Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

+AMDG+


The Holy Family

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

So this Christmas I decided to read Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Bendict XVI. I was first introduced to the book during a retreat I mentioned earlier and I figured hey its Christmas why not!

Christmas is such a momentous time. After midnight mass one of the priest saw that I was reading this book. He said that the introduction alone makes this book worth it. Since I just finished the introduction right before mass I agreed. So I was wondering what in the introduction might help other people as it helped me this Christmas. There were two passages that have been helpful to me, I hope it will help you also:

"Israel is allowed to hope for a new Moses, who has yet to appear, but who will be raised up at the appropriate hour. And the characteristic of this "prophet" will be that he converses with God face-to-face, as a friend does with a friend. His distinguishing note will be his immediate relationship with God, which enables him to communicate God's will and word firsthand and unadulterated. And that is the saving intervention which Israel- indeed, the whole of humanity- is waiting for." page 5.




I don't think I have ever heard this understanding of a prophet before. I have heard of a prophet described as "the mouth of God" or a person who can read the signs of the times to "predict" the future. But a prophet as one who converses with God as a friend is like Must See TV, its new to me. This sheds a new light on how we are called to live out our Baptismal promises as prophet, priest and king. We are baptized in Jesus and share in His Life and His mission as prophet, priest and king. When I was baptized , I am baptized as a disciple of Jesus.

"The disciple who walks with Jesus is thus caught up with him [Jesus] into communion with God. And that is what redemption means: this stepping beyond the limits of human nature, which had been there as a possibility and an expectation in man ... since the moment of creation." page 8.




Humanity from its inception was meant to be surpassed. We were given reason and free will as tools to go deeper. Our nature really is fascinating. It is in this surpassing we become fully human, we become, with God's grace, children of God. Jesus came to show us, on one level, we were meant for God. When we were created we were created for God. We are given an infinite desire, our own personal hunger for God.
I am beginning to realize this and maybe I am projecting but I think I think other people are starting to realize this also. There seems to be a feeling of restlessness from most of the people I talk to. I am at the point where the latest TV, video game, trend, exotic culture or thing/s are not enough anymore. The latest ______ is not enough. Nothing is fulfilling in this world and midnight mass has reminded me of this. Here are the readings for midnight mass. The words from the prophet Isaiah reminded me of this:

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,"
Isaiah 9: 1-2



When the darkness is so great and overwhelming even a small candle IS a great light. The darkness and loneliness I am going through is the same darkness where Christ is born. The darkness and loneliness that the shepherds lived everyday is the same darkness where the angels had visited them. An angel is visiting me now shrouded in darkness. He is telling me, "Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid for Christ is here." He is telling me to makes space for Jesus. I need to experience how much all this other stuff fulfills me to know that only God fulfills. What a great Christmas gift!
Christ wants me to fulfill my baptismal promise and is reminding me of my prophetic nature, which is what, I think, we are all called to do. He wants me to meet Him face-to-face. To talk to him and to communicate His will to myself, at the very least if not to others as well. Jesus wants me and He wants me to want Him. I think I am getting close to realizing He is the one who I want! This makes what I am going through make sense.

Merry Christmas me!!!
And Merry Christmas to everyone reading and not reading this!

I hope y'all have an Awesome Christmas!





Monday, November 16, 2009

Blind man's folly... other people

+AMDG+


This painting has always enchanted me. The first time I saw it I was in high school. I was in an art class and I had paint something then ink it. I decided to use this painting. It is one of my favorite pieces of art I ever made. I changed the color in it to reflect my atheistic/communist views. I gave the man in the image a Red hat and shirt. I also gave him a gold scarf. The colors with the ink were quite impressive.

I have a ritual which I have been doing for the last couple of weeks now. Since I have been using a straight razor and in the mornings I have been listening to Billie Holiday while shaving. Then I started to trying to turn my morning ritual into a prayer. So I started listening to this website's podcasts.

It is run by the Jesuits in Britain and I love it. They have some really deep stuff. They focused on today's reading from the gospel of Luke.

Basically the story is of the blind man who hears that Jesus is passing by and wants to be healed. The blind man yells and Jesus calls the blind to him and heals him. The man follows him and leaves all happy.

So this is what happened when I took this passage to prayer and meditated on it:


"As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. And because he listened to others he remained blind."

The word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Though this didn't happen in the Gospel, I think this does happen today. In spiritual direction my director always tells me, "... yes, but are you praying?" Sadly, my answer is, "I am trying to pray." And to quote the great spiritual master, Master Yoda,



"Do or do not, there is no try."
-Master Yoda

Prayer is listening to God. So I guess it really matters who you listen to.

Going back to the the original story. "But he kept calling out all the more, 'Son of David have pity on me!'" I think he listened to his heart here. "Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?"

My God what a question.

How do you possibly answer that? What a level of honesty you would need to answer that question.

There is a story told of St. Thomas Aquinas after he finished writing about the Eucharist in his Summa Theologica. The story goes that St. Thomas was praying before the tabernacle and placed his finished work on the altar. As he was deep in prayer the crucifix came to life and Jesus pointed to the book and said, "You have written well of me Thomas, what do you want from me?" St. Thomas' answer was, "Only Thee my Lord, only Thee." If I was asked that question part of me wishes I would say, "Only Thee my Lord, onle Thee." I would probably say, "Fantastic Four Issue # 48 the first appearance of Galactus and the Silver Surfer! Duh Lord, I thought you were omniscient."


Yeah this is a big deal.

The first time I read the question Jesus asked I read it wrong. Jesus' question is an action that he will do for us, not a thing he will give us. Sadly, I still think in materialistic mindset but I am working on that. There is no thing which will make me happy. Only true and intimate union with God, which is what I really want. It is a relationship that I hunger for not a thing to possess. I have to remember that Jesus is not my personal genie.


The Sacred Heart of Genie


He is a person who wants to do something for me.

"He replied, 'Lord, please let me see.' Jesus told him. 'Have sight, your faith has saved you.' He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God."

The first things this man saw was the face of God, the face of Jesus. Everything else was compared to this. When I read this I always laugh because the same people who told him to shut up are the same ones giving praise to God for him not listening to them!

He asked for what he needed to bring him closer to God.

Part of the application process for the Jesuits is writing you Spiritual Autobiography. In thinking about what to write about I wonder if I should mention how many people tell me, "Why do you want to do that for?" Or people making comments like, "Oh I'm sorry to hear that."

What if I listened to them? What if I just said, "OK you're right."

Who do I listen to?

Who am I listening to?

Others haven't called me. God has called me.
Others can't heal my blindness. God can heal my blindness.

So it comes to the same question: Am I praying? Am I listening to God?

Last week I was on a men's work retreat. One of the brothers said, "You don't have study to be a saint... you just have to listen."

At the vocation weekends for the Jesuits, for all the studying that they do, they always say, "This is all about falling in love with Jesus. If you can do that here in the Society, great. If you can't, then to go do that."

Who do I listen to?

I thank God everyday that I don't have an ipod. If I did, I would always have music on and constantly try not to listen to the silence. I think if I keep avoiding the silence I couldn't be happy.

For a long time I did avoid the silence. I filled up my prayer time with stuff and never prayed. Since sitting in the silence, I came near and I heard the question, "What do you want me to do for you?" or "What do you need me to do for you in order for you to come to know me?"... "Help me to become a Jesuit." I think that is better than, "Hold on let me ask other people what they think."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Reunion over 2000 years old

+AMDG+
Today was one of those days where amazing things happened. Everything kind of happened just on time. I went to go see the relics of Mary Magdalene and it was just so profound. This woman was the first person to see the resurrected Jesus... Let me say that again. THE FIRST PERSON! Yeah she's kind of a big deal. People know her. And I venerated her relic! And what SON!

I just couldn't help but think that here is this person's tibia who has been dead for almost 2000 years. She is older than the whole Church. She is instrumental in giving courage to the apostles. As we were in the chapel I couldn't help but notice that she was again with Jesus. Here she is again in front of the Resurrected Lord in the Eucharist.

It was powerful... I hope those graces rub off on me and I could be a better witness to Christ. Today was a reminder that I need to step up my game and stop lacking soo much. But God is in that too whether I see him or not. Hopefully I will see him in it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Failure, Resurrection and Haikus

+AMDG+
Sorry I have not written in a while, I have been on retreat... again and I have hit the ground running. Crazy couple of days but here is my journal entry for today:

Another day lined with failures, self-destruction and sabotage [or what I like to call "the effects of original sin"]. The stuff of Legends... So motivation seems to be my issue. Father John says maybe I need to change the context or circumstances rather than the environment. "O men how long will your hearts be closed, will you love what is futile and seek what is false?" Psalm 4:3

[For some reason I felt the need to write poetry so I decided to write a haiku.]



Simple yet flawless,
Failures come and go like Lay's,
I can't just have one.



New days start with now.
Tomorrow's goals never start.
There is no later.



Staring at ashes
will not make a Phoenix rise...
Sweep new foundation.



When life's upside-down,
God's telling you, the soil, not
meant to stay in ground.



When butterflies fly
do they see caterpillar?
'Member where you're from...



Desecrated tombs
are only disrespectful
if you stay in them.



Atlas only shrugged
Prometheus brought us fire
Jesus brought me Hope.


I did not intend to write resurrection themed haikus but at least I am glad to write some poetry.

Pray well,
Louis
P.S. These are already copyrighted so do not even think about using them without my direct permission.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Temptations of Christ Part 1

+AMDG+
I couldn't find a good image of Temptations of Christ so I just photo shopped this one.


The Temptations of Christ are found in Matthew 4:1-11
and Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth pages 25-45.

The First Temptation: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

"Mockery and temptation blend into each other here: Christ is being challenged to establish his credibility by offering evidence for his claims. This demand for proof is a constantly recurring theme in the story of Jesus' life; again and again he is reproached for having failed to prove himself sufficiently, for having hitherto failed to work that great miracle that will remove all ambiguity and every contradiction, so as to make it indisputably clear from everyone who and what he is or is not.
And we make this same demand of God and Christ and his Church throughout the whole of history. 'If you exist, God,' we say, 'then you'll just have to show yourself. You'll have to part the clouds that conceal you and give us the clarity that we deserve. If you, Christ, are really the Son of God, and not just another one of the enlightened individuals who keep appearing in the course of history, then you'll just have to prove it more clearly than you are doing now. And if the Church is really supposed to be yours, you'll have to make that much more obvious than it is at present.'" -Jesus of Nazareth pg. 30-31

Jesus is setting priorities by example. The physical need is not as important as one's relationship with God. Jesus talks about being sustained by God. The natural disposition of man is to think he can do everything by himself. I shouldn't rely on people. I should pull myself up by my bootstraps and make something of myself. I need to be an accomplished person. I this, and me that, and God no where. The devil seems to be trying to get Jesus, especially during his fast, a time when he trying to connect with his Father in prayer, to satisfy his own need. He is trying to distract Jesus from God.



What does Jesus have to do in order for us to believe he is the Messiah?



Pope Benedict proposes an interesting question: What is our criteria for accepting a Savior? What are our expectations of a Messiah? The Church? Of God?


It seems ironic that if we are asking this question then no matter what the answer is, we more than likely will not change our way of life.

I once asked a friend of mine who had stop attending mass, how come she stopped going? She said she does not go because she did not agree with the Church's teaching on gay marriage, women ordination and abortion. So I then asked her, "So if the Church changed it's position on those three issues right now at this very moment, would you go running to the nearest church screaming, 'I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and I seek salvation through the Holy Roman Catholic Church?'"



...
...
...


She responded, "Probably not."


Most of us do not want a God who will challenge us. We want a God who will tell us to keep doing what we are doing. There is no criteria for a Messiah or a Savior because those who need a criteria do not need a Savior. They want an Agreer or a Back up Singer... which is fine. Just be honest about it.

We tend to see a "Savior" as literally someone who saves us which implies we need something to be saved from. But who needs that if everything is fine. So the question that is left is:
Is everything fine?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

+AMDG+
Here are some things which make me happy! A bunch of stuff has links and You tube videos def worth checking out!

God
and
the Far Side
video
Stephen Colbert and this song


Saint Ignatius of Loyola (The link is a Spanish olive narrating the life of St. Ignatius! Hysterical!)
and





Bollywood
and


Sushi
and
especially this place Yuka



Rocking Chairs


Mary Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe

and



Adoration
and
Catholic Underground (Amazing new site! Check this out!)





Iron Maiden

Comics, this is from Blackest Night


Mama's of Corona "The Special"


Chuck Norris
and
Photo shop ( I did not do this one.)


Uncle Louie G's ices



Jack Black
Sweater Vests


video
And one of my favorite videos
The Count from Sesame Street

Welcome to my world!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adventures in Self-Destruction!

+AMDG+
We interrupt this regularly schedule blog for today, "The Temptations of Christ" for this one, "Adventures in Self-Destruction!" Please enjoy!

To be honest, I don't want God to save me from the never ending fires of Gehenna, or the pains of this earthly life, or even eternal damnation; I really just want God to save me from myself. It really is that simple. More than likely I end up taking Satan's bait and shooting myself in the foot or somewhere even more painful.

I really am my own worst enemy. Even for all my paranoia about the government out to try to get me, which they are, they can take it easy because I am sure enough doing it all by myself.

And it always begins with just one little thing. I really think this is my kryptonite. My main weakness is ... The Snooze button.

If the Garden Eden is applicable in my life I would have a snake whisper to me, "Just hit snooze, don't worry God will take care of it." God will sustain the being of every single thing in the universe from the Giant Novas, to the worm in the ground, to the sub-atomic particles and all this will happen whether or not I get out of bed. My problem is that I might tell myself I am tired, what I am really saying is two things:

1) I am much more important than other people, though they have made time for me or they have expectations of me that is not as important as my 5 minutes of extra sleep (which by the way always turns into an hour!) . I have the uncanny ability to draw everything out whether it is a conversation. 5 minutes, a dumb joke, this post for my blog, every thing always takes much longer than it has to be. Even finishing my first point is taking forever. And furthermore... no I am just kidding.

2) Ironically, the second point is the opposite of the first point. In some areas I have been known to compensate, in the rest, I have been known to overcompensate. I started talking about this when I realized that everyone else struggles with it too. Whether you call it, "that negative voice in you head," or, "that bad tape playing in your head," I just happen to call it, "Good o'l American Self-Hatred." I got that, self-hatred thing. So though on a conscious level I am saying, "I am tired," subconsciously I am saying, "Me being tired is more important than others," on a sub-basement conscious level what I am really saying is that, "Who am I kidding? They don't wanna see me anyway, why would they? I might as well just stay in bed."

All this, which took 26 years to make, happens from the time I hear the alarm to the time I hit snooze button and then it just builds up from there. I am running late, so I show up late, so I cut corners, so I feel justified when I do not accomplish task because, hey, I was late. Next day, wake up, wash, repeat. If you do the long enough it will snowball out of control and you are left picking up the piece of a messed up life. A perfect recipe for Self-Destruction!




One of my favorite books is, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. When I first read it as a little kid I was in awe. I remember reading it over and over again. I remember how because of this one little event all these other huge chain of events were going to happen. "If you give a mouse a cookie, then he is going to want a glass of milk. If you give a mouse a glass of milk then..." It was so profound. I still find myself reading this book again even to this day. And then the books ends with, "Then the mouse is going to want a cookie and if you give a mouse a cookie, then he will want a glass of milk." And I would turn right back to the beginning and read it again! In my mind I thought everything would just happen again though I could never figure out how the mouse would grow his hair so fast (If you don't get this joke you should pick it up again).

So now here I am writing this (from my journal) in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I think of how the birth of a child has such a profound effect on everyone in that child's life. I think of the effect of Jesus being born and no one really knew what had happened because everyone was caught up in their own lives. Few were told and even fewer figured it out, but all were effected by it some way or another. Sitting here now and praying on this day which was really crappy in the morning got better because God is really and truly is with me. It was so difficult today not letting my self-hatred be the tape that was playing constantly in my head. I had to remind myself though this is solely my fault , I am not alone. Jesus is with me. I heard this morning:
And he shall destroy in this mountain the face of the bond with which all people were tied, and the web that he began over all nations.
He shall cast death down headlong for ever: and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from every face, and the reproach of his people he shall take away from off the whole earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
And they shall say in that day: Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have patiently waited for him, we shall rejoice and be joyful in his salvation.
-Isaiah 25: 7-9

God's Love destroys the mountain of self-hatred that we are all tied to. I know I am tied to it but today Jesus, to use a Biblical expression, totally layeth the Smacketh Down on that mountain.
He is The Rock on which I stand.


He reminded me today of what his name, Emmanuel, means, God is with us.
God wipes tears from every face... that is just so beautiful!

My friend Cheryl told me this the other day:
Every moment is a new moment to start again.

My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Professor Glick said this today in class:
Whenever I get stuck in a move, I ask myself "what did do to get stuck in this move?" Then I say, "What will I do differently next time so this doesn't happen again?" You have to pay attention to the details. The details are what will get you every time. If you let one slip you are done. So when I figure out what got me into that mess I make sure that I have the courage to do it differently next time... if there is a next time.

So now what? Will I continue down the path that I have worn out so much with self defeat and failure... or will I walk the narrow path with Christ who will always walk with me? I heard one day take the road less traveled... its just more fun!

So though it was a bad day in the morning, I still prayed morning and evening prayer, I went to mass and adoration, did my examen and I got a buttload of work down. All in all it was a pretty good day today. And tomorrow is a Brand New Day!

So tomorrow's blog is: The Temptations of Christ!

P.S. Here are the links on how to do all the Photo shopping I did for the Indiana Jones themed picture:

Pray well!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back with a Vengeance

+AMDG+


Amazing weekend! The Sisters of Life really are such beautiful and joyful women. Fr. Koterski, SJ, is such an awesome, insightful and funny man. I really enjoyed myself and God was/is so good to me!
(This picture is Salvador Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross. I borrowed this image from a news article about copyright infringement of this picture. It seemed fitting.)
Seeking the Face of Christ:
Through the Gospel of Life and Art

So not sure if I have any insights but I definitely want to share some of the ideas that were expressed to me especially stuff from Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth.

When I get the pictures I am gonna add some of them for this weekend.

Next Blog:
The Temptations of Christ!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Strategic running away!

+AMDG+
I AM OFF!!!

I going on retreat this weekend!

Going on retreat with the Sisters of Life!

They are awesome!

So no computer until Sunday. So here is an old reflection for all of you reading this, both of you. Hopefully I will come back on Sunday with either:

A) Deep insights into who is God and the Gospel of Life.
-or-
B)I will be well rested from sleeping too much.

Either way it should be a promising weekend.

Here is the link for the Readings:

25th Sunday In Ordinary Time Year C

Here is the reflection:


In the Gospel the disciples are arguing who is the best.
Christ tells them to be first they must be last. They must be a servant to all. He then embraces a child and tells them to do the same and they will receive him and the One who sent him.

The second reading from St. James matches this perfectly in the first line "jealousy and self-ambition." We see that even the disciples are struggling with these very issues. The three disciples whom Jesus took up to the Mountain on the Transfiguration were St. Peter, St. James and St. John. The three disciples whom Jesus asked to come with him were St. Peter, St. James and St. John. St. James is writing from experience here. He is writing, it seems, from a very intimate place, a place where he himself has struggled with for a very long time.

St. James says that jealousy and self-ambition are not from God. But if something is from God it is "first of all pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy," it has consistency and sincerity.

Christ was and is consistent and sincere. He showed consistency and sincerity when told them to receive the child and reminded them the importance of taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. The children. I am that child whom Christ embraces. Left to MY own devices and doing things MY way I will be unhappy and self destructive. That is the way it is for me. Since I realized my self destructive tendencies, I wished that I was not that way. But that is where I find Jesus. He is inside my deepest and darkest place repairing my damaged soul with His Love. IN my heart He paints "You are not alone. I will be with you until the end of time. Trust in Me." He reminds the disciples, by embracing others, that HE is in otHErs. "When you receive one of these little ones you received me and the One who sent me."

"Where do wars and conflicts come from?" Are they from God?
St. James tells me no. God is Unity and Oneness not division and separation. Diablos or Satan is that which divides. In the Hindu religion that which creates separation is Maya which means illusion. Maya is that which pretends there is not unity when in fact it is there. When I choose to go against the will of God in my life I choose to believe in the illusion of Maya or the Lies of Satan, because illusions are just that - lies. We see something which is not really there.


St. James then goes on to say: "Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war." He tells me that because of my passions or feelings I am in conflict with others. "That person makes me angry... I want that what they have because I want it (a feeling of entitlement that I am entitled to something without working for it.) I feel bad therefore I am a bad person. If I put someone else down I will feel better ( I am upset because I do not posses good self-esteem so I will try to take someone else's who seems that they are in a better disposition.) If I could just feel better then I would be better." This sort of thinking leads me to commit actions which would make me feel better. At one point for me it was drinking, or sex, at other points it was making someone feel bad so I could feel better. I would and will sometimes live in the lie that "if only I could have (blank) things would be different."

If only so-and-so liked me then I could be happy...
If only I had more money then I could be happy...
If only I had that job then I would be happy...
If only I was in shape then I would be happy...
If only... If only ... If only I would stop thinking "if only" then I would actually be happy.

My feelings are not a thermometer for my self-value.

Another interesting insight that St. James shares with me is that I do not possess something because I do not ask for it. When I do ask for it I do not receive it because my intentions are wrong and I would spend it on my need to feel better.

His comment on war reminds me of people who are "have-nots" want something that the "haves" have and war is started. Growing up for me it was a comic book I stole, or money, or candy, now I try to steal people’s self-respect and dignity. I cannot help but think about how this plays out on an international level with labor, human trafficking, oil, natural resources, land, food, medical supplies etc.

And even if I do receive what I ask for will I really use it for the great glory of God or the gods? Will I place what I have been given at the altar of Christ or the altar of myself or the gods I make in my life? What are my intentions?

St. James is writing from a personal experience. I wonder if St. James ever thought looking back now, "what did it really matter who was the best?" I wonder if St. James ever thought "maybe there is no best. If God already loves me and is in love with me fully and infinitely then maybe there is no best?"

I know from Christ's own words that my judgment will be on my own life, on my own soul. So God will not judge me on a curve. So in reality in our Christian tradition Christianity is not a competition. Christianity is not a competition. Christianity is not a competition. Christ tells me the measure which I judge others I judge myself. He does not say that the standards of others will be what you will be judged by. In essence competition is the way of the world and is not of God. Competition is "thinking not as God does but as human beings do. (Mark 8:30)" If Christ tells me that we are born in the world but are not of it, then we should leave their "values" behind.



I was instilled as a little child that I should be the best I can be. Fine. That I must be the best. Okay. That I be the best by stepping on the backs of others. Not fine. "First is best and second is the worse." "Good enough is never good enough." I grew up with images of the "cool guys" (cool=successful) gets the pretty girl. I was put in races during school. Made to feel bad when I didn't come in first and when I did win it was fleeting. My self-esteem and self-value became intrinsically linked with other people. Though I would never vocalize this, what I was really thinking was: I have less self-value because I cannot run as fast as... I do not make as much money as... I am not as smart as... I am not as good looking as... I am not as popular as... I am not as holy as...

St. James causes me to discern: is this competition from God? Well what is his measuring stick for things that are from God? Does me being obsessive about defeating my opponent, does this bring about peace? Is attacking myself because I am not good enough, is this gentle? The way I beat myself up for losing, is this full of mercy?

God gave me a grace in meeting the Jesuits. Anthony De Milo SJ has a great line:

You do not have to change for God to love you.

What a powerful message! It is something I just sit with in prayer. Anthony De Milo says to just sit with it like a seed and let it grow. I cannot force growth. I cannot pull a tree out of a seed. Since sitting with this saying a garden has flourished of a deeper understanding of God's love for me. I have learned that I change so that I prove to myself that I love myself. Changing for someone else is stupid and pointless. But changing for myself only has value. I want to change so I can be more open to God's grace, to my relationship with God.

St. James speaks from experience. He speaks to me from the time he was rebuked by Jesus for thinking the way human beings do and not the way God does. St. James, by his example, tells me not to make his mistake of comparing myself to others because this breeds jealousy and self-ambition...

Have a Great Halloween don't get too Mad this weekend!