Reflections on My Dad’s Example

05/17/2016

Norb Kwiecinski, my dad, knew how to make you feel completely comfortable.

Oh… he could make you squirm, too. Make no mistake! Don’t forget. He was also the toughest guy I ever knew.

And I may have provoked his “tough guy” side a time or two over the years…

But at his core, Dad’s enormously compassionate heart shone through.

Today, I took some time to reflect on Dad’s disarming, loving example. Please take some time to watch:

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In The Dark

03/08/2016

What do you do when you don’t know what to say?

Have you ever had to write a paper … maybe an article … a speech … and your mind went completely blank?

I’m blaming this sinus thingy.

Can I say “thingy” and retain my Man Card?

Go ahead. Tweet that!

Sometimes you need a scapegoat.

Go ahead. Tweet that!

I read today’s long readings. Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12, the response from Psalm 46, and the Gospel According to John 5:1-16.

I have a video to shoot. I have a blog post to write.

Nothing.

Here’s what I have to say when I don’t know what to say:

Here’s the extent of my thoughts on today’s readings:

  1. Hey! They changed the psalm response in the new lectionary! Huh… (It was “The mighty Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge,” but now it’s exactly Psalm 46:8: “The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.”)
  2. I’ve read this reading from Ezekiel several times at Mass, and I have absolutely nothing to say about it right now.
  3. The gospel is about the crippled man who cannot get anyone to help him into the pool of water. He wants to bathe in hopes of being cured. Jesus asks him if he wants to be well, then cures him. The “Jews,” as John refers to the scribes and Pharisees, are only interested in chastising the man for carrying his mat on the Sabbath and learning who cured him on the Sabbath. All I can think about is “how ridiculous.” Not deep thoughts.

It’s days like this that make me truly happy that I’m Catholic.

When I have difficulty expressing myself, clearing my head, collecting my thoughts, I can rely on repetitive prayers like the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and just pour myself out in groans or a sincere earnestness as I recite the prayers that have been so beautifully prepared and organized for me.

All I need to do is attempt to focus my attention on the Lord, on God, on Jesus, on asking Mary to intercede for me. That’s all.

That’s all I need to do.

The Lord sees into my heart. The Lord hears what’s in my mind. I can rely on Him, confidently, to get me through this.

When I can’t get myself to the cleansing pool, He knows what I desire. He knows what I need.

If I’m in earnest, I’ll get it.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Just Ask!

02/18/2016

What do the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen Esther, and Jesus have to do with asking?

Find out here:

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

 


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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The Cure for Insomnia. Guaranteed.

05/12/2015

Seems that every day, I hear someone talking about lack of sleep. Or a Facebook post: “Who else is up?” Another: “Why am I still up at 3:30?”

These people can’t fall asleep. They have “tried everything.” Nothing seems to work.

But…

They haven’t tried everything.

I have the solution!

It works every single time it’s tried.

Guaranteed or your money back.

No ups. No extras.

You don’t need sleep aids or pills. You don’t need chamomile tea or warm milk with butter and honey before beddy-bye, although these are fun and dee-lish!

NOTE: My solution is not intended to replace medical advice. If your doctor has prescribed medication for you, or if you are being otherwise treated for a specific medical condition, do not disregard his/her advice!  If you have any doubts or questions, consult your physician.

But… I’d still suggest you ask them if you should try my advice.

Are you ready for my guaranteed, no-fail cure for insomnia?

Have you read my disclaimer? Do you understand it?

Okay.

Ready?

Here goes…

Want to sleep this soundly?

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Try this…

Repetitive prayer.

That’s it?

That’s it.

It works.

Every single time you try it.

And just for kicks, let’s say it doesn’t work. What’s the worst that’s happened? You’ve constructively used time that you would have otherwise spent in misery.

But it won’t happen.

You will fall asleep.

Structured prayer works best.

Try a Rosary. Or a Divine Mercy Chaplet.

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It will work.

Focus on a particular need. Best if you focus on someone other than yourself. Lose yourself in thoughts of a friend, a co-worker, a loved one…

Someone who is ill. Someone who has experienced a death in the family. A caregiver who doesn’t get relief. Someone enduring a trying time.

What if I don’t know how to pray? What if I don’t know a structured prayer?

Being Catholic certainly has its advantages. The Holy Rosary is a staple in our spiritual diet. Besides the Divine Mercy Chaplet, there are various other chaplets. If you have a favorite, by all means, use it! It will work.

But let’s say you are unfamiliar with prayer.

The Rosary consists of five decades (ten prayers) of the Hail Mary, along with introductory and closing prayers and a meditation for each decade.

Don’t know how to pray the Rosary?

Start here:

Say the Hail Mary.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

Think about the person or situation you are praying for as you pray.

Say it ten times. Or don’t count. Just continue to pray it.

Focus on the intention of your prayers.

How much good have you done?

And as you drift off to sleep, you are lifting up good intentions to God.

One more thing.

Don’t doubt me until you’ve tried 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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Man, Do We Harbor a Lot of Darkness….

04/23/2015

Well… I sure didn’t expect this…

All I wanted to do was learn one thing about linking the “Catholic tradition” of the Eucharist to Thursdays.

And instead, I stumbled upon the following blog, Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts, and the following blog post, “The Luminous Mysteries and Why You Should Dump Them.”

Today’s Gospel is John 6:44-51. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, “the living bread that came down from heaven.”

Since I’ve started praying the Rosary with consistency and vigor, I’ve also adopted the pattern of praying the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday and Wednesday, the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.

Pope St. John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, or Mysteries of Light, in October 2002. At the time, I was not totally engaged as a Catholic. Yes, I practiced, assisted as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Communion (also a heinous act, I learned this morning), and led some faith formation small groups, but we were too busy raising kids and figuring out life. I don’t even remember the Pope officially introducing the Luminous Mysteries. And I don’t even remember him proclaiming a “Year of the Rosary.”

But he did. He messed with the long-standing tradition of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, also known as the Marian Psalter or Mary’s Psalter (15 mysteries of the Rosary, 10 Hail Marys per mystery, 150 total Hail Marys in the “complete” Rosary compared to 150 Psalms in the Holy Bible). Apparently, this caused enormous angst among Catholics who embrace a rigid traditionalism (and maybe I should capitalize it as Traditionalism).

I had no idea.

Until this morning.

I innocently wanted to make the point about how devotion to the Fifth Luminous Mystery has deepened my faith and devotion to the Eucharist, an idea that I want to develop further at some point in my life (hold me to it, please… somebody remind me).

Instead, I learned why I should never have been praying that mystery or any of the other Luminous Mysteries.

At least according to some.

And the blog post referenced above was particularly direct in telling me why (1) I should dump the Luminous Mysteries because the Pope really didn’t have the authority to add them, (2) the Pope was really inferring that the Rosary as Mary originally gave it to us wasn’t any good any more, (3) adding Mysteries that meditate on Jesus’ life make nonsense of the “rhythm of the prayers,” (4) Heaven certainly did not approve of 20 Mysteries that the conclusion found in a book out there titled “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong” (had I only known…), (5) the Pope was arrogant for seeking to change Mary’s devotion, (6) all popes since 1958 (who are really not “popes” at all) were and are all puppets of Freemasonry AND John Paul II was “a manifest heretic,” (7) oh! And that John Paul II was grand standing the Mother of God by introducing the Luminous Mysteries, and (8) Pope John Paul II really should have just brought back the Latin Mass if he was really interested in giving ‘people of the 80s and 90s true appreciation of the faith.’

O———kay.

I couldn’t let it go. I had to respond when the author of the blog (Jeff) paraphrased the scripture passage, asking a commenter about giving (your child) a stone when they ask for a piece of bread. My comment — on the blog site — is still awaiting moderation. Since I don’t know if it will be published or discarded, I reproduce it here.

I am not a Catholic scholar. I am far from sainthood. I can’t go a few minutes without sinning. I certainly don’t know the history and tradition of the Rosary like many of you who have commented.

But I gotta tell ya… this “debate” in the comments troubles me greatly. Saint John Paul is a modernist? There’s some tie to Freemasonry? We don’t have a real Pope?

Jeff, I wanted to respond directly to your reply to Adelina (September 1, 2014). You are right to point out that Christ is unchanging. I think I have sufficient faith and understanding to say that with absolute certainty! WE (my caps) are the changelings. WE are the flawed, the sinful, the imperfect. God only made one of us perfect. So… we as Church, we as Catholics must interact — flawed entities that we are — with the rest of the 6 billion or so flawed souls out there.

And we do our best.

Jeff, you asked:

“If someone is hungry and asks you for food, do you give them bread, or do you give them a stone?”

I happened upon the (apparently heretical) EWTN about five years ago. I knew EWTN was on the air years before that day. I just never paid any attention.

But something caught my attention that day and renewed my sense of Catholic purpose.

Since then, I have been devoted to study of Scripture, specifically Liturgy, and to praying the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.

Never once have I ever — EVER!! — considered that viewing or listening to EWTN or praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary have done anything less than nourish my faith and devotion. More specifically, my faith in God and Jesus Christ and my devotion to my Lord and Savior, to His Blessed Virgin Mother, and to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I would consider that “bread.”

I have to admit that your referencing that particular scripture made my head spin.

The Luminous Mysteries a “stone?”

How in the name of God, in the name of Christ, in the name of Mary, in the entire tradition of the Holy Catholic Church does this detract from devotion to Almighty God?

I’ve said more than I intended already.

Just one more thing. If any of us think that we have the one set of answers, that WE can interpret the unchanging Christ and the EXACT MESSAGE that He gave us, we’re replacing Him as God. We are setting ourselves up as our own gods. (Small ‘g’ for all the traditionalists.)

I welcome discussion.

And I do welcome discussion on any of this. Here or on the original blog. All of this simultaneously fascinates and depresses the hell out of me.

(Oops… can I say “hell” and still consider myself a ‘good Catholic?’)

How’s THAT for a daily meditation?

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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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