Tag Archives: suffering

A stranger and you welcomed me

This past Sunday, July 14, was to begin the raids on undocumented immigrants by the Trump Administration.  As of yet, I have not seen any news or images reported of these actual raids.  Not that they haven’t happened.  I just haven’t seen it.

This and the issues at the border seem to get worse and worse by the day. The immigrants/refugees that have been coming in through the U.S./Mexican border are still coming in large numbers, of course.  I say of course, because whatever could be done on the Mexican side isn’t being done and the bigger issue what could be done for them in their own countries, isn’t be done. Like, a better life.  A reason to not flee.

As I was on my way to Mass this morning, I even caught conversation on the Gus Lloyd show on the Catholic Channel.  He was giving his take on how some U.S. Catholic parishes are taking in those that the Border Patrol set as fugitives but the Church sees as asylum  seekers. He felt that the Church is crossing the line since the government is listing them as fugitives.  Callers were giving their opinions whether faith filled, doctrine supported, or just their passionate response.

What caused me to write this blog, even though I have touched on this before, were the responses from these ‘Catholics.’  How can the responses be so left or right?  One caller was upset at the fact that at his parish, if the Pastor even showed any support for helping the immigrant, that he would leave. Another caller, spoke about the children being detained are really not part of any family, but just a ploy for the drugs that are being  smuggled in.  Then of course, there was another caller who said, the Church is participating in a left wing agenda by providing placed for the immigrants to stay. Good God!  And I mean that with my hands surrendered to God.

Gus Lloyd said he even struggled with there being nothing mentioned in the Catechism about Immigration. I was shocked.  I’m not sure how he wants it described. A section in bold face large letters! But Gus, it’s in there. Just like the Catechism itself comes from the Bible.  And with that comes what?

Lately, I’ve begun again to read the Old Testament. Going through the books of Prophets and Kings, as well as, the destruction and saving of God’s people. How many times they disobeyed God and by His mercy, He saved them again. How when they would choose to live away from Him, choosing for themselves what they wanted, which broke away from His covenant and commandments.  Taking His word and choosing for them what best benefited. Time and time again, showing them that true fulfillment was living the way God intended and like on earth would be the kingdom of Heaven at hand.

Like what we are taught in our faith, with Jesus,  it wasn’t that the law was abolished, He fulfilled it. It wasn’t that ‘hey Jesus is here so just go ahead and forget about all I said before’ (that was God speaking there in case you didn’t get that).  No, it was to be continued and added with love your neighbor as yourself.

From every Mass given, from every Church teaching given, where does it every speak that we hold back mercy or grace?  Where did God our Father ever hold back mercy and grace in the OT? And when did Jesus hold back on the Cross?  Was it before or after He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Grace of God has always been given when we do things by His will.  When we submit ourselves to Him so that the work He wants to accomplish in us happens.

What are we afraid of if we believe we are following Jesus?

Yes, I understand there are not good people in the mix of people escaping to find a better life here in the U.S.  I understand there are thousands coming that it appears we won’t be able to take care of their needs. I understand that the countries they are coming from are not doing their part to resolve the bigger issues. But do you see there are droves of refugees going to all parts of the world because things are not getting better?

If we are a faith of PRO Life how do we not understand that means all human life, at any stage, at any time. If we want to help the mother in need with her crisis pregnancy, why wouldn’t we help a mother in  need for any crisis?

The Judgment of the Nations. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

It’s right here. If you are seeking where in the Bible or Catechism does it speak about housing immigrants or allowing them to seek asylum in our country, this passage alone says it.  But not to be limited, this passage doesn’t stand on it’s own. It’s the entire Good News message.  If the whole point of our lives is to partake in discipleship, how do we determine who’s worthy to share that with?

Now, I’m not ignorant of the fact that border safety must be done. That security for us and those coming in must be dealt with.  There has to be better solutions than what we have because I know and many do as well, but the immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers, are not going to stop coming into our country.  I think our world is setting them up in higher numbers to flee and come.


God in Your Mercy, help us to not cave into our own fears and worries, about fighting for things that cause divide, to understand we are not talking about a immigrant/fugitive/law breaker but a Person, a child of God, who is putting their hand out for help. +++

Unplanned

In light of the release of the film “Unplanned” which tells the story of Abby Johnson who was once a director for Planned Parenthood, who goes through a conversion to becoming one of the most leading voices in the Pro Life movement, I wanted to share a time in my life that I became a part of the Pro Life cause.

After a tough two years from being diagnosed with Lupus, I was seeking ways to use my energies and my renewed Catholic faith.

In the Church bulletin, was a post “volunteer crisis pregnancy counselors needed”. I thought ‘that sounds like something I want to be a part of. I have the time and I love babies, how difficult could this be?’ How clueless I was to soon find the raw and vulnerable situations I would be involved in.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers, CPC for short, had a two week training course for all volunteers. The training was designed to also inform them if the volunteer who completed it, could really take on the role.

The training had videos, speakers, manuals, and role play. The training included videos of actual abortion procedures, interviews, that left your mind spinning, and many tears. What I thought I knew about abortion was a completely sheltered world than from its true reality.

But I knew it in my heart, I wanted to continue and felt like the courage I was experiencing was not from me. I felt purpose!

When I served in this ministry, the women who came in for assistance, were of many backgrounds and nationalities. The women who worked or volunteered were from different Christian backgrounds. Out of these group of women, I would say out of the 40, maybe 5 were Catholic. CPC was not a Catholic agency.

I think if it wasn’t for some boisterous women who would like to voice their opinion of the Catholic Church, I would’ve stayed longer. It’s too bad such an important cause would have to have some bitter helpers.

But in either case, the women I counseled will always be a big piece to my heart.

There was a set of go to resources we would give the woman once we did their pregnancy test and if it showed positive. Like next steps, medical care, resources for food/nutrition, etc. We were given the freedom to pray with them and most of the time I did.

I’ll never forget one gal in particular. She came in appearing confused. She was young (like most) possibly 20. By her appearance, her clothes did not look fresh nor her hygiene. When I walked her into a counsel room, I then noticed her arms. They were riddled with heroin track marks. I didn’t want her to think I paid attention. And what came next was complete guidance by the Holy Spirit. By her approval we prayed waiting for results. Being a complete germaphobe, I lost myself in the fact, that I could’ve harmed myself since I was holding her bare arms. But it didn’t stay my focus.

Here I thought I was helping her in the beginning, yet I felt strength from her at the end. She seemed tired, scared, and needed someone to give her time.

Honestly, my memory doesn’t recall if her test was positive. All I remember, is how she touched me and know my Lord used me to meet her.

The women who came to CPC received love, direction, and support. Many are in need of hope. Most do not have money. But centers like CPC, are there for women to know they are respected and their unborn child will be cared for by the many resources who support CPC.

One of my biggest questions I have for the Pro Choice movement, is if they have really taken the time to see what an abortion does? To see what a “fetus” (BABY) shows in form and what it brutally does to a woman. If Planned Parenthood cares so much for the woman, I would like to see testimonies from the women who had abortions and what follow up care (emotional especially) they were given. Because I’ll tell you what, I never seen it. Where are the YouTube videos, website, Twitter, or feminist groups highlighting the post abortion care? I mean if it’s such a liberating action to have an abortion, why not film women explaining how valuable the process was? Where are these testimonies?

Kudos to Abby Johnson and the team who put this film together. Hopefully, there will be many who are not Pro Life, who will see this film.

If we practice our faith – Catholic or Christian, than our life decisions are based on that first. Not a political party, celebrity, or our opinion. If we place ourselves in all of God’s creation, we will take honor to His design.

Psalm 139

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to be.

Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three

I feel like such failure.

For some reason lately I am greatly battling my attitude. I feel more than ever my response can be negative and unwelcoming. Where I’m pessimistic and say things without a care whether what I’m saying is heard or not. And through it all, signs of impatience are easily given off.

Is it me? Is it hormones? Is it just Lent and because I’m walking through I’m being attacked?

All I know about this, is that I hate it! I hate that there’s that piece of me that I show others that doesn’t show Christ in my life. That I have not asked or done my part to rid myself of it. At least, that’s how it feels. Like I’m not doing enough about it.

I notice when I get high strung, stressed, impatient, this negative side of me appears. It is more so when I think I’m being provoked. But regardless of how it comes, I should not be allowing it to rear its ugly head.

I was told by a priest in the confessional in order to respond to these situations, I should stop and call our Lord in prayer. To pray and not react. But I’m not consistent. A part of me wonders will I ever change? What am I missing?

My heart is heavy right now. Because I’ve been helping others in their own area of lives, with virtue and prayer, yet I demonstrated something to them that was not an example I wanted to convey.

Now that I know damage is done, I’m struggling on how to correct it without placing to much emphasis towards me but letting the other person who I feel received my sin know my remorse. I’ve asked Our Lord for His correction. And even though I’m carrying regret from my actions, I am thankful Jesus showed me my wrong doing.

Thus, the purpose of prayer is perhaps less to obtain what we ask than to Become someone else. We should go further and say that asking something from God transforms us, little by little, into people capable of sometimes doing without what they ask for.  -Father Bernard Bro, o.p.

I want to be free of this but more importantly to gain a stronger charitable spirit, peace, and patience no matter what the situation.

Lord, help me, change me.

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.

There’s something about October

There’s something about October.

Here it is again!

The start of its splendor.

Rises to our recollection of what once been.

The heart wrenched news.

Their suffering dues.

All come reminding, their last days here.

Like dying leaves surrounding, our hearts go onto longing, their lives in many ways.

Why is it Dear Lord these souls ached or perished at the time of these orange skies?

How much they are missed.

Til we see them next, please keep them ever by your side.

The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

Around August 15th, about the time the news broke out on Cardinal McCarrick and the priest sex abuse scandal, I had just received my copy of ‘The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.  For some reason, right before this horrific news hit, I felt compelled to read it.  Even though I have read many books on St. Catherine, this one I hadn’t.  This book is the one big source to her total being.  It is odd to me that I hadn’t read it and yet now was the most perfect time to read it.

Quite frankly, I wish I could post a pic of each page and upload her text so you can just skip what I have to say about it and read what was written.

For those who don’t know about this book or St. Catherine, her life’s purpose in a nutshell had to do with reform of the Church. This book is the essential piece to the work she performed to help rid the Church of bad clergy.  Much of St. Catherine’s life was a selfless act of humility and servitude. All she wanted was for others to come to Christ and to defend the Church. Two things I hold dear in my heart.  However, I am no way near selflessness. But thanks to God, through St. Catherine, He used her at a time when much revolt was occurring and educated her to evangelize the masses during it.

St. Catherine was gifted with such openness to have our Father God speak to her.  With that, he gave her multiple “talks” on how to respond, how to pray, what to teach/pass on, how to stay on course of the faith, etc. during the time of purging and restoration.

The dialogue is based on “bad clergy” and Our Lord’s response to that.  He often refers to them not as bad clergy but priests who rather “self love” than to love God.

God’s speech to St. Catherine defines who follows Christ and those who don’t. He points out to her what He sees in both.

This excerpt is identifying those who are full of self love. From the book: “…nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his Profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body, but not on his heart.”

Father God shares with St. Catherine that there are priests performing evil acts.  Some so far into it, they can’t even turn away or find God’s mercy.  So they continue to stay in their sin and filth.  He instructs St. Catherine to pray for them. Pray they come to ask for God’s mercy before they die and how worse is it for a Priest to commit their abuse and never have asked God for forgiveness then for anyone who has committed the same abuse.

He goes onto telling St. Catherine that as much as we despise these “priests” who are causing evil in the Church and letting it fester, that we not lose sight that they are still Priests.  To not slander their name or mock them. But to instead pray. To remember, they are priests and that they are His.

He tells her: ” You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are my Christ’s, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”

After I read this, I completely understood it. It hit my soul….”of course.”  These Priests are under attack.  And some weak, they don’t even know it anymore. There are layers to these crimes committed and are being committed and who they affect.

Vow, Priest, sin, (mercy) >>>Church, Eucharist, faithful, (salvation).

It is not that Our Lord does not want us to be angry at what they’ve done, but to center on the problem that is causing this awful sin and that is the Devil himself.  The devil and all darkness is whom we are fighting.

The words and imagery used by Our Lord to St. Catherine speak with love and ferocity. His words are nothing but love and how awful it is for those who lose sight of it. What happens to us when we lose sight of Christ in our lives? Our world becomes foggy, we become clouded by our sin, our hearts are clogged.

This book came at the right time.  And since, I keep seeing clergy to the faithful, refer to St. Catherine as a reference on how to go forward. She is thrust out on the forefront again. Rallying the faithful to stop and recognize who we are in this fight against the evil that is in the Church by those who for far too long have kept it hidden.  The struggle seems the same but it is new to us. The push to make change or to put an end to the darkness is slowing happening. The task seems overwhelming. But if we take into account, this book, and its bits of instruction, we can plow through.  Let’s stay on the Ship.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. +++

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. +++