- "For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
- But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me."
- 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
ATS's singer Dex, always reminded me of what Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha would be like if he traded in his Hate, Anger, and the pretentious Rhetoric of a life devoid of God; for the Truth found in the Faith, Hope and Love of a life lived in the presence of God. . .a 'course we can pray for him, now can't we ? (O:
Peace be with you, I will be attending a Picture Framer and Art trade show for much of the weekend, and that, along with next weeks Italy trip (and having all my designs ready), may leave me little time for bloggin' (but just enuf time to type the word - bloggin').
To fill the void, I offer you the website of Author/Philosopher/ Tolkien-Lewis Scholar, Dr. Peter Kreeft, and the 30+ lectures you can download and listen to for free (I have been listening to them for a few weeks now). A man of great intellect, wisdom, and wit; Dr. Kreeft need only add a British accent and we could easily imagine we are listening to one of the Oxford "Inklings".
At one of his lectures I attended a few years ago on "God in the Lord of the Rings", Prof. Kreeft asked a rather profound, and surprisingly difficult, question.
"If you claim to understand what Tolkien is saying in LotR, and believe it yourself, and suddenly the Magical Lamp of the Three Wishes is in front of you, What should you Do?"
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Please keep Lovia Woronowicz in yer prayers. She is presently in Intensive Care in Chicago.
Besides being the mother of one of my dearest friends, she is also about to be a grandmother.
A fellow convert, she is the woman who gave me my first set of Rosary beads, an antique set of her own which I continue to pray with nightly. Last night, I remember noticing the worn parts that had been gently rubbed away, as I pictured her praying to her God, for protection of the family she so loves.
Please pray for her health, her comfort, and her fortitude; and that our Lord will allow her the opportunity to hold her new grandchild very soon.
Thanks, and God bless,
My heart is broken, as yet another country, Mexico, signs into law the genocide of it's own children. Abortion is now to made available in another predominately Catholic country, showing us in the Church how much work we need to do, while also showing our Evangelical brothers and sisters how much their division with us is hurting Christ's body. As our non-Catholic family sends missionaries south of the Border in hopes of converting fellow Christians away from the Church Christ founded, I wonder if they realize, or care about, the damage they are doing.
"but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea"
I am pointing that verse at all of us "Christians" who are not working for unity, and are allowing our in-fighting to give an open door to the Mormons, the Muslims, and secularists. Granted, we Catholics consider Protestants our family in Christ, but we have fallen short in knowing and promoting our faith. Protestants are equally guilty, as they constantly skip over the parts of the Bible, their only authority, which clearly point to Rome.
We need to come together to fight the Enemy, to help the hurting and lost, to feed the hungry, to daily die to ourselves in service to others, to be the hands and feet that reclaim this world for Christ, our King.
Communication is key, and we need to start speaking truthfully, and respectfully, about our differences; instead of constantly acting like the white friend who whispers a racial joke when his black "friend" isn't in the room, but who is all smiles and hugs when they are near.
for us to bicker and complain,
If we're called by the same name,
there's nowhere for us to lay the blame,
except for ourselves.
And if we died to our old selves
we've come alive as God's flesh,
that makes us family.
Deeper than death,
but we don't act so tight
when there's a back to bite.
Are we less like a family, and
more like a fistfight?
Are we there, but not quite
are we hypocrites children of light?
And can we sing with one voice,
if we all love the same God?
Can we agree to disagree?
And so we cry with one voice
to the only God in all the universe-
who holds us in His hands".
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If you did know that you, or someone you loved, would die tomorrow, what would you do today? Whatever it is, do it, and keep doing it, with the knowledge that God has given you the grace to go into those situations you fear, and the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say (or not to say, which is often the case with me).
Every time we speak, there's a chance for peace
Every day we live, there's a chance
A chance for you, a chance for me
A chance to serve, in a time of need
A chance to live, a chance to tell
A chance to lose yourself
(for somebody else)"
Chance - dc Talk
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Faithful readers, I must apologize for not reporting earlier on my Dad's wedding of last week, but I was hoping someone would send me some photos . . .and now I'm kinda glad they didn't
( as family truly is the root of all embarrassment ).
O.k., The day started with your monkster freakin' out that his black Dockers no longer fit ( ie. broken heart creates flabby butt), but I figured my nice new $20 Walmart jacket would cover any unsightly bulge. Then I went for a quick walk with God, and prayed for my selfishness to be removed, and asked our Blessed Lady and St. Rose to pray for me.
Driving up to Baltimore ( say Bawl -mer) I tried to write the perfect Best Man toast - one with laughter and a tear or two, and a reminder that marriage is about two people helping each other get to Heaven (and if you know us McCleary's, we need a LOT of help). Naturally my father called three bazillion times during my ride up to see where I was (O.K.,he only called twice, but I love to say Bazillion), and as odd as it sounds for those of ya that know me, I actually was on time!?!
Driving into the parking lot of the very church I was baptized and confirmed (actually on the same day . . .those wacky Protestants), I noticed the Boy Scouts were having a fund raiser and were selling fertilizer, which I thought was a perfect metaphor on how us McCleary men gets our women.
As I entered the church, Pastor John graciously asked if I would do the reading during the ceremony, and naturally I agreed. He then also asked if I could do the blessing at the reception, to which I also agreed, as well as asked if I got half his pay for the day (heh, I was doing a lot more work than he was).
I quickly changed into my suit, and ran to my car to get my reading glasses so I could in fact read the Bible verse (although it was 1 Cor 13, the wedding standard, and I had it almost memorized anyway). Outside, I greeted family and friends, and quickly changed the subject when folks tried to bring up MY wedding.
After getting the ring, I kidded my step mom that I was off to the pawn shop, which was a joke (pawn shops are closed on Sunday, silly). I said another prayer before the altar, again asking for my focus to be on my father's happiness. My dad looked great, as did my new step mom, and pretty much everyone else. Quite a lovely day actually.
I found it odd that this old long hair wanted to desperately now give my brother a haircut and shave. His long black hair, mixed with a gottee, is a rather sinister combination, but I must say, he did have a rather stylish suit on. I also found myself feeling a bout of self pity, as although my brother's lifestyle (shackin' up with someone he ain't married to) is basically him choosing daily to spit in face of the God he once loved, he does at least get someone to share his fractured life with.
O.K. um, so the service starts, the pastor mentions a few words about best friends (which does describe my dad and stepmother), and than yours truly reads all of 1 Cor 13 (only mumbling a couple a times), and then the rings are exchanged. I must admit, the feeling of having that ring in my hand, and the memory of last summer's engagement folly, was ripping at my healing heart like a thousand razors (but it ain't about me, now is it). Then Pastor John introduced the couple as Mr. And Mrs. Richard McCleary, and bam!, I had's me a new mommy (O:
As per usual, my beloved niece and nephew chose to ride to the reception with me afterward, and asked if we could go to Starbucks first (they know their uncle sooo well!). I am at this point still trying to figure out what the heck to say for both the toast, and the blessing, as well as trying to figure if I can/should make the Sign of the Cross at any point (as I am da only Catholic in my familia, and some folks still ain't all that happy about it). I am not ashamed of my faith in any way, but this is my Dad's day, and I needed to be mindful of that.
The Hall was an old place just outside of da city, where as a kid I would open doors in the hopes of a tip, so as to feed my Twizzler addiction. This was of course the first time I had ever been inside, and it was pretty much as you'd expect any wedding hall (big open rectangle, cheesy chandeliers, and mirrored walls). Then Mr, DJ-guy informs me that I do the blessing and toast together, and in five minutes . . .Lord give me strength!
O.K., I do the "tap tap tap" on the plastic glass (plastic glass?), to get every ones' attention, and start by apologizing to them for having to listen to me yet again. I then ask my brother and sisters to stand, and start with us welcoming our stepmom into our family, and to also say that the limo doubles as a getaway car if she is having second thoughts (just a kiddin'). I mention that love is seeing the person behind all the "stuff", and loving that person despite the "stuff", and that there is a greater Love that you should constantly point the other to. This was my segway into the blessing, to which I began with a reminder of Who the real Best Man is. I begged invitation from our Lord, that He would come join us for this wedding feast, and bless the couple with His presence all their days. In Jesus' name, all God's people say "Amen!"
I sit down, and then the DJ reminds everybody to actually do a toast , as with the whole toast/blessing thing, I kinda forgot that little detail, "Doh!"
The food is served, and sadly there was only Coors beer served, so I drank water (on Monday, I promptly told my pal Josh, that a six pack of "good" beer must be at his wedding , where I also be the best man). I walked around and mingled with my dad's coffee buddies, with their stories giving me a different view of a man I had little in common with, except blood. All told me of things he had done for them, of his love for Dotti, and surprisingly his pride for me (he was proud of me?, wow, I no longer needed that, but it sure felt good anyway).
I also made the mistake of telling a table of my relatives that I was discerning a religious vocation, which left several speechless (an unheard of trait in the McCleary clan). My aunt did respond by saying "but you're too cute!", and I told her I would bring up that detail to my spiritual director (as he had never pointed out that particular revelation).
My sisters danced, I danced (yes even sober, some white men can dance), everyone danced. They even danced to my only requested song "the Chicken Dance" (you can keep the "cha cha slide", just give me some polka anytime . . . .a polka "cha cha slide" hmmmm?).
All in all I made it through the day, and will always remember the smile on my dad's face, as I imagined the smile on the face of our true Father.
A little side note, a good friend pointed out that the fact that I went, and even played such an important role, was evidence of how far our Lord has taken me.
Monday, April 23, 2007
After last week's violence, the reactions have been varied, and mostly fruitless. The politicians and lobbyists are already milking it for their own gain, the media sensationalizes the tragedy in hopes of viewers or awards, and average Joes
expound on how sad it is so as to look compassionate. Everyone has an opinion, so I guess I should have one too.
I, Michael McCleary, take full responsibility for last week's violence, in that I have failed in the only job my Lord has given me - to be His hands and feet - to completely be His love for the hurting. Everyday, I know I pass by the hurting. Every hour I waste writing this bloggin' blog, I could be in prayer for my brothers and sisters. Every minute I could be opening my eyes to whoever the Spirit is leading me to help (if only with a smile or a "hello"). Every second I try to run things my way, instead of dying to self, and fully submitting to my Father's will.
It was only a few months ago that I was walking by an arguing couple, and I asked God "How can I help your broken and hurting"
His answer knocked me to my knees, and that still small voice answered "Stop being one!"
Wow!, I realized that I kept letting my own problems get in the way of helping others. So much wasted time dwelling on my broken heart, or where I should buy a house, if I should buy a house, etc. ; while all the while saying, though not living, "don't worry, God is in control".
"Stop being one!" , the words rang in my ear, and reminded me again of my purpose here, and that that purpose ain't me! I am here as a servant to my Father and His children, to serve my siblings as Christ would have me, to give my ability and availability. In everything I must serve!
The odd thing is, I know that nothing brings as much joy as this, and yet I still don't do it.
Anyhow, after God's convicting shout in my brain, I sought out a councilor to get over last years grief. I started listing names of those to pray for, and offer them up as I do the Rosary or while in Adoration. I focused outward instead of inward, and began volunteering at a food bank. More importantly, in a group setting, I began to seek out the isolated, who were often the ones I myself would not normally wish to hang out with.
Did you ever wonder if Jesus actually liked all the people He met? He loved them, yes !, but as unlovable as most of us can be, I fear we humans are far more unlikeable.
This week, I ask, no I challenge, everyone to pray that God would show them a person in their life who needs to know love (in or out of the church), and someone whom you may not even "like". Pray that you can be used to remind just one person, that no matter what they have done, the Creator of the universe is madly in love with them. Remind them that they are a Child of God . . .oh, yeah, and to each of you, my beloved readers, you too are God's child!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am young again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again
However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am free again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am clean again
However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Good Weekend Vid, inspired by a friend's comment that "we are getting old", which is funny for me to think about, as for the first time in my life (despite a few foggy months last summer), my future appears so bright - possibly alone, but bright. I'm guessing it is because of the Light I now daily walk towards, instead of when I walked away - living in the shadows - with only glimpses of the Light behind me.
Anyhoo, this was a band I was friendly with back in the day, and who I even turned down the opportunity to tour with (I don't know what I was thinkin'?). Dan is a great guy, and I remember my poor lil' sister (at 16) couldn't talk for a half hour, after he kissed her on the cheek (and for my sis to not talk, WOW!).
We have no choice, but wait for the Voice that tells us what's up
You and I we got a long way to go
I harbor a tear in my eye I don't let it show
People go on hurting people, it's just the way of the world
and I ask you where we're goin' but you don't know
I got a long way to go
We got a long way to go
Show me the way"
Friday, April 20, 2007
The main part of my job, which affords me a free vehicle (a Ford Freestar mini-van I have dubbed the "chick-magnet"), is to drive all over my area ( Southern PA. to Richmond VA), harassing unsuspecting Picture Frame shop owners in the hopes of a Larson-Juhl free America. One of the perks, besides my above mentioned "chick-magnet", is that I visit all kinds of interesting lil' towns and villages. Yesterday had me, among other places, in Southern Maryland, and more important to this posting, the city of Waldorf.
As I am ever scoping out shopping centers in hopes of finding an as yet, undiscovered Frame shop or gallery, I came across a perverse strip mall juxtaposition of a Hatfield/McCoys on the Israeli border, magnitude. In this little office/shopping plaza 30 miles outside DC, was a quaint lil' Christian bookstore located two doors down from the local Planned Parenthood !?!
Yes, the wonderfully named "Seeds of Life" Christian bookstore is located a hope, skip, and slaughter, from the local abortion mill. I naturally had to meet the person who would be so daring as to place her business on Screwtape's doorstep, so after a few minutes of prayer along with the sign of the cross, in I went. Sadly it was a tiny space, only slightly larger than my own personal library (which ain't all the big, except my excessive music collection/addiction), with only one or two copies of any particular item. There was only one woman working the counter, and only one other customer, who unlike myself, was greeted with a big ol' hug. I glanced over the T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer books, and picked out a Nicole C. Mullen concert DVD to purchase, in order to support the shop.
Talking briefly with the owner, Ann McDuffie, I learned that she looked at many other locations, but felt that God wanted her there. I told her the bizarre combination of businesses (yes, never forget, Abortion is a business, and big business at that) is what inspired my dropping in. She told me she hears that a lot, and that she has even had to council young women who had almost went into the "other" shop, even had appointments, but said they were drawn to hers instead. I told her she was a blessing to my day, and that I would not only pray for her, but also ask others to . . .uh, so, ya get the point, start a prayin' (O:
Please keep Miss Ann and her lil' store in your prayers, and maybe go by a PP this weekend and say a Rosary or half hour prayer.
eliminating our future"
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Eragon, one of the worst films I've seen recently, was based on a novel written by fifteen year old Christopher Paolini (although he was closer to 18, when the book was released). The movie, like the book, suffered mainly from a complete lack of originality, as well as poor to average writing (a fact forgivable in a fifteen year old, less so from Hollywood screenwriters). I only read the book to see if I could recommend it to the aspiring novelist that is my 14 year old niece, Largo, who also noted the book was not very well writen (but has said the second book,Eldest, is better). As is often the case, Eragon was promoted more on the writers age, than on his emerging talent.
Anyhow, the latest edition on Extension has the winners of it's Short Story Contest for Catholic High School students, and I must say that I'm impressed. I have only read a few, but most of the stories have a strong understanding of what it means to have faith, and how to live it out. Naturally the writing is a tad better than you would expect from public school kids, and more structured than you might find in those home-schooled.
For me, the best thing is how well these young people can gently inspire some of us old farts, by reminding us why we are alive, and Who we are, or should be, living for.
“Reading is to the Mind what Exercise is to the Body"
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
"whatever is True, whatever is Noble, whatever is Right, whatever is Pure, whatever is Lovely, whatever is Admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
God, as usual, helped my focus yesterday when I recieved a phone call from our Virginia warehouse manager. He was calling to let me know that I might have to fill in for him, as he may be traveling up North for a friends funeral.
Brian told me the story of his 23 year old friend, and how his life had been robbed over the weekend by a drunk driver. The young man was on the side of the road, after a minor fender bender with a young woman. As they exchanged information, he saw an out of control vehicle coming straight towards the woman. He ran and pushed her out of the way, but was hit by the car himself. He died later in the hospital.
He gave his life for a woman he had never met.
As we can easily dwell to thoughts of the gunman in Virginia - the media and "talking heads" will make sure we have little choice but to dwell on it - we must remember that there are still people who's actions are excellent and praiseworthy -so let us dwell on those things.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Oddly, as I go to Bawlmer today for my dad's wedding, this was the song the last future wife picked as our wedding song. Ya know, I kinda shoulda figured out that when the girl picks a song with the line "kiss my a**" in it, as a symbol of our undying love, she may not, in fact, be the one (O:
Thursday, April 12, 2007
If anyone has any wonderful quotes on love/marriage, feel free to send 'em my way, as lately marriage hasn't been my favorite topic.
I can't help but ponder what work God is doing in me, as He has me writing two Best Man toasts during this year of healing and discernment, all the while knowing whether marriage is/isn't my vocation. Nothing worth anything is easy, so on I go (as if I had a choice).
Please pray that I will see outside of myself, and instead rejoice in my father's happiness.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
For all my pseudo pious ramblings, I must confess that I occasionally glance at the female form (by occasionally, I mean, if there is a female present, I glance, if there isn't, I don't), and somewhat more embarrassing is the fact that, regardless of their level of "hotness", I am prone to critique their wardrobe ("she's wearing those with that?", "that lavender sweater really brings out her eyes", etc.), and must even admit that I have dated women in the past, because I liked their fashion sense. I am completely a "guy", but as an artist, I'm also more than a little interested in color and design (heh, it is part of my job!).
Yesterday, I had to harass my customers in the Georgetown area of DC, which, because of the high level of fashionable people, armed with an equal degree of physical fitted-ness (and possible medical enhancement), making the inevitable, and fairly constant, head turning not exactly conducive to city driving. I, of course, am not presently interested in the idea of dating, at least not until A) God helps me to see my true vocation, and B) my heart has sufficiently healed from last year's grand pummeling. With that thought, I realized that there was no valid reason for me to still be ever scoping out the possible wife (at least until Salma Hayek gives me the definitive "no", as I feel the restraining orders are just her playing hard to get), so I made a strange, and wonderful decision yesterday, to both look at every single person (male or female, young or old, hot or like me), and to only look at them from the neck up.
Imaginary reader: WWMM, are you saying you have been noticing the wiggling of bottoms?
Yes, my faithful imaginary reader, I must admit this to be true, and honestly confess that I wish to repent of this fruitless endeavor. Actually my little experiment was very rewarding, and reminded me again that God is a very creative Creator, as faces, all faces, are very interesting indeed. I remembered again how bored I used to be in drawing class when we did nudes (something a guy doesn't admit to another guy, and definitely not a group of guys), and how exhilarating it was to do portraits, with the more wrinkles and imperfections the better. I also started to see the persons behind the faces, and found myself wishing to extend my hand to most, desperately wishing to know more about them (a desire you rarely get from checking out a pair of Levi's). I found myself as close to God in this, as I feel in prayer, and this had me wondering if in some small way this was an act of prayer, especially as God has made us for one another.
Well, I can't say if my eye will wander back to wiggleland, but at least I have been reminded that there are much better lands to dwell, and most are found in another's eyes , and where we have a better chance of meeting God.
Monday, April 9, 2007
On that note, I found myself humbled today, as I had left my house without first doing something of vast importance . . .Yes, I forgot to use deoderant!!!
It is sad that this fact bothered me more during the day, than that of my forgetting to pray this morning.
When I think of the over Four Thousand babies that are slaughtered each day in the U.S., it makes it kinda difficult to deny our Muslim brothers name for America, that we aren't "the Great Satan".
Even sadder still, is that while we kill over 1.6 million babies annually, there are over 2 million couples who apply for adoption. Doing the math, we realize that ALL of these murdered children could have had adopted families if only they were given the CHOICE.
I've added a little counter at the bottom of my page, to remind us how many children are dying, even while we read our "mourning" blogs. Get your own at this mommies' blog.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
But behold the Man
He is risen
And He reigns
In the hearts of the children
Rising up in His name
Where are the thorns that drew His blood?
Well, the thorns have turned to dust
But not so the love
He has given
No, it remains
In the hearts of the children
Who will love
while the nations rage
While the Nations Rage - Rich Mullins
With all my "I'll never get married" childish whining in yesterday's post, God, the Father of Mercy, still decided to bless me with with the chance to say "I do".
At today's Easter Mass, there was the Renewal of our Baptismal Promises, with the chance for me to again, publicly proclaim my love with several "I do's". In my heart I know that I would have said the marital promise with the same confidence and conviction, but also am I aware that there is a higher marriage, and we are the undeserving bride to the ultimate Bridegroom.
Do you reject sin,
so as to live in the freedom of God's children?
Lord, all I want to is live in the freedom you offer me.Do you reject the glamor of evil,
I want to reject the unloving choices I have made,
and the sinful failures to love anywhere in my life.
I reject all injustice,
all that disrespects the dignity of all human life
and refuse to be mastered by sin?
Lord, I admit that some evil has a hold on me:Do you reject Satan,
it is attractive, it has such powerful rewards,
it has become a habitual way for me to be myself.
Lord, I renew my commitment this day
to turn from that evil
and from letting any disordered attachment,
any empty promises master me,
and try to separate me from you.
By this promise, I commit myself
to greater courage in acting justly
and refusing to let unjust systems and structures
numb my conscience or dull my heart.
father of sin and prince of darkness?
Lord, as I renew my the promisesDo you believe in God, the Father almighty,
that accompany my becoming one with you
in the baptism of dying to sin and rising to life,
I know that an Enemy tries to
tempt me to sin and to many dark patterns,
I now promise to you,
and to my sisters and brothers
who depend upon my fidelity,
that I renew my commitment
to reject that Enemy,
and all his ways of subverting
your reign and the coming of your kingdom.
creator of heaven and earth?
Lord, you made me and give me life every day.Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
I believe in you, I turn to you,
and I place my life,
and the graces I need each day,
in your loving hands.
his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
was crucified, died, and was buried,
rose from the dead,
and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Jesus, my Lord and Savior,
my life is in your hands.
I believe in you, I turn to you,
I commit myself to growing closer to you,
placing myself with you,
in love - compassionate, self-sacrificing love -
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
Holy Spirit of Jesus,God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus promised not to leave us orphans.
I so desire to be enkindled with
the fire of your love,
that I might be renewed in courage.
I believe in and renew my commitment to
your work among us.
I want to contribute to the unity that you desire for us.
I promise to be as merciful,
for I have known your mercy.
And I pledge to live my life each day on this earth,
full of faith in the resurrection Jesus gained for me.
has given us a new birth
by water and the Holy Spirit,
and forgiven our sins.
May God also keep us faithful
to our Lord Jesus Christ
for ever and ever.
this year's journey to the waters of baptism
has renewed me.
I have come to know more intimately
the complexity of my weakness
and the depths of your love for me.
By your grace, I have come to experience
the mystery of the gift of life you offer.
Please help me to remain free and faithful
that I might grow as a servant of
Jesus' own mission.
I ask this with growing faith in the name of
Jesus, my Lord.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Originally I had planned to propose to her just after my confirmation, uniting two wonderful events into what I thought would be the best day, up to that point, of my life. Instead I chose to honor her, by holding to the one year time table she had asked for (dating only 8 months at this point, although I knew I wished to be her husband even before our first "date"), so kept silent the desire of my heart.
She is the person who taught me about Eucharistic Adoration, and who first brought me to do the Stations of the Cross. I prayed my first Rosary holding her hand, and still nightly use the Scriptural Rosary book she gave me our first week together. At the hospital bed of my dying mother, she stood behind me the first time I knelt and asked our Blessed Lady for prayer. We talked of the constipated monk that was the start of the Reformation, of adulterous kings and humble saints, the sacrifices of missionaries vs. the excess of DC living, and where the heck we fit into it all. In all this, I am thankful God loaned me this wonderfully intelligent woman for a brief time, and I continue to pray for her everyday.
Sadly, being a once annulled and devout Catholic, she wanted a written guarantee from me and God, that our life together would be "perfect". Needless to say, trying to give her that almost landed me in the hospital (or at least on Dr. Phil), until that prayerful day I remembered that I do in fact "rock" (somewhere along the way I had forgotten this), that I knew in my heart what a great husband I would be (sorry ladies , not taking resumes, if ever, until 2008), and that married life is very messy (we just help each other through the muck, on our way to Heaven).
Ending with several months of flip-flopping, and the buying (and returning) of two engagement rings, I realized that I was doomed to only be viewed as a perpetual "boyfriend", and so, with a heavy heart, I walked away. Almost nine months later, I don't really miss the indecisive wannabe girlfriend, but oh, how I do so miss the true and pure friendship that was the spark to the ill-fated romance.
The very God, who today, takes hold of both our empty hands.
Friday, April 6, 2007
O.K. , the chance of me seeing a Tarantino film, is about as likely as me voting for Hillary, so I thought I'd mention an alternative to the above directors latest bloodfest.
I'll be going tomorrow, and will promptly write a review
Listening to a lecture on Heaven yesterday, by Professor Peter Kreeft, the one image the stuck with me was that of our lives now are like the smallness of being in the womb, with heaven being so much more than what we know, or can possibly comprehend.
"All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
Fred: How could I forget the happiest day of my life?
Nine years ago on Good Friday, I had the 700 Club on the tube as I prepared for work (Does this tie go with those jeans?,Chuck Taylor's or boots? etc.). At this time I was no longer calling myself an atheist, but had not yet completely embraced my True love. I had for some time, been aware of the warmth on my back, and glimpses of a Light that was shining on me, but my intellect or pride, would not let me turn completely around
It had been about a year and a half since I first started thinking about God - first started hearing that knocking on my heart's door - first started catching my self weeping in joy about this Jesus, who knew every vile thing about me, yet chose to die for me anyway. An "Ayn Rand" atheist, who suffered for most of my life with depression, I was not about to let the emotions that too often whispered "worthless" in my ear, make me become one of those wacky Christians.
Of course, in that time God had put many wonderful Christian s in my life. There was David, a coworker who first gave me "Mere Christianity" (a book that reads like Ayn Rand on Damascus Road), and who showed me Jesus in his actions, rather than ever preaching. There was of course my brother James, who's change after Christ, made him the brother I always hoped for.
Deacon Whitaker, an amazing man who taught me early on (and my personal hero), who would later teach my RCIA class and was present when I was welcomed into the Church.
My girlfriend at this time, a very loving and giving person, while trying to be supportive of my own search, ended up bumping into her Savior as well. I am happy to say that she is still my friend, has found a wonderful Catholic man to share her life with, and will soon be popping out her first child (Praise God!).
Father Beaubien, also a convert, gave me the best advice during that time, as he told me,
"You sound like you are on the right road, just keep walking"
All that time, I was just shown love, given support and encouragement, and I know also, that many of the above spent a lot of time in prayer,talking with God about this silly long hair they knew.
Friends, um, please keep a praying (although the hair has since been donated to Locks of Love ), and thank you all!!!
O.K., where was I?, oh yeah, well I had just decided to wear my gray and white skinny tie with my dark grey vest, when Pat Robertson came on the TV, and asked if anyone wanted to know Jesus. I had heard this question numerous times before, but that day I just stopped and went to my knees. I said the "Sinner's prayer" along with Pat, and stayed down on my knees for a tad longer, than got up and walked to work. No biggie (o:
I had just made angels rejoice in heaven, but my day was actually pretty much the same until mass that night, when for the first time it bothered me that I couldn't receive the Eucharist. As my friend went up to partake in true Communion, I wept in my pew knowing that I was missing something wonderful.
Well, it's been a very difficult journey to today, as birthing pains are never pleasant, but like any mother will tell ya, the joy is so very worth it.
Please pray that I "keep walking", and that I keep my focus on my Father, patiently waiting at the end of the road, arms stretched out, oh so ready to one day receive this silly ex-long haired man/boy from Balwmer.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
The scene: a typically cluttered basement room, full of boxes, piled laundry, and a few Christmas ornaments. Hardish emo music blaring. A skinny teenage boy with jet black hair, a faded black and paint splattered t-shirt and extremely baggy jeans, is working in front of an easel, throwing pastel powder onto an oil painted canvas. Close up on his hand as it puts down the paint brush, replacing it with a pub style throwing dart. Swinging around, he releases the dart, and a close up of the plastic projectile as the camera follows it's flight pattern. "Thud", as it hits it's target, a too pretty, too colorful print of a cottage, ala Thomas Kinkade. As the camera pans back you see that there are already several other darts on the print, then a pair of woman's legs start to descend the staircase. The woman, carrying a basket of dirty laundry, spies the darts.
Sighing, the boy's mother says,
he's a Christian AND an artist"
Anyhow, that's just a little scene I wrote a while ago, for a screenplay I've been working on forever. I was trying to show at once, that: a) being Christian, don't mean we gots to like everything with a Christian label, and b) Christians (as in the boy, and, admittedly, myself) can be a little snobby too.
I personally cringe at the sight of a Thomas Kinkade print, but also know that if it brings another joy, who am I to judge (plus Mr. Kinkade donates a lot of money to charity). My main problem with Kinkade's stuff, is that too often that's what the general populous think of when they hear the term "Christian Art".
On that note, Christianity Today has a neat little art slide show, that I thought I'd share, entitled "Images of Calvary". There are other sites to visit, including the sites of Kim Thomas, Doug TenNapel, He Qi, to name a few (oh, and feel free to check out my doodles , which remind me that I have to design new t-shirts for work).
Of course, if you want to see the most beautiful art, just take a walk, or possibly take a peak in the mirror.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
This week, Holy Week, there will be many opportunities to view "King of Kings" or "The Greatest Story ever Told" on TV, as well as a possible viewing of "The Passion of the Christ". Being that this is also the week of Passover, I am rather confident that you can also find "The Ten Commandments" among your TV listings. I would just like to suggest another film, one that is different from the above, but also on par with them as well.
The Miracle Maker is an incredible animated film produced by Christmas Films (through BBC), a Moscow based animation studio that has previously brought some Old Testament stories to the screen. The animation is a mixture of Stop-motion(3d) and drawn/CG (2d), with each given it's own "role" in the film. The 3D claymation is what is used for the majority of the story, while the 2D is used for the Parables, as well as dream/nightmare sequences (the 2D was done by Cartwyn Cymru, a Welsh animation company). This blending of animation is absolutely breathtaking, and I assure you this is not "Wallace and Gromit" (although I have always thought that Gromit's "long suffering" compassion for Wallace, proved he was a dog of great faith).
While animation is generally thought of as Kid's stuff, this movie is actually one of the most Biblical films I have seen dealing with Christ's life,death, and resurrection. The fact that it includes the Resurrection is also very important, as others have left that out in the past (Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, etc.), so as to make it a story of a "good man".
The only minor problems I had with the film were the absence of "the Good Thief's" words, a down playing of Mary (sadly, kinda used to that), and that most of the voices were British (also Kinda used to that as well).
Anyway, I actually rank this as second after Mel's "The Passion", on my personal fav's list, and highly recommend it to everyone.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Of all the characters in our Lord's Passion, or at least of those on the side of Truth, I used to see myself closest in relation to St. Dismas, "The Good Thief". As a teenager, I was in fact, a good thief, with my misuse of this gift of a 180 IQ, letting me elevate shoplifting to an almost art form. I was so adept at stealing, that the other kids at school would give me a list on Friday, for things I would "appropriate" for them on Saturday, while we hung out at the Mall. For the first time in my life I was noticeably good at something, and so for the first time was I motivated completely from my prideful nature.
Somewhat distressingly, a part of me is still "proud" of that distortion of my God given abilities, and can still find myself watching films like "Oceans Eleven", with a kind of envy. I think it is also important to note that my criminal career started not long after that day, at age 11, when I decided that God didn't exist. 'cause no God, no morals.
To be honest, I didn't stop out of a realization of wrongdoing, but that I was approaching my 18th birthday, and stricter laws would soon apply. For 25 years these crimes would stay mostly hidden, until last year, at my first "life" confession, where I would speak both of the crimes, and the pride associated with them. Thankfully, like Dismas, I saw the truth of God's kingdom before me, and continue daily ask Jesus to remember me there, knowing full well that I do not deserve entrance into His house.
St. Dismas is also a reminder to those we meet who might feel that what they have done in their life is too bad, or they have gone to far away, that God "could never forgive me". We need to always be ready to share the story of the man who had the honor of breathing his last breath next to the One who gave him his first.
But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him,
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Monday, April 2, 2007
Just saw that Mel has re-released yet another version of "The Passion of the Christ" on DVD, and I am hopeful that one of the scenes that have been restored, is where the mob responds to Pilate " "Let his blood be on us and on our children!".
In the theatrical version of this scene the subtitles are removed, as well as the audio mixed so as to amplify the crowd noise. This came about because of an antisemitism, past and present, where people have used that passage as an excuse for their own personal hatred. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) had been one of the loudest of critics to these words being included in the film, and although they had a much longer list of concerns, did originally win on this point.
Sadly, it wasn't the ADL that won, but ignorance, as for me this line, while seeming on one hand to be a curse, would prove in fact to be a blessing, when seen in the proper Light. I personally need Christ's blood to cover the cancerous sin scarred body of my soul, to "wash me white as snow", to make me remember that I am the adopted son of the Most High. I also want that blood to cover not only me, but my family and friends (and God willing, my children), so that God may see us through Christ's eyes of love, instead of a just God's eye of judgement.
While there are other reasons for Passover and Holy Week to coincide, I can't help but feel that one of the main reasons is God's ever continuing call for His people to be one, for all to be under the same palm strewn banner of the one true King, for all to eat completely this meal He has prepared for us, and for all of us to one day walk hand and hand into the wedding feast.
Knowing our Jewish brothers concerns, and having a "reason for our hope" in response, is how we help them walk across that bridge to God that Christ has made for us, the one he made out of two "blood stained" boards that once held His body.
If asked, "who is responsible for Jesus' death?", the answer can only be "I am"
If asked."who killed Jesus" the answer can only be the Great "I Am", for our Lord said
but I lay it down on My own initiative.
and I have authority to take it up again.
This commandment I received from My Father."