A Parent’s Heart

Cranky Babies Get Tossed Away!

My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you!  I would like to be with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed because of you. (Galatians 4:19-20)

It’s such a hard thing to watch our children grow up, isn’t it? Especially when you see them walking down a dangerous path in their lives. You want to just pick them up and almost live their lives for them, so that they won’t be hurt by what you know is ultimately harmful to them, but that they currently find attractive. The corrections that you give are, indeed, loving, in that they attempt to help your kids back onto a better path. However, sometimes the freedom that you give your children is more helpful. Within limits, it teaches your children not to just “obey Mom’s/Dad’s law,” but to evaluate situations for themselves so as to learn how to live a good life on their own. The rub for parents is that you have to sit back and allow your child to make mistakes and to fall.

We always try to prepare them for the world. To teach them not to talk to strangers. To look both ways before crossing the street. To eat their veggies. To look out for your little brother/sister. To brush your teeth. To say your prayers at night. When they are small, usually they more or less obey, but when they turn into teens and try to determine for themselves their identity…then is when you have the greatest opportunity for rebellion.

What Paul is stating here is the lament of every parent of a teen who has ever said, “I taught you better than that!” or “That’s not who I raised you to be!” or “That’s just not like you!” The formerly sweet, docile child has become somehow something like a child of wrath. A stranger you don’t recognize. The bonds between you which were formerly strong are now a little weaker, a little fainter — distance has set in as friends and culture at large has replaced you as the, apparent, new standard for behavior. What happened?

I think it’s a normal part of the maturation process. At some point, the newly instructed needs to learn to fly on their own. Our rules and teachings have to be incorporated into their hearts, and this can only be done by a free choice of their will.

It is at this point that God’s people are being offered this opportunity to see beyond the Law and fill their hearts with the New Covenant. They are ready for the next step in the maturation process.

In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. (Galatians 4:3-5)


Non Sequitur:
The photo is me as a toddler. As the story goes, I was being a pill when my parents took me to the park this day, so they stuck me in a waste basket and started walking away…. ūüôā

The Lord’s Passion

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The following is a quote from the book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. ¬†It is a graphic and disturbing description of the Lord’s Passion. ¬†For me, this is a great passage to reflect upon and pray with, especially as we draw closer to Lent.

The whip the Roman soldiers use on Jesus has small iron balls and sharp pieces of sheep bones tied to it. ¬†Jesus is stripped of his clothing, and has his hands tied to an upright post. ¬†His back, buttocks, and legs are whipped either by one soldier or by two who alternate positions. ¬†The soldiers taunt their victim. ¬†As they repeatedly strike Jesus’ back with full force, the iron balls cause deep contusions, and the sheep bones cut into the skin and tissues. ¬†As the whipping continues, the lacerations tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. ¬†Pain and blood loss set the stage for circulatory shock.

When it is determined by the centurion in charge that Jesus is near death, the beating is finally stopped.  The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood.  The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king.  They throw a robe across his shoulders and place a stick in his hand for a scepter.  They still need a crown to make their travesty complete.  A small bundle of flexible branches covered in long thorns are plaited into the shape of a crown, and this is pressed into his scalp.  Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body).  After mocking him and striking him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from his hand and strike him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into his scalp.

Finally, when they tire of their sadistic sport, the robe is torn from his back. ¬†The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal — just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage — causes excruciating pain, almost as though he were being whipped again. ¬†The wounds again begin to bleed. ¬†In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return his garments. ¬†The heavy horizontal beam of the cross is tied across his shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution party walk along the Via Dolorosa. ¬†In spite of his efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. ¬†He stumbles and falls. ¬†The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. ¬†He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. ¬†The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. ¬†Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock.

The 650-yard journey from the fortress of Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed. ¬†Jesus is again stripped of his clothes except for a loincloth which is allowed the Jews. ¬†The crucifixion begins. ¬†Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild pain-killing mixture. ¬†He refuses to drink. ¬†Simon is ordered to place the cross beam on the ground, and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with his shoulders against the wood. ¬†The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. ¬†He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. ¬†Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tight, but to allow some flexibility and movement. ¬†The beam is then lifted, and the title reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The victim Jesus is now crucified. ¬†As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain — the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. ¬†As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places his full weight on the nail through his feet. ¬†Again, there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet. ¬†At this point, another phenomenon occurs. ¬†As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. ¬†With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward. ¬†Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed, and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. ¬†Air can be drawn into the lungs but it cannot be exhaled. ¬†Jesus fights to raise himself in order to get even one short breath. ¬†Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the bloodstream, and the cramps partially subside. ¬†Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. ¬†It is undoubtedly during these periods that he utters the seven short sentences that are recorded.

Now begins hours of this limitless pain, cycles of cramping and twisting, partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. ¬†Then another agony begins. ¬†A deep, crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. ¬†It is now almost over — the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. ¬†The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. ¬†His mission of atonement has been completed. ¬†Finally he can allow his body to die. ¬†With one last surge of strength, he once again presses his torn feet against the nail, straightens his legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters his seventh and last cry: ¬†“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Save Me from the Stupid: Flirting with Sin

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Paul says a lot of great things. Like this:

Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)

This “stupid” is a harsh rebuke, referring to one who does not see reality. And, isn’t this our internal cry to ourselves every time we become aware of our sin? Why did I do that? I know better! UGH!

But how easy is this, if we are not vigilant against the temptations of the culture in which we live? ¬†Everything we are exposed to tells us that we are to indulge. ¬†It’s not about liberty, but license, with the small caveat that your license does not harm or interfere with certain other’s rights.

In my baptism, I died to sin and rose to new life in Christ. ¬†Why then, do I still fall? ¬†Why do I still see things as harmless or fun or appealing even after having a new heart created within me and God’s own Spirit dwelling within me?

I think it’s because I am stupid. ¬†I do not clearly see the reality that is before me. ¬†If I truly understood, I would be different. ¬†But as it is, there is something like blinders on. ¬†I have that tendency to sin, that limp in my walk that makes me prone to tripping.

Ask my mom — ask anyone — I have this rebellious streak in me that likes to test boundaries; I think perhaps we all do to a degree. ¬†And it is so easy to rationalize things and lead ourselves into increasingly greater sin.

It starts with the smallest things.  A glance, perhaps.  A flirtatious smile.  A change in posture.  You feed off the response of the person you are engaging.  Maybe now some double entendres.  Suggestive speech.  Slightly dirty jokes.  Harmless, right?

But even right there, we need to stop ourselves. ¬†Just in the beginning, we need to see what we are doing and where it is leading. ¬†Why am I flirting with this guy? ¬†Do I really want to try and attract him to me? ¬†Or am I just doing it because it’s fun to elicit a response? ¬†Where will I draw the line with my suggestive speech and behaviors? ¬†Am I leading this other person into sin?

I’m playing with fire, and now I’m not only sprinkling myself with propellant, but also you. ¬†Trying to see how long we can play with the flames before we get burned. ¬†Objectification of another person comes swiftly and insidiously. ¬†I may not think it’s a big deal. ¬†You may like it. ¬†But it isn’t consonant with our nature as humans. ¬†You deserve better. ¬†You are a precious gift. ¬†And so am I.

The point is not that we are so bad.  The reality is that we have been made so good and need to learn to live as such.

When I objectify you or myself, I am making you (or me) into something less than human — a thing, a toy. ¬†My vision isn’t narrowed when I turn away from the norms of the culture; it’s widened and clarified.

Help me, Lord, to learn to be authentically human and to love others with Your love.  Please send me Your Spirit to help me see clearly.

What?! He came and I *missed* it?!!


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Originally uploaded by CadyLy

Okay, the New Testament zebras are still tromping around Thessalonica. Here is our grazing ground for the day:

We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god — do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thes 2:1-12)

What in the world is going on here?

This sounds to me to be like some of the other apocalyptic literature, what with the apostasy and the lawless one being revealed [the antichrist?], and also with the one being restrained (isn’t there something about Satan being allowed to act, but on a leash?)

I like, too, the distinction that Paul is making here.¬† He talks of those who “have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.”¬† It seems to me that he is talking here about the necessity of changing your life so as to live in Truth in order to be saved.¬† It doesn’t say, those who have accepted Christ as Lord and Messiah so that they may be saved, so it must mean that more is necessary.¬† What is the love of Truth, then?¬† I think it is more than merely knowing Truth.¬† For example, I can know the 10 Commandments and still fail to obey them.¬† But if I love the 10 Commandments, then I will incorporate them into my life, my being.¬† They will not be seen as an oppressive yoke, but rather a freedom.¬† To love Truth is to embrace it.¬† So, those who “have not accepted the love of truth” are those who have failed to embrace Christ, whether or not they profess him as Lord.

The other notable thing is that Paul is telling them to not worry about people proclaiming the end times.  Those who have heard Paul proclaim the Gospel know what will precede the parousia of the Lord.

I think additionally, there is a connection between these two thoughts.  Those who do not truly love the Truth would be frightened and scrambling to try and atone for the way they have been living their life if the Second Coming were suddenly announced.  However, true disciples of Christ would already be following a path of righteousness and would have nothing to fear.  So, live well, for we know not the hour, and He will come like a thief in the night.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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Image by CadyLy via Flickr

I went to the Fellowship of St. Paul meeting last night, not knowing exactly what to expect. ¬†I suppose my initial expectation was that it would be a little like the Life in the Spirit seminar that I attended at St. A’s and OLGC earlier in the year, especially since this month’s meeting included a panel that would be speaking on the gift of tongues and indicated that there would be an opportunity for people to be prayed over who wanted the gift.

After Life in the Spirit, everyone focused on the gift of tongues. ¬†“Did you get it? ¬†Did you speak in tongues?” ¬†It was all anyone asked about. ¬†They had made sure to say that there were many gifts of the Spirit and that not everyone received the same gifts. ¬†I concluded that perhaps I just wasn’t one of the people to receive the gift of tongues.

I made a few friends upon arriving at the Seminary and saw several other friends there, which helped me feel more welcome and comfortable. ¬†We started off with praise and worship (singing), which was quite like Steve and Lynn’s Fisherman’s Net prayer group, so it felt familiar and I liked it. ¬†The fact that they sung songs which I knew was helpful, too. ¬†Luckily, I sat next to a man who thought that I had a decent singing voice. ¬†ūüôā

Next, we had a panel of people speak about the gift of tongues. ¬†Dr. Williamson gave an introduction to the gift of tongues, including describing three uses of the gift: ¬†as a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, to build up the Church when used in conjunction with the gift of prophecy, and as a gift for personal prayer. ¬†Carol shared with us some personal experiences, especially healings, related to her gift of tongues and praying in the Spirit. ¬†The priest from England, Fr. Gerard I believe, was quite funny and had some good analogies like relating this gift to laughter and how it wells up from within you but how you have control over it to an extent and can choose when to start laughing and when to stop. ¬†He also related the experience of being in a community of people praying in the Spirit to being at a football (soccer) game, where people would be cheering and chanting and making noise — and how many people go to the games more for that atmosphere, rather than for the game itself (of this, I am so guilty!).

We then spent some time in prayer, led by Fr. Gerard on guitar.

We broke in to small groups, and I joined Dr. Williamson’s group, as he said that he would offer Q&A for people who still had some questions. ¬†I wanted to listen to the various questions and answers, but didn’t particularly have any of my own. ¬†I ended up getting busted for not asking anything, which was a little surprising as I wasn’t aware that I had a reputation for being particularly garrulous. ¬†One of the guys in the small group asked the question about people receiving different gifts, and maybe not everyone would receive this particular gift. ¬†The answer given was one that really makes me think. ¬†He said that while people are given various gifts, it is suggested in Scripture that the gifts of tongues and of prophesy seem to be general gifts given to all. ¬†The problem with many people is not that they do not have the gift, but that they do not use it and nurture it.

Huh.

Well, if I have been given a gift by God, don’t I then have a responsibility to use that gift? ¬†It sounds like I have another area of spiritual growth to explore.

This meeting has also helped me related to our separated brethren, in particular communities like the Pentecostals, where it seems like everyone in the congregation speaks in tongues. ¬†It has always been a mystery to me that — if everyone is given different gifts of the Holy Spirit — how can you have a congregation where everyone has the same gift? ¬†The idea that it is a general gift given to all…well, that explains it quite nicely. ¬†ūüôā

May We All Be One

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Love craves unity.

We are physical beings as well as spiritual beings.

For these reasons, tangible expressions of love are so necessary. It is not enough that I am told that I am loved, but I need to see it, hear it and feel it. I need that hug, that kiss, that hand on my shoulder. We have an inborn need to profoundly connect with other people.

I was reminded of this by my latest reading:

Brothers, when we were bereft of you for a short time, in person, not in heart, we were all the more eager in our great desire to see you in person. (1 Thes 2:17)

It is not only other human persons for which we have this desire for unity but, most of all, for God. Which is why God gave us the sacraments, so that we can, tangibly, come into contact with Him. Through the sacraments, we can concretely encounter and interact with Christ. In Reconciliation, we can not only know that we are forgiven, but we can hear it said, “I absolve you….” In the Anointing of the Sick, our sick bodies are touched and the oil remains as a reminder of the healing freely given. In the Eucharist, it is Christ Himself whom we take into our bodies under the appearance of bread and wine. God effects in us the very unity which we crave. Would that we truly come to know what it is that He is doing.

In addition to this idea of tangible unity, the other thing this verse brings to my mind is the idea of intercessory prayer. I truly believe that prayer unites people. As I pray for you, my heart is softened toward you and I become better able to love you as God loves you. I believe this is why Paul says, “…we were bereft of you…in person, not in heart.” While they may have been physically separated, Paul continued to remember them, and not just in abstract recollections of memory, but — because heart in Paul’s day meant something more like the center of your will, rather than the center of your emotions — remembered them in prayer, where he was actively willing for their good.

Which brings me back to:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21)

In Thanksgiving for Their Faith

Okay, starting a new series:¬† Reflections on Paul.¬† I have a class on Pauline literature at the Seminary this semester, and we are being asked to keep a journal of our response to Scripture, both spiritually and intellectually.¬† And, of course, I will share with you!¬† ūüôā

We are starting with 1 Thessalonians.¬† It didn’t take me very long before I reached something to comment upon:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. (1 Thes 1:2-4, NAB)

I had marked this passage in my Bible with a little note, and it strikes me the same way today. It’s Paul’s prayer on behalf of himself, Silvanus/Silas and Timothy to the church in Thessalonica, but this is also my prayer for my priests.

I have this vocation/charism to be an intercessor, and have a particular focus on priests.¬† In a particular way, I have been called to be an intercessor for one specific priest.¬† Something similar to the idea of spiritual motherhood (I’ll provide the link to that Vatican article in a little bit, when I look it up), perhaps, or maybe as St. Th√©r√®se of Lisieux prayed for her two priests.

Paul talks about how he prays unceasingly for the Thessalonians, and in a similar way, I pray unceasingly for my priest.¬† Sometimes I find this humorous, how he is always on my mind in prayer.¬† It seems like any difficulty that I may run into in the course of my day, I use this as prayer for him.¬† E.g. If I am driving and notice that it’s icy out, I will pray that he is protected while on the roads — that God keeps him safe.¬† If I am tired or stressed, I pray that he find rest, comfort, strength, perseverance and God’s grace to handle his duties and projects.¬† That God would renew him and give him His peace.¬† That he would be given moments throughout the day where he can get away from the daily pressures and find respite and rejuvenation in the Lord.¬† That he would be inspired to continue to run the race well and find a “second wind.”¬† That all of his frustrations would be turned into joy, knowing that he is doing the Will of God.¬† That he may see Christ in all the people that he encounters on this day.

Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers loved by God.”¬† This is so true regarding my priest.¬† God speaks to me about him more than He speaks to me about any other person.¬† Sometimes, I’ll happen to be driving past church and He will tell me, “Right now, my son is here with Me.¬† Spending time with Me.”¬† You should hear Him.¬† He is so thrilled.¬† He loves it when His children spend time with Him.¬† It just encourages me that much more to spend time in front of the Eucharist in Adoration.¬† Praying for my priest and my priests.¬† That insight into His Heart and His Love for His children expands my own heart, and somehow helps me to love better.

“How you were chosen.”¬† Vocation.¬† The calling of God.¬† I love this.¬† My vocation, in a way, is to support vocations.¬† Particularly, those called to Holy Orders and to the presbyterate.¬† There’s no question that my heart has been changed by God.¬† That he has made me in such a way that this calling that I have — this intercession, this preference for priests — gives me joy and draws me closer to Him the more I engage in and answer my calling.¬† I was chosen for those who have been chosen.¬† There is a great responsibility there, but also a great comfort, to know that you have been chosen by God for a particular task.¬† Perhaps because of my unique calling, two of my favorite Masses are Chrism Mass and Presbyteral Ordination.¬† I cannot tell you how awesome those Masses are, but only encourage you to attend one, if you get the chance.

Thank You, Lord, for their call, for their faith…and for mine.