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#3…Keep Holy the Sabbath

This is a commandment that I have known what it’s meant for years, but haven’t really been holding up my end of the bargain.

Attending Holy Mass each Sunday isn’t the problem.  In fact, I look forward to it.  It’s now my favorite day of the week.  What I need to keep in mind is keeping the sabbath holy.  God intended the sabbath to be a day of rest.  In  Exodus 20:8-11 God tells Moses, “Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God.  You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested.

I learned this as a kid but, in my laters years, I took the meaning of this commandment as making sure I attended mass.  I had forgotten that the most important part of this commandment is to rest.  In Leviticus 16:31, It shall be a sabbath of complete rest for you, on which you must humble yourselves—an everlasting statute.  If I’m working, or doing something to keep someone else from resting (shopping, going to a movie, even to watch the Carolina Panthers play) I have to discern what is the right thing to do.  By the nature of the commandment itself, I should be resting, and allowing others to rest.  At what point, I ask myself, where do I draw the line?  I read the following on a Catholic website:

“Now of course it is generally accepted by moral theologians that those necessary items such as food required for that day, medicine, fuel, etc are permitted to be purchased on Sunday, but to intentionally do your whole weeks shopping on Sunday would be seriously sinful, especially if you make a habit of it.  Of course the exception to this would be if you lived way out the in country and have to drive more than an hour into town for Mass you would then be permitted to do your shopping since it is such an exceptional burden to have to drive back during the week.”

Back to attending mass weekly.  In my younger days I would find reasons to miss mass.  I knew, that when I missed mass, I was giving up my opportunity to receive the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus says it pretty explicitly in John 6:53  Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”  The intention of Sunday is to offer adoration to God.  Jesus left it up to the apostles which day of the week to set aside for our day of rest.

Since my epiphany I have had a completely new outlook on my life and what I must do to prepare myself for salvation.  No longer do I feel as thought I HAVE to attend mass.  I now want to attend mass.

Lastly, although not obvious in the commandment, is the need for all of us, God’s children, to come together and worship the Lord.  Jesus is the cornerstone, and we are the foundation.  If we don’t come together as one church then our foundation may degrade and eventually crumble.  Too many people consider “church” as a building.  We all know that “church” is you and I.  Paul definitely understood this.   Throughout his epistles he emphasizes the need to worship as one body.

Romans 12:5  so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

1 Corinthians 12:20 But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

and finally, Ephesians 2:16  and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.

Again, I see a commandment that is not so cut and dry.  I see a commandment that values our lives, lives of others and taking a full day, not just an hour, to focus on our Lord.

 

God Bless and Peace

My Lord…the only Lord

“I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods before Me.”  (Exodus 20:2-3)

I thought I might begin with the first commandment and then follow accordingly.  There is so much more to this commandment than just the obvious.  I recall, when I made decent money, how much I wanted status, a big beautiful home, a Benz, country club membership and everything that went along with it.  As I look back I realize that they were false gods; not putting my God first.  It’s curious how happy I am now with a very modest home, social security, and a 10-year-old Toyota Camry (which I love driving by the way).  I finally got my priorities straight.  (Romans 1:18-32)

I’ve read where the greatest sin anyone can commit is turning their back on God.  It seems to me that believing in God takes all of the confusion out of a faith.  For example, there are no golden calf, altar to an unknown god (like the Greeks built),  or idols in hopes that there might be a god attached to it.  Even Solomon. in all of his wisdom, in his old age had idols built for his wives, and stopped believing in the God.  (1 Kings 11:1-13)  He angered the Lord who, in turn, told Solomon that in honor of David He would strip Solomon…but only after his death.  But God did say that the kingdom would be stripped of Solomon’s son.

The Catholic Chaticism states that such things as horoscopes, palm reading, clairvoyance of horrorscopes, and recourse to mediums are to be excluded.  Sometimes I look at my horroscope to see how ridiculous it is.

I have a duty to worship my Lord, and my Lord only.  “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him shall you only serve”  (Luke 43:8)  I hoestly feel badly for atheists and agnostics.  I pray for them, just as I pray for those who worship false gods here on earth or in the heavens.

Believing in God is a faith staement.  If someone brings up science that it doesn’t prove that there is a God (I’m no physicist) but I sometimes ask what happened before the big bang and then what happens when our world ceases to exist.  That is a stumbling block for some.

There is verse after verse in scripture where our belief in God is mandatory.  I’m  so glad I figured it out as it allowed me to really fall in love with God.

Peace and God Bless

 

“Oh, ​my ___”

I am not going to fill in the blank as HIS name is the holiest name forever and ever.

There are many ways to make my skin crawl.  Using God’s name casually, and especially in vain, is in direct disobedience of the second commandment.   Shame on me for every time I violated that command.

As a kid, teen, in the Navy and beyond, I regularly said His name in vain.  Confession took care of the guilt.  A few years ago, after one confession, I stopped.  I realized that I was committing a grave sin and would no longer use that kind of language…including other “metaphors.”  If I was ready to tell a joke and thought that it wouldn’t pass a priest’s approval, I’d toss it and never think of it again.

Vain means “empty” or “insincere.”  In Psalms 8:1 it is written how excellent thy Lord’s name is.  With that definition in mind, I began thinking about the expression ‘Oh my God,”  in text terms OMG and much worse OMFG.  When I would reply “Oh my God!” I wasn’t using His name as intended described in the Psalms verse.  (Confession time)  I know it sounds picky, but this is a commandment I will obey.  The same goes with “Oh my Lord.”  I had always thought that using Lord instead of God would be acceptable.  Lord is God, one in the same, so I will never express those refrains again.

Oaths! I have a blog that touches on this, but after reading some more about the second commandment, I now realize that when I take an oath in God’s name I had better obey it.  Lying after taking an oath, for example, is lying to God.  It calls God to be a witness to a lie.  In Matthew 5:33-34  Jesus makes clear not to take a false oath.

I describe myself as having a personal and intimate relationship with God.  I feel His love and for me to continue to grow in our relationship I need to quell my empty words to when I speak of God, but with sincerity and love.

Kimisu replied on the last blog when I talked about the 8th commandment while the others were cut and dry, to reevaluate that the commandments aren’t as cut and dry as I stated.  So, I began with #8 and have moved on to #2.  I realize I still have a lot to learn about each commandment so my next 8 posts will focus on just that.

God Bless and Peace

 

 

 

 

How breaking down ​the 8th commandment solidified my relationship with God.

Hi, everybody!  It’s great to be back.  Thank you for your patience.  My posts won’t be as frequent as I’d rather substitute substance for quantity.

So, three years ago, I began my own spiritual journey by reading a book about spiritual direction.  (I had tried reading it years earlier, but it made no sense to me.)  The difference, when reading it this time, was that I was in a very special place with God.  My mind was open to committing myself to Him through my faith and love.  This spiritual direction I assigned myself lasted about three months.

Once I was able to grasp discernment and contemplative prayer, I began studying the eighth commandment.  I took a month reflecting on this commandment. The other nine were pretty cut and dry; misinterpreting them, was very difficult to do.  (Thou shalt not kill, steal, commit adultery, etc.is about as cut and dry as you can get.)  I thought the same about thou shalt not bear false witness.  I found that it goes much deeper than that.  We know that God is the truth and the word.  Everything God has created, by His hand, is good.  Who am I to make the decision what person is good or not.  If I lie, if I spread rumors, for example, I am hurting the person; or at least their reputation.

There are some obvious attributes associated with this commandment – lying and judging.  But I discovered that there was much more to it than that, keeping me from fulfilling my commitment to my Lord and His covenant.  Dedication to the truth.  I was once told that “If you tell the truth, you’ll never have to remember what you said.”  I learned that 30 years ago and it has stayed with me to this day.  Unfortunately, I didn’t always follow that advice.  As I said before, the truth is God.  There is no wiggle room.  There is no debate.  It is just as God says it is.  I keep reminding myself that God knows what’s in my heart…good or bad.  Shame on me for ever trying to fool Him.

In John 18:37 Jesus spoke to us about how He was born to bear witness to the truth.  Further, in John 8:31 He spoke about following the truth and how it will, not could, but will set me free.

False witness.

Proverbs 25:18 tells us that A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.  My neighbor, which means every human being in the world, again was created by God.  I simply have no right to spread rumors, make things up, or speak untrue about them.  In fact, I now follow the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”  And I no longer do.

There were a time and day where, if I came across any dirt about someone, I’d hit the rumor tree.  (I should call it the rumor fire as it spreads so quickly.)  I’ve been on the receiving end and it’s no fun.  I once spent 70 days under water, in a submarine, having many of the crew wanting to beat the daylights out of me for something that I didn’t do.  I couldn’t prove it until we came into port.  Still, did I learn my lesson?  Of course not.

I finally realized that there are no half-truths.  If the something isn’t completely true, then it’s false.  (Keep your mouth shut Doug.)

Lying

To me, there are no little lies.  I used to think, “what’s the harm?”  It could be quite a bit.  Lying to me is to deceive.  To deceive is to be sinful.  I’ve been in some big trouble, in the past, and lied my way out of it.  In my opinion, I wasn’t “manning up.”  I was a fake.  It is very difficult, at times, to tell the truth.  But tell the truth I do.  When I go to confession, I make sure that I have asked for forgiveness from the person I lied to before I confess to a priest.  Besides, I know part of my penance for absolution will be to fess up to the person anyway, right along with the Lord’s prayer and Hail Marys.  So, to the best of my ability, I don’t lie.

Flattery

The same goes with malicious flattery.  It’s a lie if I tell someone that they are capable of something when they obviously aren’t…especially if leads to an act of sin.  It could cause harm to their self-worth and, perhaps, put them in a state of dismay or, worse yet, allow them to cause harm to themselves.

Secrets

How about secrets, I ask myself.  There are many valid reasons for not sharing secrets.  I have to make that call if my secret is valid or not.  I have to use discretion.  I have to consider that if I share a secret, would it harm me or the person I share the secret with.  We are all entitled to our privacy.  So when asked if someone did this or did that my response is “ask them, not me.”  About me?  I answer by saying, “This is a private matter so I will not share it with you.”  However, keeping a secret about a crime committed, for example, is sinful. If I know something that would cause harm to someone else, I have the responsibility to inform the authorities.

There is so much more covered by this commandment and I suppose I could write about this for a very long time. These form the fundamental base on how I treat others, remembering that they are they are all created by the same God that created me.  How do I do this?  Prayer!!  Always prayer.

God Bless and Peace

Doug

(Novice blogger)

 

 

Surrounding myself with Jesus’ people

One thing I found out since my Epiphany, is that I needed to rid myself of “friends” who might cause a temptation and/or just wasn’t spiritually healthy for me to be around. This has also affected my relationship with my siblings.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m extremely tolerant and, as you well know by now, non-judgemental.  Many of these relationships walked away and that’s OK.  I saw the need to surround myself with people of faith so I let go.

As an example.  This past December I flew to Florida to visit a brother, who I was hoping to reconcile with.  While there I realized that he was racist.  I was terribly uncomfortable with him and just kept to myself.  When he dropped me off at the airport there was barely a goodbye from him.    I thought about it on the flight back to Charlotte and knew that our relationship was just about nil.  I pray for him, but he’s going to have to figure a lot of things out.

As I mentioned, or at least think I have, I am a team member planning for the men’s Christ Renews His Parish event in November.   I’ve met some wonderful people and they are the kind of folks I should surround myself with.  I can be friends with anyone.  But they have to tolerate me just as I tolerate them.  Besides, I’d never know when all of sudden, perhaps because they saw the Jesus in me, they might have their own epiphany.

There is a verse in

Proverbs 18:24  There are friends who bring ruin, but there are true friends more loyal than a brother.

I try to live my life with this verse in mind.

John 15:13  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I like to think that I’d lay down my life for anyone, friend or not.  I have no idea how realistic that is, but I do know the importance of Love thy Neighbor.  I definitely consider you my friend as we both have the same love for our Lord.  Sometimes it’s tough, but knowing I have my Lord to guide me, it’s all good.

God Bless

I am a sinner

Before I begin, I would like to thank you when you give me honest feedback.  I read your replies and when I see that I’ve gotten a little preachy, which I honestly do not want to do, or you feel as though my emotions are running a bit high, I am humbled and grateful.

There was a time that I was too proud to look in the mirror and see my short comings…aka sins.  When I dismissed my trespasses, I found that it was quite a cowardly act as well.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that.  When I had this pride thing going on it regressed my spirituality and the wisdom I thought I had…if any at all.  I knew it was keeping me from growing as a Christian but I was too lazy to change from concentrating on material things instead of my spirit.

Bishop Fulton Sheen was quoted as saying:

“Far better it is for you to say: “I am a sinner,” than to say: “I have no need of religion.” The empty can be filled, but the self-intoxicated have no room for God.”

It’s like anything in life.  I had to face it, admit it, and pray about it.  After my epiphany I realized what wisdom was.  I was excited to spread the word but began going about it recklessly.  I finally developed patience and let God show me the way.  I like the fact that, now, any transgression, however small, I recognize as a sin.  It would be unrealistic to think I could ever be seek perfect, but to seek perfection is something I’m called to do.

James 1:4  And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

When Jesus in, Matthew 5:48 calls us to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect, means to me to become whole and complete with God.  That’s the wisdom  I began to understand.  (I used to shrug that verse off thinking that it was way beyond anyone’s reach.)  Perseverance in becoming sinless is something I strive for.  Again, I know it’s a truly difficult task, but I’m up to the challenge and will never look back.

God Bless

Am I allowed to be angry?

I have been waiting since the end of January to the present to receive my tax refund…believe it or not.  I’ve had a difficult time trusting the IRS in the past, and this has, it seems, put the nail in the coffin of that trust.  When we took a withdrawal from my wife’s 401k, I miscalculated the amount of tax to be deducted…by a large amount.  So this is a refund we could really use.  And guess what?  I’m not angry.  Frustrated…but not angry.  I’ve come such a long way.

Traffic, crazy drivers, used to really make me angry.  But they don’t any longer.  These are just two examples, of many, that I’ve overcome.  Thanks to my Lord!!

Now, having said that, there are two things that are bothering me…not quite angry…yet.  Please keep in mind, while reading this, that I am speaking from the perspective of love of God and what each of our missions should be.

I realize that many of you may disagree.

  1.  Our Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, Bishop Jugis, is in the process of regressing the diocese back to the pre-Vatican II days.  (I say regressing as opposed to progressing that the church has gone through for over 50 years.)  The diocese has nearly 20 priest, 5 newly ordained, that were sent to a seminary that educates the seminarians in the Extraordinary Mass (Latin).  I understand that the reverence for Holy Mass and especially the Eucharist is is belong more and more of an issue.  But I don’t understand why the throwback to the ‘fear of God’ days.  For example, I read a question and answer section for our newly ordained priests.  One question was about what they considered their biggest role as a priest.  Not one said that they wanted to spread the love of God.  If I was asked that question, spreading the love of God would be my #1 priority.  This upsets and bothers me.  (All 4 of our priests at St. Matthew consistently remind us of God’s love in their homilies.)
  2. Now I’m close to anger.  After reading about the Cardinal in Australia and the Vatican where non-marital sex has been spreading like wild fire, I shake my head and wonder why these men cannot keep their vows.  And this comes after years of reporting on sexual misconduct by the clergy.  We all have vows.  We all take oaths. I understand that they are men…humans.  But they had years of discernment and education to know how such activity can damage people.

Ephesians 4:26-27  Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil.

I will never get to the point of having anger that would cause me sin.  Those days are long gone.  Certainly, like  you, I pray, pray, pray everyday for everyone…especially the Catholic Church.

God Bless

God’s language

We have been taught many ways too pray.  Rosary, Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and the numerous prayers recited in all denominations.  Most, if not all, were designed, my words, to allow us to pray together as a group.  I’m probably wrong but I have found that “structured” prayer is necessary for a group setting.  However, when I’m alone, I do not recite those prayers.  Recite, to me, means that they aren’t necessarily my words.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this subject, but I so much believe in contemplative prayer.  I’m retired.  I have every opportunity to watch a TV program or listen to music; whether I’m doing an activity or not.  (The on exception is in the car.  Got to have the rock on.)

Whether I’m doing a project or just sitting on the deck, perhaps doing a crossword puzzle, I make sure that there is nothing playing.  Silence allows me to think about God all day.  It’s worked so far.  The reason this came to mind is because another quote, I found, from Father Keating, which really made my day.

“Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation.”

Like I said, structured prayers are important but they were written by humans inspired by Jesus.  With silence, I get to use my own words:  which have much more meaning to me.

Job 6:24  Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have erred.

God Bless

God will bring people and events into our lives…

God will bring people and events into our lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the evolution of His life in us.

-Father Thomas Keating

In preparing to write these posts, it sometimes takes awhile to develop a subject and then build on that so that it is something we can all reflect on.  I’ve kind of had that problem this week.  Then I listened to a homily by a priest where my daughter and family attend mass, St. Dorothy in NC, where he described the same problem.  This past Sunday, for example, it took him almost the whole week to gather his sermon.  I didn’t feel too bad after that because he is a heck of a homilist.

Then I watched a documentary about the amazing life of Thomas Keating.  Throughout the documentary it displayed certain quotes by him.  The quote I picked out for today really grabbed my attention.

It got me to think about the people who I have known well and the people that I’ve barely met.  Every person has had an impact of some kind on my life and it was/is up to me, my responsibility, to accept them so that I may, as Father Keating puts it, evolve God’s life in me.  I think about my love for my Lord every single day.  And, as I’ve said many times, everything that happens evolves from that love.  Another one if his quotes is really strong regarding love:

If one completes the journey to one’s own heart, one will find oneself in the heart of everyone else.

-Father Thomas Keating

Perhaps this is why the 8th commandment, thou shalt not bear false witness, is so important.  I think about all of the “gifts” God has given me in the form of the nice, and not so nice, people I’ve met over the years.  I realize that through the people I’ve encountered has allowed me to grow my spiritual life.  Therefore I have no business judging anyone else because I would be judging God in such a way.  As I grow it just makes more and more sense, and the eyes open a little bit wider each day.

 

God Bless