Monday, May 31, 2010

Three into One Goes

This Sunday, the Common Liturgy of the Christian Churches celebrate what is known as the Holy Trinity, the description of God, namely the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, three distinct Persons yet one God.  This may seem like the craziest thing to beleive in, and possibly there is yet no real answer as to what it is all about.  The concept did not exist before Christ came along and is based on His words describing Himself, his Father and His Spirit, indicating that the One God has three aspects, or Persons.  How idiotic a concept one would say.  Why not simply beleive in in One God, as the Jews and Muslims do, a God who has no competitor.  But the Papal preacher, Raniero Cantalamessa, a Capuchin monk, looks at it all rather simply.  He beleives that if God were merely One then we might find it difficult to beleive in Him as such a loving Person.  He might be seen as a very lonely person indeed, sitting up there onm His cloud in Seventh Heaven!

Yet Cantalamessa (left) describes God as the purification of love, so in his image as a Father, He is the One who loves; the Son therefore is the One who is loved by the Father and the result of their love for each other is the HolybSpirit who is the personification of that love.  Too simple for you?  Yet very understandable. It somehow satisfies my quest for understanding the mystery of the Trinity.

Another Italian priest, Blessed Giacomo Alberione (1884-1971), who is considered to the main instigator in the Catholic Church of using the mass media as a means of evangelisation, had a very lofty idea of God because he proclaimed that his Divine Master makes clear that Christianity will always remain a living paradox for the world - foolishness to some, a scandal to others.  "For us it is truth and divine reality. ...a Christian life lived completely according to the Gospel - sacrificing one's life to save it, losing it all to save all.  At the summit of this paradox, poverty becomes wealth; renunciation, exaltation; viriginity, maternity;  servitude, freedom; sacrifice, beatitude; service, apostolate; death, life!"   

 There is also one other interesting aspect to this attempt to understand the Trinitarian God. I had it explained to me as a reflection of our own lives.  As Alberione says in the above paragraph, God in His infinite love for his creation, man, tore out part of Himself and made that all the worse things we humans can think of, He made Him the exact opposite to His omnipotent Self -  He made Him small, He made Him weak, He made Him poor, He made Him unknown...such that He took on Himself all our sins and died a horrifying death - all to offer man the possibility of salvation which he somehow managed to lose through his choice to embrace sin rather than goodness. This is the personification of a love God can give.  Yet He has imbued man with the same kind of characteristics, because, as any parent will vouch, that role brings with it a sacrificing of one's life for one's children (who today easily rebut everything that their parents say or stand for), children who will ignore their ageing parents because they now seem expendible to them, tieing them down rather than giving them freedom (they don't realise that looking after their aged is not servitude but really is the freedom they are searching for!).  And this parent love makes one take on a role similar to that of the Father, and while we cannot imagine ourselves as gods yet the implementation of this kind of love in our own families is a personification of God. 

Three into one might be a mathematical misnomer but in the Divine, it somehow makes sense!  Does it with you?


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nazareth is all about human life.

"I want to preach the Gospel with my life", Charles de Foucauld often said.  Charles who? Oh yes, that's the nobleman, soldier and adventurer who fell in love with Christ at 27 with the strength of a Saint Francis and set up the Little Brothers of Jesus to live and serve the pooresrt of the poor in the Saharan desert. Born in Strasbourg in 1858, he began the passionate search for the intentions which guided His Divine Master in the choice of his life. Why hadn't Jesus become a scribe, he wondered?  Why hadn't he wished to be born into one of those families destined for command, responsibility, social and political influence?

Carlo Carretto, an Italian who also left a lucrative life behind and joined de Foucauld's order in the Nineteen Fifties, writes (in his book "Letters from the Desert"), that his founder had realised early that the most effective method of preaching the gospel was to live it.  Especially today, people no longer want to listen to sermons. They want to see the gospel in action. Carretto asks: What does it mean to learn how to live the gospel, to be an apostle?

In his book he says that the word is one of the most misunderstood today.  It is a term used both correctly and incorrectly.  Everybody has become an apostle, and even moving a chair counts as apostolic activity.  Perhaps we have gotten into the habit of using big words to enhance parochial or diocesan life, he says, but things don't change and words remain words.

"All I should like to say on the subject is that having meditated for a long time I have learned from the depths of this mystery a deeper appreciation of the life of the layman and the life of the priest, of the apostolate of the laity and the apostolate of the priest.  My generation has lived through an extraordinary and in many ways chaotic period and many things must be justified either by reason of our childish incompetence and lack of preparation or attributed to special historical circumstances" he writes.

"To me the greatest  inspiration for the spirituality of the laity is in the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Nazareth." From here Jesus has taught us to live "every hour of the day as saints.  Every hour of the day is useful and may lead to divine inspiration, the will of the Father, the prayer of contemplation -  holiness. Every hour of the day is holy.  What matters is to live it as Jesus taght us.  And for this one does not have to shut oneself up in a monastery or fix stange and inhumane regimes for one's life. It is enough to accept the realities of life.  Work is one of these realities;   motherhood, the rearing of children, family life with all its obligations, are others. 

"These realities must be sanctified; we must not think that a person is holy just because he hasmade vows.  One with  this outlook thinks of the hour of spiritual reading or prayer as the only time forthe spiritual life and ignores the longer time dedicated to work and everyday living.The result is at best an anemic and unreliable religious personality.  The whole person must be transformed by the gospel message.  Nothing one does can be indifferent.  All one's actions must be determinded by the gospel . Nazareth therefore is the life of a person, of a family, fully engaged in human activity" reasons Carretto with such simple logic that confounds the theological.    And a young mother who has just given birth to a child and who frets and worries deeply because this same child is already in danger of losing the few hours of life that she has, is definitely closer to God that she believes.  As I hope I am too now, concluding this post.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And The Word as Made Flesh!

For many of us with a Semetic background our word is equivalent to a written contract. This word has power and we sometime wield it too sharply against others.  Or for our own self gratification.  Communication of the word brings order in the sometimes-chaotic life we live. Man is always in search of the meaning of life. The word therefore somehow brings this order, this meaning. 

We all know, from whatever background or religion we hail, that everything exists as a result of a word of the God we believe in. Because He willed it, spoke it into existence. My God does the same throughout the Bible.  “In the beginning was the Word…” He worked with the chaos he had in His hands and made order. As a result “The Word was made Flesh” says the evangelist.  He may have been truer to reality than he ever imagined.

In itself  this well known Biblical quote refers to the Incarnation, the moment when God took on flesh and became man by being born through Mary.  This verse has inspired so many to do great things in the world, such as the vision of St Gorg Preca for the setting of his Christian Doctrine Society (Muzew to the Maltese).

But that is not our story today because I do not wish to talk about that specific moment in time when Christian salvation was born. Instead I wish to continue to ponder on how true were the evangelist’s words seen through today’s eyes….where we can make – or give - flesh of the word on a daily basis by abusing it in every respect.  It can be said that The Word that was made "Flesh" has a lot to do with what happens after this Word is spoken.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whatever you sow, that is what you will also reap

I like this story, and in what it has to might have read it already as I did but I think it is worth re-reading and reflecting on its implications to ourselves and our lives. :)

The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

"Leave me alone," he growled...

To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away.." The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

"What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked..

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered. "Don't blow it."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived.The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table.

"What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this, is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"
"What business is that of yours?"

"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."


The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."
The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.
"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this."

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest She stared at him intently. "Jack, do you remember me?"

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."
"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat.. I said that it was against company policy."
"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble.Then, when I looked over, I saw you put the price of my food in the cash register I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons.He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he said.

"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus... He led me to you."
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways."Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget.. And...And thank you for the coffee."

PS - If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing. If you have missed some of my blog posts, you might have missed a good thought for your life.  But, if you have missed knowing my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, you have missed everything in the world.   So.....Have a Wonderful Day. May God Bless You Always.  And don't forget that when you "cast your bread upon the waters," you never know how it will be returned to you.  God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love and so small He can curl up inside your heart.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Of George, John, Paul and JC (not the Beatles though!)

“Our society's values are being corrupted by advertising's insistence on the equation that … ‘youth equals popularity, popularity equals success, success equals happiness’.”   John Arbuthnot Fisher

Well, am I supposed to accept this kind of thought outright especially since I myself come from over 30 years in the advertising business?  I think that the world we live in now, in this 21st century, makes it abundantly clear to most of us that our lives are somehow ruled by the media.  You must surely be aware yourself of the effect advertising has on us, on you, both positively and negatively, to a greater or lesser degree. While most things in life start off by being intrinsically good man (and woman, for that matter too) has the knack of turning these round and to abuse them  to the extent that the original scope these things were meant to do is now lost in the mist of recent time!

In fact, the above quote with which I kicked off this post, has, I believe, captured some of the more detrimental effects of media power quite succinctly, and perhaps deserves some time of reflection on their meaning in our own lives, your life, and on how true this is for us personally.  How many people would today prefer to die of hunger than to be seen now wearing the "right" clothes...or suffer from bulimia to achieve that idolised figure?

Advertising and marketing are two much maligned words nowadays because they have been largely responsible for these new idols in our lives.  Look to the hero-worship of popular persons, of singers, of sportspersons, of TV and film stars.... the media produces them for its own enrichment not for our own sake.  While it may all have started legitimately, through man's genuine desire to inform his planet co-inhabitants of a product or service (inasmuch as giving them something that would enrich their life even if at a price) it is now, though, the price which dictates the service and the enriching of one's life is now directed at the few who control the rest.  Sounds like something out of George Orwell's "1984" or "Animal Farm", two modern literary classics reflecting what powers are controlling society today, a true description of the abuse of this power as when he wrote them in the middle of the last century. Orwell's masterpieces of literature show his clear vision, realistic deduction and profound understanding of human behaviour. "When I sit down to write a book....I write because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact I want to draw attention to...."  he once said.

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.