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Thursday, December 3, 2015
|not the devil, but my sometimes devilish son|
The Devil. We all know who he is. He has many names; Satan, Lucifer, and Prince of Darkness to name a few. He is the prideful unfaithful angel who rejected God by choice. Cast out of Heaven with his entourage, his mission has been to undermine God at every opportunity and lead man in disobedience against our Creator. A master manipulator, the devil is creative, diabolical, and powerful. With tools such as these it is no wonder our world finds itself mired in chaos. A formidable foe, here are a few things the devil does not want you to know:
The Devil is real: Not only real, but the devil has the ability to appear in many forms. We all know of the slippery snake who convinced Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Wisdom. It is important to remember Eve was not afraid of the snake. She did not run shrieking to Adam. If she had, it would have saved us all a world of trouble. Literally, the world would not be in trouble. The snake is described in Genesis as cunning, not fearful. The devil is okay with you not being afraid of him. Without fear you are more open to listening to him. He can draw you in. He can be attractive and sleek using whatever he can to keep you from God. Whatever takes us away from God and our true purpose can be devious in nature. We may not bow down to golden calves..but what is the first thing you reach for when your eyes open in the morning? How much time do you spend on facebook, instagram, and twitter? Where is your attention and focus? The devil uses our original sin and innate nature against us. He preys on our pride and naivety about his abilities to get us to choose to disobey God, just as Eve did.
Prayer is good for you: The devil does not want you to know that prayer is not only good for you but works. The last thing he wants is for you to talk to God. Prayer is not just petitioning God. It is the development of a relationship with God through praise, contrition, thanksgiving, and submission. It is opening our hearts and mind to the Lord. It is an act of faith, belief, and love. Prayer is an indication of hope. The devil wants us all to feel hopeless. Hopelessness leads to pain. The devil loves pain.
God loves us: I love my children. I often ask them, “Who loves you the most?” When they respond, “ You do.” I tell them, “No. God does.” The devil does not want you to know that God loves you. He want you to feel small, insignificant, and alone. He wants you to feel abandoned and unloved. He wants you to look for love in all the wrong places, not even realizing that you are surrounded by it. God longs to show us his love. He wants us to know and to believe in it. It is the basis of our existence. The devil wants you to feel insignificant, one of millions crying out to a deaf God. This is a lie. You are not one of millions. You are one IN a million, IN a billion. God not only hears you, but he loves you more than anyone ever will. He has given us all guardian angels, saints and his only son to show us the way to him. You are not alone and you are loved.
Death is not the end: The devil wants you to think death is the end. Death is the end of life. It is also the beginning of eternal life with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all focused on you in a joining of true rapture. It is love personified; beautiful, real and awesome. It is the end of all earthly desires and longing. It all falls away and there is nothing left but union with God. Eternal life is the goal and is obtained through obedience, service to others, and love. The devil wants you to believe death is the end and you should have all the fun you can without a thought of what will come later. What kind of choices would you make?
Real Presence: The belief that the Holy Eucharist is in fact the body and blood of Jesus, not symbolic...but actual. Some argue it is the basic tenet of the Catholic faith and the biggest bone of contention between Traditional Protestants and Catholics. Real Presence is the epitome of faith. Our logical minds are suspended and our faith stands alone. God is real. Jesus is real, risen, and before us as bread and wine. Not in but IS. The devil does not want you to believe. I myself have struggled with real presence, reciting Amen, Amen, Amen over and over before communion. I believe, I believe, I believe. Recently there has been a news story of a consecrated host bleeding in a glass of water. The image repulsed me and I was ashamed. I prayed/conversed with God about it. I was given an epiphany. We eat and drink to survive. Without it we would die an earthly death. Jesus comes to us as bread and wine, as food from heaven to nourish us...our souls. He restores and strengthens us. He is the ultimate super food. It is further proof of God’s love. The devil does not want you believing in true presence. He does not want you rushing to Mass to receive Jesus! Imagine what churches would be like if everyone believed in true presence. They would be packed..bursting at the seams, not only on Sundays but everyday.
Friday, October 2, 2015
I am a Christian. I believe in Christ. I believe he is God. I believe he came down from Heaven, not as a Zeus. He came down as flesh and blood; vulnerable, modest, and new. I believe Jesus grew up from a baby to a man who taught about compassion, epitomized love, and imparted wisdom. I believe in his courage, in his selflessness, and in his resurrection. I believe in him so much that I do not like to look at crucifixes because the image of our Lord’s body hanging in humility, vulnerable, and in pain causes my heart such agony. I am a Christian, but could I die for it?
If a man with a gun were to walk into a room and demand, “If you are a Christian stand up.” I do not think I would have the courage to stand up. As much as I believe, as much as I love...I do not know that I am ready to suffer for our Lord.
Just writing those words seems harsh. Let’s be real. Back in the day people were getting killed left and right for being Christians. The more you believed, the more your professed your faith, the more likely you were to be murdered. Every time I read a bible story about someone who was martyred in our Lord’s name, I can not help but to ask, “Lord, why? Why is it those who show you so much devotion, and love suffer?”
Ten people died yesterday in Oregon. It is reported that they were signaled out for being a Christian:
“[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,”
They stood up. They stood up! Faced with a man standing with the devil, they held to their convictions and stood up. They were killed for it.
Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. In April 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech:
“Our brothers and our sisters … are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christian,” he said, his expression tense, his cadence slow but deliberate.
April 2015: 147 people are massacred at Garissa University College in Kenya. They were signaled out for being Christians. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/02/africa/kenya-university-attack/
February 2015: 21 Egyptian men beheaded in a grisly video for being Christians. http://time.com/3718470/isis-copts-egypt/
A July New York Times Magazine recounts the plight of Middle East Christians who are being driven from their homes. They are not allowed to take anything with them except their lives. Three year old Christina was ripped from her mother’s arms as they waited on a bus to leave. When her mother pleaded for her daughter’s return she was told,
“Get on the bus before we slaughter your family” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/magazine/is-this-the-end-of-christianity-in-the-middle-east.html?_r=0
As I sit here in my house, writing away with a scented candy cane pencil, drinking flavored coffee, I am sad and angry...uncomfortable only in my emotions. I contemplate the lives of Christians everywhere; brave souls who dare to practice their faith even when it threatens their livelihoods and lives. I am sad and angry..but I am also alive. I remember those who had the courage to stand up...and died because of it.
I am a Christian. I believe in Christ. I believe he is God. Today I pray that I will remember his compassion, humility and vulnerability. Today I pray that even in my anger I will remember to be the example and not the problem. Today I pray that I will stand up for my faith. I will evangelize. I will love. I will be patient. I will not blame. I will be courageous. I will serve. Today I pray for those who said, “I am a Christian. I believe…” Today I pray for those who stood up and died for it.