Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Wrestler


St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that when we do Lectio Divina, or Sacred Reading, to see what stands out to us and to sit with that. As I was reading and praying over the readings the Psalm just popped out at me. I usually focus on the Second reading and the Gospel, but this week the Psalms just punched me in the face.

Psalm 27:1

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear?

The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?"

It is always nice to dream isn't...

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?

- Psalm 27:1-6

Do not be afraid... for nothing is impossible for God.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love Thy Enemy


Love Thy Enemy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

These are such difficult words! To be honest my initial reaction was, "well, who is my enemy?"

So I made a list of possible enemies:

I don't have an arch-nemesis like this:

Feels a little awkward

I don't think a specific race is my enemy:

I don't think I should stereotype a religious group, socio-economic class, political party, or a sexual orientation as being my enemy because they are not:

And then I was thinking, "Ah! Maybe my enemies are people who try to prevent me from getting to God." I asked two priests what they thought and the first one said, "Remember the Evil one causes them to do that and we don't have to love him. We can tell him to go to hell." Or as I suggested, "To stay in hell."

Drink your own poison, you home wrecker!!!!

And then I asked a different priest friend about who is my enemy, he said: "Maybe a better question is what does it mean to 'love' your enemy?"

That is a good question

This is what I came up with:

What does it mean "to love" your enemy?

Well what do I pray for when I pray for people I love?

That they may come to know You Lord. That they may know Your goodness and Your love for them. That You may bless their work and their ministries and that they may bring many people to you.

How do I treat those I love?

I listen to them. I share my joy and struggles with them. I make time for them because I look forward to seeing them. I want them to be happy and to face their struggles, not run away from them.

How do I love myself?

Recently I am having more mercy on myself and I am trying to be more honest about how I live my life and I keep trying to pray more, staying close to Jesus. Forgiving myself.

It is interesting to reflect how we love people and on how do we love those that are annoying, or rub us the wrong way, or put us down, or are abusive. This Christianity thing is not easy, my friend. I am struggling with this everyday. Our Christian life can be measured in our obedience to God, trust in His plan, and charity towards ourself and others.

I thought of this the other day:

Morality is about right and wrong. Charity is about going above and beyond.

Especially as Christians, our charity is called to go to infinity and beyond...

St. Buzz Lightyear of Space,
Model of Charity,
pray for us.

Pray well!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Go First and Reconcile with Your Brother

The Brothers Morgan-Núñez

Here are the readings for today.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
- Matthew 5:23-24

I will keep this short today because the reading is simple. My brother and I had a fight the other day. We sometimes don't see eye to eye and the other day was one of those days. I just ask that you think of people who you are at odds with offer the olive branch. Try your best to reconcile so you can be at peace with one another. There is a great expression I've heard a while ago:

"Unforgiveness is like drinking the poison and hoping the other person dies"

For me it is always a pride issue. I need to let go of that. Any time is a great time to do that especially Lent. Reconcile as best you can because the Lord wants us all to be one and one with Him and the Father (John 17:22).

Reconcile and let go and you could have fun like this video shows!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ask, Seek, Knock... but for What?


Here are the readings for today:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

I feel like I have heard this so many times it was difficult for me to pray over it and with it. I have taken a long time to write about this because I am trying to hear them with new ears and read them with new eyes.

All that keeps coming to mind is:

What is it that we want? What do I really want?

I think I can pretend to know what I want; but when I spend most of my life asking the question, "Who am I?" can I really have an answer? I think I start to act/want/desire on instinct and emotional whims as opposed to being grounded in knowledge. I have had so many issues and problems that I am working through now because I have followed those whims. I am grateful for where I am in life and for the experiences that have brought me to the point; but it begs the question, what have I been looking for? What are we looking for?

I think many of us know what it is we are looking for for but we are just too scared to say it. We feel that others might make fun of us of, our dream will shatter, or we will fail, or we will get hurt if we let others inside our hearts.

I think sometimes our hearts can be a scary place because it can remind us how far off we are from where we deeply desire to be. And also if we know what to do or what we want, then we have to do something about it.

Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin, says this:

"And the gift to be most afraid of is knowledge of what to do. Because if we know what to do, if our hearing has been sharpened and the Lord has spoken to us, and we do not pay attention, we are denying the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and we are failing in the virtues of faith , hope and charity. And if we keep on receiving inspirations and pay no attention to them for various reasons, then little by little that Voice will cease to speak, our hearts,will be hardened, our senses deadened, graces will be withdrawn from us. And then as we continue to receive Our Lord daily in the Blessed Sacrament, religion will indeed become for us the opium of the people."
-Dorothy Day

Then we can tell God, "Well I tried to follow You and You just didn't make it that clear." We still try to live in some fantasy world where we do what we want, and we say, "umm, Lord, I don't know what you want Lord, so I'll just keep doing things my way until you tell me in an obvious way. God's will be done."

I think we are scared of what we really want. I am reminded of this great scene in the movie Gladiator. Marcus Aurelius is talk to Maxmius and discussed the beauty of the dream of Rome. He says:

"There was a dream that was Rome.
You could only whisper it.
Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish,
it was so fragile."
- Marcus Aurelius from the movie Gladiator

I feel like this is how we feel about our dreams. We think our dreams are very precious and that they will destroyed by others. To prevent this we have tried to bury it so deep that no one will find it. We buried it so far down and now we forget where and how to get it.

I hope that God may show me what is my deepest desire and may show you yours.

Pray well!

Fiat Mihi Secundum Verbum Tuum


"Let is be done to me according to Thy Word."

Let us go and forget the world and live in God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sign of Jonah


Not even photoshopped! This is a Whale Shark getting ready to eat!

This is just an excerpt please read them from the link above.

Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation...
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

We can see the link to Lent with the 40 days of repentance and fasting in Jonah and God's mercy because of it. Jesus is angry at the fact that people do not understand why He is here. His teaching is not being understood and He will not do any magic tricks so that people might believe Him. The sign He will give us is the Resurrection, the only sign that is needed. This points to humanity that God will save and redeemed us from anything and everything; but do we believe that?

He says He will give us the Sign of Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days. I like to think this means that Jesus will be in the belly of the beast for three days. So what is that beast that he is in? I imagine this beast almost like Cerberus, the three-headed mythical dog that guards the Gates of Hades.

Disney's rendition in the animated movie Hercules. (Great movie and soundtrack!)

Each head represents something different. The first head is sin. The second head is death. The third head is separation. But the beast only has ONE body and that represents NOT TRUSTING IN GOD. In a sense sin, death, and separation are consequences of not trusting in God.

If we trusted in God and trusted that He has our best interest in mind then we wouldn't do things that offended Him. Sin is an offense to God. When we have someone in our life whom we trust with our life, we cherish that friendship. We would never want to betray or offend that person or their trust because we love them. If we trusted God, we would know that he has our best interest in mind and that we wouldn't need to grab for our happiness because we know it would be provided by God. God loves us unconditionally, it is not earned or loss EVER; He just loves us.

Our God is a God of the Living (Matthew 22:32). By the very fact of creation He wants His creation to have life and have it in abundance(John 10:10). We were NOT meant to die. Death is unnatural. It was never in God's original plan. But because of the Fall, because of man not trusting in God, man separated himself from God, who is Life itself. Grabbing the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was the ultimate act of self-destruction.

The third head is separation. We have been separated from God, others, and creation or maybe a better way of saying it is that we are not harmony with everything. We have forgotten our original connectedness that we once had. We can tell that something is off because it takes much work and disciple to recognize God's voice in our life.

Most of our relationships today are power struggles. Whether it is between a couple in a relationship or between friends, or large nations, or in our VERY Church itself. Someone has to be "on top." In relationships someone has to "wear the pants," as opposed to working together. Between our friends there is a need to be the best or the funniest or the best looking; and if someone wants to do a specific thing that others don't they become upset creating anxiety for the others. In nations countless wars are fought for resources, land, power, money, people, ideologies or whatever agendas are not on that list. Our Church has so much disunity and factions that one can see this very separation so clearly in a parish itself. Not to mention all the "Christian" churches out there causing more and more dismemberment in the Body of Christ.

So where is Jesus in all this? He has come not to capture the beats but to slay the beast.

He lets us know it is OK to trust God and that no matter how bad it gets God will always be there to bring us through it. Since we trust in God we will be brought through it not the way we THINK is best, but the way God KNOWS is best.

What does your experience tell? Think of a time when if you would have had what you wanted it would have been horrible. Sadly, I can think of like a dozen!

Think of your life. What does your experience say?

What does your heart say?

The same God that brought you to this point will not abandon you.

Jesus shows us that we can trust in God and he won't abandon us even though it may feel that way.

Well that is what came out of the reading from prayer and reflection. Or maybe the Jonah reference could refer to the song, My name is Jonas, by Weezer:

Great album!

Pray well!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How do we pray?


"Lord teach us to pray..." - Luke 11:1

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

I always have difficulty praying this prayer, the Our Father. I say it all the time. Every mass, every rosary, regular prayers, I pretty much say it everyday. We as Catholics say it everyday, let me say that again. WE SAY IT EVERYDAY.

Why do I stress this point?

St. Thomas Aquinas, as usual, puts it best:

"The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them."

This prayer is a double-edge sword, it can be our most liberating prayer we can say which can help us to never lose focus and deepen our relationship with God; or it can be the nail in our coffin.

"As WE forgive others..." I once heard a priest say at a teen mass say, "How does the 'Our Father' go? Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be my name. My Kingdom come, my will be done, on earth and forget about heaven. Right isn't that what say?" Everyone said no Father. He continued, "But isn't that what we mean though."

Do we really think God is our Father? Or that He is sacred and holy? Or that we want His will be done NOT ours? When we plan things out and ask God to make them happen, how can we say we really want His will to be done? Or is it that we HOPE His will ALIGNS with OURS? I was so inspired by this homily that I decided to finish "The World's Prayer":

our father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be My name,
My Kingdom come,
My will be done,
on earth and forget about heaven.
Give Me this day whatever I want;
and justify My trespasses,
as I hold against them, those whom got in My way;
and lead Me into temptation,
but deliver Me from Guilt. Amen.

It is such a difficult prayer that I wish we could preface it by saying: "Lord please make this my prayer!"

Be careful what you pray for, you might actually get it!

Pray well! Seriously, pray well!

To Whom Shall We Go? Archbishop Dolan DUH!!!!


A couple of weeks ago I saw Cardinal Schönborn, and today I got to meet the Archbishop of New York, Archbishop Dolan! He is Awesome!!!! What a great servant of God! Here he is at Theology on Tap in the city. Thanks to my friend Matt for bring the camera! You're awesome!

He is a great speaker and story teller. He was funny and charming this evening for sure!

He talked about St. Peter and the History of the papacy.

Then he shook hands with some of us. I was one of us.

Look how happy he looks. I totally get like a little girl around holy people.
He is showing us his pectoral cross.

We tried take a group shot and he was talking to my awesome friend Danny, in the blue shirt, about his cross.

At attempt number two I was trying to tell him to look at the camera but I am not about to tell an Archbishop what to do! LOL

He then asked Danny if he wanted to switch crosses and put his Pectoral Cross on Danny!!!!

Insane night God is good! He also told this amazing story of St. Peter at his martyrdom:

In 64AD the Roman Emperor, Nero who was one of the cruelest emperors of the all the Caesars, wanted to "clean up" Rome. So he set a fire in the slums of Rome to get rid of the poor people there. Thousands died that night and Nero figured he would blame it on the Christians, kill to birds with one stone. It would get rid of that new religion that is popping up. He put a bounty on the Bishop of Rome, which was St. Peter. St. Peter though he was transformed by Jesus he went back to his old ways... As he was leaving Rome passing through the Ostian Gate, he saw Jesus walking towards Rome. Peter said to Jesus, "My Lord, where are you going?" Or in Latin Quo Vadis? Our Lord answered "I am going to Rome to be crucified again." Peter, upon hearing this, got his courage from the Lord again and went back into Rome.

Archbishop Dolan then said, by the way, there's a great restaurant in Rome named Quo Vadis right on that spot -- you can get the best cannelloni there. Peter was captured and then taken to a little hill called the Vatican hill. There was a circus, an arena there and the great circus of the time was the martyrdom of the Christians. They wanted to execute him and they decided to crucify him like Jesus.

Peter said that he was unworthy to be crucified like Our Lord and demanded to be crucified upside-down. The Archbishop then said this, "I wonder what was thinking as looked out at Rome, seeing the city and everything in it upside down. I think Peter thought of the Lord who turned his life, his world, his values upside-down. He thought of the one who challenged everything he knew and believed. Even then looking at the world upside down, everything seemed more right side up than it had been before."

Caravaggio: Crucifixion of St. Peter

A Reading from the Gospel According to John.

When they had finished breakfast,
Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."