Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lazarus and the Rich Man - a reflection

nd this is from my nephew, Dennis, over at his site Vita Mea.
It is a reflection he gave after communion today at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Memphis, TN.
He is a seminarian at St. Meinrad Seminary to be ordained to the priesthood this coming Spring.
He was back in his home Diocese for the weekend.

If I had some water,
just a little drop of water,
just enough to cool my tongue,
that’s all I would need.
Just that, said the man, just some water.

Crossover, crossover,
Oh Lazarus come over,
and bring me some water,
dip your finger in the water, and refresh my soul,
said the man.

For I am in torment,
as over and over I thirst for some comfort,
some peace for my soul.

Some water to cool me,
and maybe some music,
that’s all I would need,
just some music like the music I used to hear.
Some song about me,
or people like me,
or the people I wanted to be.

Some water, some music, and a comfortable couch,
some place to stretch out,
with a glass of iced tea,
and a flat screen TV,
to watch the big game,
or my favorite story,
it’s all about me,
or people like me,
or the people I wanted to be.

And a beer. A cold one.
With a lime. Or maybe without.
What the heck. Make it a six. Who’s counting anyway?

Just a beer, and some music, and a flat screen TV. That all I would need.

That, and a new SUV,
a tricked out ride, with all-wheel drive,
customized, optimized,
from zero to sixty,
with more torque and towing power
than any other vehicle else in its class.
With a cupholder.

And maybe a place to plug in my cell.
With wi-fi in HD, with broadband capacity,
with textable smileys, and a flexible calling-plan,
high-speed downloadable point and click happiness.

Just a drop of water, then,
and all the rest, if you please.
That’s all I need.
It’s not much, and if you think about it,
I deserve it.
Not this torment and torture and suffering.

Lazarus, please, come over! said the man.

And Lazaraus looked over,
and called to the man who had never really noticed Lazarus before.
Did you not know me when I was your neighbor,
when I was the stranger who stood at your door,
when I was on welfare,
with inadequate healthcare,
unable to read, or jobless, or poor?

And did you not see me?
Did you never once notice?
I must have asked for your help
in a hundred little ways,
day after day,
with my sadness, my sickness, or my addiction.

We were like family, said Lazarus.
Like family in the way that family ignore one another
and take for granted each other,
not seeing, not hearing,
but grudging and not budging.

Alone and unloved,
teased and made fun of,
unwelcome, unwanted, forlorn.
You said that I was a choice between a woman and her god.
You said I was just a fetus,
not child yet to be born.

You once said that there were too many of my kind,
more than we could possibly need,
and you wondered why “those people,”
those lazy, stupid people,
were allowed to breed.
And so you gave away free condoms at the school.

You called me illegal,
and my children, too,
and said I should go home,
but that as long as I was here,
I could cut your grass or clean your toilet for you,
but really they should do something about enforcing the law.

And now you ask for some water.
Just a little drop of water.
Just a little drop of water to refresh your soul.

But don’t you see the chasm that lies between us?
The trench that divides us?
So wide, so deep, how can I come over?

And the funny thing is,
you spent your whole life digging it.

Seems like we must run out of 'second chances' someday.

Did you do your duty today?

There is power to be used whenever we need 'a second chance'

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Comment" from Linda

n an earlier post titled "Choosers Can Be Beggars" [see below], there is a discussion about how we should respond to these individuals that would achieve the best without passing judgment.
Linda said...

If someone is looking for money for alcohol, drugs, giving money is helping the person self-destruct.

To help the truly needy, carry bottled water and gift certificates for coffee shops/sub shops, etc. If someone is hungry for food or thirsty, these donations will be appreciated and you will be serving Jesus in "the least of his brothers/sisters".

SO-o-o-o-o, everybody, 'go stock up today!' Give them a chance for 'a second chance'.

"asc" Story from Rob

kay, Uncle Jim, you asked for it.

"a second chance"

My whole life has been a second chance, really. If I
didn’t know any better, thanks to the Creed and the
Catechism, I would think that my baptism didn’t take.

My childhood was not so much different from that of
many men my age, so I won’t go into too many details.
My parents were a mixed marriage, there was drug use
and attempted suicide and divorce before I was ten. I
had less than one year of any kind of “religious ed”.
We were Christmas-Easter Catholics. I have fond
memories of my mother telling us we couldn’t go to
mass that day so we could choose a story from the
Bible for her to read to us. I always chose Noah and
the Flood from our children’s Bible. It had cool

My father died when I was twelve. We lost our home,
etc. My mother remarried, another Protestant. A good
man, he brought a semblance of order into a life that
had more or less become that of an animal.

High school and college were descents into worse.
Loneliness was assuaged by a few good friendships. We
fooled around with booze and pot in the 12th grade.
In college I dabbled with acid and speed. By the
middle of sophomore year I was on the verge of suicide
and ended up on anti-depressants.

I started going to mass. At first, it was because
Catholic girls were better looking, I admit. I came
to know a great priest, Father Miguel de las Casas
(guess who his favorite saint was!). From my present
vantage, I would probably label him a “liberal”, but
he was a man of great compassion and I forgive him the
engrams presentation he made at one mass. I joined
confirmation class my senior year, but dropped out two
weeks before the sacrament because I “wasn’t ready”.
I was on my way to missionary work on the border for a
year and thought maybe I would get it done there.

I ended up the director of a women’s shelter in Juarez
a year later and extended my stay. I met my wife and
eldest daughter there. Unfortunately, I was a coward
and didn’t marry her. We shacked up in a ghetto in
Juarez, living in a house literally made from
cardboard boxes. It snowed in Juarez that winter and
I damn near died from throat infection, cold,
starvation and diarrhea.

I sent her home, pregnant, to Honduras a few months
later, came back to the States to earn money and flew
down to join her three months later. We were still
Christmas-Easter Catholics, making very occasional
trips to mass and didn’t baptize the kids. After a
year, I came back to the US, earned some more money
and, with my parent’s help, flew them (wife, daughter
and son) up and started living a fairly immoral life
here in the states.

Two years later, I started going to mass again, alone.
The Spring of 2001. I began to pray that God would
protect my family: if anything bad was going to happen
to them, I wanted him to do it to me.

On June 24, 2001, leaving mass, I was struck head-on
by a truck and killed, essentially. Modern technology
revived me and I regained consciousness ten days later
in a distant hospital.

Since then I have taken this God fellow a lot more
seriously than I used to.

Friday, September 28, 2007

"asc" Story from Fr. V.

ar, far more interesting than my own second chance stories are the ones that I get to experience as a priest. Almost every day I will come across somebody carrying a heavy load from under which they think they will never escape. They come and dump black, vile, putrid tar at my feet and walk away, perhaps with a limp, but with a new lease on life.

This happens mostly in confession. (Anybody who decrees this a silly Catholic thing has never invested in it.) It is one thing to go out into the woods and tell God through a tree that you are sorry for your sins, it is another to tell it to another member of the Body of Christ who has more of a reaction than an oak, take responsibility for it, and ask for forgiveness. If that was all there was to it, it would be a fabulous experience. But it is so much more than that! It is also knowing that you are forgiven by the promise and power of Christ and His Church and being given a second chance to be a loyal son or daughter of the Father. To have your darkest secrets revealed and know that you are still loved; that is powerful!

Or to receive the Catholic who fell away from the faith shortly after their baptism and is now on fire for the Lord and coming back to receive the rest of his sacraments with great enthusiasm; devouring everything he can about God and His Church. He has been given a second chance at sainthood.

There are those whom I anoint and are given quite literally a second chance at life, returning to the pew they had always occupied, no longer willing to accept being a cultural Catholic but now wants to make a difference.

There are hundreds of hurt, weak, sinful, lost, angry, lustful, addicted people who everyday transform into powerful saints. I don’t have to do a thing. Christ does it all. I am just a front row spectator and it keeps me on my toes. Looking out at the congregation from the pulpit there are dormant seeds that burst open into spectacular blossom all the time. That is one of the true joys of the priesthood, to simply be witness and identifier of second, third, and fourth chances.

What a blessing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Choosers can be beggars

o who gives a darn, anyways. These people create their own problems and expect the rest of us to bail them out. Can you really see Jesus in their eyes? Come on, now. Really?

The writer of this article went out on the streets around Minneapolis and interviewed them.

Do they deserve "a second chance"?

Volume 27 - Issue 1313 - Jim Walsh - February 1, 2006

On the Corner

Text and photos by Jim Walsh
February 1, 2006

35W and Lake Street
est job: "A long time ago, I worked at Mystic Lake Casino. I was in environmental services. That's a fancy word for janitor. I worked there a year."

Worst job: "This."

Last job: "Two years ago, I was a maid helping the elderly [in-home]. I could set my own hours, and I'd get paid weekly, not like these other jobs where you get paid every two weeks."

Dream job: "Helping the elderly."

35W and Lake Street
Best job:
"I've only had the best jobs in the world. I'm a certified welder. That's what I want to do. I can go to work at anytime."

Worst job: "I'm an alcoholic, Sir. And I'm having a hard time keeping work."

Last job: "Three weeks ago." (Points to his jacket, with the logo of a steel company.)

Dream job: "If I could find a job I wouldn't have to carry around my clothing in a bag and do this. Hey! If anybody out there can hear me....

35W and University Avenue
Best job: "Working for Northwestern Bell, back in '72. Lineman."

Worst job: "Day labor stuff. Minnesota Barrel, for instance. They're heavy, you gotta stack 'em three high and stuff. But it was a job. I did everything there is."

Last job: "Senior center in Cambridge, doing maintenance work on their facility. I'm a handyman."

Dream job: "I dunno. I really don't. I'm on veterans' disability. I was in Vietnam."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"asc" Story from Melody

We survived a car wreck in 1995 which totaled our car. We escaped with (relatively) minor injuries; the state trooper who arrived on the scene said he was sure he would find a dead person or persons, the way the car looked.

But God wasn't finished with us yet. I broke my elbow and it never regained normal range of motion. It just serves as a reminder, if I need one sometimes, that my life is not my own.

Keep up the good work!

Let him die

his is a real story. Real names are being used. Real people are involved.

His name is Mitch. He's in his early thirties. He is a nephew of close friends of ours - Cindy and Tim. Mitch lives in Ohio. His aunt Cindy is a sister to his mother. Aunt Cindy and uncle Tim live in Oklahoma. My wife and I live in Indiana.

Two or three years ago, our friends, Cindy and Tim, put out a request for prayers for their nephew Mitch in Ohio. He had been in an accident and had been transported by helicopter to a major trauma center in Ft. Wayne IN. The town Mitch is from is about half-way between Ft. Wayne IN and Toledo OH. He suffered some very bad injuries to the head.

Many people prayed. Mitch eventually got better. Mitch returned home to NW Ohio and all seemed to be going OK.

This past spring, March 2007, another plea for prayers went out from Cindy & Tim - Mitch again - major head trauma again - this time brought on by a blow to the head by an iron bar.This time he was taken to a major trauma center in Toledo OH. Again, people prayed.

A couple of weeks passed and word went out that Mitch had been in a vegetative state since arrival at the hospital. Doctors were not optimistic at all. For a couple of weeks, every medical test and procedure they tried failed. Brain activity was apparently very much non-functioning. Mitch was on full life support. The prognosis was terminal.

My wife, aunt Rozann, is a middle-school science teacher. On the weekend in late March that she was starting her school's Spring Break, we received more word from Cindy and Tim about Mitch. Cindy's sister, Mitch's mother, notified Cindy that she was considering having Mitch removed from life-support. The doctors held no hope of recovery. She asked Cindy if there was anyway she could come to OH and help her make funeral and burial plans. Since Mitch was on full support and it would take Cindy a few days to make arrangements to come to Toledo, her sister said she'd wait a few days before pulling the plug. That way Cindy could be there and help her with all that would be needed.

Aunt Rozann is from a small farming community in southeastern Michigan, just across the state line from Toledo OH. Her father was in an assisted care facility just outside Toledo. We were already planning to go visit her dad during Spring Break. We advised Cindy and Tim that we would be in Toledo on Tuesday morning, not only to visit Rozann's dad, but to have lunch with a brother and sister of mine. We asked for information on where Mitch was, including room number if they had access to that info, and said we wanted to stop by and pray with Mitch and his mother.

We come from a very Catholic Charismatic background and when we say we want to pray with someone, especially like Mitch, we intend to ask for healing and expect things to happen. Of course G-d is G-d and He calls the shots - all we can do is ask, albeit rather intensely.

We arrived at the hospital around 11am. We found the room in a critical care unit. His mother and a younger niece of about 11 years of age were there with him. We talked with his mother at some length [we had met her before several years ago]. Mitch was still all hooked up. His mother told us that the orders had been issued. He would be removed from life support as soon as a room on another floor became available. She added that she reneged a little in her instructions - she wanted the feeding tube left in. For as long as his body was alive, she wanted it to be fed. We prayed ... then we left.

Mitch was moved to another floor. All life support equipment was removed, except the feeding tube. They did continue to leave telemetry equipment on so they could monitor his condition. Aunt Cindy was to arrive in the next few days from Oklahoma to help her sister with funeral arrangements.

When they placed his flaccid body in the new bed, they kind of propped him up. While they were doing this, his body 'twitched' and his hand 'grabbed' the nurse's arm. This was explained away as an involuntary muscular reflexion. Sometime later, he coughed. Sometime after that, he 'fell out of bed'. Things were happening. His body was moving in ways that could not be explained.

It was during this that the little sister, whom we saw standing next to the bed stroking her uncle's arm and holding his limp hand when we were there, told her mother that after we left she thought she felt Mitch try to squeeze her hand a couple of times.

With the onset of the following events, Aunt Cindy didn't have to make the trip to help with final arrangements. She did come a week later to much happier circumstances.

Within the next days, Mitch was being helped to walk the halls. Soon after they moved him to a rehab unit. In another couple of weeks he went home.

Mitch was not a 'churched' individual. His aunt Cindy told us afterwards that he is now a 'believer'. He still is not a church goer, but he is willing to tell everyone and anyone who will listen that G-d performed a miracle for him. He also claims [and some scoff at this] that shortly before he remembers opening his eyes, he 'died' and met his deceased grandfather, who told him it wasn't his time yet, and he'd have to go back ... and he did.

Mitch has been given a couple of significant second chances in his life. This one seems to have been miraculous. I don't know what G-d has in mind for this young man, but I hope he's able to find it and do it. It would appear the miracle was not because of anything Mitch did or said but because others interceeded for him and G-d answered.

Do you have "a second chance" story to share? Write it up in the comment box. It could end up in a post.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A source of new life

alk about second chances!

Stem cells are known to regenerate other cells that need replacement.

Such medical treatments could be a source of new life for those receiving such procedures.
The following link will take you to a recent article outlining new research.
This looks very promising, especially for men. Check it out here.

Now this is a second chance!

Do you have a 'second chance' story to share? Add it to our comments.

All things are possible

ver wonder what G-d has in mind for you? I mean now, the immediate future, not ten years from now.

I had been in the truck transportation business for 21 years when the company I worked for closed. I had a lot of personal identity and ego wrapped up in that position and company.

I had started out as a midnight-shift billing clerk in a small trucking terminal of a medium sized mid-western motor carrier. Hard work on my part, and a growth trend in the company, had me achieving promotions pretty regularly. When they closed, I was a vice-president. Please don't read anything egotistical into my telling you that - it helps describe the heights from which I thought I was falling.

OK, ladder climbers - you all know what that means. Yeh, it means more responsibility, more authority, more hours, more travel. It also means less time with family, with friends, with personal interests - and this list can go on quite a ways. [Okay, speculating about how much I had to do with the closure - it was all because of the people above me!]

There were times when the company was sold. Trucking companies seemed to be a commodity of interest by others trying to expand their own company. I survived these changes of ownership seven times. I have to admit that with all the head-rolling that takes place in one of these events, surviving the synergy consolidations involved can be very 'heady' stuff.

Now, put all that on the table and the reality is that my home and family and personal and spiritual life were not in the best of shape. Sometime before the company closure, I had a spiritual reawakening experience. I'll tell that story in another blog someday. The result was that I was looking, though I admit not very hard, for a way to get out of the trucking business.

I was really seeing that G-d might have something else in mind for how I was living. I just didn't know how to get there. Every time I'd say to myself, "Jim, you just gotta get out of this before it drowns you!", I'd fall back on the notion that "This is all I really know. What in the world could I do otherwise? How would the family survive without this good income and company car and...?"

It was really getting bad. I was under a lot of stress - seeing a doctor - trying to tread water in a new 'spiritual' me - trying to be a good husband and father- and on and on and on. Just when it couldn't get a whole lot worse [one child a senior in college, one a senior in high school getting ready for college, one in 8th grade getting ready for high-school, and a wife who had just quit her job 6 months before to go back to college full-time to finish a college degree that was interupted when we got married and started raising a family] it did. A simple phone call was all it took. "Lock the doors. The business is closed."

I had been praying regularly and earnestly asking for G-d's help. I knew, and so did He, that I was stubborn and strong-headed. It was probably the only way He had of getting my attention and helping me help myself.

On the surface, it looked and felt like doomsday. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened. It was a second chance.

A lot has happened since then. The bottom line is that we survived without bankruptcy. We never quite made it to the soup kitchens. We became a more spiritual family. Our lives are so much better, now.

Oh, there have been other difficulties. One rather significant fairly recently - and it involves me and a business enterprise in which I'm involved...and it involves the closing of a business, too. It seems that might be a pattern for me - that is the Lord needs to use a 2x4 to the side of the head to get my attention - and it also seems directly related to something else He wants me to do.

I'm working at it and I'm getting there.

A second chance is always there when the Lord is there.

Do you have a 'second chance' story to share? Please comment here. We all need to be encouraged by one another.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pascal's gambit

was talking with an engaged couple the other evening. The young lady was from a 'creationist' background. The young man was an 'evolutionist'.

On the one hand, he stated that God cannot be known by reason alone. Even in the seeing of the creator's handiwork, especially as evidenced by evolution and the intelligent design theory, faith is needed. Reason alone cannot suffice.

She said her upbringing would be pretty fundamental: The Bible says it - I believe it. Creation is played out in Genesis as absolute in the details that we need to know and believe. Faith enters only in so far as to whether or not we believe the scriptural account literally and finally.

I think they're going to have a lot of interesting dinner-time conversations.
Is the alternative to follow Mr. Pascal's argument?
[You'll have to look it up, guys.]

A synopsis of one view would include this decision matrix.

God exists God does not exist
Wager for God Gain all Status quo
Wager against God Misery Status quo

How do you see it?