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life as miricle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please click here to visit: jdetermination.tumblr.com for more pictures by the photographer.

Forrest Gump PosterHow many of you have seen the movie Forrest Gump?

Made 20 years ago the movie focused on a man who had a unique quality. He always told the truth.

It follows his life from childhood where things were not easy for Forrest because he was different.

As a young man, he joins the US Army and soon afterward he finds himself in Vietnam with his best friend in the world, Bubba, and his commanding officer Lieutenant Dan.

In one scene, we see the men involved in a battle and Forest carries his gravely wounded friend Bubba out of harm’s way only to have him die in his arms moments later. He also saves a seriously injured Lieutenant Dan who believes it is his destiny to die in battle. Dan does not perish from his wounds, but he does lose both his legs to amputation.

The scene I want to share with you takes place on Forrest’s shrimp boat. Lt. Dan has come to live with Forrest, but he remains an angry and bitter man. He asks Forrest a simple question- Where is your God Forrest? In a voice-over Forrest says that God must have heard Lieutenant Dan because at that very moment, the winds of a hurricane start to blow.

Next we find Dan up in the lookout tower having a raging argument with God. He dares God to come and get him.

Lt Dan at PeaceWhen the storm ends we see a transformed Lieutenant Dan. His anger has left him, and he looks at his friend and says, “You know Forrest I don’t think I ever thanked you for saving my life.” He then jumps into the water and starts to swim as if he has been freed from some heavy chains that were holding him down.

While watching his friend swimming freely, Forrest comes to the conclusion that on that stormy night Lieutenant Dan had made his peace with God.

I wanted to share this story with you because a few months ago someone asked me a simple question:

Is it ok to be mad at God?

He was asking because someone he knows seems locked into a state of being angry with God, and he was concerned about this behaviour.
I thought about the question for a moment and simply answered: If you can’t be mad at God, then who can you be angry with!

Some may want to argue with this simple answer, but I have been reflecting on it for weeks now and the more I think about it the answer becomes clearer in my mind.

Let me explain my sense of clarity in this area-although I do admit there is room here for others to challenge me as being too simple in my approach- much like Forest Gump perhaps.

There are many things that make us different as Christians from others who believe in a supreme being. The most significant difference is obvious. As followers of Christ, we believe that our God so loved the world he sent his only Son to be with us, and Jesus was fully human and divine.

Jesus is our God but unlike any of the other great religions of the world, our God knows what it means to have lived experiencing the full range of human emotions.

He knew joy and friendship. He loved his family. He grieved at the loss of his close friend Lazarus where he wept at his tomb. He would have known the sense of kinship at the last supper which was soon followed by the hurt of betrayal and abandonment only hours later at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus also knew anger.

There are many reasons to be angry at God. In an earlier version of this homily, I had several detailed real-life experiences where I witnessed people who had every right to hate God for the injustices they have experienced. I have to admit there have been times in my life, some recently, when I thought God must hate me for some unknown reason.

Anger is a naturally-occurring human emotion. It just happens. The key question is not is it ok to be angry but rather what is our response to that anger.

I would like to use the gospel reading today as a metaphor for one possible way to deal with the anger we feel towards God, the world, and most likely at a particular person or group of people.

In our gospel story, Jesus puts the disciples into a boat and tells them to proceed to the other side. He leaves them to pray. I am pretty sure that for most of the journey, the disciples do not even think about Christ as the sailing was smooth.

But then something changes and the waves and the wind start to batter the boat. Although it is left unsaid in the gospel, it is not unlikely that the disciples may well have felt abandoned by Jesus in their hour of greatest need.

In the gospel we are told, they are afraid, but we can substitute the word angry for some of them may well have blamed God for the storm.

The boat is a symbol of our lives and the raging seas our anger. We can get so comfortable in this state of being upset over some storm that has come into our lives; we fail to see that Jesus is always with us. To be healed, we need to find the courage to overcome our anger and to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. We need to trust that he will be there waiting for us right in the middle of the stormy waves of our life.

He tells Peter in the story- he tells all of us, especially when we are lost, perhaps awash in a negative emotion like anger, Do Not Be Afraid- I am with you until the end of the age.

Even if we do trust enough to get out of the boat of our anger, we may falter and start to sink again into a rage or the depths of despair.

Why does this happen? One reason is that when you move towards Jesus, you may start to see things in a different way, and that can be uncomfortable. You may see that your anger is turning into bitterness, and it is eating you alive. You may see that to be free you will have to offer someone forgiveness for the wrong that has transpired.

You may discover that the person you need to forgive is yourself.

Anger and resentment can become a way of life. Even though we are unhappy, perhaps miserable, we find that we have become comfortable in our misery.

Reaching out to Jesus during these times and embracing his teachings can be difficult, it requires a great deal of trust and faith, but if we take his hands, the seas will eventually calm. We will be able to get back into the boat of our life and continue the journey.
When we learn how to trust in Jesus completely, we will be able to weather the next storm, for there is always another storm.

If we listen carefully we will be able to hear him reassuring us that we have nothing to fear, and if we find the courage to take is hand, we will see that it is possible to Go in Peace, and even though we have been battered and bruised we can always choose to glorify the Lord, by the way, we choose to live our lives.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to preach about the apostle we affectionately call doubting Thomas.

After the homily, an interesting thing started to happen to me. Several people came into my life after the homily, and they all seemed to have the same basic question which circles around the idea of doubting God and more specifically being mad at God.

The clips below are from Forest Gump. I will bet many of you have seen the movie more than once. One of the most famous clips is of Lt. Dan raging at God during a hurricane.

The setting of this scene which is a storm at sea and lost souls on a boat seems to fit well with this week’s gospel.

 

Lt. Dan Makes His Peace

This Sunday’s Readings

This weeks readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which uses the New American Bible.

Click here for THIS SUNDAY’s  readings

Click Here to Listen to THIS SUNDAY’s readings

The Word on Fire

The Word On Fire – Fr. Robert Barron’s internet site offers many interesting insights into all things Catholic. Fr. Barron has a full library of homilies that he has prepared and we will be featuring a link here to his 15 minute reflections on this week’s readings.

This Sunday: “Elijah is a contemplative who has the eyes to see and the ears to listen. God does not appear in the glory of the world. Rather, he appears in a silent way. Weed out of your heart all of those fears and desires that prevent you from discerning the silent presence of God. ”

Click here to listen to Fr. Barron’s Homily for This Sunday

Fr. Greg Friedman

Sunday Soundbites is a weekly, 90-second radio homily based on the Sunday readings, written and read by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Sunday Soundbites is also heard on Catholic radio stations around the country.

This Sunday:Today’s Sunday readings have two stories, about two Biblical characters, whose qualities I’d like to possess.

Click here to listen to This Sunday’s Soundbite.

The ChurchYear.Net site is a resource that provides short and highly readable information on the Church Liturgical Year.

Ordinary Time is the liturgical period outside of the other liturgical seasons, and runs 33 or 34 weeks. In Latin, Ordinary Time is called Tempus Per Annum (“time throughout the year”). The season falls between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent, exclusive.

Click here to read more about Ordinary Time

Moments to remember

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please click here to visit: jdetermination.tumblr.com for more pictures by the photographer.

It is interesting how the internet connects folks and stories. I found this post in a weekly newsletter I get about happiness and it turns out they reprinted from the Huffington Post who got it from a blog called the Daily Moxie. Anyway, the list below is from a wonderful article written by Jocelyn Kelly.Jocelyn also attached a quote for each lesson.To read the article please click here. To enjoy a snapshot of Jocelyn’s wisdom have a look below:

Kids teaching1. Every day is a fresh start.
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.

2. Creative pursuits are fun and good for you.
“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Be courageous.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin.

4. Laugh every day.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

5. Be active.
“Play energizes and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” – Stuart Brown

6. Nurture friendship.
“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” – Khalil Gibran

7. Be the hero.
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

8. Scars are badges of honor.
“Every day you either see a scar or courage. Where you dwell will define your struggle.” – Dodinsky

9. Try new things.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

10. Notice the little things.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Catching Up

At the IndyI have been on a bit of a break for the past week. Well not a break so much as swamped with work, I let slide to the last minute.

One of the reasons is that a week ago I made my annual pilgrimage to the Toronto Indy-car race with my son. This marks about the 20th such trek we have made to this event as a father and son team and given that he is now 33 years old that means we started this tradition when he was in his early teens.

This is our traditional picture from the same place in the stands. Two things have changed in this picture.

The first is that in the early pictures, the CN Tower was clearly visible in the background. For those of you familiar with Toronto you might be able to make it out as it pokes above one of the many condominiums that now define downtown.

The second is my son. The picture is deceiving as he is standing on the row below me so it makes us look about the same height. He passed me in that department many years ago which I suppose is another rite of passage. I won’t actually tell you how much taller he is than I am but let’s just say people are often surprised we are related.

The quote below sums up my feelings about the weekend. Car racing is actually a very strange spectator sport, especially on a street course like Toronto. You only see the cars for about 8 seconds every minute as they whiz by at about 180 mph. It is noisy and on the Saturday, it rained for most of the day. Oh yea did I mention it is a three-day.

However, it is a tradition and as the folks at MasterCard like to remind us, the memories are priceless, even if the beer costs $10!

Memories

THINK

A common questions people have when we talk often times centre around one topic- forgiveness. I have been told that the vast majority of Jesus’ teachings touched on this particular topic.

Below is a short introduction to a course that is offered that talks about the three types of forgiveness. It is food for thought especially of you are wrestling with a past hurt that dominates your life.

Here the description of this video:

We have all had times in our relationships when we hurt a loved one, or a loved one hurt us. That’s part of life. But not all of us know how to forgive, even when the other party has offered a sincere apology. In this Prager University course, UCLA psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Marmer shares the three types of forgiveness–exoneration, forbearance, and release–and explains why anyone who wants to mend meaningful relationships must first understand forgiveness. Internalizing Dr. Marmer’s teaching can be an important first step, for many people, to keeping and fixing their most valued relationships

Tale of Two Popes

This Sunday’s Readings

This weeks readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which uses the New American Bible.

Click here for THIS SUNDAY’s  readings

Click Here to Listen to THIS SUNDAY’s readings

 

The Word on Fire

The Word On Fire – Fr. Robert Barron’s internet site offers many interesting insights into all things Catholic. Fr. Barron has a full library of homilies that he has prepared and we will be featuring a link here to his 15 minute reflections on this week’s readings.

This Sunday: “God sows his Word into each of our hearts liberally. He does not solely give his grace to those he knows will bear fruit. He sows the Word in everyone, but it doesn’t flourish for each person due to circumstances (secularism, anxiety, the allurement of the world), but strive to counter that by letting the Word open you to the implications of his Lordship. God is always giving himself to you, listen and act. ”

Click here to listen to Fr. Barron’s Homily for This Sunday

Fr. Greg Friedman

Sunday Soundbites is a weekly, 90-second radio homily based on the Sunday readings, written and read by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Sunday Soundbites is also heard on Catholic radio stations around the country.

This Sunday:For many years, I’ve worked at a parish that draws its members in part from a rural, farming area. Folks who work on a farm usually attend our earliest Sunday Mass. They’re a fascinating congregation to work with. I’m only guessing, but I wonder if their openness to the word of God has anything to do with their connection to the earth? The cycle of growing, the passage of seasons, the risks of planting crops—all these activities teach a lot about life.

Click here to listen to This Sunday’s Soundbite.

The ChurchYear.Net site is a resource that provides short and highly readable information on the Church Liturgical Year.

Ordinary Time is the liturgical period outside of the other liturgical seasons, and runs 33 or 34 weeks. In Latin, Ordinary Time is called Tempus Per Annum (“time throughout the year”). The season falls between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent, exclusive.

Click here to read more about Ordinary Time

Elderly PriestA group of business professionals was gathered for their monthly luncheon. As was their custom once each year, they invited their pastors to join them. After the meal they had scheduled a famous actor to provide some entertainment as people were enjoying coffee and dessert. The actor stood before them dramatically reciting lines from famous plays and poetry. At one point he invited requests from those in attendance. One elderly priest rose and spoke. “Would you recite for us Psalm 23? The actor, a bit surprised by the unusual request, finally agreed. “Father,” he said,”I’ll agree to your request under one condition. After I recite the psalm, I’d be honored if you would then recite it too.” Reluctantly, the elderly priest agreed.

So the actor presented a stunningly beautiful recitation of Psalm 23, to which people responded with enthusiastic applause. Then he turned to the priest and said, “Okay, Father, your turn.” So the priest rather hesitantly stood and began reciting the famous psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.”

When he finished, there was no applause, just hushed silence. The people, so moved by his simple recitation, were sitting with tears running down their faces. After a few moments the actor rose and spoke. “Ladies and gentlemen, I spoke to your ears. But this man has spoken to your hearts. And here’s the difference. I know Psalm 23. But this man knows the Shepherd.”

Source | Dan ShutteWalking the Sacred Path: Spiritual Exercises for Today
(Twenty-Third Publications, 2009)

Please take a moment to visit Fr. Philip WordPress site called Wisdom Stories to Live By at: http://philipchircop.wordpress.com/ where I found this ‘wisdom’ tale.

Fr. Philip also has a Tumblr site at: www.philipchircop.com/ where you can view his many bits of wisdom from the road.

Psalm 23

JailIt is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones –Nelson Mandela (in Guiding Rage into Power)

Click here for original post on Bronnie Ware’s Book: Top Regrets of the Dying

Click here: Printer Friendly copy of speech to Brebeuf Graduates June 2014

Brebeuf CrestHere is a the text of a speech I recently gave at my Alma mater Brebeuf College School on June 27,2014.

It was quite an honour to return after 41 years to speak to the current day graduates of the school that had such a big impact on my life.

I guess much has changed in 41 years. For one we did not take any ‘slefies’ and the graduating class of 250 was a bit larger than the 40 or so that accepted diplomas in 1973.

One thing that has not changed- The Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey Leauge have still not won the Stanley Cup. At least that tradition is sacred.
I decided to talk about death. I realize that is a strange topic for a graduation speaker but it turns out dying has many useful lessons for the still young and seemingly invincible.

I would like to take just a few moments to share with you the very first time I ever wore my Brebeuf blazer in public. I am not sure if any of you remember this moment but for me; it is etched into my brain.

One of the reasons for this is the fact that the blazer itself just looked bad. My Mom always used to tell me that you could tell a bunch of men had been involved in picking out a uniform that consisted of a brown blazer with grey wool pants.

It was the summer of 1968, and we had made the requisite trip to the one store in Toronto that sold all the uniforms for Catholic Schools. I got measured, and the blazer was ordered about one size too big, so I could grow into it.

August rolled around, and my parents decided we would take a weekend trip to a hotel out by the airport for a little holiday. The hotel had a pool, and the owner was a client of my Dad’s which meant we got the rooms for free.

We were only there a short time when we got a call from my grandmother who was staying at our house looking after our dog. She was not feeling well so we had to cut our weekend short and get home as soon as we could.

I remember the paramedics (they weren’t called that back in 68) arrived and carried her out on a stretcher. My parents assured me and my two younger brothers that she was alright, and that she just needed some rest.

That night a phone call came into the house, and my Dad took it. I could tell right away something was wrong. He went into his bedroom where my Mom was resting and a few seconds later a loud scream came forth as my Mom learned that her mother had died.

I was 14, and this was the first time I had experienced a death of someone in our family. In 1963, both Pope John XXIII and US President Kennedy had died, and it was like a member of the family had passed away, but it was nothing like what was happening now.

A few days later we rushed down to this store where the brown blazers come from and picked up mine as I needed it to wear to my grandmother’s funeral. Not only that, I was selected to be one of the pallbearers along with another cousin.

Death may be a strange thing to talk about at a graduation. Most of these talks are about how you are the future and how your life is front of you.

This of course is true but there is much to learn about life by thinking about death.

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Perfect Marriage

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