God-Given Talents

 

Talents 

Five, Three and One

 

God entrusts his possessions to us. Please note the pronoun, “his.” The Creator loaned us, the created, talents to be entrusted. Entrusted – to be kept safe but never hidden away, shared with all but owned by none, individually encouraging toward others to excel personally in their talents and gifts, and also achieve a degree of satisfaction within ourselves for the good we perform every day. (Once in awhile, patting yourselves on the back is good for your spiritual and physical health.) That’s what entrusted means.

We are finally globally realizing that as a planet we need to work together. How many centuries did it take us silly, selfish humans to own that simple principle? But alas, if you can’t get along with your next door neighbor then how do you expect France to work with Spain or North Korea with their neighbor, South.

The requirement for giving the talents was to earnestly invest them to a higher amount, toward a greater end. The talent of each of our lives is not be lived solo for ourselves but to continually reach out to others in kindnesses, mutual trust and rebuilding bridges that so often get tattered and torn.

In the midst of all this talent stuff, we need to be reminded of life’s number one sin. Do you know what it is? I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s selfishness. It is idolatry. It’s not the idolatry of the golden calf that Edward G. Robinson built while Charlton Heston was on top of the mountain; this is the idolatry precisely centered around the most important person in the world, Moi.

The master knew what the third guy would do with his one talent, that’s why he received only one while the others got more. The third guy was only looking after himself after grasping the one talent he held in his hand, never to invest or share with others. The third guy indeed “went off and dug a hole” and placed himself inside of it. He buried himself to protect himself. His only perimeters about living life were his shoulders. He defended only himself out of a childish, selfish fear. That’s the number one sin within us all. The man sends the third guy into darkness. I find that amusing because the third guy was already in a selfish darkness. The master only named it for the third guy.

Catholic confessions ought to be easy from now on. I don’t need your list. Just say, “Father, I’ve been selfish.” I don’t need the quantity or when you last went to confession. And, I don’t need the details, I know about them from my own life. God only needs to hear that you admit to centering your life around the unique person that you think you are. That’ll save you from saying wrenching stories and saves me time hearing them. We both win in God’s eyes.

Did you know that priests can have Mass all by themselves? It’s an old custom that’s gone away but not entirely. I wonder what the Sign of Peace looks like when the priest is all by himself. And, if I’m not mistaken it’s called “Mass,” as in “a mass of people” for a reason.

But, please beware. There’s a risk in community living. You don’t always get your way when compromise is the solution, you are not the center of attention in a community in spite of the volume of your voice, and entering late to make a grand entrance is merely petty self-indulgence.

The talents the master handed out wasn’t coins to be invested. The man was handing out uncertainties when “two or three are gathered in my name,” he placed insecurities in their hands when their opinion is one among many. He gave them a pocketful of hopeful chancey-ness all wrapped up in a divine trust, a communal belief system, and a firm conviction in the goodness and worth of other people.

We each become larger people because of the larger people who surround us. (And I don’t mean the wide, physical width of Milwaukeeans but the inspiration and innovation that communal life brings forth.)

Thanksgiving is around the corner and families again gather. I’ve eaten Thanksgiving meals alone. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Good food, like good sacraments, are always enjoyed and much more pregnant with God’s hope when eaten together as the “Body of Christ.”

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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Practice Makes Perfect?

Sports-balls-1You’re young and show up for practice to teach you the tools you need to efficiently perform in your sport. You regularly practice and never miss a practice (verb and noun from the same word) until you get it right. That’s life’s formula preparing you for whatever career, because of your learned sport’s discipline.

Oh, but wait! If you become either a doctor or lawyer, you never stop practicing. What’s with that?

“I sold my practice a couple of years ago” to a larger law firm says a retiring lawyer. Who’d want to buy a “practice?” Didn’t they get it right after all those years? “I want to begin my own practice,” says a young doctor and that one I understand. Get yourself out there. Do some good things. Get to know your patients. (Another great use of the word “patient,” when starring at the table sign that says, “If you’ve been waiting for more than fifteen minutes…” My concluding end of the sentence is, “Now you are truly a patient. Please find a different doctor.

Still practicing?

Both lawyer and doctor have practiced their respective careers only to retire, still practicing. Where’s the feeling of perfection and satisfaction after a stressful day? Where’s the word “practice” is confidence and pleasure?” “The practice went well today,” the coach says to the anxious team about tomorrow’s big game. “I know we’re ready, now let’s get out there.” See! The practice is over and tomorrow is the performance to demonstrate what the practicing did.

With my pretend Masses at ten-years-old, I practiced and imagined who I could be. I tried to mimic the real thing I witnessed daily at Church. Fast forward eighteen years and I’m standing in front of a congregation wishing for words of encouragement or enlightenment to lighten up their upcoming week. You can see it in their eyes staring up at me, “Give me something Father that I can take home with me tonight. Something to remind myself of, something to teach my children, something I can carry to work with me.”

I guess my first few sermons were practice. I got to know the people and threw away all my graduate notes with words no one uses in daily conversation. I talked to them. I wanted a chuckle from them to know they’re listening. I wanted to zing them at the end to sharpen my point. I was no longer practicing, I was preaching, and they’re listening.

“You are who you represent yourself to be.”

A wise friend told me, “You are who you represent yourself to be.” I carry that with me daily. Those guys rose up above priests in our cultural status with their “practices, ” but I’ve perfected the gift given to me. I’m not practicing priesthood. I now know the confidence and satisfaction when Mass has ended.

I guess what it amounts to is if you want to be a patient or a client. I hope I never need either but I know that you and I will always need someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

 

 

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An “All School Mass” Sermon for Grade Schoolers

(A reflection for people from first to eighth grade. After taking to an eighth grader at the end of a class I taught, he dared me to include saying, “rocking chair” in a sermon. I met his challenge.)

Group-portrait-of-elementary-school-kids-in-school-corridorIt’s interesting, you can take almost anything about our culture and say the opposite and then be right with the Catholic Church. Let’s try a few. Take something from our U.S. culture and find its contradiction (its truth) in our Christian faith.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t some gilded, gold mansion but a small, dark barn with a manger to hold the Christ child while he sleeps.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t some far place in the sky where you end up when you die, but it’s in every, single classroom, lunchroom, playground, the gym here at Christ King parish.

The gift of wisdom is not passed on to you by your smart parents, it’s slowly learned through life experiences to include integrity, dignity, and authenticity. (Three words your teachers can tell you more about.) Integrity, dignity and authenticity.

The Christ child was not born at a Motel 6 because they forgot to leave the light on…but placed in a place where the animals eat their hay and wheat.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a reward, but it’s the fulfillment of a meaningful life lived as much as possible right here and now.

Eating the Body of Christ isn’t a prize or award for being good, but it is the food that leads us to goodness.

Getting angry with a brother or sister isn’t getting even, but it’s a warning bell ringing out for God’s forgiveness.

Being calm doesn’t mean a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, but it does mean being calm and resting in a rocking chair with a good book, a sleeping baby or a purring cat. (Got him!)

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t some gilded, gold mansion but it’s thanking the crossing guard for getting you safely to the next block.

I was let go from my job working with older adults after 22 years or did the Holy Spirit want me to talk to you young people this early morning at Christ King parish?

Jesus wasn’t born from a beautiful princess with wealth beyond imagination but to a 13 or 16-year-old young girl who becomes God’s Mom.

Jesus wasn’t famous because he starred in a movie or married a famous Kardashian but his fame was in his words, his attitude, his love for his Father and in a terrible thief’s death for our salvation.

Wealth and wisdom make you special and famous but wealth isn’t about money but the worth of your personal life and intelligence isn’t about being smart, but it’s taking what you’ve learned and experienced and applying it to your daily life.

Young people are the future of the Church our culture tells us when truly you are the Church right now, as much as I am, in this time and place.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t some gilded, gold mansion but it is a manger in a dark barn where spiritual food is served every day of our lives – the Body of Christ – from an infant whose mother said of his birth, “Yes” to an angel who said to her, “Do not be afraid.”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

 

 

 

 

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Life’s “Run of the Mill”

“The foolish ones [virgins] said to the wise [ones], ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25.

 

candle_3011

A Burning Candle

“I haven’t seen you for awhile, what have you been up to,” asks a good friend. Listen to her responses as well as those of others. “Well, ‘this and that.’” Wow. Another great conversation exchanged on this glorious and adventurous and mysterious and sometimes baffling journey we call life.

Are “this and that” equal in amount or is there sometimes more of life’s that’s than the this’s!? Or does her this’s beat out her that’s? It now becomes my job and responsibility to work out and to figure out what she’s trying to tell me by my asking her a simple question that is asked to all of us every single day? The work I need to do that should be done by others.

The response I love is, “the usual,” as though anything unusual would never cross this person’s path. Anything unusual would surely throw this person a curveball, never to be caught. “Same old, same old” is not only grammatically redundant but truly summarizes this individual’s human existence; second only to, “been there, done that.” Hearing that kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it? The weirdest response to a question about your wellbeing is, “Oh, you know.” This is a fill-in-the-blank response. “No, I don’t know.” If I knew the response, I wouldn’t have asked the question!

“Miscellaneous” is a cool word, but it only suggests as much as “bits and pieces” does. “Hodgepodge” is the individuals with a messy desk that reflects the inner workings of their brains. You can add “mishmash” to this growing list that includes “mixed bag” and a writer’s laziness in typing, “etcetera” at the end of a sentence, leaving it to our imaginations to complete the writer’s thought.  In your mundane reality of living, use the word “paraphernalia” to justify your humanity and then ask your friend to spell it.
Is the routine of our predictable days so habitual that nightly television satisfies our lack of daily drama? What pushes the bed covers away in our early mornings, especially during winter months?

Is it the earned buck just for showing up or is it a growing and evolving process in your life that amounts to passion, commitment, and resolve. Is there enough passion in your life to make you smile or cry at either its success or failure? The biblical lamp oil leads us to passionate occupations and commitments. And then, ironically, that same oil keeps that flame alive and even increases its fiery blaze throughout our lives. It is the flame of life and the flame of our faith.

Flames like seeking out new insights to old problems, uncovering a new side of an old friend (“I didn’t know he had it in him!”), an important book read for the third time, the clouds formation and reformations segue into dusk, the stillness of a November evening like the one I’m witnessing writing this, the memories that earned the adjective “cherished” and those labeled “forgiven but not forgotten,” a simple, new goal to be completed the same day, a touching phrase or impressive thought told by a friend that you want to remember (but not the “this or that” friend).

Mine’s a silly list of sundry items – or is it? How often we say to ourselves, “Tomorrow, something will excite me again” while all the time, the this’s and that’s of today escapes us when today is the one and only one we genuinely hold and possess, like a burning lamp.

“Tomorrow” is sadly but safely housed in the attic of those “Same old, same old” people. Passions and commitments are the beauty and force that makes this life worthy of the value of each of our breaths.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

 

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“A Royal Priesthood”

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ Matthew, 23

priesthoodIt’s tough being a priest. Housekeepers and cooks, being driven everywhere, paid for meals at expensive restaurants, weekly gifts of checks and cash. Everyone calling you what Jesus expressly told us not to call you, “Father.”

“Ahhhh. The agony of it all!” But I cope as best I can. (I hope do not believe any of this.) Many years ago, however, I do remember being at a party and a priest walked in with his housekeeper. She drove him and made his drinks. Might as well have called them, “Mr. and Mrs.” I just smiled to myself and thought, “How do I get one of those?”

Next week you will all be receiving a customer survey telephone call from this parish. Using your touchtone phone, it’s four simple questions.

It’ll say,

“In the interest of priestly quality assurance providing a happy environment for all Christ King parishioners, please answer the following questions by pressing 1 for being ‘poor’ or pressing 5 for being ‘great.’”

-Did Father greet each and every one of you as you entered church today using your first name?
-Did Father tell each parent with a child under five years old, “What a beautiful child you have?”
-Did Father open all the envelopes taken during the collection before distributing communion to you?
-Did Father smile sufficiently during Mass to make you want to return to church?

Thank you for your time. Your answers are all anonymous. Only your Social Security number will be recorded and saved.”

As I was typing this Wednesday night, I saw a large bird sitting on top of a tall tree outside my window. The view he must have had up there. What was he thinking, I thought. Was he thinking, “I’m ‘on top of the world,’ the head of all this” or was his thought, “I must preserve, manage and enrich all of this.” I hope the bird’s and the priesthood’s answer was the latter.

“A Royal Priesthood, A People Set Apart,” a Catholic prayer

The same priesthood as parents serves and guide their children. “Preserve, manage and enrich.” It’s the priesthood of parenting. It’s the priesthood that I’ve tried to embrace for myself. Through our baptisms, we are all “priests” in our servanthood to whatever commitments we’ve either made in life and those commitments given to us. A widow or widower continues to be a “priest” but with a new dimension or definition of life – regardless of how difficult it might be to reach it. Caring for an aging parent as an adult is a responsibility not freely chosen but sacredly accepted. That’s priestly-servanthood. A priestly ten-year-old’s job is the wonder and mystery that this life opens up in observing and absorbing it every, single day. It’s a wonder and mystery that I hope none of us ever lose – no matter our age. Speaking of age, how about those folks who tell me, “I never thought I’d live this long.” How is your time spent? Are you actively involved in the lives of your family or are you that forgotten relative that’s related to someone who’s related to some else? What’s your priestly ministry in the last part of life? You need to tell me because I’m not there yet.

Preserve, Manage, Enrich

“Preserve, manage and enrich” is my new mantra after reading today’s gospel. Preserve the rich heritage of the Catholic Church, manage what I can in my own life and advising others of the same. My favorite of three is enriching. How can I enrich the life of another person? Humor? (Works for me.) Prayer? For me, as awkward as it is to pray spontaneously, the answer is, “Yes.” Not merely listening but purely listening to someone’s long story? “Yes.” How about the “priesthood” of regrets or past sins that we all carry around? Enriching means putting that stupid stuff to sleep and awakening to a new day with the help of Christ.

Those three are not that difficult for us to achieve as “priests” of the church. We are all priests in the circumstances and situations of our lives – lived within the priesthood of Christ.

Oh, and by the way, I can make my own drinks.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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“All Souls Day” Sermon

One CandleWe pray for them as though their destiny can be changed. We talk about them as the “poor souls in purgatory” when purgatory is the gateway to heaven. (They ain’t “poor,” by any means folks.) Years ago, on this day in grade school we could say an “Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be” inside the church. We then needed to leave the church, and a soul would ascend to Heaven. We could repeat this as often as our little feet or minds could endure this repetitious ritual. It sounds silly today, but back then, it was pretty important work. (Taking the place of God’s judgment is a big job; too bad we feel the urge to take His place!)

Those examples are silly, but their meaning is significant. We kept a connection, in a spiritual way, with those who have died. Those we’ve known or loved and those unknown but still remembered. A connection. Yesterday it was saintly people, and today it’s the regular fare of folks. My personal remembrances today are with the regular fare. We could cynically call them “steerage,” like those traveling in the lower bowels of a ship.

But yesterday and today, I guess it’s more than a connection, it’s a fusing between the living and the deceased. There is a oneness that is heightened these two days. We remember the dead daily during the Mass but especially between the seasons of fall and winter; with a diminishing sun and a rising moon.

A funeral theme that I love to use is the old song, “The Song Has Ended But The Melody Lingers On.” That’s “All Soul’s Day.” A special life has stopped living, but the memories continue to live and breathe within our living lives.

“All Souls Day” can be like Halloween’s “Trick or Treat.” The trick is to embrace and recall someone’s life as best we can each day. The treat is in the remembering – even bad memories may teach us living folks a lesson about someone’s mistakes or misadventures. The good memories are the easiest to keep a hold of.

This holy day is dedicated to those who have gone before us but continue to be a part, even a small part, of our lives. We pray for them, but we don’t need to pray for them. Instead, we should request that they pray for us. Through their prayers with our days ahead, can those days be fruitful, rewarding, satisfying and enlightening for ourselves and for those whose lives we touch?

That’s the union between the living and dead. Their journey of life is complete while ours continues.

Eternal rest be unto them, Oh, Lord. May the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, “requiescat in pace,” rest in peace.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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“All Saints Day,” Children’s Mass

1Your parent tells you, “Stop pretending!” “Do your homework.” “Take out the garbage.”

So you stop pretending and return to the real world. “The real world,” whatever that is.

Pretending is to be something you are not. Trick or treating as Harry Potter or Spiderman is fun. For a while, you may even believe that you are that character.

Pretending is to imagine, and imagining can lead to this “real world.” When you’re sad, you pretend to be happy again and slowly that happiness returns to your life. You hit your brother or sister, you feel sorrow for doing it and you imagine being friends and then find yourselves playing a game with your sister or brother. Pretending is to believe.

We pray for peace all the time in church. We know it’s not happening right now but that doesn’t stop our praying for peace or harmony. When we pray for peace we are pretending that this “real” world can get a little better. By imagining a peaceful world, we just may be able to make it happen.

I told you already that I pretended to be a priest not thinking it would actually happen. But it did. Like a Halloween costume, I put on my plastic vestments and imagined myself as a priest. Now I place the cloth vestments on myself and smile. My pretending paid off. My imagination made a dream come true for me.

No saint woke up one morning and said, “I want to be a saint!” And presto, changeo, they became saints. They pretended to be good people and then became good people. They pretended to follow Christ, and then they became Christ-like. That’s who the saints are.

St. Paul tells us to “put on Christ,” as though it’s a costume. Pretend to be Jesus Christ and see what happens in your life. Will you be a little kinder, will you be a little nicer and helpful, will you be more considerate of others? “Put on Christ.”

So, stop pretending and take the garbage out and do your homework. But when you return to your room, then continue pretending and imagining because you never know what may happen.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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“LOA, As I Love Myself?” You’re Kidding

The Jewish faith has six-hundred and thirteen commandments, Christians narrowed it down to ten and Jesus winnows it further with two by saying loving God above all else and loving your neighbor as yourself. The Jews write a lengthy book on how to live life and Jesus sends us a powerful postcard. Go figure.

short-yellow-lMy mother would tell me that “I’m getting too big for my britches,” when I thought too much of myself. I’ve never owned a pair of britches. Jesus questions us by saying, “If you cannot love yourself then how can you extend love to another?” The Church would surely tell us, “Love yourself? Are you kidding?” Perhaps, “‘Kinda like’ yourself would be okay but never love yourself.” Or the Church may say, “Try ‘sort of’ like yourself, try that on for size but never, ever think of loving yourself.” That’s the Church talking to us, not me. If I took a poll here in church of how many of you, “Love yourselves,” 80% of you would say, “No” in deference to the teachings of the Catholic Church. But that’s not what Jesus is asking of us.

But back to my small britches. If I was clever enough at that young age, I might have replied to my mother, “Then why don’t you buy me some larger britches to fit me.” By that time, the soap would have appeared. It was either Dove or Ivory, I’m not sure.

That’s what thinking “highly of yourself” costs. A bar of soap firmly inserted into a youngster’s mouth by a frustrated mom. If my britches are getting too big, then that means I have more love within myself to share with others – that new commandment that Jesus gave us. So to all of us – keep your britches tight with God’s love for you and the love for yourself in order to share that love with others.

But wait! Jesus gave us an existing commandment plus a new one. “Love your neighbor at yourself” is not among the Christian’s 10. That would make then make the Jewish commandments 614, Christians 11 and Jesus 1 plus l. (And you thought Packers scores were hard to remember!)

If you’re still with me on this then you’re better at math than I am. The question asked of Jesus is to tell which one, of the many 613 is the greatest commandment and Jesus gives him two. And the second one remains a doozy. (You don’t hear the word “doozy” very much. I’ve had a cold these past two weeks, and I tell people, “It’s a doozy of a cold.” Meaning it’s big. I guess that’s what Jesus means by the second command, “It’s a doozy folks.”)

The Good Lord could have chosen other scripture passages to make his point. Consider Jesus saying, “Love one another as I have loved you.” We get that. Or, Jesus could have shortened the second by saying, “Love one another.” We get that one too. But, no, Jesus didn’t get it. He begins with ourselves and then extends that love to others. Not the reverse, which we all so dearly believe. Jesus is simply saying that, “You can’t give what you do not have.” If there is minimal self-love living within you, then you only have minimal love to share with some one else.

Jesus added this new commandment to equal or surpass all of our shortening britches.

—Love one another more than we do not love ourselves and see what happens.
—Love one another the way we wished to be loved and see what happens.
—Love one another in spite of ourselves and watch what happens to loving ourselves.
—Love one another as much as we can and some of that love may come back to fill up
our voids.
—Love one another so much so that we return home and recover the unending love that
God has for each of us.

Sorry, Mom, you were wrong. Wearing my tightening britches and those I touch, influence and affect through my thoughts, words and deeds fits me just fine.

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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Unchanging Thighs

“God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

thAll right, I have something important to tell you. It’s not easy to talk about it but my therapist said that, “Talking about it will make a difference in my life.”

I have a condition. Oh wait. It’s not a condition and it’s not a disease. I have a syndrome. (It could be a disease with even more sympathy but, alas I only have a syndrome.) It’s suffer (note the verb) from FTS. So, okay, so you don’t know what it is but it still plagues me. It’s defined as “Fat Thigh Syndrome.” FTS. It started years ago and seems to expand as my age expands.

My therapist tells me that Pfizer is working on a medication but I can only imagine its side effects: dizziness, memory loss, weight loss. All of the things I already experience. My therapist concludes each session by singing the Billy Joel song, “I Want You Just the Way You Are” but it doesn’t help me much.

Well, that’s my story, I mean that’s my worry. What’s yours? What worries you during the day or awakens you at night? What worries you? I’m waiting for a support group to begin for us FTS sufferers but it appears I’m the only one with this malady.

Oh well. I have no control over my FTS but I like worrying about it. I can’t do anything about it but thinking and praying about it keeps me focused on my FTS, along with my lack of medication, support groups and a Billy Joel musical refrain. I can change nothing about my FTS except keep dwelling on it… constantly.

courage to change the things I can,

I guess I could reconsider my racial views or those unemployed folks that I dismiss or those foreign folks who want to live here or my neighbor’s crusty behavior or my unmarried daughter living with her boyfriend. In the age of our quick, rapid news – perhaps discovering the difference between opinions and facts and then assimilating both opinion and facts to uncover a kernel of truth.

I am able to change my perspective on those things and many more attitudes like that. But, well, that would take work and effort on my part. It would require reflection and prayer. It would demand examining my life against God’s life. It would require to uncover where the two meet and where those two often fail to meet. God and me, Church and me. To that I say, another syndrome, TMW – “too much work.”

I like suffering with my FTS. It’s comfortable to worry about because there is no solution. I can worry forever about those two appendages hanging on both sides of me. Is this the time for a call of conversion on my part or as Scriptures calls it “A change of heart?”

However, I would appreciate a card from each of you telling me about your sympathy for my chronic, suffering, ego-centric, self absorbing, and “All about me” disease, I mean syndrome.

Will I die from this syndrome? I suppose not but I believe that my heart may still be beating but not in sync with my soul. With that lost unity between God and me, then what’s the point of life? And that’s a loss for all of us, especially me.

Sorry folks. I choose FTS over TMW. After all, it may not be Christlike or Catholic but it’s truly the American way.

and wisdom to know the difference.”

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the
Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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A Seasonal Prayer for Oldsters

635952272328375622-350715630_Four-seasons
God of all seasons,

We are caught up now in “in between” seasons again. The summer and fall provided by You were glorious. Thank you. Winter awaits us with Wisconsinites all asking the piercing question, “What kind of winter will we get this year,” as though the listener has a cogent answer.

“In between” is how You created us – Father and Mother, life and death, nows and thens, more of yesterdays with fewer tomorrows.  But You made us to be Your people in this moment and the moment after that.

May each moment of our lives reflect Your seasons:

Your Summers of caring for others and cherishing friendships,
Your Falls for letting go what is unnecessary and a nuisance in our lives,
Your Springs for the exciting and new adventures that life unveils for us if keep our eyes open, and best of Your Winters keeping us warm and safe in Your protective care.

God of all seasons and God of all moments, We end this prayer the way we begin all prayers, “Thank You.”

 

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

Posted in Spirituality | Leave a comment