November 21, 2022
Filed In: Philosophy
Living life day-to-day is not easy, nor is it simple. In many ways, it’s boring and mundane. I never look forward to Monday because I know the busyness of laundry, school, and work that awaits me. It can be easy to think of life like a game of the Sims, wishing I could just fast-forward to bedtime, call it a day, and move on to something new and different tomorrow.
Each day may not feel like a gift, but they all have little treasures buried deep inside. The way to find the treasure is to be present, and dig. It may be a funny quote from one of your kids, a completed project at work, or just one of your smallest children climbing into your lap and falling asleep.
Although days may have the same rhythm and feeling, developing a sense of awareness can help us to enjoy the experiences of today. We want to rush from task to task, project to project, and goal to goal, but that’s not the point of life.
Our lives are 3,000 days of the same general structure. It’s not the waking and sleeping that makes those days so valuable, it’s the things that happen during our waking hours that make life worth living. Spend less time focused on what’s the same, and look for the treasure that’s right in front of you.
November 14, 2022
Filed In: Faith
We have a sanitized view of Jesus’ crucifixion. Although we have visuals of it everywhere, the sheer brutality is almost too difficult to think about. Jesus’ torture and execution were not an academic exercise. It was an act of total love and surrender, a bold statement about the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life that changed the course of human history.
There is no limiting principle to God’s mercy; that’s one reason it is so unfathomable. How can God forgive such grievous offenses? How can He continue to put up with our habitual sin, our failure to course correct, and our inability to live the truth of the Gospel and trust in His love?
It’s because of this that I love the image of Divine Mercy. In it, mercy flows from Christ’s body, but the word that we use, torrents is so descriptive. It’s not a ripple, or a wave, it’s a strong, overwhelming, gushing flow that overcomes everything in its path.
Why is it necessary for this mercy to flow with such vigor? It’s because God understands us intimately; He lived as one of us. He knows the challenges that we face, and the courage required to live the life that He made us for. Think about just a few of the things we’re asked to do. As parents, we’re to care for and raise new life. We have to help our children navigate a broken world, to discover their moral compass, and to internalize the importance of a relationship with God.
We are tested, tempted, and tried in almost every moment of the day. God Himself knew this reality. That’s why, out of the depths of His love and through His own genius, He made this mercy available for us, if only we are to ask of it.
Building a strong habit of prayer is an excellent offense in overcoming our natural weaknesses, but perfection is just not possible. When we fail, we must pray for the humility to be completely inundated with the torrents of God’s mercy.
November 07, 2022
Filed In: Faith
The great spiritual lesson of St. Francis was that the key to a healthy spiritual life is to have a mindset of constant renewal. We live in a fallen state, among a fallen world, and to enter into the presence of God, we must reclaim the perfection that He intended for us. That is no easy task, nor is it a one-and-done type of objective. It’s the work of a lifetime.
Impermanence is the nature of life; things are always in motion and changing. Embracing a mindset of constant renewal inspires a sense of exhaustion, but also one of hope. When we set out with a new goal, it’s all too easy to plan out every single step, become overwhelmed, and give up on the entire project. It’s also easy to become inspired and hopeful, no longer feeling trapped in your current reality.
Constant renewal is a principle that can help us in our daily decisions. When you wake up in the morning, and you know you should spend a few minutes in prayer, it can guide you into your prayer space. It can remind you of your goal, and lead you into the steps and habits that will get you there. It will give you the grace to fail, knowing that you won’t be defined by your past mistakes.
We seek comfort and stability in a world that’s continually changing. Victories once won can be frittered away by quitting the habits and discipline that got us there. The great paradox in all of this is that by submitting ourselves to discipline and diligence, we are truly free to live the lives that God intended for us.
October 31, 2022
Filed In: Faith
Temptation is a very personal thing. Each of us struggle with our blend of habitual sin. It’s not that we’re failures in the spiritual life, it’s that we all have our weaknesses. After weeks, months, and years of confessing the same things, it’s tempting to let ourselves be overrun.
Why keep fighting a losing battle? Why keep going through the same cycle, never with a different result? Why fight a battle for 80 years when it seems like we’ll never beat that sin?
The answer is found in our failings. The battle has already been fought, and won. The battle is not ours to fight, it is God’s. Why should we accept our reality as his children, and then resign ourselves to lesser things? We were made for greatness, and we were made to be loved.
The feeling of being overrun with sin is a tool of the devil. As CS Lewis masterfully illustrated in The Screwtape Letters, if we can be simply worn down to the point of giving up, then darkness wins. While we may feel overrun, we can never be made to give up. That’s a choice that we have to make ourselves.
For the first time in my life, I’ve successfully kept to a “Bible in a Year” reading plan. The Old Testament is shockingly graphic, full of the best and worst of humanity. The brilliance of it all is that the story of the people of Israel is our story. We are close to God, and at other times, we cast Him off. Despite it all, He remains faithful.
Never give up, never surrender; finish the race and win.
October 24, 2022
Filed In: Philosophy
Hypocrisy is part of what it means to be human. We’re deeply flawed. To have the expectation that we can live our lives with the rock solid integrity of Atticus Finch is unreasonable. The real problem is not when we find that we have erred, but when we refuse to admit the reality. No where does this play out more clearly, or more publicly, than in the political world.
Politicians sell narratives as a part of their bid to keep their jobs and maintain power. On both sides of the aisle, we see people making fools of themselves because they refuse to admit reality and course correct.
Denying reality only delays remedies. The longer we refuse to acknowledge the difficulty, the harder it is to fix. We enjoy the worlds of whimsy that we create because they fit our narrative and keep us warm at night. The real trouble comes when the wisps of fog dissipate and all that’s left is the cold, hard truth. The sooner we accept our growing waistline is becoming problematic, the sooner we can hit the gym and get back in shape.
The truth is, people respect those who admit their faults and make corrections. Silently, we all wish that we had the courage to do the same. Events can transpire outside our control, but if we refuse to pick up the mantle and get to work resolving our issues, they’ll only become bigger.
In the political world, and in our lives, we need to shine a bright light on our faults and take the steps that are necessary to live better, more authentic lives. Pretending to have clothes serves no purpose, especially when someone has the courage to point it out the fallacy.