Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thoughts on greatness

There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.

Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.
Henri Nouwen

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thoughts on happiness

People are obsessed with happiness. People are obsessed with being happy. There's a reason, a really good reason. The reason is because God created us for happiness. God created us for happiness. He created you to be happy. God wants you to be happy. It's the will of God that you be happy.
Now, that doesn't mean happiness all the time. And that doesn't mean euphoria all the time. And that doesn't mean that there isn't a place for suffering and sacrifice in our lives. But God created us to be reasonably happy in this life and eternally happy in the next life. It's that “reasonably happy” thing we're not that comfortable with. We don't want to be reasonably happy; we want to be euphorically happy all the time. That's why people do so many stupid things. Most of the stupid things we do, we do because we're looking for an elevated experience. Why do people become addicted to drugs? They're looking for an elevated experience. They're not satisfied with being reasonably happy. They want to be euphorically happy. And of course, then they want to be euphorically happy all the time. And so they need more and more of this substance to create that false euphoric happiness and . . . and well, we know how that goes.
The other thing that I think is really important for us to remember is that, very often, we are the creators of our own unhappiness. Because the reality is, happiness is a choice. A thousand times a day we have a choice between happiness and misery. And yes, there are some things that are outside of our control, but a thousand times a day we have a choice between happiness and misery.
Are you choosing happiness, or are you choosing misery? We create unhappiness in our own lives. How are you creating unhappiness in your life at the moment?
If you are in a place where you don't like who you are and where you are . . . if you are in a place where you don't like your life . . . what do we do about that? Just do the next right thing. It's always the path that leads to happiness. Just do the next right thing. Don't worry about what you have to do tomorrow—just do the next right thing. It's amazing how quickly adopting that attitude, that approach, can change the happiness levels in our lives.

Matthew Kelly

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Thoughts on social justice

Social justice is both simple and complex. Simply, it is really doing what is right, being respectful, and honoring each person as he or she is, as an image and likeness of God.
On a more complicated level, the concept of social justice has been around for nearly four hundred years. It is a philosophical construct that Pope Leo and the Catholic Church adopted from its application to workers at that time. Social justice has many parts and it’s kind of a balancing act. Participative justice is the idea of “no decision without me.” That means that if something is going to affect people all the way at the grassroots level, then people at the grassroots level need to be involved in the process. Distributive justice means that “right justice” is distributed equally across all people. Social justice is the mechanism that is used to make sure that the participation and distribution are fair and just. It is a bit of a misnomer to say that social justice is an entity in and of itself. It is actually the term that is used to identify a result, which is everybody participating in the life conditions that affect them, and everybody receiving the goods that make their life conditions meaningful and purposeful.
It is a concept, similar to the common good. Everybody has what they need to have a meaningful and purposeful life, both at the system level and across all the sectors of a culture.
 Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph from Chestnut Hill, outside Philadelphia, is a member of CMMB’s board of directors. Sister Carol has taught at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate, and has worked in educational leadership and religious education. She has also worked with international grassroots movements as a consultant and facilitator, as well as with multi-sector and multi-issue groups to help deepen members’ understanding of global realities. 

CMMB - Catholic Medical Mission Board Inc. is an IRS Section 501 (c) (3) organization

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Thoughts on following Jesus

Luke 5:27-32

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus tells Matthew, "Follow me." The call of Jesus addresses the mind, but it is meant to move through the mind into the body, and through the body into the whole of one’s life, into the most practical of moves and decisions. "Follow me" has the sense of "apprentice to me" or "walk as I walk; think as I think; choose as I choose." Discipleship entails an entire reworking of the self according to the pattern and manner of Jesus.

Upon hearing the address of the Lord, the tax collector, we are told, "got up and followed him." The Greek word behind "got up" is anastas, the same word used to describe the resurrection (anastasis) of Jesus from the dead. Following Jesus is indeed a kind of resurrection from the dead, since it involves the transition from a lower form of life to a higher, from a preoccupation with the temporary goods of this world to an immersion in the goodness of God.

Those who have undergone a profound conversion tend to speak of their former life as a kind of illusion, something not entirely real. Thus Paul can say, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me"; Thomas Merton can speak of the "false self" that has given way to the authentic self; and, perhaps most movingly, the father of the prodigal son can say, "This son of mine was lost and has been found; he was dead and has come back to life." 
Bishop Robert Barron

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thoughts on failure

History is unrepeatable, historians say, but it can be re-lived many times in one's memory. I like to savor my successes; my failures I'd rather forget. I'm gradually wondering, however, "How much I owe to the day that, when called to failure, my steps were constrained to go."

Blunders, mistakes and missed opportunities could then be a means of grace and great blessing if I accept them as part of my call. "Souls that conquer must at first be the souls that fail." I wish there was another way.

Through humiliation "strength is baffled," I am disabused of my illusions of grandeur and brought very low. I do not like this. There, I am learning "to meet with the lowly."[1] with my losses enabling me "to find the heart of man," i.e., to get "in touch" with others' feelings. I can surely empathize with those who have fallen; I can quickly accept and love them as no other can.

But must I let go of regret. "As long as I remain [constrained] by things that I wish had not happened-mistakes I wish I had not made-part of my heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of me."[2] Brooding over past disasters has and will continue to intimidate me, turning me away from love; feelings of inadequacy will always isolate me, making me afraid to venture out again.

So I guess I can say that accepting my failures is simple proof that I am inadequate indeed. In the core of my being, God's strength is made perfect in this weakness with grace to turn outward to others and to do so with greater compassion, sensitivity, wisdom and understanding. Thus it logically suggests that my mistakes are redeemed and put to God's intended purpose.

Failure is not ruinous; I am called to failure and owe much to each day that I fail. The lessons that we learn there, "are worth the price of the gale."

[1] I think Matheson is thinking here of Romans 12:16 and Paul's admonition to "associate with the lowly."
[2] Henri Nouwen 

John Fischer

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday

The beginning of Lent draws us in, calls us to return to sanity, to a bit of austerity, to a change of heart and mind. It’s a second chance at our new year’s resolutions, long since broken and forgotten. It’s a second chance at making changes in our lives. For some people, it’s no less than a second chance at life. That something that draws us is God’s grace. And it’s drawing us back to God’s merciful embrace.

—from The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

Monday, February 12, 2018

Thoughts on "Thoughts from Scott"

I have recently begun posting short articles and quotes from authors I like and people I follow through their blogs and websites.  People like Henri Nouwen, John Fischer, and Matthew Kelly.  When I see something they have written that really touches my heart, I like to share that with others.  People like you.  So thank you for reading my blog.  I will always try to share my thoughts, but sometimes the thoughts of others are more powerful than my words.  Peace be with you!

Thoughts on being your best

When we focus our attention on becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves, our lives are flooded with energy, enthusiasm, and a real and sustainable joy.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

We celebrate today the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
honoring the anniversary of the first apparition at Lourdes

and the World Day of the Sick.

We pray this year brings you abundant 

blessings and graces through the intercession

of the Mother of God.

On February 11, 1858, the Mother of God came from Heaven and appeared to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous of the town of Lourdes in the Pyrenees Mountains in France.

Accompanied by her sister and a friend, Bernadette went to the grotto of Massabielle on the banks of the river looking for driftwood to make a fire and sell some firewood to buy bread. Removing her socks to cross the little stream, she heard a great gust of wind in the stillness. She looked up towards the grotto:


Bernadette made the Sign of the Cross with the lady and they prayed the Rosary together in silence. When the prayer ended, the most beautiful lady suddenly vanished.

Four years later, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition." Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pope Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church.

Bernadette was later canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church for living a holy life. Let us join the Saint of Lourdes united in prayer in the presence of our Blessed Mother.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Thoughts on Lent

For many Christians it's often a challenge to determine what they should be doing special or different during Lent in appreciation of our Lord's passion and in preparation for the Sacred Triduum at Lent's conclusion .  A very learned and good teacher of mine, Richard Smith, S.J.  addressed this matter in one of his retreats to Jesuit seminarians.  In his retreats he included a question and answer session. In this retreat he was asked what kind of Lenten penance/sacrifice he would recommend. His response was, "Oh that's easy. Just eat everything that is put out on the table and don't complain."  How simple, and for us, so practical. But I can assure you that it was for many young Jesuits a very challenging recommendation to put into practice.
So what is the appropriate Lenten penance or sacrifice? I suspect there are thousands of good answers, but I suggest one general guideline. Consider what it is that's going on in your life right now that is hindering your relationship with the Lord and perhaps separating you from the Lord, or a person or persons who need your care and concern. If it is something you can address in a practical and simple manner, as was the case with Dick Smith's suggestion, then I recommend you consider the challenge of doing it.
Fr. Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thoughts on gentleness

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thoughts on kindness

Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, "She is a kind person" or "He surely was kind to me," we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response. But when we encounter it we know that we are blessed. Is it possible to grow in kindness, to become a kind person? Yes, but it requires discipline. To be kind means to treat another person as your "kin," your intimate relative. We say, "We are kin" or "He is next of kin." To be kind is to reach out to someone as being of "kindred" spirit.

Here is the great challenge: All people, whatever their color, religion, or sex, belong to humankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating one another as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives in which we are not called to this.
Henri Nouwen