Tradition!

03/02/2016

What’s your favorite family tradition?

If you prefer to watch and listen to a slightly different version of this message, here’s a link:

We’ve had so many fun and touching family traditions. I’m blessed beyond belief to still be able to share holidays with Mom and Dad. We go to their house for the annual Fourth of July family bash. Thanksgiving dinner is Mom’s signature day. She still does almost all the cooking and most of the work. She is so in her element.

Growing up, we spent Christmases together with my grandparents, Christmas Eve at Babcia and Dziadzia Kwiecinski’s house and Christmas Day at Babcia and Dziadzia Konieczka’s house.

Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas tradition was and still is sharing oplatki. Oplatki is a flat wafer, resembling Communion wafer, although the texture and taste of oplatki is more like the wafer that those flying saucer candies came in.

Remember those?

Anyway, our oplatki tradition was — and still is — just before the meal, each of us takes a large piece of the wafer. Then we go around the room, breaking off a small piece of oplatki  and offering a handshake, a hug, a kiss, or any combination thereof with each other. It’s crowded. It can get a little raucous, but it is a deliberate exchange of love and good wishes with those we love.

I look forward to that as much as anything else every year. It’s so special to me.

Today’s two readings for the Catholic Mass focus on the commandments and expectations that God has for each of our lives.

Moses instructs the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9) about the statutes and decrees that the Lord commanded him to teach them. Keeping the commandments was one means to demonstrate to other nations that they were a “wise and intelligent people.”

And Jesus tells His disciples (Matthew 5:17-19) that He has not come “to abolish the law or the prophets… but to fulfill.”

But what strikes me today is that both Jesus and Moses emphasize tradition.

The first reading particularly speaks to this. The reading from Deuteronomy closes with Moses saying:

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”  –  Deuteronomy 4:9

Moses is talking about the traditions of the Israelites. Sharing the stories of their time in Egypt and their time in the desert. I’d argue that this could include all the traditions of the Old Testament, although this is not what Moses says.

The Catholic Church is rich in tradition. It is truly the Christian tradition. Our traditions separated and segmented thousands of years after Moses, but the traditions of the Bible are ours.

I couldn’t help but think of the passionate song from Fiddler on the Roof when I read and listened to Moses.

Tradition!

We share a rich and glorious Judeo-Christian history and tradition. The commandments of God are woven into these traditions. The extension of Jesus’ command that the Ten Commandments are merely the baseline of how we’re to behave as Christians in order to gain entrance to Heaven.

Remember when I mentioned Purgatory yesterday?

Let’s consider that for just a second and consider what Jesus told the disciples.

Matthew’s Gospel, just after today’s Gospel passage, says:

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill…'”  –  Matthew 5:21

“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”  –  Matthew 5:22

and later,

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'”  –  Matthew 5:27

“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  –  Matthew 5:28

So… if every time I have looked cross-eyed at a pretty girl, I’ve committed adultery, if every time I’ve become angry with someone, I have essentially committed murder, my soul will require a whole lot of cleansing.

How long will I endure Purgatory when I die? If I’m not clean, if I’m not perfect, I cannot enter Heaven.

How am I cleansed? What will it take?

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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.

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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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The “Big Bang” and the Vast Universe

10/27/2015

Scientists and philosophers throughout the ages of recorded human history have debated the questions:

  • “How did the universe come to be formed?”
  • “Was there a beginning?”
  • “Will there be an end?”
  • “Is the universe spherical or flat?”
  • “Was The Big Bang really a BANG?”
  • “Is The Big Bang Theory at odds with Creationism?”

No way am I going to get into a discussion about all of that today, but maybe some day. Today, let’s consider the formation of the Universe and the Kingdom of God. And let’s stick with the basic essentials.

NASA has their own, scientifically dense, explanation of The Big Bang.

A site called (what else?) Big Bang Theory has a more layman-friendly discussion. They even pose the question about the existence of God and how that theological discussion integrates into the purely scientific theory.

The scientific theory rattles the mind. It can be confusing. It tends to overwhelm us in its complexity. Or its implications.

But does it have to?

Must we be confused and overwhelmed by the concepts?

Let’s consider one fact, mind-blowing though it is, about the universe.

We’re told the universe sprang into existence at a single moment in time. We’re told that at the beginning, the matter (particles, etc.) that make up everything we know was “infinitesimally small” and “infinitely hot.”

We’re told that the universe expanded and cooled to what we know today and that it is currently expanding every second with no signs of that expansion slowing.

Digest that for a moment.

The universe sprang forth from something very, very small.

–   And it is expanding.   –

2012-09-15_06-37-25_922

Did Jesus tell us this?

Today’s Gospel (Luke 13:18-21) gives us a clue.

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”

Pretty cool, huh?


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 daily.

This is where Kit Kat is buried. R.I.P. little buddy.


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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Elijah’s Journey is Our Journey

08/10/2015

Reflections on the Readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • 1 Kings 19:4-8
  • Ephesians 4:30-5:2
  • John 6:41-51

Elijah was pissed. Or maybe depressed. Maybe a little of both.

He does what the Lord tells him to do. At God’s command, he proclaims a drought to put an end to the worship of Baal, the god of rain. He slaughters 450 prophets of Baal at the Lord’s command.

And Queen Jezebel promises to kill him for his actions.

So Elijah pleads for God to end his life.

How does God answer Elijah? He tells him “you need to make a 40-day journey.”

Nice.

God gave him the strength he needed. Whether Elijah wanted it or not!

Jesus provides nourishment for our journey, too.

God provided Elijah a meal for a journey of 40 days. All it was was a hearth cake and water.

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

How much more do we get! We receive the body and blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ Himself!

And all God asks of us is that His eternal meal nourish us for seven short days.

And if we want and are able and so choose, we can go back tomorrow. To be nourished again.

What a privilege to be chosen — and to choose — to be a Catholic.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Have faith. Please! Is it too formal to say “I urge you?” Okay, I’m begging you. Have faith!

Have faith that this is true. That what Jesus Christ taught is true. That He is the Bread of Life. That we can receive Him every day in the Holy Eucharist.

And that His presence within you will strengthen you for your journey.

What questions do you have? What don’t you believe? What prevents you from accepting that the bread we eat is truly the Body of Christ, His real body? How can I help you?

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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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Excerpts from the Holy Bible taken from the Lectionary for Mass and the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal, published by Catholic Book Publishing Company. I also refer to the notes at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, usccb.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bruce Jenner, Transgenderism, Caitlyn Jenner, Transsexualism, and Monsanto

06/02/2015

Bruce Jenner has decided that he’s not a man, he’s a woman.

Definition Transgender: Of, relating to, or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender

His name isn’t Bruce any more. His Her name is Caitlyn, not Bruce.

Definition Transgenderism: A state or condition in which a person’s identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional ideas of male or female gender.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/transgenderism

Italics in the above definition are mine for emphasis.

Definition Transsexual: A person who tries to look, dress, and act like a member of the opposite sex; especially someone who medically changes himself or herself into a member of the opposite sex.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transsexual

Definition Transsexual: A person who has undergone treatment in order to acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/transsexual

Italics in the above Oxford definition are mine for emphasis.

God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.  –  Genesis 1:27

Man didn’t create man. God created man. Man cannot be God, nor play God.

God created mankind in His image.

Who created whom?

Male and female He created them.

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This is not as random as you might first think.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a post from someone wishing to put Monsanto out of business because they have done the unthinkable and genetically modified food.

God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.

God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”

God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened.  –  Genesis 1:25, 28-30

So let’s not play games with our food, with that over which God has given mankind “dominion.” But when it comes to that which God has created in God’s image… it’s okay to tinker with that.

And we all need to accept it.

Okay. Sure.

The end.

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  –  Mark 12:13-14a

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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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Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

05/29/2015

“I WANT IT!”

How many times have you been in a store and heard something like that? Probably a bratty little kid being coddled by Mommy or Daddy.

And we get annoyed.

And we know the little brat is going to get their way. Right?

Never stop asking. Never stop believing. Be persistent.

Well, somebody a lot cooler than us once said

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  –  Matthew 7:7

… so maybe the little brat is onto something.

We frequent the United Center on Chicago’s west side for a Blackhawks game or two every… now and then… and there are usually a handful of people lining the sidewalks asking for money, jingling some coins in a plastic cup, arm outstretched, maybe not asking but implying. Some of these folks appear needier than others.

But they all persist. They are not deterred by those who walk by without filling the cup.

A miserable beggar annoyed a lot of people who followed Jesus, too.

Bartimaeus, who we’re told was blind, sat by the roadside begging (Mark 10:46) as Jesus left Jericho. Many in the crowd told him to shut up. He was as annoying as the little brat squawking at Mommy in the grocery cart.

But the guy who is a lot cooler under duress than we are wasn’t perturbed by the whiny blind dude.

Jesus stopped and said “Call him.” – Mark 10:49a

Oh my God! He’s going to try to rationalize with the little brat!

Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” – Mark 10:51a

I knew it. These brats always get what they want.

The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” – Mark 10:51b

Persistence.

Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. – Mark 10:52

What do these little brats know that we don’t?

Probably nothing.

They’re just not afraid to ask.

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Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday, May 28, 2015

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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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