Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Being VS Doing


Yesterday was one of those days that caught me off guard.

I woke up early yesterday to head to my parish and my pastor asked me to work with some volunteers who came to help. He reminded me that they were MRDD (Mental Retardation and Developmentally Disabled). So I tried to find something that they could do. We moved some wood to the garage and swept the front and backyard.

What really hit me hard was one of the guys. The other two were both really funny and did most of the work. But the third one was around my age. He couldn't do much at all; he was pretty much adult baby. At first I was feeling very sad while looking at him and I thought, "What can he do?" And the response back was, "Who says he has to do anything? He just is."

I place so much value on what I can do, or how much I contribute, or what I have accomplished as if it really matters. I think what hit me so hard about trying to work with him was that reminded me of how limited I have been recently. Since my depression in November there have been many things I can and cannot do. I would sit in my head and think of all the things I could be doing or all things I should have done and I would stress myself out ad infinitum.

But I do not think you have to be depressed to think this way. Usually the second question we ask someone, after their name, is, "and what do you do?" Most people, when talking about someone they will say, "This Bob and he is a lawyer." But our value is not in what we do it is in who we are.

This is by Jason Quinones. Here is his blog and here is where you can this shirt.

It is a hard lesson to learn because our society tells us the opposite. Our identity is so interconnected with our work that when one does not work they might be looked down upon.

But our faith tells us something different. "We are made in the image and likeness of God." We have value because God has given us value, because we are made to reflect the Divine. According to the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, when God says, "I am who am," Aquinas understands that as meaning, "I exists as existence." He talks about how for something to exist is has to have being or it cannot exist. God is being and we share in His being.

We call ourselves human beings. We know intrinsically that we are important because we are human not because of what we can do as a human being. But yet we push forth the lie of "I have value because of what I do." An example of this is when people get paid more money for having more skills than others or people will say how she is a valuable asset to the company, not a valuable person. Few say it verbally but must believe this without knowing. This has begun to effect our children and I myself am a product of this type of mentality. There was a point when a person would learn to become educated and now people learn to get money, to buy things or to feel important. I saw this the other day:

I was blown away by this.

Does no one see how bad this has gotten and is getting? People are becoming more and more Human DOINGS than Human BEINGS.

Do you see yourself as a Human DOING or a Human BEING?

How do you think God sees you?

Pray well!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Epic Smallness


Today was an amazing day! The Frassati retreat was amazing, simply amazing. I gave, actually God gave it through me, a presentation on the book "The Wounded Healer" by Henri Nouwen and it was incredible. The conversations and discussions that came out of it were excellent. People testified to Hope in the face of their suffering.

But the best thing about today was going to mass and confession with an amazing priest. I felt I was healed today of something. In talking about my depression this priest told me:

When you feel small it is then
that your prayers are great.

He told me that the prayers of a suffering person who is feeling small are powerful because you try to work through it to pray to God for your intentions.

This amazing insight was brought to you by Fr. Conrad CFR. AMAZING PRIEST!!!! Please pray for him especially as you read this!

No fancy pictures or clever puns but just a simple, unadulterated insight.

Pray well!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Get Up and Make Your Bed!


Here are the readings for today.

"Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed." - Acts 9:34

"Louis, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed." - Today in prayer.

But do I believe that? Do I truly believe in my heart of hearts that the Lord has healed me? What have I been healed of? I still commit the same similiar sins (but that is of my own free will because I don't want to stop doing them yet). My low self-esteem is still there. I still struggle with anger and impatience, I still struggle with impulsivity and lust. I still struggle with despairing and not putting God first in my life. I still struggle with loneliness and intimacy. So what am I healed from?

"There is no balance here. There is a focus."

Why do you act as if I have done nothing for you? The breathe in your lungs is from me. The light in the universe is from me. Your gifts are mine given to you. I did not give them to you blindly but for others. Bring them to me Louis. You have heard it before, "The very soul you just might save might be your own." When you want to let go of the sin I will help you but for now my grace lessens the damage. I have never failed you and show mercy to yourself as I do.

"Louis, Jesus Christ, my Son heals you.
Get up and go make your bed."


Sorry God... I'll get right on that.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Burning House


Haiku of a Wake

I went to a wake today.
It terrified me to no end
I'm scared to lose you.

I think what disturbed me the most about it was the mouth. It looked like it was sown together. I saw the faces those I love, one at a time, while I was kneeling and praying. Death really scares me. One day I will die. People who are so very important to me will pass away and I will not be able to speak to them physically again.

I never really think about it. It is a reality I read about or hear about on the news but never really experience it. Society tells us not to pay attention to it, to live our lives as if we will never die. Society, well at least in the America, wants us to avoid thinking about our afterlife and focus only on the here and now. Many times the afterlife will be portrayed as a joke or a fairytale told to children and if we are educated we will realize how stupid all of that really is.

The story of the Buddha reminds me of this. He was prophesied to be either a great king or a teacher of all people who will break the cycle of rebirth and death. As he was being raised by his stepfather, the king, he was groomed to be his successor. His stepfather gave him all the pleasures he wanted and hid from him all the pains of the world. One day he was taking a ride in a carriage, sees an old man and is shocked by this because he has never seen old age before. The next day he sees a sick person and is stunned with his first experience of sickness. The next day he sees a man dead in the road and realizes the shortness of our lives. After studying with different masters and schools of thought he decides to seek Enlightenment under a Bodhi tree and the rest is history.

Cool pic, huh?

He give this Parable of the Burning House to his disciples:

One day, a fire broke out in the house of a wealthy man who had many children. The wealthy man shouted at his children inside the burning house to flee. But, the children were absorbed in their games and did not heed his warning, though the house was being consumed by flames.

Then, the wealthy man devised a practical way to lure the children from the burning house. Knowing that the children were fond of interesting playthings, he called out to them, "Listen! Outside the gate are the carts that you have always wanted: carts pulled by goats, carts pulled by deer, and carts pulled by oxen. Why don't you come out and play with them?" The wealthy man knew that these things would be irresistible to his children.

The children, eager to play with these new toys rushed out of the house but, instead of the carts that he had promised, the father gave them a cart much better than any he has described - a cart draped with precious stones and pulled by white bullocks. The important thing being that the children were saved from the dangers of the house on fire.

Our life is that Burning House which will eventually collapse and be left to nothing. It is a scary thought, at least for me. I think of the man with the sealed lips... I was hit with the reality that those lips will not say the words, "I love you," anymore. I think that is what really scared me.

But this is Easter.

The season of the Resurrection when Life conquered death. Jesus comes to truly break us from death not by making us nothing; but by affirming that our life is worth something with His death. He conquered death! That is insane! Lord help me to realize with this means more and more everyday.

Pray well,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm Hungry and Thirsty!!!!!


Here are the readings for today.

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." -John 6:35

I also heard, "and you will always have a purpose."

What is it I really hunger for? What is it I really thirst for? Is it companionship, success, glory, respect, pleasure, not to be alone anymore? These are all very true for me but what I really hunger for is connectedness.

I want to belong somewhere, I want to be a part of something. Not just something I go to once and a while, but a place I can be at. I want to feel connected to God... I have before. I feel I have had moments of being connected to God. Moments where I have been so joyfull (this spelling is done one purpose). I long for that again, that feeling of being loved and knowing everything will work out. Longing for knowing that my Heavenly Father is going to take care of me.

Then there are moments when I do not feel connected to anything or anyone at all. No particular person, no ideology, no family, no friends and certainly not God. Nothing. But I have never not felt connected from the Church. I think because deep down it is me. At the very core of my being is the Church. Maybe that is why I always feel at home in the Church. It has always been familiar and ever new. There is always something different and something new. There is always something I have missed or now I see with new eyes.

What I really thirst for is purpose. I want to know there is a point to all of this. I want to know my life matters. I want to know my pain is not useless. I want to know what I am meant fir specifically... but I don't think that might be possible. I am not meant for just one thing. I am meant for so much more. Nothing in this world happens in a vacuum. Even vacuums don't happen in vacuums happen in something. Why do I think my life is different? Maybe I am struggling with the vastness of my purpose.

Today we read about St. Stephen.

Pretty much every single Christian who has ever lived has heard of/been affected by/been effected by/been inspired by St. Stephen. Right now there are over a billion Christians in the world and over the last 2,000 years, how many have there been? His death even inspired the Apostles. But time does not end right now (it will go on for God knows how long) how many more people will be influenced by him? I wondered if he spent most of his time thinking of what to do with his life or did he spend his life living? My purpose... what is my purpose... to know, love and serve God.

I really need to stop wasting my time worrying about what to do and actually go and do something.

Pray well!

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Than These?


Here is the reading for today.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” - John 21:15

This scene in John's Gospel is so beautiful. "Do you love me more than these?" I have heard this Gospel so many times, but today I felt like I heard something new. When I heard these words at mass yesterday I had this image of the three people I love the most come into my mind. It was as if God was asking me:

"Do you love me more than these people?"

I was taken aback because I never thought of this before. I guess I always thought this meant things. Like I love my TV and my PS3 (which I do).

"Whose the best TV in the world? You are. Yes you are." (smooching)

But I keep thinking, do I love God more than these people. These are the ones who have helped bring me to God. The other day I remember thinking how these people have my heart; but is the Lord in my heart? There are days when I feel that way and days when I don't. If I love God, do I give myself to him as I do with other people?

How does one give themselves to God? How do I give myself to others? I feel like that negative voice takes over so much that it creates a downward spiral of self loathing and then I don't feel like I have anything to give to anyone.

I can only explain it as if someone binded me up and threw me into a large cave with a deafening echo. There is no light and every sound is heard. So when negative thoughts occur it is as if the echoes create infinite echoes. I have to remind myself this is not true. I do not feel this way I just believe I do. And since I can only hear myself I don't think about others. I feel like a burden to other people many times. And then when that happens I don't understand why people love me. Then their love becomes painful. It literally hurts me.

"But Louis son of Louis, do you love me?"

Why is it so difficult to accept love? I have to remember that I am loved because when I don't I cannot love another. It seems much easier to love a person who is physically in front of me, than the invisible God. But my God became incarnate. He became a physical person to show me he loves me. So do I love him back?

Jesus meets me where I am at. He comes down to my level. This can only be real if I know and accept what level I am at. So why do I keep denying what level I am at?

Pray well.