Autumn Leaves

bright-yellow-clipart-10Ready or not, on my porch, I’m beginning to see them fall around me. Some slowly, others faster, sometimes alone and others surrounding themselves. The ground holds them as their numbers increase each day.

I considered glue and buying a very, very tall ladder but smiled at its futility. Scotch tape? Same response. It’s happening and has been happening all my life but this time in my life it seems to kinda hurt to see those guys and gals falling from their beautiful branches that made summer so green. Now their green turns to amber, and then finally becoming a rich gold that says to all, “Another season is ending with a new season beginning.”
Like creating an angle in the snow in my image, I also thought of making them my own before they finally disappear. I could spell my name upon each of those “goldens.” It’s only three letters. Shouldn’t take that long. But then I thought, “Why would I use my name when they are the ones passing from one season to another?” I should piece their names together (cue the scotch tape), one leaf at a time until it identified someone loved and missed, gone but not forgotten. Sounds kinda like “family,” “church?”

Across from my family home was a vacant lot where my sixth-grade girlfriend and I would create a home out of those “goldens” in the late fall. Flatly placed on the ground but clearly 3-D in our minds. A created kitchen where good food was served along with laughter and arguments. Our living room was the smallest because every good conversation occurred in the kitchen, our largest room. Our leaf-created hallway led to each bedroom where our small green-leafed children slept and woke up to this beautiful fall day. We enjoyed our homemaking adventure until the wind blew it away for winter’s snow.

Spring is about potential and newness and summer is all about risk and adventure. Autumn is soley about reflection. Autumn is purely about preserving memories in minds and hearts that have lived all four seasons.

I don’t know enough people to link all those fallen leaves. Instantly, I can remember those close to me. Or, famous names I remember from the newspaper or unnamed leafs that have left someone, somewhere, behind. The few loved names closest to me are the ones I’m saving for last. I hope to collect as many of them that I can remember and place them in my real kitchen and watch the richness of what their lives meant to me return to the dust from which they came.

There’s a sadness in autumn’s leaves but also a rich gold feeling for the green turning amber and then shared for how many years.

Well, after typing on my porch, it’s back to my remembering how enriching life can be for me right now. And how enriching life my life has been because of those leaves I watch fall to the ground. They have colored my life gold with their lives, and I continue to golden their lives through my remembering and honoring.

I think that’s why they’re called “leaves.”

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Timing Time

warped clockA new rule. It will now be against the law to buy pineapple in January in Wisconsin. (There’s a petition outside for you to sign.)

I never cared for cute little slogans. “I’m glad we’re all on the same page.” Trite. “Make sure all your ducks are in a row.” And, for the sake of all breathing humanity, the worst of all is “24/7.” Why not just say, “All the time?”

We’ve erased time. We’ve erased night time. That sacred time for rejuvenation, quiet, darkness, peace; did I say “quiet?” I don’t know how third shift workers do it. They work third shift, then take a normal person’s day off, and then return to work that abnormal shift. If it’s done for the benefit of their kids then I get it. If it’s for extra money, it’s their loss. That precious quiet-time, alone time; even if you’re in a house full of others.

Whatever happened to hearing the “National Anthem” and viewing the “test screen” at midnight when NBC, CBS and ABC took a rest for a while. Nobody watched PBS. How many reruns of Bob Newhart or “I Love Lucy” do you really need to watch?

I’m not just talking about losing the darkness of night but it’s about losing healthy, necessary divisions that divide up our days. Divided for a reason – physical and spiritual. For our faith purposes, especially spiritual. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Good Lord took a day off after creating all this glorious stuff.

Growing up we could never watch TV on a school night. Ready for this? Sunday night was considered a school night. However, Sunday night at 9:30 we could watch “What’s My Line” with Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallon and a special guest like Orson Bean or Tony Randall. And, forever whatever reason, “The Danny Kaye Show” was permitted on a weeknight, even though, “He’s not Catholic.”

Losing divisions of time and space in our world affects our minds and hearts.

You exhale a strong sigh after a long day. That breath exchange beautifully ends the workday and begins the family evening. (This is why retirement scares me. Slowly, I’ll need to segment my days or it’ll all run together into a messy mess of cheap wine and watching “As The World Turns,” only turning without me!

Do we really need twenty-four news channels? Are we really more informed today than we were forty years ago? I know that we’re not. And did you ever think that you’d live to have a “golf channel” in your cable lineup? I don’t think so. (It’s not even a sport.)

Jesus chose a desert. Not just the forty-day one at the beginning but whenever life became too much life, he needed a relief; a pause, a respite. Sounds healthy to me. Our favorite funeral reading is “a time for this and time for that.” People complain that they get distracted while saying the rosary. It’s supposed to happen that way! That’s why it’s repetitious. Allowing your mind to wander over the day that passed and wonder about what tomorrow may bring for yourself, your family, neighbors and the world.

When Copps Department store opened in Manitowoc, it stayed open … on Sundays. Pastors said to boycott the store which lasted a couple of days, with Christians soon becoming “Sunday shoppers.” You thought that Armageddon occurred when the only harm occurred in our psyche, our soul – the deepest and smartest part of us that only seems to communicate with us during downtimes, times of solitude; what parents today tell their children is “a time out.” Even in sports, you’re allowed a “time out,” a seventh-inning stretch, a halftime to rethink, replan, renew all the good stuff of your life and reject and resent whatever holds you back from being a balanced and healthy person created by God. “Halftime.” When was the last time you gave yourself one, silly hour?!

You thought dinner with a friend would last about an hour, but it lasted three of them. You’re reading a book and surprised when the clock moved forward ninety minutes. You walk around six blocks and smoothly feel any anxiety, distress, or worry dissipate into the air you’re breathing in. You realize the silly program you’re watching on TV is a distraction, a waste of your time. I remember a friend telling me that she keeps the TV on all night. It helps her sleep, she claims. I refrained from a response, but you know what I’d tell her.

We talk about clutter and hoarding in physical ways but consider what our minds absorb daily these days in social and TV media. We need time to keenly and spiritually “process” (which means thinking, praying about life stuff and current affairs), and then dismiss or pursue them.

I’ve read in several times places how “social media” alienates when its intention is to connect. Parents, I totally support you limiting all viral social exchanges until your children are thirty-years-old. Trust me. The last time I checked, nothing beats a face in front of you when you have something important to share.

The spiritually healthy activity of reflection can only take place in the night of your soul, in the darkness where all three persons of the Trinity enjoy their golden opportunity to talk to you, remind you, inspire you, assist you in making your life authentic to God’s creation – a gold, precious, sacred and most importantly, livable.

Don’t forget about the new rule about pineapple in January. Your life, and the lives of those around you, both old and new, depend upon it.

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Humility?

th

“The afternoon knows what the morning suspected.” So says, Robert Frost. So says most of us as our suns slowly sets.

“Youth is wasted on the young,” someone said which I find to be true. But I would never, ever want to be eighteen again now that I’m this age. (Sorry, future adults.) However, youth is the time for accumulating knowledge, hopefully useful knowledge to be used throughout life. But something is still missing in those early years. Ummm…

Our bodies slowly begin to show it’s age, or some age. Creaks, pains and weird sounds emitting from us; without warning! Gravity wins as the years mount. You may look in the morning mirror and not see yourself as much as you begin to see your parent. (It’s my father for me.)

Life is timed, a beginning and an end. Our soul, however, knows neither. As our bodies age, our soul doesn’t age, it matures. Another gift from God that was not lost to sin: our soul.

Our weekend readings talk about growing in humility, humble and holy. Three words that our culture scoffs at.

“If you want to get ahead in this world…” “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” (I’ve never seen two dogs eating each other but I’ve witnessed it happening between people. “Only the strong survive,” and how many other sayings that fill our heads and place us ahead of that person we’ve left behind. It happens with priests as well. My joke about some priests is, “Even when they shower, they wear french cuffs!”

But forget your aging bodies and prayerfully consider and honor your maturing soul. Myself included. I don’t think I’d get very far in my soulful prayer thinking about words that our U.S. culture hates to every use – humility, humble, holy. Three “H’s” that may make you the loser in your working career and but a person of Christ in your spiritual life.

But wait! Why don’t we play a trick with our soiled U.S. minds and dwell more often on our soul which embodies those three “H’s,” and see what happens.

Soul. This God-planted organ that spiritually matures as another year is added to our life. So much of the soul, I believe, is instinctual. Scripture says it’s actively living and breathing within us. Our soul knows the right when we choose wrong. Our soul talks to us. We learn to press the “off” when the soul says, “Click the “off”. Our soul is communicating with us. When we humanly sin, our soul edges us a little more closely toward those three unU.S. words – humility, humble, holy.

If you don’t like what I’m saying so far then let me try this direction. In the movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the baby is born fully old complete with dropping wrinkles and weary legs. Benjamin dies at the end as a pure, innocent baby in the loving arms of Cate Blanchett. (Brad Pitt, my double, plays the kid.) The infant baby here is the soul – full of all Christian history, saints and sinners (old, tried and true), stirring slowly the growing child toward the wisdom of God. The song sings, “We return to God what God has made in love.” Innocence. Vulnerable. Full of life’s wisdom. That’s what the teenager’s knowledge cannot achieve. The teen gets the knowledge tossed into the head but it steadily and persistently triggers the soul’s wise wisdom that is anciently old. That can only be achieved by a life lived – both in sin, indifference, and in grace.

If I asked any of you, and I mean all of you, if you are a holy, humble person? What do you think I’d hear? Every one of you would say, “No, not me. Maybe her, over there.” Ironically, you’d think that humility calls you to say that you’re not holy. It’d be a lie in my eyes but it may be your continuing what your aging U.S. bodies have all carried and continue to carry. You haven’t listened to the far more aging stories of your soul.

Remember, Mary never said, “My mind proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” She may have had her own aging moments but always possessed the maturity of the what? She powerfully says, “My soul proclaims…”

That’s my dad talking to us all in my morning mirror. “Humble, holy along with God’s gift of humility is within our reach. It’s the soul of the matter.

Robert Frost paraphrased, “The afternoon knows very well now what the morning thought and dreamed about what would eventually happen with passing, aging years…and it did happen.”

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The Price of Salvation

 

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” Luke 16

the unjust steward

You say all the Church talks about is money!

Hebrews: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, be content with what you have.”

1 Timothy: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap into many foolish and harmful desires.”

“Whoever loves money never has enough.” Ecclesiastes.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” Proverbs.

Four quotes are enough isn’t it? Would the rich folks still want more?

I’m already tired and I’m getting paid to do this!

The worst or the best of all biblical references is, “forgive us our … debts, as we forgive our debtors; our trespasses. We’ll be saying that, as we do each Mass, later on in this Mass. Stay tuned.

Money. What we think about each and every day. Carry in our back pocket or around our shoulder or tightly held in our hand. (If it’s in your hand then a fancy designer name on the outside helps the crooks decide.)

The clever unjust steward’s name is never given. That’s why I’m here. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reduced our “debt” to God through his life and death. As parents do for her children.

The Bible is full of warnings and admonitions about the thing we think about so much. The thing we save for so someday we can buy “that” thing.

Proverbs: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”

Jesus ransomed (currency exchange) his life in exchange for our lives. That’s a trade made with immeasurable dividends. However, “there’s a penalty for early withdrawal.” In exchange for what Jesus did for us, he requires total gratitude to his Father. That’s called “church.” Not such a bad deal. There’s wonderful people you meet along the way to help you in need and celebrate with you in joyful times. There’s Bingo at some churches and fabulous fish fries at others.

St. Luke: “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” So it isn’t only money that can possess and preoccupy us.

Don’t think I’m preaching only to you. I live alone and have three TV’s!

A priest friend uses the image of “dance” to describe our relationship with God. We’re doing a two-step to often by-step God and God wants a joyful polka to dance us through life. (In 3/4 time.) The imagery of money is the one I like best. It’s the very most important thing of our lives to describe our lives so why not our salvation. Whether it’s the waiter when we hesitant to add one more dollar to their meager base pay or to the commitment that God asks of us each and every day.

Ransom: “Look God, I’ve done everything the Church asks of me, so You must know as well as I do that eternal life is mine.”

Bargain: “Look God, if you cure my child of cancer, I promise to do…” whatever that promise may be. (Promissory note, anyone?)

Exchange: “Look God, let’s talk about a trade…”

You get the idea. All the sentences begin and end with you know who.

Salvation is a gift – a freely given gift – no ransoming, bargaining or exchanging about it.

Our debts have been forgiven. All God asks is an equal response from us. We will fail … sometimes … we will succeed … sometimes. That’s the way of this human adventure.

There is absolutely no “quid pro quo” in this beautiful religious journey. “Something for something,” in which one transfer is contingent upon the other is shallow, selfish and so much like us all.

I never liked the judgement-at-the-end-of-life imagery thing because that speaks of a bartering between the Creator and the created. It’s born of fear, not love. And this is out of love. Jesus paid our debt, in full.

Only look in your back pocket or overpriced purse. Then look in your heart. Search your soul. Look at those around you. Please, give the waiter that extra dollar.

Matthew: “For where your treasure lies, there your heart will also be.”

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Retirement Is A Fulltime Job

Opening for One Retired Person, full-time.

Experience: Are you kidding. We want lots of experiences. Decades of experience that have proven your worth.

Responsibilities: Since you now have all this time on your hands, it is time to share your hands as a volunteer. If you are unable to volunteer for one event, one time then please tear up this application, find a corner in your room and kindly wait for the good Lord to take you. This may take many years since you are in good health but trust me, volunteering for one event will not harm, injure nor kill you.
If you volunteer for more than one event then you will find a new swing in your step, a brightened attitude and planned events to look forward to. (But that is only about you; volunteering also helps those whose hands you have now become.)
You must have a story to tell. It doesn’t matter how old the story is, just always have one handy. Dates do not matter, please. If it was 1940 or 1941 during the fall or spring season of either, we really don’t care – just please make the point of your story.

Recognize your future: We realize that your future is today and possibly even tomorrow. Grab it, hold it, cherish it and most of all, savor it. Because this moment is the now that you swore you would honor once you retired. Well, it’s finally here so take a second look at that budding flower, spend a little more time with a good friend and please don’t arrive 30 minutes early for an event. (You’re not late, you’re just much too early!)
Please don’t minimize the present culture as decaying with no future ahead of itself. You are really talking about yourself more than the supposedly decaying culture. Trust me, culture will continue in time, without you. The hope that you’ve nurtured and fostered over your many years needs to be same hope that you nurture and foster in the generation that follows you. It’s the least that you can do before you go.
If you see a green banana, please do not think that it belongs to you. As aging people, green bananas may have more time than you have. Take the yellow one, peel it, eat and enjoy it as soon as possible.
If a sign says, “free,” that does not always mean “me,” even though it rhymes. “Free” anything looks funny when you’re apartment is cleaned after your passing only to find scores and scores of free stuff that you’ve never used because the predicted nuclear attack did not occur.

Pray: Pray for us who remain in this earthly journey. Pray that we don’t make the same mistakes as you did but have learned from yours to improve our always divided and broken world. Please don’t pray for your “poor souls” because your souls are already sanctified by the Cross. After all, isn’t yours “The Greatest Generation!” (I never liked that label.) Instead pray for us, pray for your children’s fulfillment and the fulfillment of your grandchildren. They are your legacy. And if you have neither, then please pray for your neighbors children and their children because their future also relies on your past.

Waking and Sleeping: When you wake up in the morning simply say, “Thanks be to God.” Before you fall asleep at night simply say, “Not my will but Yours be done.” That way you’ve got yourself covered in both gratitude to God and yielding to God’s will. (Catholics have this thing about dying in their sleep, as though that’s a bad thing!)

Lifting: Very important in the retirement years. Your responsibilities here entails lifting the many burdens from others’ shoulders. You do this by listening, smiling and then powerfully saying, “It’s alright. It’s okay.” Feel free to lift as heavy a burden as you are able from someone else’s shoulders but please don’t forget your own. It gets heavy enough walking through life with the weight of another in addition to the weight of whatever grudge, sin or misfortune you continue to bear.

Benefits: You are the oldest person on the planet, we get that. Please don’t surround yourself with folks younger than you and than razz them about young they are.
The risk of this benefit is that your age becomes your focus in every thought and conversation. We already know your age, you do not need to refer to it in aged stories or old friends. Just enjoy the ripeness of the age you thought you’d never reach.

New friends: You are able to replenish your friends. We know that so many of your friends have gone but there’s a new person over there who may like to meet you.

Salary: It’s not negotiable. It’s life – here and now. Take it or leave it. (As though you have a choice.) Life insurance is not necessary since…

Investment Possibilities: Endless and Complete. Endless because this life only leads to another life and complete because living this long finally demands the union your body, mind and soul.

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The “I Won’t” Person

“I can’t” says the teenage person talking to her friends who’s been grounded by her parents. The “I can’t” person is the Catholic who fears for eternal life and losing out to that other place.

The “I can’t” person. Legalistic. Not responsible. Someone else or something else is the decider. Lived in a religious fear, full of constant doubt, an unforgiving guilt and a heap load of personal mistrust. “I can’t” person says, “These are the church’s rules of life, I need to dutifully obey.”

Then there’s the “I won’t” person, a mature Catholic who responds with those two words when something nefarious, dividing, or just plain wrong is offered. Forget the written commandments, they are inscribed and lived within our hearts, says the young prophet Jeremiah. The “I won’t” person agrees with Jeremiah. The “I can’t” person says back, “I can’t.”

“I can’t” is a person of forced labor, slave labor (if you will). Blindly obedient. Compliant. Conforming, tame.

Integrity remains one of my all time favorite words. The word stands strong when applied to your life. The “I won’t” person has admitted and integrated (another great word) personal weaknesses and strengths, cultural passings, taking church laws and commandments and making them all a personal and prayerful part of honoring God and living life.

The “I can’t” person is impersonal – there’s no personal investment, just following the rules (or is it the roll the dice?) to see which eternal place is the future. Because you see, the “I can’t” person is only concerned with the hereafter. Interesting that “hereafter” can mean both eternity as well as tomorrow. So, which one will it be? The “I won’t” person takes all that important life and religious stuff and lives a fulfilling and joy filled life … today and … every day hereafter. “I won’t” lives, breathes and shares God’s blessed eternity, God’s heaven, here and now. Completely and full of satisfaction, appreciation and a sincere peace. “I can’t” says, “I can’t.” I guess that’s why that’s the person’s name.

“I can’t,” “I won’t”. Two completely different persons but living and praying within the same church. Or, are these persons sometimes both living within one person?

“I can’t” says, “I can’t stop preaching to you because I need to prove how intelligent I am and how much reading I’ve done to prepare this Sunday’s sermon.”

“I won’t” says, “I won’t continue talking to you as fellow travelers because I just told you what I wanted you to hear.”

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Assumption of Blessed Mother

Your boss approaches you and says, “You’re doing a great job. There’s a 10% increase for you starting next month.” You smile back to him and reply, “Thank you very much but, no. I make enough money. I’m not sure what to do with all the money I make now. So, I’ll say no.”

assumption-of-mary

If you ever say or meet someone who tells his boss that, please let me know.

This Marian feast about that simple, three-letter word that allowed a divine entry into our humanly broken world. “Yes.” It’s followed by her beautiful prayer (“The Magnificat”) that ought to all memorize as well as we know the “Our Father.”

Back to the boss. She tells you to stay late tomorrow. You immediately think, “no.” But you comply. The work is finished the next night, and you drive home feeling satisfied, complete. Mary might have felt way, being a teenager as we think she was. No husband, probably working some menial job. And, ready for this? There’s a full bloom angel standing in front of her asking her, “Not to be afraid.” What would your first thought be?

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” We all know all sin begins and ends with selfishness. Some writers simply call sin “forgetting.” We’ve forgotten the tenets and beauties of our Christian faith. “It’s all about us, as individuals,” we think. Those may not be the words you use, but our actions show them loudly. Mary didn’t say, “My mind proclaims.” Her “Yes” arose from her soul. That divinely trusted organ that God placed within us to inform, guide our minds. Mary’s “Yes” amounted to saying to the angel and to God, “I trust you. I’m not sure why, but I truly trust you.”

Now, what about our “Yes’s?” The answer is the Church. We even name the Church after her. I don’t mean “Queen of Apostles,” I mean “Holy Mother Church.” I need all of you to validate my “Yes’s” in my life, and I need to validate yours. This isn’t a priestly thing but as Catholic to Catholic or Catholic to any Christian denomination or person to person.

“He has scattered the proud in their conceit (selfishness, forgetfulness anyone?). He has cast down the mighty from their thrones (“I’m usually, if not all the time, pretty much right.”) and has lifted up the lowly.

When we say “No” when the divine response is “Yes,” a needed duty. Then the soul informs the mind. Grace fills us up. When the “Yes’s” of your decisions so often turn out to be “No’s,” there a helpful church friend, an assisting church organization to wake up your soul and tune down that over-working mind of yours.

“He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”

“Yes,” my husband is dying. “Yes,” I lost my job, but I didn’t lose me, “Yes,” my life is going well for me, now how can I help others?

Multiple choice questions often offer a third option, “Not sure.” Mark that one when your first thought is “No.” We may be baffled by the mystery of this day, then check “Not sure.” Times in life and days like this are a mystery to be lived, not solved. (You’ll hear me say that often.)

From Our Lady of Guadalupe, another mysterious event. “Have you forgotten? I am your Mother. You are not alone. You are under my protection. Anything you need, ask me. Do not worry about anything. Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Have you forgotten? I love you, and you are under my protection.”

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“Hide & Seek”

Brad Pitt is red carpet ready at the 'Allied' LA Fan EventI’m not a parent but I know that the very first game children are taught is…no wait…they are not taught or shown or coaxed on by their parents…

Their very first game is “Hide and Seek.” “Can my friend find me behind the couch?” “I’ll hide behind the door, it’ll drive my mother crazy.”

Jesus asks if we can find, uncover, unveil and then cherish the buried treasure. The hidden treasure.

The hidden that is not so hidden – it’s you and me. The other childhood game that is not taught but instinctual is dressing up to look like someone else. Very similar to “Hide and Seek.” Both are disguised to be where you are not or to be what you are not. (I look in the mirror and say to myself, “Good morning Brad [Brad Pitt].” The mirror yells back at me, “Yeah, good luck Joe!”

Those childhood games continue throughout our lives, only in adult forms. So often fashionable and acceptable but rarely risky. They are still childish but we still seem to love playing them.

“Where your treasure lies is where your heart lives,” Jesus says to us. What we think is elusive becomes obviously clear when lived through faith. When someone tells me that “I’m not a religious person, I’m spiritual,” I think to myself that only means that you get to sleep in on Sunday mornings.

Our treasure is captured beginning in this place. With the Eucharist to support and nourish us, we are able to take off our masks, even if for a short time; we are able to act humbly in an effort to make it more sincere in our lives; we are empowered to reveal our shortcomings, even if only in silence within this Body of Christ.

Jesus talks about passing possessions when the irony (correctly used here, by the way) is that Jesus possesses us all in mind, heart and soul. Jesus keeps saying to each of us, “I see you. Can you see me? I know where you’re hiding.”

Weird people love to talk about the devil possessing you. But, it’s the wrong noun. The correct proper noun is the man Jesus Christ. Stripped of his clothes (only to embarrass him), placed with a crown of thorns (to make him look who he is not), a purple cloak around him intended only for royalty (when he’s the servant to the least), along with the wrong inscription placed at the top of his cross (because his dad is the “King of the Jews,” not the Son.) You want to talk about “Hide and Seek” and wearing a disguise? Oh how about when folks thought Jesus was the new and improved John the Baptist? He wasn’t. No mask and no disguise.

The treasure, folks, is you and me. This treasure is lived through me but it needs you. (I think that’s called “church.) Every single time when you admit something to yourself, how many of your friends will quickly reply, “I wondered when you were going to see that?” They see it in us before we admit it about ourselves. (I think that’s called “evangelization.”)

Each of our seven sacraments is an unveiling from what was to what can be. Or better said, they are who you thought you were to who you really are. You don’t play “Hide and Seek” with Baptism (inherited sin to a new life), Confession (what happened to “Who I want to be?”), Confirmation (my parents made me do it, but I believe I want to do it), Marriage (from two to one, but still two) or Holy Orders (and, believe me, I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of it). Sacrament of the Sick, destroying the bridge between life and death, and the Eucharist which always timely places us in that timeless “in-between” time of life.

With your support and prayers, I can admit to myself the person that I am meant to be. And, with God’s grace, I am able to do the very same for you.

We all know the names of all our bodily organs. Which organ was not created by nature but created by God and pulsates within us?

Doesn’t the law say that “9/10’s is possession…”?

I really don’t mind this authentic treasure hunt. The beautiful but troublesome treasure hunt that is this life. It’s been blessed by God and the precious treasure is there for the digging.

Anyway, Brad’s getting to look old!

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She’s A Five Letter Religious Word

An author wrote, “I believe that there is flowing through us – those on earth, those in purgatory, and those who have reached true life – a great, unending stream made up of the sufferings, merits, and love of everyone, and that our least sorrow, our slightest efforts, can through [this five letter word] reach others, whether near or far, and bring them light, peace, and holiness.”

If you’re into crossword puzzles, here’s a puzzler for you. It’s five letters, works both “across” or “down,” as life would have it and, if it were possible, could even be spelled in-between; including the black boxes.

It’s a favorite word in the Church, but I don’t think we speak it enough in our daily lives. I sincerely know that we experience it. The Church, in its sometimes efforts to be anal, tries to divide it into two, not to better understand it but as an attempt to control it. Sorry Church leaders, this five-letter word cannot be controlled, managed, rationed, saved or counted. It is adverb, verb, adjective, proper noun, noun.

All three of the Trinity have and continue to experience her. (I switched from “it” to “her” because of the feminine nature.) When it comes to raising children, mothers rely on her even if never using her name. Fathers trust her for her strength. Both parents trust that she can deliver patience to trying situations in raising children. Alternatively, also in their own personal developments.

Like trying to count ants on your sidewalk, most churches get even more anal in trying to define her, not into two but eight different ways. Their eight-tried attempt is called actual, gratuitous, habitual, justifying, sacramental, healing, sufficient, and sanctifying.
However, those words are for those who need to write a school’s term paper, not for living a meaningful, holy life. She is meant for us folks who need her daily, who look for her often. If it’s written “across” the crossword puzzle, then it means “steady as life goes,” complete with our characters’ firmly in tact supported by her resilience. Scripture would call this “staying on the right path.” If she’s spelled in the “down” column then it’s what Scripture writes, “lest you dash your foot against a stone,” or “you stumble and fall” as we all happen to do. We need to be picked up by her and then fill in the “across” column.
Experiencing her is not only personal but communal. She’s contagious. We gather here for our private prayer before Mass begins and leave this place as the Body of Christ. To continue the living of the Body of Christ in what the Church calls the “marketplace.” For us lay folks, that means work, home, family and friends.

You will not find her crossword puzzle solution in tomorrow’s newspaper. You can only find her right in front of you and deeply embedded, and undyingly, breathing within you.

Enough of the tease. Can you guess who she is? Can you estimate what she is? Can you surmise where she is? Can you approximate what she does for each of us every, single day? Can you reckon why she does what she does?

She is entirely adverb, verb, adjective, proper noun, noun.

“Grace gracefully walks into the dining room and graces us with her graciousness before offering God a graceful prayer of Grace in her own, unique gracious way.”

(stage direction: the priest graciously walks away.)

 

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A Lovely Airport Story

empty-airport-terminal-waiting-area-chairs-lounge-seat-empty-airport-terminal-waiting-area-chairs-lounge-seats-108205004She was anxious to see her boyfriend again. It’d been two weeks since his business trip began. Meeting him at the airport was getting exciting. Not being able to attend his girlfriend’s mother’s funeral, he felt guilty and insisted on meeting her at the airport when she didn’t mind taking a taxi.

Her phone call came first. Flying from Denver to Chicago brought him home earlier than expected. The wind favored the airplane that day. The two years of dating for them began to talk of marriage, but they just weren’t sure. He was disappointed to learn that her flight was delayed in Atlanta. Anything about rain and Atlanta just goes dark. Her Chicago arrival was off by one hour. “Oh well,” he thought, “I’ll finish up at work, won’t have to rush now.” He met her through a friend of a friend, and they enjoyed their time together. Their relationship was getting more serious, but he wasn’t in a hurry.

They both happened to park next to each other at the airport. A quick smile between them led them to share the elevator to the arrival floor. Pre-2001, they were able to meet their friends at the gate. She went to the bathroom, and he bought a cup of coffee. She brought her book, and he sipped. An empty seat separated them. He recognized the book title, so he took a wild chance and asked her if it was worth it. “Oh yes,” she replied, “I can barely put it down.” He smiled. He said that he liked mysteries as well. “I’m a nurse, so I know the medical jargon,” she said. “I’m an accountant and don’t understand all the Latin, medical words.” “It gets easier after you use the words more and more,” she responded.

Years and years later, she swears that it was he gentle demeanor. He claims it was her eyes. Both agreed to an innocent lunch the following week. They picked up their respective friend and returned home.

Two weeks later he and she got married. Forty-five years ago. I worked with her for ten years and truly love telling her, I mean “their,” story.

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