The Kings Daughter

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Glorious Mystery, The Assumption.

“All glorious is the kings daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold.” Psalms 44:14.

Like everything, excepting eternity and God and God’s love, the Assumption had its beginning and its end. In a way Mary’s Assumption had its beginning with her Immaculate Conception. Beyond this there were what we might think of as stages. The Annunciation, the Visitation, and etc. Of course breaking things down in this fashion is just a human way of understanding a thing, or an attempt at understanding. Time, and those of us who live in time, is (I think) a continuous flow. God, and those with Him, aren’t hampered by time and its limiting view. Anyway …

“All glorious is the kings daughter as she enters … ” Think about the word “glorious”. Compare it to, given Mary’s entry into Heaven, the word “ready”.

Do you think Mary was ready for the Assumption the day prior to it? We’d be tempted to say yes, and given her God-given perfection we could say she was always ready. But she wasn’t. Mary had given her heart and will over to God. Always. So she wasn’t ready the day before because He wasn’t. She was only ready in accordance with His timing. A “part” of her perfection (and I’m breaking things down here just for the sake of human understanding again, primarily my own understanding) is found in waiting on God.

Do we ever get ahead of God? Or do we try to hurry things up because that’s the way we want it or think it should be?

“Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.” Psalms27:14, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … There are, metaphorically speaking, a variety of assumptions. There’s an Assumption like Mary’s. It takes place in God’s time, not ours. And then there’s the all to human assumption of thinking that we know best when it comes to the timing of anything.

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A Nativity Scene

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity.

“And she laid him in manger … ” Luke 2:7.

Think about these few simple words, about the nature of Christ, and we’ll try to grasp just a little of what this means. Or can mean.

How did the Babe react to being placed in a manger? We aren’t told, but if we know something of Jesus’ nature, from study or personal experience or from whatever inner or outer source, we can imagine. I think, and this is just my thought, that he was peaceful, calm. The Creator of Heaven and earth, Author of Life, THE Perfect Being deserving of … He’s beyond deserving isn’t he? As though he lacks something and needs someone to supply him with fill-in-the-blank because he’s worthy. He is by nature eternally worthy whether we ever know it or not, and we can’t really give him anything he doesn’t already have. With the exception of a childlike heart, our heart, given by us to him. And here he is placed in a rough hewn box of sorts. But I see him reacting peacefully. Why shouldn’t he? What, really, could ever threaten him? Would he lose his self confidence because he was being treated as less than what he was? Of course not. That sort of reaction would more likely pertain to us, but not to him.

We are told that we must become like little children in order to enter into Heaven. We need to be innocent, joyful, trusting. Which means that we set the wrong kinds of ego and fear aside along with hardheartedness. And we can. With his help. When we’re laid in a manger of rough wood, when life becomes uncomfortable, we remain calm. Because we know he’s there in that “manger” with us. After all, is there any place, any set of circumstances when and where he isn’t with us?

“And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Accepting crosses is a part of our existence as followers of Christ. It takes a real Christan to carry a cross. And it takes a child-like heart to be content with rough hewn mangers.

Look up

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Glorious Mystery, The Ascension.

“And he was taken up into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the people there, on that day when Jesus left, as he ascended into Heaven? I’m very sure it was a once in a lifetime experience. Beyond that statement, well, honestly its a little difficult to know just what to say given that there’s so much that could be said. So we’ll stand back for a moment and just take a look at the crowd.

One thing is obvious. They all have their eyes on Christ. Now that’s a good example. Keeping their eyes on him they couldn’t go wrong, could they? Keeping their eyes on him insured they wouldn’t miss anything of importance, didn’t it? But what if …

What if, and I’ll use me now so I’ll not be accused of picking on anyone 😉 (most of the time I pick on me just for the fun of it anyway, saving my doctors the trouble … long, and funny, story, covering six and one half years, so just trust me here), I’d been there and I’d had my eyes on, oh, lets say the Apostle James? What would I have seen? I’d have seen James, a follower of Jesus and a good example. Now that’s a good thing isn’t it? Sure it is. Now, by watching James what would I have missed? Nothing if I was really watching James, or a lot if I’m not careful. I could have missed witnessing the ascension of Jesus if I was focused on James in the wrong way. I could have missed watching Jesus, I could have missed the main event wouldn’t I?

We all want to go to Heaven. Our dying in the Grace of God and making Heaven is a kind of personal spiritual ascension, isn’t it? And God gives us good personal examples, like James, to help us get to Heaven. So its OK to watch James so long as I have the right mind set and know WHY I’m watching James. But lets look at me standing there again, with my eyes on James but not paying the right kind of attention. I’m human so for a while I’m so caught up in watching James that I forget WHY I’m watching James. (I should be watching James because he is a good example of JESUS.) I’m missing the Ascension but I am watching a godly example. I’m watching a saint. But am I really? Because if I’m really watching St. James I’d see where it was he was looking and I’d look there too, wouldn’t I? And then I wouldn’t miss anything, would I?

We can watch the people around us. Depending on our intent and their actions watching them is a good thing or its not. Maybe we’re getting a good example out of the deal. We’ll hope so. We’re getting a good example if they’re looking up because we’ll be prompted to look up as well.

“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these things … ” Isaiah 40:26a, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … What ever else we do our primary focus needs to be looking up, looking up to Jesus.

P.S. … I may or may not miss a few days soon. I don’t think I will, but I might. I’m kinda in a rather intense study mode right now and I loose myself and all track of time as well. Short version: I forget everything, eating, sleeping, etc. except study. So if I come up missing for a day or two you can put it down to … A, Extreme focus (being the kind view) ~ or ~ B, Senility (being what’s probably the more correct view) … Once again saving my doctors the trouble of kidding me. (Amongst other things I had at some point, although I don’t remember it, a brain scan. My doctor tells me the results didn’t show any thing. 😉 )

Carry the Message

A Rosary Meditation: The First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation.

“When she heard him … ” Luke 1:29a.

The Angel Gabriel carried a message, didn’t he? The angel announced Christ to Mary. ( “You will have a child … ” ) Latter Elizabeth did the same. ( ” …  mother of my Lord … ” ) John the Baptizer announced Christ as well. ( “Behold the Lamb of God!” ) And then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. ( ” Come see the man who told me everything I ever did. Couldn’t he be the Christ?” ) The people that Jesus healed, even when he told them to be quite about what had happened to them, announced him to others. The Twelve Apostles announced him, the people they converted announced him, the Church he founded with Peter as its head continues announcing him to this very day. And all of these, from Mary to the woman at the well and everybody else, have something in common.

Its not everyone that gets the privilege of announcing Jesus to others. There is one, and only one, class of people who get to do the announcing. Oh, God uses anybody he pleases, this is true. As an example, even Lucifer announces Christ. He does his announcing via the hatred he has for God and His children. When Satan vents his anger it gets to be pretty obvious who Jesus is. Otherwise why go to all that trouble if Jesus only, well, something other than the Messiah? So in a way all things announce Christ. But only one class of people announces him with an invitation attached. John said “Behold!” The Samaritan woman said “Come see!” was

The people doing the announcing with the invitation included are the people who have encountered Christ and accepted the invitation themselves. And when others hear the Good News and respond to it, accepting the invitation, there’s one sure way to recognize them. They start announcing.

“Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … If we want what Jesus offers in the above verse, if we want him to announce us to his Father, we need to do some announcing ourselves. There are a lot of ways to do this. Support missioners, bankroll good seminaries, pray, volunteer, and the list goes on. But there is one BEST way. Its something else those folks I mentioned above have in common. After they accepted the announcement, accepted the invitation, accepted Jesus, they all did one thing by the grace of God, each person in the way God gave them. They changed. And people saw the change. There are lots of ways to announce Jesus to others, but a good example? Works wonders.

 

Walking Dead

Today’s Gospel reading is John 11:3-7, 20-27, 33b-45.

The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

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We’re all familiar with the above happenings. Over the years we’ve heard the story so many times its like we were there. You can almost see the crowd, hear the murmuring, feel the suns heat, and smell the dust in the air. We know God has unlimited power. There has never been a grave He couldn’t open and empty. I heard someone say once that if Jesus hadn’t prefaced the words “come out” with the name Lazarus all of the dead would have risen. Interesting thought. But there’s one thing in all of the above, more than any other aspect of the story, that I think stands out.

“And Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

Why? In this instance we usually think of Christ’s humanity and that he cried because his friend Lazarus had died. And that makes sense. But remember what he’d said earlier? “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” And he had told his disciples plainly that Lazarus wasn’t dead but only sleeping. Have you ever noticed that when a believer who has died is spoken of in the Bible they’re described as sleeping? And when someone dies away from God they’re spoken of as being dead? Lazarus was a real and faithful believer. Death can’t hold someone who dies in God’s grace because God is the Author of Life, not death. Real death is to be separated from God. So Lazarus wasn’t really dead, not even if his body was decaying. ” … everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And Jesus knew what it was that he was going to do before he did it. So, why the tears?

Remember what we’re told? … He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” … Some said he cried because his friend was dead. That’s generally what we say too, isn’t it? But what were the others saying? I mean, what were they saying really? They were wondering, asking “Why?”, and perhaps casting aspersions. We may feel like we were there, we’ve heard the story so often, but we weren’t. We didn’t hear the tone that went with these words, neither did we see the facial expressions. But Jesus did. And he became perturbed.

Christ proved himself over and over. Anyone willing to see could recognize him as the Messiah and his works spoke for themselves. And still they doubted. Personally I think their doubt was cause enough for Jesus’ tears. So what did he do? He proved himself once again. Lazarus came forth.

Over the millennia Jesus has proven himself so many times there’s no way to count it all. He said, “Do this as a remembrance of me.” And all over the world, daily, this happens. After all these centuries isn’t that a proof? For hundreds of years the walking dead have entered the confessional only to exit alive and well. Isn’t this a proof? We have a God given gift of nearly 2,000 years of unbroken Papal reign. Doesn’t that sound like a proof? We have a Bible that’s been maligned by many and butchered by some. But we’ve still got it, don’t we? And in a world so sick with sin that it makes the light almost impossible to see at times God still makes saints that shine like the Son. But people doubt anyway, regardless of the evidence, despite the proof. If you think about it its enough to make you cry.

Why did Jesus cry? If someone you loved was dead wouldn’t you cry? But we’ve already seen that Lazarus wasn’t really dead but only sleeping. You don’t cry over someone sleeping. But the people who’ve seen the proofs and still don’t believe, the ones murmuring sarcastically about Jesus, while turning a blind eye willingly, were they alive? How could they have been? They were without Christ while he was standing right there in front of them. Jesus saw all of those walking dead, those willingly blind, the people who refused the proofs, the people he loved enough to leave Heaven and die for, and Jesus wept.

Its up to each individual what we do with the poof of God’s Love and Truth. We can make sarcastic remarks about the priesthood because we didn’t like the homily, having had our toes stepped on, while forgetting that this same priesthood has been miraculously ongoing for 2,000 years. We can shun confession because we decide we’re OK without it. After all, don’t we know what’s best for our souls? We can forget all about the examples of Pius XII, John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and the ongoing list of martyrs, all proofs of God’s power and love. We can center on Johnny Depp and the wrong Madonna instead. After all, its a popular thing to do, isn’t it? And we can, if we choose to, separate ourselves from the company of Lazarus, who lives, and live with the murmuring dead instead. Its up to us. Its up to us whether Jesus weeps again or not.

Loving Fear

A Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Glorious Mystery, The Coronation.

“I am the mother of fair love, and of fear … ” Sirach 24:24a.

Have you ever noticed just how many verses in the Old Testament fit the Blessed Virgin even though they aren’t a direct reference to her? Its a little hard for me to think this is all accidental or the product of wishful thinking. And I don’t think, even given eternity, we’ll ever really plumb the depths of God’s word. But then that’s no excuse for not trying, is it?

Mary is, and there can’t be any real debate about this, the Queen Mother. Her Son is King of Heaven and Earth, she’s his mother, there’s nothing else she logically could be. Every queen has her coronation, which means Mary’s Coronation is a given. So she IS Queen of Heaven and Earth. And that’s because she’s the Mother of Christ Jesus. So she reigns even now. That we haven’t yet seen this reality makes it no less real. I’ve never seen air molecules either but that doesn’t keep me from breathing.The Mother of Christ, THE Queen. As the Mother of our Lord the above verse from Sirach (I love Sirach) is very fitting. Jesus, being God, is Love. And in that He puts the fear of God in us, via the Holy Spirit, bringing us to conversion we might well think of Him as fear. Not the run and hide sort of fear. But that respectful kind of fear, fearing to offend our most Dearly Beloved. Which helps keep us on the straight and narrow. So its a wholesome fear. There are lots of “fears” or rather kinds of fears. Like the kind I felt the other night when, at the end of the old Vincent Price movie, “The House on Haunted Hill”, which I still watch with relish, Elisha Cook looks into the camera and says, “They’ll be coming for me next. And then … they’ll come for you.” I still get goosebumps at that point. Some fears are good, or fun, like the shiver I feel at the end of that movie. Some aren’t so good, like the unreasoning phobias some people suffer with. But then there’s the fear that’s best, and that’s the fear of God.

Think about the above verse as a message from our Queen Mother. Any good queen, and think here of the various queens down through history that have been rightly declared saints by Christ’s Church, would give her subjects a loving word, wouldn’t she? And that’s what Mary does for us by her example. A loving fear of God. We need to really listen to our Queen.

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars … ” Revelation 12:1, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Maybe the sun spoken of here is the Son. And the loving word she shares with us? Is the Loving Word.

Death holds no terror

A Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Glorious Mystery, The Assumption.

“For he has so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall not depart out of the mouth of men.” Judith 13:25.

Sometimes I think its best to let saints speak. So … From St. Alphonsus de Liguori …

“And now death came; not indeed clothed in mourning and grief, as it does to others, but adorned with light and gladness. But what do we say? Why speak of death? Let us rather say that divine love came, and cut the thread of that noble life. And as a light, before going out, gives a last and brighter flash than ever, so did this beautiful creature, on hearing her Son’s invitation to follow him, wrapped in the flames of love, and in the midst of her loving sighs, give a last sigh of still more ardent love, and breathing forth her soul, expired. Thus was that great soul, that beautiful dove of the Lord, loosened from the bands of this life; thus did she enter into the glory of the blessed, where she is now seated, and will be seated, Queen of Paradise, for all eternity.” Glories, p. 420.

Death isn’t always a terror. For the followers of Christ its a homecoming. That’s no terror. Its a release from the bondage of the world and a prelude to our resurrection. For Mary it all happened at once. I suppose the terror of death stems from a knowledge of sin and its rewards. There was nothing like this in death for Mary. For Mary death meant only to follow her son. She loved him, loves him, enough to want to follow him in all things. This would include death. It would also include her Assumption. He had ascended, under his own power. Remember that her only desire was to follow him. Mary couldn’t ascend into Heaven on her own, but being perfect her love reached Heaven and that left God with what choice? Mary, being sinless, could only be gathered up by God and taken to a Realm where no sin enters, neither can it reign. She couldn’t be left here, her body left to suffer the decay that’s only one result of sin and death. To ever think that there was no such thing as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is like saying God is not love. And we know better.

“In every nation which shall hear thy name, the God of Israel shall be magnified on occasion of thee.” Judith 13:31.

Just a thought … “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.” Pope Pius XII. Consider what a mother we have! So many go, sadly, to a mothers grave, leaving flowers on a birthday or Mothers Day. With Mary as our mother we’ll never be able to do that. There is no grave, there never will be. There is a knowledge that mother has gone on ahead of us. She waits there for us with Him. And death ought never hold a terror for the Christian.

 

Believing is Seeing

Today’s Gospel Reading (short version) is John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38.

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “ but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

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     You know, we’re all born blind. Our blindness stems from original sin. But as hopeless as the situation may seem, being born into darkness, its not hopeless at all. And we needn’t worry about the means God uses to restore our sight, to bring us to conversion. The man we read of here was born blind. There were doctors who were knowledgeable then just as there are now. There was nothing they could do for him. None of their elixirs or potions would help. There are things modern medicine can’t deal with either. The common cold is a good example. But what did Jesus do?
     “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.”
     Jesus didn’t use any of the things a doctor would have. He didn’t use anything the world would have turned to. He used mud made with spit. And he does things like this all the time. The simple element of water becomes a vehicle of grace in baptism, simple oil brings comfort, and perhaps healing if its Gods will, during the anointing of the sick. Everyday bread and wine are changed by a miracle into God Himself. And mud gives sight to one born blind.
     We usually complicate things. If it had been me trying to help the blind man see I’d have looked for all sorts of herbs and minerals and would’ve put him on a regimen of diet and some sort of exercise. I’d have complicated things. And the blind man? He’d still be blind.
     Jesus never complicates things. He always keeps things simple. And then the world, like the Pharisees here, debate and argue about how such a thing could happen. How was it that this man, blind from birth, now sees? Jesus is still using simple things to open eyes, to bring about conversion. Something as seemingly insignificant as a string of beads. And the world wonders, people around us argue and debate. How could it be that someone like this one, who lived such a life of depravity, now be so different, so … Changed? When a persons eyes are open their viewpoint changes.
     When people begin to see after having been blind they change. Because they change the world, the folks around them, casts them out. People with real sight don’t fit in with the crowd that’s stumbling around in the dark, blindly. So they get cast out. And that’s a good thing. When they threw the man who could now see out who was it that immediately came looking for him?
     When we receive our sight and the world wonders, as we experience conversion, the ongoing process of turning to and drawing nearer to God, and the world sees the difference and shoves us aside because we don’t fit in anymore don’t worry about being cast out. Because when we’re cast out He takes us in. And that’s a sight to behold.

 

Leading away …

A Rosary Meditation: The Third Sorrowful Mystery, The Crowning with Thorns.

“Now the soldiers led him away … ” Mark 15:16a.

I’ve wondered, in the past, what it must’ve felt like to be Jewish in Nazi Germany. “Branded” with a yellow star, packed into railroad cars, watching loved ones going you didn’t know where while you yourself were going in the opposite direction. Did the people being led away feel fear, disgust, hatred? All of these being led away by soldiers. Or how it felt to walk the Trail of Tears, going to a territory that was altogether foreign, watching as some of the people you were closest to died on the journey, no proper burials, no ceremony to mourn their passing, buried in forgotten graves. Did the brave warriors feel fear? Did they feel hatred? How did the old women and the young children feel? What did they feel while being led away by soldiers?

Jesus was led away by soldiers. They weren’t kind or understanding. They mocked him, placing the crown of thorns on his head. A fine jest. Did any one of them feel the slightest twinge of pity or guilt? Did the Nazi soldier feel anything? Was there any remorse at all? Did any of the U.S. Cavalry soldiers consider what it was they were doing to fellow human beings? Or was it just a job, the people only “things” less than human to be disposed of? Or was it a fine jest?

We’ve all heard people say things like, “No one gets out of this world alive”. That’s true. I think its just as true that no one gets out of this world without being crowned with thorns one way or another. At some point we are all led away by soldiers. The “soldiers” may take on a different guise, but the leading remains the same. And it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a Christian or not.

(And before someone takes it wrong and starts thinking I’m down on the military, I’m not. This is an allegory.)

So what does matter? If we’re Christian it matters whether or not we accept the crown of thorns we receive for love of Christ. Receiving a crown such as this outside the love of God no doubt counts, and it counts in a multitude of ways. But does it count for eternity? There’s the difference. And that difference does matter.

Pity and pray for the “soldiers” who do the leading. (Husbands leading wives astray, corporations that lead consumers “away” with less than healthy commodities, fellow high school student who … and etc.) “Just following orders, that’s all.” Not putting authority in its proper place, as in God and His commandments coming first with the will of men coming second at best, the “soldiers” that do the leading are being led by one crueler than they could ever be. When a Christian is led we’re led like lambs to the slaughter and regardless the crown we receive from men we receive a greater from Him. But the ones following orders, and it doesn’t matter who it is giving them, are the ones that receive a reward that’s dreadful.

“The four and twenty ancients fell down before him that sitteth on the throne, and adored him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, … ” Revelation 4:10, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … “No one gets out of this world alive.” That’s true. As far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough because if you leave this life with the Life of Christ in you then you DO get out of this world alive. And you’ve a crown waiting.

Joy

A Rosary Meditation: The First Glorious Mystery, The Resurrection.

“For I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one shall take from you.” John 16:22.

We thought about the down times yesterday. That sort of thing can get to be pretty depressing. Christianity, despite what some seem to think, is NOT a depressing religion. And that’s because our God is not in possession of a depressing nature. The Divine Nature is one of Love. Real love uplifts us when we’re down.

Everything in the above verse is upbeat. When Jesus sees us and we see him we’ll experience a joy that no one can take from us. Its never ending. Its Heavenly. Literally. There’s a Godly joy in everything, it just takes a little (sometimes a lot of) effort, in this world, to find it. The next world? Our joy is confirmed for eternity. Like the Resurrection, its a new life.

But we’re not there yet, are we? (If YOU are there and you’re reading this I hope you don’t have dial-up internet access because I’d hate to see the long distance bill.) No, we aren’t there yet, but we are HERE and here can be a place of joy too if we look to Christ. I said yesterday ” … I knew it wasn’t OK, and it wasn’t going to be OK. Some things just are what they are. And they aren’t good.” I believe that’s true. Some things aren’t good period. But that doesn’t mean that we need to let these things hinder us from looking to Jesus, who IS always good. And, being the Resurrection and the Life, shares life and its attendant goodness and joy.

Our God is a God of love, and being a God of love He has placed the opportunity for joy in all things. Sin, original or otherwise, hasn’t blotted this out and made it (joy) impossible. Sin has made it harder to see the opportunity or possibility for joy but it hasn’t negated it. A resurrection, a new life, is always possible because with God all things are possible. And the God-given opportunity for joy resides in all of creation, from the complex, which is generally what so many of us (personal experience here) try to make it, all the way to the most simple. A rocket scientist, having perfected a space shuttle and its fuel, could take great joy in the accomplishment and give God thanks and glory. Rocket science is complicated, complex. But if you want to, you can get just as much joy from a well made sandcastle.

So we have the here-after joy to look forward to, and a here-and-now joy to experience if we will. A new life there and a new life here, a resurrection of sorts, if we’re willing. And no one can take either away from us if we’ll only take Jesus at his word.

8 And they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and plainly to be understood: and they understood when it was read. 9 And Nehemias (he is Athersatha) and Esdras the priest and scribe, and the Levites who interpreted to all the people, said: This is a holy day to the Lord our God: do not mourn, nor weep: for all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 10 And he said to them: Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves: because it is the holy day of the Lord, and be not sad: for the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:8-10, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … I’ve said before, with thanks to Henry David Thoreau for the quote, that I wouldn’t talk about myself half so much if I knew anyone else half so well. Joy. Lots of folks reading this know I just underwent major surgery. The past several months, the time leading up to the back surgery, were pretty miserable. They ain’t just real great right now, but things are a lot better. A one point I spent about three weeks in bed and on my pity pot. (I hate pity pots.) I finally got so mad at the situation that, regardless how I felt, I MADE myself get up, I MADE myself clean house, I MADE myself get on my exercise bike. It was all an effort. But I’ve promised myself that even though I know I will die (from the cancer) I WILL die trying. So, and I know this thought is getting a tad long but bear with me, I decided that if I could no longer do certain things, well, what COULD I do? There IS joy to be found everywhere because God is everywhere. So I may not be able to dance the Charleston but I now play a really mean kazoo and, having reverted willingly to a part of my childhood, I experience anew the wonders of Sea-Monkeys. If you don’t know what a Sea-Monkey is Google it. If you don’t know what joy is ask God about it. He knows, and He shares.