07/27/14

Friends Are Always There for You

A friend knows the song in your heart

And can sing it back to you

When you can’t remember it.

Too often we take friendships for granted. Yet true friends give us more than “feel good moments.” They enlighten us to see some real  insights  which help us smooth over the rough spots of our journey in this present moment and every time we meet a bump in the road. Friends are a real treasure in life.  Enjoy them and live everyday well.

07/23/14

How to Become A “Real” Catholic?

Defining who is a “real” Catholic or what makes a “real” Catholic may be more difficult that we imagine.   If it isn’t a difficult to do,  then I would certainly worry ?

Yet I still ponder answers.  Are real Catholics dedicated mothers and fathers , devoted cloistered monks,  newly baptized infants or is it only Pope Francis?  All the above are certainly worthy candidates for the title “real” Catholics. But are there others?

For example, is Margaret who goes to Church every Sunday or Xavier, a soup kitchen volunteer real Catholics?  How about Emily, a newly confirmed middle-schooler or Terry, an enthusiastic senior churchgoer, who sings from her heart in the choir every Sunday?  The list  of potential candidates for  “real” Catholic  is endless.

When considering our options,  we begin to see our many prospects. We know it isn’t just naming seven sacraments or  including the Letter from St James in our Bible  or even believing that the Pope is the visible head of the Catholic Church.

Recently Pope Francis  has given us other parameters to help us define a “real “ Catholic.   He may see a real Catholic as someone who in her past life has had an abortion, felt the throbbing inner sadness, since that fateful day, receives absolution, does penance and begins her life again as a “real” Catholic.

Pope Francis  may see a “real” Catholic as someone,  hurt painfully by betrayal from a loved one,  finds in his heart the courage and humility to let go, forgive,  and move on.

Jesus too offers us his own measurements  for  a “real” Catholic. He suggests a “real” Catholic love God, His Father,  with the whole heart, the whole mind and the whole soul,  and  love neighbors, no matter who they are,  where found or what they look like. Then Jesus asks that we love neighbors in the same way we love ourselves.  For Jesus these acts  witness gratitude for His great  gift of salvation.

After these considerations, it seems becoming a real Catholic takes

determined  “heart work.”   For becoming a real Catholic can only happen through a softened heart.

This softened heart allows the free flow of Jesus gifts of love and mercy to permeate everything about us. And when they do, we may soon become  a “real’ Catholic.

07/20/14

Each Present Moment is an Uncut Diamond Waiting to be Polished!

One way to grow in the spiritual life is to see our present moments as uncut diamonds.  Each and every present moment has within it the potential of becoming a valuable, shiny gem.  Our task is to handle these precious jewels as the priceless treasure they are.

We need to caress our present moments carefully, polishing and refining them to make their sheen rise to the surface.  When we do, we begin to appreciate its beauty now and for many present moments to come.  For it is true, this diamond’s beauty can last a long time on our journey

Yet a diamond’s beauty is not apparent when it is simply a lump of coal.  This can be true of our beauty too. On the spiritual journey we can have a similar “rough” beginning.  Although made in God’s mage and likeness and baptized in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can still remain unattractive.

Usually it takes the pressure of life to launch the changes needed to become the diamond God intended.  We have to suffer through bad choices, a few successes, many mistakes, and maybe even some serious pitfalls before our hidden radiance begins to shine forth. Thank God we have a loving and generous God who keeps giving us our present moments with the same miraculous possibility- “to be better than we are at any given time.”

The Holy Spirit stands ready to bring the brilliance of God’s image and likeness to our surface   With each new day and each new present moment, the Holy Spirit molds our roughness into the dazzling sheen of our godliness.  The Holy Spirit loves to help us: “Be who we are and be that well as a testament to the Divine craftsman who created us. ” Just as St Francis de Sales writes.

God intends that sooner or later these uncut diamonds of our present moments will show the world His image and likeness walking this earth through us.

God is restless to get this task underway.  He hopes we are just as restless to begin,  as God hands us our next uncut diamond through this present moment.

07/16/14

A True Homemaker

When my Aunt Helen died, her obituary stated her occupation as  “homemaker.”   But for those who knew her, Aunt Helen’s life was much more. She was a LOVING homemaker because she embraced her occupation as loving service to her family and all who entered her home.

She saw what she did everyday as faithfulness to her three children and husband.   Her love was a mirror image of the faithful love God pours over each of us.  Like Aunt Helen, God’s love nurtures, nourishes and protects. It is totally life giving.

Aunt Helen’s work around her home gave her consolation and comfort. She did all things, big or small, with gratitude to God for the precious gift of family. Each family member was a treasured pearl of great price in her eyes.

This attitude fueled her passion giving quickness to her steps and a smile to her face as she moved about her home.   She showed service as a privilege and not a duty. It was the way to holiness and she embraced it.

This was obvious in the small things she did: humming as she cooked her  “coveted” spaghetti sauce; in her wide smile as she placed lovingly made pasta dishes on the table; in the perfectly folded laundry placed carefully in her basket; and in the liveliness showed while passing the vacuum over rugs or dusting furniture.

Her daily chores were about dedication and love for family. These small acts done with such great love gave quality to her quantity of years.

Nothing gave Aunt Helen more delight than being surrounded by her contented and happy family.  St Francis de Sales said: When we see our neighbor, created in the image and likeness of God, and we should say to one another, “See and consider this creature as the likeness of the Creator.”   Aunt Helen saw this in each person with each dish, spoon or shirt she made clean.

Aunt Helen is a wonderful model of holiness. She lived her life with gratefulness and joy.  This doesn’t mean Aunt Helen was a pushover.  Far from it! When she needed to confront someone or a situation, Aunt Helen did this with the same resolve and love she did everything else.   She did it all with respect, gentleness and appreciation. Her family knew they were loved even when her words were tough to hear.

Yes, Aunt Helen was a homemaker, but she was a heart-maker too.  She made a home, a place for God to feel welcome, and softened hearts to make room for Jesus to dwell,

Aunt Helen was a loving homemaker and the home she made is the kind that lasts for eternity.

07/13/14

Paul feels Lucky to be Alive

Paul is 84 years old.  He lives at Cedar Forest Home. He sits in his rocking chair in the large sunroom with a big smile on his face and says, “I feel lucky to be alive.”   I reply, “Why’s that?” Paul answers:  “ I can sit up today, and enjoy the sunshine. It’s a great day to be alive.”  Sitting there with his big grin, I realize Paul has found the secret to happiness.  It’s attitude!

This delightful, wise man knows the secret and it works.  Happiness is something we put into life, not squeeze out of it. And Paul lives this belief everyday.  He looks for the good in everything, and appreciates this brighter side.

With each smile, Paul is saying how much God cares and loves him equally and the same whether it rains or is sunny.  When Paul brings this attitude to each new day, he feels lucky to be alive! 

Today we might want to give Paul’s idea a try and live this day well!

07/11/14

Touching Another’s Ache

Every time we face a challenge or stumble upon a tragic situation in life, we pray for God’s help. We are like the infirm woman in the gospel who grasped Jesus garments and was “made well.”  However when we try to do the exact same thing, we reach out but we find there is nothing to grasp.

This is a reminder that often in times of tragedy, we don’t need to reach out, but to reach in to our hearts. God in His infinite compassion gives us grace enough to overcome hurt and pain. Often we don’t utilize this great gift of grace. Next time trouble or pain find us, and they will, reach within for the courage to meet the challenge.  It takes a much faith to do this, but God, in his infinite wisdom, has prepared us well. What we need is the confidence to believe in such a loving God, and when we do the reward is truly great. Live today well!

07/11/14

Vacation Time

As you can see, I am taking vacation time away from the Blog, but in my place I have selected favorite “vintage” postings until my return. I hope you enjoy them as I have in creating them.

Enjoy RRDeLillio, OSFS

07/8/14

Attitude is Everything! – Just Ask My Grandfather

My Grandfather loved his garden, he found time everyday to go there.  Some days he sang as he weeded through his endless rows of tomatoes.  Other days, he spoke about life, about his God or asked me about my school work.  The whole time he was stringing poles for  his beans, watering his tiny pepper sprouts or simply pulling weeds.

At other times he remained quiet looking attentively at his squash  or at his cantaloupe  patch.  No matter what he did, my Grandfather radiated joy and peace which in some way he transferred to his vegetables and me.

Whether in drought or in flooding rain, Grand pop was his pleasant, even tempered self, and his vegetables responded to his expansive positive outlook.   I cannot remember a season when Grand pop’s garden didn’t produce more than we could eat.  Like him his vegetables accepted the weather  at hand and did their best.  Grand pop’s presence had that kind of magnetism.

Next to Grand pop’s garden stood his brother Carmen’s garden.   But there was a difference. Carmen trudged to his garden everyday.  Whether hot and humid or rainy and cool,  he complained equally.  He was a curmudgeon no matter what he was doing.  Nothing made Carmen happy,  and his peppers, tomatoes, string beans and squash responded in kind.  His harvest yielded tiny vegetables with unrecognized tastes. It seemed his spoilsport attitude infected his crop quite the opposite from my Grandfather. And the sad fact is ,  it happened  every year. Carmen’s attitude bore a puny harvest year after year.

Meanwhile Grandpop’s annual harvest was abundant; we ate fresh vegetables everyday, gave extras to neighbors and our family, and we still had enough for canning. Everybody thought my grandfather was a miracle worker.  In a sense he was, but his miracle was simple, it was just a joyous and positive attitude. My grandfather knew this and poured his cheery attitude all over his flowering vegetables. And they thrived on its zesty tang.

As we tend our personal gardens, what kind of a gardener do we want to be?  Do we want to cultivate like my Grand pop or  his brother, Carmen?  Grand pop’s approach  teaches us how to yield the better crop.  While Carmen’s  approach can lead to hunger from a scarcity of produce.

This is true in our lives too.  If we complain and struggle each day we live, we get nowhere.  We are miserable and make those around us miserable as well.  No one wins in a negative climate.  What is needed is the faith to shake free of what isn’t working and embrace what is.  This can turn a small return into a huge reward for all.

The key is to hold onto this core belief everyday:  God loves us equally and the same! No one gets more than any other.  God has only one goal that when our gardening on this earth is finished, we join Him  in heaven.   God is optimistic about this.  If we believe as God does,  we can foster this same  approach too.  And like my grandfather’s garden, it will thrive from its life producing vitality

When tending our life  garden today, try the following:

  1. Count joys regularly, never our sorrows.  We know that “bad” things happen to everyone, but joyous things do too.  Allow these joyous moments to nourish us and never allow sorrows to take root .  When sadness thrives, our entire crop  chokes.

  1. We are Good people, who sometimes do dumb things:  When “dumb” things happen, apologize, forgive yourself and move on. These moments do not mean we are bad people.  It means what we said or did is hurtful.  At these times remember we have a savior, grace heals, and we move on.  We have today to make good on what we didn’t do well yesterday.

  1. Always live in Hope.  We have to remember that Hope is the virtue about God’s faithfulness,  not our faithfulness.   God never gives up, even when we falter.  If we hold on to Hope, we hold on to God.

  1. Each day find a way God cares for you, and be grateful.  We are God’s children, and because we are-we matter.  This is a simple truth, but makes all the difference.

  1. Avoid the “Poor Me” Syndrome:  “Why does everything happen to me?” is never uttered in our garden.   We know life is unfair, not only to us, but to everyone. Yet,  God blesses  us  all equally.  It’s up to us to take this blessing and “run with it.”   God is our principal cheerleader , who is always ready to help.  We simply need to let Him!

My grandfather practiced the above approach and his garden grew. When we apply this same approach to our garden, we can be as joyous-and  our harvest bountiful.

“Attitude is Everything” –just ask my Grandfather!

07/3/14

Imagine What a Little Can Do!

When Jesus preached to the 5000 on the hillside, he asked His disciples’ help to feed them. They didn’t have a clue how this could be done. Then a young boy offered his two fish and five loaves. It just took this small act of generosity to bring about an abundance. From this small amount of fish and bread everyone ate, and afterwards they gathered twelve baskets of left over fragments.
This is a good lesson for us to remember. When we share even a little, we receive much more than we give. Hoarding our gifts can strangle us, but giving them away through sharing can be vast. Think about this today and live today well.

 

06/12/14

Be A Noisemaker for Jesus Christ!

At World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis encouraged the crowds of young people  gathered to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the streets where it can be heard.  He ask them “to make noise in the streets!”

After Christ returned to His Father at the Ascension, the Holy Spirit appeared to the Apostles hiding for fear of harm from Jesus’ enemies.  The Holy Spirit’s message:   “Go and make noise in the streets.”  Through wind and flames, The Spirit blew away their fears and left courage in its wake.

Feeling energized and strengthened, they left that upper room to make their noise. And their “noise” was heard by every listener in his or her own language.  Peter alone was so effective that 5000 became believers then and there.  That’s a fantastic  record for any preacher!

This Noisemaker, the Holy Spirit, still desires clamor for Jesus Christ.  And so the Spirit is asking us to make noise!  The Spirit urges us to come from whatever or wherever we are hiding and make noise.  In other words, do something in our daily lives that says we believe in Jesus, his death and his resurrection.

We can be noisy right where we live or work by “doing right things” like showing love, through words that never demean and actions that only encourage.  It doesn’t take much, but it needs a start.

We can also make noise “quietly,” for example, by spilling forgiveness and mercy over our relationships.  The Holy Spirit loves reminding us how Jesus forgave us our sins, and how Jesus is willing to do it again and again.  There is no reason why we can’t share this pool of mercy with those who hurt us?  Mercy and forgiveness can make noise in our lives daily-even if we are the only ones who hear them.

It just takes that first step  to move from behind our hurts or indifference, our laziness or even sinfulness.  Once we do this we can go  into the streets of our daily lives , and  “make the  noise” Pope Francis desires.  Why not give it a shout?