Posted by: geolocke | 2016/12/12

Their Hope Is Full Of Immortality

The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.

But they are in peace.

For if to others, indeed, they seem punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.   (Wisdom 3:1-5)

This month has been a busy one so far and we’re not even half through with it. Here in the darkest month of the year, I’ve been attending to the souls of the departed and their families, two this past week and one this coming week.

The first funeral I was called in at the last moment to be the Cantor for the funeral Mass.  Although I did not know the man personally, I learned that he was active and had passed away suddenly. I prepared myself to sing by praying for the well-being of his spirit, and for his family, and I prayed that the Lord would use me as his instrument to sing words of comfort to those who are left behind to mourn.

That evening we learned that my wife’s Aunt had passed away that same morning. Just two weeks shy of her 104th birthday, she was active right up until the last week of her life. A remarkable woman who was widowed when her children were still young.  With no financial resources, she raised her family in public housing, taught her children right from wrong and made them sit in the front pew every Sunday morning for Mass.

Those children, my wife’s cousins are now adults with children and grandchildren of their own. Each has faced many challenges in their own lives, and yet they fondly remember their humbly upbringing and the strength, hope, and joy with which their mother always faced every challenge placed before her. My wife and I were asked to be the Lectors for her Funeral Mass, so we both prepared ourselves to proclaim the readings with clear, unhesitating voices. After the funeral Mass, we proceeded to the cemetery for the burial rite and then stayed with the families for a while before returning to our home.

The next morning I learned that my uncle, my mother’s brother had died the previous evening. My mother is not able to make the journey so I am preparing to fly out to represent her and our family at his funeral Mass. My cousins tell me that even though he was ill and in hospital, my uncle was still alert with a sharp wit and making plans to play harmonica with the little band he had joined at the assisted living facility. That’s just the kind of person he was.

My father has a favorite saying: “They say that the good Lord don’t put more on you than you can handle, but sometimes I just wish the Lord didn’t have such a high opinion of me.”  This is always said with tongue in cheek and a chuckle at himself just before moving on to handle the next obstacle in his path.

And so it is that even with the weight upon my spirit from all of these deaths around me, I know that I can rely upon the Lord to carry me through.  This was made clear to me yesterday morning after Mass when we received another phone call, this time from our son.  His father-in-law had just died from Cancer.

As I felt yet another weight fall upon my spirit and I began to think gloomy thoughts, my attention was captured by the laugh and giggle of a small child that was nearby. I remembered in that instant that all these people who had recently died had lived their life with the hope and joy of the promise of the life that is yet to come to us.

In this darkest time of the year for the northern hemisphere, with cold winds that blow and send a chill to my very bones, there is still the promise of new life that is just waiting to be born, waiting to spring up from the frozen ground beneath my feet.

And as I look about and see the children who are joyfully anticipating the coming of Christmas, I stop and remember that these newly departed souls, like so many others around the world, are all eagerly awaiting for the new birth that is to come, just as surely as we are awaiting the birth of the Christ Child within each of us, and that is a very cheery thought with which to chase away the darkness.

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Posted by: geolocke | 2016/10/26

Simple Words – Deep Meanings

I like to read and I like to write, both of which are handy traits to have, especially seeing as how I also dabble in occasionally posting to this Blog.

One of the joys I receive in all this is when I discover an old word or phrase that has fallen out of general usage. When I find one of these disused words or phrases, I like to take them apart and dwell upon their meaning, slowly speaking them out loud and listen to the sound of the syllables as they roll off my tongue. Sometimes I even wait and see if I can use them in a sentence or in a conversation.

Yes, I am a word nerd, but not to the point where I could win a spelling bee or participate on some game show.  For me, the experience is just a private pleasure.

I use some of the same processes during my daily scriptural readings, reflections meditations and prayers.  I suppose I could say that the process is similar to the prayer form called Lectio Divina, but I am not intentional in my approach or process, it just happens to be the way I am wired.

And this process is also true with my prayers. Having grown up Catholic in the south, I learned two forms of Prayer; the Catholic Standard prayers I learned by rote, The Our Father, The Hail Mary, The Glory Be, and the Sign Of The Cross, as well as the Protestant tradition of what I call Free Prayer, spoken from the heart at the moment. I see value in both forms of prayer, but I must confess that I have been agitated on several occasions when a blessing before sitting down to supper went into its third minute … or longer.

I tend to reserve free form prayer for my personal reflections and meditations, and the Catholic standards for my daily scriptural readings and prayers. But sometimes I also find the standards are worthy of reflection and meditation in their own right.

When I slowly sign myself and to reflect upon the words: “What I do here today, I do in the Name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit. Amen!” Do I really, truly believe and profess  what I am saying, and fully realize the implications of what these words mean?

Or when I slow down and pray, “All glory be to The Father, and to The Son, and to The Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be, world without end. Amen!” Do I really give all Glory and honor to God, or am I reserving just a little bit for my ego?

Or when I take time and really plead, “Hail Mary, fully of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen!” Do I really offer due honor to her who freely accepted to be the living ark of God’s Eternal Covenant? Do I avail myself of her unending prayers of aid and assistance for my salvation?

Or when I really feel the Cross as it lies upon my back, barely able to breathe because of its weight, barely able to pray;

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen!

And when my heart is so wounded by troubles in this life that it can barely find the strength to recite the entire prayer and settles upon its bare essence:

Thy Will Be Done.

When I pray these simple words, truly letting go of self, letting go of ego, letting go of all possessions physical, mental, and spiritual, and I fall into that deep well of acceptance, it is then that I feel closest to God, and I know Peace.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/09/25

Sirach 3

 

“My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;
do not grieve him as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;
do not revile him because you are in your prime.” (Sirach 3:12-13)

How poignant it is to me the way these words still ring true even though they were written thousands of years ago.

The changing seasons of the generations shifts the burden of care from the parents to the children.

It is a time of prayer for patience, fortitude, wisdom, strength, acceptance and perseverance for both parents and children.  Even when he was dying on the Cross, our Savior gave care of his mother over to his disciple, and he gave his disciple, and indeed all of us, over to the care of mother.

Blessed Mother, I ask you to pray for all families who are going through this changing season of life. I ask that you join your prayers to ours and lift them up to your son, our Savior Jesus Christ; prayers covering all our sufferings, all our worries, and our fervent hope that our parents may be well taken care of in these their twilight years.

Lord Jesus, you who suffered so that you might release us from our bondage to Sin, Look upon these our prayers, our parent’s prayers, and your Blessed Mother’s prayers, and grant to us the same gentle care which you bestowed upon your own earthly family, and in your mercy, grant us your peace and consolation.

Amen

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/09/14

Misericordia

Misericordia non causam, sed fortunam spectat.

“Compassion takes care of sufferings, it does not ask for their cause”
Lord, I give you thanks for you have shown me your great compassion
In all that I have done, and all that I am, and all that I may become
You Lord have always held me up, whether I knew it or not
In your compassion my parents conceived me and brought me into this world
In your compassion they raised me in your love and instructed me in your ways
In your compassion you allowed me to strike out to seek my own path
In your compassion you kept me safe as I wandered far from you
In your compassion you patiently waited until I saw my error and returned to you
In your compassion you welcomed me back with a Love beyond my comprehension.
In your compassion you have given me joys beyond all means of expression
In your compassion you have supported me in my darkest hours of grief and sorrow
Lord, you have always been there, waiting, watching, calling me to you
You always lift me up no matter how many times I stumble and fall
Lord, by your mercy, your love, and your patience, may I share your compassion
Posted by: geolocke | 2016/09/05

A Gentle Lesson In Humility

The good Lord has a gentle way of reminding us that we are best off when we stay humble.

Yesterday was a tough day, I’ll admit, and I went to bed relieved for how things turned out, but feeling a bit sorry for myself for having to go through with it all again.

This morning, the Lord reminded me in a gentle way that things are not all that bad and I should keep a smile on my face. First, after I got dressed for Church and was cleaning my glasses, they broke in my hands. Okaaaay…. Not totally broken, but broken enough that I can only just prop them on my nose so I can still drive.

Right then! I walk outside to take our dog on patrol before we leave for Church and I walk right into an Orb Weaver’s spider web that was woven under the grape arbor last night, right in my normal path. I spin around and do the heebie-jeebies dance and manage to wrap myself in spider web, all over my face and broken glasses, my clothes, hair, beard, nose and mouth… I nearly fall down I am tripping over everything out there trying to make sure there is *not* a spider wrapped up in all that webbing.

I get myself cleaned up as best as I can, tugging at webbing all in my hair, beard, face, everywhere that is inconvenient, and we get out the door and down the road. I’m still pulling bits of spider web off of me as we pull into the Church parking lot. I leave my glasses in the car to keep from completely breaking them and go into church where we find the elevator broken. That doesn’t bother me, but I parked at the top of the hill so my wife could use the elevator instead of using the outside steps.

In Mass, I’m seeing triple and quintuple vision without my glasses on. Between the surgical scars, floaters and astigmatism, I can’t see clearly more than 8 inches in front of my nose without them, so most of the mass was spent with my eyes closed or squinting at blurry shapes that might have been waving at me, I really couldn’t tell… Oh, and still pulling bits of cob web off of me.

After Mass, we went for breakfast where, you guessed it, I was still pulling cob webs off of me. Afterwards we stopped my mom and dad’s house and then came home where I discovered that somehow, I managed to set my phone to display everything in the tiniest possible font, which I couldn’t read even *if* I was wearing my glasses. It has taken me several hours of messing with it, but I finally got things back to their regular font.

Ok Lord, I *think* I’ve gotten your message. Accept the path set before me with a humble spirit and stop feeling sorry for myself… I get that now… Thank you for this gentle lesson.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/08/21

No Call, No Foul, No Error, No Regrets

It’s been said many times and in many ways,  our power to communicate is one of our greatest gifts from God.

How to use this gift is something that some of us spend our lifetime learning to do.

The power of the word, written, spoken, or unspoken, can build up relationships and it can destroy relationships. It can be used to give knowledge to the uneducated and it can be twisted to sow confusion, doubt, and distrust in those who are well-educated.

Sometimes the words come forth, almost unbidden in moments of pure joy and happiness. Pain, suffering, intoxication or addiction can also bring forth unbidden words.   In either instance, words can come out that cause injury or discomfort to one party or the other, or both, like the sting of a bee.

The key, as best as I can determine at this point in my life, although I claim no expertise in this matter, is not so much the words themselves, but where within us those words spring forth: from the heart, or from the head; our love, or our emotions.

In these times of discomfort, though the sting of the moment is real, I find that if I do not dwell upon the words themselves, but look at the situations under which they were brought forth, I can ease the pain of the sting enough to determine if the injury was intended of unintentional. Most times, I have found the offending words were unintentional.

In these times I try to remember this line from Psalm 141 (line 3):

“Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips.”

So I forgive, forget, and hold no regrets. This is just one more lesson I have learned in what it means to being human.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/05/31

To Pondered These Things In Our Hearts

When I was younger, and was being instructed in the ways of our faith, I mistakenly thought that faith was a mindset, a moral compass as some call it, that keeps us on track in our lives and helps guide us toward the greater good. The Stories of the Old and New Testaments were history and served as examples of how we should judge and live our lives. In my understanding, that is all there was to faith. Nice and simple, easy to put in a box and bring it out when I needed to use it. How could I have gotten that all so wrong?

Those aspects of our faith are real, but I have come to understand that our faith is all that and so much very more. Our Faith is a relationship with the True and Living God. It is a relationship that, surprisingly enough, is founded in our inability to fully grasp how much God Loves us, as we strive to know and understand and Love God in return. We are wholly unsuited to the task, and yet God Loves us for trying, and God sends us Graces to keep us from despairing when we fail in our attempts, as we always do, and damage our budding relationship. God helps us pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and start once more in building our relationship together.

Sometimes God sends us helpers to aid us in our relationship building. In the Bible, God sends Angels at times to help point out the way to go. For us, God sometimes sends people into our lives when we are in need of guidance. Some of the people God sends could be our family, our friends, our co-workers, or even strangers, and yes, even the people in the stories told in the scriptures.

In today’s Gospel reading, we again read the story of the young Virgin Mary as she enters the house of her cousin Elizabeth. Both women are with child and are overcome with joy and exalt at greeting one another. Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith in keeping and believing what was foretold of her by the Angel, and Mary takes Elizabeth’s praise and joy and offers it up to God with her own praise and joy.

I really enjoy this particular story from our Faith. It fills me with joy just thinking of the situation and remembering about Zechariah in the background, unable to speak after having been struck dumb in the temple. Here are gathered before him both the Word and the Voice, and Zechariah can do no more but to hold on to everything that is happening, waiting and hoping and trusting in all that God has promised him. At the birth of his son, and the speaking of his name, John, Zechariah’s tongue is set free and he too adds his voice to the prayers of Praise that Elizabeth and Mary had earlier proclaimed.

Part of relationship building is to sometimes simply be present to another. To listen as others speak, and to rejoice in the gift of their presence in our life. And so it is in our relationship with God. There are times when we are so full of our own concerns, sorrows and troubles that we can’t help but pour out our hearts to God, asking for relief or even a sign that God is listening.

But then we find that there are times in our relationship with God when we still ourselves and listen to the silence of God, that immense silence, and we come to know in our own very limited way that God is present in everything and everywhere all the time. There is no need for speaking, or listening, or seeing, or hearing. There is only the need to accept God’s presence and ponder it in our hearts, and to offer our presence back to God in thanksgiving for God’s very being.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/04/13

Quiet Splendor

A breeze whispers in the trees, beneath the moonless sky above.
The world around me still sleeps, the workday has not yet begun.

Signs of the changing season surround me where ever I look.
Plant and earth and sky and stream; all point to the coming of summer.

The great bear and the swan swing their slow arcs among the stars above.
Then a flash of light streaks across the sky!

Quick, make a wish!
Quick, make a wish!

There is no need.
My wish, my hope, my prayer lives with me always.

To Know, and Love, and Serve you in Truth, not just in name, dear Lord.
To treat my sisters and brothers, neighbors and strangers, with the same
Mercy, Kindness, and Love that you have treated me, dear Lord.
To walk always in humility and awe-filled wonder as I gaze upon
the quiet splendor of all your magnificent creation,
and to live in your presence forever, dear Lord.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/04/07

Prayer For A Young Person Approaching Adulthood

May you live a simple life, not overly burdened by many things that distract you from God.

May you find as much pleasure in the little flowers of the grass as you do the roses of the bush.

May you have quiet times where you can listen for the sound of God’s voice in the whispering of the pines.

May you treat the powerful and the powerless with equal love and respect.

May you always share your food and possessions with friends and strangers alike.

May you always do your best work, regardless of the task that is set before you.

May you always choose Love when fear, misunderstanding, and hatred surround you.

May you have laughter to offset your tears, Joy to offset your sorrows, and patience to offset your frustrations.

May you always lift up a prayer of thanks for all God has done for you, asking God to always lead you in this life, and from this life into the next.

Amen.

Posted by: geolocke | 2016/03/27

Easter 2016

To my ultra-right-winged-christian-conservative friends, I’m sorry, but my views are too liberal for you. To my ultra-leftist-liberal-anything-goes friends, I’m sorry, but my views are too conservative for you also.

I believe in Jesus Christ, and I attempt to follow his example as best as I can. That means that I try to feed the hungry. I try to help shelter the homeless. I try to comfort the afflicted. I try to educate the unlearned, to befriend the addict, and give hope to those who have no hope left. I try to welcome the immigrant with open arms, regardless of their status. I try to befriend those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, much less God. I try to turn the other cheek when I am assaulted verbally, mentally, and physically by those who hate and distrust me.

I try to love those who do not love me. I try to accept and not judge those whose beliefs are different from mine while not compromising my own beliefs. I try to speak the truth of God’s immeasurable Love for all of us to those who refuse to listen. I try to pray for those who do not have anyone to pray for them. I try to forgive those who commit acts of violence so horrible that my mind and spirit are left spinning and in pain. I try to share the burden of the cross and to not complain about its weight, or the pain of the nails that pierce my hands and feet, or the spear that opens my side. I try not to be afraid of the darkness of the tomb. And I pray that I will awaken to the light of the new morning sun once again.

I am not republican, I am not democrat, I am not nationalistic, nor anarchist, nor conservative, nor liberal, nor disbeliever, nor agnostic.

I am Christian, or at least, I try to be Christian.

Happy Easter to all of humanity.

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