Tag Archives: Afterlife

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

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

My Birthday, and The Gift that Keeps on Giving

24 Aug

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Today I get another day older. I’m a little wiser, and a lot less narcissistic. I also know that nothing material of this world will last, but that small things done with great love are eternal. One small act of kindness, love, or compassion can change a persons life. At the very least it can bring a moment of happiness to another.

That said, my birthday wish this year is that everyone who reads this post might perform some small act for another with great love. It can be something as small as a kind word to someone in need or as large as you desire, as everyone has different gifts and different means at their disposal. Be creative, and bring a moment of happiness or solace to another – I promise you that you will not regret these actions when you face judgement.

This does not have to be to a stranger. Learning to love, be kind, and be compassionate begins at home – but it should not stop there as we are all God’s children. Even the grandest designs are accomplished in steps. If you finds it suits you, then by all means keep walking – we all have a long journey together ahead.

Pax Christi,
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.

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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