“Where is that thing?” mumbled Bob as he searched frantically on his dimly lit desk for the current electric bill. “I know I put it right on top of these papers this morning!” Growing in frustration and bordering on anger, he flies stuff around, moves books and opines why simple tasks need to be so hard. Enter his wife, who calmly says, “Maybe it would help if you put the light on, dear.” The desk light goes on and lo and behold, there is the electric bill right where Bob left it earlier. All it took was a little light!
We stubbornly refuse to turn on the lights! Either we are distracted, determined, disinterested, preoccupied, stubborn, apprehensive, or all of the above. Or perhaps, we fail to do the obvious. We would rather live our lives with the dimmest of lights or even in total darkness. Why are we afraid to do something so that we can actually see? It might help us to find quicker and better answers to problems, the meaning of life, relationships, happiness, and what is ultimate truth. Yet, we stumble along, moving things from one side to the other, getting angry, feeling cheated, being unsettled, resigning ourselves to the agony of defeat once again.READ MORE
What a year it has been! How will we speak of these times a decade from now? As time goes by, our impressions of this past year will certainly change. How we feel today about dealing with a killer virus and all the chaos surrounding that is still fresh for all. I would assume that most of us right now are also holding those we love a little closer and hugging them a little harder. Hopefully, even if the fears and concerns of 2020 dissipate in the future, the way we feel toward our family never leave us.READ MORE
In Blaise Pascal’s work, Pensees, he says: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
We have a difficult time accepting that fulfillment and happiness are not achieved by our own merits but through a relationship with God. We are hardwired for this relationship and it is in our DNA. The simple fact is that we come from God and are designed to return to God. If our beginning and our end define who we are, why would we not want to seek the One who can truly satisfy? The world does not realize that it is waiting. It is waiting for the birth of God in time, within one’s soul and in eternity. We get so confused by seeking other momentary satisfactions that we misinterpret the hunger within. We crave God.READ MORE
Did you ever stop and realize that there is no earthly gain that can ever really satisfy us? Think of winning the Lotto. On this side of the winning ticket, it’s all about the money, the new car, house, vacations, bank accounts, and infinite pleasures. The possibility of acquiring all of these earthly securities brings us back again and again to the purchase of a ticket. Then, one day we win! Our dreams are fulfilled, and happiness is on the horizon. Then one day, we wake up and realize that nothing has really changed, and I am not as satisfied as I thought I was or would be. I find myself living in my incompleteness and with my profound sorrow and grief. I did not find joy.
Glimpses of joy are possible but not by material means. They are brought to us through incredible experiences of connection that bring us face to face with real and authentic faith, hope, and love. And, they are glimpses and do not last. The moment we find ourselves looking back at them, they are gone, and we find ourselves remembering the moment in memory. To carry joy within us is to realize that it is not something I create, manufacture or even acquire. It is not able to be purchased. It is a gift. My need for joy mirrors my need for eternity, for a Creator who has a claim on the very essence of who I am and desires a home within me. As C. S. Lewis discovered, joy is a surprise that speaks to my very soul and is given as gift by the God who loves me.READ MORE
People knew over a year in advance that the Pope was coming for a visit to America and the preparations began. Security, space limitations and requirements, protocols, crowd management, itineraries, invitations, regulations, and so much more was necessary to pull this event off effectively. It’s not every day that we get a visit from such a prominent dignitary. Thought, effort, meticulous attention to detail and vision all are necessary to make this thing work. After all, he can’t just show up in the ordinary and normal daily routines of life and catch people unprepared! Tickets have to be purchased, buses rented, hotel rooms reserved, and travel arrangements made early because it will be impossible to see him if we wait too long!READ MORE
You are at the eye doctor and it’s time for the peripheral vision test. You know the one. It’s where you put your head up to a contraption and have to click a switch every time you see a squiggly line. If you don’t concentrate and maintain optimal focus, you will miss them and skew the outcome of the test. You can easily find yourself with a diagnosis that really isn’t accurate! Concentration and focus are key to succeeding with this evaluation. They are also key to developing a healthy, vibrant spiritual life. If we do not bring our full consciousness to the task, concentrate with all our might, be watchful and vigilant, we are not going to see God’s loving presence flashing before our eyes!READ MORE
Many Americans are fascinated with England’s monarchy. For many different reasons, we are drawn to the regal pageantry and all of the protocols associated with royal lifestyles. What’s most amazing is that for all of the media attention focused on the comings and goings of English royalty, they really have very little effect on the day to day dealings of their country. Thoughts and images of kings and queens are often centered on this story book understanding of who and what they are. We associate protocols, etiquette, and proper words and actions to how we approach members of a royal family. These tools serve the necessary purpose of keeping them isolated, enthroned, and at a distance. There is something attractive about being an observer of ritual, pomp, and circumstance. It’s almost theatrical.READ MORE
God gives us the gift of His very self and asks us to invest it. Investing God’s greatest gift of Himself wisely, allows God’s kingdom to grow and flourish. God trusts us with this pearl of great price in hopes that it will produce abundant fruit. While God’s gift of self is realized in the gifts of faith, hope, and love, they are not meant to be solely for personal benefit. They are intended to be shared and are at the heart of Jesus’ blueprint for happiness, the Beatitudes.
When we properly invest God’s greatest gift, His most treasured possession, we invest in the wellbeing of all of our brothers and sisters and the world in which we live. We take up most seriously our call to be stewards and properly manage, not only our own affairs, but the affairs of those around and before us. God has put tremendous confidence in us. Do we have that same confidence in God?READ MORE
When doing student report cards, there was a comment the teacher could choose that read: inattentive and easily distracted. Could that comment describe your spiritual life? We can become so consumed with myriad distractions and preoccupations and lose our connection to what is really significant and important. We can become dull. This happens in our human relationships, too. We can easily take the love of others for granted, whether it be a parent, spouse, friend, or a child. We assume and presume that their love will always be there and do very little to cultivate, rejuvenate, and deepen it. Presumption can become a great sin.READ MORE
I remember as a child the meticulousness my father would bring to a task. Whether it be tending to a chore in the yard, repairing something, or painting a room, the tiniest of every detail demanded his attention. He had great patience. I benefited greatly by his example and remember these lessons well. We all need examples to follow. It is important to identity folks who excel at simple things and show us how to do things well. There are those among us and those who have gone before us who serve as these models and witnesses. They are ordinary people who in their “extraordinary ordinariness” capture our attention and allow us to see things more clearly.READ MORE
For some reason, it is easier to genuflect in reverence to the presence of Christ in the tabernacle of a church, than to genuflect in reverence to the same presence of Christ in another person’s soul. We wrongly believe that God divides himself, placing himself in one place in preference to another. It doesn’t work that way. Love of God and love of neighbor are intimately and inseparably connected because the essence and spark of God’s very presence is in all creation. God’s presence is just as real in the one who is good, as in the one who is bad, and the one who is just, and the one who is unjust.
Our brains get in the way of truly contemplating the awesomeness of this truth. We like to separate things into boxes, the sheep from the goats and the deserving from the undeserving. But, with God there are no distinctions such as this. Our human classifications, subdivisions, and definitions hold no power or have any weight in God’s eyes. Sadly, we relate to God and to each other as if they do.READ MORE
Nobody enjoys paying taxes. Despite our displeasure in being forced to do so, we also realize that the monies generated from taxes allows governments to provide essential services for its people. Corruption really gets our goat, however. When we witness malfeasance, overspending, irresponsibility, and dishonesty in governmental spending, the grave injustices make an already unpleasant and arduous task even more difficult. The inappropriate distribution and use of hardearned monies can leave a person quite angry and disconnected. It’s bad enough the government wants something from me, now God does, too? God is not concerned necessarily with our money, although its proper use does factor into our faith life. As the payment of secular taxes speaks of our allegiance to the government, our return to God speaks of our allegiance to God. All of creation, even the entire universe, is fashioned in the image and likeness of God. What speaks to God and has meaning and relevance to him? All of creation and indeed our very selves! God delights in us and when we present ourselves back to him, he delights even more! As the payment of secular taxes is designed to secure the equitable distribution of goods and services to all people, so is our return of ourselves to God in gratitude meant to advance God’s kingdom here on earth.READ MORE
God gives us an invitation to have an abundant life. The banquet is ready, and the tables are set. Come! There is so much to attend to in the everydayness of our lives. We have plans, after all. There is never enough time and so much that needs to be done. There is work, children, and grandchildren, paying the bills, planning for retirement, figuring out the details of our next vacation, making sure we are on top of our game with work, planning social engagements, answering emails, texts, and getting our latest pictures on Facebook. There is always something. What is this about some banquet?
I need another party and commitment like a hole in the head. I can’t manage what I already have, and someone is asking me to do more! Seriously? I saw the invitation; I think it came in the mail the other day. Did I leave it on the table? Oh wait, it may have gotten thrown away. I can’t remember. In any case, I’m managing things pretty well on my own, I think. Thanks for thinking of me, but no thanks. My life is only as good as I make it and I have to be sure that all is in order! Oh, another invitation came today! This guy’s being persistent. Now, I’m getting angry. I wish he would just leave me alone and stop with this invitation nonsense.READ MORE