Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Look This Way

Truly I say to you: You will see the heavens open up, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Canticle of Zechariah, Ant. Morning Prayer

I'll be the first to tell you, I'm not really sure what the above means. I have my own idea, but there's more to it than what I suspect. I do believe that angels are here, close by to us, in a world not usually seen but certainly felt. But can they really help us? Can they help me? Every day I swerve from my path. I swerve a bit, but don't leave the path. Why? I don't know. Are they there when the world pulls me to the side in any number of ways? They must, because I'm certainly not nearly strong enough to resist this world completely. Maybe if I truly lived a monks life, not this imitation thing I do now. I want so much to be nearer to God at all times, yet as each day of the week ticks off I seem to lose more and more ground. One step forward, two steps back. At times I think I should just cloister myself at work, be silent all day, talk only when spoken to. I know I need the discipline in my life, and right now I just don't have it enough, not when I really need it. Call upon the angels, especially our guardian angel. I do, when I remember. How bad is that? When I remember...
So I go on, every day, and no matter what, I praise and I pray. God gives me bits and pieces, His face shown to me in a word, or the gesture of a c0-worker. The event that happens just for me, like this evening, when instead of a quiet night we helped a friend in need, blowing leaves away from her house in the dark. For someone else, this asking and giving would mean little, or just an act of kindness. And for Helen that's what it is, just another act of love in a long day of helping people. For me, my first thought is, what an inconvenience! Can you believe that? And coming from a Franciscan. Off the road again. This time, though, it didn't take long for me to see how blessed I was to be able to help someone. How God is so good to us when He does such things! Nothing is by chance. His Hand is behind all, and I must be more aware of Him and His actions. I must look and feel for the presence of his angels as they fight to protect me from this world. I'm always striving for quiet time. Thirsting for something for me. Maybe tonight was one of those moments where He says, My son, look this way. I looked, oh God my Father. And I saw your Son.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inside I'm alive

We had our Installation Ceremony after the 4:oo Mass yesterday and it went very well. We had just enough K of C Officers (5) to make the Cross, so that was good. I don't usually post on Sunday, and this might not even make it today, but I had to (not really had to) send two e-mails out that were fairly important, so here I am, on the computer. This has been a grueling stretch of events the last 2 weeks. Three fundraising events in three weeks will take it's toll on a person. Not a real toll, I can't really complain, it's just that belonging to our council means the same 10 guys do everything. How do you spell burnout? I miss the down time with my Lord. I vowed to make more time for Him, quiet time and the opposite happens. How can I reverse my life to reflect my wants? HA! Selfish person! Crybaby! It would be so easy to fall into this frame of mind, many people do. I cannot. I am here to serve God, to follow His Son. If my days are not my own, well, for now, so be it. People ask for my help. Friends ask me to please do this for them...that for them How can I say no? Seriously. I said no to people for 45 years of my life. When I feel overwhelmed I only need to look to the Saints, and not only the Saints from long ago. I know a few people personally that help me through inspiration get through my day. And don't forget Jesus, who had the worst day of all. No, even if my days are not my own they are for my brothers and sisters, who find ways to use me to do good. Because with Gods' good graces that's what I seem to be doing a lot of lately; helping people do good things. Helping out for two hours at a pro life table, working at yet another event for the K of C, taking a couple of more hours at the upcoming 40 hour Adoration. I don't mind. I may look tired, but inside I'm very alive, for God has filled me with His Light.

Oh Lord my God!
You way is crowded with this world,
the world of men put forth by you.
My path, at times a thin line
that weaves amongst the darkened shapes,
a path lit forth with Your Word,
a torch held high for us to follow...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A lesson in Humility (again!)

Here at work we're coming up on our audit date so it's catch-up time for all the paperwork that exists to run a shop, which, in turn, puts everybody on edge, including me. After yet another point made to me about a detail missed (by me!) I mentioned to my co-worker that I can't let these chastisements by others in charge of getting us ready for the audit bother me anymore. I take things like this way too personally and then take it out on the messenger. A few minutes later at break I read today's 1st Reading, Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13. "...I urge you to live a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, ..." God is so very very good, and the words of His son always ring so true. Here I am having difficulty dealing with small piddly things in life, issues that I should just deal with not only professionally but in a Franciscan frame of mind, but I don't or can't or something, but here He comes, so subtle, so quiet, gently turning my eyes from the ground to see what is ahead of me, which is, of course, my brothers, Jesus Himself. I felt so bad for my actions but this time He didn't let me get away with just feeling bad. I always feel remorse after I act like an a$% to someone, but this time I seemed to just have understood it more. I knew I'd sinned. And in sinning, I'd thrown it all back into Gods' face. I remembered the Gospel from this past Sunday, about trust and sins, and how sinning affects everyone, and then trust is out the window. I read today's reading to my co-worker, Perry, and he just nodded his head. He's a deep one, Perry is, he understood immediately. Thanks for the lesson Lord. In humility and humbleness I accept your loving chastisement. I'll try to pass the lesson on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

...a little steam...

Tonight on the news they showed the Pope in Scotland with the Queen and also at the outdoor Mass. This is just my opinion and I'm probably way off base here but I'm venting. I'll admit I didn't hear the beginning of the story, but I heard the end, the part where the reporter speaks about the recent tragic events in Belgium concerning the pedophile priests there and the 13 suicides. Absolutely tragic. Incomprehensible. I'm not arguing any of that, there is nothing to argue about. My gripe is the fact that nothing good seemed to be said in the part of the reporters story that I heard. It was like the footage of the Pope with the Queen and then at Mass had no relation with the storyline. I forget his exact words, and I should just drop the whole thing, but he (the reporter) seemed to dismiss the crowd as a bunch of curious bystanders. I myself doubt if they all were. Most of the 100,000 or more came to see the Successor of Peter, our Light on Earth. Can only the truth be found on EWTN? (I know, I know even they fail at times.) Like I said, maybe I'm all wrong on this, I don't know. For me, it all goes back to the same thing I say to my co-workers at least once a week; you either believe in God or you don't. You either believe in everything or you believe in nothing. Again I may be wrong, but to me there is no middle ground. I'm not saying not to question. I'm saying to have Faith. And to have Faith is to live it. Not to pick and choose when to talk to God, or when to show your love to your fellow man. You show your love all the time. I know their are co-workers we don't always get along with, or we don't like their attitude, their color, whatever. Every workplace has brother and sisters that we judge to be off.. And it's so easy to fall into the rut of dismissing them, or exploiting them. Almost all of us do it at times. But we're not supposed to! Ever! It doesn't say anywhere that you can do it every once in a while. Like I said, you either believe, or you don't. God is Love. Words again, said by us at times, mostly read by us, written by John, but not practiced enough by us, at least by me at least. I see it in work and out, and it seems the whole world at times lives the same way, by judging. The day in, day out, rhythm of our lives sometimes prevents us, isolates us away from the true path we must take. We must walk with more humility but with our eyes raised to heaven, to the Father. I believe only then with our gaze fixed firmly on what is above will we be able live our lives in Jesus' name here on earth.
Sorry for the rant.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Wall

We think we know God, know Jesus, know where we are going, or at least have an idea. I did. I seemed to understand where my place was, where I was settling into, well, sort of. It's hard to explain. I felt I knew what my role was, or maybe how things would unwind before me.
But again, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Let me say that Helen and I do everything together. We are deeply in love, with each other and together in our love for Our Lord. We professed as Secular Franciscans together, we pray together, go to church together, everything. You get the idea. What Helen is and does so much better than me is love. Her love for the elderly, the downtrodden, our brothers and sisters living on the fringe is an example for all to witness and follow. As for me I've always let her act as a buffer for me. It's something that has just evolved, possibly because I'm not as outgoing. I have a hard time on account of that inner wall that I built long ago, I don't even know why I did it. It's there, though, I can feel it. H has no such wall. She just is. So I've always had the luxury of her going first, and I follow.
Until now.
H is up at M.V. getting the house ready for renters. We have a very dear friend, C, very spiritual, very catholic. He's a retired teacher and he's not been feeling well lately. He's wanted to go on retreat, up to the Maronite Monastery in Petersham MA but with his dizzy spells he can't drive the hour and a half. I told him anytime you want to go I'll bring you up and bring you back. He couldn't thank me enough, and he decided that this past Sunday I'd drive him up and pick him up on Tuesday. Well, he called yesterday morning saying he really didn't feel well at all, and he'd better stay home, which was fine, we'll do it again sometime. He then asked me if I'd like to come down for dinner, he has a bunch of leftovers that he'll never finish. Later that day I found myself sitting across the table from a man I only knew from going to Mass with or when he'd host a prayer gathering at his home. Always there were many people that would call for C's attention, but now it was only me. Me and a man who's health is not so good, alone and needing the love of a brother. I have to tell you, I was and still am completely unprepared for what God was asking of me. I never realized how hard and high I'd built that wall. I'd always thought that I was loving my fellow man. I always thought I was doing God's will, following his Son. I know now I was not giving enough. I'm still not giving enough. As we talked and ate I knew I'd gotten it wrong. I began to see the meaning of to see Jesus in everyone you meet. I'd hidden behind the towering presence of H all these years, taking the easy road. Now God is saying Here is my Son. Can you help Him carry His cross? And I'm lost. I have to re-learn how to reach out. Not to just reach out, but to reach out and take their hand, to help them up. As we ate and talked I had to literally begin tearing down the wall, the wall I'd built to hold in all my love, to not give it away. I knew I had to give it away, but I'd not known how. I still don't, not really. C shows so much trust and love to me. After we finished and cleared the plates we sat in his small chapel that he made and said a Rosary. Just me and a brother saying the Rosary, letting our voices rise up to heaven. Lastly, I moved some plants in for him, and did another chore or two. We agreed to meet again soon.
God showered me with many graces this weekend, and in my hardened state I'm still trying to absorb them. My wall will come down, I want it to come down, it's just that it's been up for such a long, long time...
My dearest Mother,
You are the way to Your Son,
the one whose hands are strong.
His love will help me
unbuild the wall.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What was I thinking?

Last Friday we spent the afternoon 'wooding', which is going out into the CT countryside, looking for wood. We don't have to look far. A small micro burst back in June knocked down many trees on Helen's mother's old farm, so we're cleaning up the property and getting free wood. I've been cutting wood with a chainsaw for the last 25 years, but Friday I committed a rookie blunder; I poured the bar oil in the gas tank and the gas where the bar oil goes. I was just finishing pouring the bar oil in when I realized my mistake. First, I swore. Loud. then I dumped the contents of both onto the ground! My second mistake. Then I kept swearing, kicking myself and beating myself up. Helen was sitting on the back of our Rav4 praying a Rosary. As I ranted louder, the Rosary grew louder. At times, I'm as pathetic as they come. These are the issues that get in my way, really send me off the path. I dwelt on my actions for hours after, and they still bother me almost a week later. Not that I did something stupid, but the way I acted after. I know what I'm to do now, to ask God for forgiveness and move on. The damage is done, and I'm sure I'll have to pay for it in the afterlife.
So this leaves me thinking; where is my Franciscan life when I'm pouring oil and gas on the ground? How is my decision to lead a life following Jesus, in a way a monk himself, set back and damaged every time a bump in the road occurs, leaving my desire to live a monk-like life in this urban world reeling? Our Lord keeps giving me these tests, (not a good word!) these events in my life, for what, to slow me down? That's what my family thinks, that God wants me to not cram so much stuff into one day, and they're right. Part of my problem is I set things up in my mind (I'm in control, see!), unconsciously even, but I do and when any deviation occurs bang! I become annoyed. I know what I have to do but most times I feel so far from knowing how to do it that in my mind, in the end, it's like nothing has been done at all. These miss-steps in my life are my failings, yet these are what Jesus wants from me! Our insecurities, our angers, our big ideas of ourselves, I could go on and on about myself. These are gifts we can give to God, to Jesus. I think I've come such a long way spiritually (ego!) but I'm nowhere, really. At times all I think I'm giving is lip service. My humbleness and humility gets pushed aside in this world way too easily at times. I will pray for the grace to see the strength the Lord gives me everyday, to see Him in my co-workers, to hear Him speaking to me as I read Scripture and sacred writings. I have such a long long way to go, but even as I finish this I'm feeling better. I'll try to not erect any more walls between me and You, O God of All. I thank M at The Mercy Blog and B at Barefoot toward the Light for they're great posts that allowed me to open myself to His Word today. And H whose love is all. Peace!
Blessed Virgin Mother,
You are always with me
even when my eyes are closed
to your love.
Take my hand and lead me
to your Son,
help focus my gaze on the Light
of Your world,
and not on the darkness of mine.

Friday, September 03, 2010

No work today, a scheduled day off on account of the lack of work. In a job shop lately it's feast or famine. I used to get so upset about the lack of work, which means less money for me, but not any more. Before Celena left to spend the summer at M.V. she said something like, "You deserve to have some time off. Your getting too old to work so many hours." Hmm... I know she's right, but I need time off for other reasons, too. Our Lord Jesus said it 2,000+ years ago; You cannot serve both God and mamon. It has finally sunk in. And I've come to appreciate some of the things in life that I forgot about, didn't do for whatever reason, or never had the time for. Morning Mass, (and today First Friday!) being with my family, getting stuff done that otherwise never gets done. Today we're going wooding, a term conjured up by our friends Margret and Dominque. It means going out into the world and finding free fire wood! If you look hard enough it's everywhere, and Helen and I are bound and determined to use more firewood this winter. We've collected about half a cord so far, not much, but a start. So today until 'Earl' arrives, that's our adventure for today.
Lord, keep us safe today as we do your will.
Keep our hands steady and our eyes keen.
Protect those who are in harms way
of your powerful yet beautiful storms.