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?

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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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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.

20140827_152814

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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God, Do You Really Understand?

05/05/2015

One of our friends — a rabid Blackhawks fan — had open heart surgery several weeks ago and started cardiac rehab.

Boom!

Out of the blue, he got seriously ill last week. It has been touch and go.

His girlfriend, Laura, has been keeping that agonizing vigil at his hospital bedside.

After Bill was hospitalized, Laura’s mom broke her hip. Her mom has been in ICU in a different hospital.

Laura had a painful knee injury not too long ago and has been convalescing.

Now she is the caregiver.

And being pulled in different directions.

Life has a way of getting in the way of our peace and happiness.

Just ask St. Paul and St. Barnabas and the other disciples who were sharing the Good News in Lystra.

… some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. – Acts 14:19

That was the thanks Paul got for sharing the Good News.

Jesus tells the disciples in today’s Gospel

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27

Peace? God, how can we be at peace with all of the turmoil in our lives?

We can’t do it alone. We need our friends, definitely. But even they are not enough. In the dark emptiness of our most troubled thoughts, where our friends can’t go, we need more.

Life is not lived without suffering.

God sent an angel to ask an ordinary young lady to do an extraordinary thing.

He asked Mary to bear the burden of pregnancy, to give birth to His Son. To allow her offspring to be tortured, reviled, and killed. To bear our suffering and bring us peace.

There’s only one way out of this life. And it usually involves some sort of pain.

God knew that. And Jesus was His answer. Without the promise of eternal life, this life can seem like a cruel joke.

St. Faustina says in her diary (1570)

“… all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery…

… do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, (you) are acquainted with our misery through and through…”

Tuesdays and Fridays are traditionally the days we rosary-praying types reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, when we recall Christ’s passion and death, from the Garden of Gethsemane to His crucifixion on Calvary.

To help me stay focused on saying the rosary as I go about my morning routine, I regularly listen to rosaries led by Father Patrick Peyton, who came to be known as “The Rosary Priest.” There is a wonderful YouTube version of the Sorrowful Mysteries in which Father Peyton chose the theme of Loneliness.

Jesus was very familiar with the temptations, hard choices, sufferings, and sorrows of human life. He knew abandonment in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostles couldn’t stay awake to pray with Jesus and when the soldiers came for Him, they fled. Jesus saw how the women along the long route to Calvary wept for him and in His weakness, He comforted them. And on Calvary, Jesus felt abandoned by His Father, yet he continued to pray.

Our road may not be as physically painful as the road to Calvary. Or it might. But there is a journey we all have to take to get to Heaven. Some of us will suffer for a long time. Some of us will suffer through the pain and suffering of a loved one, maybe more than one at the same time.

Some of us will suffer loss long before our life’s journey has ended. Loss hurts. Loss of a parent or a child. The pain of divorce or the end of a relationship. Financial hardship. Humiliation. Legal troubles. Unemployment. Feelings of inadequacy.

The list is long. Life isn’t perfect.

When we suffer, we ask friends and family to pray. Sometimes they’re available to physically comfort us. Or to sit and talk with us.

If they’re not, rely on prayer. Rely on Jesus. And yes, rely on Mary. Just as you would ask a friend to pray for you, why wouldn’t you ask the mother of Jesus to pray for you, to intercede on your behalf to her Son?

Mary has no divine power. But she has a special relationship with the Divine, doesn’t she?

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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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Mass For Life and Cat Boxes

01/22/2015

Where do you find your inspiration? In the shower? Just before drifting off to Never Never Land? (“Where’s my pen????”) On the morning commute?

The older I get, the more ‘things’ happen to me and around me, the more I realize that if I prayed 24 hours a day, that wouldn’t be enough. But certainly not practical.

Also makes me contemplate the truth about Practicality.

So, being the practical sort of guy I am, I look for ways to fit more prayer into my daily routine.


Don’t pray enough? What times in your day lend themselves to prayer? Brushing teeth? Dishes? Cat boxes? Tinkling?


There are not many chores more humbling than cleaning pet excrement, whether it’s shovel and bucket in the back yard or scrubbing caked kitty clay off the tile floor.

The only dogs in my life are canine cousins and granddogs (is that a word? Caution! “Dave-ism!”)

This dog lover is now one cat short of becoming a crazy cat lady. With seven cats, cleanup is a real chore. And lends itself to extended prayer time.

Speaking of humbling, it doesn’t get much more so than kneeling on the cold basement floor, litter dust wafting amidst the oxygen molecules, beads of sweat dripping to the floor, hoping the clay doesn’t find its way underneath fingernails while scrubbing the floor.

It’s a perfect time to pray.

While I’m partial to spending that time listening to recorded versions of the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, today’s routine was unusual.

I’m normally up at 4 AM on weekdays, ready to leave the house by 5:30 to either see my first client or humiliate myself on the racquetball court at LA Fitness. Thursday is normally racquetball day.

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Today, one of our opponents was out of town and the other down with an injury, so my partner and I decided to cancel. I needed to catch up on sleep, so I took advantage, slept in until 6. Today was going to be an office day, all day.

I managed to stay out of Kathy’s way (mostly) as she prepared for work and left by 6:20. Got the cats fed listening to and saying the Rosary and Chaplet, feverishly trying to remember everyone I promised to pray for, leaving the rest in God’s hands.

Daily Mass is normally aired at 7 AM, so I planned to listen as I trudged downstairs to tackle the cat boxes.

I forgot that today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I forgot that today is the March for Life in Washington, DC. Mass broadcast began at 6:30. It was celebrated at the National Basilica in Washington in conjunction with prayers for Life and recognition of the day.

So I picked up the Mass in the middle of the homily.

My pro-life conviction has solidified as my prayer life has intensified. I heard the words of the Archbishop. I scooped and scrubbed and cleaned. I got lost in the words, the prayers…

When I think about our attitude toward abortion, I often think about the Jews rounded up by the Nazis and summarily murdered and tortured. Hundreds of thousands were fully capable adults. But age didn’t matter. Young and strong, old and frail, all were subject to their captors’ cruelty. The prisoners were helpless because of overwhelming force.

Who is more captive, more frail, more vulnerable, than an unborn child?

How can we treat them so callously? How can we not care? How can we not defend and protect them? How are they any different than any other abused infant? To the former, we (as a society) argue for choice and reason. To the latter, we act as prosecutor, judge, and jury, and our reaction to the abuse is often rage.

What’s the difference?

Mass ended. EWTN then began broadcast coverage of the March for Life.

On my hands and knees, I listened to stories of women who had experienced abortion. I heard how science now provides evidence that a 20-week fetus feels pain. I listened to young men and women share their reasons for attending, about their lack of sleep, and how the cause was so much larger than the inconvenience. I heard a report from the Chicago March for Life from Sunday, January 18.

I thought about the countless children who would never be born. Who were never permitted to breathe fresh air, hear and feel the crunch of snow, taste ice cream, smell fresh cut grass. I thought about the women who never became their mothers. The painful agony of regret that will plague them to the grave. Who will never hear their baby’s cry. Or laughter. Or first word. Or “Mama, I love you.”

I heard from three women who were born because their mothers were raped.

I heard from a doctor who was an abortionist until his young daughter was killed in an auto accident.

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I thought about my sister’s stillborn baby.

Why do we consider that beyond tragic, but we don’t believe it’s tragic when a woman (or man or parents or other “concerned loved ones” who influence her decision) chooses — willfully, knowingly — to “terminate” a life, but rather argue that she is making a rational and acceptable decision?

What are we doing? When will it stop?

I’m compelled to say a whole lot more about this. In the weeks and months ahead, you can count on it. And that may not to win me many friends. So be it.

20150122_195611[1]Sometimes, you have to embrace the excrement.

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If you’re considering an abortion:

pregnancyline.com

www.ewtn.com/prolife

http://hopeafterabortion.com/

http://rachelsvineyard.org/

 


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