As High As the Heavens Are Above the Earth…

Originally published April 3, 2016

Okay–the Avoiding the Almighty Smackdown post was sorta’ intense. There was a reason for that, though. Even though it’s terrifying to think of our sins and the punishment (ummmmm…death) they merit, it’s critical that we do this. If we don’t, we can never fully appreciate God’s mercy, either.

The good news is that the LORD doesn’t want to wipe us off the face of the earth. (Whew!) As a wise friend put it, “God wants to forgive. He’s just waiting for us to give Him any excuse to forgive us!”

Sometimes, when we face the ways our sins have hurt others, we question God’s ability to absolve us. When we doubt His mercy, though—when we think, “God can’t forgive me, because I’ve [insert the worst thing you’ve ever done here],” that’s not Him speaking to our hearts. I think what we’re really saying is, “If I were God, and someone had done this same thing to me, I couldn’t forgive.” On the farm, we called that “weighing somebody else’s corn in your own bushel basket”. We don’t understand how God could forgive us, because we couldn’t offer the same forgiveness.

Isaiah 55 tells us, though, that God loves to do things that seem impossible to us:

“Seek the LORD while he may be found,

Call him while he is near.

Let the scoundrel forsake his way,

And the wicked man 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…”

With these lines, God lovingly reminds us that we can never fully understand His ways. When it comes to mercy, His greatest attribute, He pours out His gifts so abundantly that we can’t even fathom the bounty.

A Mother Angelica quote came through my Facebook feed yesterday, and I thought it was perfect. This spunky, “all in for God” nun, who was known for having just a little trouble holding her Italian tongue (and temper), said, “God always forgives when you are totally repentant and you desire to change. He forgives…and He never gets tired of forgiving. Never. You may get tired of asking. I hope not. He never, never tires of forgiving you. Never.”

Now, we don’t exactly know whether Mother is a saint or not yet, but she sure did try. The stories of the saints tell us that many of them were just people who had a great sense of their own sinfulness, ran to God with repentant hearts when they fell, and gratefully accepted the mercy He offered them. That builds a close relationship with God, which is even more evidence of His mercy. He has a way of taking our sorrow over our biggest sins and using it as a seed for gratitude, which fosters deep friendship with Him.

Scripture teaches us that the LORD wants all of us, not just those who wear habits or are ordained, to receive this kind of mercy—with this kind of heart. In Luke 7, Jesus comes to dine at the home of one of the Pharisees. A sinful woman, having learned where Christ was eating dinner that night, brought an alabaster flask filled with ointment. She wept, bathing the Lord’s feet with her tears. Then she dried them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of a woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner,” Jesus told a story:

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since both were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon [the Pharisee] said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love….”

I just can’t get over this story. I like to think the use of the word “hence” here might signify that she had been forgiven before she came to wash Christ’s feet with her tears.  In other words, when the sinful woman experienced Christ’s forgiveness, she felt such intense gratitude that she wanted to find Him–to go to wherever He was and show her thankfulness to Him with a heartfelt gesture–and Jesus, the King of Kings, allowed her to express her gratitude to Him in this very personal way. This scene reminds us that, no matter who we are and no matter which sins we’ve fallen prey to, God wants to forgive us—and that His forgiveness helps our gratitude to grow. It’s the seed for our relationship with Him.

Repentance is the turning point that starts a person on the road from darkness to light. It gives God the chance to flood us with the gift he loves to share the most—mercy. And that mercy can help anyone, no matter what his or her sins are, to draw very close to Christ. No one is beyond God’s redemption. That is the beauty of the Divine Mercy–it’s for all of us.

Mercy has touched my own life, and I’ll always be grateful. A long time ago, I was away from the Church, a thousand miles from the family and friends I had grown up with, and living in a very painful domestic situation. The darkness was so thick that I didn’t know if I’d ever see a day of hope again. Sometimes I didn’t want to see another day, period. Thank goodness I had one nearby friend–a lady who had yearned for nothing more in her younger years than to be a cloistered nun. She knew that practicing my faith would have protected me from the pit I was in, and she sent me straight to Confession. In that little room, God reached down, gave me hope, and began to heal my heart. I owe Him (and my friend-who-was-almost-a-nun) a debt I can never repay.

Even if we’ve fallen far, we can still know joy; God’s mercy takes our sorrow for sins and returns love and peace for it. In this way, the Lord really does change our darkness into light. Yes, His thoughts are far above our thoughts, and His ways are far above our ways–so far, in fact, that when we beg His mercy, He draws us into His close friendship.

Can A Loving God Get Angry?

Originally published March 26, 2016

Note: When I write “we” and “us” in this post, I mean it.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all wondered, at some point, whether we have made God angry. Then maybe we passed a billboard or saw a commercial that proclaimed, “God’s not mad at you, no matter what.”

That’s a relief, right? Well, maybe it could be—except for one problem: it’s a lie.

It’s not just a lie; it’s an incredibly dangerous one, because it minimizes the reality of Our LORD’s awesome power. This is the God who wiped an entire city off the map because of its immorality—and then turned a woman into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed Him and looked back at the destruction she was fleeing. This is the God who ended a man’s life because he used contraception…once. This is the God who slew the first born of every Egyptian home, all in one night, because Egypt’s ruler was persecuting people who loved God. We’re going to say He can’t be mad? Where the heck did that come from?

It comes from us—from our desire to be able to do anything we wish without being judged for it. We want to continue in whatever lifestyle we choose, and we don’t want to be criticized for it by anyone—even God. We are a culture of four-year-olds who want that third slab of double-fudge cake, eat it even though our dad tells us not to (when the only reason he says no is because more cake’s not good for us, anyway), and then expect him not to be mad when he finds us in the bathroom throwing up and realizes what we did.

The idea that God can’t be mad at us is wrong for another reason, too: it implies that a God who gets mad can’t at the same time be good. I’m pretty sure the Texan term for that is “bull-honkey. God’s power and the fearsomeness of His fury—those are some of the best things about Him! They are a critical part of His goodness! They’re key to our knowledge of Him as Protector. They help us to remember that if someone threatens His children, He WILL rout the attacker.

In Psalm 29, we read

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the LORD, over the mighty waters.

The voice of the LORD is power;

the voice of the LORD is splendor.

The voice of the LORD cracks the cedars;

the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon,

Makes Lebanon leap like a calf,

and Sirion like a young bull.

The voice of the LORD strikes with fiery flame;

the voice of the LORD rocks the desert;

the LORD rocks the desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD twists the oaks

and strips the forest bare.

All in his palace say, “Glory!”

Whom do you want protecting you when you are in danger—a God who can’t get mad?…or a God whose voice alone is enough to start fires, split cedars, twist oaks, strip forests, and rock the desert? I sure know which one I’d pick.

God’s anger is a good thing; one of His attributes is that He is all good. But being good doesn’t mean He can’t get mad.

His anger isn’t the biggest thing about Him, though; even greater is His desire to protect and shelter us. We can’t deny this when we read Psalm 91:

“You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

Say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust.’

God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,

from the destroying plague,

Will shelter you with pinions,

spread wings that you may take refuge;

God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield….”

See? God wants to shelter us. He wants to protect us so much, in fact, that He gives us a very easy way to run to His safety, even after we have offended Him.

In Nineveh and for King David, it involved things such as sackcloth and ashes, but we have an easier route. All we have to do to find it is to turn to Psalm 32:

“As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away;

I groaned all the day.

For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength withered as in dry summer heat.

Then I declared my sin to you;

my guilt I did not hide.

I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”

and you took away the guilt of my sin.

Thus should all your faithful pray

in time of distress.

Though flood waters threaten,

they will never reach them.

You are my shelter; from distress you keep me;

with safety you ring me round.” (italics mine)

Aren’t these verses beautiful? Here is a simple key to God’s mercy. It’s repentance and Confession. All we have to do is run to Him and confess with sincere hearts. Real repentance, though, requires the humility it takes to give Him our lives—to commit to obey Him (even if we don’t understand His reasons). This is the way we can find shelter under His wings.

When we do confess and put our lives under His direction, He always forgives. Mercy is His greatest attribute, and one of the nicest qualities of His mercy is that when we try to follow Him, He knows it’s hard, and He gives us the strength to do it. As written in Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Jesus told this little Polish nun, over and over, that His mercy was like an ocean, and that if you put all of humanity’s sins together (yes, even that one) and tossed them into that ocean, they would be like one tiny drop in the unfathomable abyss of His mercy.

But, today, we don’t even want to try. We can’t admit we’ve done anything wrong. We make our decisions, push forward, and expect HIM to honor US.

No. No. No.

That’s not His way. He knows our hearts. He knows that we are easily tempted to things that are beneath our dignity as His children. So He gives us Scripture and teachings that date back to Him to draw us to a life that will heal us and keep us close.

All He asks is that we abide by those teachings,…but instead, we tell ourselves that God couldn’t possibly be mad at us, no matter what we’ve done.

Of course He can be mad. He’s God.

It’s time for us all to acknowledge His power, His might, and His ability to wipe every single one of us off the face of the map. It’s also time for us to confess to Him that, if He did wipe us off the map, it wouldn’t be at all unfair.

Onan contracepted…once. How many times have we?

Sodom and Gomorrah, the towns He obliterated, were crude, selfish, sexually immoral, and had no regard for God’s commands. How much have those characteristics overtaken our culture now?

God slew all the firstborn of an entire nation because their head, Pharaoh, was persecuting people who loved God. How many in our society have made it harder for us to let our faith guide every decision?…and how many of us have “caved” to that pressure and given in—or fueled this fire with our own sins?

Wouldn’t we rather be under the shelter of His wings than in that desert He finally decides we’ve left Him no choice but to rock?

Wouldn’t we rather be shielded in the shadow of His loving hand than standing under that cedar we’ve been daring His voice to split?

The key to being nestled safely in His protection, and not sitting atop that oak when His voice finally twists it, is accessible to each of us—no matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, and no matter what our lives look like. That key is repentance, and the time for it is now.

Loving the Sinner…Halfway

(Originally posted 10/25/15)

Mercy.
We all need it–that’s for sure! As a Catholic, I’m constantly reminded of this–before my reversion to the Faith, my sins and mistakes had left me a shambles in need of healing. There was almost nothing left of me, and the only thing that healed the pain was God’s mercy. And since I’ve returned to my Faith, it seems that the more I learn–the more light enters my life–the more I can see that I’m broken! Thank goodness God forgives us when we go to Him with sorrowful hearts asking, and thank goodness He keeps reminding us of His love for us.

So the emphasis these days on mercy–wow. That is SUCH a good thing. Families in our society have been decimated–by child abuse. Abortion. Pornography. Confusion. Drug addiction. Slavery. Religious persecution. Cancer. Divorce. Coldness, disrespect, and dysfunction. It seems every single person in our culture has been touched by something no one should ever have to endure. Everyone–everyone–is broken now. We live in a world that needs mercy like never before.

I got to thinking about this today, and it led me to the story of the woman caught in adultery and her conversation with Christ found in John 8. You remember–when the scribes and Pharisees were ready to stone her, Jesus outsmarted them by saying, “Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone.” At this, instead of stoning the woman, the crowd dwindled away, leaving the woman alone with Jesus. Christ asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She answered, “No one, sir,” and He offered her the fullness of His mercy–“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Now, today, as I was mulling this over, I got to thinking–
What would that have sounded like if Christ had left out the reference to the woman’s sin, so as not to offend her…as we are encouraged to do today?

What if Christ, instead of saying, “Go, and sin no more,” had just said…”Go.”?

Would her life have changed? Without admonition and encouragement to do better from a God who loved her, would she have “sinned no more”?
Or would she have gone right back to the same broken, heart-wrenching lifestyle that had nearly led to her death in the first place?

Healing and recovery aren’t the result of someone making us “feel better” about the fact that we are living apart from God. Healing and recovery come about when we turn to Him and offer Him our lives. And that means turning away, with His help, from things He asks us not to do.

When we, as Catholics, talk about sin, it’s about so much more than “this is right, and that is wrong.”
It’s about dignity. It’s about a person’s value. It’s about what a person is worth.

Jesus Himself wanted that woman to know that she was worth more than the degrading life she was living. Sin breaks us. It tears a person apart.
And real love–real mercy–does not mean telling that torn, broken person that their sin is OK–because they’re drawn to it, or because it’s the modern thing to do, or because they can’t help it. Real love–real mercy–doesn’t just say, “Go.” That’s only half the mercy we are called to share. Real mercy shares Christ’s full message–“Go, and sin no more.”

In the end, it’s all about love. And, really, you can’t love someone if you don’t hate what brings them down.
In other words, we can’t really love the sinner unless we hate the sin.

Who Are the Richest People on Earth?

Originally published July 16, 2015

Did you see that homeless man on the corner?

The one who’d been there awhile.

The one who was hungry.

The one who, deep down, really didn’t expect that you’d give him anything today.

Is it possible that that homeless man could teach us how to grow rich?

For a while, a long time ago, we were a little hungry sometimes (not often). Not the ravenous “I need something–anything to eat!”–kind of hungry, but just the “Gee, hamburger meat would be soooo good…but it’ll have to wait ’til payday” kind of hungry. The kind where you really crave red meat sometimes but just can’t afford it (which, to most of the people in this world, wouldn’t really be considered hungry at all!)

Anyway, it was during that time that I drove my three small children into town one day, parked my car at the local grocery store, and picked a shopping basket out of the parking lot. As we were walking towards the entrance of the store, we passed a small, old, very clean pickup truck with a camper on the back. In the window was a cardboard sign: “Hungry. Will work for food.” Now, strange as it may seem, that sign wasn’t the thing that had the biggest effect on me. It was the camper itself.

See, that camper had windows. And in those windows, I could see that that camper held everything a person needed to live. Utensils, tools, engine oil, plates, a drinking cup, a razor, a toothbrush–everything most people would have in their bathrooms, garages, or kitchens, this man had in his camper. And everything–I mean everything–was neat as a pin. All lined up, on shelves, in the windows of his camper. With the sign in the back corner, telling the world that this camper WAS his home. This man cared. It wasn’t that he wasn’t trying–goodness; he took better care of those little things in his camper than most of us take of our flat-screen TVs and X-Box games. But, still, even though he was obviously a diligent person, he was there. In the parking lot at Hitchcock’s. With a sign.

That really got through to me. So, out of the money that we had for groceries that week, while we were in the store, I bought him a big bag of apples and the biggest jar of peanut butter I could afford.

My goodness. You should have seen the look on his face. His cheeks were sunken in, but when I gave him the apples and peanut butter, it made him so happy–as happy as I would have been at that time if someone had given me free groceries for my family for life!
He said, “Thank you so much. God bless you, ma’am.” And he really, really meant it.
I said, “God bless you, too, sir–it’s no problem; that’s what we’re here for–to help each other.”
He nodded his head and looked down, and he said, “Yes, but some people don’t know it.”

I felt badly about that. Partially because of how he had been treated, and partially because I knew that the “some people” were sometimes…well, me.

It happened again, much the same, about two months ago. We had just finished getting some things we needed at our local Winn-Dixie. As we pulled out of the parking lot, there was traffic, so we were behind a line of cars. On the right, a man sat on the curb next to a bicycle with a basket on it. His cheeks were sunken in, and he was bone-thin and tanned from being outdoors with no shelter from our blazing Florida sun. He was unshaven, and he kept his head down. His shoulders were slumped. On his bicycle was a cardboard sign that said “Painter for hire”.

We got out of line and went back into the store. By this time, we were in a much better place financially (thank You, Lord!), so we were able to do more. My daughter and I tried to think of what someone who had to be outdoors all day in the summer in Florida would want. We bought some groceries, and I put some money in with them, and we took them out to him.

I’ve never seen a more grateful person in my life. He was so happy–he must have said, “Thank you,” at least ten times. And when he saw that there was a bag of oranges in one of the bags, he lit up like a little boy under a Christmas tree. He said, “Oh, I love these–but they’re just so goldarned expensive, I can’t get them!”

I remember thinking he was as grateful for those groceries as I would have been if I had hit the lottery.

Which brings me to my point. Who’s richer–the man who has very little, but is grateful for every little thing he has?

Or the one who seems to have everything–but who always wants more?

People teach us about who they are by their responses to charity, but they also teach us about who we are.

How happy would we be–how much richer would we be-if we were so grateful for apples and peanut butter that we smiled from ear to ear and exclaimed, “God bless you!” every time someone gave us some?

How much wealthier would we be if we considered a bag of fresh oranges a wonderful blessing and thanked God–really thanked Him–each time a bag of those oranges was placed before us?

We never know–it might be true that some people without homes are homeless because they spent money unwisely or developed bad habits, as we often assume.

But it’s also true that all of us make mistakes. And, when it comes to gratitude, sometimes the people we would call “poor” are really far richer than most of the rest of us.

The Case for Loving God (Part I of Infinity)

There’s so much to say about God’s love for us–so much that it could never all be said!

But what about our love for God? What could we say about that?
More specifically, why should we love God?

First of all, because we belong to Him. We owe Him everything we are and all that we have. He created us. He gave us life. Then He ransomed each of us with His own blood. We are His.

But a second reason is that we are happier when we love Him. He created us so that there is a part of each of us–the most important part, the part that informs and animates all the others–that has loving Him and being close to Him as its purpose.1

He embedded in each of us a part that is made just for Him–just to seek Him, find Him, and stay near Him. Because of that, we can never really be fully alive–or fully ourselves –unless we are close to Him, united with Him, and filled with His life.

Maybe that’s why St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in You.” We crave union with Him until we find it.

Another point in the case for loving God is this: Think back over your life. Who is the most forgiving person you have known? Who was the person whom you always knew would still love you and forgive you, no matter what you had done wrong? (If you’ve never known someone like this, the Lord is waiting to pour out His mercy for you.)

The thing is–this is real mercy–the desire to forgive and relieve your suffering. Not just a grudging, “Whatever” when you apologize, not an irritated “OK” when you come to the person and say you’re sorry, but that enthusiastic forgiving response that lets you know that the person was really eager to forgive you. Some people are like that–they just love to forgive and have everything be OK again between you. They want to take the weight of your sins off of your shoulders. They love to show mercy.

And, if you took the most merciful person in the world–that person who always, always forgives enthusiastically and is happy to do it–and made all of their mercy one tiny drop of water, God’s mercy for our worst sins would look like an ocean.

In fact, that’s one analogy  the “Divine Mercy Saint”, Faustina, uses to tell us about God’s mercy–that it’s like an ocean. And that analogy is rooted in Christ. In her diary, she records Jesus’ words to her, including these (from entry #1059):

“I desire trust from my creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in my fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of my mercy.”*

Then, a while later in the same diary, she reminds us of God’s desire to forgive His creatures with this quote from Christ:

“My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the Cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart….You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs.”* (from #1485; emphasis mine)

See? He wants to forgive us. He wants to forgive us so much that it actually gives Him pleasure to do so! That’s because mercy is His greatest attribute. Did you get that? God’s love for us is immense, unfathomable, but His Mercy is His greatest attribute.2 So–how can we NOT love someone who is eagerly waiting for us to come to Him and talk about the very worst things we’ve ever done, just so He can wipe our slates clean and give us a fresh start? How can we not to love someone that we were created to love?

Loving God pleases Him, but it’s a critical element of our happiness, too. We owe Him everything we are and all that we have–our very lives–and something inside each of us senses that and is more on-key–in a word, happier–when we’re doing all we can to live that truth and give Him our hearts.

* Quotes from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska used with permission of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Stockbridge, MA USA.

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #364-366 []
  2. https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/st-thomas-aquinas-virtue-mercy []

To the Mom in Mass with Three Little Ones

(Originally posted November 16, 2014)

I saw you.

You, the husband-less mom who rushed into Mass just after the entrance hymn and sat your three little ones down in the first empty seats you spotted.

You, with the still-damp hair, the fussy baby, the two-year-old little boy carrying his pet monkey, and the chubby-cheeked little girl whose hair you had carefully braided instead of drying your own.

I saw you come in with a diaper bag, your purse, and a “Big Bag o’ Stuff for the Kids to Do” all slung across one shoulder, bouncing off your hip with each step. You had to do it that way, because in your other arm was the baby.

You were herding the baby’s brother and sister into the pew with whispers that you knew we could all hear.

You were trying. You were mothering. You were leading your children, in those whispers you knew we could all hear, to God.

I saw the way you spent the whole hour coaching, teaching, comforting, refereeing, nursing, taking all three children to the potty for the sake of the one who really had to go, and never getting a solid minute alone with God. Instead, you were teaching your children to find Him.

And they’ll learn, from the way you’re planting these patient little seeds of faith in their hearts now, that God loves them…and that the Mass is the best place to go to draw closer to Him. They’ll be able to feel His deep love for them, largely because He helped you to show them your love, in His house…

…while you were picking up all the things and putting them back into the “Big Bag o’ Stuff to Do”…again.
…while you were taking all three to the potty for the sake of the one who really had to go…
…while you were shushing and nurturing and refereeing in whispers…
….while you were doing your best, amidst the struggles of an imperfect situation, to lead three little souls to God.

The Beauty of the Faith

God. He’s amazing! He’s majestic; He’s perfect; He’s mysterious; He’s above us. He tells us so in Isaiah 55, where it’s written, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” We can study. We can pray. We can try to be kind and good and love our neighbor. But no matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we try, He will always be a mystery we can never really quite grasp.

That’s one of the things I love about Him, and it’s one of the reasons I love my Faith.

You see, to me, the mystery of Catholicism–the fact that it’s just too much to ever really fully understand–the fact that we could study it all our lives, line every wall of our homes with bookshelves full of good Catholic books, actually read them, and still never really “get” it all–that’s just one more facet of Catholicism that reflects God’s heart so well that this millennia-old Faith could have only been crafted by God Himself. Catholicism is a perfectly mysterious reflection of a perfectly mysterious God–a God who lets us understand only as much as He deems good for us. A God who leaves the parts hidden that we couldn’t handle yet. A God we can never completely understand and whose love for us is beyond our reason.

So–God’s majesty–His mystery-the way He stays above us–those are things that always speak to me of His beauty and, because the Catholic Faith reflects that element of Him so well, they speak to me, too, of the fact that Catholicism is a wonderful gift from Him. The beautiful mystery of this Faith is like the wrapping paper He put around it when He gave it to us–both to hide the contents and to be His signature. To prove it’s from Him.

But there’s something else, too, that speaks to me of Catholicism being truth. And that’s the opposite quality–the humility of it. God reaches down to us in whatever simple way we will understand…knowing that we are incapable of reaching all the way up to Him. He does it every single day, for all of us, in the Eucharist. Can you imagine–the greatest King ever known, actually hiding His glory so that we can look upon Him without being harmed by the sheer power of it? Can you imagine the One Who, with one word, calmed the seas– coming to us every single day under the appearance of common bread and wine so that even the poorest of the poor can share in His life? Wow.

Only Christ, with His heart for us, could come up with that! The humility of it all–it speaks so well of the humility of Christ Himself. It couldn’t come from anyone but Him…and we have it right there, in John 6: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Catholicism–both majesty AND humility!…or, in other words, Isaiah 55 and John 6, all wrapped up in one simple–yet incomprehensible–gift! Thank You, Lord!

Faith Spoken Simply

(Originally posted November 8, 2014)

In the nearly thirteen years since I’ve come home to my Faith–the Faith I wish I’d stayed with my whole life!–I’ve met some really, really great people. Quiet people (like me:-)), loud people, people who could easily emcee a New York dinner for someone reeeeaaally important, and people who preferred to just stay in their tiny little comfortable circles of friends. The thing that has made them all good friends, though, is that they took the time to sit and talk with me–and teach me about this Faith that’s two thousand years old. I’ve had the blessing of sitting at so many kitchen tables–across three counties here in our neck of the woods–and soaking in the great Catholic wisdom these wonderful people had hidden in their hearts. They’ve taught me about papal encyclicals, Scripture, the Catechism, Sacred Tradition, the saints, mercy, and love. They’ve prayed the Rosary with my children and me; they’ve held my crying babies so I could receive Communion; they’ve warned me away from sin. Four of them are priests; many of them are moms battling for their families deep in the trenches alongside me; some are parents with empty nests; some are elderly. All of them have a beautiful way of doing their best to live according to Church teaching. For thirteen years now, these wonderful people have poured out on me the greatest treasure they had–their deep Faith.

Now, I’d like to try to honor them–by sharing this Faith with you. So here I am, writing at my kitchen table, and I ask you to join me at yours. Grab a cup of coffee and a cookie or two, and pull up a chair. I’ll say a little prayer each time and then do my best to say these things right, hoping the way they come across will be a blessing to you. It’s faith spoken simply.