Archive for January, 2013

REFLECTION: “To be or not to be…”

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

 

In our younger years, friends and family often asked what we would like to be when we grew up.  More often than not, our answer revealed what we engaged in and enjoyed the most in play.  Without a doubt, the vocation we vocalized was the area we excelled in and we believed we were the “best”.  It didn’t matter what others thought, the key was that we were able to be.

 

As season after season flew by our way, our “be” no longer solely reflected “me”… Instead, our “be” became “we”.  Layers upon layers of ideals and dreams began to pile on us, but they no longer were ours alone.  Many belonged to others.  Our “being” began to be compared with others and we began to be evaluated based on standards most fitting for the majority, but which at times, didn’t suit our “being”.  Labels, multiple corrections and reprimands were put upon us so as to mould us to the ideal and standards of others, while the unique beauty of our “be” slowly faded and we only caught glimpses of it as its beauty periodically caught a ray of light.

 

Perhaps, like some, our “be” has diminished to a point where we wonder if there is any meaning left in “being”.   I’ve been there several times, especially during the horrible bouts of depression.  During those times, there appeared to be no face to my “be”.  I felt like an invisible spirit imprisoned in a broken, fleshly body.  Agony and fear kept me company as I tried to “escape” the bottomless spiral of emptiness and loneliness which was then my reality.  With each bout, I repeatedly toyed with the word “human being” and with each bout, I struggled with it because, eventually, there was nothing left in my “be”-ing.

 

To “be”.  The definition suitable to this context is to “exist”.  I was merely existing.  I was breathing, I was talking, I was thinking…but I wasn’t truly living.  My daily existence comprised mainly of uncontrolled anxiety and fear.  My life line was knowing that God existed and knowing that many continued to pray for me.  I was told that He loved me but the medication and symptoms of the disease kept Him from MY reach.  I no longer felt His presence.  I no longer felt His comforting touch.  And yet, I received enough grace so I could hold on to His promise that “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8:39)

 

If hell is the absence of God, I was existing in hell on planet Earth.  Those were the darkest nights of my soul and I would never ever wish it on another.  I shiver thinking of the possibility of existing for eternity in His absence.  I am not sure why, perhaps God enjoys drama, but He exemplified this point further in a morning shower.  Already filled with a heavy dose of anxiety and fear, I was clinging on to God as much as was humanly possible and then I remembered blacking out as I said, “I don’t want to loose You too.”

 

I am ever so thankful that God cannot be lost.  Whether we believe in Him or not;  whether we can feel His hand or not, He still exists.  Our faith or lack of it; our sense of His presence or lack of it do not define Him.  As He mentioned to Moses, “I am who I am.”  (Exodus 3:14)

 

Thankfully, who we are as a being is a partial definition of who He is.  Why? Because we were created in His image.  Because He IS love, we are also defined in love.

 

Our consummation in our mother’s womb was not by chance.  God created us for a specific reason and we each have a unique role which no other can perform on our behalf.  We have been blessed with specific gifts and we are called to cultivate them and to use them in this world.  Will we allow others to mould us to what they want us to be?  I hope not.  May God strengthen our inner (wo)man so we can stand strong and be the very best of who He created us to be.

 

How we fulfill our mission in life is dependent on whether we invite God, our Creator, to partake in it.  Life will be tough.  Trials and heart aches will come.  Although He won’t take us out of our difficulties, if we are willing to let Him be a part of our lives, He hands us grace after grace so we can endure and find meaning.  He brings deep, inner joy and peace and He brings powerful reason to our “being”.  How do I know?  I look at my own “being” and I realize that He has allowed our paths to cross so that together, our combined “beings” can make a greater difference in this world.  Thank God for the grace to be…

 

God bless,

 

Melissa – January 25, 2013 1:59 p.m.

REFLECTION: “Who killed God?”

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

 

As I listened to his pre-recorded talk (Footnote 1) the second time around, his words, once again, guided my thoughts to areas where I had never ventured.  The research done was extensive and what he quoted was so profound.  One question addressed was, “Who killed God?”

 

Over two thousand years ago, Roman guards nailed a Jewish man named Jesus on a cross.  Posted above him was a sign revealing his crime.  Penned in three languages (Latin; Hebrew and Greek) by Pontius Pilate, the chief officer of the Roman Empire, the sign declared the man to be “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.  Could there have been a mistake?  Undoubtedly.  The sign was written in three languages so that everyone, citizens and visitors alike, who wandered around the busy city would know what the man had done.  The sign was intended to mock the man, but instead, it revealed the truth.  The man died.  But the story doesn’t end there.  On the third day, this man named Jesus, the Son of God who willingly took on the form of man to bring mankind back to the Father, rose from the dead… and although he rose over two thousand years ago, he continues to remain alive and well today and through eternity.

 

“Who killed God?”  The Romans tried to, but death could not keep its grip on him.  Through the centuries, man continues on with his attempt to “kill”  God.  In truth, you and I readily partake in this attempt as we ignore and reject him, engaging in the alluring ways of the world, refusing to take a stand when our fellow men and women (unborn, young and old alike) are trampled because we choose the path of least resistance by saying and doing nothing.  We attempt to “kill” God when we keep him hidden for ourselves, refusing to share him with others.

 

Mankind’s attempt to eradicate God’s presence on planet earth is evident globally.  Our fingerprints and/or lack of them are visible every where and sadly, their affects are now readily seen in the shooting deaths of innocent children and young adults in venues where they are supposed to be taught to become the promising citizens of our future.  Bullying in schools and in society reigns, enabling those who have a temporary upper hand to cause havoc for a season, only later to reveal that the bullies themselves had been previously broken by another.  Children are bringing children into this world, many who are left to raise another not much younger than themselves on their own.  Multiple lives are taken by anorexia, bulimia, drugs and alcohol as each fails to successfully cope with the stress and the trials of this world.  Suicide rates (Footnote 2) have increased by 60% world wide over the last 45 years and “it is predicted that by 2020, the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds”.

 

We are angered by the death of many who are massacred by the detonation of a suicide bomb and yet, we fail to consider what the one who had taken their lives had been going through?  Healthy, happy individuals readily choose life.  It is only those who have nothing more to live for who can readily be coerced to take his/her own life along with others?  Have we forgotten that their families are merely humans and they, too, mourn the loss of their loved one?  Come to think of it, isn’t there an eerie similarity  between the suicide bombings and the random mass shootings in the public square in the Western world?

 

Social morality struggles to make a stand while many begin to embrace their opposing self-made values that are based on their own sentiments and whims.

 

“Who killed God?” No one did because God can’t be killed.   But unfortunately, “God made man” is quickly being replaced by “man made gods” on planet earth.

 

God bless,

 

Melissa –January 16, 2013–2:13 p.m.

 

Footnotes:

1) Need God? What if I don’t? (Ravi Zacharias) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4jlWXhKIaE

2) Suicide Statistics:  http://www.befrienders.org/info/index.asp?PageURL=statistics.php

REFLECTION: Will they come home?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

 

A few nights ago, the “Catholics Come Home” campaign, which began airing in Vancouver early in December, was discussed over the local news.  Many complaint calls had been received by the station and perhaps that in itself triggered their investigation.  After airing the interview (http://www.globaltvbc.com/vancouver+archdiocese+hopes+ad+campaign+leads+to+attendance+increase/6442785509/story.html) with Kyle Neilson (the Vancouver Archdiocese’s Director of Evangelization) the male anchor mentioned that he was not religious but he also commented that the ads didn’t bother him.  He then suggested that if the ads bothered you, “just don’t watch it.”

To me, it is evident that the ads are working.  We may not readily see the influx of attendance, but the motion has begun.  Many have left the Catholic Church for one reason or another, perhaps replacing an hour with God at church with hours on end at the local ice hockey rink or the soccer fields. Others may have left because they didn’t feel welcomed while others may have experienced a misunderstanding with the Priest and/or other parishioners.  Each had decided not to return for his/her own reason.  We may never know their “why” but in truth, do we really need to know?  To me, the relevance is that those who have encountered the ads have begun to think about it.

Wanting to be politically correct, most of us shy away from discussing God and Jesus with others.  However, more often than not, it is those who do not believe in Him who call on His name out loud on a regular basis.  “Oh my God” and “Jesus” can often be heard in casual conversations, unfortunately not used in its rightful context, but used instead as a profanity.  So sad, but oh so true…  If they only realized the grace and the power that come along by calling on God reverently.

Yesterday, I watched the first lesson entitled “Amazed and Afraid” of Fr. Barron’s Catholicism.  Fr. Barron mentions that the two standard reactions to God are amazement and fear.  Jesus’ disciples were often struck with amazement and fear not because they were afraid of what He would do to them, but because of his divine actions which they had witnessed such us calming the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:40); casting out demons (Mark 5:1-15); raising the dead and healing the sick (Mark 5:21-43).  If those who call on His name would only come to know Him…

Last summer, as I was working on a sloped ledge that I had cleared the year before, I realized that watering the area was futile.  The soil had become bone dry.  One would naturally think that the soil would soak up every drop of water but instead, the water merely beaded on the soil surface and flowed down the slope.  Research has revealed that dry soil is hydrophobic (repels water) and misting it gradually would do the trick.

Perhaps the same logic holds true in this situation.  Those who don’t know Jesus, the Source of living water, repel Him. However, “misting” them by sharing what He has done in our own lives would gradually prepare them so that eventually, they, too, will welcome Him into their lives.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:38)

Although the latest talk in town about the “Catholics Come Home” campaign may not be what we expect, the very fact that there is dialogue about it reveals that a seed has been sewn.  AND… God has provided free advertising!

God bless,

Melissa – January 11, 2013 1:46 p.m.