An Apology

An Apology

Instead of an apology, when the words “I’m sorry” are too difficult to find,

sometimes it may not be necessary.

The response—I love you is all that is needed.

Conor
Find A Way !

Time with God

We need to take time every day to quiet our many concerns, fears and responsibilities so that we can hear the Spirit’s whisper, oh so gentle in our hearts. “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

It is easy to be occupied mentally, to busy physically, to have excellent reasons why “now” is not a convenient time. Still, God is inviting you! He’s worth rearranging your schedule for Him, just as you would cancel all your appointments if you were invited to an important dinner or if you had the chance to meet someone, who you had always hoped you would, and now you get the opportunity.

Pray to God to stir your heart to make the changes and find that quiet time you will never stop or give up, once you have heard that whisper in “your quiet” time.

Conor
Find a way!

Branch 2 *Perfection

Dear Souls,

I write as I once did to no one, and everyone, with God in Mind
and Spirit. The inner sanctum of our souls need to be strengthened
and nourished incessantly………

When you doubt someone’s love for you, you are also considering
your personal worthiness of love. You are asking if you are
adequate of praise and/or deserving.

God loves you because of His Grace and Mercy. He has the
discretionary honor of pardon. He shows us leniency. He is
tender, soft, compassionate and of course righteous. He is the
epitome of all things Good.

He didn’t say He would only love us if we like His favorite colors,
green or blue. He didn’t say He would only love us if we hang our
towel straight, eat all our vegetables, or take the garbage out
every Wednesday night. (smile)

God isn’t waiting for us to be perfect, because He merits
Perfection. Does that mean we can do anything we want? Certainly
not! We are told in 1st Timothy 6:11 to “Pursue righteousness,
Godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”

*If our God can forgive our imperfection, exemplify us as worthy
of love, and we long for righteousness, couldn’t we do the same for
others?

“You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.”

― Stewart O’Nan

All of Life

“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

Sharing the story

Have you reflected on your life recently to look back, and at the present, and see in honest eyes how you are doing and what you have done? Have you made a difference? Have you tried, changed and improved through your life experiences and maturity? Maybe the help came to you, and not knowing, you think you did it on your own. Have you used all the gifts granted to you or have you been focused on all the gifts and trappings of life for yourself?

Who we are and what makes us our own individual self, is all a gift from God. He expects us to use what has been given and to make a difference, and that comes in many shapes and forms. Can you name the gifts you have been given in this life, and how you are using them? The bigger question though, God has given you so much to make you who you are, so the question to you, what are you going to give back to God for those gifts given to you?

Depending on your belief system, there are different perspectives on end of life. More specifically though, is how are you going to meet judgment day? There are three areas I’d offer you to reflect on:

• Judgment – Our Lord asks you what you have done. Lord I did everything for you. I was honest, did not steal, was a good spouse and raised my kids to know you.” Our Lord asks again, what have you done for me/others? Lord I followed your commandments, made church every week. Again Our Lord asks, “What have you done for me?” I have been faithful to my spouse, never cursed or gossiped. “Yes I understand , but I have given you gifts to help the least of your brethren. Did you feed the hungry? Did you visit the sick and those in need? Did you help the elderly, the poor with their needs, the lonely? Did you not see me there with them? Did you not see me when you looked in their eyes? Did you not only love Me with your heart, mind and soul, but did you not love your neighbor as you would love me? “Those that are given much, more will be given.”

• Freedom – Were you not given your freedom? Did you not have a free will to do as you please? How was that used for others, but also for me? Did I not knock on your front door and you just said no to me. Did I not knock on your door and you just let me in the foyer? Did I knock on your door and you let me in the living room, but not the rest of the house? Is that how you did that to Me as I tried to be in your heart and be with you? Why did you not allow me to be totally in you, be with you always, day and night, and not just on a Sunday for an hour? Yes, I gave you freedom, but why did you lock me out?

• Grace – Did I not give you my grace to help you? Remember those times in need, those dark hours how you yelled out to me? Did I not get you through to the other side? Wasn’t I there when you were not interested in me, ignored me, and in fact forgot about me? Was that a yes? And yes, how about those times you hid things from friends and family, because you knew it was wrong and you felt ashamed. Did I not forgive you? Haven’t I always been there waiting for you? Haven’t I always been waiting to love you? Yes, love you and bring peace and happiness to you. Make you right. Make you a full person, a person you could be proud of and thankful? Make you an image of Me?

What is your answer after reflecting? Me too! Maybe not the time to pray to Him, but speak to Him, all by yourself from the heart. Yes, from the heart! No need to be afraid being alone with Him. God is the one that loves you and is always waiting on you. Always remeber, God Loves You!

Conor
Find A Way!

Don’t Quit_To those in Need

“When things go wrong as
sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging
seems all up hill,
When the funds are low
and the debts are high
And you want to smile,
but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won
had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace
seems slow-
You may succeed with
another blow.
Success is failure turned
inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds
of doubt,
And you can never tell
how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when
you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things seem worst
that you must not quit.”

_Unknown
Conor
Find A Way

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

Reflection/Interview with a Holocaust Survivor (November 9th, 75 Anniversary of Kristallnachat) “Breaking of the Glass”

As we approach the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnachat, “Night of the Breaking Glass,” let us remember in our prayers those who suffered and died; an atrocity beyond comprehension. Let us also say a special prayer for the survivors of the Holocaust, for many still carry burdens even today.

As the numbers of living survivors of the Holocaust continues to dwindle due to age, let them hold a special place in our hearts.

I owe a special thanks to so many for the honor of interviewing one remarkable, beautiful man that taught me so much in those hours of talking. I’m overwhelmed and tear up just thinking of the experience and the love for life that I learned from him.

Thank you.
_Conor

November 2012

Knowing I was about to sit down and interview a Holocaust survivor, was about the most stressful and moving experience I could not thoroughly anticipate. Just thinking about some of the conversations to come, and coming from a person who lived these ordeals, and not just read by someone, was totally overwhelming and very emotional. In preparing for the interview about the Holocaust and the Auschwitz Death Camp, I read all the artices, books and details I could get my hands on, only to the point I just had to put them down. It was making me physically sick and drained. I needed to move on and become focused on a man I was about to meet; he deserved the upmost respect from me.

With everything finalized, I met Dr. M. and his “Austrian” bride. Both were so gracious to invite me into their home to begin our discussions. Mrs. M. was there to listen and give support to her husband, as she was not part of the tragedies of the Holocaust and the Auschwitz Death Camps.

Dr. M. is a man who survived the rule and horrors of the Nazi’s. He became a man today of such kindness and warmth that you would not know his horrific past. But, I believe this is not typical of all survivors, as many have had a difficult time adjusting. His biggest fear today is that the children and people of the world 50 years from now, will read about the Holocaust just as a footnote in history books, and not know the whole story.

Dr. M. was born in 1922 in Berlin, Germany to an upscale Jewish family. His father owned a clothing factory that employed over 500 people, producing all types of garments. This business success allowed his family to live in another part of Berlin, which would benefit them personally in the future. He also had an older brother who went off to study in London a few years after he was born. In talking about his father, he was proud how he had served Germany in World War I, was highly decorated and was promoted in the ranks. Jews and Christians continued at this time to live and work together and be friends. This all speaks to the normalcy of life at that time, but that was about to change drastically with the rise of the Nazi’s.

Dr. M.’s father started to see changes early on coming with the Nazi’s rise to power, much more so than most citizens of Germany. About a year after they came into power in January 1933, he had decided to close his business, as the Nazi’s generally made it difficult for him to continue operating his business. He was forced however to continue, with his business slowly being destroyed, even more so by the Nazi’s. The only way they would allow him to close, was he would have to agree to continue to pay everyone for the next 18 months, or face on-going threats to him and his family. The Nazi’s then set up a plan for him to pay his employees wages weekly at the Nazi headquarters. He somehow was able to do that with his business closed, only to finish those payments just before “Kristallnachat.”

November 9, 1938 was the mark of the tragedies to come, as this date is known as “Kristallnachat” or “Breaking of the Glass.” This is the day of the unveiling of a Nazi’s plan. That evening, the Nazi’s stormed through Jewish neighborhoods breaking all the glass of Jewish homes, offices and all store fronts. The Nazi’s then continued destroying all of their synagogues.

The Nazi’s then immediately began gathering and shipping 30,000 Jews to concentration camps. Fortunately, that night his family was unaware of all that was happening, as his success and prominence allowed them to live in a mixed, upscale section, of the city. The first thing the next morning their phone rang, as the Nazi’s never turned the phones off until later that day. A friend said you must leave now! “Leave your apartment now, as the Nazi’s are coming to your part of town looking for Jews.” They immediately left and went to a department store where they kept moving around in the store, up and down the stairs, so people would think they were shoppers. This continued all day. At a point when they felt people were getting suspicious, they went to other stores and continued to do that all day, as they had nowhere to go. They just didn’t know what to do.

Dr. M’s mother was able to pass as a non-Jew, while his father was very Jewish looking according to Dr. M. His father, trying to avoid the Nazi’s and figure out what to do for the family, decided to go to the hospital. He told a particular doctor he needed surgery. The doctor knew exactly what he meant and admitted him to the hospital. He had 2-3 unnecessary surgeries, which allowed him 5-6 weeks to recuperate in the hospital unnoticed. Meanwhile, his mother went back to the apartment trying to figure out what to do, seeing if they could get papers, just like many others panicked people were doing. His mother found a Christian woman she knew who sent her to see a particular business man and tell him, she was sent by her. Through this woman and business man, they made arrangements to hide the whole family out in the country, unnoticed for a considerable amount of time, while his brother remained in London.

On 9/1/1939, WWII began in Europe with the invasion of Poland by Germany. Close to 50%, or about three (3) million Jews, were killed from Poland. Poland became the most devastated country by the Nazi’s, and to the Jewish race. Ghetto parts of the city were set up for all Jews, as they had to leave their home and all of their belongings behind. The ghettos were slums with horrendous living conditions, with rampant diseases and deaths. Food was scare with many Jews dying of starvation and abuse. Many of these ghetto quarters in cities were relocated by rail tracks for the Nazi’s were preparing for future transportation to the death camps.

The elimination of the Jews was number one (1) priority for the Nazi’s. Even when German Troops needed supplies, or additional troops were needed for the Soviet Union invasion, the rail cars were never diverted from transporting the Jews. Conditions were so bad in the rail cars, that many people, only to survive the Ghetto’s, died in rail cars before arriving at the death camps.

At this point, Dr. M. wanted to talk about the Holocaust in general, the anti-Semitism in the world and touch upon the world at the time of the Holocaust. It was at this point, he extended invitations to come back and finish the above story, as I believe I found a friend in Dr. M., as he did in me. It was just to much in one day to relive these horror stories.

Freedom turned to nightmares and painful memories. Many survivors returned to their homes hoping to find their houses and their family members so they could resume their life. What they found was families and friends were gone, and they were met by hostility, violence and the continuation of anti-Semitism.

Today, Dr. M. states many will not talk. Some, but very little. They all still carry that horror with them, and their children do not know their entire parents struggle in detail. He said as grandchildren are doing papers on the history of the Holocaust, some are opening up to their grandchildren. However, the most devastating and sad aspect is many of the survivors were never able to say goodbye to their children, family and friends and have no place to go today to be with them for closure. The horror continues for them still.

Dr. M. ended our long, tiring and painful discussion on the following scripture:

“Take heed lest you forget
the things which your eyes have seen
and teach them to Your children and
to your children’s children.” –Deuteronomy 4:9

As I begin to reflect on this conversation, I hope it’s apparent from the beginning that this time spent with Dr. M. challenge me, as well as blessed me. With this man, he opened his heart to me and shared his pain and memories. By this interview, I forced him to go back and recall and relive some of those experiences. In many cases, time was needed for those soft heart experiences, where words do not come; it just stands still and remains quiet for a period of time and composure. This was happening to both of us, both as a listener and talking. As I find myself involved in sensitive and painful situations with people, it is these exact times I feel like God is pushing me. It feels like something I am supposed to do by reaching out and helping. However, it becomes not so much what I am able to do for that person, but it is what I am getting back from that person, that is unexpected and most fulfilling.

Today, Dr. Miller believes anti-Semitism still exists and will continue. He shared some of the following regarding anti-Semitism:
• Gertrud Luckner rescued Jews (Ravensbruck) and worked towards the above. She pioneered Jew- Christian relations after the war.
• Freiburg Circle – group in Germany, anti Nazi, was trying to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive and counter anti-Semitism.
• Anti-Semitism strong among Germans, church, cardinals and bishops after the war.
• Restitution never happened. No interest in repaying Jewish victims for their land, houses….
• Rudolf Hochhuth’s play “The Deputy” created shadow over Pope Pius XII.

What interest me and is satisfying at the same time, was some of the shining light of hope in these atrocities. The priests and nuns and the work they did to hide and save so many Holocaust victims. It was the Heroic people that made a difference. The Catholic people from the pews and the pulpits are the ones who did the rescue work and often were killed in their efforts. It was the local church not the universal church, and we should be grateful for their courage. Fortunately, the church recognized some of those martyrs, such as Father MacMillan Kolbe.

In conclusion, what did I learn about myself and my own beliefs? A resounding answer knowing the church’s lower hierarchy (priests, nuns and practitioners; the body of the church) put their teachings, beliefs and religion into action, while the leadership of the church, with its Cardinal and Bishops, were consequently quiet. This had a profound impact on me. From doubts about the church and the Avignon Popes to the over arching question “Where was God during the Holocaust, I’ve come to realize one thing. I believe now more than ever, through growth in my faith and understanding from God, the Cross of Jesus was with the Jews in the camps. Many survivors agree with that, while just as many don’t. However, I believe Jesus was suffering right alongside them while He was giving them strength, grace and faith to survive. Many survivors also talk about the butterflys in the camps. Many of the walls have pictures of butterfly’s drawn on the walls.

Looks like pictures of angels I was told……..?????

_Find a way.

_Conor

Please take a few minutes to explore some of the remarkable evidence in the Museum’s collection from Kristallnacht:

http://act.ushmm.org/Remembering-Kristallnacht

All Souls Day

On this day, as we dedicate our thoughts and prayers to those that have gone before us, in many if not all cases, we still carry those pains and heart aches. It is all so very tender that feeling of loss, but it is important to think of our loved ones in a place we all aspire to attain. Even as we never completely get over their absence, however, getting through it can give us peace remembering that for our loved ones; life is changed not ended. “The souls of the just are in the hands of God” (Wisdom 3:13).

Maybe on days past we’ve had those times when we felt so very close to them. It may be a place, a particular song or a smell, or maybe we found something that was theirs. Coincidence? And yes, it might be the closeness, out of nowhere, that you feel them with you. Their presence is so strong you don’t know where to look or what to say. Whatever it is, you know they are there and it is real. Yes, we all have those reminders they are still with us and looking after us on our journey.

We are all connected.

These times hopefully help us understand our need to look to God and ask for his continued help and guidance. Thanking Him for all He has done for us and making Him part of our life every day; even in just some small way. It may be a kind and helpful act towards others, sharing our love with those we encounter, or a quiet moment of prayer alone or just silence, alone; just with Him.

“Lord, shine your everlasting light on all my departed loved ones.
May they find rest in your loving arms.
Thank you for giving so that we can live
forever with you in heaven!”

Learn to love God as He loves you.

Find a way.

_Conor