down the walls of assumption, or appearances, and learn the true heart of the other.

Love, is the lesson.  Love of neighbor. Love of “the other” in our lives. These are the things that bring about the opportunities to share Christ with others.  Not by force, not by abuse, and not by the use of methods that are more akin to winning a battle or war.  Sharing Christ is done first, through acts of love that we share.
May God give you the gift of His peace !

Congress Shall Make No Law …

February 21, 2016

Constitution

The first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows :

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances ”

This clause in the constitution is built in to the Constitution specifically so that the government will not only protect the freedom of the individual to choose their own religion ( or non-religion ), but it also protects the individual from government from prohibiting the exercise of ones chosen faith. Rituals, actions, choices etc are all protected under the First Amendment.

The government MUST, by virtue of the Constitution, never interfere with an individuals right to exercise ( or violate their faith). For the sake of legal-eze, the other side of the coin is that it has one limitation. That limitation is that the exercise of your faith can not impinge on the rights of another. Hypothetically, if your faith demanded you take the life of another, then of course that would not be allowed under the Constitution, as the life that you are taking also has the same rights and protections that you do.

In the last number of years we, in the United States have a government that has broken its own law. It has said that our citizens MUST provide, and pay for services, that are abhorrent to the exercise of our faith.

It says that we must provide and pay for abortions, among other “services”, that fly in the face of exercise of our faith.

To attempt to force the issue, the government forces every citizen to pay for “medical insurance” or face fines.
Then to make sure you are forced into complying with this mandate, they force the insurance companies to provide these “services” and then force the Hospitals , and the medical professionals to all submit performing these services ALL of which are against the Constitutional right of the individual to the exercise of their faith.

In one recent court case, a group of Christians, went to court to protect their right to freedom of religious exercise, and were told that, the government has an interest in having these services provided to its citizens AND that forcing private companies to do so, would insure these “services” are available to everyone. Of course this if false, because these so called “services” are available to them through a multitude of other service providers.

The discussion here is NOT, whether or not healthcare should be available to every citizen, the discussion here is, at its core, what the definition of healthcare actually is. Because the government would like for you to believe that abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc all fall under the guise of healthcare, which again goes against the faith of Christians (and others).

The focus of these battles in the media as of late, center around companies, and religious institutions.
What is NOT said, or dealt with at this stage of the game, is that the individual, the average person, suffers at the hands of the government as a matter of conscience.

The individual goes to work, and is forced to purchase medical insurance, the Costs of which are prohibitive of anyone actually being able to use said insurance, because of the fact that the deductible for the insurance is so high, that they will never be able to pay for the deductible without some catastrophic event occurring. On top of the fact that they not only have to pay for the $100 or so visit to the Doctors office, plus the next $1-200 in Lab fees, plus the $100 plus in Pharmaceuticals that are needed, they also loose money from the day or two that they are away from their jobs, which makes it impossible for them to go to get the real health care that is actually needed, unless there is a medical crisis.

SO, lets say that you decide that even as a matter of conscience you decide you are not going to purchase insurance from the company you work for. You decide instead to pay the unconstitutional fine. Then those funds go into paying for the “services” for the public which is also against your faith. Then you have to pay for the hospital and other “services” at a hospital , and staffed by medical professionals who are forced to provide for, which your money is then going to feed, the same unconstitutional “services” that go against your faith.

The Government in its current state, will not stop at just trying to legislate this part of the religion, THIS is how a government attempts to subvert the exercise of the freedoms of ALL citizens in every area of life, not just in matters of faith.

The government has been masters of financial mystery and behind the curtain financial laundering using funds for its current administrations ( and past administrations as well) agendas.

This however is just wrong. It is incumbent upon all the citizens of the US to stand up and fight this process because, although you might not agree with the Christian churches on the matter of abortion, the next right it takes from the Constitution will be the one that cuts to the heart of your own freedom, but by then it will be too late, because the precedent will have already have been set. As any attorney will tell you, historic case law having been decided is more difficult to overturn.

E Plurbus Unam – From Many.. One.. You may not agree with the Church on this issue, but it is time to live this motto.

May God give you the gift of His peace.

(editorial…
I want to apologize to the readers from other countries as this post is aimed squarely at the United States.
I have done alot to stay out of the political agenda, and pray you will excuse this one exception. It is however something that needs to be said as it has been on my mind and I have been feeling compelled…Thank you )

Vocal Prayer (Prayer Part II)

November 27, 2015

Vocal Prayer…. ( Prayer Part II)
Continuing on our examination of prayer, we move into the varied parts of prayer.. and examine some of its components and forms.

The first type of prayer is vocal prayer. Within the realm of vocal prayer there are different forms of this type.

First, there is wrote prayer.  These are the prayers that are most often taught to us from infancy, the blessings before meals, and our prayers before bed.  There are the prayers we learn through religious education channels, or other formative processes.
There are the prayers we use as part of our Mass or prayer services usually done within a community of some form or other.

Let us examine for a moment what this means for us, and how we are effected through our use of this type of prayer.

At various stages of our religious developement this type of prayer can me the most common, and most used.  THis occurs particularly in the early stages of spiritual developement.  In particular it gives new Christians a starting point, through which they can begin to work on exploring their relationship to God, and to others.

Using this type of prayer, also gives us a sense of community.  We all are praying the same prayers, with the same words, with the same gestures, with the same basic intent.  We get the feeling that we belong, to our family, to our faith community, to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.    That sense of community is important for us on so many levels.


For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  ( Matthew 12:50) … Our Mothers brothers and sisters are those who also part of our faith community, Not to mention, those who are not yet part of our faith communities but who are still in need of our love, and prayer, and works of charity.

Wrote prayer has its place of honor amongst the varied types of prayer, and it has its own challenges.  Primary amongst these challenges is the challenge that it particularly can, if permitted, become habit, a formed action performed without the need for thought, or the need for any type of active particpation short of the muscle memory needed to recite the words, and blindly going through the process of the prayers.

It has a danger of becoming the habit of doing “the thing” for the sake of doing “the thing” to participate in the action because it is what is expected, or what is required, or something of the same line.   Possibly it is because you say these things so often, that the words loose their meaning, in the process of the action.

Everyone falls into this process at some point or other.  It is our challenge to become aware of this situation and work on the process of bringing ourselves back into the mystery of prayer.

We should, particularly at Holy Mass come with the idea and work at the practice of what we call “Full and Active” participation at Mass.  This means that we prepare, we arrive early, we pay attention, We work at our mental and spiritual involvement of every part of the Mass.

Pay attention to what is going on, what is being said, the words of the prayers, your own participation in those prayers.  It is not something you will be perfect at, yet it is in the striving towards our relationship in prayer that draws us closer to God.

Even the simple prayer of the blessing before meals, should give us pause to consider the things we are saying, the things we are asking, the offering we are giving. the supplecation the sacrifice, and the prayer we have entered.

Until next time…
May God give you the gift of His peace..