Faith or Works? Or Both?

02/19/2016

Do you suppose God would rather punish you for all the crap you’ve done wrong or forgive you for acknowledging that you’ve been wrong and saying you’re sorry?

Can we help “the wicked” who have not acknowledged their sins and — totally unprepared — dies? Today? Here’s what I have to say.

 

It’s never the wrong time to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

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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.


How Can We Have Mercy on Mass Murderers?

09/11/2015

September 11.

A day of reflection for millions of Americans since the dark events of this day in 2001. Thousands of Americans were murdered by a handful of men.

A good day to reflect on something so incredibly more important and powerful than that, however, as odd as that may seem.

Humankind has been murdering and exterminating humankind for centuries. The Romans enjoyed serving Christians for lunch to wild animals. The Nazis exterminated millions of Jews. The Communist Soviet Union exterminated millions of its own citizens.

I could continue, citing other examples, but that’s not the point.

And now Planned Parenthood, exposed not only as an abortion mill, but as a cold, calculating trafficker of “fetal tissue.” We all know what that really means.

But let’s not debate the right or the wrong of it.

I’m serious.

That’s not what this post is about.

Death is death. Death is final.

Yes, tortuous death is not the same as dying peacefully in the presence of loving family and friends in the comfort of one’s bed. Or falling asleep, only to die in one’s sleep, never having a chance to say goodbye or wrap up those nasty loose ends.

Death is still death.

And what happens after death?

You know that I’m a faithful Catholic. I believe that we encounter our Creator. We encounter God.

And our eternal fate is presented to us.

Did we persevere to the end? Did we acknowledge our sinfulness and acknowledge Jesus as our Savior?

We can get into specifics and semantics about needing to be saved… about needing or not needing works to save us…

… but not here.

That’s not the point of this post.

What happens after death?

What happens to the murdered Syrian Christian sacrificed at the hands of a brutal member if ISIS?

What happens to the people crushed under the weight of the collapsing World Trade Center towers?

What happens to the suicide murderers?

The same darn thing.

We all encounter God. And we account for our lives.

We make choices while we live.

We also have a choice when we die.

Will we acknowledge that Jesus Christ came to save us and will we accept His saving help?

Will we turn our backs on the mercy of God and not accept His control over our eternity?

Do you even believe it?

You also know that I am an avid proponent of the devotion of St. Faustina Kowalska and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Jesus appeared to St. Faustina. It’s been documented. Read about it here.

Jesus gave the young nun specific instructions on living a life of mercy.

“I demand20140827_152814 from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it. 

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer.

“In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 742).

 

Wow….

No excuses.

I’m not a big fan of many politicians, pop culture icons, and others that I think cause great distress for our country. Doesn’t matter. I owe them mercy.

“My love and mercy knows no bounds.” (Diary, 718)

How can I express love for those who perpetrated 9/11? I can’t. Doesn’t matter. I owe them mercy.

“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.” (Diary, 723)

How can we have mercy on mass murderers?

It’s easy.

“Beg for mercy for the whole world.” (Diary, 570)

Oh… it may not be easy. But if we focus our hearts on Jesus, He will make it easy to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

“Today Jesus said to me…

‘Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.

‘This is the prayer:  O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’ (Diary, 186, 187)

I hope you will tell me how you feel about this subject. Can you have mercy on those who hate you? On those who annoy you? On someone who tortured someone you love?

Can I help you?

Ask me.

 


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.

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


Your Annoying Little Brother

07/09/2015

“Dad! They’re mocking you behind your back.”

“I’m Dad’s favorite.”

Wouldn’t you like to slug him?

Maybe you didn’t have a little brother. Maybe you had a little sister like this. Or maybe it wasn’t a sibling, but a friend. Or an acquaintance.  Maybe it was a co-worker who was this annoying.

Whoever, I’ll bet you’ve had personal experience with somebody in your life who annoyed you to the point of… oh, maybe wanting to strangle them.

Or just… witness some minor mishap befall them. Just to see them squirm a little.

That’s okay. That’s human nature.

It’s not right. It’s a fault. It’s a sin we need to confess.

But we’re human. We have thoughts like these.

Have you ever read or listened to the Genesis account of Joseph — yeah, the Technicolor Dreamcoat guy; that Joseph — and thought of him like that?

We’re reading the Genesis account of Joseph and his brothers this week at Daily Mass. Father Mitch Pacwa described Joseph like this yesterday during his homily on EWTN.

I had never heard that description before.

So what do we do with a person like Joseph? That annoying person in your life?

It’s really simple.

Jesus spells it out for us in the Gospels. But there’s a more recent admonition from him.

When He appeared to Sister Maria Faustina, Jesus told her — told us — that He demands from us deeds of mercy toward our neighbors.

That’s it. That simple.

He said:

“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.”

   –   Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (paragraph 742), Marian Press, 2009

So what do we do with all of this?

Next time we have these very human thoughts, maybe we think twice.

Make no mistake. We will have those thoughts. We are human. What matters is what we do with them.

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

And that challenging.

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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. And for not posting a meditation daily.

 

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What’s Your “One Thing?”

05/27/2015

What is the one thing — one thing and one thing only — that you cherish more than anything else?

How much would you sacrifice to keep it?

How much would you endure to defend it? To fight to keep it?

Ever think about things like that?

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What is the one thing that you do that causes you the most angst? What is the one thing that pushes you off course… makes you angry… tempts you… creates bitterness…

… prevents you from being more than you are now?

“You are lacking in one thing.” – a portion of Mark 10:21

Jesus counsels a rich man in the Gospel according to Mark (Mark 10:17-27).

“You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.”  –  Mark 10:19

The man is a righteous person. He seems to be leading a holy life. He follows the commandments.

He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”  –  Mark 10:20

… but there’s one thing that is keeping the rich man from a complete relationship with God.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  –  Mark 10:21

Who throws obstacles in front of us? Who blocks our path? Who prevents us from following God’s commandments? Who doesn’t want us to enjoy a complete relationship with Christ?

You know the answer.

The devil manifests in many forms. There may be elements of truth in the lies. There may be elements of goodness in the lies.

But the devil cannot manifest the truth. He is always deceptive.

We cannot and do not know exactly why the rich man’s possessions were preventing him from enjoying a complete relationship with God. But there was something about this one thing that stood between him and inheriting eternal life.

What was it?

And what’s your one thing?

Maybe you are following and keeping all the commandments, like the rich man.

Maybe you are working for worthy causes.

Maybe you pray like a banshee for countless causes.

But maybe there’s one thing that stands between you and inheriting eternal life.

Do you know what it is?

I know my one thing.

I’m not going to tell you. It’s too embarrassing. But God knows. I talk to Him about it just about every day. And often several times a day.

It stands in my way.

I don’t presume to speak for God, but I suspect it stands in my way of inheriting eternal life, too.

I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it may not matter. If I have a contrite heart. If I beg for God’s mercy.

God is love. God is truth. God is mercy.

Jesus told St. Faustina that His grace was ours if only we would ask for it.

God knows our hearts. God knows that all of us sin. It’s in our nature.

That’s why he sent Jesus. To assume our nature. To die for the sake of all of us who cannot control ours.

I believe that we have an obligation to lead good Christian lives even if we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I don’t think it’s enough to say “I believe” and go on enjoying our possessions at the expense of neglecting those poor who have few or no possessions, who have few comforts or not enough to eat. Or enjoying our knowledge of God and Jesus and neglecting the poor in spirit, those who have no knowledge of God’s mercy, those who have never heard the Word or the truth.

What is your one thing and how does it keep you from having treasure in heaven?

Confess it. Pray for help controlling it or eliminating it or transforming it.

How do I know… or rather, how do I suspect I know… that we may still find a path to our treasure in heaven, even as we struggle with our one or two or three (or more) things?

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”  –  Mark 10:26-27

It’s okay to acknowledge our shortcomings. It’s okay to confess them. It’s okay to throw ourselves at the mercy of Jesus and His heavenly Father.

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Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time, Monday, May 25, 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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Who Does He Think He Is Anyway?

05/01/2015

“I thought I knew you.”

Anyone ever said that to you? The cliche is usually one lover tearfully muttering those words to their partner, just before the breakup.

The people of Nazareth thought they knew who Jesus was, too (today’s Gospel for the optional Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Matthew 13:54-58).

“This kid is the carpenter’s son. Who does he think he is?” This man, Jesus, certainly didn’t have the background or the authority to teach in their synagogue.

Who really was this Jesus? Who really was their God?

Read today’s Reading for Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter (Acts 13:26-33).

Notice the power, confidence, and force with which Paul speaks of Jesus, of God, of the kingdom.

“But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses before the people. We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.” – Acts 13:30-33

Why? Something happened to Paul to make him convert. Something happened to the disciples to make them so bold. What was it?

“My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are  God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent. – Acts 13:26

The “word of salvation” was delivered directly to the Apostles. Through the walls of a closed room. And to Paul, then Saul, through a blinding flash of light. And they were convicted in an instant.

Paul and the disciples tirelessly sought to deliver the good news of salvation to the Jewish people. The Truth was made known to them through their conversion experiences. And so they preached. Tirelessly, maybe even desperately?

Why?

Paul continued

“The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets that are read sabbath after sabbath.” – Acts 13:27

It’s the Jews, the Chosen People, who condemned Jesus to death. Just as the scriptures predicted.

Who do we think we are?

Marley lies on his death bed.
Ebenezer: Well, Jacob! Have they seen to you properly? Last rites and such? 
Marley nods 
Ebenezer: There’s nothing i can do? 
Marley nods again 
Ebenezer: Oh? What, particularly? 
Marley: (rasping) While… there’s still time… 
Ebenezer: Time? Time for what? 
Marley: (rasping) Wrong… we were wrong. 
Ebenezer: Wrong? Well, we can’t be right all the time , can we? Nobody’s perfect. You mustn’t reproach yourself, Jacob. We’ve been no worse than the next man, or no better if it comes to that. 
Marley: (rasping) Save… yourself. 
Ebenezer: Save myself? Save myself from what? 
Marley breathes his last
Ebenezer: Speak!  …
Ebenezer pauses as he realizes Marley is dead.

 – from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

The literary reference here is in NO WAY a comparison. But it came to mind…

If you think of it, it’s really true. We save ourselves.

Or we don’t.

But…

God is truth. Also love. Mercy. Power. Strength…

It’s the Last Supper. Jesus has just told them He is going to suffer after being handed over and die. Jesus speaks (today’s Gospel for Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter).

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:1-6

Jesus told St. Faustina that even if the most hardened sinner prays the Chaplet of Divine Mercy once, they will receive great graces. They will be enveloped in God’s Divine Mercy.

Do you think you are beyond God’s mercy? Do you wish you could do something to help someone that may need God’s mercy? Pray the Chaplet.

Once.

The more you pray the Chaplet, the more you will discover just who He really is.

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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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Who Comforts You?

04/26/2015

Father Fred’s dog died.

Father told us what happened this week to his dog, Annie, his constant companion of twelve and a half years.

She had not been well. He took her to the vet this week and received the awful news that she was not going to get better and it was best that she be euthanized.

It’s okay to do that to dogs. Not humans.

He confessed to the veterinarian, whom he had never met, that Annie’s illness was difficult for him to handle. While they talked, he told her that he was a priest. She told him that she, too, was Catholic.

The vet asked Father Fred if he wanted to pray.

She sought to comfort him. A total role reversal for him.

Today’s Gospel was John 10:11-18.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

Father Fred’s homily reminded me of the day Kit Kat died.

Kit Kat  was, as my daughter Martha called him, my first baby. He was the first cat that I ever had. He was a stray — a feral cat — who sort of adopted us when we lived in The Blue House (our kids identified our homes by the color of the house).

He was getting older and we knew he was frail. One weekend, I think it was October of 2010, we spent the night in Madison because Martha was competing in the collegiate tennis conference tournament up there during her senior year.

When we came home from Madison, we found Kit Kat dead. He apparently was walking from our bedroom into the hallway when he drew his final breath.

The anguish was overwhelming. My sorrow lasted for months. I don’t deal well with pet deaths.

That’s a story for another day.

Those memories came flooding back as Father Fred told his story about being shepherded by the vet, one of our deacons, Joe Casey, Joe’s wife, Mary, and our youth minister, Tracy Rapp.

I thought about how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, comforted and shepherded me.

I thought about the powerful image I had of Jesus, walking along a lush, green riverbank, with my little buddy Kit Kat. I saw a healthy, vibrant little calico cat, walking calmly and peacefully alongside our Good Shepherd.

And that comforted me.

We all have moments when we need comfort, when we need a guiding hand, a warm embrace, just some understanding.

Who do you turn to for comfort?

Is it Jesus?

Can you recall times in your life when Jesus has appeared at your side, perhaps in your thoughts or during prayer time, perhaps in the form of a fellow, caring human being?

Can you recall times when someone else has needed you to reach out to them for comfort. With a good word, maybe just a smile? Or a well-timed hug?

I think of Dad’s illness and the times when I knew Jesus was at my side… was at Dad’s side. The anguish that Mom felt, my sisters, Uncle Stan…

… the comfort I received — that we all received —  from so many people as we walked that journey.

And how we shepherded one another, too.

Father Fred told us today how easy it was to be the good shepherd to a fellow human.

All it takes sometimes is just a nice word. Or a nice smile.

Jesus told St. Faustina that he demands from all of us deeds of mercy, that we are not to shrink or absolve ourselves from it. That we can show mercy to others by deed, word, or prayer.

Do we?

Always?

It’s actually not difficult.

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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.


Divine Mercy Novena – Ninth Day

04/14/2012

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Here is a link to the best Chaplet of the Divine Mercy:

http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/chaplet.php

Say it daily!

Ninth Day:

“Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.”

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm#6#ixzz1rqDlx1TU

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