Posts Tagged With: evil

Coffee, Contrition, and Clarity

Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 1:10pm – Cafe Central Coffee Haus – Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico

So I’ve been back in General Cepeda for about 2 months now. Earlier this week I realized that even amongst all the down time I’ve had from week to week, I’ve not left town a single time. So I decided to come to Saltillo for a few hours, just to get away. Hopped on the bus, and 35 pesos and 2 hours later I arrived. Having been here many times before, I had no desire to do anything touristy. I just wanted to walk around, explore a tiny bit, and relax.

I’d heard that just down the road from where the bus drops you off, there is a mall. Small, but nice. And the added bonus was stumbling upon this coffee shop. After I walked around the mall, I knew that this was where I’d have my chill time. Spending time at coffee houses is one of my favorite things to do back home. This habit first started during my high school days and cemented itself into my life during my college years. It’s a place and an environment where you can read, study, relax, visit, or people watch.

Did morning prayer from the breviary once I sat down with my frappucino. Also read alot from a book by Ralph Martin, a prominent figure within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. People-watched. Enjoyed the calm, relaxing atmosphere. The soothing hum of the coffee machines, coolers, and various other appliances. Realizing through all of this that we should always have some scheduled down-time, just to relax, refresh, re-energize, and get away for a bit. Also realizing that a key element in living apart from your favorite places and people is to always carry them in your heart. Another key element is to seek out a little taste of home wherever you are. A peaceful coffee shop. A city park. A grocery store. A shopping mall to aimlessly walk around in. These special things and little reminders are a part of who you are and what makes you unique. Embrace them. Rest in the comfort of these little blessings God sends you. They are part of what has made you who you are and gotten you to where you are. I believe in doing this, you will be more genuinely yourself and thus be better able to live and serve where God has you.

Another thing I want to share about is contrition, aka – sorrow for sins. As a Christian the more self-aware I have become, the more I have reflected on this. I feel like I am truly making progress in my spiritual life and that the Lord is helping me to find the proper balance in this area. What follows is a question I posed to several priest friends of mine and their responses. Names have been changed so that you can focus on the answers. And though not worded in exactly the same way, all of the responses essentially and basically say the same thing.

God Bless!
(the following is the question I posed to my priest friends and their responses)

Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation? Another way to phrase the question is, Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?

“My thoughts…Yes. One of the compounding negative effects of sin, especially habitual sin, is despairing emotions/shame. The progress one makes in combating sin is not all lost by a later fall. One truly does get closer to God and grows in his love and grows in trust. A later fall grieves us but our increased trust in God’s mercy dominants our emotional reaction to the sin.” –Fr.K—

“Yes, A healthy fear of sin, is a fear of the distance from God it brings. Being scared of sin means feeling that it’s bigger than God’s Mercy and therefore unforgiveable. count your blessings that you ‘ve been able to move beyond the previous despair. Despair is a trick of the Evil one, to lead you to procrastinate about Confession, to believe less and less in the Mercy of God and more and more of your worthlessness; both are lies. Sin, does not cause you to become worthless in the eyes of God. There’s nothing wrong about you, even if you’ve done something wrong!” –Fr.H—

“I think you are experiencing consolations of seeing some of the progress you’ve made. That is wonderful! I would say: yes, enjoy the good healthy reactions you have but also make sure to guard against the sin of presumption and do not let up in your efforts at self-mastery… Enjoy the consolations AND keep fighting the good fight!” –Fr.S—

“I certainly think so.” –Fr.B—

“I can only give a guess at what’s going on. First, there is a distinction in types of grace. You may have fallen from a state of “sanctifying grace” due to the sin and thus your conscience rightly pricked you making you aware of the fall. Seemingly God has blessed you simultaneously with an “actual grace” of hopefulness and love despite your fallen state. I would guess it was God presenting himself to you through “actual grace” in an attractive manner so that you trust in his future goodness and continue to follow him. You could prayerfully reflect upon this as though you were one of Jesus’ disciples in scripture before his actual death and resurrection. The joy and inspiration they received from his presence would have been more along the lines of “actual grace” (blessings from God) rather than salvific, since he had not yet offered himself in forgiveness of sins. (Of course, Jesus did forgive certain people along the way, but forgiveness was not yet offered to all prior to his death.) [The other alternative interpretation is that the feeling of “being okay” was from another spirit other than God. A way to discern this is reflecting upon whether your impulse at the time was to avoid the things of God (perhaps a subtle sense of joyful passivity and ambivalence to the things of God) or were you being drawn toward God and a deeper awareness of the peace and love that he reveals?]” –Fr.J—

“ the short answer is yes. Feelings are not a necessary part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life resides in “the will,” not “the heart.” And so you ought to have an intellectual fear of the consequence of sin and have the strength of will to avoid sin. If your feelings support those, super good! If they don’t, well that’s not a big deal. It is not necessary to feel sad or even frustrated when you sin. All that is required is contrition – which is an intellectual understanding of the consequence of sin and a disposition of will to make amends. Of course, all that’s very clinical. Unless you’re a robot, your emotions will play a part. Just don’t give them too much power over you. You can be contrite, even when you’re not “feeling it.” And contrition is what you need, not sadness or despair.” –Fr.R—

“Interesting that you ask this because I was talking about it with someone the other day. I think it is possible to have a healthy fear of sin and yet not be given to great sadness or despair in committing sin. Especially with sins that have been habitual to some extent in the past and from which we are trying to purify ourselves, I think we can arrive at a point at which, though we may fall into sin we realize that God is still working with us and trust in His mercy. There’s a book called “Clean of Heart” that is a 50-day meditation on sexual purity. In the introduction it speaks of a similar thing, namely when one falls they ought not too fall into great despair and get overly-consumed with the actions of the past but simply recognize one’s brokenness, bring it before the Lord in confession and continue the battle again. Hopefully that makes some sense.” –Fr.B—

“In a simple answer, it is possible. The more we grow in trust in the Lord the more we also grow in developing a healthy fear of sin. The challenge if one falls though, regardless of the sin, is to never become complacent. In other words, to recognize the seriousness of sin and go to confession as soon as possible, but at the same time not to despair because one has fallen. This comes with developing a healthy fear of the Lord.” –Fr.G—

“First off, I want to congratulate you for cooperating with God’s grace to create ways to protect yourself from sins of impurity. This is the point of confession: not just to shed the guilt of past sins, but (just as importantly) give strength to change these sinful behaviors and to break free from old patterns.

I definitely feel that your new perspective on sin is another a sign of God’s grace affecting your heart and mind.

That “normal” past sense of despair after falling into sin is healthy and necessary in the early stages of spiritual development. As you mentioned, our conscience must be attuned to the evil ugliness of sin and should thrust us into a healthy sense of guilt and remorse as well as compel us to go to confession ASAP. But as we grow and mature in the spiritual life, we should develop a greater sense of confidence in Christ’s victory over our sins.

So… Yes it is possible – and is in fact the goal- “to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation.” That sense of despair that you used to feel was in some way a lack of confidence in Christ’s power over your sins. This transition in thinking that you’ve described is a transition from worry about what you have done (sin) and what you now have to do (discipline) toward a confidence in what Christ has done (died on the cross/forgiven your sins) and what you and HE together now have to do (cooperate).

So… “Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?”… Yes. Because with Christ by your side there is no reason to fear sin. He has already conquered it. 2000 years ago. It’s done.

This is the transformative power of God’s forgiveness given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Hope this helps.”

–Fr.M–

“When we realize that sin is not distasteful to God, but that we have messed up our relationship with Him we are usually moved to fix it as soon as possible. Humility tells us that we have more work to do. It is no longer a childish fear, but an adult understanding of what I have to do. We have hurt the One who loves us most and most perfectly. Sorrow is a condition that comes, but in itself does not necessarily give feelings. Instead, it is the movement to get things right.”

–Fr.B–

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We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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On the nature of Love & bein’ a country boy

Monday October 24, 2011 – 7:35am – Office @ Big Woods Mission – Esther, LA

“Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.”
–Baruch 3:14–

Last week I started getting the urge to do another journal entry. After all, it’s been over a month. (Where does the time go?) Thought that I’d get a chance Saturday during Desert Day, but I had a good distraction. A friend of FMC who attended our Life In The Spirit Seminar at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette stopped by. I had been corresponding with him to try and get a copy of Sarah Granger’s talk to him. Tried to get back to journaling later in the day on Saturday, but things kept coming up, and I didn’t wanna force it. Sunday I was gone all day. Caught a ride to 10am Mass in Richard with Kylie so I could hear Sammy and Lindsey give a talk for World Mission Sunday. Stopped at Candyland Cottage in Rayne after Mass, and then Uncle Donald’s after that.

Ok captain, time to land the plane and get to the point. So, two weeks ago, someone close to me told me she was doing a discernment retreat to try and get a handle on what God is saying to her about her next steps on her journey. Being the good influence she is, I was motivated to do one as well. I was discerning both missions and marriage. For missions, I was discerning my next steps for both long-term and short-term mission opportunities. For marriage, I was discerning the who/what/how/when factors. As far as my discernment of missions went, my desire to go to Asia at some point was confirmed. Seeing as how it looks like me and Luis might end up in Costa Rica, my time in Asia is looking like it will be with a short term mission group. I also discerned that if God puts me with a family again next year, that it would be with the Romeros. For short term missions a whole plethora of opportunities popped up. The Phillipines, St. Lucia, Ecuador, and Peru all came up. Already confirmed that I’ll be helping to lead a trip to St. Lucia in January. We’ll see what God does with the other three locations.

As far as the marriage thing goes, you didn’t honestly think I’d give you all the answers to that, did you? 🙂 It’s a private revelation from God sort of thing, where only the people concerned find out. However, I can say that I also did alot of reflecting on friendship and love, and the end of this entry I’ll include some of the nuggets of wisdom God gave to me. The realizations and revelations were a blessing to me and were proof of the Holy Spirit working through prayer.

Living out in the country has been really good for me. Yes, a big part of my season of growth right now has been due to community life. When you are surrounded by good people and a life of prayer, you WILL grow in holiness. But that’s not the only factor. Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul. Living in the peace and quiet instead of the noisy and fast-paced city is good for my soul. Seeing things like rice fields, swampland, horses, cows, pastures, fog, dogs, barbed-wire fences, & birds is good for my soul. Swimming in a muddy pond that is home to the occasional 3-4 foot gator is exhilarating…………….and good for my soul. Burning logs and branches is messy, and good for my soul. Killing wasp nests is good for my soul. Pounding on a pile of rock hard dirt, shoveling it into the back of a truck, dumping it into a hole, filling a wheelbarrow full of horse manure to fill said hole with “fertilizer” so grass can grow and thereby hold the dirt in place, is good for my soul. Riding my bike down a country road and seeing a beautiful oak tree draped with spanish moss is good for my soul. Working and sweating and getting blisters and sore muscles is also good for my soul. I love where God has me at right now. I love that I get to wake up and do this (and other missionary stuff) every day. I think perhaps the singular greatest blessing I’ve received since being back at Big Woods is being able to work with my hands and do manual labor. It has taught me so many things, including obedience AND knowing the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all of these blessings. Please continue to shower them down upon me. Help me to continue being open to your guidance. Bless us in all our missionary endeavors here at FMC, especially as Mrs. Genie prepares to go to China, and Intake prepares to go to Mexico.

Nuggets of Wisdom from The Holy Spirit about Love:

* be free to love * love unconditionally * draw close to me so that you can draw close to her * take a leap of faith * Friendship is not just a consolation prize, it is love through companionship. And marriage is the fulfillment of friendship * Instead of choosing good over evil because of an ideal, I can now choose good over evil because of someone. When I think in terms of people instead of ideals, love as a choice becomes real, and is easier to make * It should be a give and take, where you can savor the mystery * I need someone who brings out the best in me * I need someone who can bring me out of my shell * If you know the Lord has brought someone into your life, if you know you are drawn to someone because of a mutual love  for the Lord, then do not hesitate to grow close to that person! Do not be afraid that you are “deifying” them or “idolizing” them. Let yourself enjoy them and their company. Let yourself enjoy the love you give and receive. Draw closer to them by drawing closer to the Lord. That person is an instrument of God’s love in your life. To put them off due to a false sense of caution, humility, or discernment is a tragedy. By not putting your heart on the line and loving the person unconditionally, you risk losing out on the greatest treasure in life, LOVE.

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I want to find myself……….

Tuesday 5-25-10 – 8:00pm @ Adoration Chapel at Our Lady of Wisdom Church in Lafayette, LA

Lately, as I’ve been reflecting on my successes and failures, one particular verse has come to mind. St. Paul says in Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” This describes with great accuracy my current spiritual journey. I feel like I have grown immensely over the past 10 months I’ve even been journeying towards what I believe is a call from God to be a lay foreign missionary. I’ve experienced God’s marvelous mercy through the sacrament of confession, and I’ve been blessed by the prayer and fellowship @ FMC.

Now, it’s not that I have sinful pride that causes me to think I am ever or should be perfect. I know I’m going to be a sinner with imperfections. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to expect more from myself. Problem is, that’s not necessarily what I’m getting. While I do encounter moments of grace, I still feel like i’m stuck in the same ‘ole sins, and that I’m not able to overcome them. I want to overcome them so I can start working on other imperfections. My theory though, is that I will discover who I am when I go into missions. I long to be able to find myself. Once I know who I am and who I can be, I believe that I can really grow, and learn, and make progress. Lord, grant me patience, humility, obedience, courage, and perseverance. Please Lord, also take care of my family, especially my parents and my sister.

Lord, in my absence, fill their hearts and liveProxy-Connection: keep-alive
Cache-Control: max-age=0

with an abundance of grace. Thank You Lord Jesus for your love and your mercy. Amen!

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QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM THE 2010 DIVINE MERCY CONFERENCE

4-10-10 Saturday – Divine Mercy Conference @ The Cajundome Convention Center

I’ve decided this entry will be quotable quotes from today.

Fr. Hampton Davis quotes:

“Can’t catch love with a closed heart.” – “You better have some Jesus in You.” – ” Hell…….NO! Heaven……..YES!” – “M-E-R-C-Y. May Easter’s Reality Convert You!” – “We better count ourselves among the sinners, if we ever wanna count ourselves among the saints.” – “If  a soul does not show mercy, it will not obtain my mercy. (Fr. Hampton quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “If we are merciful we choose heaven, if not we choose hell.” – “Divine Mercy is God’s medicine.” – “If we don’t fill our empty hearts with mercy, something worse will come back and fill it up.” – “A fly cannot enter a pressure cooker. Evil cannot enter a heart full of mercy.” – “To have the title ‘Christian’, and not live up to it, THAT is taking the name of the Lord in vain.” – “C-R-E-A-M. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. The world wants CREAM.”

Dr. Bryan Thatcher quotes (involved with Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy):

“If you pray the chaplet of divine mercy at the bedside of a dying person, I will be there as their merciful Savior. (Dr. Bryan quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors.” – “Father, your will be done = Jesus I trust in you.” – “Do what I did; give it up to God, look up to Jesus.”

Imaculee Ilibagiza quotes: (sidenote: She’s a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that claimed 1 million lives, including her WHOLE family, except for one brother and herself)

“We own nothing. We should thank God for everything. It is all a gift.” – “If we grow our brains, but not our hearts, that’s bad.” – “God exists. He can help you. He is Almighty. He can do anything. If you ask him, he can move mountains.” – “At this moment of crisis, I had to decide which voice to listen to.” – “God heard me, he is real.” – “When you are angry, you are very creative.” – “You hating them does not change anything. If you pray for them, maybe there is hope.” – “The rosary is not just for Catholics or Christians. It is for every human being.” – “If I can forgive, anyone can forgive.” – “If you are conflicted between being kind and being right, choose kindness.”

Marcus Grodi quotes (he hosts the EWTN tv show “Journey Home” and is director of Coming Home Network International and is a former Protestant pastor):

“Proverbs 3:5-6. Look it up.” – “No Catholic ever gave me a reason to ever wanna become Catholic.” – “Sometimes we’re not open to an answer until we know there’s a problem.” – “1 Tim. 3:15. Look it up” – “3 biggest obstacles to becoming Catholic were ignorance of Catholic teaching, prejudice about their beliefs, and bad Catholics.” – “2 Thess. 2:15. Look it up” – “If you throw out the Church, you throw out everything.”

Annie Karto quotes (Catholic musician/evangelist):

“The truth can hurt, but it will set you free!”

Fr. Michael Champagne quotes:

“He is communion and he reconciles.” – “Enjoy the experience of your reposessed dignity.” – “When the priest lifts his hand during absolution, he’s washing you with the blood and water of Jesus. Let that inundate you.” – “Having received mercy, we have to, in turn, be merciful.”

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