Saturday, November 26, 2011

What you're meant to be

Many people seem to regret certain things about their lives.  They look back and wonder if they've been doing what they should have been doing.  They're not sure if they've wasted their lives or not.  They don't know if they are who they were meant to be.

But there's a lot of hope still, because I think that Heaven is just going to be the place where we are able to fully be who we were meant to be.

In fact, that's why hell would be so bad.  If someone is depressed now in this life thinking on how they haven't done what they were meant to do, imagine doing so for eternity.  Imagine never ever being able to be fulfilled.  In the absence of God, we cannot flourish.  We cannot be who we were meant to be because He intended us for Himself.  If we separate ourselves from Him, then we have denied ourselves the opportunity to be fully alive.

To all those who feel lost and think they have wasted their time:  no one has to wait to be who they were created to be.  Everyone can do that at any and every moment of the day. You just have to tell God you want it:  "God, make me that which you created me to be, because I'm doing a terrible job on my own."

Perhaps purgatory is just us becoming who we were meant to be, and then heaven is our enjoyment of it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What's it like?

To a newly ordained priest, the question is often asked:

"What's it like to be a priest?"

Allow me to explain in greater detail than small talk after Mass might allow for:


I expected it to be an incredible amount of work and immensely rewarding.  Everyday I wake up shocked by two things:  how much I have to do and how much I love doing it.  While fretting over my present responsibilities, I still daydream about new projects and new ways of getting God's message of love out there to people.  The harvest is plenty, the laborers are few.

I expected it to be crowded and lonely, happy and sad.  I'm thankful for my many friends (priests or not) who continually offer their support and encouragement through what is truly a roller coaster life.  I'm thankful for my daily prayer, that mainstay of God's presence that stands as a reminder to me that I am not alone, that I can breathe in his Spirit throughout the day so as to not choke on the fumes of doubt and selfishness.

I expected myself to be completely prepared for it, insofar as I trusted that God was in control, and completely unprepared insofar as I might trust to my own abilities and plans.

I expected to be surprised.  I expected not to know how to handle half of what comes my way.  I expected complete and utter newness.

And yet, I expected to know just what to do or say whenever doing or saying was requisite.  God has yet to fail me in this regard (though I do have a bad habit of letting my own ideas get in the way of his).

I expected to be confident that this is my calling, that God has me where he wants me.
It is exactly what I expected it to be.

Hopes and Dreams

I sometimes doubt whether or not what I do makes a difference.  I sometimes doubt that I am doing what I ought to be doing with what God has given me.  I sometimes doubt that my plans for God's people are in fact God's plans for His people.

And I know that I am not the only doubter out there.  Many people come to me with very serious issues: fear, uncertainty, doubt, confusion.  No one really seems to know where he stands before God.  Whether it is the next couple hours, the next week, the next year - how is it that we are to glorify God?

Worries like this melt away when I read:
"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him."  (Paul in 1 Corinthians, quoting Isaiah 64:3)

Oh, I see - no matter what my own scheming may present for the future, whatever hopes I might have in my own achievements, or even in what God himself is planning to achieve, with or without me, I have nothing to worry about.

Why?  Because there is nothing that I can possible think of that is better than what he has in store for us.  I aim to keep working as best I can for him, happy to share joy and sorrow alike, secure in the knowledge that he will bring about in us this great thing that has not even dawned upon us.  It's so good that we--who are so quick to separate ourselves from the good--can't even imagine it.

That's part of why we find it so hard to trust in God.  His plan doesn't fit into what we think his plan should be.  But guess what:  his plan is way better than our own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A sad end to Thanksgiving

I had a great day today.  It started with Mass, then a nice leisurely morning void of responsibilities.  Thanksgiving dinner was at my sister's house with her family, her in-laws, and my other sister's family too. It was great, and I love being around my nieces and nephews.  Then in the evening, I went to an aunt's house to see a gathering of extended family.  I left there around 8:15.

As I drove down Bel Air Blvd, I passed Toys R Us, and I saw the line.  Well over a hundred people were waiting in line for the store to open at 9:00.  Now, I haven't been living under a rock; I knew well in advance that a bunch of stores were opening late on Thanksgiving as a jumpstart to Black Friday.  I thought it was absurd and extreme, though I didn't really think much about it.

Seeing it was different.  It was shocking.  I had just left a wonderful family gathering, an evening well spent.  Next thing I know, I'm witnessing hundreds of people wasting that precious family time, and for what?  Saving some money on Christmas shopping?  Do you really think that getting the best toy at the lowest price for your family is more important than being with your family?

Well, you might say, "maybe the whole family was there; it was a family event."  Really?  Standing in line waiting to get the best deals is the best "family time" you can come up with?  Stay home and play a game or watch a movie or something, anything.

Go shopping tomorrow.  Is nothing sacred?