Monday, December 22, 2008

O Love in Exile

Place to place I wander
Each day looking from face to face,
Each more beautiful than the next,
But still I find not your face.

Night to night I sit and ponder
Through a darkened mirror of wonder.
What grace of God have I rejected today?
What mercy of God have I spurned this day?

Surely this exile is mine, not His?
Surely this exile is worth the love of His?
How can it be, my heart's reason is still without me,
My love's destination has not yet stirred a heart ready to be?

O Love in Exile, my dearest love,
What piece am I still missing?
What have I yet not given?
What have I yet not found?

O Love in Exile, my separated love,
What else must I give,
What else than my love, my life, my heart?
What else can I do, have I not done this from the start?

O Love in Exile, my saddened love,
Cry not this cold and dreary night.
We two are near, so very near
In the peace of the night.

O Love in Exile, my guiding love,
Be patient too in His mercy and His love.
Peace and blessings, my exiled love;
Stay in His heart, live in Him renewed.

Live in peace for our love will be renewed,
My Love in Exile, my love, my everything, my you.
You are closer than we either can speak,
So close are those whom we seek.

Your heart and mine will find the other soon,
Of this there is no doubt,
For His mercy and His love guide us
And with our two loves remaining, His will win out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Voices in the Dark

Deep within my troubled soul
I hear whispers of doubt,
Of old feelings once let out,
Instead of joy in reaching my goal.

Relapsed in my longing search,
My heart quivers with fear.
I want to love even more,
But how can I love what is not here?

The voices in the dark
Grow louder and louder
As my heart continues to flounder
In a cycle that leaves its mark.

The voices call out,
The past calls to me...

What of the praise,
What of the clout?
Is this even you?
Is this what you're all about?

Can't you live in the light?
Can't you be happy with what you've got?
Must you keep fighting what was?
Must you try to live with what you cannot live without?

No, another voice speaks out.
It raises a clamor beyond doubt...

Stand up and fight,
Fight for what is right.
Stand up to the night,
The voices, the darkness.
Fight for what is right.

These voices of the night,
They will not succeed...
The One's love is all I need.

Stand up and fight,
Fight for the heart's might.
Stand up to the evil,
The trouble, the feeble.
Fight for what is right.

These voices of darkness,
They will surely die...
Evil's ways denied.

Surely, I will fight
These hours of the night.
Surely, I will love
These days before us all.

Never give in,
Never give up.
This is where we begin.
This is where we shine.

Fight beyond fight,
Live beyond life,
Give all of yourself,
And never die again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Wine

What was once
Is no more;
What is to come
Will shine once more.

What was once—
Reserves of man's toil.
What is to come—
Blessings from Heaven's soil.

What was once,
Dead and rotting,
Turns from an age that was
To an age of new being.

What is to come
Was not what it seemed,
Mere water merely gleamed—
New wine instead, sight unseen.

Brim after brim,
What sight unseen!
Are we to know
The blessings now seen?

Go forth, you witnesses,
Go forth to the world.
Taste what is made new—
Vintage, O Vintage Renewed!

Go forth, you witnesses,
Go forth to the loveless
Show them what has been lacking—
Vintage, O Vintage Untarnished!

Woman, O Woman,
What have you done?
His glory, His passion
Have all now begun!

Woman, O Woman,
What is this to mean,
Pondering and pondering
All that you've seen?

Word after word,
What sight believed!
Are we to believe
The blessings now conceived?

O vintage press,
O womb of the Divine,
What handmaid eternally blessed,
What vessel of new wine!

"Whatever He tells you"
This is what we shall do.
"Whatever He tells you"
That we shall do with you.

Guests, O guests,
What have we seen!
God's blessings, God's mercy,
God's reflection now seen!

Guests, O guests,
What gifts have been given!
Turn to Him, O Vintage Renewed,
Live in Him and Him in you!

O vessels once broken, be now renewed.
Live in Him and Him in you!
Fill to the brim your hearts made new.
Be with Him; be now renewed!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

In Veiled Courts

In veiled courts
With hearts afire
I stand with measured breath.

In veiled courts
Through the countless days
I wait with a weak heart.

In veiled courts
With the warmth of light
I stand alone in piercing silence.

In veiled courts
Through which a silent wind blows
I wait upon a single heart unknown.

Veiled courts with flickers of light,
Veiled courts with a grace of might,
Veiled courts with veiled sight

I await the day, in veiled courts,
Of a heart that I am worthy to love.
I await the hour, in veiled courts,
For the fullness of God's compassion—my other self.

Each day I wait,
Each day upon the other;
Each day I wait,
I await my other half—the Other.

In veiled courts
Doth my heart so wait
For a love, a life, a heart.
O Lord, doth my heart wait
For a love that won't break.

Give me the power;
Give me the grace
To wait in veiled courts,
To run the blessed race.

Pace within my heart
The sorrows of the night
With the joys of the day
In veiled courts as I wait.

In veiled courts I wait;
I wait on her beautiful face.
In veiled courts I wait;
I wait on her glorifying grace.

In veiled courts, there I wait
For His mercy, His creation, His beauty.
I wait on this all here in His place.
In veiled courts, there I wait.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fingerprints of the Divine

From nothing, something
Spark, discovery, revelation.

From darkness, light
Immensity, explosion, expansion.

From death, life
Dust to being, matter to understanding.

From slavery, freedom
Chaos to determinism, determinism to relativity.

From suffering, salvation
Pain to joy, sacrifice to success, unknowing to knowing.

From chaos, understanding
Testing and probing, experimenting and seeking...

Thread by thread,
Weave by weave,
The Tapestry of Knowledge,
The Tapestry of Wisdom
Become interwoven.

Fingerprint by fingerprint,
Discovery by discovery,
The minutia of the moment,
The sweeping vista of time
Into one are sewn.

Truth discovers Beauty;
Beauty unveils Truth.
No matter our route,
No matter our origin,
Now, only now, does life begin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hearts Renewed

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
Leave my love right now.
I must, I must, I must
Live without it somehow.

I will, I will, I will
Let grace in my heart to dwell.
I shall, I shall, I shall
Love you always with a heart compelled.

Always, always, always
Will my heart so greatly burn
With fiery love for you
No matter the time of your return.

Complete, complete, complete
Is my love for you
Even though, my dearest love
You still know not my name.

My love, my love, my love
Return to my restless heart,
Give grace a place, a space, to start,
Let us then nevermore be the same.

Live in me and I in you;
Let us, our hearts renewed,
Live as one and not as two.
Live with me, our hearts renewed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Witness to Hope

Witness to Hope,
Saving love of God,
Mercy of His selfless love,
Face of the Faceless One.

Mercy of the One who bestows mercy,
Hands of the One whose hands were nailed,
Heart of the One whose heart burned with love,
Eyes of the One who sees only beauty

See my hand outreached,
Ready to receive your compassion.
See my eyes centered,
Ready to take in your holy beauty.

Feel my struggle to remain faithful in all things;
Enter into my understanding of hardship.
Feel my joy of passion to give freely;
Enter into my serenity of heart.

Help me to die to myself,
To give myself freely to you.
Help me to give without prompting,
To breathe compassion in my every breath.

Let me take on the fragrance of your love,
To be ever a constant effusion of your grace,
To become ever united fully with you,
And to never again be the same.

Witness to Hope,
Lover of Love,
Defender of the Faith,
Mother to be of many

Grant me your precious favor,
Guide me to the Most High,
Complete my joy with your endless joy.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Democracy 2.0: The Need for True Advocacy

It can be said that democracy is a two-step process. Yes, its important component is the actual act of voting, that exercise of civic duty that so few of us actually avail ourselves. The other centers on its aftermath: advocacy.

In a country where 64% (this year's rough estimate of nationwide turnout) is the best that one of the standard-bearers of the free society can expect, advocacy is an integral and needed step in ensuring that good government is actually carried out.

While we often forget that these politicians work for us and not the other way around, we must instill in them a sense of accountability for their actions not only in the voting booth (as has been done just this past Tuesday), but each day through contact with our local politicians, state politicians, and those going up to that bureaucratic befuddlement of Washington, D.C. We mustn't rely on others to speak for us. This country's government, as President Lincoln stated at the close of the Gettysburg Address, is one "of the people, by the people, for the people." We mustn't forget this...we must change government ourselves through advocacy if true change is to occur.

Yes, informed consciences are important before the voting process and during it, but so too are they important in deciding the direction of leadership in one's community, great or small, and much greater is the need of active and informed advocacy of those very ones we vote in (or have foisted on us). We mustn't be quiet. We mustn't go quietly into the night. We must organize, continue to organize, and speak out for the change we see needed in a country where change can be abused.

We need informed consciences not to lord things over people. No, we need them to give the Truth to our society. We need to be shepherds of the Truth. We must speak out to injustices and change the way we work as a country. I implore you, do not give up on the second half of democracy—advocacy.

This country is need of it, or we as a nation might just plunge off the cliff of instability or—worse yet—insignificance.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Civil Rights and the History of the Moment

My thoughts are on the amazing history of this week, and, in fact, this past year. I personally identified a great deal with what John McCain stood for, I could see a determination in his heart, in his words that I knew from the beginning he would make an excellent leader, an excellent president for our country. That what he said weren't merely words to get elected (as politicians, none in this group included) so often do. I could not find anyone else I could stand behind more in the run-up to and during the election.

I, in fact, did volunteer in the final hours for Sen. McCain because I could feel the gravity of the moment. I also offered my thoughts of the current events, in the wee hours of the morning of Election Day, because I knew in my heart what was at stake here: the honor of our country and the honor of the American people. I knew this election was different, but I did not see it completely the way a voting majority of the country saw it. Even if my predictions were incorrect, I ask that you to take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

'Scorched earth' was and is never a good policy of action. I think that we will see some of that in the coming weeks and months, unfortunately. This is indeed a historic time in our country's history, a very historic time.

I find a great deal of promise in Sen. Obama, something that others see even more in. There are a number of policies we don't see eye to eye. And beliefs that we fail to share, one regarding abortion—but his stance of how to deal with the root of the problem (and that is women in difficult situations) is at the very least understandable if not admirable. However, regardless the differences we share, he is a gifted politician adept at staying calm and cool that it reminds me of a difference of the 'Teflon' presidential years of the '80s...the validation or invalidation of this current reality will come soon enough.

Nevertheless, the history made on Tuesday is to be commended. It is a time to heal the racial divides in this country and actually get to helping those in need and to protect the rights of all Americans. We must stand up for the rights of all in this country of ours, and this is a step in that direction. There is much else to do and further rights to protect.

If we needed any further reminded let me quote the beginning of the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

We should always be wary of the abuses construed by those in power and ever vigilant of the rights we hold dear in this country of ours: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must defend these rights for all, not just some. And, most importantly, realize once and for all human life is afforded those unalienable rights and are thus created equal. We are all called to have a voice, and we should always push further to form a more perfect union.

There is no "yes, we can"...for we have done, we are doing, and we will continue to do...all that is needed to ensure voices young and old, white or black, born or unborn are given the rights described in that Declaration of Independence.

We must never go quietly into the night. We must never be told to be quiet. If it is what it is, we must speak the truth of it. We must never stand for injustice. And for me, as we celebrate history, I must remember this as we celebrate one Civil Rights history and await another: the compassionate end of abortion where abortion is not necessarily illegal but simply and utterly unthinkable.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Justice's Fires are Burning

This is a poem centered on the upcoming election and what's at stake for those defending life, specifically the unborn. I wrote it one Sunday evening during a "Faithful Citizenship" coffeehouse but had to revise quite a bit since I had to reconstruct the poem after the first two stanzas. The second half was lost on a notecard somewhere on campus, but it remains relatively intact—if memory serves me correctly!

Justice's Fires are Burning

Justice's fires are burning;
The faithful's hearts are yearning.
Blessings and honor are flowing
To those Faithful Ones, age to age.

Wonders of God's work are showing;
His love remains enduring.
Evil's ways are falling;
Its ways are forever estranged.

Day to day, we hear the calling,
Working to enact true, lasting change.
Year to year, we seek to end the fighting;
We struggle and stumble all the same.

Faithful Citizenship is our call,
A calling of love and service to all.
We are called to tear down Injustice's walls
And to fight for faithful, lasting change.

The walls of injustice are falling,
Life overcoming the walls of death.
Never, never settle for injustice's delight,
For change is coming, Blessed Change—the True Light.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lost Discourse: "Our Calling"

The following is the lost discourse, "Our Calling," in its entirety. I feel compelled to share it as it seems for me, at present, to be the thesis, so-to-speak, of my faith life these past five years. And so I have grown attached to it, for I see His handiwork so clearly, so succinctly in the movements these years that I cannot put these words—an imperfect glance at "the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness" (Wisdom 7:26)—beneath the proverbial bushel basket:

Peace be to you.

How often at times do we think we aren't as faithful a person as others in our lives, that somehow less worthy of His love and His grace. And for each of us, we've been there and often times go back to thinking that, too. This is a mistake to think somehow we are less worthy.

We're not called to be perfect; we are called to be faithful to Him. No matter what we have done, God is there to forgive us for our own individual shortcomings. These shortcomings can become obstacles not only to God's love, to His love, but to others' love as well.

At times, we can see this happening in our hearts. God moves our hearts by putting us in situations that pulls our hearts, opens our hearts, and makes it wider for a greater capacity to love—greater than we can even possibly imagine. At times, this process of patience hurts. How unbearable it is at times!

And, yet, the Lord brings respites of joy into our lives—oases of consolation amid a desert of desolation: others in our lives, their love for us, God's made visible—especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist—in Christ's Body and Blood made real—and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where God's forgiveness is made manifest. These moments of grace can be such an oasis, a cool drink of consolation—a manifestation of a small piece of Christ's joy for us and the peace that the Lord can only give.

It would then be a reproach of this gift if we did not return the favor in the form of love for others in our lives and for God Himself. It would be an extinguishing of the light given to us if we rejected our calling to return not only what has been given to us but to do so many times over.

For these reasons, we ought to profess words of kindness to others in our lives, to the least fortunate; and not only words but acts of kindness and acts of love. And hold them, day by day, in the depths of our hearts, relishing in that love that Christ has given us.

We ought to give of our lives freely, but we aren't alone in this journey. As Christ said, in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11:
"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." [Matthew 11:28-30]

May God bless you today and everyday. May the peace of Christ be with you. Amen.

A Voice Unsilenced: The Need for the New Springtime of Evangelization

I struggle at times to balance what is my voice and the One who sends me. I struggle to see through what are my own vain attempts of vainglory for my own sake rather than that of Christ, Our Lord. I struggle to see the good of being vocal for the sake of righteousness. I struggle because there is conflict in being vocal, even among the Faithful. I struggle to see because of the gifts the Lord has given me, the calling He has given me isn't one that is as clear cut as I wish. It is a path that straddles many different is a path into the Wilderness.

I feel the great pull of inspiration both to create (the poems and prose) and also to speak out of what I have learned and have heard through those who have been placed in my life (the evangelization). If I remain silent, I reject the gift. If I speak out, I am at odds with rules set forth for good reason. As Peter and John said in Acts: "It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20) And so I am torn in spirit and in flesh of what to do. I have felt anger for what seems to be foolishness, to silence the Truth for the sake of the Law. It is a silencing of the Truth that disturbs me so. I understand that which is set forth for good execution of evangelization by the Church, the Body of Christ.

However, I am also reminded increasingly of John Paul II's call for a "new springtime of evangelization." And what tools do we have here! What amazing blessings the Lord has bestowed to put this into action. And yet, in my stubbornness and impatience, I am dismayed at the delay. I see inaction where there should be action, from myself and from others. In these five years here at Texas A&M, I see a striking need for further evangelization of the campus and of the community.

It is almost as though we remain ensconced in the marble temple and not tread forth into the malaise of the moment. We are a community of the Spirit, yes, but we still have so much to do. It can be accounted to be our nature to remain at rest in what is comfortable, but I sincerely believe we have an earnest and compelling call to go forth without fear, preaching to the nations, to our neighbors the Good News given! And how good it is!

I feel the following to be my resounding foundation for what drives me to further service, Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi:
But evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man's concrete life, both personal and social. This is why evangelization involves an explicit message, adapted to the different situations constantly being realized, about the rights and duties of every human being, about family life without which personal growth and development is hardly possible, about life in society, about international life, peace, justice and development- a message especially energetic today about liberation. (par. 29)

We must meet each in their concrete life, and not merely rest on what was stated in catechesis. We should be out there helping the lost in applying the Gospel to speak directly to what is occurring within their own lives. It is the mustard seed to which sprouts a huge bush, a contradiction of thought—the small seed of Faith into something so much greater in size.

Of great importance then too is the "how" of evangelization, which Paul VI further addresses in Evangelii Nuntiandi:
The obvious importance of the content of evangelization must not overshadow the importance of the ways and means.

This question of "how to evangelize" is permanently relevant, because the methods of evangelizing vary according to the different circumstances of time, place and culture, and because they thereby present a certain challenge to our capacity for discovery and adaptation.

On us particularly, the pastors of the Church, rests the responsibility for reshaping with boldness and wisdom, but in complete fidelity to the content of evangelization, the means that are most suitable and effective for communicating the Gospel message to the men and women of our times.

Let it suffice, in this meditation, to mention a number of methods which, for one reason or another, have a fundamental importance.
(par. 40)

Of great importance too is the means of evangelization and the need for communication that is both broad in reach but specific and personal in calling:
Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already emphasized.

When they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims "from the housetops"[72] the message of which she is the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit. Thanks to them she succeeds in speaking to the multitudes.

Nevertheless the use of the means of social communication for evangelization presents a challenge: through them the evangelical message should reach vast numbers of people, but with the capacity of piercing the conscience of each individual, of implanting itself in his heart as though he were the only person being addressed, with all his most individual and personal qualities, and evoke an entirely personal adherence and commitment.
(par. 45)

In all of this discovery I have received in these past five years, I feel there is more I must do before I leave my current station, but the eagerness to go forth is increasing by day. I am concerned, though I have reached the end here. I am dismayed to a certain extent of what is to come and where I should go.

I must remember, however, John Paul II's exhortation: "Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

And so too we should be reminded here of the substratum of John Paul II's words:
"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:6-9

And so this is my calling, a voice unsilenced that continues to speak. I pray it is never separated from the Truth. I pray that I remain faithful to the One who calls me by name, no matter the storminess of the seas.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Temptation of Inertia

Before all things and in all things, we have a tendency to remain where things are most comfortable and either to take the path of least resistance or continue down a path of failed understanding. We all have seen it: in politics, in science, in religion, in human interaction itself.

We, so to speak, don't see the writing on the wall. Either that or we fight to ignore it. We wish to remain in our comfort zone, that habitable bubble of comfort and understanding where all is supposedly right with the world even while everything around us is crashing down like the Hindenburg. My friends, this is a mistake—a horrible mistake.

If there weren't any resistance to our vocations in life, if there weren't any push back in success or defeat, we wouldn't grow. In weightlifting, isn't resistance not a good thing? It provides the strain needed to see through to later growth. So it is too in relationships, for if we reach a point in time where we aren't tested, like our muscles in weightlifting, our interpersonal relationships turn to mush. We become flabby and unfit in our life's social interactions.

And so there is resistance in our lives and in our relationships, both big and small. In this we must fight the inertia of not being able to turn our course in relationships and in our lives. We mustn't see the hardships as something to be cursed; rather, we ought to see them as what they are, tools in building what matters most and what leaves a lasting impact—making a difference in another's life.

We must fight the temptation of inertia, since in it we find much of our tendencies, our vices, and our habits. If we see past these habits, the short-term fruits they that quickly turn rotten, we will find a much greater bounty beyond the momentary strain that we find ourselves in on our way to building healthy—and lasting—relationships rooted in true love.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Chasm of Understanding

A response to a posting of an Atheistic peer...

The Riddle of Epicurus

If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.

If He is able, but not willing
Then He is malevolent.

If He is both able and willing
Then whence cometh evil?

If He is neither able nor willing
Then why call Him God?

It goes down to whether either of us gets "it."

We are on two different sides of the chasm of understanding, and surely either of us believes our way is right. And, in either respect, it is a fair assumption, through logic of which you've presented, to assume such things. And on the other hand, we have that of our understanding where the light is seen through the apparent darkness in logic itself.

And in this chasm of understanding there is darkness. Either side, those who believe in God and those who see the belief in God to be of total waste, are understandably and unequivocally ambassadors of such beliefs.

How do we bridge this chasm of understanding? It is by understanding the definitions of those words of which are used in defense of either belief.

Let us approach the word "willing"...for it is in willing that we exist. Through the biological processes, from the innate beginnings from whence we came, we enter existence. And as for the fingerprints of Creation, from where and how it came to be, they are there if not apparent to the untrained eye. No matter the form of creation, we go to the heart of the matter, where and how did we come to be? From ooze? So be it. From dust? So be it, too.

We see not where we come from, but rather where we are. And where we are going. For it is in willing something that we enter it. We have the intellect, the logic and reason to work within this world and so to interact with its Creation.

But then enters the logical claim: "If He is willing to prevent evil then why does He not prevent it?" And in the temporary view of things, in the drop of existence of any particular molecule of matter then, yes, it appears quite illogical. But where does the matter go from here? To further destruction, dismay, or despair? Is there any more existence of evil in this world on this day than the start of existence throughout all of universal creation or, more specifically, since the beginning of sentient understanding and decision-making (otherwise know as "free will")? I dare to state that the answer is no.

The only difference in this world as it is now is the number of sentient beings from that first day and thus the complexity of Creation ("the system"). One could invariably assume that "in the beginning" there was to be a single existence of an evolutionary sort. We must start from some starting point of existence. And so in this there enters one independent outlook on the world outside the forces of Creation. And if there were to be a reason for existence to go on, in this outlook, is to continue life. The how's and why's of it are to be debated of course, but the logical boils down. Then enters conflict of those of understanding. How can then we say then He is "willing" to end that which he created, if by the same understand they may do as they wish in the short-term?

Are we to expect to be called then gods, too? We might have a hand in creation but this would be a mistake, as it is, we only have a part in everything. We, indeed, are very limited in consciousness. That is, we do indeed die in the physical sense. Invariably we will take part of this plan or make our own decisions in our limitedness of consciousness and thus enter the ability to err.

And then, I would venture an educated guess that one would call to mind that of suffering in this world, the likes of disaster, disease, and calamities of cosmic forces. "Ah," would one say, "I have the riddle's answer. He cannot exist for the existence of this ‘wrong.’" Yes, we see this in our eyes of today, the problems of climate or beast or pest. We would fall victim to so-called "acts of God." What can we say of affliction? Does it not make us stronger? Does it see the fullness of all existence? If we had the outlook of life of narcissism, then yes, we’d say surely God does not exist. One might say, "If He does not stop this pain from existing then He is not there." But how short-sighted is this! We see not around the bend. And if it were around the bend and no reward to which we are given for our actions, then that same person might say it is for naught. But how can it be for naught if there is even the smallest possibility for supposed gain for "positive actions." In this instance the narcissistic person might be placated by that of Pascal’s Wager. But again, there might be a rejection even of that smallest possibility for that type of person.

For the altruistic person, there might be only gain even in the sight of all evil, think about the case of those in Nazi Germany who stood up in defense of the intrinsic evil being done. What gain was it for them? So it is the susceptibility for "martyrdom" for an intense commitment for a cause. In this manipulation could be brought about negatively just as well as positively for the world of Creation. But then, one might ask again, "Why does He allow it to exist?"

Simply put, as it is in the sciences, for every action there is a reaction. If there is something to come after our existence here then how is it to be? A knee-jerk reaction? Does the river run backwards for no logical reason? No, it does not.

The solution to the Riddle is in the scope in which it is applied. We must not look to that of single moments but sweeping vistas of time, and in those sweeping vistas of time the positive nature of things will enter. It may not be positive in the shortest of terms, but in the longest of terms it is there. As there is anything to bring forth life, it will come. But therein lies the "leap of faith"...and the chasm of understanding.

There you are on one side and here I am on the other. The darkness between the two ledges is deep, but all is required is that "leap of faith," that jump of understanding that there is more than just what we see here and that there is a greater good. For there weren't there wouldn't be any all, just as there would be total darkness if there weren't even the shadow of a single flame burning.

For my brethren of belief and equitable treatment by those of no faith, I continue with the following two passages to remember in trust of God, in whom all good things come:
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man’s ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

- Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

And from today's first reading...
Thus says the LORD:
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
- Ezekiel 3:25-28

Open your eyes. The existence is there and the ability to do good is within you. All you must do is choose and the world as you see it will never be the same again.

As a corollary, I remind that all must remember the following with charity of heart and mind, with charity of Faith and Reason:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. - 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3

Knowledge is dead if it is without love. Live with knowledge in love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Losing My Voice

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
- Isaiah 55:6-9

For various reasons I've lost my voice recently, both figuratively and literally. The coinciding of the physical with the spiritual loss can be diagnosed to be that of a deficient immune system. It isn't that the will isn't there, for it is. It is that my will is of a weakened state. Not that this discourse ought to defend my deficient acts or thoughts, but it speaks to the nature that we are all faced with in the flesh. It is not that we ought to cast away the flesh and cling solely to the spirit for that would belittle and demean what Christ Jesus did to raise the flesh to perfection with the spirit. For if we took it to be just the spirit for what we are to strive to live in, we'd fall into the heresy of Gnosticism. In short, we are both flesh and spirit, and in this world we must walk the tightrope of the two to its completion. We ought to run the race not in ignorance but in grace and in love.

How do we do it? Today's reading from the first chapter of Philippians sheds some light on it. For it's right before today's passage, specifically in verses 9 through 11, that we are given an invocation:
And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-11

We do it through acts of faith and acts of love. In this chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, St. Paul is contemplating the various prospects of martyrdom or continued missionary labor and how his is in continued missionary labor.

As we see in St. Paul's discourse of today's reading, Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a, we ought to see that "Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20c) and even more importantly the fact that "for to me life is Christ, and death is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

It is through various levels of martyrdom that acts of faith are made. In essence, we die to ourselves for the sake of Christ in acts of faith. So whether it is through death of the flesh or death of an old life of spiritual deficiencies and immorality, we must live a martyr's life.

Meanwhile, it is in missionary labor that we are called to acts of love. It is in the flesh that we are called to be Christ to one another. And so it is in the two visible acts that the spirit and the flesh are one. And we mustn't forget this.

I write all of this exploration of Scripture today not so much for your instruction or my own edification but for the edification for our God and for the strengthening of myself in Christ. For it is in times of distress and confusion that the Spirit wills itself to be known, to be grown, and to call us in the Spirit to be moved to greater conversion and, thus, greater love.

So in the end I have lost my voice, however it isn't lost but rather replaced by one that is more important. It isn't silenced but rather tuned again to that which matters more. I pray most this day for the strengthening the flesh of each of us so that we may all be truly united as one in the Spirit and that in both spirit and flesh we are strengthened in Christ Jesus.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Pick

A couple weeks ago, on the eve of the closing of the Democratic National Convention....the one with the Styrofoam Greek columns and all of the wonderful rhetoric...I made a guess in the dark. I was completely fed up with the way things were going then. I wasn't happy with either side, even as I supported John McCain earlier in the Republican primaries. He was the best of the bunch then...and is still the best of the bunch now.

This brings me to The Pick. I had my reasoning to what would happen after Thursday night when those columns were to be hauled back to some Hollywood backlot. I had my hunches of what should happen. That change was indeed needed. Change not only for the Republican Party, which has been destroyed more by George W. Bush and the faulty leadership he has provided in these eight years...the latter four of which I signed off for in 2004, as you might recognize from my earlier political posts from that time. It wasn't out of stupidity that I agreed with this man then...nor was it for over half the voting electorate that we agreed with this flawed man and his flawed leadership. It was in spite of these flaws that we voted for this man...and for that party of which he has—for better or worse—represented these tumultuous eight years.

Much has happened these eight years, a lot of which has changed not only the political landscape but the very fiber of which our country sees itself and how the world sees our country. This hasn't been for the best most of the time. We do have a realization across the country since our pre-9/11 era of the true nature of those who wish our civilization and culture to be no more. At the same time, we have had serious flaws in reacting to this threat, reactions that have not only taken our eyes away from the very dangerous threats that we still haven't addressed or subdued. We cannot take a head-in-sand approach. We must face these threats head-on and be as judicious in our actions abroad and built consensus with our allies.

Will either side of the political spectrum do this to the satisfaction needed to move our country forward? I doubt it as I've doubted it since we've gone into Iraq in 2003. But this is where the Democrats have been lost in the response to the threats at hand since then.

While they've been squabbling on what was so wrong about going into Iraq they haven't been providing solutions to solve the problems at hand. The same mantra has been to get out of Iraq no matter the cost. It's a policy of expediency that takes nothing into account for the security of the region. We do not need anarchy in the Middle East. Think our gas prices are high now? Think of it when the region is even further destabilized! We have been caught with our pants down in not only our execution of the military operations in the region but also our dependency to foreign oil there and elsewhere with nations that do not have our best interests at heart. Furthermore, we are simply too cozy with Saudi Arabia for our best interests and for democracy in the region. Simply put: enough is enough.

We as a nation must come together to solve these problems. The problem isn't that we don't have the answers, but it's that we have a nation of apathetic people more ready to give into a popularity contest rather than learn about the issues…and when new people come onto the scene to berate their inexperience. Both sides, as you might have seen this election season, have done exactly this.

This race has rarely been about the issues—because either side has refrained from giving clear policy thoughts on issues. It's all about how bad the other guy (or woman) is. It's been about lipstick on pigs, old doddering men, people who "don't get it", about being "the ones we've waited for", and a whole assortment of one-liners that don't get to the heart of the issues. Let's clear the clutter.

I had predicted Palin being picked by McCain as the VP pick for a couple of reasons:

1) She is a reformer.
2) She is not from Washington.
3) She is relatively untainted by the old politics of the Republican Party.
4) She is "Pro-Life."

On the first point, she has taken on the old vanguard of her state party organization. She does have some issues with in fact taking the Bridge to Nowhere funding though ultimately being against the project and for requesting earmarks as city mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, but in the end she is a breath a fresh air for Republicans...and potentially a number of Americans overall.

In fact, in the days after the announcement of Sarah Palin as the VP candidate, Chris Matthews did make a point similar to one that I noted in the conversation with a similarly-minded friend back in Louisiana a couple days before the pick, on August 26th. Specifically, that Palin is a sort of Bobby Jindal of the North. She is a new face, ready to take on the old politics of her state and make reforms for the better of all of her state. Jindal, who unfortunately was busy (as he ought to have been at the time) keeping Louisiana running and prepared for the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav that weekend to even make a step onto the national stage. In both Palin and Jindal, they provide a new set of faces to an old and dying party. The mantle of the party needs renewal, like most of the country. This isn't just a slogan or a catch phrase—it's a reality.

On the second point, she clearly isn't part of the Beltway politics. There's no way she can be labeled to be part of the Beltway politics. One of the huge issues (of many issues) I had with Mitt Romney overall. This is both a positive and a negative. She is, as a result, more apt to charges of being too inexperienced, much like Barack Obama was being accused of by the McCain and Clinton campaigns earlier in the election season. The problem for Obama is that he has been "tainted" by his involvement in Washington politics while doing very little in the way of authoring comprehensive legislation. So not only does he not have executive experience whatsoever but he has little legislative experience, too. Couple that with the fact that he's at the top of the ticket and she at the bottom and it leads to a great deal of confusion by the electorate which should be much more against another Republican administration, no matter their stripes or new changes. That is why the election polls are so close...and why it appears McCain has overcome Obama in the polls slightly as of late. And adding Biden at the bottom of the ticket does little but solidify the difference of understanding on the ticket (a bottom-heavy ticket rather than a top-heavy ticket). In fact, it's very much like a Bush-Cheney ticket with left political flavorings. Talk about "change!"

On the third point, Sarah Palin isn't an old face of the Republican party, which up to this time has been, for better or worse, the party of Old White Men. It's true, but it doesn't have to—nor should it—remain that way. Again, the Republican party needs a facelift. It needs some va-voom, some revving up. And by revving up, I don't necessarily mean beauty-queen popularity or "simply a pretty face" but that of a person who is of a different cloth than most Republicans. Yes, she doesn't have any foreign policy experience, but for that matter neither has Obama who has rarely traveled outside the United States, unless you count that trip to Europe with his celebrity speech in Berlin (an obvious blatant attempt to channel John F. Kennedy). Speaking of which, why does each side try to channel JFK or Reagan at every possible moment? Are these men (and women) their own persons? Honestly.

But back to the topic, her lack of foreign policy experience is indicative of the problems with the Democratic ticket at the top. Furthermore, VP picks don't require foreign policy experience...unless the top of the ticket doesn't have it, regardless of how old or young the top of the ticket is. There will be a learning curve for either president and vice president. Always have, always will.

On the fourth point, one that matters most to me personally, I see only gold for the Republicans. And this is where I think the Democrats "just don't get it" as Sen. Obama would say. The Democrat party is shutting those out of their party with the politics of abortion. If you want to have a compassionate approach to the issue, which there should be, then mandate funding or assistance to the mothers of unexpected children. Do not force the killing of innocents by your policy. Conversely, the politics of the Republicans hasn't been peachy either. They have used it as a political football and there is great hesitancy on this election for people like me who are Pro-Life. We don't want to be fooled again by an administration that uses issues like that and foist another set of policies that hurts our country and our place in the world. We feel betrayed.

That's what the uniqueness of the pick of Sarah Palin is for the Pro-Life movement. No, I don't mean the vocal and graphic segment of the Pro-Life movement that wishes to scream "BABY KILLERS" to all those going into clinics. No, we are the silent majority, good people of this country that see a woman—and by extension a society—caught in the crosshairs of a Culture of Death, one devoid of promises for life. We must not ignore the least defendable in our midst. We, the ones who pray on the street corners outside these clinics of despair that call death a "choice," are fed up. We see nothing but despair for those going in. Our prayers go out to those inside, not just to change the laws of this country but the hearts and minds of those who see things so differently than us. We do not call them names or do other things to shock them into submission. Rather, we wish to see change happen to save the millions lives of the children aborted each year. We wish to see a conversion of hearts in our midst, not to point the finger and use a "holier than thou" approach. We are a pro-life nation in exile.

In the pick of Sarah Palin there is an even greater promise for the country than it was going into the 2000 election. And yet, there is great resistance ahead for the Movement. That is why Sarah Palin has such popularity in the country right now. It's not that the Republicans, through John McCain, have picked a woman for VP. No, it's that McCain has chosen a pro-life person to help change this country, to reform it in ways untold.

The road ahead is one that is fraught with dangers. There will be continued missteps by both the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin campaigns. The thing that must be avoided is a race on personalities and return it to a race on the issues. How do we become a more compassionate nation and a more righteous nation of citizens who not only have passionate beliefs and concerns for our country but a nation of citizens who can take pride in their government for standing on the right side of life in all instances. We must truly become a beacon shining on a hill—a true bastion of democracy and of true civil rights.

We must learn what kind of change we need after these eight years. It cannot and should not return to the status quo politics that we've been subjected to these eight years—or the eight years before that was with Clinton. We must have actual change, not just a slogan and eloquent words.

To both campaigns: lose the pig-and-lipstick lines, lose the old-fish-in-paper analogies. Give us true answers for the issues that matter the most.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Living Stones

For all those times that we may feel tempted to think we are alone, I post this latest poem of mine I wrote several weeks back. It has returned to me these latest days as my thoughts have turned from tranquility to a storminess that is only masked by the near-miss back home in Louisiana.

We were reminded on Sunday, from the second reading, from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans:
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2

Do not conform yourselves to this age but take what you have learned and bring it to this age. Never grow weary and never give up. We are all on this road together.

Living Stones

Winter’s night has come and passed;
Spring’s day will never last;
Summer’s dawn is but a moment;
Fall’s eve knows nothing but torment.

Living and dying, we turn a new leaf,
Living each day we continue to seek
A voice that is true, in all ways just,
A voice from the desert, one in whom we can trust.

Wisdom’s words are quickly coming;
Are we to still follow that which is hollow?
Wisdom’s mirror is brightly shining;
Will we look to love’s defining?

Heed not the words of this day;
They too will come to pass,
For the last shall be first
And the first shall be last.

Seek not the emptiness of this day;
It too will not satisfy,
For these tempting moments
Are nothing but mirages of lies.

Be like living stones,
Stones in a river.
Let the waters of Life
Rush over you in cool currents.

For stones do not waver
In times of trouble
Since they are bound together
In a purpose so noble.

For living stones are not alone,
Each is with the other.
Though you might be worn,
Through your testing His grace is shown.

Each stone has its place
In His plan for fulfilling His grace.
Each stone finds its role
In paving the way of uniting the Souls.

Be not afraid in going from here
For His Presence remains very near,
Building each of us from season to season,
Placing each step of the stones through Faith and Reason.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Note of Disclosure & The Need for Faithful Citizenship

As the days are waning towards Election Day here in America (all told, only two months to go), I want to stress the need for Faithful Citizenship. We are not only called to have properly formed consciences on the public issues and policies being discussed, but we must also exercise our rights as dutiful citizens with our properly formed consciences to actively change for the better our society through active participation in political life. How do we do that?

By Making Our Voices Heard

We must never allow our voices to be silenced, even if the stances we take appear to the Mainstream to be backward, ignorant, or somehow "out-of-touch" with their sense of reality. A lot has continued to change these years of this new millennium and the warped nature of things can quickly work to try and silence what is right and what is just out there. We must never give in to or "sit down" and "shut up" to the injustices of our world. Speak to the world for the world is in need of a voice to speak the Truth.

By Being Respectful of the Other Side

We needn't get personal of the other side. We must remain firm in our beliefs but not nasty in our defenses. We cannot win a battle and lose the war on the account of dirty tactics and unfair political ways. We must let the Truth do the talking, our feet do the walking, and our hands pulling the levers of democracy. Be firm and friendly even when it requires turning the other cheek.

By Living and Voting According to Our Consciences, NOT Our Wallets

The question shouldn't be: Are YOU better off four (or eight) years ago? The question should be: Is the world a better place, a more equitable and safe place for all? How do we do this? We must be advocates for equitable treatment and good government. Without it, our society hasn't any legs left to stand on. Remember the axiom of do unto other as you wish others do unto you, even when it means we aren't as "rich" or "powerful" as we otherwise might think.

In the end, we are a country of immense possibilities, but we can also become too narrow-minded and narcissistic. We can end up having tunnel vision in our morality and the application of our morality in our lives. We can accept the unacceptable and refuse to tolerate what we see as intolerable. We have seen in recent years the fog of morality and its application. We have been let down as a nation, but that doesn't mean we have given up.

In the coming days and weeks, I will make the case for who I believe will best answer to the challenges ahead for us as a nation and who, in the end, doesn't have a leg to stand on for in the broad call for the audacity of hope. We must realize in the end, what this "hope" is truly calling for, and what the consequences will be.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Transfigured in Love

Yesterday was the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and the mountaintop analogy pervades my thoughts this day as it did this past Aggie Awakening.

Yet we ought not to discount the mountains for what they are—mountains—and thus turn them into molehills. I tried to do just that that Sunday. I was a mess. I was stressed, and I snapped. I refused not only to love in that moment, I rejected God's love around me. I couldn't—for that extended moment—turn the other cheek.

It was all of a sudden "about me." That's happened over the summer several times for me, which occurs for us all when we start doubting God's plans for us and all of His children. It's once we let go of our preconditions of love that we are born not into slavery but into freedom to love. We aren't burdened in the same way anymore. We are transfigured in love. And in these days since that weekend, I have seen His love transfigure not only me and my condition but my brothers and sisters in Christ and the whole world around me.

Be transfigured in love and let the world be changed because of it. Don't let that mountaintop experience go but cherish it evermore.

Monday, August 04, 2008

August Sun

Brightening sky,
With orange wisps of cloud,
You give your display
As though I were the only one,
But rather you deserve ten thousand to my one.

How do I describe
What sages and poets once tried?
Dark blues dance into purple,
And purples play into pink
And pinks into oranges with beauty in such a feat.

I struggle to grasp the words,
As though they were your clouds.
Now passing pale purples,
Before your bright canvas,
Show your inflamed glory that stays.

Yet you do not stay the same;
Your beauty constantly changes.
Your brightness and light give way
To the darkness of night
And to flashes of lightning strikes.

You dim this day,
Your yellows and oranges mere dreams instead.
In your place, grayish blues
And worrisome clouds take your stead
In a harrowing tempest foretold.

The winds pick up,
They rustle through the trees,
And thunder rumbles
In the distance
As you fade away.

And yet before this all,
In my audience of one,
I see through the pond's reflection,
A bright red orb of fire dancing,
You, the elusive and fiery August sun.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stormy Seas

Stormy seas
With strongest gales,
Stormy seas
With drenching rains

What waves dost have,
What tempest swirls;
What deafening roar
Dost possess in anger so great.

You buffet my ship
With anger so great;
The sails flutter
In the winds as they break.

The waves crash in,
Assailing my ship
With gauntlet after gauntlet of despair,
Leaving only destruction in its wake.

Fighting against fight,
Raging against storm,
I rise to take my stand
And vanquish you once more.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let the Rains of Justice Come...

Okay, so I waited long enough to undertake this writing, and it appears it won't be as polished as I hoped in all the time since last Wednesday. It is has been a topsy-turvy week for me, one I wish not to be rivaled but one that I'm sure will be in the eventuality that things must get worse before than can get better. Yet, it is in difficult situations that one learns about oneself. So it is.

The first point I would like to cover, and I feel as if I am a broken record here speaking to a faceless audience, one I'm not even sure cares what I say or to another audience that sees these words as pure sorrow, is that I am somehow dejected in sorrow. As to that I must respond whole-heartedly, for it says in Romans 5:3-5:
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Did you catch that? In our affliction. It results in proven character and proven character, hope. And hope (as we know) doesn't disappoint. Some might ask: "Why is there sorrow? Why is there pain?" And the simple answer is in sorrow we find ourselves. It is in adversity, in the unhappy times, that we can see what brings us to completion in the joyous times.

And so in this I have felt a great hope. It is in this testing by fire of one's commitments to the road ahead and to the love of God and creation that can become red-hot in nature and a reason for great affliction presented throughout our lives.

I shall state it here. I shall state it on the rooftops, on the streets, to anyone I meet. I am a man of emotion, yes. I find in emotion the greatest gift I can present and that is a set of feelings wrought hopefully not only in reality of the situation but in a future of possibility and of joy. I cannot go throughout this world simply reasoning things away, for me living is about loving. As St. Thomas More stated (and which I have already quoted before): "In the end it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love." To me this sums up life quintessentially. It should be our calling, our mantra, and our guiding rule of living. Just as much as the statement "Preach the Gospel at all times—if necessary use words" is a good one to follow, these words of St. Thomas More are not simply words but a call to action, to live not solely on reason but out of compassion for the world around us and for those in our lives and those who we have possibly ignored.

And yes, that can take a sappy connotation. It can be taken to be simply romantic fluff, emotional sappiness, or any other concoctions of placement. But it is none of those things. If we truly love, if we truly care for those around us, it doesn't become emotional sappiness or romantic sweet-nothings spoken silently to a loved one. It becomes real and true change in this world.

For in our broken human nature, we center ourselves around our own well-being, our own concerns, our own thoughts and wishes. It becomes solely "what's in it for me?" rather than "how does this affect the One I ought to care for?" Here's the danger, especially when one becomes possibly too attracted to the call for selfless love...having a disordered craving for intimacy. Yes, we all crave intimacy, but when it becomes a disordered demand for it, it hinders not only our relationship with God and ourselves but especially those near to us, to the one in our midst. These disordered cravings can become the calling card of a unbalanced relationship that leads to pain and to suffering. And then it comes a blaming game, either aloud or in one's heart.

The danger lies words unspoken, in concerns unshared. It becomes almost a vain bitterness for a "wrong" done that was no "wrong" at all, merely a misunderstanding or like two ships passing in the night, so to speak.

And it is therein lies the crux of the problem for me: balancing reason with emotion. I can float back and forth quite quickly, maybe sometimes too much for those who know me. One cannot go through life simply on calculated reason. Human beings are not simply rational agents. We are people with emotions (hidden or exposed) and thought-processes that aren't the flawless things we try to make them out to be.

And so last Wednesday, the rains of justice fell. They washed away the misconceptions of my heart and started the process of peace once more and of removing conflict and pain.

Those words spoken to me by another were part of the cleansing process, just as much as the physical drops of rain that fell for those two hours. Those were the same words that were with me during Mass that evening, as the rains crescendoed during the Consecration, the same words I heard not just that person speak to me earlier that afternoon but Christ too speak to me during the Mass: "Do not be afraid to reach out with love." I cursed my affliction on Monday, and it was blessed on Wednesday—not by me, but by Christ himself. How could I curse this affliction of mine? Why should I be of so little faith when I've followed the Lord for so long and through so much? Why could I not let go of my selfish pride and thoughts at the time for a greater plan?

Father David's homily that day spoke of the curiousness of God's plan through salvation, as the Gospel reading was from Matthew 10 when Jesus chose His disciples, specifically on the reasons why He choose Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve. Since He foreknew all things, why do something like that? It's sometimes through these most counter-intuitive plans that our personal redemption is brought to life. It's not that the road is simple that we are on it. It's because it's difficult to grasp that we continue on in learning and growth of understanding.

And so I see these events of not only the immediate past weeks but these years of confusion in my heart at various times as something of a grander plan that does make more sense. That this is helping me in my understanding how to fully give of myself, the pulling and pushing of the heart I've been reminded of lately.

This doesn't by itself take away the feelings of uneasiness in reaching out. It merely allows for a greater confidence in the One who sends me. That somehow, I will make it through the present afflictions.

I don't know if those whom I care for will always return the love I feel, but if it is a selfless one, I must learn to give and not receive at times. If it is selfless then I must realize my hope is not in the human existence but in the Divine. I must throw down any idols I might have created in the process of trying to find a holy love of purity and chastity, no matter the most honest of intentions, and plow a new field. As the Lord says in Hosea 10:12, the closing to the first reading from last Wednesday:
“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.”

It is in the insecurity of my heart that I seek consolation, that I seek the Other in my life. I know not who She is, but it is She whom I seek. No eloquence of words can measure the confusion of heart in which I place myself here this time and many times before and surely many times to come. Some days I curse the writings I have done, and other times I bless them saying to myself it is a gift I shouldn't hide. And so I oscillate. It becomes a source of consolation and one of desolation. But if I did not say this to you, my dear reader, then I would be lying not only to you but myself.

I doubt myself too much, and quite apparently it shows. It seems as though I am damaged goods to some. So be it. If these words and past words shall incriminate me to the ends of the earth for being a sentimental bloke, then so be it. If these words shall call me a fool, then so be it. I'd rather be a fool for Christ in all of my warts than a person of self-wallowing glory or a liar in denial who is apart from Him. That is how I see these words exposed. For it is a call into the Night.

And so I say to those whom I love: love me with a love that is neither cold nor luke-warm but with one that is hot, as hot as the sun of day. Love me and I will love you in return!

It is my hope and my fullest intention to live this day and every day forward with a continually renewed love, reigned by clarity of heart, of mind, and of soul. For even if affliction shall bear down, the rains of justice shall prevail. The cross shall bear all sorrows. And so I pick up my own cross and carry on.

My heart shall not be silenced nor my willingness to reach out once more to you, whomever you are, in the wide world of ours. Peace be with you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Living with Love: Love Renewed

When the rains of life come...
Forget not the new life it brings,
For those same sorrows bring joys that linger
And grace that remains forever
In a heart that continues to sing.

When the rains of life come...
Forget not each ripple it makes,
For each drop changes the world
And renews life in ways untold
With new love to stay.

A new day of joy has begun
To live with love renewed,
To praise God for life,
For hearts that have been made new
And for peace coming out of strife.

The path ahead is true,
If we remain true to our call
To love one another through it all
With hearts renewed.

When struggles again appear,
Know this love will not pass,
For life is already too short
To let this happiness built
To ever be taken back.

As this day ends,
Know how my heart has grown,
For often the simplest of hearts
Are often the wisest
In making their love known.

And on this day,
You affirmed in my heart
A truth much greater than my own:
To love and to learn
In newness of heart
So that true love can be shown.

What more can I ask for
In this prayer than this:
To love with this love
And to learn with this love
Every day from this day with bliss.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Let God Do the Heavy Lifting

Like a bird being lifted on warm currents of air, I've been lifted up from earlier troubles. It's not that I've made some great change or some magnificent achievement. I have left what I cannot change be as it is and allowed it to change itself in due time. I've let the things that don't matter fade to the background. It's at this time that the important things come to the fore, where the love present comes to shine. It lets those flourishes felt before remain as a repeating comfort, a soothing assurance of peace.

And so today has been a comfort oddly enough. Midterms were today, so I did a great deal of preparation to ready myself, and yet it seems that effort has succeeded. And so a minor victory has been won while the overall victory won't be known until midweek next week but for now I am satisfied with the effort put forth. And even with a month remaining, I can see the possibility for continued success and eventual victory in August.

While I see the future as completely cloudy, I am not afraid. Somehow amid the darkest of outlooks I know not fear. Failure may come, but fear isn't conquered in a corner. It is fought—and won—in the light of the sun, in the brightness of the day. And with the currents of warmth, I am lifted in the brightness of day. I know the darkness of night will come again and that it will turn my gladness to sorrow and pain, but it is a passing thing. Pain passes into obscurity when there is trust in the Unknown.

I must let God do the heavy lifting. Just like when a friend offers to help you move, you don't ignore his offer of help and do all the lifting as he watches on. It's a team effort, and with all things joy enters in when the job is done. But is the job ever truly done? Do we ever finish and rest on our laurels of "success?" We are a people of journeys, of continued exploration and discovery. So there are actually no endings in our journeys, just new beginnings.

However, we are presented at times a vision of what the end is like, where restlessness is banished to oblivion and peace is found. The vision is illusory, of course, but small tastes of this peace are what sustain us for the remainder of the journey. Yet, joy and peace cannot be realized or appreciated without first knowing what the opposite is, the sorrow and discord. It's not that we necessarily are tempted by evil to devolve into fear or doubt all the time, rather it's that we are being strengthened ever more and being shown greater insight to the joys of life until our earthly lives are complete, until we have run our course here. We are being trained to take more of the heavy lifting that God shoulders in many ways in ways seen but often is quite unseen. This is what grace is.

We must never lose sight that all of this at present is passing and how ephemeral things truly are. There might be a travesty or trial in our lives right now that we think that we cannot surpass, that we cannot overtake or that has conquered us. But with grace, how can we be conquered? With grace, how can we be shaken from the vision of journey's end? With all things, even with the darkest of clouds, there is a silver lining that cannot be overcome by the darkness. And so in all things, perseverance is key.

Today comfort has entered in. Today security has been felt. Today the beauty of God quietly has been shown. I hope you have seen this in a way like I have today.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

May grace and peace be yours in abundance
through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has bestowed on us
everything that makes for life and devotion,
through the knowledge of him
who called us by his own glory and power.
Through these, he has bestowed on us
the precious and very great promises,
so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature,
after escaping from the corruption that is in the world
because of evil desire. For this very reason,
make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control,
self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion,
devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.

- 2 Peter 1:2-7
The above passage was from a reading at Daily Mass earlier this month. It is a passage that has remained with me throughout the days since. And today, among many others, I have been feeling movements of the heart and the grace that is indistinguishably of the Lord. I haven't remained faithful in my love to Him these days. I have filled my head with doubts, with failures of my heart and failures of my mind. The greatest danger is the lacking of trust in Him and in His plan for each of us.

The most debilitating failure of all is that lack of trust. Once the trust is gone in a relationship, how can either of those involved be able to find common ground with the other? The relationship enters the period of a storm, a raging storm. It enters turmoil that cannot be escaped from natural means, from temporal means. For forgiveness is not a temporal way of life. To forgive is to "lose" something that one once possessed, a claim against another. And so line up the claimants, one might say. Yet, in forgiveness there is salvation. In forgiveness there is trust. In trust there is faith. In faith there is hope. In hope there is love. And in love there is God. And with God, nothing is impossible. No power or principality, no height or depth can come between us and God, between us and His love.

So what will come of our actions in this life? What are our fruits, if you will, of what we sow now in our thoughts and in our deeds? How do we treat the others in our lives and think not only of our concerns but the other in our midst? As Jesus had said:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them."

- Matthew 7:15-20

If we are to remain in Him, through the storms and through the troubles, then we must love. If we have not love then we are nothing. We are merely a clashing cymbal or a resounding gong. It means nothing if we gain all the things of the world but do not have love. It is in this love that the good fruits are found. I read recently in a discernment book a particularly charming quote from St. Thomas More, whom I could go on for hours, and it simply states a very succinct axiom which reads: "In the end it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love."

In all actions patience and love are required. We cannot fulfill through actions with which we are not first filled with. So love could not—and still cannot—be simply reasoned into existence. It requires faith to come into existence. It must come into existence in the form of Man to redeem what was lost in the actions of our free will, to redeem what Man truly is supposed to be—an image of the Divine.

And so there is but one thing to do then and that is love. May you find trust and peace in what the Lord has given you this day.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Prayer at Eventide

Lord, I come to You,
My whole self trembling.
Tell me of my wrongs.

Lord, I see You now,
Passing before my broken soul.
Show me Your way of peace.

Lord, I feel Your presence,
Burning into the depths of my soul.
Give me grace through Your counsel.

Lord, I know Your love,
Overflowing in my heart.
Turn my mourning into Your joy.

See my devotion, O Lord,
To the Call You have given me.
Give me peace through Your love.

Feel my yearning, O Lord,
To know You even more.
Show me the paths to Your wisdom.

Come to me, O Lord,
To guide me in my sleeping and my waking.
Tell me of Your will.

Give me peace in tonight's tranquil rest
And resolve each day to love all of You
With a heart so greatly blessed.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Love Made Renewed

Going and going...
What's going on?
What's new?

Falling and falling...
Where are we going to land?
Why are we so few?

Thinking and thinking...
What's going to come next?
How are we to get through?

It's through faith, hope, and love...
And through His Son, the Christ—love made renewed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eyes for Tomorrow

Summer days drive on
Day by day passes
How so are you missed...

The words of a poet
Scribbled down
Have no resting place...

They float from pen
Up currents away
Drifting with the clouds...

Beauty seen
Is now gone
Love given
Is now missing...

Eloquence is hollow
When words of joy
Turn to sorrow
And eyes of sadness
Turn to a brighter tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Millennial's Take: Old Media vs. New Media

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin'

In a world where the old dinosaurs of media are trying to put a cap on new creation of new ways to distribute to the masses, we have a new group of us out there not accepting the status quo of the world.

We cross ideological divides. We ignore our differences of thought, accept our differences of background, and celebrate our common similarities as they exist.

We do not take "no" for an answer. We take it as a challenge to do better, to strive to improve not only our place but also the world around us. We don't accept the answers of the old vanguard at face value. We question thoughtfully and fully what is presented to us with an eye of discretion. We do not want to be lectured to on what direction to take. We want to be talk to—like human beings.

We are disappointed in the old way of doing things but don't think they should be completely ignored like was done by other recent generations that came before us whose complete rebellion was the answer but was hardly the solution to the generational problem.

We are constantly yearning to find the answer to the Human Condition. We are striving to bring peace to a world torn by strife that is consumed in "us-against-them" rhetoric. We are constantly dreaming not of impossible dreams but of ones grounded in reality and bits of fantasy all the same.

We are the 9-11 Generation. We are the Columbine Generation. We are the Internet Generation. We are the generation of the Virginia Tech tragedy. We are the Echo Boom Generation. We are the Millennial Generation. We are a generation that defies labels and wishes to transform what might be a tragedy or loss and turn it into something greater.

We are a generation born into a world where terrorism and our fight against it is all we have ever known our adult lives. The Cold War is but a distant dream and a harder one to juxtapose against the present day's wars. We are the generation of disappearing borders.

And yet the Old Way wishes to continue putting up the borders against creative change and against innovation in media, in technology, and even in the way we think and live. The Old Way wishes to hold back the winds of change, the winds of new creativity never before seen on such a scale. Why? Why must they try to stop the inevitable? The eventual?

Because they are dinosaurs of understanding in a new world of connectivity, of continuous mixing and mashing. They cannot see beyond the old paradigm of locked creativity where things were static and not dynamic. They have limited their reach of understanding like every aging generation before and like every generation in the ages to come.

What we all must realize as Americans and as free people of the world is that we must find new ways, inventive ways to bridge the new with the old, to bridge the traditional with the cutting edge, or we as a civilization as a whole will cease to exist.

We are the Millennials, and we are ready for change.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This Gift

This gift is one I wish to give back every chance I can...
One I wish to be in every breath I take...
In every step I take...
In every ounce of my soul...
In every instance I take a stand.

Giving back what was not mine to begin with...
Giving back what is only a fleeting moment...
A moment of inspiration, of drive, of love.

If only every moment were like that moment of creation...
If only every moment were as luminous as the time of creation...
Then the world would truly be on fire...
Then the world would be afire in love.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Terra Firma

I shall have to categorize this posting as one of the more negative ones lately. I am deep into the end of a semester, and I am craving to get away. Away from the pressures I have put on myself, the failures I have set up for myself, and for the sadness I've caused.

There is a great deal assumed in how I approach life. It's not that I must have the answers. I feel like I must always be making progress towards whatever the goal may be. If I am distracted whether it is boredom or exhaustion or a mix of both, it presents a particularly difficult problem. I must have some solid ground to work off of to make my way down the road. I have a need for some terra firma.

General satisfaction, or what some might call happiness, is not so much about the amount but the quality of life. I'm not entirely dissatisfied but I feel like I am accomplishing less with more time. I see my failures and I cringe. I continue to get the same hands. I'm treading water.

What do you do when you start treading water? Do you stop? Or do you change your approach? Of course you don't stop. You can't stop...else you'll sink to the bottom of the lake. You've got to adjust and make changes.

As a kid, we'd have at home what was generally called a "junk drawer." Everything that either didn't have a place or was frequently used went into that drawer. Eventually that drawer would be too full of literal junk and it would need to be reorganized until it could be remotely functional. It seemed like everything this semester went into that junk drawer for me. Relationships. Classes. Projects. Work Plans. Future plans. Current plans. Yesterday's lunch. Tomorrow's future.

Why can't I shake this funk? Why do I feel so ineffective? So useless? Yes, a flattering self-portrait, one to garner many admirers... No. I can't shake this funk because I have put everything into that single drawer. There's no organization—at best it's cluttered organization.

Why is it so cluttered? Old baggage. Old expectations. Debts, dreams, and distractions. Why? That's what I am asking myself now. Why? Why isn't the future clear?

Well, the future is no murkier than the past. The past has the tendency to crystallize the best... Ever heard of The Judd's country song Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days?
Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy
And Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other, come what may?
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say?
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away?
Oh, Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days

Grandpa, everything is changing fast
We call it progress, but I just don't know
And Grandpa, let's wander back into the past
And paint me the picture of long ago

Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other, come what may?
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say?
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away?
Oh, Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Oh, Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days

I have a tendency to not allow for the positive outlook for the future. It ends up being that I look to the past either as better or that the future isn't good enough or that I haven't done enough to justify the past or warrant my future. Odd, I suppose, but it's me. Like I said before, I need to feel like I've made progress. Or else, this might show that I have a great lack of patience with myself, if only at times.

And sad to say, after five years, I feel as though little if any progress has been made on my behalf. I just see a larger stack of papers in a never-ending game of shifting bureaucracy that's my life at present.

I am surrounded by friends. But I don't feel their touch as much any more. Any progress made in this area is lost to the feeling of being alone to myself in a crowded room. This is not because I don't have a lack of important things to discuss or a fervent desire to care for the other in my midst, rather it is because I am completely incompetent to order this task promptly and thus proceed with patience. I push myself back in circles. I am now back to where I started five years ago, no more and no less.

And what do I have to show for it as of late? An Aggie Ring, yes. But not the satisfaction that I am going into a future I am pleased with. How could something so good go so horribly wrong? Poor management? Poor willpower? Poor desire? I don't think it's any of these three. Maybe it's a combination but not just any one of these three.

How can I focus on my personal matters if I can't first solve my academic/financial ones? It's the basic order of needs that comes to rear its ugly head. Shelter and food are first, all other needs follow behind.

I think the "easiest" decision **on paper** for me right now would be to get my degree and go to the seminary. Financially this makes sense for what I'm looking at. Spiritually it is okay. Academically it would be fine...I love to learn things I am actually interested in... But there is a chink in my armor of surety here, too. It's almost as if God has decided to put an anti-hubris device in the models coming off the assembly line when I was born. There's always another fault that comes forth to break the assuredness of any situation.

However, that is not what I want. I will not be a priest. There, I've said it. I won't go as far as cannot, just as Thomas (of Doubting Thomas fame) could not himself say, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." I just as well might make the same demand now for my own personal belief in His plans in my case.

I am not emotionally fit to be a priest. I know there is something deep within me, that's been there for the longest of times, where I feel the underlying need—no, compulsion—to give my all to another—my attention, my wealth, my understanding, my compassion, my love. You probably don't know what it is like to have this well inside only to be made, in essence, to learn in exercises of patience that God—and therefore love—requires it.

Yes, both priest and husband require such a self-giving sacrifice, but it is in the latter that I see myself most clearly, even if I don't see my future as clearly as I once did. It is in the latter I see requiring the greatest patience and, for me, the greatest love. For if one freely chooses God who has loved him since the beginning, is it not merely a return of the favor? However, is it not greater that one chooses to love someone who has not loved him first? Is this not a mirror image of God's love of each of His creation? And so I must emulate the One who has loved me first, bringing what love I have been given to another. For we do not know love until we are first loved. And it is in knowing His love for me that I shall have to not only return the favor but bring that love to others as well.

And so this compulsion requires that what wells inside of me be nurtured and tended to even though the garden remains fallow and untouched. That the brambles be trimmed back, even if the guest does not arrive as planned or even if she makes plans and then promptly runs away never to return again, for a garden elsewhere, one more distant and greener than can possibly be cultivated in the taxed soil of the garden's surroundings.

Why should you care about all of this of all of this timid psychobabble? I don't have an answer for that. But what was once private now is public, and even so, I am beginning to feel some peace and satisfaction on this stasis I am experiencing right now. I am simply saddened I have gotten myself into a cynical wheel of sorrow.

Dreams rarely come true, especially when one cannot keep those dreams—and wishes of happiness—straightened out for longer than five minutes. After those five minutes the world comes crashing back down, saying to me: "you stupid boy." If only I would learn and be at peace more often. If only, but there is still hope ahead. If there is anything at all, there is still hope, hope for solid ground.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Must Do...

It is in a moving peace and a moving joy that I am called to action this day. I am a man who is not happy to leave good enough alone. I am at heart a doer. I don't necessarily want the answer I have to be the right one, but every day I feel I must move closer to that understanding.

I must accomplish progress in the plans set before me so that I might not become discouraged. In short, I must have hope.

But if I have not the faith in my heart that the hope of a new day is to come, then how am I to live? I must live with love. I must show, as Pope Benedict said in conference with U.S. Catholic educators Thursday in Washington, D.C., "intellectual charity" not only to my own work but that of my peers and my professors. It is needed in everything I do to make it an act of charity, an act of love. In all things love and prayer must pervade. That is the mark of a holy life.

Let us be moved each day to find peace and joy in pursuing intellectual charity in all its glorious forms.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Some fellow peers and I had a discussion on whether there was such a thing as ordered chaos. I was firmly against such a notion simply because all I could see before me was chaos and no order to things lately. Slowly in the week since the discussion, I am finding the opposite to be true both in the physical and in the spiritual sense. Even though all has come from a chaos, it has been ordered in such a way even from the start by a hand so slight, a hand so delicate that the intricacies of what might look to be chaos but is truly order beneath it all.

I don't have another moral essay today as was the case this past weekend, but I am starting to notice that even in the most chaotic of times order—and therefore peace—can be found if only we rest our restless hearts and listen to the Word of God in the midst of our lives.