Author Archives: flmiii

Open The Eyes Of My Heart

We sang this song in church today. It is such a beautiful and moving song that I had to share.

 

Paul Baloche wrote the song and Loren Lung writes:

Open the Eyes of My Heart: Ephesians 1:17-21

Ephesians 1:17-21 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

This past Sunday we sang, “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. It is a beautiful song with lyrics that reflect what Paul was trying to get across the people of Ephesus in Ephesians 1:18. His prayer was that God would enlighten or open the eyes of their hearts so that they could see hope we have in God’s inheritance and his power.

Sometimes we need to have the eyes of our heart opened. Sometimes we forget that we have a hope of eternal life and that the things of earth are not that important in the eternal scheme of things. At other times we are blinded to God’s power. We know it is there but we don’t allow his power to flow because we don’t think or believe that God will do something. Like the father of the demon possessed boy we have to say, “I do believe. Lord, help my unbelief.” And then there are times when we do not see past our own needs and miss the needs of others. Our heart’s eyes need to be enlightened so that we can allow God to work through us.

I can not tell you the number of times this song has ministered to my spiritual life or my relationship with others.

It is my prayer today that you will allow God to open the eyes of your heart and show you a new and better way.

Dear God, You are Jehovah Ori, The God of light, and my guide. My prayer today is that you will open the eyes of my heart so that I can see you clearly and so that I can know the security of your eternal nature and your power. Help me to lift you up and glorify you instead of trying to lift myself up or think of myself before others. You are holy. You are God. You are my light and my salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Open The Eyes of My Heart

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Lord pour out Your Power and Love
As we sing Holy, Holy, Holy

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Lord pour out Your Power and Love
As we sing Holy, Holy, Holy

To see You high and lifted up
Shining in the light of Your glory
Lord pour out Your Power and Love
As we sing Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy,
Holy, Holy, Holy, I want to see You. (repeat)

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy,
Holy, Holy, Holy, I want to see You.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy,
Holy, Holy, Holy, I want to see You.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord;
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You, I want to see You

Words and Music by Paul Baloche ©1998 Hosanna Music CCLI #1872248

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Ask A Jew, Ask A Gentile

Pastor Robert Jeffress & Dennis Prager

An enlightening and entertaining dialogue with Jewish talk host Dennis Prager and Christian pastor/commentator Robert Jeffress. Judaism is the oldest living religion, and the foundation for many Christian beliefs and practices.

– What is the difference between the Jewish and Christian view of life after death? – What can Jews learn from Christians? – Why have Jews been the target of persecution throughout history? – Why is Christianity now being opposed?

Join Dennis Prager and Dr. Robert Jeffress along with moderator Dudley Rutherford as they discuss the similarities and differences of these two great world religions.

Pastor Robert Jeffress & Dennis Prager

 

The Rational Bible

Dennis Prager has a new book out, “The Rational Bible,” this first edition of five “Exodus.”

FOX News reports:

Dennis Prager and the wisdom and challenges of The Rational Bible

Dennis Prager is no stranger to controversy.  A columnist and syndicated radio host, for years, he’s expressed his viewpoints on everything under the sun–and gotten plenty of pushback.

Now he’s taking on the Bible. Okay, “taking on” might be the wrong way to put it, but Prager’s new book, “The Rational Bible: Exodus,” is a chance for both fans and opponents to understand how the Scriptures underlie his sense of morality.

“[My job] make the Bible known to as many people around the world as possible, so that they have access to the finest guide to life ever written.”

– Dennis Prager

Coming from Prager, the book is likely to challenge much of modern ethics, but that would be okay with him—he wants people to take another look at the Bible, to change how they perceive it.

His main mission is to let the world know the Bible is as relevant as ever. As he explained in an interview with Fox News, he feels his job is to “make the Bible known to as many people around the world as possible, so that they have access to the finest guide to life ever written.”

The roots of his book go far back. He was teaching the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) about 25 years ago at a Jewish university and noticed half his students were non-Jews. He realized “either the Torah has something to say to everyone or it has nothing to say to Jews.”

So, essentially, there’s a quarter-century’s experience (at least) behind this book.  For the last three years, Prager notes, it’s all he’s been writing.

He started with Exodus, and not the first book of the Bible, Genesis, “primarily because it contains the Ten Commandments, the moral centerpiece of the Bible.”

A good portion of his book—17,000 words, by Prager’s count—in fact deals with the Ten Commandments.  Next year he hopes to have a book out on Genesis, and, ultimately, to complete five volumes on the Bible.

Prager is concerned that many dismiss the Bible as not being applicable to today’s world, some even calling it morally harmful.  His book, he hopes, can set people straight.  He’s not appealing to faith, he says, but to reason.

One problem is that many of the rules listed in Exodus seem dated.  But, as Prager notes, almost any legal code becomes dated in its specifics. “The issue is what values and teaching we can derive from these laws.

Few people today own oxen, but the law that an ox that kills a human being must be put to death reflects a fundamental biblical value—the preciousness of human life, and the price a killer, even an animal-killer, must pay for taking it.”

Indeed, the Covenant Code–rules for living found in chapters 20 through 23 of Exodus–plays a significant role in The Rational Bible.  Modern critics have questioned the value of these rules, where women seem to be property, and slavery is taken for granted.

“Things that at first appear irrelevant, primitive, or even immoral turn out to be important and often great moral leaps forward.”

– Dennis Prager – The Rational Bible–Exodus

Prager hopes people will get a chance to examine his take. One of the central lessons of his book is “Things that at first appear irrelevant, primitive, or even immoral turn out to be important and often great moral leaps forward.”

He believes his book shows how “new and different the Bible was from anything that preceded it.” It brought the world a new kind of morality, and way of life, and he hopes to help people understand the “sublime moral values” it champions.

In fact, that is part of the evidence as to why God is the ultimate author of the Torah (even if there were human intermediaries)—because it was “utterly different and morally superior to everything else ever believed.”

And such wisdom, if properly comprehended, still applies today.  For instance, Prager hopes to explain important distinctions found in the Bible—“human-animal; human-God; man-woman; good-evil; holy-profane; and God-nature.”  Understanding these distinctions “would help explain to anyone how to best order the world.”

He believes readers can discover in his book not just a better understanding of the Bible, but a better way to live.  Thus the book is his attempt to “explain the life-enhancing insights, teaching, and morality” contained in the Torah.

While he hopes he can convince some people to be believers, that is not his primary purpose–he notes the Bible’s wisdom would be helpful to both believers and non-believers alike.

“How we act is far more important than how we think or feel.”

– Dennis Prager

For instance, Prager argues it’s important to understand that “how we act is far more important than how we think or feel.” While that insight may come from his reading of the Bible, it’s a precept that anyone can follow.

So The Rational Bible–Exodus offers a challenge to all—to experts and novices, to evangelists and atheists.  From a man who has been challenging people for years with his opinions, this is the ultimate challenge—it’s Prager’s passionate argument about what God expects from you, and what you can do to change your own life.

Holding Politicans To Priestly Standards Not What Jesus Preached

From National Review:

Some Days I Am Especially Happy to Be a Roman Catholic

Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Donald Trump at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in New York on October 20, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A response to David French’s open letter to Trump’s Evangelical defenders.

We Romanists are, after all, an inviting church, very much for sinners: Come on in, the water is warm, and there’s no need to wear the scarlet letter. Anyway, about David French’s post calling out President Trump’s “Evangelical defenders,” I have some thoughts. From the perspective of those of us who, by reputation, rarely read the Bible, there seems an awful lot of moral points scored by David. Good. But his post was marinated in overwrought sauce, and I’d file it in the category of the perfect being the enemy of the good and all similar stuff.

So I feel moved (if by the Spirit, good; I hope not by my breakfast) to respond with three little points, made by a believer, a sinner, who aspires to the Kingdom of Heaven, who accepts that it is not unto this orb.

One is that David’s take reflects how some quarters of conservatism have been deeply infected by the be-all, end-all of presidential primacy. In all matters. Growing up, when we remarked “holier than the pope” about a guy, it was meant to be a jab (it doesn’t work well any more under Pope Francis!). But now, the once-jab seems more like . . . a definition and even an expectation: We (believers) seem to want more moral guidance, pronouncements, behavior — salvation! — from an American president than we do of the true shepherds of our souls, whether it be the parish priest, the rabbi, the bishop, the minister. Maybe it is because of the clergy’s sub-contracting of its natural earthly responsibilities that we look to elected officials for void-filling? Anyway, yin to yang, as our society politicizes more and all. (My old man: “That S.O.B. would politicize a bowl of cornflakes,” which makes no sense and plenty of sense.) Our centers of faith — in my case, Catholic parishes and diocesan bureaucracies — have relinquished attention to their duties, such as the charitable works of mercy, and have rendered them too unto the Caesar and his regulators.

I stand athwart this nonsense — presidential fetishizing, duty-abandoning — and yell Stop! And I also advise the college of cardinals to remove any American president from the ballot at its next conclave.

Two: We Catholics believe in saints (I know, so do Anglicans and Eastern Christians, but as for the rest of my fraternal Christian sects, I haven’t a clue), and when I get fired from or depart this place, if still breathing, I am going to finally have time to write a book about my favorite ones (saints, not sects). By the way, since I am waxing a tad Counter-Reformational, May 4’s patron saint is John Houghton, a priest and Carthusian hermit, martyred this very day in 1535. Brutally hanged, drawn and quartered — along with Fathers John Haile and Richard Reynolds — as instigated by the fiend Cromwell. Why? Because of Father Houghton’s refusal (he was the first of many, and of them, many too met his horrible fate) to take the oath for the Act of Supremacy, which held the king to be the head of the Church in England.

I find this noteworthy. While I prefer my head of state — and everyone from him to my barber — to be moral, like the Good Martyred Father, I don’t want to designate my king, or president, to be the head of any spiritual institution, or treated as if he needed to be such. You Anglicans grapple with that. (And yes, Vatican City is a “country,” but let’s admit that it is really just a sovereignty to produce collectible stamps and employ silly-looking Swiss Guards.)

Anyway, and I am still on Number Two here, the very first saint is a true deplorable, by Hillary’s standards or by anyone’s, even his own. By tradition, the “first” saint is often claimed to be Stephen, a disciple of Jesus, stoned to death for heresy. But by timing, the first has got to be Saint Dismas, aka “the Good Thief,” the self-admitted criminal (“We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes”) nailed to a cross alongside Jesus, who assured him — after Dismas professed his faith in Christ’s divinity (“Remember me when you come into your kingdom”) — that “today you will be with me in Paradise.” Boom! Ticket punched. It’s tough maybe for the Christian Pharisees to swallow, but sometimes really good things happen to really bad people, that really bad people can do, and indeed do do (excuse that) really good things, and that as God warned (promised!), the Last can come First, and that we may have a pretty incomplete meaning of what and who “the Last” means. But back to Dismas: The very first guy we know, from God’s own lips, to be assured salvation was a criminal who deserved execution. Yes, the perfect and the good just don’t always align.

Number Three (inspired by Number Two): It wasn’t until two years ago that I first heard the parable of the Unjust Judge (I again concede that many of us papists are of thin proficiency with the Holy Book). David firehoses chapters and verse, which makes me want to duck for cover.

But then there is that nagging parable, and it does nag me. I’m not sure how it slipped by all those years, but it goes like this: A jerk of a judge, a non-believer, finally gives in to a haranguing widow because he cannot stand the thought of more haranguing (which all parents understand). The main point of the parable is obvious, since Jesus explains it: If a jerk will listen to someone with a just complaint, imagine how God will treat you when you ask for His help.

Got it. But there is a secondary and not unimportant point here in the parable: Even jerks are capable of doing good things.

The very existence of the sacrament of penance is a divine admission that all men are sinners.

I am not calling Donald Trump or anyone, besides myself, a jerk. Nor am I discounting the Ten Commandments or my own faith’s ample and detailed catechism about how we are to behave, how our body is a temple, that we are made in the image and likeness . . . but I am saying that justice or righteousness or correctness or however you might want to package something that implies a good and even holy result can be produced by a jerk. And is. Every day, by millions upon millions and who knows, maybe even billions. Jesus whipped the money-changers, but He doesn’t come off as a sanctimonious prig (He left that for the Pharisees), and that’s because He wasn’t. He knew what humanity was, and what individual humans are — His mom aside, each and every one of them a sinner, some much more public with their trespasses than others.

How could He not know, or hold as a reality, that sinners are capable of doing good?

I fear going to Hell for my sins (I pray not), but I won’t be going there because I donated to Donald Trump’s campaign, voted for his election, or support him, conditionally, as has this website and magazine, when he has done right by our beliefs and by our nation. He is not above criticism and condemnation for his actions (who is?), and yep, I wince and cringe at the praise, sometimes shameful, of those folks who when describing the president use language that should be reserved solely for the Second Coming. But I did none, nor do any, of these things as a Roman Catholic. I do them — and, I hope, all my Caesar-rendering things — informed by my faith, which has an inherent forgiving aspect to it, maybe more so than do other branches of Christianity. After all, Catholicism has a formal sacrament of penance, which is obligatory and exists to help all believers regularly cleanse their souls. It’s an obvious thing to say, then, that the sacrament’s very existence is a divine admission that all men are sinners. More obvious: All, if held to certain standards and called to account on them at this very moment, would be unworthy of doing just about anything, whether it be serving as president or cutting my hair.

And I take great exception to that. Both Pete and Tanka, I sit in whoever’s chair is open, do a marvelous job, so there’s no way in You-Know-Where I am looking for a new barber because my current ones may break commandments.

David’s post is serious and deserves a serious, theological toe-to-toe response. I hope it comes. I am not up to that challenge. But I have a piece to speak, and have now spoken it.

I’ll end with a simple prayer: Be merciful to me God, a poor miserable Compartmentalist.

Those Who Try To Make Christianity Logical And Follow Scientific Laws

American Thinker posts this article:

An Embarrassment of Miracles

Miracles have become more and more of a burden to the lukewarm Christian – something that embarrasses him in front of his more secular friends

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson created an abridged version of the New Testament, literally with a razor and glue, which he titled “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”  In essence, he stripped the New Testament of supernatural events and reduced it to a moral philosophy.

Ever since the Enlightenment, miracles have become more and more of a burden to the lukewarm Christian – something that embarrasses him in front of his more secular friends.  This reflects a complete misunderstanding of who we are – and who God is.

To be a Christian worthy of the name, surely one must accept the Bible at face value at least as far as its very first verse, Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Here, in the plainest possible language, we have a bold assertion – that God didn’t just happen upon the universe already formed by parties unknown or by some dead process of nature, but actually created it.  That is a miracle.  Beyond the creation itself, any further miracles must pale by comparison.  It makes no sense to believe that God could bring the universe into being but could not have had the power to save Jonah from the heart of the sea by the means of a great fish, nor have had the power to raise the dead.  If one is going to deny the existence of relatively minor miracles on the grounds that they are odd and inexplicable, one should have the rational consistency to deny the greatest, most astounding miracle at all.

Let’s consider Jonah’s fishy miracle in a bit more detail.  It makes an enlightening example.  Suppose that a modern, technologically capable group of people wanted, for whatever reason, to keep a human being alive inside a whale or a large shark for three days.  Would it be possible?  Although we have never done such a thing to my knowledge, it is by no means unimaginable.  We know what the physiological requirements of human beings are and can make a reasonable guess at whether or not a particular aquatic animal might tolerate an enclosed life support system large enough to accomplish the task.  Surely we could make a capsule that would keep a man alive for 72 hours and yet be sufficiently small to fit within the body of a whale or even the largest of the sharks.  But people scoff at the Jonah story as so much nonsense.  Why?

Something can be true in a meaningful sense without being a historical narrative.

 We would like to think we can choose our own destinies and bend the world according to our explanations.  

People have absorbed the popular notion that everything around us has a humanly knowable scientific explanation, so they become uncomfortable with the idea that God hasn’t limited His means to those processes that we ourselves can understand.  We think we know most of what there is to know about whales and large sharks, so we pride ourselves on understanding that an ordinary animal, upon swallowing a man, would immediately start to digest him.  In biblical references involving things we know, we tend to expect God to play by the rules we observe in nature.  However, when it comes to grander miracles like the creation itself, that science either can’t explain at all or can explain only poorly, we are more likely to accept the divine explanation.

Miracles are, by definition, supernatural.  This to say that they are “beyond nature” – or, in a word, “unknowable.”  However, they are unknowable only to us.  From God’s perspective, the distinction between the natural and the supernatural cannot exist, the whole of the universe being not only knowable to Him, but fully and completely known.  As I said earlier, to reject miracles out of hand is to understand neither who we are nor who God is.

The rejection of miracles is widespread among people who still consider themselves Christians.  I recall watching a popular documentary purporting to explain the twelve plagues of Egypt in entirely natural terms.  There is a whole series of programs of this sort.  Real Christians should beware.  Such explanations are not benign attempts to reveal God’s means, but instead attempts to render God unnecessary.  Our faith isn’t compatible with believing that the Bible’s human authors were merely remarkable predictors or chroniclers of unplanned natural phenomena.  Rather, the Christian knows from the inside out that the universe around us is itself miraculous – the physical expression of the mind of God.

I do not want to be seen as advocating an absolute and rigid fundamentalism.  To say something is possible is not the same as saying it is known.  Something can be true in a meaningful sense without being a historical narrative.  Christ’s parables are true, but plainly, they are not the record of historical events.  The prodigal son was a metaphor, not a flesh-and-blood historical person.  Likewise, we do not know with absolute certainty whether Christ was speaking metaphorically or not when he referred to the Book of Jonah in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  Nor do we know with absolute certainty whether or not the Book of Jonah was itself an extended metaphor.  To assume that it was a metaphor is to grant ourselves knowledge we do not actually have.  To assume that it was not a metaphor is, however, just as arrogant.  The safest course is not to make assumptions of either kind.

Neither the higher critical method nor our own lamentable vanity qualifies us to parse through Holy Scripture with Thomas Jefferson’s razor – nor to impart to it a childish factuality that undermines God’s message.  The point of Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare is rather lost if you fixate on the novelty of tortoises and hares organizing interspecies sporting events.  While much of the Bible is undoubtedly historically accurate, it is not the primary purpose of the Bible to chronicle the literal history of the ancient world.  Whether or not Jonah lived three days and nights inside the belly of a whale is not, I believe, the heart of the lesson God intended to give us.  That Jonah’s attempts to avoid God’s call were futile is a more important matter than the problem of the story’s historicity.  That God is sovereign over everything, using us as he chooses, appears to be the point.  However, the literal interpretation of the Jonah story would not have been beyond God’s means.  Let no one scoff.

We human beings don’t like acknowledging our own limitations.  Aristotle said: “All men by nature desire knowledge.”  While I’ve met a few who seemed content to wallow in their own ignorance, I don’t think Aristotle was completely off the mark.  We are prideful creatures, after all.  We would like to think we can choose our own destinies and bend the world according to our explanations.  In fact, we can do neither.  Like Jonah, we are shepherded by forces greater than ourselves.  We reject the idea of miracles not because we are wise, but because we would like the world to be comfortably predictable.  The unexpected and unknowable frighten us – and we rebel.

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Making Difficult Decisions

HELP WITH DIFFICULT DECISIONS

By

Rev. Eamon Tobin

Father Eamon Tobin

 

From the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night, we make many decisions. It has been said that we are the sum total of our decisions. When we make a decision, we are writing another line in the script of our lives. Daily, we make all kinds of decisions that impact our health, our relationships (with others and self), our character, etc. Daily, we make decisions on how to use our time, treasure and talent. Some decisions can have some very long-term effects on our lives, e.g., choice of career, whom to marry or not to marry, etc. Other choices can be very traumatic and difficult, as in the following instances. Should the expectant woman who discovers that her preborn baby has some serious physical or mental defect, carry the child to full term or terminate the pregnancy? Should the woman who has had a very difficult pregnancy be open to having another child? Should one stay in a marriage that is loveless? The decision to place a loved one in a long-term nursing facility is heart-wrenching. Equally painful is the decision to withdraw the life-support system from a family member who has no hope of recovering. We might say that nothing impacts our lives more than the decisions we make, especially the difficult ones and those with far-reaching effects.

When it comes to the difficult decisions in our lives, most of us would like to be able to pick up the phone and dial God so we could ask him what choice we should make in the particular situation we face. Often we feel that there is a conflict between what we think is good for us and what God wants for us. That is not necessarily true. We can always assume that God only wants our happiness and what is best for us. In John 10:10, Jesus tells us that he has come so that we may have “life in its full abundance.” Spiritual directors like to point out that what we most deeply desire in our hearts is also what God wants for us. The difficulty is getting at what we most deeply desire—a whole other topic.

 

Five suggestions when dealing with difficult decisions

 

Suggestion #1.  Pray for guidance and openness to whatever God may ask of us. In some situations, this will be very hard because our minds and hearts maybe set on a particular direction. For example, if a married man falls in love with another woman, he will most likely find it very hard to hear God calling him back to his wife. Because I like Ascension parish very much, I would find it hard to hear God calling me to another place. Our attachment to a particular place or relationship or job would usually make it very hard for us to have what St. Ignatius calls “interior freedom” when it comes to discernment or decision-making. In other words, how free are we to go in whatever direction God may point us? Probably not very free if our minds and hearts are set on going in one particular direction. Of course, the direction we have in mind may be the direction that God also wants for us. So as we face some difficult decision, itis very important that we not only pray for guidance and openness but also for inner freedom.

 

Suggestion #2.  Take a piece of paper and jot down the pros and cons of possible options available to us. When I was invited to consider coming to Ascension parish, I was quite happy with my previous parish and had no desire to leave. But I knew that I needed to pray for the right decision. One of the steps I took was identifying the pros and cons of why I did and did not want to come to Ascension. In doing so, I quickly realized that all my reasons for wanting to stay where I was were somewhat selfish. So after praying a little more, I recognized that God was calling me to pull up roots and move south. I am glad I did. In drawing up our list of pros and cons, it might be a good idea to enlist the help of others. Sometimes we may be blind to aspects of the dilemma we face that other people may otherwise see quite clearly.

 

Suggestion #3.  Take time to pray with our list of pros and cons. As we sit with each side of an issue, we can check how we feel. We may want to stay with one side of the issue for a few days, after which we can assess if we feel good about it or if peace is lacking. This step demands a lot of honesty, especially when we have a strong attachment to one particular option. As we struggle with our decision, it would be helpful for us to distinguish how we feel during prayer as opposed to how we feel outside of prayer. Oftentimes, the doubt and confusion we feel occurs outside of prayer. We would do well to trust more what we think and feel while we are in prayer and most open to hearing God’s voice.

 

Suggestion #4.  Discuss your decision with others. We could talk to friends who know us well and are willing to tell us what they truly think, and not what they think we want to hear. We may want to speak 2 with a counselor. What is important is to talk and listen to someone who will be objective with us.

 

Suggestion #5.  Go through three imaginative exercises recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

 

  • First, consider what advice we would give to another person faced with the identical situation. It would be interesting to see how clear our situation becomes when we picture someone else in the same boat.
  • Second, imagine ourselves being on our deathbed and asking which route we would have taken.
  • Third, picture ourselves standing before God on the last day and consider what decision we would like to have made in such circumstances. The latter two suggestions are pretty heavy ones but perhaps they might awaken us to the seriousness of our decisions.

 

Decision time

 

Finally, we have to make a decision of some kind. Our decision may be to take more time with the issue, placing it on hold for some time, or we may decide to go in one particular direction even though we are not at all sure that we are making the right decision. St.Ignatius counsels us not to decide while in doubt.(The assumption here is that we are in a position to wait.) The next step is to act on our decision. This can be a difficult step.

Acting on what we decide

Sometimes we can be quite clear on what we need to do but we may find it very hard to do it. For example, family members may decide that they need to confront the abuse of alcohol but they may find it extremely difficult to do what they know in their hearts is the right thing.

In our hearts, we know the right thing to do is to forgive someone who has hurt us but we may have a strong inner resistance to taking that step. Here we need to pray a lot for the grace to do what we do not feel like doing. Here prayer is crucial. We should pray for the grace to do what we believe is the right thing.

As we carry out our decision, we may wonder some months later if we made the right choice. One way to check is to ask ourselves if our choice brings us peace and is life-giving for us. Of course there maybe days when we experience a lot of conflict and struggle, and wonder if we really made the right decision. Such difficult days and feelings are normal and do not necessarily prove that we made the wrong decision. As I just said, if our decision gives us a sense of peace and life, then we have two good reasons to believe that we acted in accord with God’s will. On the other hand, if our chosen direction gives us little or no peace and drains the life out of us, then there is reason to believe that we may not have made a good decision. This raises the difficult question: what if we discover or believe strongly that we made the wrong decision? If we prayed about our decision and made an honest effort to seek God’s will, we can be very sure that God is pleased with us. As in everything else we do, the art of good decision making is developed by trial and error and, of course, with the grace of God. It has been said that there is only one real mistake, and that is the one we keep repeating and learn nothing from. The Lord does no task that we always be right; he only asks that we try our best and act out of the best understanding we have of a particular situation. Our God is so creative that he is always “writing straight with crooked lines.” Some of our best lessons are learned in the detours of life’s journey.

If you know of someone facing a difficult decision, consider sharing this column

Militant Christian Bashing

The way Christianity is portrayed in the media has changed tremendously even when paring it to media in the 70s. 

On NRATV’s Hot Mic, Bill Whittle talks about Christianity and the media.

While the average Christian doesn’t mix his religion with his politics although he may be active in both, the secular Left seems to want to make religion, that is the removal of it from the marketplace, a plank in their ideology. Dennis Prager says that can be no morality without God. Others have said that without a moral and informed society democracy or our Republic will not survive.

The problem that confronts us is the lack of Judaeo-Christian values, the breakdown of the family, abortion and the rise of sexual neutering may degrade our society so badly that we are headed for Civil War.

Three Wooden Crosses

 

“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it’s what you leave behind when you go.”

There are some lessons here. First of all think about your legacy. What have you done to make this world a better place? What will you be remembered for? Perhaps you were one who forged strong relationships. Or maybe you always had a kind word and a lift-me-up for those around you. On the other hand you could have been a mean and nasty soul who degraded those around you. It’s not too late. You make your own world. Is it a pleasant, joyful experience or a down and dirty struggle? It’s your choice.

Second, be prepared to go at a moments notice. You never know when it is your time. Make your peace with God ahead of time. Put your affairs in order now. Later never happens. Live in the moment. Forget the past. Forgive yourself for all your past transgressions and ask for God’s forgiveness, making a commitment to not repeat your mistakes. Then put them out of your mind. What’s done is done and cannot be redone. Don’t worry about the future. What will be, will be. The future is not for us to see. Dwelling on it will not change it. Trust in the Lord. The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. With that assurance now make the most out of this moment. It is the first day of the rest of your life. It is not the past or the future that you can change or redo or make happen, it is this very moment you are in right now. Make the most of it. Then there are no regrets. You lived life to the fullest and that my friends is joyful!

When it is your time may you go with a smile on your face, joy in your heart and expectations of greater things to come!  –  Frederic L. Milliken

The Discovery Of The Ancient Home of Jesus’ Apostles, The City Of Julias

Haaretz has announced what it thinks is an important archaeological discovery. Here is their story:

Lost Roman City Of Julias

The Lost Home of Jesus’ Apostles Has Just Been Found, Archaeologists Say

Archaeologists believe Julias, the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip, was located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee

Noa Shpigel and Ruth Schuster

Archaeologists think they may have found the lost Roman city of Julias, the home of three apostles of Jesus: Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21). A multi-layered site discovered on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve, is the spot, the team believes.

The key discovery is of an advanced Roman-style bathhouse. That in and of itself indicates that there had been a city there, not just a fishing village, Dr. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College told Haaretz.

A Roman Bathhouse

None other than the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius – in fact the only source describing this city’s existence – wrote that the Jewish monarch King Philip Herod, son of the great vassal King Herod, transformed Bethsaida, which had been a Jewish fishing village, into a real Roman polis (Ant. 18:28. Though whether it was built on Bethsaida, or by it, remains unknown.

Philip flatteringly renamed the city “Julias” after Livia Drusilla, who after marriage would become known as Julia Augusta, the mother of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city,” Aviam says meticulously. “He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it. And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture.”

Josephus himself would take over fortifying Bethsaida’s defenses (as reported by himself) ahead of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome that began in 67 C.E., and would end in disaster for the Jews in 70 C.E.  Josephus himself claims to have been hurt in battle in the swamp near Julias (Life 399-403).

There are actually three candidates for Julias: this one, called el-Araj; and two nearby sites by the lake. After unexpectedly finding the bathhouse and other Roman-era remains below the (previously known) Byzantine ruins at the site, the archaeologists think this site, at the delta of the  River Jordan on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, is the strongest candidate.

The Julias archaeological dig

What the archaeologists found at el-Araj is an older layer dating from the late Roman period, the 1st to 3rd centuries C.E., two meters below the Byzantine level. That Roman layer contained pottery sherds from the 1st to the 3rd centuries B.C.E., a mosaic, and the remains of the bathhouse. Two coins were found, a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius featuring the Emperor Nero from the year 65-66 C.E.

And has a major missing church been found too? The excavators found walls with gilded glass tesserae for a mosaic, an indication of a wealthy and important church. Willibald, the bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria, visited the Holy Land in 725 C.E., and in his itinerary, he describes his visit to a church at Bethsaida that was built over the house of Peter and Andrew. It may well be that the current excavations have unearthed evidence for that church, say the archaeologists.

A key argument in favor of el-Araj being Julias lies in a mistake about the level of the Sea of Galilee, claim the archaeologists.

Based on calculations by the excavators of nearby Magdala, most archaeologists assume that the level of the lake was 209 meters below sea level during the Roman period. They therefore assume that the site of el-Araj was under water until the Byzantine period. But either the ancient Romans had gills, or it wasn’t.

The Roman layer discovered is 211 meters below sea level. The level of the lake was evidently lower than previously thought, “and el-Araj most certainly was not under water in the Roman period,” they state.

Geologists Prof. Noam Greenbaum from Haifa University and Dr. Nati Bergman from the Yigal Alon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, studied the layers of the site and concluded that the site was covered with mud and clay that were carried by the Jordan River in the late Roman period, which corresponds to a gap in material remains from about 250 C.E. to 350 C.E. Later, in the Byzantine period, the site was resettled, the archaeologists conclude. Stay tuned for further discoveries as excavations, funding permitting, continue.

 

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.805402