What If You’re Divorced?

08/14/2015

I am divorced. And in the deep recesses of my being, I still allow that to define me.

Today’s Gospel is a difficult one for me.

a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife

Why did it happen?

The reasons are layered and complex. I was (and probably still am) blessed with a certain level of naivete. Socially, I’m clumsy. If I don’t come across that way, it’s not because I don’t feel that way.

Never, ever, in a thousand years… in a million years… did I ever even suspect that Sue and I would become a statistic.

and the two shall become one flesh

That’s not an excuse. I do not excuse myself.

Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.

Okay… so what made me think that it was permissible to separate what God joined together?

I never did. I don’t think it is permissible for any of us.

Just like I don’t think it’s permissible to live contrary to any of God’s laws.

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”  They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” – Matthew 9:3-12

No other gods. No idols. Keep the sabbath. Honor Mom and Dad. Don’t kill. No adultery. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t covet. Don’t covet (yes, apparently we need more than one reminder of that one).

So… how good are you at adhering to those?

I suck at it. Pardon the vernacular.

How do we resolve what Jesus told the Pharisees?

I don’t know.

I know what the Catholic Church teaches. Sort of. I know they permitted me and Kathy to both seek (and have granted) a formal annulment of our previous marriages, thus giving us permission to marry each other — in a second sacramental union (for me) — and still participate in the sacramental life… receiving Holy Communion, having our sins forgiven in Confession.

Have I resolved all this in my own mind?

No.

That is clearly because I am an imperfect, flawed human being.

My ways are not His ways.

Okay, this is supposed to be a quick meditation. Not a sermon. Not a book. So…..

Has anything helped me overcome my guilt?

A handful of years ago (was it five, six, more?), I discovered the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. If you are familiar with me and this blog, you know that.

Jesus was born into this hellhole to save us from ourselves.

We’re the ones who have taken His Father’s glorious creation and created a cesspool, made a mess of just about whatever we’ve laid our hands on.

We are imperfect human beings.

We will sin. We will be immoral. We will offend others and thus offend God.

We will.

Today.

Reflect on that before you nod off tonight. And ask forgiveness.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm:

His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 136 (all verses)

The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared to human beings. The Lord, Jesus Christ, has made Himself known and spoken clearly to human beings.

Mary gave us the Holy Rosary.

Jesus gave us the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

He promised that even the most hardened sinner, if they will say the Chaplet even once, will be granted His Divine Mercy.

It’s stuff like that, folks, that engages my consciousness, that gives me hope, that permits me to forgive myself, that keeps me strong.

I don’t know if my words do that for you. But I want them to.

If you’re struggling with something, I don’t have all the answers. But I do have empathy. I’m capable of praying for you (or with you). And I believe with every ounce of life that my/our prayers are heard and answered.

Don’t forget to listen. Never forget to listen. The answers are there. We also suck at listening.

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Today is also the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

You did not choose me, but I chose you… John 15:16a

St. Maximilian had a lifelong devotion to Mary. He wanted to start a radio station. Instead, he was captured by Nazis and died in a concentration camp.

He chose one thing. The Lord chose another.

Decades later, Mother Angelica spearheaded EWTN. How much more powerful and meaningful is the legacy of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe because of his experience and suffering at the hands of enemies of God than if he got what he chose?

I pick up my pen and tap on my computer to get these words out. Yes, I choose to write. I choose to press “Publish.” I can’t help but feel in some way the only reason I’m doing this is because He chose me. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just supposed to get you to think.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention 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 still not posting a meditation daily.

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I Could Tell You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

05/15/2015

Charlie: Excuse me, Lieutenant. Is there something wrong?

Maverick: Yes ma’am, the data on the MiG is inaccurate.

Charlie: How’s that, Lieutenant?

Maverick: Well, I just happened to see a MiG 28 do a…

Goose: We!

Maverick: Uh, sorry Goose. WE happened to see a MiG 28 do a 4g negative dive.

Charlie: Where did you see this?

Maverick: Uh, that’s classified.

Charlie: It’s what?

Maverick: It’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

  –  Top Gun, 1986

Top secret information. Shrouded in secrecy. It’s a line that’s been used in movies — and even sitcoms — for a long time. I don’t know where or how it originated.

That’s not the point.

Even if it isn’t true, it’s a great line.

Jesus said to his disciples “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

  –  John 16:12

Okay, so it’s not quite the same thing, but think about all that happened from the perspective of the Apostles and the other disciples.

“First this guy asks us to follow him around, drop everything we’re doing, leave our families, leave our jobs. He keeps promising us a kingdom. But the Romans aren’t going away. Their armies are so strong.

“But there’s something about him. We never go hungry. We don’t have enough money to feed ourselves, not to mention the hundreds or thousands that keep following us, no matter where we go. Yet we’re always satisfied. All of us!

“And he cures sick people! Where did he learn how to do that?

“He keeps referring to God as his father!

“Most of the leaders hate us. Why? What did we do? What did HE do? Yeah, he calls them out. But everything he does helps someone else. There’s not an unloving bone in his body…”

Then the hammer fell.

“Where is our kingdom? He says it’s ‘not of this world.’ That’s for sure! They’re going to kill him! If the rabbis don’t stone him to death, the Romans are going to kill him. Where’s our kingdom?

“What are we going to do now? We have nothing left. Nothing. No profession. No home. Will they kill us, too?”

And how would you react if a dead guy came back to talk to you? Kept talking about eating his body? And then as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared?

And within, like… a month, maybe a little longer, he goes from riding into town like the king that he says he is…

Gets beaten within an inch of his life…

Then carries his own cross…

Then dies a quick agonizing death…

You watch him die…

Then you see him — or someone who looks a lot like him — walking around, talking with you, claiming that he has risen from the dead…

And then after he hangs around with you for a while — when he feels like it — and disappears like an apparition — when he feels like it…

He floats away, like a bird, until you can’t see him any more…

“Now what do we do? Where’s our kingdom?

 

Jesus said to his disciples “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

  –  John 16:12

Maybe their heads would have exploded if He told them everything right away. So it’s not that He would have to kill them, the weight of the Truth would have.

After all.

They were only human.

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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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Done Your Spring Pruning Yet?

05/03/2015

At the fitness studio in Wilmette, we look out at the corner of 4th and Linden. Trees line the sidewalk and there’s a large area — almost like a planter — at the corner next to the stop sign.

About a month ago, one of my clients and I watched as the village maintenance guys gave the rose bushes in this planter a serious haircut. Trimmed way back! Looked like they left a bunch of sticks that we would look at all summer long.

Friday, same client and I marveled at the new growth on the bushes. They look great!

Kathy has a raspberry bush planted at the front of the house. It’s her pride and joy. Like the village maintenance guys, she trimmed the heck out of the plant.

Yesterday, we admired her handiwork. The raspberry bush is in bloom.

So, yesterday’s meditation considered how to know truth.

Remain in God’s word.

In today’s Second Reading (First Letter of John 3:18-24), the beloved disciple tells us

Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us. – 1 John 3:24

The Alleluia verse says

Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit. – Gospel of John 15:4a, 5b

And Jesus says in today’s Gospel

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” – John 15:1-8

Getting pruned sucks. (Can I say that in a meditation?)

But it’s necessary.

We get so wrapped up in this life. In minor disappointments. In personal grief. Relationship struggles and break ups.

In sin.

And then the pruning begins.

And it hurts.

But it’s necessary.

God has a plan for each of us. How often do we resist His plan for our life?

When the pruning starts, remember that we can’t bear fruit without it.

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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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“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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Are You Ready to Get Smacked Around?

04/24/2015

Why is Christianity true?

Without any doubt?

Not debatable?

Why, that’s simple! The Acts of the Apostles!

Have you ever known a coward? Someone who is all blather and no substance? Someone who enjoys riding another person’s coattails, enjoys the limelight, the spotlight, the spoils, but does none of the dirty work? Just gets in the way of the celebration?

Kind of like a wedding crasher.

Also kind of like the twelve disciples.

They each had their reasons. Many of which, no doubt, were well intentioned.

Today’s Easter weekday reading from the Acts of the Apostles retells the conversion of St. Paul (Acts 9:1-20). What further proof do you need?

More you say? Okay. How about Pentecost? Those timid hangers-on, afraid of their own shadow especially after Jesus is crucified, suddenly emerge from their cave and won’t shut up! They suddenly have no fear of being persecuted, tortured, even killed.

And that’s life here on Earth.

We can “go for the gusto.” (Gosh. Remember the old Schlitz commercial?) Live this earthly life with abandon. Be the person who accumulates the most toys before getting planted. Live for the moment. Cross stuff off the bucket list, no matter how…

adventurous…

Or we can live for eternal life.

A heckuvalot more challenging than it sounds.

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Today is also the feast day of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Franciscan Capuchin priest who was martyred for his unfailing Counter-Reformation preaching.

EWTN’s Mass included alternate readings for the day. The first reading was from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy. That reading concludes:

Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus can expect to be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12

So… that’s simple! Want to get to heaven? Live a godly life. Imitate Christ. But expect to be persecuted.

Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi preached to the Muslims? He attempted to convert them. “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you,” Francis said.

Are you ready? You may not just get smacked around. It could cost more.

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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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