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Important Thoughts about Things…

24 Mar

tombstone

Yes things, material things. This means money, cars, boats, houses, furniture, art, electronics, etc…

Right up front, I myself am guilty of this. More so that I wanted to admit to myself, and it is very hard thing to eliminate from ones life. The nature of our society makes some materialism both inevitable and necessary. The important thing is to keep it in perspective and to keep your priorities straight. There is no evil inherent in becoming fiscally wealthy through industriousness nor in being fiscally poor inspite of industriousness. All of us must provide for our families to the best of abilities and according to our needs. What we must do to keep our perspective and priorities straight is not to allow wealth to be defined by material things. Love is wealth, Faith is wealth, and children are our greatest wealth. For in the end – how do your accomplishments profit you if you have no family of your own to share them with. What profit is there in acquiring those material things if your wife and children become part of the price you must pay – it would seem a hollow victory to me. I did learn one thing for myself – my happiness is not to be found in material things, but rather in true love both given and received.

In truth, my greatest wealth is in the love of my God, my wife, and my children. My greatest accomplishment is the title of Husband she bestowed on me, and the children she blessed us both with. Everything else pales to mere shadows in comparison. It can be a humbling thing when your whole life comes into perspective and you realize what really is important to you, I pray that you will not be at death’s door when you receive this revelation.

Do you judge the success or quality of your marriage by the material possessions it accumulates or the position it gains you? Then why would you judge your own success by that measure?

Have you stopped to consider how little in this life is truly important. Your body will die – none of us is immune, everything dies. It is a natural (if uncomfortable to talk about) part of our lives. After you are dead – what will you leave behind? Memories and an epitaph on a tombstone.

What do you want your tombstone to say? “Successful <Insert your Occupation or Profession Here>” or “loving husband and father”.

What memories will you leave behind? Will they be memories of  a man that the widow and her children hardly saw because he was always working or travelling in order to be “Successful”. Will you children have more memories of nannies and alternative caregivers than you? What will they remember about you?

Being hardworking and industrious is always a good thing – but as is necessary to provide for your family. At some point it becomes greed and vanity. You begin to amass wealth in large quantities, purchase things you don’t need or even want just to make an impression on others. Often people sacrifice the one treasure permitted you on earth that can survive your death – Children. A precious Gift from God that assures even the non-believer a modicum of immortality in knowing that part of them remains alive in each of their children. We are convinced to sacrifice that joy and certitude for hollow material things that will crumble to dust or disuse in mere years. Our wives are often convinced by society that their natural purpose for which they alone are biologically equipped (birthing and nursing our children) is a waste of their time and talents. Ask yourself if your wife would prefer “Devoted Wife and Mother” instead of “#1 Accountant 1982-1995” on her tombstone.

While I have you thinking about this – ask yourself which is more important to you, a sacramental marriage and children or a successful career. If you chose the career then you have my most earnest prayers. A sacramental marriage requires that you put your wife before yourself in all things – this is a beautiful and noble thing even when done by just one of you, and wonderful beyond all description when it is returned in kind. Children are a gift to each of you from the other, representing the physical embodiment of that sacramental love – they are an investment in the future of all humanity. To a child – an afternoon at the park with their father is worth more than all the tea in China.

If you think you are wealthy, ask yourself who will truly mourn your passing? Were you ever truly loved even once in your life and did your bind that love in the Sacrament of Matrimony or let it go in order to finish and education or pursue other things? Did you ever have twinges of regret wondering what could have been? Imagine how unimportant so many of the things we commonly hold dear will be to you at the moment of death. Remember that when you leave this life, you can only take memories and regrets. What harm is there in trying to make a few happy memories -and potentially resolve some regrets ahead of time, after all one can never know the day or the hour when death will come.

Ask yourself one final question – Why am I here? If you can’t say that God put you on this Earth to dominate other men, to acquire fleeting material wealth then you might also want to consider some thoughtful prayers requesting guidance from God on the direction of your life.

I will be praying for everyone who is discerning their purpose and direction in life this Lenten season. If you have your priorities in order and are happy and at peace then please join me in prayer for others.

Colin

Update for those Praying for Kathryn

9 Mar

kathryn

Kathryn

For those who have been following the saga of this one brave young girl and her family, I am hoping that reading this and maybe some of the prior posts for the backstory on my blog will help affirm in your hearts the power of prayer not just in our lives but in the lives of others. Kathryn is one of millions of young children who are suffering daily all over the world with life threatening illness. I have long realized that I cannot make a change for all of them directly, but by doing little things with great love for the one(s) God places before me I believe that I can make a difference. I am also hoping I can inspire others to do what they can to make a small difference in the hope that they too will inspire others. The end of which under ideal circumstances is an outpouring of compassion worldwide.

I’d like to thank all of you who have prayed, sent cards, notes, letters, and postcards of hope to this young girl. I am posting this update because she still needs your prayers and there is so much more ahead of her than there is behind her. Please keep her in your prayers, and remember that love and compassion are not finite resources – you can give all of each from a neverending supply, replenished by God himself.

Now the Update from the Gardner Family –

Last week for Kathryn went well. There were no real changes to report except that her 4 sisters did in fact go through the initial round of genetic testing. The Gardner family wish to send Praises to the heavens on the wings of the Father’s glorious holy angels that from her 4 sisters, they have found one match. Kathyrn’s little sister Karlie(5), is an EXACT MATCH. Praise God!! The test has 15 different markers, Karlie matched all 15 EXACTLY!

When the doctor told them the news Kathy simply began to cry. She heard very little of what was said after that. Kathy asked for a copy of the test to see for herself and she was handed a single piece of paper on which clearly matched the two girls. Kathy knew that the doctor was explaining to a couple of student doctors that when doing these genetic tests you hope to get as many markers to come close to the patients numbers. He was telling them how rare it is to get and exact match on the first try. Then Kathy interrupted and said, “What a beautiful Pro-Life testament!” to which the doctor responded, “Exactly!”

The family would like to thank all of you for your constant prayers and they ask that you lift Karlie up. They are asking that you specifically ask the Father to prepare her little heart for this procedure should we get to that stage. At this time, the doctors are just telling us that it is highly likely that we will have to get the transplant, so they are going to prepare Kathryn for it. They have not told us when this will happen or told us any details, just that it will probably happen at some point.

Prayer Warriors, we have been given great news today for Kathryn and her family. Parents Kyle & Kathy said that on one hand they are ecstatic that they found a match but on the other hand the donor is the youngest and the family is feeling the effects of that reality. In a family meeting today, each of the girls mentioned why she wanted to be the match for their sister. It was very touching.

Kathryn is feeling pretty blue these last few days. She is in a real battle and her little body is taking a beating. Join us as we continue to storm heaven with uplifting prayers for her and her family. Remember the family has asked that we pray for 5 yr old Karlie, that God will prepare her heart. Those of us who have the distinct pleasure of knowing this little firecracker, know that she always has the perfect answer for just about anything you ask of her. She is bouncy, full of life and can carry on an intriguing conversation with anyone and anything.

***KATHRYN’S EMAIL ADDRESS***
GForce2000.14@gmail.com

***** LETTERS/CARDS ********
All mail for Kathryn should be mailed to the following address:
KATHRYN GARDNER
857 Brownswitch PMB # 335
Slidell, Louisiana 70458

God Bless,

-Colin

Living Faith

21 Jan

Sainte_therese_de_lisieux

Living your faith is something which fewer and fewer of us are doing today. We continually make compromises in our lives and place other things before God. I know, I know – not you right? I used to think so too – I’m still working on fixing it to this day. But seriously, when we fail to live our faith publicly it’s like lighting a candle then covering it a black box so nobody can see it. Faith is not something you practice just on sundays for 45 mins, maybe longer if the priest in long-winded in his homily. Faith is meant to be LIVED and not PRACTICED. Catholicism most especially, is meant to be integrated into our everyday life, in our homes, in our jobs, at the market, in every single thing we do each day.

This does not mean that we carry a bible, wear a honkin’ crucifix, sling a rosary through our belt and wander the streets admonishing sinners. Rather, this means we do the exact opposite. St. Francis said to “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary”. This important because we live our faith through our actions, not our words. Modesty is always good. That bible toting routine is not modest – the little rabbit foo foo method of spreading the gospel (by banging people eon the head with it) is not the answer. More importantly, this change is about you and not them. This is about change on the inside more than the outside. It’s a challenge with some fantastic rewards, even if you never get there but just keep trying.

We start with the small things. St. Therese said to do little things with great love. Little things are easier. You can pick just a few and start there, and then expand. You can do them while: preparing a meal, disciplining a child, dealing with a coworker, showing compassion for a stranger, performing your job, cleaning the house, even choosing groceries, or interacting with your spouse. You see those little things form the foundation for the big things. If you can’t take a little step successfully, then how can you expect to make a huge leap? Nobody expects you to be perfect, just to try to do everything with great love – nothing more. It is that conscious effort to do things with great love that is so powerful, and perspective changing. You’ll probably start feeling happier and more content in general after a relatively short time. This is the part where you discover the joy of serving God by serving others.

Next work on the moral conflicts in your life. Anytime you find yourself reasoning out why breaking a small moral rule is alright – STOP RIGHT THERE. Recognize that you are rationalizing it. Then reconcile the fact that you cannot be faithful in big things until you have learned to be faithful in small ones. This can mean many things for many people. Some examples to get you stated are lying, cheating, stealing, imagined adultery, even skipping church on Sunday so you can make a ball game. What are you saying to your children if you do that? That ball games are more important than God? Teach them instead to get up extra early for mass, or attend the vigil the night before. Show them that God comes first, your example will drive their own understanding of the faith – make it a good one. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in your faith as well.

You’ll find as you focus on the small things the bigger things seem to fall into place on their own. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make when you make a conscious effort to do things for your wife with great love, not to just do them. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself doing everything for her with great love, when she sees your example and follows you in this practice it will fundamentally change your relationship for the better. It will improve your performance at work, your interactions with others, your compassion, your faith, and most importantly your happiness.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Kathryn Finally Home – On Outpatient Chemo

6 Jan

Kathryn

All,

I wanted to make sure I passed on this latest update that Kathryn is finally home and doing outpatient Chemotherapy. It is truly a wonder to watch prayer work in the lives of others around you. It is a reminder of God’s love ,and in the inherent goodness of humanity. I hope that those of you who have prayed for her find great joy and reinforcement in of your faith in her recovery, as I do. When so many pray together the heavens are stormed, and when they pray in humility and God chooses to grant their request it is an amazing thing. Please continue to pray for her and her family, and remember that each of you had a part in both her survival and her recovery. Whatsoever you have done for the least of his people – THAT you have done for him.

PLEASE REPOST OR REBLOG AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE  TO SPREAD THE WORD TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN PRAYING.

With the Greatest Love – and Deepest Faith –

-Colin

POSTED 01.06.14 @ 8:29 PM.

Kathryn went back to the hospital for her two hour chemo treatment today and her body handled the treatment without any complications and she was able to come back home tonight. Her blood levels continue to improve. Kathryn will be doing these two hour chemo treatment twice a week for the next eight weeks.

Kathy will be meeting with Kathryn’s school teachers tomorrow to start setting up the home study program for Kathryn so that she can get back on track with her education.

If anyone can help with dinner for the family on Monday’s and Thursday’s That would be AWESOME. These are the two days each week that Kathryn has to go to her chemo treatment and it is an all day affair.

PLEASE CONTACT MARIANNE BELL @ 985.285.5359 SHE WILL BE COORDINATING THE MEAL SCHEDULE FOR THESE TWO DAYS.

Please continue to pray that Kathryn’s body can continue to handled all the chemo treatments over the course of the next eight weeks. The treatments are making her weak, but she is in good spirits, so your prayers are definitely working!!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE, SUPPORT, AND PRAYERS!!

##############################################################################

UPDATE POSTED 01.05.14 @ 9:38 pm.

GREAT NEWS!!!
The doctors have allowed Kathryn to come home today. Her blood level and her liver indicators are all starting to get down to normal levels.

She will have to go back tomorrow, Monday, January 6 ,2014 for a two hour chemo treatment again, but they are hoping that it will be as an outpatient only and that she will not have to stay in the hospital. She will then have to go back again on Thursday for another chemo treatment. For now the doctors are thinking she will have two chemo treatments a week for eight weeks.

During this time period her immune system will be very weak and vulnerable to any sickness, so please call the house before you just pop in for a visit, as the chemo treatment will be very exhausting for Kathryn.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY THAT KATHRYN CAN HANDLE THE CHEMO TREATMENTS AND THAT THEY WORK!!

##############################################################################

UPDATE 1.4.14 @ 9:18pm

The Gardner Family, want to thank all of you who were able to attend the prayer service last night as well as those who prayed with us from home. Kathy was overjoyed to hear us recount the details of the evening. Today Father Rareshide visited Kathryn! What a blessing! She was also visited by her sisters and cousins. I am sure that wore her out.

Kathy told us the most recent blood tests revealed that the liver enzymes are still going down and are now at 98!That is almost normal.
Her Ferritin level is down to 15,000 from 40,000.

Because these numbers continue to go down, it looks good that she will be able to go home tomorrow. Then she will have to return for outpatient chemotherapy treatments on Monday.

Prayer Warriors, she is not out of the woods yet. Kathryn still has a long way to go. We do know that GOD is on our side and He is definitely walking with Kathryn on this difficult path. Please continue to pray that Kathryn stays strong and her body will handle these treatments.

I encourage each of you to write her a letter or have your little ones draw a picture (her favorite color is purple) and mail it to her at the following address:

KATHRYN GARDNER
857 Brownswitch PMB # 335
Slidell, Louisiana 70458

What will I say?

13 Sep

There is a popular song by Mercy Me called “I Can Only Imagine”. I like this particular rendition because stylistically I play it the same exact way they do, right down to many of the nuances. I also like it because the lyrics sing to me (for the record – my wife does not like the song). I have been there waiting for that moment, for Him to come – and wondering what I would say. Knowing that nothing would be sufficient.

This time it will be different, he will want to know what I have to say for the reprieve. What did I do with that extra time? Could I explain how I had not wasted his gift on me?

Would I tell him about the 4 beautiful children he blessed me with? The faith he restored? My rather miraculous recovery that I’m sure He helped with? Maybe I could tell him about my financial support for the church or the needy where I shared his bounty with others?

Well, after much introspection – I want to tell him how I did something He asked of me of my own free will, rather than trying to take credit for things he did for me. I think I will tell him that I loved my Wife with all my soul, I loved my children with all my heart, and that I tried my best to love humanity too.

Not that I have succeeded thus far, but I am a work in progress. You see, I do pretty well with individuals, but when taken as a group I start to fail at loving them all at once. So small steps are the best I can realistically do as I try to master compassion and love on a large scale.

Why that you ask? It all crystallizes to this point – Love is the one thing we do for Him. It teaches us to surrender ourselves and become a servant to Him by serving at least one other person in his example.  True Love is not forced, nor does it seek reward or recompense, it just is. We learn to experience joy in serving rather than being served. Whether or not it’s the right answer, and whether or not it’s enough to avoid disappointing Him, I will be able to look at myself without shame and regret. Hopefully, it will be enough that I dare to look up into His face when the moment comes.

What would you say?

Colin

For My Beloved Wife

31 Aug

My Wife With Mickey Mouse

My Wife With Mickey Mouse

For my beloved wife:

I would like to take a moment to “out” myself as being hopelessly in love with my wife of over 21 years. Call me crazy, but I look at her and still see the lovely girl I married all those years ago. Of course, it’s one thing to say it to her in in our home, on the phone, when passing her in kitchen, when waking up, or going to bed – but I wanted to say it more loudly, without shouting it from the rooftop.

My wife is a woman of very deep emotion, and often few words to indicate what swirls in those depths. I cannot usually read the details, but the emotions are loud and clear most of the time. This year her birthday was a milestone at that point in life when birthdays just serve as a reminder how much older you’re getting. As usual, disasters tend occur on her birthday – either environmentally catastrophic ones like Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina, or personal ones like children destroying old photographs, the cat shredding the VHS video of her wedding, or the children shattering one of her favorite things. This year circumstances conspired with me to do something for her and the children simultaneously (our youngest daughter would turn 7 our first day at Disney!) and avoid the birthday disaster zone for her. I wanted to give her memories, happy ones. Both of us are big fans of Disney in general and I dare say we would both call it our “Happy Place”. Her parents never took her as a child. So when we first went to the one in Anaheim while I was stationed in San Diego, she too was hooked. I thought about this beforehand and moved heaven and earth in the background to make it happen for the whole family – so we would all have those memories together.

You see, of all the things I could give to her or the children – happy memories are one thing they can never break, never lose, and they can never be stolen. The best part is that when viewed in hindsight even the small burbles in the trip are filtered out by the brain and the happiest moments are the ones in sharp focus. We have both reached a point where neither of us want things anymore. I still bought her a bouquet of flowers on her actual birthday and took her to dinner – but did not bother with trying to purchase useless trinkets to clutter our lives or desk drawers. One day both of us will be gone, and unless we are very lucky (like a few recent couples in the news) we will endure some period of time on earth with nothing but our memories of each other to sustain us outside of God. After we are gone from this world, we will only exist in the memories of our children and the memories of people whose lives we managed to touch in some special way. Make those memories happy ones.

Literally a couple of weeks prior I had taken her and the whole brood, unexpected by everyone in both the style we stayed and the timing, to DisneyWorld in Florida. Our 7 year old got to eat with Winnie the pooh for lunch, and attended Cinderella’s wedding banquet and got to meet the entire wedding party for dinner! My wife loves the characters, as much as the children – and all the roller coasters you can find. I saw to it that they got to eat lunch and dinner almost every day in a character dining experience and put them in an upscale resort, instead of the value resort or the Days Inn an hour away. Having done Disney many times over the years – this was by far the best trip of them all. We had time in the middle of our park hopping to enjoy the nice resort, and with the deluxe dining plan the ability to sample restaurants and cuisine at the parks finer venues which thrilled my culinarily inclined wife to no end. The children cheered over not having to eat chicken nuggets or Pizza every time we supped, as the quick service value dining plan reduced us to previously. Most importantly, the week was filled with smiles and happy memories of time together for all from end to end. (Highly recommend the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Park Hopper passes, and the Deluxe Dining Plan!)

Whether you are a Catholic or not, there is a lesson here. Life is not about money or things, it’s about experiences and memories. Whether they be catching a fish, floating a river, exploring a cave, hiking in the woods, throwing a ball, playing a game, floating down a river, going to the beach, or going to Disney World. Memories are more valuable than things – all the expensive gifts in the world will never make up for your presence, for saying I love you, and for all those moments we fail to take the opportunity to make a happy memory. What do you think?

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Time Enough for Love…

28 Aug

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, How symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

It’s really easy to forget the simple things. It’s gotten too easy to fall into a rhythm of thinking that you can take care of it later. Love very much suffers from this mindset. How many times have we put off a touch or a kiss because we assume we can do it later. How many loving words are never exchanged, or sweet nothings whispered into one’s ear. Did you ever wonder how many hands went unheld or how many kind words went unsaid because we shied away at the moment of decision. We decided in our minds we could do it later, we got nervous about public displays of affection, about what people might say if they saw us acting that way. Sometimes we let our anger or hurt get the best of us and we even withdraw on purpose – withholding our affection to our detriment and the detriment of our spouse.

All these things are important. They hold the power to bond us and heal us. It is these small things that provide our most cherished memories and our deepest regrets. As anyone who has been close to death can tell you, approaching death brings a painful clarity. All too often, while previously you couldn’t recall hardly any missed opportunities – now you feel the weight of a tremendous number of them as they flood your mind. The worst part is that you know you are running short on time and there may not be a later. You learn that now is the only moment you have – and you resolve to make the most of it. You’ll fail of course, especially as time softens your memories of those moments you thought might be your last.

Just a few thoughts from someone whos been there. Kiss your wife very day – a gentle loving kiss, not a teen-aged tongue down your throat epitome of ineptitude and inexperience. Never ignore her when she tries to talk to you, and listen intently when she does – as it is often what is not said or how it is said that is the most important communication. Tell her you love her every day. Reach for her hand when you’re close to her, hold it gently if she takes yours when offered. Whenever you think that she looks pretty or sexy would be a good time to just blurt out what you’re honestly thinking. She doesn’t need disingenuous compliments as they will just damage her self esteem, but real and honest ones are an opportunity never to be missed. A kind word honestly spoken from you can make her hour, day, or week! Next time you make love, remember to tell her you love her afterwards and discover the joys of clinging to each other afterwards for more than 30 seconds.

My wife and I hold hands when we sleep, whether I am behind her or in front of her. Without this small comfort, I can’t sleep until sheer exhaustion causes my collapse because I keep realizing she’s not there. I’ve found that our heartbeats and breathing sync up involuntarily after just a few minutes sitting or lying down together. I even love to watch her sleep safe in my arms. With her eyes closed and a gentle smile on her lips she looks more lovely than I expect no matter how many times I have watched her. Before I slip off, I try to make it a point to make sure she has not just heard my words or felt me holding her tenderly – but knows with certainty just how deeply loved and cared for she is. Then I can be content that if tommorow never comes, there will be no regrets.

Just my thoughts…

Colin

Impediments to Embracing Catholicism

27 Aug

Buddy_christ

So many seem so lost and confused about the faith today. I’ll call a spade a spade, say the unpopular,  and attribute it to poor catechesis and an overly permissive clergy and catechists who have allowed a few bad apples more concerned with “butts in the seats” than the truth to run with the ball. Take this for example before you get your shorts all in a bunch about my thoughts.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23473169

The job of the Catholic Church is to lead you to Heaven, not to coddle you and make you feel good. Sometimes that means telling you uncomfortable truths and rebuking you for heretical beliefs, gently sometimes – but firmly always. God is my father, not my “Buddy”, and to think of him otherwise demeans both Him and our relationship.

Here are some of the most common issues people struggle with. If you answer “Yes” to any questions below immediately consult the Catechism and keep reading and rereading all the references until you understand – understanding is at the root of believing. Keep questioning and investigating your Catholic faith. I have, and the more I learn the more I find that the faith comforting rather than conflicting. It also becomes easier to trust, and surrender to yourself to God and his will as expressed through the magisterium.

  • Faith – Are you struggling with submission to God? Do you still believe some things, but not all of what the church teaches as required beliefs? Do you avoid the confessional at all costs? Have you participated in any way in an invalid sacrament (such as a wedding involving a divorcee who does not have an annulment)?
  • Sex & Marriage – Do you think that the sexual morality taught by the church is out of touch with reality? Do you think the Church is morally “out of date”? Do you support Gay Marriage? Do you think that Divorce is OK? If you are married do you use artificial contraception?
  • Sin – Do you have trouble accepting that which the church defines as sin? Do you have issues believing that sin creates a barrier between yourself and God? Do you think that the Church needs to revise what it defines as sinful to keep up with modern standards? Do you doubt the efficaciousness of confession?
  • Real Presence – Do you not believe in the literal real presence of Christ in the eucharist or believe it a symbolic only? Have you ever received the Eucharist with unconfessed mortal sin?
  • Infallibility – Do you think that the Pope is infallible in all things? Do you truly understand how limited and tenuous the thread of instability is?

To be honest NFP was the biggie for me. I was adamant about not letting the church dictate my sex life. It made me angry, it frustrated me, and in the end it changed me. Learning the church was right and understanding why in a very personal way very much put the whole issue of obedience into perspective. It is only when we have humbled ourselves that we can truly learn and grow in faith. You can read about that experience here:  https://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/sex-intimacy-and-nfp/

Remember that faith is a work in progress, not a destination. We will all fall and falter. The important thing is to pick yourself up and keep pressing towards a goal you will only attain when this life has ended. Never let doubts or hesitation keep you down – root out heresy and disinformation in your faith and stay the straight and narrow path.

Godspeed on your journey,

Colin

Understanding or Faith vs. Rationalism

14 Jul

Faith vs. Rationalism, it’s the David vs. Goliath of our age. There are those people who will only believe in that which can be scientifically measured, categorized, and quantified. Then there are those who have faith, a sense of self assuredness that what they believe is true regardless of their ability to prove it. Last and most certainly least, are those pitiful few, like myself, who have neither anymore. Those who have experienced death, experienced the change in outlook which immediately precedes it, felt the terror which accompanies it’s icy grip, the darkness and confusion which follows, and a short relative glimpse of what lies beyond, no longer have need of faith. They have the proof of their own memories and experiences that survive resuscitation. This does not mean that they have all the answers. I later learned that it is not uncommon to retain only key concepts and not be able to express the supporting precepts. It would be like a blind man trying to describe colors he saw in a dream which don’t exist in nature, with no common frame of reference there cannot be effective communication. There seems to be just as much that can only be remembered and not understood, once one is back in corporeal form.

Rationalism will explain what happened as the effects of drugs administered before and after resuscitation. Rationalists will blame hypoxia for causing hallucinations. They will call the darkness, light, and presence of the divine as the machinations of a dying mind comforting itself as it approaches it final end. Any retained memories will be attributed to coma-like dreams, since with no brain activity memories could supposedly not have formed. The very common distortion of time itself around the death experience is also attributed to hypoxia. the funny thing is that too many peoples across too many cultures and backgrounds report experiencing basically the same thing – a rationalist would call this suggestion. I for one, spent a good bit of time in a coma and I also fully recollect the eclectic dreams – some exhilarating and some terrifying which I experienced between periods of interminable consciousness which were undetectable to anyone but my wife. Dying is a different from a coma as is night from day. I also question how so many, across the whole world have had experiences so similar that when specific religious idealogical constructs were removed the core components are identical. No matter what the evidence, they will rationalize what they want to believe to be the case and invent alternative theories for everything. The root of the problem is that they know that what they are doing and thinking is wrong, deep down, they know… and they are using their rational mind to try to overcome the natural law and allow themselves to bury the truth so that they can better accept pop psychology and science as their “Gods”. The rational atheists who have had NDE’s and come back devoutly religious speak volumes on the subject. In truth, all rationalism can say about faith and God is that since they cannot prove the existence of God that he does not exist. This is narrow-minded view espoused by supposedly broad minded people who tend to have a tendency to belittle anyone who dosen’t agree with them. I could just as easily argue that if they cannot disprove the existence of God then he must necessarily exist. Our own history shows scientists all too readily make grievous errors and erroneous assumptions, clinging to them like a shipwrecked sailor who finds a piece of flotsam in a storm. Until, the evidence is so overwhelming that it can no longer be denied. More importantly, rationalism will never offer any answers to the truly meaningful questions like the enigma of our condition, the meaning of life, and the truth of our existence.

Faith is based on the acceptance of “Mysteries”, which by definition cannot be understood, at least not in our current existence. Take for instance the size of the galaxy – your mind is incapable of grasping it in totality, much less the size of our universe. It is readily apparent that there are truths which we are not able to grasp or only able to grasp in the most rudimentary way. As for mysteries, I have learned that they must simply be accepted since all the introspection or measurement in the world makes them no clearer. We might put a number on the size of the universe, but the meaning of that number and the ability to adequately comprehend such distances and size is beyond our limited capacity. They mysteries of God, and our existence, are the same. They are incomprehensible and, therefore, we are required to take on faith that which we cannot truly understand. Miracles happen every day. They have happened for ages. Those with faith recognize God working in our lives, while rationalists insist there must be another explanation which they just cannot posit at the moment. In doing so they reveal that their bias is to disprove that which does not agree with what they want to be true, and when that fails, denigration and name calling abound. Faith is a beautiful thing. It is a gift which allows us the understanding necessary to prepare for our salvation. For a species with such a relatively short lifespan, we seem overly preoccupied with worldly things. Instead of preparing for the next life, we revel in this one to the exclusion of all else.

Belief is not a sign of a weak mind, but rather a strong one that is willing to persevere in the face of scorn and ridicule. This is exemplified in Jesus’s example through his arrest and Passion. Belief is not a refuge for those who cannot think. Many of history’s greatest philosophers and scientists were religious. Even Albert Einstein famously said with great conviction that “God does not play dice with the universe.” He very much believed in God, as did Newton, Oppenheimer, St. Thomas Moore, and Thomas Aquinas. Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates all believed in a supreme god in a pantheon who guided the universe. A number of highly respected quantum physicists including Gotswami and Tipler have “fallen off the wagon” and professed that new developments in quantum physics prove the existence of God, in at least a basic sense of a creator of and guiding force in our universe. They are not the only ones, nor are they crackpots. Both are highly respected professors and researchers in their fields who felt their convictions so strongly based on the evidence that they were willing to challenge the secular and atheistic amalgam of the scientific community to much derision. Both have even written detailed books explaining their research and providing the supporting mathematics. One might find fault with some of their assumptions about God and existence after our corporeal bodies are gone, but the core belief that there is a God and that our consciousness survives death are not in doubt for them. They believe. They believe because they have faith that they are right in their belief.

The most important thing is that it does not have to be a contest. Faith is not necessarily at odds with science. In fact the Vatican strongly supports scientific exploration and discovery in all fields. Nor is it necessary to argue or belittle the existence of something which cannot be proven or disproven. Those who have experienced death and seen even a glimpse of what lies beyond are sure. This issue will never be settled by rational arguments or heart rending testimonials. In the end, it remains a mystery we all will know the answer to in time. If you die and simply cease to exist, then it will not matter what you believed. However, if you die and experience what I did, then it will matter more than you could have imagined. Very few get my opportunity for a second try.

Some tidbits I learned from my experience:

  • All you can bring with you is Love, Regrets, and Memories. Love as much as possible, regret as little as possible, and create as many happy memories as you can for yourself.
  • Small acts done with great love are more important by far than large acts done for other reasons.
  • Do nothing of which you will be ashamed. Every little thing, good and bad, will be reviewed and weighed. It is not about being better than another person but meeting a fixed standard. Less evil than your peers is still evil. Life is not a contest of strength or power, but one of Love.
  • Diligent effort in the right direction counts in your favor, it is about recognizing the Natural Law and struggling to stay the course. My conversion to Catholicism was driven by the efficacious sacrament of reconciliation and the fact that what I remembered from my experience about what I needed to be doing fit the Catechism perfectly.

You can take or leave these as you choose, it is not for me to determine if any of them even apply to you.

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

Has Religion Fallen from Grace or Have You?

13 Jul

Today I read an article in the Wall Street Journal here which expressed the idea that religion is in trouble, that people are turning away in droves from organized religions which they view as rule based and corrupt. More importantly, the article says that people are fed up with religion which does not change with the times. It says in brief, that they are seeking their own path and finding happiness in spirituality and their own self-defined morality instead. The article even claims that very word religion has fallen from grace.

One thing we know – people in today’s society, they don’t seem to be willing to accept any moral or religious truth that does not conform to their expectations, wants, and desires. They will blindly follow any theology that preaches what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

People have become all too comfortable and selfish, they know that what is right but it’s not what they want – so they look to charlatans or each other for affirmation. The natural law is written on the hearts of mankind by God. We are endowed with an innate knowledge of God’s existence and his expectations of us through it. It’s why the belief in God in some or another form pervades every culture on earth.

I disagree with the article however, on one critical point. While I agree that many are seeking affirmation of their beliefs and leaving the Catholic Church and religion in general – the author failed to mention the ever growing traditionalist movement which you can read about here.

Just as many are fleeing to the truth, hard is it may be for them to accept. They are seeking the truth. Seeking to hold themselves and be held by their communities to a higher moral standard. Moral truth does not change, only social whim. Many see the unchanging Catholic Church as a solid foundation, and take comfort in the teachings of Christ as handed down from Peter and the other popes in unbroken succession since the crucifixion of Jesus.

When you are traveling to a distant destination, you must stay the course if you are to ever arrive. if you wander aimlessly, not only will you not arrive, but you will become hopelessly lost. Many now see clearly the benefits not only to themselves but society, but most importantly it is filling the void in their hearts and souls which agnosticism has failed to do for so many.

Colin

Treatise on Tolerance

13 Jul

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Many of you know my thoughts on tolerance. Some even question them on occasion. In truth I am not a very tolerant person, its just that I am not tolerant of Ideals. People are imperfect, they utilize their free will to make bad choices which I believe are part of God’s plan to bring them back to Moral Truth and the Natural Law. I try very hard to be tolerant of people (I don’t always succeed – but that is not for lack of effort). I think of Jesus words NOT condemning the adulteress, he was clearly condemning the ideal and not the person. Then one day I stumbled across this particular gem from Archbishop Sheen and it went straight to my heart, where it has since taken up residence, along with the St. Bernadette’s “Mine is not to convince, but only to inform”.

In 1931, Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen wrote the following essay:

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

Given my own imperfections, I feel incompetent to judge others. I have made my share of mistakes and it took more than a tap on the shoulder by God to bring me to my senses. As he loves each of us unconditionally, I strive to do the same for each person – not their actions, and not their ideals. By separating the two and focusing on individuals, I find the task much less insurmountable. Not condemning a person is not the same as condoning their actions and I frequently find myself in a position where I have to stop for a moment and remember to separate the two. This can take some practice, but it can also bring you greater peace – especially when espousing uncomfortable moral truths in the hopes that others might avoid the rocks and shoals in the sea of life.

Sincerely,

Colin

Why?

26 May

At the Moment of Death

Why?

That’s a loaded question… Why did I start this blog? Why did I return to the Catholic Church? Why do I have absolute certainty about my faith?

I had neurosurgery a few years ago and things didn’t go quite as planned. They lost me during the procedure and the complications and recovery are still ongoing. That was when I died the first time. I thought I was a good person, better than many at the least – I was in for a surprise. I learned that heaven, hell, and purgatory were very real places and that I found myself like a frightened child when I realized that if life were a test I had just failed. I was revived just in the nick of time. When things started to go south again before I even got out of the hospital I found myself on a ventilator with a poor prognosis and as soon as I could I scribbled “get priest”. I hadn’t set foot in a church in years, and here I was hoping last rites could save my soul, especially since I had become sure I would die again later that night. The priest did come, and once again I did die and was resuscitated. A Much better experience in many ways thanks to the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

This told me everything I needed to know about religion. I felt God’s presence but did not see him, nor did I see Christ, but the sacrament of last rites saved me from eternal Damnation. That was all I needed to know. My wife had a separate conversion experience in and adoration chapel while I was hospitalized, started by my request from that ventilator that she light a vigil candle and pray for my soul.

What you need to know about the second time I died is that I discovered just how much my wife meant to me, and when offered heaven without her, I found myself unable to let her go. I could more easily sever a limb than let her go. I knew I loved her, but until that moment I had no idea just how much. I was bonded to her more deeply than I had imagined. Inside we had developed a symbiosis and it is one of the key marital responsibilities to assist your spouse in achieving salvation – and though I had managed to save myself, I had not saved her yet. I had, however, already sown the seeds when I asked her to light a vigil candle for me the night before they lost me for the second time. She happened to light the candle in a local adoration chapel and was shocked to feel God when she entered the presence of the Eucharist, a personal gift she has retained to this day. It led very quickly to a full and deep conversion by a woman who had no previous positive experience with the Catholic Church. A conversion only strengthened by my miraculous recovery. She too experienced a sense of being torn apart and incomplete, regret at our having not had the son I had always wanted yet, and the hopelessness of a future without me. Just as I had experienced the hopeless of eternity without her.

This experience brought both of us separately to the same new understanding of the sacrament of marriage, the physical and spiritual bonding that occurs when a man and woman give themselves over to each other completely and without barriers. True love builds over time, it thrives on both adversity and success because it is not the experiences of them but the sharing of them that binds our souls. We had already innately understood much of this, but our experiences crystallized everything and sharpened our focus.

Alrighty then! Enough of my inane rumblings, and now to answer those questions…

I started this blog because I found myself all too often being asked for advice by others on how to improve or repair marital relationships, this seemed a more expedient delivery system that would fill a need to have some support for men who often feel alienated and alone when they try to discuss such things with others in or society – they have nowhere to turn. If I make a positive change in one just one mind or marriage then any amount of effort put into this blog is justified. if I’m really lucky they will continue to pay it forward and it might snowball into a wave of change for the better, for ourselves and for our children. I have 3 daughters and I fear for each of them in finding a faithful and loving husband who will cherish and revere them as I do their mother. They have been raised in a household with 2 parents very much in love and devoted to each other and I fear their expectations of a husband far exceed society’s guidelines. They have seen us weather storms by clinging more fiercely rather than pushing each other away and witnessed a symbiosis and a bond that they will seek for themselves and accept nothing less. Happiness is not like any other resource in that by propagating and sharing it, you own is only increased not decreased – how wondrous is the Natural Law that this should be true.

I returned to the Catholic Church because I discovered that purgatory was real, and that the sacrament of reconciliation was truly effective when I died the second time. Since my experience I do not regret my sins primarily because I injured another, my greatest offense is always against God when I fail. I finally understood the difference between perfect and imperfect contrition. What knowledge I gleaned from my experience fits perfectly within the framework of only the teachings of the Catholic Church. There was a definite change afterwards, one that has been permanent and many friends have commented that they like me much better since I died. Most importantly, the mass and adoration chapel feel like being thousands of miles from God but it is the closest I have found since my experience and it satiates my driving thirst to be close to him. Sin makes that feeling impossible, and is avoided at all costs. Following the Church’s teachings provides a sense of grace, direction, and comfort to both of us.

Because of my experiences in the hospital I am certain that there is a God, that there is a life after death, that heaven, hell, and purgatory are real, and that the Catholic Church does indeed hold the power to forgive sins. There is nothing logical about this, it is a matter of faith – and for me certainty. I could not bring anything back, no photos, or audio, or tri-Corder readings to provide acceptable scientific proof. I also know that others will say it was a process of brain death, or the dugs administered in ICU, regardless of the cause, the experience remains – and I lament the thought that I have lost my faith by having certainty. It’s much like the little boy who peeked at all his presents before Christmas morning and in doing so denied himself a wondrous moment of surprise and joy.

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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