Embrace Suffering

03/24/2016

Think about Jesus as He was going to Calvary.

Think of the different accounts of people saying “he’s not going to make it to the cross, he’s going to die before that,” so they had to have Simon of Cyrene help Him carry the cross…

The lashings… the beatings were so severe…

But Jesus made it to Calvary.

Then… He died. And the soldier’s couldn’t believe He was dead so quickly.

So… seemingly contradictory, right?

But what does it mean?

God’s Divine Love carried His Son through His suffering.

Or… the Divine Love of the Holy Spirit… or Divine Will of the Holy Spirit…

carried Him through to complete His suffering…

so He could complete what He was destined to do…

and once He had accomplished it, He died.

That quickly.

The Divine’s Love escorted the human Jesus through the beatings…

through the torture…

through the suffering…

through the carrying of the cross…

all the way to Calvary…

so He could die when and where He was supposed to die.

Will we embrace our suffering? Will we wrap ourselves in that suffering?

When people say:

“I can’t believe that she stays with her husband!”

“How does she handle the chemo and radiation with such grace?”

“I can’t believe he has the patience to stay with her!”

“I can never imagine losing a child…”

“I can’t believe that she still dotes over her parents so much… the laundry, the bills, the housekeeping… where does she find the energy?”

“Look at what he does for his mother. He changes his mother’s diaper!”

And looking from afar, what should our response be for those people?

Compassion.

Like the women on the way to Calvary when Jesus carried His cross. The women who wept for Him. Veronica, who took the time to wipe the sweat and blood and mud from Jesus’ face.

That’s how we can participate in their suffering. And pray for them.

Say a Rosary. Or a Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

That’s the meaning of it all.

That’s how we can embrace the suffering of Jesus.

That’s one way that we can show mercy for our neighbor. Try to bear their burden, either practically or if that’s not an option, at least symbolically.

Or if we’re living that suffering, to embrace it the best way we can. To ask Jesus… to ask Mary to help us embrace it.

We’re probably going to suffer.

Will we turn it into a redemptive act? Or will we refuse to bear it?

————————–

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.


Why I Posted a Video a Day for Lent

03/23/2016

Today is the last full day of Lent. Tomorrow evening, Holy Thursday, at the evening Mass, Lent officially ends and we begin the Triduum, the three days that unfold the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

We’ve walked through Lent together. Thanks for enduring this daily video series. The genesis for this excursion began — unknowingly — in January 2014.

It may have been a few months before that, when Dad’s health really began to decline. But the decision that he made to endure life-changing surgery touched my life more than I could have ever anticipated.

We had no idea what he would endure.

What he would suffer.

What Mom would endure. What she would suffer.

What we would endure. What we would suffer.

Not that he needed it, but Dad had the blessing and support of Mom, Karen, Stephanie, me, and our families. We were there for him, for Mom, for each other.

Dad had the freedom to say no. He didn’t. He wasn’t ready to let his heart fail and give up the chance for a few better years or months.

None of us knew.

We had the freedom to say no. But how could we? Dad… always so full of life. The past six to twelve months had been rough.

His heart wasn’t pumping the way it needed. The left ventricle had grown too weak to squeeze the blood into the aorta. He had heart failure. His body retained fluid. We could see it. Just looking at him. Seeing him move slower and slower.

Then, during another stay in the hospital, Dad was presented with a life-saving option.

How could any of us say no if Dad said yes?

Walking with Dad as he lie nearly motionless for days on end, no signs of improvement imminent. Five times when we were sure he was going to die and we’d never talk to him again.

Hearing no words of comfort from his doctors, nurses, surgeons. They wouldn’t even utter the word “hopeful.” I’ll never forget it.

Watching Mom keep vigil. Seeing her hurt. Feeling her love for him. Feeling her sorrow. Feeling her numbness.

My entire concept of life and what the hell is really important and what it all comes down to in the end changed forever.

Yes, I had experienced the death of a loved one. Even the unexpected death of a loved one. Never my parent. This, however, made all previous experiences pale in comparison.

It was the worst time of my life.

And I never want to forget it.

It changed the way I prayed. It changed the way I approached my day, my family, my work.

I’m still the same ol’ cranky, obsessive compulsive, intense, sarcastic, prideful son of a buck that I’ve always been.

I ain’t no holy roller and I don’t mean to come across as one. I’m just a guy trying to figure it out, one step at a time.

I’ve been blessed with such a variety of experiences in my life. I’ve been blessed to get away with making so many mistakes… more than I can possibly remember… and having the opportunity to ask God for forgiveness.

And I wanted to, in some meager way, start to share my thoughts.

What better time than Lent?

What better way than video? The real me. All the blemishes.

This isn’t the end, this end of Lent.

This is just the beginning. God willing.

————————–

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.


Can Slaving Over the Cat Boxes Save Me From Purgatory?

03/22/2016

All I did was express a simple hope. And you scoffed at me.

All I did was jokingly suggest that my cat box penance might help me out in Purgatory.

And then we got into this huge discussion about the existence of Purgatory and hell isn’t real and this concept of the devil is so Middle Ages… and Original Sin? That’s some Catholic concoction; get real.

Okay, okay… believe what you want. But if you think Purgatory is a crock and hell and the devil are primitive concepts with no basis in reality and Original Sin is part of that whole Mary obsession that Catholics invented, then we better keep talking after Lent.

Which technically ends tomorrow, by the way. But never fear, you’re going to keep hearing from me daily until Easter.

The Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

We’ll have a ton to discuss about Divine Mercy beginning this Friday, Good Friday, which is the first day of the nine-day Divine Mercy Novena.

Until then, you’ll have to watch the video to get the full gist of today’s message.

It’s Tax Season. Did I mention?

Yes, still a recovering CPA.

And writer.

And personal fitness trainer.

And cat lover. Trapped in a dog lover’s body.

————————–

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.


Is It Okay To Sin?

03/21/2016

Do you suppose Jesus was surprised that Judas was stealing from the treasury?

Or do you think He knew it all along?

I’m pretty sure He knew.

So… let’s say Jesus did know. Why didn’t he stop Judas from stealing? Isn’t that one of the profound mysteries of our life?

Of all our lives?

Does Jesus know that you sin? Or are you doing a better job of hiding it from Him?

Why doesn’t He prevent you from doing it?

Same profound mystery.

God gave each of us free will. Along with Original Sin.

Oh, great… so He punishes us by making us sinful.

No. He gave us freedom of choice. Freedom to choose right or wrong. So we control our own eternal destiny.

But wait. If we’re born with Original Sin, aren’t we doomed to hell right off the bat?

Again, no. Because we are free to choose right from wrong.

Original Sin means we have the propensity to sin.

Original Sin means we are not perfect.

Only our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Original Sin means we are likely to suffer at the hands of other human beings or some other force of nature.

Original Sin means we are subject to the risks of the Earth.

Original Sin means we need to be perfected.

Original Sin means we have choices to make which will either draw us closer to God and heaven or separate us farther from Him.

Bottom line: Jesus knows that we sin. And he accepts that. Because we are human.

That doesn’t mean our sins are acceptable.

But it does make us eligible to receive God’s endless mercy.

And that’s what our journey through life, this profound mystery that’s unique to each person, teaches us.

We continue toward Calvary. Happy Monday of Holy Week.

————————–

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.


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

03/19/2016

I take a ton of comfort knowing St. Joseph was a stepfather, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I measure up in any way, shape, or form. But I do look to him as an example.

Today, March 19, is the Feast of St. Joseph. It’s a Solemnity in the Catholic Church. As a day of solemnity, we’re excused from our Lenten observances so we can celebrate him.

Here’s what I have to say about the feast and the life of St. Joseph.

 

————————–

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.


Who Was the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved?

03/17/2016

If you spent a few years with Mary, the mother of God, would your life be any different?

Kind of a crazy question, right?

Of course you would be different!

So was John, author of the fourth Gospel and other New Testament writings, and the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment.

Here are some thoughts about it:

 

————————–

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.


Stay in the Present

03/16/2016

If you continue to dwell on a past failure, what are you going to miss?

That’s right! The here and now!

And who wants you in the here and now?

Perhaps the omnipresent Lord, Jesus Christ?

And who wants you out of the here and now?

Perhaps the evil one, Satan, who wants you to have nothing to do with Jesus?

I heard an excellent confession story today, told by Johnnette Benkovic on the EWTN Radio program, Women of Grace. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

 

Satan’s helpers treat you like a volleyball, batting you back and forth between the past and the future. All to keep you out of the present.

And away from the omnipresent Lord, Jesus.

The Catholic Church requires us to go to confession at least once a year. That’s all.

That’s all I did in the last year, despite my “good intentions” to go more frequently.

Theoretically, we can go to confession as often as we can receive Holy Communion. Daily.

Once a year is far from daily.

As Father Patrick told me yesterday, not going to confession keeps me battling with myself.

Go to confession.

And do it more frequently than once a year.

I need to add it to my calendar.

You, too.

————————–

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.


“I Forgive You”

03/15/2016

Tonight is our Parish Reconciliation Service. I guess it’s good to get together as a community to pray for forgiveness of our sins. But I’ve gotta tell you… there’s nothing better than what follows the communal service.

As painful as it is to personally confess your sins to a priest — either face to face or behind a screen in a darkened confessional — with words that pour out of your own mouth, admitting your failings and shortcomings, acknowledging them out loud (well… okay, in a whispered hush, but nonetheless audible)…

the joy that washes over you when you realize that your sins are wiped away, your soul is clean, when Jesus says

“I forgive you…”

… that joy is truly indescribable.

Recognize confession for what it is. It’s not a psychoanalysis session. It’s not supposed to be a litany of your shortcomings, said for the purpose of making you feel bad or horrible or evil. It’s not a public flogging.

Confession, or penance, or reconciliation — whatever you want to call it — is an chance to say

“I’ve failed. And I’m sorry.”

It’s an opportunity to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you. It’s a one-on-one encounter with Jesus, through His Earthly representative, much the same as Holy Communion is a one-on-one encounter with Him.

Here’s what Pope Paul VI in 1968 said about confession.

“Let us examine the way in which we confess our sins, not in order to be over scrupulous in analyzing our faults, but in order to recognize the greatness of man on his knees before God.

“… In this way, God’s mercy… will… blow over us like a beneficial breeze, alleviating our sorrows.” (Ash Wednesday message, 1968)

God’s mercy!

When you think about the Creator of the Universe living just like you live, feeling the same human emotions, the same impulses, the same thoughts, what thoughts go through your head?

Can you contemplate it? Do you?

Why don’t you?

Go ahead.

If the Creator of the Universe, if the God who knew you before you were conceived, knows how easy it is to sin, don’t you think He can show you mercy? Don’t you think He can forgive you?

No matter what?

Hear what I have to say about the most joyous confession I ever experienced:

I hadn’t been to confession in years. I was harboring an “unforgivable sin.”

I couldn’t bring myself to face Christ — in the person of the priest. I was ashamed. I knew I could never get the words out of my mouth.

It was a period of great introspection. I searched my soul for answers that I couldn’t find. I was sad. I knew God loved me. I knew God forgave me.

But I also knew He expected me to use the Sacrament of Confession, too. To humbly and contritely acknowledge my failing.

I guess most importantly, I knew in my heart of hearts that not confessing my sins was ultimately separating me from God.

And it was my choice.

God gives us the tools and the resources. He gives us the freedom to make choices. He gives us the free will to do what’s right or wrong.

And He knows we will screw up.

We’re human. Just as He was in the person of Jesus. Just as He still is in the person of Jesus Christ present in every tabernacle in every sort of Catholic Church… in every church that carries on the ancient tradition of offertory and consecration and distribution of Holy Eucharist.

Only now His body is glorified. It’s been cleansed of its humanness.

But He knows our human shortcomings. He experienced them, too. Without sinning.

We sin. We are born with original sin. We’re not born with a divine nature. We’re born in the divine image, but we’re born with the capacity to sin.

I reflect on these things now. They were not part of my consciousness when I made this confession. At the time, my anxiety level overwhelmed me. Often.

It was at a Parish Reconciliation Service. I can’t recall whether it was Advent or Lent. All I know is I finally made it to one.

Then came time for individual confessions for those who wished to make one.

I wasn’t going to do it. I was afraid. Thanks to God, I overcame my fear and stepped into a line.

When it was my turn, I poured my heart out to the priest, my confessor. I barely made eye contact.

I finished and waited for my penance. Father absolved me of my sins. I looked at him. His eyes pierced my soul. He smiled and said something. I don’t remember what.

But I knew I was forgiven. The weight of a thousand chains was gone!

It was almost like his eyes said “You’re done! You’re free! Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? I’m so happy to forgive you. I’ve been waiting for you so long. And now, it’s over. You did it. Thank you.”

Go to confession.

Remember what Pope Paul VI said. Don’t be OCD about categorizing and listing your sins. Instead, consider how you approach your sins, how you approach Jesus through the priest, and how remorseful you are.

Don’t get me wrong. Don’t gloss over an examination of conscience! Be thorough! Just make sure you examine patterns. Your major failings. Why you do what you do. How you can avoid repeating the patterns and failings.

You’re going to sin again.

We all do.

Don’t beat yourself up. Resolve to persevere.

None of us are perfect until our heavenly Father perfects us. In heaven.

 

The Act of Contrition I’ve said since I made my First Confession and First Holy Communion in 1965:

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. And I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment. But most of all, because they have offended Thee, my God, who art so good and so deserving of all my love, I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

————————–

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.


Another Sex Scandal

03/14/2016

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Despite the “sexual revolution” we’ve experienced in the past fifty or sixty years, we’re really no different than we were thousands of years ago.

We obsess over sex. We want what we can’t have. And when we’re caught with our figurative (or literal) pants down…

*******   don’t jump all over me, grammar police  *******

… we lie.

We compound the problem.

We compound our sin.

 

The two guys in the reading from Daniel really get their pants in a knot today.

Susanna is accused by two elders. They were lying. They sought to have her put to death for not having sex with them. The people believed them. They were elders. They were respected. Daniel didn’t. Somehow, he saw through their false testimony. The men perjured themselves when Daniel cross-examined them.

The result was their death, not Susanna’s.

So what do we do with this?

Hear my case for confessing sins to a priest:

Correction (times two):
Okay, I apparently cannot speak coherently today. Correction #1: We are in the season of Lent. We are getting closer to Easter. And… Correction #2: I was speaking about going to confession and then referred to your parish’s Communion Service when I meant to say Penance (or Confession) Service. A thousand pardons.

 

There is no better feeling than the forgiveness you experience after confessing your sins. Getting the words out of your mouth. To another human being. And knowing you have been forgiven.

There is no greater freedom.

Is your parish conducting a Communal Penance Service?

GO!

Try it. You’ll like it.

Not kidding.

Try it once. Then tell me about your experience.

Try it.

 

————————–

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.


Confession and the Future

03/13/2016

The adulterous woman gets a pardon. Jesus points her to the future and doesn’t want her to dwell in the past. He also demands deeds of mercy from her accusers. Do you confess your sins? Do it! There is an incredible wave of freedom that washes over you. Try it. You’ll like it.

I’m not kidding. And I don’t say it lightly.

 

 

Jesus promised Saint Faustina that even the greatest sinner had hope of redemption if they would only confess their sins and ask the Lord for mercy.

Just ask.

 

————————–

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.


%d bloggers like this: