Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guest Post – A Close Moment in India

The following was shared by our good friend Jim working in Mumbai, India this week. Thought we’d share with you. Altogether, I guess this makes Three Catholic Men and a Blog.

It was an experience of piety and a close moment with God. I attended Mass at Holy Family Church in Mumbai, India last Sunday evening. I had no customer visits that day, so after some much needed sleep and working in the hotel it was time to challenge myself. It is no challenge to attend Mass on a "home" Sunday, but being 9000 miles away in a completely different culture, it’s more of an effort.

I had to leave the comfort and security of the hotel compound and walk the half mile down the busy city streets to get to the church. The adventure is not the concern of safety, but it is being the minority and knowing it. The streets are filled with thousands of people and loads of cars, rickshaws and a few dozen stray dogs. Mass was filled that night with some 500 people and I was the only non-Indian that was walking the streets and at Mass (I am not exaggerating the word “only”) and I defiantly stand out in a crowd here.

The close moment was when I entered the church. I was home (God's home); I was comfortable; I was accepted (by God and the people at Mass). When Mass started, the opening hymn was a beautiful song that I had never heard in the comfort of my home parish in the Chicago area. The singing was loud and faith-filled. The mother next to me noticed my silence and kindly leaned over with her open song book and used her finger to help me follow along until I caught on (just like we do with the kids). It was a close moment. I felt the kindness of God. 
The only two differences in Mass were first, at the time of sharing the sign of peace instead of everyone shaking hands and saying peace, everyone turned to each other and bowed with hands in prayer position near their face, like when greeting someone with "Namaste", but saying the word peace instead of Namaste.  Namaste is a common greeting originating from the Hindu and Buddhist faiths (a mix of the three religions/cultures). The second difference was that there is NO comfort of AC at this church. It had to be near 110°F. No one was complaining, but I was concerned I was going to pass out like a catholic school child at a Wednesday morning Mass after not eating breakfast. God gave me the strength I prayed for, and I will never complain about the temperature at my home parish again.
Everything else about the Mass, structure, reading and prayers were the same – exactly the same. I guess this is an example of why the definition or meaning of the word "Catholic" is "Universal".
P.S. - God is Good!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Issue a Challenge

I issue a challenge to pray for Kermit Gosnell (prefix “Dr.” intentionally left out) and all abortionists. Call them evil or blind or some combination of both, but Jesus died for them as much as anyone.

We tend to pray for the things that we want and the people we like. While this is not objectivity wrong, we should challenge ourselves to remain vigilant in asking God’s will and consider who needs our prayers the most, regardless of our feelings. In this way we can ensure our prayer life is not linked to our own selfishness.
Consider it like “fasting” from our favorite and most comfortable prayers to try a narrower path. I’ve heard it said that it is impossible to truly hate someone if you pray regularly for that person. Try it sometime as an act of the will. Of course, we should pray for all the victims too, who include the mothers as well as the children, but this is not very challenging to do. Prayer for the killer is uncomfortable, but being comfortable is not what Jesus promised us and is not the purpose of our life. I’ve also heard it said that a good Catholic will make many people feel uncomfortable.
Challenge Your Comfort Zone

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If Fish Could Talk

One day two fish were conversing in the ocean. The first fish said to the other “I’ve learned of something astonishing called Water. Apparently, this Water is all around us, provides everything we need and we could not exist without it.” The second fish was intrigued, but skeptical and set out to learn more about this remarkable thing.

After being gone sometime, he returned to report back to the first fish. He explained, “I’ve been all over this ocean from east to west, north to south, top to bottom and I have not seen anything that remotely resembles this Water of which you speak. I’ve seen nothing that could possibly surround, support & sustain everything.”

He continued, “During my long and tedious swim, I have deduced that Water is a delusion which exits only in the imagination of fish. Furthermore, belief in Water evolved as a social construct from various fish cultures to help explain how we can swim, breath and live. Look, the ocean can be a scary and mysterious place, so fish just made-up different kinds of Water a long time ago to help explain things.”

“But if you won’t believe in Water, how can we discuss things like earth, wind & fire?” said the first fish. “What are those?” said the second fish, “More superstitions? I have no more evidence of the existence of Water (or earth, or wind, or fire) than I do of a giant swimming seaweed monster or ‘The Fairy of the Sea’. THERE IS NO WATER! We would get along swimmingly if you would just forget your irrational belief; you are on the wrong side of oceanography my friend.” With that, the second fish swam off.
The first fish was left floating there and thought, “Better to be on the wrong side of oceanography than on the wrong side of reality.”

"but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:14

The preceding was posted in the early days of this blog and was inspired by a talk given by a Franciscan Friar named Fr. Albert Haase. I thought I’d re-post it with a few changes since we have more followers now and it’s such a fun story to share. Besides, I recently got a new fish tank and it all came flowing back to me.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Wrong Side of Reality

It’s been said that the key to joy in life is to keep the following acronym in its proper order.

Jesus First
Others Second
You Last

It also helps at times to look at things in different ways, from different angles, completely upside-down or backwards.


Each year I have discussions with my confirmation class about the importance of obeying God’s laws and how this translates to joy in our life. It’s a discussion about the reality of God’s spiritual laws (Moral Law/Natural Law/Divine Law). The kids find it easier to understand if I open with an analogy using physical laws.
Gravity pulls us down and we attune our life and safety around it. The law of gravity does not change regardless of our opinions of it or how well we understand it. It also does not change if we choose to ignore it. No matter what, it still keeps us stable on the ground. Living in harmony with the law of gravity allows us to live a joyful life. Disharmony with gravity will hurt us or even kill us. We really never break the law of gravity, it breaks us!!
I run through this pseudo dialog with the class between two fictitious people referring to our classroom window, up on the second floor:

Person A: If I jump out that window, I will fall UP.
Person B: No, you will fall down.
Person A: That may be true for you, but it is not true for me. I truly believe with all my heart that I will fall up; it’s what my conscience tells me.
Person B: I hear what you are saying, but there is something called gravity that is not controlled by your conscience, so when you jump out that window, you will fall down.

Person A: I know about gravity too and I can see that you are very closed-minded about gravity, thinking it goes only ONE way for EVERYONE. Gravity can move different people in different ways.
Person B: I am open-minded. My mind is open to reality and if you jump out that window you will fall down.

Person A: You need to respect the beliefs of others. Not everyone sees gravity the way you do.
Person B: I do respect you, but you are wrong. Please do not jump out of that window and please do not lead others to jump out.

Person A: You had better change your “downward” way of thinking. You and your kind are on the wrong side of history about gravity and you are dragging down the rest of us.
Person B: Better to be on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of reality.

It’s the same type of thing when we discuss God’s spiritual laws, which are inescapably linked to our faith and morals (and our joy). Whether it’s about respecting human life at the moment of conception to natural death or defining marriage as one man and one woman, God’s laws do not change regardless of human understanding or a lack thereof.
Another analogy the kids understand well revolves around sports. Let’s take basketball for instance; it has rules and officials. There are boundaries on the court as well. Does all this take the fun out of basketball? No, the rules, officials and boundaries make the game of basketball possible and make it exciting. Without them, no basketball player could ever fulfill his or her destiny as a basketball player. It’s the same with God's rules, God’s boundaries, and God’s officials (The Church). They make us free to find our destiny as human beings.
Spiritual laws are not meant to take the fun out of life; they are really laws of love and the boundaries are more like an embrace. The Good Shepherd tells us that if we live within these boundaries, He can protect us, guide us and love us; when we go outside of this embrace, He can't promise us these things. When we sin, we refuse God’s embrace in our life and then we wonder why we feel abandoned, depressed, prayers not answered, etc.....

Although this post was actually written a few days ago, it just happens to coincide well with the gospel for May 2nd that I read today by “mistake”. This was not planned, at least not by me. ;-)
“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11)

True Freedom