Dad’s New Wineskins

07/07/2018

“People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:17, from today’s gospel.

Every time I hear or read this Gospel, I think of my wonderful dad. His blood vessels and veins had undoubtedly weakened from years of inadequate blood flow, as surely happens to all people whose heart can no longer efficiently pump blood.

In my humble opinion, his vessels couldn’t handle the new flow of blood. Their elasticity was compromised from years of “drought.”

The LVAD

    – New Lease on Life

    – New Medical Issues

When the LVAD created a firehose effect — much greater pressure on inelastic tissues — the vessels weren’t quite capable of handling the new demand.

New Wine. Old Wineskins.

That’s why he needed frequent (almost monthly) blood transfusions. I ain’t no doctor. But years of reflecting and studying this stuff bring me to this intuitive conclusion.

Anyway… That’s the Readers Digest version.

God, I miss him!

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When is the Right Time?

07/02/2018

 

 

The imminent commencement of my SEVENTH (!!) decade shifted my philosophizing into overdrive and made me a tad more motivated.

I’ve got three things for you today.

Depravity

Many of us who live in the 21st Century seem to think we’ve evolved, that we’re so much wiser than our predecessors in past centuries. Certainly since the founding of our country!

The reality is,

there ain’t nothin’ new under the sun

and

those who lived seven and a half centuries before the birth of Christ were just as depraved as the “enlightened” 21st Century sophisticates.

A Warning

According to the prophet Amos, God took note of the depravity of the Israelites living at the time.

Amos warned them of their fate.

Psalm 50 has ominous reminders for

“… you who never think of God.”   –   Psalm 50:22a

Decision in the Midst of Excuses

Jesus has tough words for those who say they want to follow Him today. When’s the right time to do what you’ve been called to do?

When are you going to do it? What’s it going to take?

For me, time’s running short. It is for all of us. Some will have more than others.

What are you waiting for?

Watch the Video

It’s all explained right here…


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.


Forgive and DON’T Forget!

03/01/2016

Revenge is so, so sweet, isn’t it?

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

I remember… Freshman year in college, Steve gave Jane and Jeannette access to our room in Gardner Hall. Room 307. The girls sewed the fly on our underwear shut and sprinkled crackers in our dresser drawers.

It took a little sleuthing to figure it all out, who did the deed, how they got in our room, but Bruce and I got to the bottom of it.

And… we got our revenge all right!

We stole a couple of whole pies from Baxter Hall (the cafeteria) and decorated Steve’s car.

Ohhhhh…. we had the last laugh, didn’t we?

Oh, sure, it was a tame prank on both sides. No big deal. No harm done. Just a little college prank.

Only, to do it, we had to steal. And then we had to inflict damage on someone’s property.

It was a silly prank. It was a silly revenge. Nobody got hurt. We exchanged many laughs about it over the years.

Thank God.

Often, revenge is about a lot more serious matters. I’ve been party to or had knowledge about some of those, too.

Year of Mercy

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35), Peter asks Jesus if we have to forgive someone seven times. What does Jesus say about that?

We have to forgive someone seventy-seven times!

That’s a lot of forgiving.

But that’s what we’re called to do.

It ain’t easy!

After telling Peter to forgive his brother 77 times, he tells the parable of the king who forgave the enormous debt of one of his officials.

The official begged for mercy. The king is moved with compassion and forgives the debt.

But not soon after, the king learns that the same official — after the king had shown him great mercy — confronts a servant who owed him a small amount, chokes the guy, demands his money, and has him thrown in prison.

What do you think the king does?

He punishes the official. And now he says “pay me what you owe me.”

Jesus says that His Heavenly Father will do the same to us unless we forgive from the heart.

Forgive and Don’t Forget!

Heard a little of Father Paul Scalia’s homily from the funeral of his father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Father Paul reminded us that his dad still required our prayers. He wasn’t a saint yet! A bleak reminder that we’re all subject to Purgatory, which the Catholic Church teaches as referenced in the Book of Revelation.

If someone wrongs us, can’t we offer up our forgiveness and the pain it caused us as intercession for the souls in Purgatory? How about offering it up for the deceased members of our family? How about offering it up for the person who wronged us?

If we canonize our deceased relatives too soon, we forfeit an opportunity to pray for forgiveness of their sins. We fail to show them mercy.

It’s all a mystery. But so is Original Sin. It’s the imperfection of our human body, our human mind, our imperfect soul. We need to be perfected.

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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.

 


If Your Brother Was Going to Kill You…

02/28/2016

My take on the brothers treating Joseph with such hatred and the tenant farmers who killed even the vineyard owner’s son. How much mercy could I muster?

Here’s the video:

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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.


The only thing you can control

02/16/2016

What is the one thing over which you have complete control?

There is only one thing.

You can’t control what others think. You can’t control what others do. You can’t control how others treat you. You can’t control what others say. You can’t control what happens to you. You can’t even control your thoughts!

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:7-15), Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray and then has instructions for them on forgiveness.

Who do you need to forgive?

Here are my thoughts on the Gospel and on control.

And maybe a word or two about eating a good breakfast.

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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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