Litter Box Theology, Advent Style

12/20/2015

Do you listen closely enough?

I do. But way too infrequently.

Thankfully, I was listening today. While tending to cat box duty.

EWTN Radio broadcasts The Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament on Sundays after Daily Mass. Today, the broadcast coincided with time for cleaning the litter boxes.

I heard the end of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and the beginning of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, through Chapter 3.

The end of Chapter 3 is Paul’s instructions for wives, husbands, children, and fathers. You know… the passage that always causes so much controversy because Paul tells wives to be subject to their husbands.

But that’s not what struck me today.

And not how I heard God talking to me.

Immediately following his instructions for families, Paul continues.

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:22-24

Here’s what slammed me up against the proverbial wall, what slapped me in my proverbial face:

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord…

 

What was I doing? Scooping cat poop. Washing the floor and sloshing pee from under one of the boxes because Little Kitten has difficulty hitting the mark these days, poor thing.

It’s not her fault. She’s a cat.

But… all of that… irrelevant.

… do from the heart, as for the Lord…

So I did.

He and I carried on a little more conversation, about my place in life, my place in time, what I was doing at this very moment, what I was doing with my life.

It all happened in a flash.

But it was so real.

Two things:

  1. Do you take time to listen for the Lord to speak to you, no matter what you are doing, no matter what your circumstances?
  2. Do you do whatever you do, from the heart?

I’m not perfect. I’m no holy roller.

That’s why I talk (i.e., whine) to Him so often.

And why I try to listen.

And not only listen.

Hear.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention is to post regularly and to comment on the Daily Liturgy. I’ve fallen short of that lofty goal. However, I have begun posting video reflections (and other stuff) on YouTube. Click here to take a gander: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for still not posting daily.

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Your Annoying Little Brother

07/09/2015

“Dad! They’re mocking you behind your back.”

“I’m Dad’s favorite.”

Wouldn’t you like to slug him?

Maybe you didn’t have a little brother. Maybe you had a little sister like this. Or maybe it wasn’t a sibling, but a friend. Or an acquaintance.  Maybe it was a co-worker who was this annoying.

Whoever, I’ll bet you’ve had personal experience with somebody in your life who annoyed you to the point of… oh, maybe wanting to strangle them.

Or just… witness some minor mishap befall them. Just to see them squirm a little.

That’s okay. That’s human nature.

It’s not right. It’s a fault. It’s a sin we need to confess.

But we’re human. We have thoughts like these.

Have you ever read or listened to the Genesis account of Joseph — yeah, the Technicolor Dreamcoat guy; that Joseph — and thought of him like that?

We’re reading the Genesis account of Joseph and his brothers this week at Daily Mass. Father Mitch Pacwa described Joseph like this yesterday during his homily on EWTN.

I had never heard that description before.

So what do we do with a person like Joseph? That annoying person in your life?

It’s really simple.

Jesus spells it out for us in the Gospels. But there’s a more recent admonition from him.

When He appeared to Sister Maria Faustina, Jesus told her — told us — that He demands from us deeds of mercy toward our neighbors.

That’s it. That simple.

He said:

“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.”

   –   Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (paragraph 742), Marian Press, 2009

So what do we do with all of this?

Next time we have these very human thoughts, maybe we think twice.

Make no mistake. We will have those thoughts. We are human. What matters is what we do with them.

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

And that challenging.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for not posting a meditation daily.

 

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“What is Truth?”

05/02/2015

I knew what I was hearing wasn’t true. It couldn’t possibly be true. His truck, pulling a trailer with a heavy, old Russian manufactured motorcycle, struck my car with such force that it spun me sideways and knocked the frame halfway to the junk yard. My client files, moments ago carefully organized on the back seat, splattered up against the back of the front passenger seat and scattered into a heap across the floor on both sides of the back seat.

Yet he insisted that he made a full stop at the intersection and was just accelerating from that dead stop when I tried to race past him through the intersection.

Baloney.

No way could he have generated that kind of force from a dead stop.

It was up to the insurance companies to battle it out, but eventually, his insurance company agreed that the accident was completely his fault.

It was one man’s version of the truth versus my version.

Luckily, the facts clearly supported my version.

That time.

There’s one source of ultimate truth. God. And God in the person of Jesus. One in the same being. One Truth.

Today’s Alleluia verse before the Gospel (John 8:31b-32) says

If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, says the Lord.

Do you want to know the truth?

Remain in God’s word.

Jesus tells the disciples

“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.” – John 14:7a

Do you want to know the truth?

Know Jesus.

How do we know Jesus?

Remain in God’s word. Read Holy Scripture. Read the bible. Study the readings from the Daily Mass.

Pilate asks Jesus on Good Friday

“What is truth?”

… after Jesus tells him that He was born and came into the world to testify to the truth, and

“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” – John, chapter 18, end of verse 37.

Pilate, surrounded by wealth and luxury, protected by a powerful army, could not be certain of the truth. What lesson does that hold for us?

The Apostles and chosen disciples, including Paul, were inspired to spread the truth by the Holy Spirit. They brought the truth to as many nations and regions as they could. They brought the truth to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Yet the Chosen People rejected the truth and persecuted the disciples (today’s First Reading, Acts 13:44-52). So the disciples, inspired by the command of the Lord, established a church separate from the synagogue.

How many times are we presented with the truth and we choose to ignore it or at least want to ignore it because it doesn’t fit with our desires? Or our version of events?

What’s our response?

Do we remain in God’s word?

Or do we make up our own words? Do we manufacture our own truth?

I wish that I only battled that temptation every day. But instead, I find myself manufacturing truth countless times, every hour, every single day.

How about you?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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Déjà vu All Over Again

05/01/2015

Interesting juxtaposition in today’s Daily Mass readings. In the First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:13-25), Paul recounts the royal lineage of the Hebrews and leads all the way up to John the Baptist foretelling the coming of Jesus.

Historically, that would be just prior to Jesus commencing his public ministry.

The Gospel (John 13:16-20) jumps forward to Holy Thursday, the very end of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet.

We have a symbolic cleansing in the Jordan by John. Not a true baptism, of course, because this is before Jesus had instituted the sacrament. And we have symbolic cleansing by sacrificial death in the Gospel.

We’re halfway through the Easter season and we’re already again recalling the death of Christ?

Folks, we do that every single day.

Or at least, we should be.

You never cease to gather a people to Yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to Your name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Every single day.

So many times, each day, “from east to west,” a priest hoists a piece of bread heavenward, invokes the words of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, and Jesus Christ Himself transubstantiates the earthly nourishment into the Divine.

What was that?

He changes the bread into His body.

Likewise, he changes the wine into His blood.

Déjà vu. All over again.

This is what makes the celebration of the Mass so beautiful, so powerful, so vital.

For the last two thousand years, we have recalled the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And we continue to

Do this in memory of me.

 

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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(1) The Early Christian Social Experiment and (2) Reluctant Belief

04/18/2015

Two very separate thoughts about Saturday’s Easter weekday readings.

As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. – Acts 6:1

Last weekend, we learned of the great social experiment of having “everything in common,” with all believers not claiming ownership to any possessions as their own and “distribut(ing) to each according to need.”

Today, we see why this type of social/communal arrangement works in theory only. It may work in heaven.

(I have my doubts that it ‘works’ even in heaven, but let’s leave that for another commentary.)

It appears that some of the widows were… shall we say, treated as being a little less equal than others. Depending on whose interpretation of this scripture passage you read, more work was expected of the Hellenistic Jews than the native Hebrews, or the Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, or perhaps more likely, a combination of both.

The Apostles dealt with it and empowered seven men to help make it work. But the greatest lesson is that, even among the community of believers, there was a problem with executing this equal distribution of goods.

Human beings have attempted — for tens of centuries — to distribute equally to each according to their need. And there’s always a problem with it. Why? What? How?

Human beings get in the way.

Human emotion. Prejudice. Discrimination. Judgment. Envy. Dishonesty.

The list is endless.

It is because we are human that this type of system cannot work. On earth and (maybe not) in heaven. (Although the rules up there would be markedly different, n’est-ce pas?)

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When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. – John 6:19

Jesus had just fed the five thousand. He knew people would come to “make him king by force,” which of course was contrary to his mission. So he withdrew, away from the crowds.

Left to their own devices, what were the apostles supposed to do? They did what they knew best. They went fishing.

But they picked the wrong night. The seas were rough. The miracle worker wasn’t there to help them out of the rough waters.

Or so they thought.

Remember, at this time, Jesus had not risen from the dead. He was performing astonishing works in front of their disbelieving eyes. Just hours before, he fed thousands of people when all the apostles were able to rustle up were a few handfuls of food.

And now, caught in the middle of a storm, came this man, walking on the water!

What would you have thought?

What would your senses and human intellect have told you?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. Well, I didn’t even make it through Day Two without a slip-up. The excerpts are from Saturday, April 18, 2015, and I’m backdating my post. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Forgive me for procrastinating, Father. On this post and on getting my thoughts out to the world.


What the heck happened?

04/17/2015

If your life was threatened because you were the constant companion of a popular “somebody” who suddenly became a despised “nobody,” what would you do?

If you were afraid of a mob that turned on your friend, beat him bloody, and killed him, where would you go? Where would you hide?

What would you do, then, still hiding and afraid of being attacked, if somebody came running up to you, all excited and wild-eyed, and said “He’s alive!” You know, the guy who you watched get beaten, nearly to death, then hung up on a tree, then you watched him get carried down and buried… that guy…

Would you suddenly say, “Oh, no problem! Everything’s gonna be fine now!”

Would you be confused? Would you have a question or two? Or maybe want a stiff drink? Or just to sleep all day, hoping it would all go away?

Then let’s say your dead friend showed up. He told you not to be afraid.

“Oh, sure! Thanks. Yeah, all’s good now!!”

Would you maybe doubt your senses, too? Would you be more ready for that adult beverage?

Well, gang, that’s probably purty dang close to what happened to the Apostles who followed Jesus around for three years, watched his popularity explode, then witnessed the whole thing implode in a matter of days.

What happened to these guys? Timid, ordinary dudes who rode the coattails of this amazing, inspiring teacher. You know the guy. He attracted crowds wherever He went. But when He got in trouble with the authorities, all the coattail-riders took off in the other direction.

In a matter of days, inspiring teacher guy goes from most popular to most hated. Before you know it, he’s dead! The adoring mob becomes a lynch mob. Coattail-riders are scared to death. Will the mob come after them, too?

Today’s Daily Mass Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:34-42) recounts how the Jewish authorities, having detained the Apostles, decide to release them from custody.

“But hang on boys, before you go? Here’s a parting gift.”

The authorities flog the Apostles, then send them on their merry way. “Hey, but don’t mention this Jesus guy any more, okay?”

What do the Apostles do?

They can’t shut up! Everywhere they go, in public, even in the temple,

“they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.”

Something happened to these men. Something transformed them from shy, timid, afraid of their own shadow, locked away for fear of retribution…

and fearless to the point of not caring if they were killed themselves.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning today, Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it.


Mass For Life and Cat Boxes

01/22/2015

Where do you find your inspiration? In the shower? Just before drifting off to Never Never Land? (“Where’s my pen????”) On the morning commute?

The older I get, the more ‘things’ happen to me and around me, the more I realize that if I prayed 24 hours a day, that wouldn’t be enough. But certainly not practical.

Also makes me contemplate the truth about Practicality.

So, being the practical sort of guy I am, I look for ways to fit more prayer into my daily routine.


Don’t pray enough? What times in your day lend themselves to prayer? Brushing teeth? Dishes? Cat boxes? Tinkling?


There are not many chores more humbling than cleaning pet excrement, whether it’s shovel and bucket in the back yard or scrubbing caked kitty clay off the tile floor.

The only dogs in my life are canine cousins and granddogs (is that a word? Caution! “Dave-ism!”)

This dog lover is now one cat short of becoming a crazy cat lady. With seven cats, cleanup is a real chore. And lends itself to extended prayer time.

Speaking of humbling, it doesn’t get much more so than kneeling on the cold basement floor, litter dust wafting amidst the oxygen molecules, beads of sweat dripping to the floor, hoping the clay doesn’t find its way underneath fingernails while scrubbing the floor.

It’s a perfect time to pray.

While I’m partial to spending that time listening to recorded versions of the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, today’s routine was unusual.

I’m normally up at 4 AM on weekdays, ready to leave the house by 5:30 to either see my first client or humiliate myself on the racquetball court at LA Fitness. Thursday is normally racquetball day.

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Today, one of our opponents was out of town and the other down with an injury, so my partner and I decided to cancel. I needed to catch up on sleep, so I took advantage, slept in until 6. Today was going to be an office day, all day.

I managed to stay out of Kathy’s way (mostly) as she prepared for work and left by 6:20. Got the cats fed listening to and saying the Rosary and Chaplet, feverishly trying to remember everyone I promised to pray for, leaving the rest in God’s hands.

Daily Mass is normally aired at 7 AM, so I planned to listen as I trudged downstairs to tackle the cat boxes.

I forgot that today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I forgot that today is the March for Life in Washington, DC. Mass broadcast began at 6:30. It was celebrated at the National Basilica in Washington in conjunction with prayers for Life and recognition of the day.

So I picked up the Mass in the middle of the homily.

My pro-life conviction has solidified as my prayer life has intensified. I heard the words of the Archbishop. I scooped and scrubbed and cleaned. I got lost in the words, the prayers…

When I think about our attitude toward abortion, I often think about the Jews rounded up by the Nazis and summarily murdered and tortured. Hundreds of thousands were fully capable adults. But age didn’t matter. Young and strong, old and frail, all were subject to their captors’ cruelty. The prisoners were helpless because of overwhelming force.

Who is more captive, more frail, more vulnerable, than an unborn child?

How can we treat them so callously? How can we not care? How can we not defend and protect them? How are they any different than any other abused infant? To the former, we (as a society) argue for choice and reason. To the latter, we act as prosecutor, judge, and jury, and our reaction to the abuse is often rage.

What’s the difference?

Mass ended. EWTN then began broadcast coverage of the March for Life.

On my hands and knees, I listened to stories of women who had experienced abortion. I heard how science now provides evidence that a 20-week fetus feels pain. I listened to young men and women share their reasons for attending, about their lack of sleep, and how the cause was so much larger than the inconvenience. I heard a report from the Chicago March for Life from Sunday, January 18.

I thought about the countless children who would never be born. Who were never permitted to breathe fresh air, hear and feel the crunch of snow, taste ice cream, smell fresh cut grass. I thought about the women who never became their mothers. The painful agony of regret that will plague them to the grave. Who will never hear their baby’s cry. Or laughter. Or first word. Or “Mama, I love you.”

I heard from three women who were born because their mothers were raped.

I heard from a doctor who was an abortionist until his young daughter was killed in an auto accident.

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I thought about my sister’s stillborn baby.

Why do we consider that beyond tragic, but we don’t believe it’s tragic when a woman (or man or parents or other “concerned loved ones” who influence her decision) chooses — willfully, knowingly — to “terminate” a life, but rather argue that she is making a rational and acceptable decision?

What are we doing? When will it stop?

I’m compelled to say a whole lot more about this. In the weeks and months ahead, you can count on it. And that may not to win me many friends. So be it.

20150122_195611[1]Sometimes, you have to embrace the excrement.

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If you’re considering an abortion:

pregnancyline.com

www.ewtn.com/prolife

http://hopeafterabortion.com/

http://rachelsvineyard.org/

 


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