Category Archives: death

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Instrument of Your Hands

Lord, make me an instrument of your hands with care for my mother in her now season of life.

When she’s impatient, help me to be patient.

When she’s anxious, help me to be peace.

When she worries, help me to show faithfulness.

When she is angry, help me with self control and gentleness.

Lord, help me to not be overcome by the weight of this journey you have us on. For through it, it is not only to tend to her needs but lessons in selflessness and trusting your will I am to learn.

Parts Truly Unknown

On Friday morning, I get a text at 6 a.m. from my friend Angela informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  She knew how much I liked him and knew this would be hard for me to hear. My husband was on his way out for work as I read out the text to him.  He said, “I know. I didn’t want to wake you up with that news.” But he knew, it wouldn’t matter how it came, the news was not good.

The rest of the day and now, I still feel a sense of sadness as I know I am not the only one. The media has continually been interviewing his friends, showing past Parts Unknown (his show on CNN), and my social media is covered with his face.  Mainly, because I follow many chefs. I have a big interest in the culinary scene due to Bourdain.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006 which came with much anxiety because of fear of travel, my craving for food and travel grew.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were not many travel shows other than Rick Steves and Samantha Brown.  Much to my delight, the Travel Channel gave us No Reservations where I first became acquainted with Bourdain’s witty culinary ways.  It right away captured for me an escape from my life in concrete Phoenix suburbia, track house living.

The trip to Italy placed a sense of adventure in me that I knew had to be somewhat contained. Let me preface here, my life is greatly blessed.  To date, my husband and I have traveled abroad two more times after our first Italy trip (London, Paris, Italy again). We travel within the States quite often.  However, I long for travel in the sense that I would like to discover it like Bourdain captured it.  Places not necessarily on the tourist map.

On Sunday’s, I would look forward to his latest episode.  Where was he now? Thailand. Croatia. Turkey. Sicily.  His demeanor was also a familiar connection to me.  He had a bad boy, rebellious nature. Reminded me of my youthful past and the group of friends I hung around with. His taste in music too was much like mine. A like of rock n roll and classics.  His wit also had me laughing as I was amused by how no matter whom he had in his show, he never changed himself to interact with them.  He had them laughing. Giving me a sense that no matter what part of the world you are in, we are all the same.

Once his show went from the Travel Network to CNN, I stayed with it.  I adapted a viewer relationship via his program.  This means about 12 years of fan watching.  And with social media, there became another connection.  It gave the fan a closer connection to his person who we all believed had the best job in the world. Travel and eat the best food. What could be better? He was the one who introduced me to taking pictures of food and share my experience of it.

He was also very vocal on Twitter about social issues.  One in particular had to with the Mexican immigrant and how interwoven their culinary skills are wrapped in America’s fabric.  Always pointing out that if we were to walk into any kitchen across the U.S., you would for sure find Mexicans working the kitchen, citizen or not.

Bourdain was not a believer.  Often on his show, he would give a tidbit on how he couldn’t rationalize believing in a higher power.  I don’t recall him ever pointing out one god over another or Jesus in particular, but he was clear he didn’t believe in any of it. Even when his close friend Eric Rippert was on his show speaking about Buddhism, you could see Bourdain wasn’t fully embracing.  Despite him not having faith, I never heard him bash anyone for believing.  But I know, it would strike him if he felt a religion was, in his view, destroying a people or nation.

So why do I dedicate a blog to him?

Bourdain’s suicide not only shook me, but it had my mind going.  I thought of my cousin Gil who committed suicide in 2010.  Thought of my Godmother who was married to him, his two sons, his family. All of us who went through that day with them. The feeling of life spiraling out of control. The big black hard depth of despair.  The confusion. The pain.

Here we all saw this man Bourdain on TV just about every week or on social media, seeming to live the life we all wanted. Celebration. Laughter. Good food and beautiful environments. But it wasn’t all true. I mean, did he have that?  Yes, I do believe he did. But he also had demons that wouldn’t let him go.

In his early life, he became addicted to heroin.  He spoke about the struggles of it and also shared how he was ‘recovered’, yet always conveying, recovery is day to day. Each day, he worked at it as many recovered addicts do.  I understand this well.  My Dad was a recovered addict. Difference was, my Dad found Jesus and lived his life with freedom from it.

However, from current family who is an addict, heroin is the worst of all drugs you could ever become addicted to.  This is one that has effects for the rest of your life. Now, that’s what I have heard scientifically, but I place all in God and know that if Jesus was in their life, it would be different. And you know, I’m no expert and I don’t want to go into heroin effects, mental illness, when is it not mental illness and we call it a demon, or lack of faith issues.  I don’t have expertise to discuss.

But what I do want to write about is the soul and how our faith responds to someone who has taken their life.

Because Bourdain was a self confessed non believer, my thought process on his passing made me think about the soul like I haven’t encountered before.  Some of his fans were leaving comments on Twitter or Instagram, saying things like “hope you have peace now in heaven or hell wherever you are’, or ‘give them hell’, etc.  I thought what darkness!

In my prayer time and reflection about Gil came forth. Thinking about his time of death and what we as a family learned. Although, Gil did believe in Jesus and was Catholic, family was confused on whether his soul went to heaven. And what I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church forever changed my outlook.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Bourdain stood up for the marginalized. He brought to light topics of the poor, no one else was touching in this form of media. He used his celebrity to bring witness, life that the world sees as dejected because they don’t live like we live.  But in reality showed more riches in their cooking or family members.   In a sense, we saw the Beatitude come to life “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  And he used that compassion, which I believe was placed in him by God. Even though, he never claim that. And it wasn’t always about the poor, but sharing stories of those living with wars around them.

In God’s mercy, we leave his soul and others who have taken their lives in such despair.  For we really do not know. I for one need to be aware to check on another.  From the one who we think has it all together to the one who looks like they are crumbling.

My food pics and travel will forever have root in Anthony Bourdain. For these I leave…

*******

Help us Lord to be more aware. Help us with courage to speak to those who do not show their belief in you Jesus, so that we may direct them to your love and mercy.  For we know as St. Peter says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Heaven is not out there only in the sky, but can by the grace of God, can be attained in the heart with true joy.  In how Your peace can allow them to breathe again. +++

Time

Lately, I’ve been in some kind of mode of embracing the present.  It’s not that I have never had these moments before like when at a family gathering, or a trip, or an outing.  I have had many that I’m thankful Our Lord push that button in me to recognize so that I can grab onto it.  But lately, it seems to be more prevalent.

As I mentioned before, my Mom lives with us.  It’s now going on 3 years.  However, these last months, she’s been staying with my sister in Tucson. My sister and I both knew this is how it would probably work out with my sister now living in Tucson. It gives Mom the flexibility of having both of our homes to live. Tucson is her hometown and we both want her where she’ll have most peace.

So in this time, Mom not being home with me, I have the time to work on things or be a part of things that I have held off. That’s mainly my issue since I tend to give my attention fully to her when she’s with me.  I have not mastered to balance my life and responsibility of her very well.

These days, in whatever it is I’m doing, I find myself stopping to a moment or fixate on what I’m doing more often. It can be anything from a physical ability or the wind hitting my skin. A memory from childhood or a book I’m reading that will make me stop and center on it.

When I recently saw my Mom who I hadn’t seen for three weeks, I just held onto her. Recognizing how I really have missed her. Thanking God to have the time shared.

I’m not sure I fully understand why it’s happening.  Part of it, I admit, could be the world news.  Random shootings, natural disasters, family suffering…I also think about where my husband and I are in our lives.  I’m 46 yrs and he’s 51. The clarity is there that we are letting go of that youthful time and entering the next season.  We have lived in our first home for 19 years. And with some recent home projects we have done, I have remembered the memories we have had or our marriage has had living here.  Also being aware of some blessed wisdom we have received and awareness of faith in our lives has added to that present moment thought process.  In no way am I saying that we are a well oiled machine and got it all right, we are learning each day. But to know and use that basic toolbox of faith and apply it to our lives, means so much at this stage in our lives.

I take this current situation in my life as a gift. I’m sure many of us have it.  I’m going to try record about it more.  With time passing by fast it seems, I at times get a little anxious because I physically can’t see all I would like. I truly love each one who I know on the most part understand. I can’t get to everyone in the sit down way I would like. Most of the time, I have to compromise how I use my energy. But I can for sure say, I have remembered a life event or given a prayer for each one in present moments each day as I think of them.

I just found this article.  I’m sure I’ve learned about this before, but lost its significance.  I’m linking it to share so that it may guide you too.

It’s from Catholic News Agency titled ‘Are you missing the gift of the present?’

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=67

Thank you Lord for giving me this gift I didn’t first recognize as one. Now I will be sure to embrace it even more.

Who am I?

A while back I wrote a post that I very much wanted to get off my chest.  However, because I was rushing and not paying attention, I deleted it by accident.  I still had the subject line “Who am I?” But since then, this post content has changed.

It also has been a while since I’ve written.  Lately, my mind has been busy and I just can’t get myself to settle to write.

Whether it’s making sure home life is right and somewhat in order for my Husband and my Mom or tending to opportunities I want to be a part of.  For example, I want to do this formation or that formation, listen to this podcast, or read this book. But also, because my mind has been overloaded with news.

For whatever reason, I’ve been home alone these past two days to just “think”.  I used to have this quite a bit before my mom moved in with us. I now appreciate it so much more, but I wouldn’t give up taking care of my mom to have it all again.  These opportunities that come from time to time are embraced.

So what is it?  Why do I feel a bit anxious, a bit emotionally weak?  Pretty sure I am not the only one.  Social media has so many thoughts about the current world.  Sometimes you see one breaking down in tears and another is baking a cake.

But, with the  news continually showing what is happening in one country recovering from natural disaster – hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, there is also added threat to this all from a dictator who is pushing his agenda to cause more suffering.

I don’t work, so I don’t have an 8 hour part of my day where I could invest my thoughts into something.  So these last two days, I have been praying while doing whatever needs to be taken care of.  Praying for those who died, who are waiting to be rescued, who are suffering, grieving, worrying, fearing.

It’s so strange the paradox that is going on.  Here in Arizona, these days have been beautiful.  Such ease – being able to drink my morning coffee in comfort. Grocery shop with many options.  Take a shower. Lay comfortably in my bed at night.  Read a book. It feels both guilty and very grateful at the same time.

How are we to keep joy when so much around seems grim?

You know what came to mind?  I think of Saint Paul singing in prison.

ACTS 16:17-25

She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Then it came out at that moment.

When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the public square before the local authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing our city and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
Deliverance from Prison. About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened…

This passage always blows my mind.  Paul didn’t fear what was about to happen to him.  He continued to stand up for belief in Jesus and even after they tortured him, he still carried on giving thanks and glorifying God.  Making sure all around him witnessed his true example.

Who am I these days? It’s been somewhat challenging with family and friends around me these past weeks, where I suited up the Armor of God to help them in their weaknesses even though I too have felt challenged.  Reminding them to pray, not to lose hope, keep reading the scriptures, get to Church.

Who do you say that I AM?  Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Whether time is near for Jesus to return, whether there will be much more suffering ahead, I hope our faith becomes stronger and love pours out from our souls. To know Jesus has conquered the world. To continue living each day directing our lives to Him.

Lord God, I want only for the appearance of my face and the depth of my soul to show your presence in my life.   Make me an instrument of your peace and use me for your will during these trying days and for what’s ahead so that you find us ready. +++

Splinter, Beam, Plank! Ouch!

Why is it people will point out what you did wrong with them, but they never take notice they’ve also did the same thing to you or maybe sinned against you as well?

Matthew 7:3 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?

Lately, I’ve been noticing much with the finger pointing, but their finger never is twisted to turn back to themselves.

It feels like many are quick to blame or show others one is wrong in life.  For some, it’s been going on for years and still no noticeable self- reflection.

A flood of thoughts come to me on this because so much of the resolve of these mind battles are answered by Jesus.  Instead of letting go of bondage to their thoughts on someone or something, they let it relish in their souls to the point where they become hardened like a chunk of cement added to their hearts.

  • Prayer
  • Self examination of conscience
  • Humility
  • Repentance
  • Reconciliation
Picture to me is profound. The outside cactus landscape depicts our sin. Thorns and dry brush. The chapel signifies to me Christ and His shelter.

All of these we are taught in our Catholic faith from our Lord Jesus. In his teaching to the apostles, from their teachings to the faithful and on.

I always try to review myself and see how I’ve fallen short. To begin with, there is no way I’m perfect, so before I start on with anyone else, I should fix me first. Don’t you think that is most of our problems? We don’t see our own sin?

One thing that is clear to me in my faith walk is if I have peace, then I have achieved some spiritual merit to a situation. That’s the ultimate result. If you’ve done the steps above and still have no peace, then there is something greater to be looked at, I believe.

Instead of adding another layer of blame to someone or something, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to let down our barriers to what forgiveness is all about. It’s not just waiting for the other person to come forward, but it also about us moving closer to Christ.

May Christ’s peace and unity rule our hearts! +++

 

Power of Prayer

Yesterday, a horrible tragedy occurred in Manchester, United Kingdom at a Ariana Grande concert.  A person vested in some kind of suicide bomb went off outside the arena killing 19 and injuring 50. That is the latest.

At first it was a bit tougher for me to latch onto the news because of the day I was having which was productive and joyous.  I first saw about this tragedy on Facebook but thought I’ll get to the news in a bit and carried on.  I feel awful to say it but it almost seemed “normal” news.

It wasn’t until a couple hours later did it sink in once I started watching the news and the video of the people running from blast.

I prayed thinking of those that died, their families, and then those suffering possibly some near death.

I thought about it some more in my night time prayer and asked Our Lord to call on His servant St. Michael to protect others from being hurt. But then I stopped for a second and thought …you know…He is. Every minute, every hour.  We are being protected. We just don’t see it in a newscast, but may hear about these good happenings through family and friends.

Like when we are driving on the highway and are protected seconds before an accident.  A doctor check up that caught a diagnosis to treat early and give us a second chance.  And I’m sure grand scale things, we as every day citizens are not aware of.

As we know,  we should always pray for the world in our daily prayers.  No matter if we think they’re working or not or how many times these awful events continue to happen.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-17
Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.

 

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.