Tag Archives: evangelization

George, my friend, Rest in Peace

easter Here’s the Eulogy I did for my friend.  I was blessed to serve him and learn from him.

George was born on June 12, 1922, and was the 10th child of eleven kids.  He was 91 when he died.  He leaves 12 direct nephews and nieces, and 66 second nephews and nieces.  He and Bernice were married 47 years.  This is no surprise because, after all, it was love at first sight for both of them.  She was a nurse when he met her, and he decided to kiss her after only chatting with her for a couple of hours.  Two months later he married her.

He was born in California, and it sounds like many of the nieces and nephews have fond memories of visiting George at his place in Malibu.  Everyone knew George as someone who loved making and giving away trinkets.  He never did stop doing this, since so many children who attend St. Norbert’s school were blessed to get 2 trinkets or 20 of them throughout the year.bday4

George was definitely famous in his own right.  Bernice told me he appeared frequently on PBS with the Boy Scouts, showcasing interesting craft projects.  George taught a few classes at Orange Coast Community College.  He and Bernice were even a part of the founding board of directors for Cal State LA.

It was commonly thought that George was going to become a priest.  He was always very religious and was known to many as our “local John the Baptist.”  He used to go to Mass every day, and there was one time recently when he walked to church from his home only using his walker.  He had his first scooter stolen, but this did not deter him from accomplishing what he set out to do.

George never wanted to shy away from conversations that dealt with politics or religion.  He always promoted Christian Unity, and encouraged people to go to other Christian churches not for the sake of converting others to be Catholic, but to show others that we support them and love them.   In fact, he claims to have helped put up the Missionary Cross in this church, which is found opposite side of the altar, over the baptismal font.  He reminded priests and parishoners alike that it was at the moment of our baptism that we were also being called to be Missionaries for Christ.  George was also inter-religious and I finally went to visit and pray at a local mosque during Ramadan with him.  He never wanted to stop hosting these “missionary events,” and I thank St. Norbert’s bulletin editor Jo-an as well as Fr. Pat for allowing George to keep placing announcements in the bulletin, regardless if any one showed up.georgescooter2

George was always very generous.  He and Bernice actually gave away an RV to a homeless family one time, and had let some people live with them whether it was a single mother and her children, or a homeless man who needed some shelter during the winter.

Bernice always said, “well, if you ever need a place to stay, we have a spare room, and I think George could use some male companionship.”  Bernice mentioned this almost every time I visited, and I silently pondered the thought.  Little did I know that  five years later, I would actually live with George.

I only lived with him for a short time, from February until the end of June of this year.  Within that time I learned so much more about caring for another person.

I learned that it was more important to have George live as long as he could in his own home, and stick to his old ways, than to place him elsewhere or be upset at him for his bad habits.  I learned that George required me to love him in that unconditional, inconvenient way.  It was inconvenient to take George to Mass because I had to give extra time, or show up late to Mass.  It was inconvenient to do shopping with George.  I couldn’t just go and grab the items he need.  Quite often he wanted to do it.  And also grab a couple of other items not on the shopping list.

I started to realize that real love is often inconvenient.  Accepting the inconvenience helped me die to my Self.  Will I have enough patience?  Will I give him my attention or time only when I feel like it?  In the end, to be someone’s companion meant that I needed to be there as much as I could, until I reached a point of some uncomfortability.  Then I was loving George.

Thanks, George, for all the things you’ve done for us.  Thank you for being a missionary for the rest of us.  Pray for us that we will take your place and seek to be better Christians, thoughtful of children, and determined to make a better society, even if it’s inconvenient.donuts

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Recommended Book: Following Jesus

Following JesusFollowing Jesus by John Shea

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is deceivingly thin! But true wisdom does not need many words.

What you will find in this book is a manual for how to be a disciple of Jesus according to scripture. It has a broad subject, but John Shea narrows the concepts down to nine chapters, averaging 12 pages each.

This book was definitely amazing because it opened my mind to deeper understandings of Christian living. In many ways, that is a rare event because of all the theology I have soaked up for my Masters Degree I completed only a year since reading this book.

One example of insight was when John Shea brought up the story of the Good Samaritan, and asked readers to type out the story or write it down on a sheet of paper, and then keep it with them. The reader should re-read the story occasionally through the days and weeks, and hopefully the question, “How can I unconditionally love my neighbor in this instance,” will come up as a guiding principle in our speech and actions.

I never had anyone tell me to do that with scripture. Simple, yet profound!

The best part is that you do not have to be a theologian to read this book. The hard part is whether people will try to whiz through the material or prayerfully read it. I found myself doing both, but I went back and re-read any parts that I speedily devoured.

One more hard part is that although John does not write as an academic, his thought-process is very learned. Not everyone will easily digest his wisdom.

Here’s a quote to ponder on as well as to get a sense of his writing style.

“Spiritual knowing works like the physical heart. The heart…pumps blood throughout the body. After the pumped blood has circulated throughout the body, it returns to the heart to start the process all over again. Again and again, the heart gives life to the entire body. Our spiritual center…pumps life into the whole mind-body organism, renewing it over and over again. In order for the mind and will to stay filled with life, they have to return to the spiritual center and then go out from it again…. Spiritual knowing happens when we open to the flow of life in the center of our being and it enter and elevates our minds and wills.” -p.89 (Second printing edition, July 2010)

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Even Soldiers Need Support

logo-ffpMemorial weekend 2013 I thought of my family members who have signed up to be part of the military.  I prayed for them and knew that their lives were drastically different than mine.

There is so much change in the life of a soldier like changing residences, training new soldiers, being supervised by several different individuals within a short time, and even more.

In particular there’s one area they all struggle with just like anyone else and that’s growth in the faith.  Keeping the faith active and challenging among all the many tasks required during the day is just plain hard.

So the need for something to engage faith, for someone to encourage and support faith is a need that is even harder to fulfill in the military.  One organization is trying to change that, and make it easier for faith resources to get into the hands of those who want them.

Frontline Faith Project has a great mission and vision.  In an environment where it is not easy to come by faith resources, Frontline Faith Project definitely is trying to seep into the busy lives of our soldiers, who are spiritually hungry just like the rest of us.in-memoriumI use my blog to promote great organizations and resources.  Please consider looking at this organization and passing on the word of its existence.

Frontline Faith Project – Spiritual food for a warrior’s soul.

Dialogue Will Be Our Truest Path

There is much yearning for the finger-pointing to stop.  But no one wants to stop at their own expense.  Take the stalemate of Congress….heck, when are they ever not in a stalemate over the budget, or have actually approved a budget ahead of schedule in any given year?  Countless accusations that the “other side” will not budge, or that so-and-so is not holding the party line.  The concept of humility is far from the political arena.

This brings up the incredible courage it takes to have meaningful dialogue.  Krista Tippet’s radio show, “On Being,” hosted a forum about dialog for the second time back in the fall of 2012.  I am asking you to listen to one of the shows in which people from opposite sides of the Abortion debate decide to risk the questions, and dialogue about their stance as well as their concerns about their own “side.”

What I got from the show was this challenge to go deeper than my convictions.  It is easy to know what I believe and explain that to another, but do I have room in my mind to understand the other person’s view?  In this act of understanding, I must move into a place of humility, which in essence, pushes me to question my own believes as not entirely true.  This is the hardest part about meaningful dialogue: to be able to say, “I’m not certain my ENTIRE opinion is correct,” and understand the opposing side, which doesn’t mean to agree with them entirely either.

This process takes courage.  Who would have guess that humility takes courage?  Yet, I know that from a Christian standpoint, there is much riding on how we portray ourselves in conversation.  In fact, it has been more detrimental to have Christians portrayed as close-minded and unfriendly in dialog than Christians want to admit.

I know that it has not been easy to feel confident in proclaiming my Catholic-Christian background amongst strangers.  Many times I have been assumed to be a close-minded individual without even speaking a word if they find that I am a Catholic-Christian.  How am I to proclaim the Gospel if the ears of those needing to hear the message are closed?  Again, it has not helped that some Christians have been uncivil in their speech.

I invite you to listen to the following podcast.  Listen to what humility sounds like.  Listen to what it means to be courageous and engage in dialogue.  Reflect on how you might be able to practice humility while discussing issues that are the cause of deep division in our country.

The Civil Conversations Project (CCP): Prolife, Prochoice, Prodialogue~ Season 2 | On Being

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Finding Our Way in Life: Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is a profound theologian who, with friends, founded the l’Arche communities. These communities are throughout the world, and venture to create homes of people with and without disabilities, venturing to be in communion with one another.

He is definitely as profound as Mother Teresa, but has not made as big of a splash in the secular world as she had.  Nonetheless, his work is just as important.

Below, I have integrated an email that is sent daily, and is something you may want to subscribe to, if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration and hope for your day.  Notice that there are two thoughts integrated….I did that so you could get the point of the style of his reflections.

To subscribe, click here.

L'Arche Foundation Logo
Tuesday 8 January 2013
Celebration
Maybe the world will be transformed when we learn to have fun together. I don’t mean to suggest that we don’t talk about serious things. But maybe what our world needs more than anything is communties where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world. Maybe we need signs that it is possible to love each other.

Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World,” p. 75

Sunday 6 January 2013

Changing the World

I have been trying to point out that our deep need is to meet others on the other side of the wall, to discover their gifts, to appreciate them. We must not get caught up in the need for power over the poor. We need to be with the poor. That can seem a bit crazy because it doesn’t look like a plan to change the world. But maybe we will change the world if we are happy. Maybe what we need most is to rejoice and to celebrate with the weak and the vulnerable.

Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World,” p. 75

The Preference Test

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I had the privilege to attend a beautiful and well-organized “Day of Faith” at the old Crystal Cathedral, now called ”Christ Cathedral” in Garden Grove, CA.  It was a day filled with public prayer, speakers, faith testimonies, and beautiful art of sight and sound.

Catholics can be one of the shyest types of religious people to share what their faith is all about to anyone.  One speaker, Fr. Peter John Cameron, encouraged Catholics to not be so shy during the “Year of Faith,” but instead invite people to experience the joy of believing.

He said that in some ways, just proving that “there is a God” is hard enough for Catholics.  Fr. Cameron proposed that maybe Catholics could use “the preference test” developed by another priest he knew.  The test is only six questions, and shows what Christians believe and gain by their faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s a test that asks the basic question: What would you prefer?  Forget what you think is true, what you believe, what you have been taught.  Answer the questions according to preference.

Preference Test:

Question 1: Which do you prefer to believe?

When someone you love dies, they are dead, and that’s it.  You will never see them again.

Or

When someone you love dies, they somehow live on, and you have the possibility of seeing them again because when you die somehow you will live on.

Question 2: Which do you prefer to believe?

Your limitless desire for happiness will be answered continually forever.

Or

Your desires will last for your biological life and then your desires and you will be destroyed by death.

Question 3: Which do you prefer to believe?

You are loved.

Or

You are not loved.

Question 4: Which do you prefer to believe?

There is a God who created all of reality and who loves you like a father and who wants you to exist.

Or

Life is accidental, outside of what you see and touch there is nothing that cares if you exist.

Question 5: Which do you prefer to believe?

Your value depends on your abilities.  People who have greater abilities than you are more valuable than you.  When you lose your abilities your value will diminish.

Or

Your value comes from the fact that there is a God who wants you to exist.  He loves you like a father, and so even when your abilities are not the best and when other people don’t think your valuable, He still loves and values you.

Question 6: Which do you prefer to believe?

God exists, but in this life, He can never be known.

Or

God exists and can be known and experienced in this life.

Christians have lots of good news to announce, more than what other philosophies, even other religions promote.  But the question is whether Christians can be clear and concise in their beliefs.  And one way to be clear is to present the good news in contrast with the underlining bad news of Agnosticism and Atheism.

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible

Photo Credit: NYTimes

Living in Orange County, Californiahas a huge effect on my political outlook.  It’s huge because the state of California is ALWAYS deemed to vote for the Democrat candidate for the presidency.  And Orange County is strongly Republican.

So, coming from a very liberal non-Catholic social network that I found in San Francisco and Los Angeles, to the very Conservative and very Catholic network of Orange County was a change for me.

It was a good change in the sense that the Catholics I met and befriended were not just religious, but spiritual.  They were genuinely in love with God and their Catholic culture.  I learned more about being Catholic during my time in Orange County than during my education at two different Catholic universities!

I had become a stronger Catholic, and yet I still kept my intellectually critical approach to information and opinions.  I wondered at some of the statements some Catholics made, feeling like either the statements were misinformed or were not focusing on themes I thought were more important.

Such poor statements rained down in a plethora of Facebook comments during this election session.  There were plenty of my Orange County Catholic friends who were so distressed at the results of this election.  They proclaimed that our nation needed God’s mercy, and they asked God

Photo Credit: “Signs of the Times”

for forgiveness on behalf of the nation’s decision.

Some statements were not offensive at all.  And other statements were pure slander.

Sure, people have a right to free speech.  But are not Christians asked to be on a higher level?  Sure, I could defend my decisions and opinions and be offensive in my speech, but is that the Christian way of acting in society?

I firmly believe that the best witness Christians can give now is to show a firm desire to serve the country in the way they are capable.  I want to see us hold rallies to support the repeal of the death penalty for the next election.  I want to see more fundraisers to build up women-shelters, and create more “holistic” and “spiritually-based” pregnancy clinics.  I want to see churches have more food-drives and “soup kitchens” for the poor being offered.

We are one nation.  We are Republicans, Independents, and Democrats.  We are the poor, the immigrant, the well-to-do, and the very wealthy.  We are a nation of fiercely independent thinkers that want to have their own opinions, and not be given an opinion.  But we are ONE in our desire to allow each other to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

We are under God.  There is so much work to be done to help the outcasts and the forgotten.  Nothing can be accomplished unless God wills it.  And God does need our time and energy to accomplish heroic tasks, as well as very quiet but necessary ones.  God will never leave anyone unaccounted for.

We are indivisible.  In the case of Egypt, they are still working out what it means to work with radicals, moderates, and other political factions.  In the case of Syria, they are without liberty, and if you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, they will kill you for what you believe.  Thankfully, the United States of America will not go that direction.  Yes, there are a few people who want to riot after the election, or want to slander others for their political stance.  But as a nation, we are indivisible, and we won’t check your political party card when you need help.  New Yorkers aren’t asking each other which person they voted for.  They are asking each other where the nearest gas station with gas is, and where the nearest hot meal can be found.

God wants us to work all of this out.  The nation is divided, that is for sure.  This is the time for Christians to lead the way to civil dialog and civil service for the good of all.  And then the nation’s social fabric will be that much better.

To do anything less is to allow evil to taint our nation, and continue to dig the division to a level that will be nothing but disturbing.