Reflections on My Dad’s Example

05/17/2016

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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?

—————————————-

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.

 

cropped-img_0673.jpg


Man, Do We Harbor a Lot of Darkness….

04/23/2015

Well… I sure didn’t expect this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had no idea.

Until this morning.

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

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

At least according to some.

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

O———kay.

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

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

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

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

And we do our best.

Jeff, you asked:

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

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

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

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

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

I would consider that “bread.”

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

The Luminous Mysteries a “stone?”

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

I’ve said more than I intended already.

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

I welcome discussion.

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

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

How’s THAT for a daily meditation?

—————————————-

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.


%d bloggers like this: