Love and Forgiveness

We are all called by God to live a just life following the Laws of God, and I believe the most important, can be summed up in Love and Forgiveness. The laws of The Commandments; “Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not kill… speak of what not to do, and yes, we need to obey. However, they “don’t move us to love more; they just keep us from failing to love.

True love overtakes us and leads us to do more than we ever thought possible of ourselves. We can develop patience, forgiveness and kindness over and over. It allows us to Forget, truly Forget grudges and past wrongs. What God is asking of us, is no more than he is doing for us and our failings.
What are some small ways we can move forward showing our love especially for our neighbors, or those strangers that cross our path every day for a reason? And how can we show it whether they see it or not?

It is a love with patience for someone who doesn’t get it or is incapable of understanding. It is understanding someone who has a different opinion or perspective than we do. It is that act of kindness like holding the door for someone and smiling at them. A few kind words to someone you pass by, as that maybe the only person they have in their life that day to talk too. A compliment to someone you don’t know to make their day, or just a simple thank you. A kind word of “Keep Smiling” that always evokes a surprise and a smile from them. Hopefully, you have made their day!
An easy scripture to remember that you can carry with you all day is ‘You shall love.” (Romans 13:9) Yes, I fail at times, as there are people I have tried to live with what I have noted above. But in a particular case, I have failed for years with a certain neighbor. But, I am still called to keep trying as these situations ring true to me: “Make us know the shortness of life/that we may gain wisdom of the heart.” (Ps. 90:12)

I recently participated in the Year of Mercy by attending the ceremonies and Mass for the relics of St. Maria Goretti. A very moving time and an overwhelming experience of forgiveness. Learning how to forgive and forget. Many miracles of recent times were shared with those in attendance, and in this special time, it was impossible for anyone to leave and not further embrace Love and Forgiveness.
I am noting some very powerful words that speak to Love below by Etty Hillesum:

“There is a passage in the Bible from which I always draw new strength. I think it goes something like: “He that loveth me, let him forsake his father and mother:” Last night I had to struggle again not to be overwhelmed by the pity I had for my parents, since it would paralyze me if I gave in to it. I know that we must not lose ourselves so completely in grief and concern for our families that we have little thought or love left for our neighbors. More and more I tend toward the idea that love for everyone who may cross my path, love for everyone made in God’s image, must rise above love for blood relatives. Please don’t misunderstand me. It may seem unnatural-and I see that it is still far too difficult for me to write about, though so simple to live.”

(Words by Etty Hillesum from Amsterdam, Holland and put to death in Auschwitz.)
And as the time ended with the ceremony for St. Maria Goretti, the Saint Child who shows us how to forgive, a speaker ended on this powerful and reflecting note. For those who pray the Our Father every day, and does not subscribe to forgiveness as we are asked, the speaker said: “I dare you pray for forgiveness; yes I dare you to pray for forgiveness.” As it goes in the Our Father, “give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespasses again us.”

So how do we ask God for forgiveness, when we are not willing to forgive. We will see.

Conor
Find A Way!!

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The Daffodil Principle

There is a story called, “The Daffodil Principle” that some of you may have heard. A daughter phoned her mother to come and see the daffodils while they were in bloom. Though reluctant to drive two hours, she nevertheless drove through the rain and fog, but was ready to go right back home as soon as it cleared. She relates this story saying, “My daughter asked if I would drive her to the garage to get her car before I left her, but her motive was to take me to see the daffodils, though it irritated me when I realized it.

We reached a small road near a church and when we turned around a bend in the road, there before me, was the most glorious sight I have ever seen. It was if someone had taken a vat and poured it over the mountainside in a cascade of colors. “Who did this?” I asked her. My daughter pointed to a modest house nearby, and on reaching it we saw a poster on the patio headlined—answers to the questions I know you are asking. The first answer is 50,000 bulbs—the second answer—one at a time by one woman, two hands, two feet and the third—began in 1958. This was the daffodil principle.

I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who for fifty years had brought her vision of beauty to an obscure mountainside, one bulb at a time. She had created something of ineffable beauty and inspiration. The “principle” taught me that learning to move toward our goals one step at a time—to love the doing of it, and to use the accumulation of time by multiplying small pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too can accomplish magnificent things and change the world. It makes me sad I said to my daughter, what I might have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and worked at it one bulb at a time. Just think of what I might have achieved. My daughter in her usual practical way said, “Start tomorrow. It’s so pointless to think of lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make it a lesson of celebration, instead of regrets, is to ask yourself, “How can I put this to use today?”

You all know of Blessed Mother Theresa’s famous words, “God doesn’t ask for success. He asks for faithfulness.” It isn’t necessary to perform great heroic deeds or accomplishments because nothing impresses God. However, God does ask us to use the wonderful gifts and graces He has given us to plant the Kingdom of God within ourselves, others, and the world. One bulb at a time. And these things can be accomplished without great effort on our part in three ways: First, by remembering to give thanks to God every day for the gift of life, and many other gifts of His creation, in some form of prayer. Second, to let our gifts of Faith, Hope and Love—especially Love, be manifested at home, in the workplace and in the world by our thoughts, words, and actions. And finally, never give in to fear, discouragement, or despair for these are the Devil’s tools, and we are children of God who need to understand, that we have to go through Calvary to arrive at Easter, for there is surely no person here who hasn’t or won’t go through some form of Calvary in their life in imitation of our divine Lord.

There is one last thing of which we must be conscious that tie together all of these things and that is TRUST. Placing all our trust in God. He will dispose of all things He sees fit, yet it is His will to dispose them to our benefit. We have to place trust in our loved ones, and in each other, else faith, hope and love become simply words in our vocabulary.

Not everything is always as it seems, and so it is here that trust comes into play. Remember, when our life is completed, there will remain in the end only these three – Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is Love. Increase these gifts, place your trust in them and the Kingdom of God is already within you.
From excerpts of Deacon Bob.

Conor
“Find a Way!”

“Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”

― Pope John Paul II

Faith

Insights into Blessed Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen / “Treasures in Clay”

Treasures in Clay”, an autobiography written by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, is the last book penned by Blessed Archbishop Sheen, culminating over 60 books written by him, with the first one published in 1925. His articles, letters of instruction, religious papers and public writings of sermons, are too numerous to count. With his love of the word, both written and spoken, he continued his gospel messages in radio broadcasting, which began in 1930, and was known as “The Catholic Hour.” This continued until 1950 and was carried worldwide by networks and stations, as well as short wave radio, reaching 4 million people weekly. With his radio success and the advent of TV, he began his legendary TV show in 1951, “Life is Worth Living”, in his famous magenta cape and zucchetto. These TV shows were carried by 123 TV stations and over 300 radio stations, reaching 30 million weekly viewers. These television broadcasts ratings surpassed the “Saturday Shows” of Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra in TV viewership ratings. In fact, Bishop Sheen went on to win an Emmy for these shows. I would be remiss if I didn’t share some of his humor, but as he accepted an Emmy for his shows, “he wished to thank his writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” An unlikely scenario in today’s world, as the world truly has changed. Needless to say, his writings and oratory skills played a significant part in the church, and still do to this day.

Bishop Sheen continues to reveal his life and his dedication to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He brought in understandable interpretations of scriptures and the bible, insightful looks into his prayer life, teachings, retreats, and his little known passion of working for the fallen souls of Jesus. He was driven to converting them back to the church in good standing, and seeing to them; so they continued to thrive in their faith. His exploration between the spiritual bond of Christians and Muslims, and the genealogy, was informative and helpful in the understanding history, and its continuing impact on the world today. I found his question on Fatima insightful when he asked, “Why did the Blessed Mother choose a tiny, insignificant village like Fatima to appear, so that she might be called Our Lady of Fatima?” The Prophet Mohammed’s daughter bore the name of Fatima, and in the Muslim faith, is considered the holiest of all women, followed only by the Blessed Mother. Bishop Sheen continued his reflections back into his early times as a priest, his journeys and worldwide mission work for the poor and hungry, and his time as “Bishop of Rochester,” a place out in the country; far from New York City. His reflections on celibacy, converts, the Second Vatican Council and his tremendous love of the cross, I believe, is a commitment and obligation for us to reflect on, understand and embrace in our journey.

Bishop Sheen’s influence and legacy will continue throughout the church. His readings and sermons are a must for all Christians needing help in their daily lives, and wanting a loving personal relationship with Jesus. He shares his struggles and hardships, his ups and down in the priesthood and explains the must do’s for all priests. His impacts and devotions to finding the “Lost Sheep” for God were relentless. He not only sought them out, he offered his own sufferings for them, so he could do God’s work. I believe the words of Pope John Paul II best expresses Bishop Sheen’s influence on the church. Two months before his death, Fulton Sheen met Pope John Paul II in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. With the iconic picture of the Pope hugging him he said, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church.”

As I continue my journey and ministry, I find Bishop Sheen inspirational and a teacher to imitate. He shows the power of the word, both spoken and written, and was always focused on his audience. He brings his faith to bear on those around him, and in particular, to the ones he knows needs God help and love. His daily life long “alone time” in prayer and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, was his source of strength but, his time also to review his relationship with Jesus. Something we must all embrace. He often would ask for “extra splinters” in prayer, so he could take the sufferings of the cross and unite it with his own, as he went forward every day. Bishop Sheen always felt it was better to ask for your cross, because if you didn’t, Our Lord would just put one on your shoulder anyways. And yes, Our Lord answered his prayers for “extra splinters.”

Reflecting on his life, Bishop Sheen shows the way we must travel and it’s the way regardless of one’s perspectives. He teaches embracement, getting out in front of it and always keeping God in mind. He also had a special love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, and as he said, “I always prayed to her and ask for help, and I always knew if I went through her, she would know how to get to her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in those difficult times, I knew “if she can love me, then Christ is with me.” Secondly, his devotion to developing a personal relationship with Jesus is one that has a profound effect on me, and one I need to always continue daily to nourish and grow. “The more we love Christ the easier it is to be His Alone.” It is to know Christ; not just knowing about Christ. Those words are profound and gets lost in the paragraph. It is knowing Christ; not just knowing about him. It is through this influence that challenges your faith, because you begin to ask yourself the questions which need to be answered. You need and want these answers, as the answers are the enablers for us to move forward. It puts all in perspective for the direction one must begin to take.

What drove Bishop Sheen to his heights throughout the world? What was up most in his mind and what was he always thinking? I have noted some of those answers above, but simply stated he saw a relationship he wanted with God. That was his strength to do what had to be done. He wanted to build the flock for Our Lord and to spread His word. This took on many forms in his words and actions, but for him, it always went back to that relationship. This is significant guidance and direction for me, and one of the major takeaways for me. Bishop Sheen always knew his relationship to God and did not want to disappoint him. If he was ok with God, he knew what he had to do for him. He also kept the cross of our Lord ever so present in his thoughts and his actions. Following the cross lead him to see the beauty of it, and this again for me, is something that is very important and has to always be with me.

As we go forward, we increasingly see the influence of Bishop Sheen in the church. Pope Benedict, in June of this year, began the final step in sainthood by making Bishop Sheen, “Blessed” Sheen. His influence in his teachings and interpretations of scripture are taking on more importance and scope now throughout the world. His ministry for the Propagation of Faith continues to raise the importance of the poor and its missions, and serves as an inspiration for many to follow.

I’ll close in leaving the questions that Bishop Sheen was always trying to find the answers to for his work. It speaks volumes about what I need to do, as it has relevance to the church and its practitioners’ today. They also address the answers to the question, why.

• “Have I really served the Church as well as I should?”
• “Have I used the many talents the Lord has given me?”
• “Have I cast fire upon the earth as the Lord has asked me to do?”

_Conor
Find A Way

Find A Way

As we celebrate the solemnity of All Saints (November 1st), I have listed quotes from various Saints for reflection.

• St. Justin Martyr: “The greatest grace God can give someone is to send him a trial he cannot bear with his own powers-and then sustain him with his grace so he may endure to the end and be saved.”

• Saint Benedict: “What is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.”

• Saint Augustine: “We have been promised something we do not yet possess. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised, and yearning is over.”

• Saint Francis of Assisi: “May I feel in my heart, as far as possible, that abundance of love with which you, Son of God, were inflamed.”

• Saint Thomas Aquinas: “The life of man consists in the love that principally sustains him and in which he finds his greatest satisfaction.”

• Saint Catherine of Siena: “When we love something we don’t care of abuse or injury or pain we might have to endure to get it; we are concerned only with satisfying our desire for the things we love.”

• Saint Catherine of Genoa: “God lets the soul share his goodness so that it becomes one with him. The nearer the soul comes to him, the more it partakes of what is his.”

• Saint Paul of the Cross: “The soul whom God wants to draw the deepest union with him by means of holy prayer must pass through the way of suffering during prayer.”

• Saint Alphonsus Liguori: “We must love God in the way that pleases him, and not just in a way that suits ourselves. God wishes people to empty themselves of everything and to be filled with his divine love.”

• Saint Maximilian Kolbe: “Shall the urge for complete and total happiness, inherent to human nature, be the only need to remain unfilled and unsatisfied? No, even this longing can be fulfilled by the infinite and eternal God.”

• Saint Katharine Drexel: “May your faith be increased so as to realize the fact that you are never alone, wheresoever you may be, that the great God is with you, in you.”

• Saint Faustina: “Jesus, I trust in you.”

• Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “If the soul longs for nothing else than to love its God, then don’t worry and be quite sure that this soul possesses everything, that it possesses God himself.”

• Saint Damien Joseph de Veuster of Moloka”i: “In the face of the too real dangers that surround me I repeat: ‘Lord, I have placed all my hope in you. I will never be confounded.’”

All Saints Day_November 1st

“When your enemy falls into your hands, do not consider how you can pay him back and let him feel the sharp edge of your tongue before sending him packing; consider rather how you can heal him and restore him to a better frame of mind. Continue to make every effort, both by word and deed, until your gentleness has overcome his aggression. Nothing has more power than gentleness. As someone has said: ‘A soft word will break bones. And what is harder than bone?’ Well then, even if someone is as hard and inflexible as that, he will be conquered if you treat him gently. There is another saying: ‘A soft answer turns away the wrath.’ It is obvious; therefore, that whether your enemy continues to rage or whether he is reconciled depends much more on you than on him. For it rests with us, not with those who are angry, either to destroy their anger or enflame it.”

_ St. John Chrysostom

The Measure to Measure With

Insights into Fulton Sheen/ “Treasures in Clay”

“Treasures in Clay”, an autobiography written by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, is the last book penned by Blessed Archbishop Sheen, culminating over 60 books written by him, with the first one published in 1925. His articles, letters of instruction, religious papers and public writings of sermons, are too numerous to count. With his love of the word, both written and spoken, he continued his gospel messages in radio broadcasting, which began in 1930, and was known as “The Catholic Hour.” This continued until 1950 and was carried worldwide by networks and stations, as well as short wave radio, reaching 4 million people weekly. With his radio success and the advent of TV, he began his legendary TV show in 1951, “Life is Worth Living”, in his famous magenta cape and zucchetto. These TV shows were carried by 123 TV stations and over 300 radio stations, reaching 30 million weekly viewers. These television broadcasts ratings surpassed the “Saturday Shows” of Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra in TV viewership ratings. In fact, Bishop Sheen went on to win an Emmy for these shows. I would be remiss if I didn’t share some of his humor, but as he accepted an Emmy for his shows, “he wished to thank his writers; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” An unlikely scenario in today’s world, as the world truly has changed. Needless to say, his writings and oratory skills played a significant part in the church, and still do to this day.

Bishop Sheen continues to reveal his life and his dedication to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He brought in understandable interpretations of scriptures and the bible, insightful looks into his prayer life, teachings, retreats, and his little known passion of working for the fallen souls of Jesus. He was driven to converting them back to the church in good standing, and seeing to them; so they continued to thrive in their faith. His exploration between the spiritual bond of Christians and Muslems, and the genealogy, was informative and helpful in the understanding history, and its continuing impact on the world today. I found his question on Fatima insightful when he asked, “Why did the Blessed Mother choose a tiny, insignificant village like Fatima to appear, so that she might be called Our Lady of Fatima?” The Prophet Mohammed’s daughter bore the name of Fatima, and in the Muslim faith, is considered the holiest of all women, followed only by the Blessed Mother. Bishop Sheen continued his reflections back into his early times as a priest, his journeys and worldwide mission work for the poor and hungry, and his time as “Bishop of Rochester,” a place out in the country; far from New York City. His reflections on celibacy, converts, the Second Vatican Council and his tremendous love of the cross, I believe, is a commitment and obligation for us to reflect on, understand and embrace in our journey.

Bishop Sheen’s influence and legacy will continue throughout the church. His readings and sermons are a must for all Christians needing help in their daily lives, and wanting a loving personal relationship with Jesus. He shares his struggles and hardships, his ups and down in the priesthood and explains the must do’s for all priests. His impacts and devotions to finding the “Lost Sheep” for God were relentless. He not only sought them out, he offered his own sufferings for them, so he could do God’s work. I believe the words of Pope John Paul II best expresses Bishop Sheen’s influence on the church. Two months before his death, Fulton Sheen met Pope John Paul II in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. With the iconic picture of the Pope hugging him he said, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church.”

As I continue my journey and ministry, I find Bishop Sheen inspirational and a teacher to imitate. He shows the power of the word, both spoken and written, and was always focused on his audience. He brings his faith to bear on those around him, and in particular, to the ones he knows needs God help and love. His daily life long “alone time” in prayer and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, was his source of strength but, his time also to review his relationship with Jesus. Something we must all embrace. He often would ask for “extra splinters” in prayer, so he could take the sufferings of the cross and unite it with his own, as he went forward every day. Bishop Sheen always felt it was better to ask for your cross, because if you didn’t, Our Lord would just put one on your shoulder anyways. And yes, Our Lord answered his prayers for “extra splinters.”

Reflecting on his life, Bishop Sheen shows the way we must travel and it’s the way regardless of one’s perspectives. He teaches embracement, getting out in front of it and always keeping God in mind. He also had a special love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, and as he said, “I always prayed to her and ask for help, and I always knew if I went through her, she would know how to get to her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in those difficult times, I knew “if she can love me, then Christ is with me.” Secondly, his devotion to developing a personal relationship with Jesus is one that has a profound effect on me, and one I need to always continue daily to nourish and grow. “The more we love Christ the easier it is to be His Alone.” It is to know Christ; not just knowing about Christ. Those words are profound and gets lost in the paragraph. It is knowing Christ; not just knowing about him. It is through this influence that challenges your faith, because you begin to ask yourself the questions which need to be answered. You need and want these answers, as the answers are the enablers for us to move forward. It puts all in perspective for the direction one must begin to take.

What drove Bishop Sheen to his heights throughout the world? What was up most in his mind and what was he always thinking? I have noted some of those answers above, but simply stated he saw a relationship he wanted with God. That was his strength to do what had to be done. He wanted to build the flock for Our Lord and to spread His word. This took on many forms in his words and actions, but for him, it always went back to that relationship. This is significant guidance and direction for me, and one of the major takeaways for me. Bishop Sheen always knew his relationship to God and did not want to disappoint him. If he was ok with God, he knew what he had to do for him. He also kept the cross of our Lord ever so present in his thoughts and his actions. Following the cross lead him to see the beauty of it, and this again for me, is something that is very important and has to always be with me.

As we go forward, we increasingly see the influence of Bishop Sheen in the church. Pope Benedict, in June of this year, began the final step in sainthood by making Bishop Sheen, “Blessed” Sheen. His influence in his teachings and interpretations of scripture are taking on more importance and scope now throughout the world. His ministry for the Propagation of Faith continues to raise the importance of the poor and its missions, and serves as an inspiration for many to follow.

I’ll close in leaving the questions that Bishop Sheen was always trying to find the answers to for his work. It speaks volumes about what I need to do, as it has relevance to the church and its practitioners’ today. They also address the answers to the question, why.

• “Have I really served the Church as well as I should?”
• “Have I used the many talents the Lord has given me?”
• “Have I cast fire upon the earth as the Lord has asked me to do?”

_Conor
Find A Way