Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Praying Through Desperation

As I was praying Psalm 86 during morning prayers, it occurred to me what a help it could be for those of you who are struggling in their marriage. This Psalm which is “the prayer of the poor man in distress” has some significant lines that could be a comfort to anyone who feels loneliness, desperation or emptiness in their marriage.

Several of the opening verses include pleadings to God for help:

Preserve my life, for I am faithful: save the servant who trusts in you.
Give joy to your servant, O Lord, for to you I lift up my soul.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my voice.

Later in the Psalm, the petitioner expresses confidence in God:

. . . . for you are great and do marvelous deeds, you who alone are God.
. . . . for your love to me has been great: you have saved me from the depths of the grave.

Whatever your particular struggle in life is, never give up pleading with God for help. A beautiful responsory given in the Liturgy of the Hours is:

“Incline my heart according to your will, O God.”

Let this powerful prayer be your assurance that you are moving in a direction blessed by God.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Have you ever been unappreciated, or even offended, by someone you have provided for, such as a spouse, child or parent? Maybe you’ve come home from work to hear your teenager question why their uniform wasn’t washed for the game—when they’ve been home since early afternoon. Or, maybe you’ve dedicated your time and energy to someone only to have them insult you for the way you served them. What has been your reaction to such ingratitude?

A natural temptation is to be angry, or even desirous of distancing yourself from the person causing you pain. But wait! Before you act on that feeling, ask yourself if you, too, might be guilty of ingratitude . . .

In my early morning reflection it occurred to me that we, also, are as guilty as a teenager on a Friday afternoon, of being ungrateful to Jesus! Consider that Jesus gave up his life, through much pain and suffering, not only for those who nailed Him to the cross, but for us as well. When was the last time you spoke a word of gratitude to Him? Do you frequently complain that He isn’t serving you well because you are not getting what you desire? Aren’t you thankful His response isn’t anger or detachment?

As a child of God, be grateful for the sacrificial act of love He has given through His son, Jesus. Take a moment today to appreciate the gift of salvation that you may enjoy because God, our Father, loves you so much!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Politics! Ugh!

I did some checking yesterday after my voting experience. I learned that Michigan passed Public Act 52 in September of 2007 which dealt with the primary.

I've also learned that Michigan has 15 congressional districts with 3 delegates from each district, for a total of 45 delegates. Apparently the GOP docked us 50% of our delegates for holding the primary early and breaking RNC rules while the Democrats withdrew their names so as not to break their rules.

So, the way I understand it, we changed our primary to a closed primary to allow participation and give us more relevance on the national scene, and what we ended up with was a primary that did not contain all relevant candidates and likewise penalized us.

I'm not that much into politics, but it doesn't sound very good to me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are you kidding me?

I went to vote in the primary today and was shocked when I had to tell the nice volunteer whether I wanted the Republican or the Democratic ballot. It seems that you no longer get one ballot and then mark your preference, but now you have to request which party's ballot you want to use.

They mark it on a little slip of paper that you take to your little voting "booth" and then when you are done, you give it to another person to record whatever.

So, in the process of voting, two people--if they cared--now know which party I was voting for. What if the volunteer was a neighbor that I didn't want to have that information?

True, they don't know who I voted for, but still.

Is it me, or is this a terrible violation of my privacy?

What do you think?

Are you content?

I was reading an interview in the National Catholic Register with author Alexandre Havard. One quote in particular stood out:

"The more deeply we live the virtues, furthermore, the more likely it is that we will change the culture, rather than being content with merely shielding ourselves from its more pernicious effects."

How many of us (particularly parents) are guilty of being content with shielding our children from the harm brought on by culture, rather than attempting to change it?

We can complain all day about the language or content in PG-13 movies, for instance, but how many of us write letters or withhold our payment to them (which comes in the form of ticket buying)?

How many of us are fed up with the vulgarity of the upcoming generation of adults, but remain silent when confronted by it?

How many of us are appalled by abortion, but do not include in our prayers or actions any effort opposing it?

The list is endless.

We mustn't be content to shield ourselves from the effects of this culture, but we must take steps to change it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope Benedict's Letter

I have been reading Pope Benedict's encyclical (letter) Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) and have been fascinated by his insight and his readability. This is a great letter for everyone to check out. It can be found at:

He warns that it is not good for us to believe that a perfect society will provide hope for man. He describes the real error of Marxism as materialism, stating: "man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment."

In other words, our hope comes from God, it is not self-made through our own achievement. Benedict states clearly that "Man can never be redeemed simply from the outside." He criticizes Francis Bacon for believing "that man would be redeemed through science." This is a deceptive hope, Benedict tells us, while acknowledging the contribution of science yet warning about its potential destruction if steered from within.

Love is what redeems man and relationships are our life. We have a relationship with God and man, through "communion with Jesus." If we are self-centered and forget to look outward, we fall into an "individualistic understanding of salvation" according to Benedict, which is in opposition to "communion with Jesus" which has established our relationship with God.

Ultimately, Christianity is about the freedom that comes with the reordering of human affairs according to each new generation. This, Benedict reminds us, cannot be done strictly by creating good structures in our social order.

Ultimately, he tells us that "Anyone who promises the better world that is guaranteed to last for ever is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom. Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself." And more importantly, I think, he says that "If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined--good--state of the world, man's freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all."

It is because we have the freedom to make decisions about our human affairs, that we have a responsibility to assent to the good and we must ultimately recognize that the hope we have in accomplishing this comes from God, not ourselves.

Friday, January 4, 2008

January Blues?

I know that overspending, especially at Christmas, has become a big problem, but I couldn't believe just how bad it has gotten.

I heard a quote recently that something like 50% of us owe $10,000 on our monthly credit card bills! It was also reported that many, many people have yet to pay off bills accrued from last Christmas! How is that even possible? What are people buying?

Years ago I asked a woman how she and her husband could afford yearly, lavish family vacations on their modest income. "Creative financing," she told me. When I inquired further, I learned that her idea of creative financing was simply moving money around on credit cards. I was saddened when she explained how they were able to go on vacations they couldn't afford, clearly unaware that this practice would one day get them in deep trouble.

I think it is time to give some serious consideration to living on less, voluntarily going without, and becoming responsible for personal debt.

To be able to do this, we have to take stock of our Pride.

Yes, I said, Pride.

Pride keeps us spending so we don't look cheap. Pride keeps us from getting the help we need when we get ourselves into trouble. Pride motivates us to satisfy our wants.

Pray hard and ask for help from an expert so that next January you will not be singing the Blues.