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The truth is, not Jesus as historically known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within men …

Albert Schweitzer, in The Quest of the Historical Jesus

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Christ within us – within each of us who process Christ.  Ah, but do you see this in our acts – knowing full well that acts are more than words?

Indeed, one might ask of self and others who profess Christ: Do the words match the deeds?

To say one acts and yet, acts in a manner that does not fit the words of professed belief – does not hold with professing Christ.

Listen carefully for the voice of those whose words are borne out by acts.  Their words flow in earnest.  They are not mere mortals but ones who have suffered and in that have met Christ in His suffering and knows that suffering grows faith.

Ironically, our longing for comforts and wealth in life buffer the sufferings and difficulties that are meant to serve our growth in faith, our closeness to God.

Too often people wrap themselves in comforts or wear the Church as a raincoat; but, in a raincoat can one ever knows the rain.  In life, rain falls so flowers may grow.

Christ is to be felt within.  Let the rain fall – comforts are over-rated.  Words must match deeds.

Christ: spiritually arisen with each of us who profess the Messiah.

Shalom.

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To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao-tzu

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The older I get, the more I settle into quiet and keep things as simple as possible.

I have no taste for crowds, fast roadways, complicated gadgets, air travel and such.  My diet is simple and ample.  Time with friends and family matter so very much.

The quiet seems right.  It leads to peace and prayer and conversation with God – a rendering of spontaneous gratitude for all I have been given, for the love I have received and the experiences large and small – the memories of people, places and events.

Now I see how grandchildren carry hope for tomorrow and bring that hope to me.  I see in them hope alive in their days, and their joys and pleasures, and a love so readily shared – so openly proclaimed by these little people.  Wonderful, so wonderful.  For me, they are proof of God’s existence and signposts for who we are meant to be, and how we are meant to live.

In the quiet and the solitude I am acutely aware of the confusion and pain that others create out of pride and their own disordered thinking.  Full of energy and themselves they make matters worse by insisting on changing things “for the better.”  They are not quiet people.  They seem to prefer the crowded clown car of the circus – yet, they always fight one another to be the driver.

In quiet I know both joy and sadness, I hear my breath and feel strongly the experiences that gave me depth and comfort, improved my vision, produced understanding – led me to faith and to God.

Now the voices of those I love are symphonies for me.  The memories of those I loved who have died are my favorite movies.  The memories of yesterdays my treasured photos.

Now I do not need much and in my days little tasks bring appreciation and satisfaction – sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, keeping the grounds clean … I notice the pleasure of such things – the cool afternoon breeze off the mountains and the changing landscape as the sun moves west and fades slowly into tomorrow.

Proper quiet gives the fullness of being.

Shalom.

The important lesson that the family taught was the existence of the only unbreakable bond … between human beings.

The decomposition of this is surely America’s most urgent social problem.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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Imagine what might happen if people began to examine public policy at the national and state level from this perspective: what does this policy do to promote intact families?

Asking that one question, I suspect, would raise real doubts about our public policies.  Indeed, I bet if that became a threshold question – the negative effects of policy on family would lead to abandonment of a very significant number of government activities that have produced harm rather than good.

It seems to be we do little to fortify the family.  Take divorce for example – most states entertain “no fault” divorce.  Want a divorce?  No problem.  Divide a child from his father?  No problem.

Think about the present subsidy going to single, unmarried women with children who continue to have more children with other men.  How does this help anyone?  The children?  The women?  The men who fathered these children?  A community?  A city?  A state?  A nation?  The family?

Ironically, divorce lawyers seem untainted by what they do … I’ve not met one that wonders what effect divorce has on this society.

Those who advanced the “sexual revolution” rarely seem to be asked what effect they have had on family, on children, women and men?  On intimacy?  On human dignity and maturity, responsibility, virtue, honor, loyalty, fidelity?

In sum, I guess I am somewhat astonished that we never seem to examine what we do in vital areas and the public course we set even though we see injury and disarray among American families – so fundamental to our health, peace and prosperity.

Shalom.

 

I have heard the slander of many, terror is on every side … But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.”

Ps 31: 13, 14

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Recently I had a chance encounter with a lovely young lady who was collecting signatures for a fellow to be placed on a local electoral ballot as an “Independent.”  In the course of conversation I noted that I had been active in politics for over 50 years.

She acted surprised, “Gee, you don’t look that old … I thought you were about 50.”  Then she asked, “How have you stayed so young?”

My answer was a simple one: “Honestly, I think the key was to take whatever adversity comes your way and work with it – never flee from what life brings.”

I added that I had never been able to avoid the challenges life had for me and that they were, from birth, a number of significant losses, deaths, betrayals and hardships.  Then, I made this point – “When you face adversity you learn things you could not learn otherwise, you grow stronger, wiser and those experiences put you in a position to help others who will in time come to you when they face difficulty.

My point to her is King David’s point above.

He is telling us to turn to God in times of trouble, to put our faith and trust in God and good things will happen.

In a way he is saying just what I said.  When adversity came I (unconsciously) put my trust in God who called me into life.  I did not run, or panic, or rely on my “genius” or someone to rescue me.

My willingness to face adversity was an act of obedience to God and showed my trust in Him.

He has never failed me once.  Here I am almost 73, looking like I could be 50 years old!

Adversity comes.  Trust in God.  That keeps you young and of strong mind and disposition … and it brings insight, humor and joy to you as you live life.

Shalom.

There is no less holiness at this time … than there was on the day the Red Sea parted …

Annie Dillard, in For the Time Being

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What if each day, everything you saw was sacred to you?  Yes, what if you saw it just as it actually is …  

Would your life not change radically and for the better?  Would you not see more, experience all, know that all is sacred and that you are surrounded by what is holy?

Would life not be all the more like heaven?  Would such a life not be far better and more beautiful and peaceful?  Would happiness and humility not be the ground of our existence – our natural state?  Would we not leave our worries and anxieties behind?  Leave our doubts?  Cease to be in conflict?  Have enemies?  Would we not all be friends and family – brothers and sisters?

How long we have lived falsely, without seeing.

Have we not lost the thing right in front of us?  Imagine what we have squandered and lost – all the endless gifts contained in each and every breath we breathe.

If we only saw … … … what is right before us … and all around us …

Time to see.

So see … what you have been given … and, in seeing, live; and, be for others, rejoice, know happiness, contentment and gratitude … know that heaven is here and not just “there.”

Shalom.

 

… autobiography – the story of the formation of self – is one of the most enduring genres of Western literature.  Historically, writers view the self as a soul; for them the story of life is a spiritual autobiography.

Amy Mandelker and Elizabeth Powers, in Pilgram Souls

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You have a biography, a story – just as we all do.  But do you know this?  Have you come to know the clarion events of your life, their consequence to you – how life has shaped you, what your central story is?  In short, do you know who you are and has your reflection brought you to understand your life and life itself.  If not, you are probably lost, less than you can be and standing on a narrow patch with the inclination to defend your existence as you know it – at all costs.

The point to be made is this: if you do not know your story – life closes in on you and joy closes down.  What can be joyful and instructive is lost and all energy goes to defending your self as you have defined it – not as life defines it, as being itself defines you in the context of the divine reality that you are called in being by the grace of God.

Think about this.  Otherwise you are missing the movie.

Shalom.

 

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong.  Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Our Zen Buddhist friend makes a very good point.  One that the Leftist today would be wise to learn and apply.

Think about it – a steady drum beat of negativity is hard to endue.  Life is not all bad or all good.  Life is life – somethings are problematic, others are not.  Problems arise along side pleasures.  That is life’s baseline: problems and pleasures.  Doomsday complaints are overstated.

Constant complaining misses the good that is always present.  The wise see both what is good and what is problematic.  Their words are temperate, not extreme.  Constant complaints distort reality, create a pall over all things and can show illness or hostile intent.

Pure instinct alone ought to tell us that those who constantly complain have lost their way.  The good is always present.  Dark clouds do not banish the sun.  The glass is always (on average) half full – not empty or broken.

One cannot long survive with those who are always negative.  Negativity becomes a habit.  It is the enemy of reality, contentment and peace.  Maintain a negative outlook long enough and one does not see the good, solutions to problems as they arise.  Digging a ditch one loses the horizon – and there is always a horizon.

Be positive and be around positive people – those with hope and a lively upbeat nature.  Be someone with hope to bring and offer that to others in your mere presence, and in your way of seeing and experiencing the world – in all its twists and turns.

Shalom.

Hysteria – Lots of hysteria in the air in Washington, D.C. but little concern that (according to news reports) Ms. Clinton made available to others (including other countries, adversaries) President Obama’s daily intelligence briefing by NOT having and using a secure computer system.  Not good.

Negativity can lead to hysteria and partisanship and cause people to lose sight of very significant problems.  Negativity breeds a distorted view of life, folds people in on themselves, and can breed hostility and persecution.  Not good.

All sins are attempts to fill voids.

Simone Weil

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Life isn’t hard if you just listen to people who are smart and leave us some valuable guideposts.  Of course as people – we tend to charge ahead hitting objects head-first without a helmet.

And, then – there are things that find us – hardships, inconveniences, bad deeds and thoughtless things done by others others.  These produce the occasion to sin – to react harshly and “get even.”  But the greatest frontier as to sin – is us, each of us.

We are sinners.  Every one of us.  (That’s why God and mercy are so necessary to our existence, our over-arching story.)

Think about this: when you sin, ask yourself what void has this sinful act uncovered in me? 

Many of the sins we see are “deficits” we experience related to the want of intimacy, or power, or status, or identity, or a place in the group or the world.  Once you discover this, sin can be defused – and then, all the more, when you realize God is vital to your full grow and development – your contentment, peace and relationship with others comes into full form.

The more sin is defuse – the more others become your brothers and sisters.  That joy awaits you.  God speed.

Shalom.

 

His presence is affirmed and adored by the absence of everything else.  He is closer to us than we are to ourselves, although we do not see Him.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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There are times for each of us that we feel absolutely alone.  Sometimes this feeling lasts for a long period of time.  We may have lost someone we loved, or have grown old and know that our grown children now are absorbed by their family’s needs and their work.

Maybe we have endured illness alone, or are retired and feel adrift.  Perhaps we have lost a friendship or been excluded by others.  In these times we feel lost and abandoned – very alone and lonely.

Yet, in these times that we are alone, we are alone with God.  In this state we may have been cleansed of things that we sought as if they were the Divine, the source of our meaning and purpose.  Things, no matter how good they are, are NOT God.

Yes, in those lonely moments we are with God and God is with us.  These stark moments are precisely the time that you can come to realize that all the things you loved and became accustomed to – kept you from an intimate, eternal relationship with God, your Father and Creator.  These lonely times are really a time of turning, of discovery – a time to draw closer to God, to come to know God as the center of your life, the source of your being.

In what seems like loss is, properly considered, gain of the one thing – that which endures, stabilizes, gives meaning and purpose, restores contentment and offers joy.  So often the things we have depended upon come to show us that they are not God, not what is most satisfying and most important to our happiness and existence.

Fear not, God is near – God is always near.

Shalom. 

Every baptized Christian is obliged by baptismal promises to renounce sin and to give himself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that he may fulfill his vocation, save his soul, enter the mystery of God, and there find himself perfectlyin the light of Christ.”  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Life and Holiness

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When you look and observe all sorts of disordered behavior, hostility, division and antagonism – you might ask: How can this be, we were once a united nation and when we disagreed we did so in a civil and respectable manner – a way that did not make us enemies?

Now if you are a Christian, the above words of Thomas Merton might help you understand why we are where we are, and how we might restore what we once knew and enjoyed.

The “how?”  We have forget the gifts of our baptism.  We forget the extraordinary significance of being one with Christ, being a Christian.  Having forgotten our legacy and its inheritance, we reverted to self and selfishness – to godlessness – a life without Christ at the center of our being.

For a Christian, our separation from Christ is a guarantee for calamity, disintegration, division, antagonism, hostility, unhappiness, sin and destruction of all that is good.  Abiding by our Baptismal gifts – we prosper, find strength and happiness – build friendship, family and community – and know joy and humility and courage.

Yes, in baptism we are “called out of darkness.”  In its neglect we court darkness – and see it surround us today.  Ah, but you can change that!!!

Shalom.

 

 

 

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