If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Doing it to Him

“Against Thee only have I sinned and done what is evil in Thy sight” (Psalm 51).

In David’s confession of his sin with Bathsheba, he didn’t say, “I have sinned against Uriah.”  David acknowledged he had sinned against God.

And when I recently read that passage, I thought of Saul.

The Pharisee was convinced that those who followed the heretic Jesus were a cancerous blight on civilization. They must be silenced. They would be silenced. And Saul would make sure of it.

So, foaming with rage, he made his way to Damascus to drag Christians to prison and -- if possible -- to execution.

You probably know the rest of the story. On his way to Damascus, a sudden burst of light knocked Saul off his feet. And then he heard the thunderous accusation: Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting (Acts 8).

Until that moment, the zealot hadn't realized when he hurt Christians, he hurt Jesus. When he brutalized them, he brutalized Jesus. When he imprisoned them, he did it to Jesus.

This point is critically important  – one fraught with extraordinary ramifications.

When we hurt others, we hurt Jesus, for how we treat each other, the Lord Jesus warned, we treat Him (see Matthew 25:31-46). When we claw our way past others for better jobs or positions, we scrape Jesus’ flesh under our fingernails. When we turn our backs on the needy, we are turning our backs on the Savior. When we slander, cheat, or steal from others, we are attacking our Lord.

Yet another reason to seek God's grace, that He might teach us to guard our lips, our hands, our feet, that we not hurt others – and Him – again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Security and the 'Mark'

It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast's image, so that the beast's image could speak and (could) have anyone who did not worship it put to death. [He] forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast's name or the number that stood for its name. Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:15-18).

Biblical scholars have, for centuries, interpreted this passage to speak of the Anti-Christ, whose advent will precede Christ's second advent. It will be a time of great tribulation for the world -- and especially for Israel and for the Church. Jesus spoke of the time in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), and He warned His children to understand the signs that would precede that time.

I thought of the passage in Revelation (above) in relation to the latest brouhaha surrounding the scanning through clothing and the perceived groping by TSA agents at airports across America -- all for the sake (we are told) of flight security. In the first week or so of its implementation, opinions -- and not a few tempers -- flared and raged in airports and across the internet about the safety, morality, and constitutionality of it all.

But (at this writing), people are acquiescing to the scans and the physical searches of their private parts. After all -- we are told -- it's all done for the sake of our security.

Which brings me back to the passage in Revelation about the stamped image, without which no one will be able to buy food, pay the light bill, the rent, doctor bills . . . . and about which Jesus warned the Church. And I have to wonder -- if we are so willing to acquiesce to getting essentially naked for a TSA camera, if we are so willing to let a stranger grope our wives and our children (and ourselves) . . . is it really that far a stretch of our imagination to consider how easily we will acquiesce to the government when it orders us to have our government-issued IDs stamped into our skin -- for the sake of everyone's security?

For me, that is a scary thought, for when the Lord Jesus warned the apostle -- and through him, the Church -- about the Anti-Christ's 'mark,' Jesus also warned, anyone who " . .  .  accepts [the Beast's] mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God's fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb . . . and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name" (Revelation 14:9-11).

Lord, how much longer before You return for your children?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Child or Tool?

Paul, a slave of God, called as an apostle . . . (Romans 1:1)

God can use anyone for His purposes,

As a tool . . .

Like Pharaoh who scoffed
“Who is the Lord that I should let His people go?” (1)
but soon learned of the unassailable might 
of that Lord.
Or the Assyrian king
who sought to destroy God’s people;
and of whom God mocked,
“Have you not heard? Long ago I planned
that you should turn fortified cities into ruined heaps.” (2)
Or the courtier in Persia
who lusted to destroy the Jews,
but through whom
God brought great victory
to Israel; (3)

God’s tools, each;
who never knew
He opposes
the proud.

Yes, God can use anyone for His purposes;

As a tool . . .
or as a child.

Like St. Paul
who called himself first
God’s slave –
before he would call himself
an apostle; (4)
Or Francis of Assisi,
heir to great wealth,
yet disdained even the clothes on his back
so he might gain
the poverty of Christ.
Or the Mother of Calcutta
who thought it a privilege
to cradle the diseased
and destitute
– as they were called –
of their society.

God’s children, each;
who knew
He opposes the proud . . .
but gives grace
to the humble

Child or Tool.
are we?

1) Exodus 5:2
2) Kings 19:25
3) Esther 8,9
4) Romans 1:1

Monday, November 15, 2010

What if they said "No"?

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 5:18-19)

As I read this passage two things dropped into my mind. First, if I were the one choosing potential leaders of my movement, I would have bypassed these guys and sought others with better financial resources, or at least some political clout.

I'm glad Jesus doesn't chose people like I do.

The second thing I noticed – the men left their livelihoods. It cost them plenty to follow Jesus. And follow Him they did, wherever He led.

Even to their martyrdom.

What if Peter and Andrew had said no to Jesus? What if they’d decided to stay with the family business and not risk their fortunes on this itinerant preacher’s ideas? A few verses later Jesus calls two others, James and John. They also left their work to follow Him. How different would our church look today if they had said no?

For one thing, we wouldn’t have the three epistles of John, the Revelation or the Gospel of John. Nor would we have Peter’s epistles. Think how much poorer the Church would be today without those writings. And how much did Andrew’s influence, and James’ influence enrich the early church? How many men and women came to faith because of their lives and words and witness?

Only eternity knows. But I know they – and our heavenly Father -- are glad they said yes.

Perhaps more important – how much poorer would the church be today if YOU had said no? Whom have you touched -- whom have you influenced -- for Christ by your life and you words?

Only eternity knows.

But I know they – and our heavenly Father -- are glad you said yes.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Even for an Abortion

I was invited to speak at St. Augustine Catholic Church last evening on the subject of creeds, serving God, and living for Christ. During my talk, I mentioned how grateful I am to God for His forgiveness and cleansing of my terrible past. And I thought it important that I post here one of the sad stories from my younger years. I've published this story in my two books.

In heaven we will know each other by the glance of the soul. – St. Elizabeth Seaton

Has it really been more than 40 years since I killed my baby? It seems like only last week. I remember what my girlfriend wore when I drove her to the clinic, where I parked the car, how many dimes I dropped into the parking meter . . . .

I was 17, my girlfriend, 18. Both of us, I told myself, were too young to bear the responsibilities of a baby.

"What do you mean, you're pregnant?" I asked when she returned from the physician's office. I knew she expected me to propose marriage.

Instead, I talked her into having an abortion.

I remember how nonchalantly I passed sentence on our child. I chose to believe the life growing inside her womb was nothing more than a glob of cells. I chose to believe Judith had the right to choose what to do with her own body, and every baby should be a wanted baby. I embraced every excuse I’d ever heard because each one freed me of my obligation to Judith and to our child. A few months after the abortion, my girlfriend and I went our separate ways.

Today, my son or daughter would be more than forty years old. Perhaps she would be a teacher. Or a physician. Or a musician. Or a . . . Perhaps I would be a grandfather.

But there is no perhaps. I can never turn back the clock and silence the lies and excuses that over-ruled my conscience.

I lived with the ache of what I’d done for nearly five years, until, in December 1972, I found solace in Christ’s forgiveness and hope in Scripture’s promises of forgiveness. Three come to mind even as I write this: “If you, Lord, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered” (Psalm 130:3-4); and, “[God] delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).; and, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wrongdoing" (1 John 1:9).

Although my sadness lingered, I could rest in the assurance that, in my repentance, God forgave me for killing my baby.

However, thirty-three years after becoming a Christian, the Holy Spirit deepened my comfort when He led me to the Catholic Church and I learned the fuller meaning of the Communion of Saints. The Church’s teaching of that Communion assures me that my baby, killed before she took her first breath, is in heaven because of God’s abundant mercy.

I know she is praying for me.

And I know she forgives me.

Oh, what solace is that thought! She forgives me.

I’ve named my baby Celeste. My daughter, whom I never got to hold, is alive in heaven, and when we meet, she will wipe the tears that still flow when I think of my cruelty and selfishness.

When Christians repeat the inestimable words of promise in the Nicene Creed: “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,” we can take great comfort in knowing that those who wait for us around God's throne – even those we hurt in this life – forgive us. Washed in the blood of the Lamb and now perfected in love, they wait to welcome us to an eternity of God’s forgiveness and grace.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Maybe Today

[God] will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all [our] faces . . . . And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation" (Isaiah 25:8-9).

So I’m reading through the 25th chapter of Isaiah, and came across verses 8 & 9. Then my thoughts drifted to Jesus’ words in the 14th chapter of St. John’s gospel:

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 (John 14:2-3).

And I contemplated the Second Advent.

And I remembered . . .

There’s coming a day,
perhaps even tomorrow,
when he wipes the tears,
kisses the wounds, and
binds the broken. (1)

There’s coming a day,
perhaps even tomorrow,
when the Lord descends
from heaven with a
A day when the trumpet of God
and those who died in Christ
burst from their graves;
A day when we too,
who live in Christ,
will be caught up with them,
to meet the Lord in the air,
and be forever with Him. (2)

There’s coming a day,
perhaps even tomorrow,
when we no longer walk by faith,
but by sight; (3)
When we no longer grieve,
or moan,
or utter so much as a whimper;
When the lion lies with the lamb,
and the child plays on a viper’s den
and is not be hurt. (4)

There’s coming a day,
perhaps even tomorrow,
when the last nail is hammered
into the last board
of the last room
of the house promised us by Christ;
And we hear Him call:
“It's time!” (5)

There’s coming a day,
perhaps even tomorrow –
or perhaps even . . .

Oh, Lord Jesus . . .
we wait.

1. Isaiah 25:8-9
2. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52
3. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
4. Isaiah 11:8-9; Isaiah 65:25
5. John 14:2-3