Apparently God's got an incredibly messed up sense of humor. I found this in my mail:
Apparently spending a few days last week being humiliated repeatedly for naught wasn't enough. Thus, another round I can offer up for whatever expiation I need accomplished.
That's how I'm looking at it, anyway. I've always asked Him to make sure I accomplish my Purgatory on Earth so I can greet Him right away upon death. Things like this just let me know my prayer was heard. Ha ha!
In brighter news, Auggie's still making incredible progress! Here's the newest comparison pictures. The day-by-day is fabulous!
He's still lethargic for much of the day, but his energy level is definitely improving. He is finally eating and drinking on his own (I've had to hold his can or plate under his mouth because he couldn't stand long enough to eat properly). He's also using the litter box like a pro. Best news of all is that he's beginning to act like a normal kitten! He swatted for my camera cord a few times while I snapped his photo today, and he narrowly escaped diving off the edge of my desk (I caught him as he tumbled over the side).
That's right, Auggie! I'm glad to see him with the strength to play. :)
Again, thanks to everyone for the notes and messages of love and prayers for him. They've done wonders in helping him heal. Thank you!!!
Judaism and Christianity... the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation.
We are the two burning lamp posts which bear forth the Light of the True God to the world.
As such, we are the ones who the evil one attempts to snuff out the most. We're the ones zeroed in on for attack. Ours are the religious freedoms that produce the greatest threat to his darkness.
Germany has just made circumcision illegal (save for medical emergencies). That means that faithful Orthodox Jews can no longer live out their faith without fear of the government taking their children / finding themselves in jail.
Now, truth be told, I'm on the fence regarding circumcision. When Vince was a baby, I'd read up on it and found all sorts of conflicting reports. After talking with three different doctors (two of which said the risk for UTI dropped significantly), I made the decision to go forward with the procedure for Vincent. However, I revisited the issue about a year later and learned even MORE information that made me second guess myself. I even found a blog entry written by a level-headed Jewish man who tackled the topic, too.
Truth is, I'm still on the fence and feel somewhat guilty for having made Vincent go through the procedure just because the majority of people said it was "right" to do.
However, this article isn't about the rightness or wrongness of circumcision. It IS about religious freedoms that are once again being taken away by governments around the world.
For faithful Jews, circumcision is an outward sign of a spiritual covenant with God. Through this 4000+ year old sacred tradition, Jewish boys are accepted into the line of the Chosen Ones.... to remove this sacred custom is to remove their ability to enter into communion with their God.
How is that okay?
The reasoning is that children cannot consent to what is seen as an invasive procedure that has lasting consequences. Does this mean that parents would need to wait until their child is 16 in order to be treated for a cleft lip?
Regardless of your feelings on circumcision, this is cause for alarm because it's the government once more revoking personal choice from parents / families. It's once more squashing religious freedom to appease a fickle public opinion.
Yet because people no longer understand religious beliefs to be static, they grumble and push for change because, to them (the kings and queens of everything fluid), anything stationary and revered is antiquated. Anything that doesn't fall in line with their newest fad in thinking is seen as unnecessary and foolish.
There are simply some religious beliefs that are sacred and rooted in Truth. These unalterable tenets cannot and will not change simply because the public decides it's time for them to. They are God-given mandates and as such, they will not bow out to public pressure.
My prayers are with Germany's Jews... just as they lose their rights across the pond, we Catholics here in the US are losing ours to the new mandate. May God have mercy on us.
So I've decided to rename the kitten. Ajax just doesn't seem to fit at all. He's too mildly tempered.
His eyesight is getting much better. He's able to fully focus his right eye, and his left has begun to follow suit. He keeps them open for much longer stretches and now chances to venture further than one or two steps.
He's eating and drinking much better, too. Slowly but surely, he'll regain his strength.
So, what to name him?
Well, since he's still having trouble with his tender eyes, I did a quick search for a MALE patron of sore eyes. Didn't want to name him Cecilia. Ha ha!
Did you know that the patron of bad eyes is St. Austin? I didn't. In fact, I'd never heard of a Saint Austin.
So I did a little digging and learned that St. Austin is actually a form of St. Augustine (with whom I am VERY familiar!). I did not know, however, that he was the patron of bad eyes (though it makes sense upon reflection - he must've spent hours reading and writing by candle light).
I like the name "Austin," but it still didn't fit. But ya know what does? Auggie.
My husband had a favorite uncle named Augustine, and everyone called him Auggie. When the thought occurred to me, I felt like it was a perfect fit for this little kitten. Auggie, while different, grows on you. Plus, it lends the strength and history of our great Doctor to him. Now I feel confident that I can ask St. Augustine to harass St. Francis to ensure his little buddy is well provided for. I bet St. Monica (St. Augustine's mother) is thrilled to have a little kitty to look after as well.
So... Auggie it is. :)
Here's the newest compare pictures (from yesterday and today) and a special video that shows just how much he enjoys a good belly rub. You can even hear him purring!
Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all the interest. Almost 2 dozen of you have "liked" this post on Facebook, but I cannot track those entries as you didn't use the proper function. Please be sure to like MBF using the link at the top of this blog or in the bullets below. Thanks!
So I came across the most WONDERFUL dolls in the universe. I loved them so much that I want to share them with my readers.
101 Foundation, a fabulous Catholic shop on a mission to bring Our Lady's messages of love, prayer and repentance to the world, has 24" cloth Jesus / Mary dolls. I've seen them in person, and they are ADORABLE!!!
We all remember "My Buddy" or "Kid Sister" from when we were kids. What better "Buddy" to carry around than Christ or His Blessed Mother?
Being that this is June, I'd like to give away the Sacred Heart of Jesus doll.
In addition to the 2-ft Christ doll, I'll be including a deck of Catholic Doctrine playing cards! This set is a fun and useful tool for anyone looking to deepen their own understanding of Church teaching, or help their children / friends learn the finer points of our faith.
This contest will be running through June 30th (winner will be chosen on July 1st). There are a few ways to enter (each counts as a separate entry, so remember to comment completion of each separately):
There will also be two runner-ups who will be gifted their own Catholic Doctrine playing cards.
Best wishes to everyone!!!
The "Like" buttons below (while great for spreading the word) are not traceable. Please use the links at the top of this page to "Like" MyBrokenFiat's Facebook Page / Twitter.
Ajax after his first bath around 2pm yesterday. You can see his right eye is oozing with puss. His left eye is completely swollen shut. Even removing the crusted puss didn't help. He's super boney and very lethargic.
Here's Ajax this morning (after 4 rounds of drops and 3 rounds of oral antibiotics). He's much more alert, his eyes are able to focus, and though he's still super skinny, he's gonna get fat soon enough with all the yumminess at his disposal.
With all the rescues I've nursed back to health, it never ceases to amaze me how much progress can be made in so short a time (with such minimal effort!!!). It's a wonderful reminder that God doesn't ask us for huge, amazing feats of faith. He asks us for little things, because it's the little things that count.
The guy who contacted John about the kitten made the decision to care about a stray kitten. He didn't have to. He could've easily let nature take it's course. Instead, he called for help.
John, who really doesn't want to deal with any more fosters, made the decision to call me. He had pushed off the guy for a few days, but in the end, he made the right decision by calling me and allowing me to check the kitten out myself. Had he gone with Plan A (dropping it off at the shelter), this kitten would have been euthanized.
Then me... when I first saw Ajax, I was honestly horrified by his condition. His eye had actually bubbled over, and I thought for sure he had been born with a genetic defect which claimed it. He was infested with fleas, and I worried about bringing them home. However, the least I could do was give this kitten a proper cleaning.
Then the vet tech who gave me a pass at the clinic because of my past experience there. She didn't have to "break the rules" but she did. She understood a serious need was present, and she silently added my name to the top of the list.
Also the vet, herself. She went out of her way to ensure Ajax had fluids and food to spare. She didn't have to pack on the extras, but again... she made the decision to pay attention to the little things.
And all these little things... they add up to something incredible. Each "little action" is what helped Ajax along the road of Divine Providence. Each of us played a part in the miracle of Ajax's recovery. And though his story is not complete, at least it's taken a dramatic turn in the right direction.
So thanks to all of you, too, who have made the "small" decision to share Ajax's pictures and stories with others. I've gotten so many e-mails about him. Please keep sharing. Eventually, one of you who makes the "small" decision to share his story will share it with the family who needs him to complete their portrait.
In the end, it's all about the small things. No masterpiece was ever created with one brushstroke, no quilt with one thread, and no feat of architecture in one day. The same is true of our lives and of our faith.
Blessings, and again - thank you so much for spreading the word about Ajax. My appreciation is immeasurable.
Some of you readers are aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, I'm an animal lover.
Some claim I'm a crazy cat lady, but in all honesty, they're just the ones who find me most often. I've been known to help stray birds, stray possums, stray puppies, and yes... even a stray raccoon once (that was scary - make sure you've got long, super tough gloves, plenty of blankets, a large box, and a litany to St. Francis -ha!).
Anyway, my newest little one was delivered to my desk this afternoon. My husband called while I was at lunch and informed me that there was a badly injured, blind and deaf kitten in need of help. When I got back to work, I found this little face starting back at me:
Oh, but he was dirty! I immediately went to work scrubbing his poor little body free from fleas, ticks, and grime. His eyes had sealed shut from the overflow of puss, making it appear that he'd been born without his left eye. His nose was also caked in pus and grime.
The above picture was actually taken AFTER his bath. Now that he's dry, warm and clean, he's calmly sleeping on my desk awaiting a trip to the vet after work.
My old standby vet is no longer practicing in Jersey and the place I would take all my old rescues in Philly is no longer in service. This means I have no option but to find a new vet who is willing to take all my charity cases.
And being that this little one will make the 68th animal I've rescued, this vet would have to be pretty amazing to want to take me on.
This little guy may or may not lose his left eye. It depends on how bad the infection is. I've honestly seen worse that have healed, but I can't say for sure that this little guy will be as lucky. On the plus side, he's not deaf, and he's not blind, either. He's slightly dehydrated and extremely undernourished.
I checked his teeth and he's about 8 weeks old. I doubt he's been fully weaned (though that typically happens around the 6th week mark) because of his health condition. He wouldn't take food from me and also wouldn't have water. Hopefully he'll come around in a couple hours after he's settled in a bit.
Anyway, after I take my rescues to get checked, I foster them until they're back to full health. I also litter-box train them, get them up-to-date on all shots, make sure they're spayed / neutered, and socialize them with my own cats (and technically Vince). I want to make sure each of my fosters has the greatest chance of being adopted by a wonderful family as possible. Ensuring each kitty is house-trained, plays nicely with others, and loves children typically does the trick.
Each of my fosters also go home with a litter box, litter, and food. All of this is free to the family who adopts them as my special "Thank you for opening your hearts and home to this furbaby."
For now, I'll be calling this one Ajax. I'm hoping to give him all the strength of ten Greek heroes considering the battle he's now facing. Please offer some prayers up to St. Francis for him. He's such a sweet, gentle little thing.
If interested in adoption, let me know. I'll be sure to send out special updates regarding health and all to you. Otherwise - SHARE, SHARE, SHARE! Thanks!!!
Alrighty, I've caved. I registered MyBrokenFiat with Twitter. All the cool kids were doing it.
Help me out by getting my following started! I intend to amass an army that will take over the world.
I mean, I intend to amass a following of like-minded, respectable folks who enjoy sharing tips and anecdotes on religion, raising a family, and other relevant morsels.
Follow, share and tweet. Thanks, all! :)
Also be sure to let me know what your Twitter handle is so I can follow you as well. I'm still not entirely sure how all this works, but eventually I'll figure it out, I promise!
The Name of Christ is mighty
Apparently the Name of Christ is more dangerous to the public than concealed weapons (which are perfectly legal) in N. Carolina.
I found a seed on Father Z's blog this morning detailing a new policy enacted in N. Carolina regarding police chaplains' ability to use Christ's name while praying at public events.
One chaplain's response was like an arrow to my heart... a beautiful, wonderful arrow of integrity and wisdom.
Pastor Terry Sartain, upon learning of this change, withdrew from the event because, "Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with."
This man understands what so many others do not. The Name of Christ is one of our greatest blessings. It's why we always ask for everything "in Jesus' Name." Christ left us even the grace of His own Name to help shield us from harm.
Other religions treat the names of their gods / prophets as unspeakable or curse-inducing utterances. Not Christianity. We were blessed to understand that our God is a loving God who WANTS a personal relationship with us. He WANTS us to know Him intimately. Thus, He blesses us with the comfort of His Holy Name.
To remove our ability to call out His blessing through using His Name, this policy effectively steals from us our ability to properly pray. It also forces us to deny the God who gave His Life for our salvation.
And I can't help but know with certainly that the developers of this policy fully understood that. I believe Satan and his demons coated this with the sugar of tolerance and unity, but in reality, this is just one more step towards a global "religion" that is no religion at all.
It is a dismantling of Christianity in lieu of agnosticism. It is a stifling of our faith... another gentle inoculation to prevent the spread of Christ's Name to new generations of souls. This has nothing to do with tolerance. It is INTOLERANCE that has paved the way for this desecration of religious liberties.
But few will see it this way because so many are grateful for the chance to cast aside the trappings of religion. Their own opinions on religion cloud their ability to see beyond the "Don't use Jesus' Name" and realize that it is a tiny cog in a bigger machine that is shooting down a person's individual right to practice their religion as he or she sees fit.
Chaplains are VOLUNTEERS. They are volunteering their time to give comfort to the men and women who serve. At a prayer service (if one is requested by the police force), folks EXPECT to hear names like Jesus, God, Buddha or Mohammad. These words do not point a finger at atheists, Jews or Spaghetti Monster believers in an attempt to say "You're going to a naughty place for not believing!" If you invite a volunteer chaplain to one of these prayer services, you're inviting their brand of religion. If you don't want to be stifled by Christianity, find a volunteer who will speak what you're looking for. But do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to tell someone how they can and cannot pray (publicly or otherwise!).
These chaplains (whatever their religion may be) are looking to offer comfort in the form of a universal blessing. Christ does not just bless Christians. He blesses all, regardless of their belief in Him.
If someone were to say to me, "May the Spaghetti Monster's blessing be upon you always" I'd say, "Right on, good sir. Thanks for having my back with the warm fuzzies."
I would not respond, "Dude, I believe in JESUS, okay? Stop insulting me with your well-wishes!"
And yet that's exactly what is being done by this policy. It is ludicrous and is once again an attempt by policy makers to stifle the religious freedoms of folks... folks who are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME for goodness sake!
It reminds me of this yearly mess... Will this sort of foolishness have no end?
This is a perfect time for the Golden Arrow Prayer. It was given to St. Gertrude the Great by Christ, Himself, who said, "It will wound My Heart delightfully and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
As I said on Fr. Z's wall, I hope in this case it will heal the wounds inflicted by arrogance, silence and betrayal.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Here are the pictures I promised! Much clearer, you can see how awesome these dolls really are. Vincent certainly loves them!
I love their eyes - one of the white specks is a heart, and the other is a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. How awesome is that?
You've still got a chance to enter to win the Sacred Heart of Christ doll. The drawing is July 1st, so get your entries in by the 30th. Good luck!
Judge a tree by it's fruits, man!
I got an e-mail last night from a friend of mine. We had been discussing the current LCWR review. He was under the impression (as so many are) that the Vatican was trying to stamp out the personal freedoms of poor, innocent nuns just trying to live our their vocation serving their communities.
I admit I got rather heated at the thought of these women being pitied as a result of the media's false stories of heroism in the face of the big, bad Vatican. These women should never - EVER - be held up as the gold standard for Catholicism. The women in question shouldn't even be held up as a bad example of Catholicism. Many have given up being Catholic long, long ago and just haven't 'fessed up to it yet. Thus, use them as a bad example of Protestantism. Please leave the word "Catholic" out of their mess.
Anyway, this friend chided me for my harsh words. He quoted the oft repeated (and incredibly misunderstood) line from Matthew 7: "Judge not lest you be judged."
I've already sent this friend an e-mail detailing my feelings on the matter (candidly as I'm apt to do). However, I felt this a topic very necessary to broach with the general population as this quote is so often used by people in an attempt to bow out to political correctness.
In my opinion, it's nothing more than an excuse to hide one's insecurities behind a veil of false nicety.
Let's say my mother is driving a car. We're about to take a curve too harshly. Considering there's a canyon to the left of us, if she continues speeding, we're likely to tumble into the abyss.
Do I refrain from telling her to slow down because I'm afraid I might hurt her feelings for criticizing her driving?
No. I like my life.
Instead, I'd say, "Hey Mom, you need to apply the brakes because if you don't, we're likely to take a tumble neither one of us will enjoy."
Would I be judging my mother to be a bad driver? No.
Would I be judging her behavior to be bad? Yes.
Might she feel as though I'd judged her to be a bad driver? Yes, it's a possibility.
If she feels as though I've passed a negative judgement on her, does that mean I have? No.
Even knowing that she might have her feelings hurt as a result of my criticism, should I refrain from suggesting she slow down? NO.
As I've said in previous entries, I simply do not have the personality to sit on the sidelines while someone is acting in a way that is either harmful to self or others. I can't. I automatically put a familiar face on these folks and my decision is made - political correctness be damned.
That is exactly what we are asked to do as Catholics. The quote "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is often given as a means to stifle this responsibility. However, if we read juuust a little bit further, we'll come to understand that this misrepresented quote (found on everything from billboards to memes to T-shirts) means something much different than the sound byte it's utilized as.
Here is the quote in its entirety (from the New American Bible, so the wording is slightly changed):
Jesus said to His disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5
In other words, use your God-given intellect to discern judgement. It isn't necessarily meaning we should condemn, but it's certainly charging us with the responsibility of properly judging all things with equality.
In fact, there are quotes all over the Bible specifically commanding this of us.
In the gospels, Luke echoes Matthew in Chapter 6 with "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
John (7:24) relays Jesus saying "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously."
In Proverbs (3:21), "Preserve sound judgement and discernment."
In the Letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (1:9-11), "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."
And my favorite (also from Luke 6) stating, "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
"See the good that we do and give glory to God."
That being said, we have a Christian responsibility to judge that which is presented to us in this world... ESPECIALLY when that which is presented wreaks of evil. We must not allow such evil to continue spreading as a cancer. The Body of Christ - OUR spiritual body - must be protected. If we remain silent as these "religious" continue to misinform, polarize and confuse the general population, we commit a sin of commission. We allow a greater evil to exist both within our ranks, and within ourselves through our silence.
This is exactly how the atrocities of WWII were accomplished. Sure there were plenty of folks who disagreed with the Nazi ideals. However, too many were silent for too long.
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I, for one, cannot endure such silence. I cannot wither away behind a false veil of "live and let live" when that includes allowing misinformation to fester and spread to my friends, family and children. No. It is my duty as a Christian to call evil out where it is and shed the light of truth upon the dishonesty and willful desecration of the Faith.
And those Christians among you who read this (be you Catholic or otherwise), this is your duty as well. We must work together to bring the light of Truth to others. We must not allow the lies, the half-truths, the confusion to tear souls away from Christ.
Can you guess who I am?
Hey folks! Cam over at A Woman's Place is also doing a doll give away!
She's allowing one lucky person to acquire their own saint peg doll. You can see samples of her recent dolls on her Etsy page, Sadie's Saints.
Entry is easy. There are various ways to enter listed on the entry itself. Have at it, folks. The possibilities are endless... especially for little ones looking to make believe with their favorite patrons!
While you're at it, don't forget to check out the Sacred Heart of Jesus giveaway currently being hosted right here at My Broken Fiat. Entries being accepted until June 30th, so be sure to be counted in the fun!
Best wishes to everyone!
First of all, his reaction is priceless. Ha ha. Well deserved.
Secondly, WOW. Way to go! I'm amazed that someone so young was able to discover such a necessary and useful tool to help detect cancer. His award is well-deserved and I wish him all the success in the universe. What a blessing he is!
Finally, those people commenting on his sexuality should bite their tongues. Who cares what this person's sexuality is? Sexuality does NOTHING to detract from the contribution he has made to the medical / science community. They should be ashamed of themselves for picking apart this young man. I, for one, applaud him.
Click the picture above to find over 2 dozen more pictures exemplifying humanity at its finest. (Just be aware that the first deals with homosexuality and some may find it offensive.)
Sometimes we need reminders like this. We need to remember that although we're capable of the evil we see in the news, we're also capable of true, genuine beauty. Can you imagine what the world would be if we'd all remember that and act accordingly?
This is God's Will... that we love one another. In doing so, we really do help bring about Heaven on earth. Start your random acts of kindness today!
As if that would've helped.
Final installment of the Accident Series
So Monday was the start of my "trial." What they don't tell you is that "trials" are really nothing like what they show on TV.
My "trial" never even made it to trial. I spent a couple days sitting by myself in a room as my lawyer flitted in and out to review things with the defense attorney and the judge.
The newest lawyer in the chain of those I'd dealt with since signing on with this group happened to be one of the partners. He was knowledgeable and very nice, but I could tell he was looking to get in and out. That's fair. As a partner, I'm sure he had about a million other things he needed to be doing. At least he didn't make me feel like he was rushing me. It's just something I kinda got from all the back and forth he was doing.
He reviewed the case with me and dropped a few bombshells. Apparently there had been an issue with my doctor's testimony. On the little pull-down menu report, he had accidentally chosen "non-permanent injury" instead of "permanent injury." Later, during his own testimony (videotaped in advance), he corrected his mistake and apologized for the "clerical error." However, because of that, my case was hurt because the jury would likely see his testimony as non-credible.
As I read through the transcripts, I saw that he was paid $3,000 for his testimony, and another $3,000 for the report. So $6,000 of any money I see from settlement goes right to the guy who screwed up my case for me? AWESOME!
And what burns me up more is that I specifically requested my lawyers change that doctor because I, myself, didn't think he was altogether there. Yet another thing they neglected to do for me even though I requested this on two separate occasions.
My lawyer also gave me the stellar review of the defense's doctor. He said that if he were the jury, he'd believe that guy way before he'd believe my doctor (the one THEY sent me to after I had specifically requested anyone else).
Talk about epic-facepalm.
As if reading the expression on my face, he followed up with, "But your doctor wasn't bad. He was pretty passionate about your injury, too. My 17 year old would believe him over the other guy. So maybe if we get a bunch of people like her on the jury..."
I need a step above "epic-facepalm" for that one. Sheesh.
Needless to say, things did not go well from there. However, I was at least able to reach a settlement that ensured All-State couldn't drag this out for another few years. I had to fight tooth and nail for it, but I made All-State pay out more than the $1200 they originally tried to write me off with (and $5000 more than what the judge thought I'd ever see from a jury).
Tips for those facing this sort of lawsuit:
Okay, that's kinda it for me on this. On the way home, feeling as though I'd been raped by the system set up to help me out, I thought of a well-known "Letter From Hell." It was supposedly written by the friend of a German nun. This friend had died and found herself in Hell. She was compelled to send a detailed description of Hell to the nun-friend because she was still on Earth praying for the repose of her soul.
On thing always struck me about the letter. In it, this soul detailed that she had, in fact, done real good in her lifetime. God, in His mercy, rewarded her for her good deeds while she was alive because He knew that her soul would choose Hell upon death (due to all her evil tendencies in this life). Her reward was a large inheritance that she promptly spent on frivolous things.
I couldn't help but wonder if maybe God was protecting me from an earthly reward that would have me seal my own Hellish fate. My reward should not be earthly, and I would do well to remember that. So as I grumbled about the perceived injustice I was a part of, I forced myself to stop and realize that all is part of God's plan, and maybe this, too, was meant to remind me that I'm not supposed to be holding out for earthy riches. I'm supposed to be holding out for Heaven.
Honestly, that really did make me feel a lot better. Not better about being raped by the "justice" system, but certainly better about not receiving fair compensation for all the physical therapy I'll no longer be able to have on account of All-State.
I'm not perfect, that's for sure, so I haven't been perfectly offering this mortification up for some greater good like I should be. That being said, God is good and He's allowed me to at least remember that this is an opportunity for grace. This is an opportunity to offer up something in return for the purification of both my soul, and the souls of those I love.
So I guess that's my last suggestion if ever you're in this situation (which I really, REALLY hope none of you ever find yourself in). Whatever your trial, remember to offer it to God. It's been given to you for a reason.
Part 5 in the Accident Series
Nothing in the world could have prepared me for deposition. I had read up on them. I had tried to study my materials so I was up-to-date on times, dates and names of doctors (because there were plenty). I had asked my lawyer about them (to no avail, might I add).
However, I was NOT prepared for the deluge of nastiness that sprang forth from the defense attorney.
The guy who hit me was present for this deposition. His "testimony" lasted about 20 minutes. I, on the other hand, was in there for HOURS. Can you imagine that??? I had no idea deposition could last that long for a freakin' car accident.
But oh, it can.
He asked me every possible question he could think of. And while he didn't flat out accuse me of lying, I'm not an idiot when it comes to intonation and follow-up questions. You can ask me the same thing in as many different ways as you want, but I'm still going to tell the truth!
That didn't stop him from trying to trip me up, though. And I understand that's part of his job. However, I draw the line when you start asking me questions about my intimate sex life in order to rile me.
I mean, seriously??? They're allowed to ask you things like that? I was horrified and completely humiliated. I don't talk that in-depth with my best friends regarding my sex life, and this guy is entitled to ask as many sordid things as he wanted? I kept looking to my lawyer for guidance, but he just nodded his head and told me to keep on keepin' on.
I cannot tell you how incredibly humiliating and dirty that experience left me. Even thinking about it makes me cringe. I feel like I should've gotten at least the going rate for a prostitute after the hours I spent answering those questions...
Anyway, I held it together until he brought up testimony I had made about Vincent. He noted that my doctor highlighted issues I was having carrying Vince or hoisting him into and out of things. Proving this guy has no soul, he snarkily asked if I couldn't perform the duties of motherhood as a result of the accident.
Even typing that question and understanding the ramifications makes me tear up.
I admit that I lost it then. Yes, I cried. It was a combination of intense anger and boiling guilt.
YES, this herniation has caused me to feel like failure as a mother. YES, there are things I simply cannot do as often or as well as I'd like because of this injury. YES, there are nights where I cry in frustration because I can't help but realize that I'm dealing with this on a daily basis while your client is probably still rubber-necking on the highway.
My lawyer, at that point, spoke up and requested a break.
But that, dear friends, is what you can expect for both deposition and arbitration. Because the same thing happened at arbitration a year later - just in a briefer span of time.
And so are lawyers.
Part 4 in the Accident Series
So I started the process of suing All-State. I made it clear from the beginning that I didn't want to sue the guy, himself, because I didn't think it would be fair to completely gut a kid (turns out he was only 17) for an (admittedly) stupid mistake.
I kept meticulous records of everything and even wrote a monthly update to my lawyer describing the different things I'd struggled with as a result of the herniation.
I was sent to the orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist and continued on with my chiropractor. Everyone said the same thing. I was permanently injured and short of invasive surgery, nothing would help fix the problem. I was basically stuck with the pain.
So I did everything my lawyer said to do and then some. Turns out my records were kept better than his. I constantly called into the office to ensure they'd gotten paperwork and would ask questions to ensure they were on top of things. I wanted to make sure I knew as much as possible about the proceedings so I could be aware of what to expect.
Nothing - NOTHING - can prepare you for some of the underhanded stuff they do to you when you threaten insurance companies with a lawsuit.
They dragged their heels on EVERYTHING in an attempt to basically wait me out. They sent me for the most ridiculous tests. They accused me of faking things. Then, their doctor accused me of trying to pin my pain on a spinal tap done before the accident (as if a spinal tap has ANY POSSIBLE WAY of herniating a disc).
I cried in frustration at that one. Even my own orthopedic surgeon was angry that such a ludicrous suggestion could be made.
Yet I swallowed every indignation and pushed forward. My lawyer kept telling me this was an open-shut case. All-State had claimed responsibility for the accident and should pony up at least enough to cover expenses going forward. Yet something was telling me that I was on this ride for nothing.
It was so frustrating. I was taking time away from my family for these tests (one of which included being "electrocuted" several times through my feet to test the nerves in my spine and all the while I was seething because the guy who hit me was coasting without a care in the world. There I was, going for test after test - therapy session after therapy session - spending money on gas, taking time off work, and enduring countless guilt sessions over my inability to be a proper mother / aunt, and what about him? What was he dealing with? A careless oblivion.
No tests for him. No therapy for him. Nothing to remind him of the greivous error in judgement he made that night when he chose to rubber-neck instead of drive like an intelligent person.
And who pays? Me. I'm the one with the mounting medical bills. I'm the one who cries at night when I count the many ways I'd failed my son. I'm the one who deals with the pain of every day life. But him? NOTHING.
It is such a frustrating feeling. And the fact that his insurance company was making it even MORE difficult to get a fair shake made it that much worse.
Part 3 in the Accident Series
The pain actually worsened in the months after I delivered Vincent. My chiropractor explained that it was partially due to how I was breastfeeding (I cradled Vince, so my shoulders naturally slumped over and rounded my back) and partially due to my ligaments falling back into place.
Also, I may not have been carrying Vince around inside me anymore, but I was carrying him around in a carseat while lugging around a diaper bag. So maybe my extra body weight was gone, but I'd replaced it with an equal or greater amount of luggage that threw my body off-balance.
Bathing Vincent was (and is) one of the most torturous activities for my back. It's SO incredibly painful to bend down to properly clean him. Hoisting him in and out of high chairs, shopping carts, and swings at the park all hurt. And it's not just a quick sharp jab to the spine, either. It's a lasting grinding that leaves me achy for hours (if not days) afterwards.
Then there's cleaning around the house. I'm typically a clean freak. I vacuumed at least three - four times a week (both floors) and scoured the bathrooms on my hands and knees. I'd run up and down three flights of stairs without issue carrying laundry and do grocery shopping without complaint. Now? All of that is painful to me. The twisting motion of the vacuum makes my back revolt, carrying anything for any distance (especially on stairs) is just asking for punishment, and scrubbing tubs and floors really does put me out of commission for at least a day.
I remember a few times when Vince was a baby that I had to have John take over bathing because my back gave out. The first two times it happened, I crawled into bed and just cried because I felt like a failure as a mother.
Then there were days in which I simply couldn't take him to the park like I'd wanted to because I had spent the day before cleaning.
I realized that my life had turned into a perpetual game of Tetris. I was constantly juggling tasks that needed to be done with my ability to actually do them.
Seriously - these are the types of thoughts that STILL go on in my head on a daily basis. It's a CONSTANT give and take that makes me feel SO angry. I shouldn't have to constantly gamble my abilities for Vincent's everyday living. And yet I do. They may not be for the same things as when he was a baby, but they still exist.
For example, he loves to do pony-back rides now. I can maybe give him two or three before I'm out of commission. He'll cry because he wants a few more rounds, but I simply can't. And yes, I still hate myself for that sometimes.
Then there are the times my neice will see me "airplaning" Vince. She'll demand a turn (which I happily give), but I know the inevitable, "I'm sorry, guys, but I can't do it again" will come and make them feel gypped of fun.
I hate it. I hate everything about this. It makes me feel gypped as a mother / aunt because I SHOULD be able to do all these things without thought. It's not like I'm 60 years old. Argh.
What's worse is that I had to give up my chiropractor because I simply did not have the money to put towards him. Copays are $50 per visit, and at three visits per week, that adds up to how many diapers? How many clothes? How many trips to the zoo? It didn't seem fair that I was taking money away from Vincent to pay for something that the insurance company should have been paying for.
So I sued the guy's insurance for proper coverage - All State. It was like opening an entirely new hell for myself.
Vince's 4th month bump!
Part 2 in the Accident Series
In January of 2009, about two months after the car accident that left me with a herniated disc, I learned I was pregnant with Vincent. It was a surprise blessing - one that I was incredibly elated for.
However, there's a reason my Mom's response to news of her first grandchild was "Is that even safe?"
My chiropractor had warned me against getting pregnant with my fresh herniation because the weight and stress of growing a child within my womb would make a bad situation worse. John and I hadn't planned for Vincent, but we weren't going to shy away from the blessing now that we'd finally be granted him!
Armed with such determination, my wonderful chiropractor altered my therapy in consideration of my pregnancy. I was still going three times a week, but I was given different exercises in lieu of the electric shocks my back muscles typically received.
Almost instantaneously, my back pain intensified. I knew that during the first trimester, ligaments stretch and hip bones begin to spread to ready the body for labor. I was warned that my pain would be much worse than is typical because of where my herniation was. A small price to pay, in my mind, for a healthy child.
Midway through my pregnancy, I thought I was going to pass out from the intense pain. It was different from the normal pressure of the herniation, but the doctors kept reassuring me it was because of my herniation. Three times I went to the ER because the pain was too intense, and three times I was sent away with percoset because it was chalked up to the herniation. I refused to take the percoset because I was worried about effects on Vincent. No amount of "It's safe, I swear" could make me take those pills.
In tears, I told my OB that I needed to find some solution to the pain because there were times I had trouble breathing. She did an exam and set me over to the ER yet again because she was sure I had kidney stones.
That last one was what mine looked like.
She was right. The ultrasound showed hydronephrosis (which is an enlarged kidney typically due to kidney stones). The pain was being caused by my right kidney (it was over double the size it should have been). That's when I realized how bad having a herniation was.
Doctors kept writing me off (three times!) when they saw my charts label "disc herniation." They assumed any and all pain in my lower - mid back was caused by the herniation. No one ever thought to check me for kidney stones. I ended up freaking out over the prospect because I realized that I'd have to face this every time I had back pain going forward. Would doctors write me off because of the herniation? Would they mistakenly release me when I was actually dealing with a life-threatening gall bladder attack or kidney failure???
Considering this is how a friend of mine passed away (doctors misdiagnosed her kidney failure. The pain pills she took masked her symptoms until it was too late to save her.), I was an anxious wreck.
I was beginning to realize just how much of an effect this car accident was having on my future.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy. I was in such intense pain (Vince was a 9lb baby!), and I could barely sleep at night from the spasms my lower back was having. Again, my doctors told me this was part of the herniation and there was really nothing to be done to help alleviate it. I kept trying to remind myself that the pain was worth my son, so I offered what I could (begrudgingly, I admit) to God so long as I got a healthy baby in return.
Finally, my water breaks and I'm admitted into L&D. I was given an epidural, but the meds had to be administered THREE TIMES. The nurse explained to me that the reason it wasn't "working" is because of the placement of my herniation. Sometimes folks with herniations have difficult times taking to the epidural because the meds aren't able to get where they need to go in order to "flood out" the pain receptors.
Yet again I found my herniation causing my problems.
I luckily have a brief delivery and Vincent comes into the world. I figured my back pain would be a done deal now that the excess pressure was gone.
Yet God loves proving me wrong.
As I said on Facebook, the last few days sucked so hard they must have been subsidized by Hoover.
I finally reached settlement on a car accident I was involved in almost 4 years ago. Now that the entire mess is over, I can detail some of the more ridiculous points publicly in the hopes that it helps others struggling with the same disgusting process.
It was November 4th, 2008 - Election Night. John and I were on our way back home after visiting Nanny. I was waiting to make a left hand turn when a kid driving a Chevy van slammed into the back of my little Saturn coupe.
I had seen him coming. I have this habit of checking my rearview mirror when I'm at a stop, and I saw him flying towards us. He wasn't looking in front of him. He was looking at the car accident to our left. As a result, he didn't even bother applying the breaks. He used my car as a means to stop. Seeing him approach, I knew we were about to be hit. I said, "Oh sh*t, oh sh*t!" as I prepared for impact. John, not knowing what was coming, said, "What?" as he turned to look behind us. He whipped his head about half-way around as we were impacted. The force of the smash sent my car careening into oncoming traffic, well past the median. I almost crashed into the telephone pole across from us (where a gentleman was waiting for the bus). Thank God I didn't.
The force of the crash caused John to smash his head into the windshield and door. His body (as it violently lurched forwards and back again), completely broke the passenger seat. I, having prepared myself for the impact by wedging the break and bracing, felt nothing but ire for the driver who hadn't been paying attention. I turned to John and asked if he was OK. He said, "Yeah, yeah" as I put the car in park. I jumped out and confronted the kid who had been driving the van. He was young... maybe 17. I immediately asked "What the hell happened?" and he responded, "I'm sorry... I don't have anti-lock brakes."
Knowing it had nothing to do with his brakes (because I had SEEN him not paying attention), I replied, "More like an attention span."
At this point, the police officer from the other accident came over to make sure everyone was alright. It had started to rain (of course), so he asked us to get back into our cars and move them to the side of the road. I walked back to my car only to see John haphazardly trying to pick up the leftover pasta Nanny had sent us home with. That's when I realized John was loopy from the impact. I kept telling him to leave the pasta and sit down, but he couldn't understand why I wanted him to sit. He was so set on cleaning up the pasta that even the police officer had him taken to the ambulance for a quick once-over.
The EMT on-scene said he'd likely suffered a concussion. John waved him off and demanded I just take him home (as we were about 10 blocks away). Truth be told, we were both anxious to keep abreast of the election proceedings. Since the EMT cleared him with the caveat he remain awake for a few hours and get to a hospital if he feels worse in the next 24 hours, we made our way home after giving our report to the police officer.
Settled in front of the television, we began watching as state after state turned blue for Obama. John, however, continued acting a bit loopy, and I decided to take him to the hospital anyway. He protested, but I didn't want to chance a head injury.
At the hospital, we were taken back pretty quickly. We had the TV tuned to election coverage. The triage nurse suggested I get checked since I'd been in the accident as well. At first I declined because I felt fine. Then I realized that I should probably just get checked anyway since symptoms can sometimes be masked by adrenaline (which I certainly still felt from seeing a kid crash his car into my trunk).
They did a quick exam and took an X-ray. I was a little stiff, but I felt fine. I knew I'd feel achy the next day, but I figured it'd wear off in a week.
Boy was I wrong!
About two weeks later, my lower back was still really hurting. I went to my primary who sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed a disc herniation which explained the pain. When my chiropractor explained to me that this was permanent and would limit certain activities, I actually teared up. All of the activities he referred to revolved around children. Picking them up, bathing them, etc. He also suggested that I refrain from getting pregnant in the near future as pregnancy would be difficult with this type of injury.
I was absolutely crestfallen. There I was, 25 years old, and I was being sentenced to the life of an old-lady because some kid wanted to watch flashing lights instead of the road he was driving on. My doctor told me I'd either need eternal injections to my spine or an invasive surgery that fused two of my vertebra together. Considering neither option makes any sense for a woman of my age, the only other recourse was intensive therapy three times a week. I began therapy and continued with it for a year... even after my surprise pregnancy with Vincent.
My Broken Fiat is a full year old today! I'm glad that lands me squarely on both the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (nothing like unwrapping a plenary indulgence as a shiny new present) and the Feast of St. Germaine Cousin (my most favorite saint of all time)!
In looking back over this past year, I'm amazed by how much I've learned and how many wonderful people I've come to know through MBF. Thank you all for making this experience so rich, educational and blessed. You are all in my prayers!
Sacred Heart statue at my parish
Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Plenary indulgences for all! If public recitation is not an option for you, partial indulgences are at the ready.
Please don't let this opportunity pass you by! Spread it to all your friends. We could use a little absolution of our temporal punishments.
How merciful is Our Lord! How fathomless the depths of His infinite Love!
Submerse yourself in His Sacred Heart. Find peace and rest within His Arms.
For the requisite prayers, gain access here! Don't forget to share with friends and family!
I know I've spoken about this ministry in passing before, but I've been meaning to dedicate an entire blog entry to it because I honestly want as many people as possible to know about it!
About a year and a half ago, I was privileged to attend a public veneration brought to a local parish, St. Agnes, by Father Carlos Martins. This veneration is called "Treasures of the Church" and is comprised of over 200 first class relics. Father Carlos travels the whole of N. America in order to bring these treasured parts of our history to the people. It's absolutely incredible.
Included in this trove of thechas are relics of the True Cross, the veil of Our Lady (SQUEE!), the apostles, and so many others. There is a complete listing of the saints included on the website (linked above).
The best part of all this? It's completely FREE! Father Carlos just requests that he be given a place to stay (rectory works!) after he presents and leads veneration. After opening with a prayer, Fr. Carlos gives a brief history on relics, thechas and a particular saint. Upon completion, he opens the floor to public veneration of the relics (which are set up on tables all around the church or meeting hall). We were encouraged to bring medals, rosaries or other items with us to touch to each relic. I, myself, brought two crucifixes and a rosary.
There must have been about 300 of us present that night - maybe more. Who knows? It was incredible, though. Everyone was so reverent and moved. To have so much of our blessed history before us in a way we could see and feel... there simply are no words.
Several of us even smelled a strong scent of roses coming from the thecha holding St. Peter's relic. At first we thought it was perfume someone was wearing, but we started blushing at one another when we realized we kept cycling back one-by-one to disprove the perfume theory. Ha ha.
Anyway, I was trying to help Father Carlos bring Treasures of the Church to the Baltimore / Virginia area, but I've had little to no luck. Being from Philadelphia / S. Jersey, I don't have any contacts in that region. However, he's going to be there the 3rd week in July. Are any of my readers from that area that might be interested in hosting Father Carlos? He's looking for one or two parishes and I would love to put you into direct connection with him. All you need is permission from your pastor and he takes care of all the rest. You won't regret it. I promise!
Even if you don't think July is a good time, check out his mission site. It's so truly incredible and is such a parish-building experience. File it away for later... maybe the beginning of the school year or around Christmas. Father Carlos books at least 12-14 months out, so to have an opportunity like this come up? It doesn't happen very often. Maybe one of you are meant to make something of it.
I hope so!
Posted on Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput's Facebook page:
It was announced in Rome this morning that Philadelphia's Msgr. Nelson Perez, Pastor of Saint Agnes Parish in West Chester, has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
As Bishop-elect Perez prepares to begin his episcopal ministry, I offer him heartfelt congratulations and pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen him as a successor of the Apostles. I’m confident that he will be of great service to Bishop William Murphy and all of God’s people in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. They are fortunate to receive such a gift from the Holy Father in the person of Bishop-elect Perez. He has a joyful and down-to-earth personality, an obvious love for the priesthood, and a tireless devotion to his ministry.
Please join me in offering him prayerful best wishes. May God bless you.
I'm so happy I could cry. Msgr. Nelson has to be one of the sweetest, most joyous and genuinely loving people I've ever met. Rockville really is incredibly blessed to have him. Please say a prayer for him in his new role. May Our Lady ever shine her smile down upon him and his people. He's in for a bumpy road given the turmoil our Church is now facing. God certainly knows how to pick His warriors. Bless him!
This entire entry stems from a thread regarding the "creation of evil" and free will. I wanted to post it here as well because I think it's a great conversation!
God grants us Free Will
God is the Supreme Author of creation... all things visible and invisible. Our creed states as much. However, does this mean He created evil as well?
My answer is no. Evil is not a thing to be created. It is a choice. One cannot "create" love, one can only choose it, right?
The same holds true for evil. One cannot "create" evil. One can only choose it. God, being Supremely wise, holy and loving, has the capacity for evil.
However (and this is a big however), being that He is Supremely wise, holy and loving, He eternally CHOOSES goodness. He eternally chooses love. THIS is the gift of Free Will that He imparted to us. If God doesn't have the capacity for evil, then God is not all-powerful. God wouldn't 'need' free will because He'd be incapable of evil. However, God IS all-powerful. The difference between Him and the rest of us, however, is that He's always chosen goodness and love over evil and hatred. Thus, God must have free will if He was able to grant it to us as a gift.
So, keeping His Perfect Example of free will in mind, let's move on.
God created the angels before humanity. Angels are purely spiritual beings that were also granted the grace of free will. We are taught through tradition that one third of these angels utilized their free will in opposition to the Divine Will of God (His Divine Will being Supreme Goodness). As a result, these angels were cast away from His Divine Presence (since to be united to God is to be united with His Will - which is Love above all else).
God did not cast them aside in judgement. They chose to dislodge themselves from His Goodness through pride. As a result, God, in His Goodness, created a place for them separate from the other angels who chose Goodness. Basically, He put the "bad kids" in the corner so they didn't disrupt the rest of the class. Those who wanted to continue to grow in love and understanding of God could remain with Him in Heaven.
Then God deemed it time for the physical realm to spring forth. After setting things into motion, He chose to bestow upon humanity the same gift given to the angels - free will. However, humans are intrinsically different from angels. Angels are purely spiritual beings. Humans are the union of body and soul (which is why Catholics believe in the "resurrection of the dead"). As such, our free will is going to be utilized differently from that of the angels (though with the same premise... freely choosing good over evil).
Eden was a physical realm that was in perfect union with the Will of God - Adam and Eve included. Genesis states as much when it writes of Adam "walking blameless before God." Adam's will was united to that of God's Divine Will, and there was peace. Eve, too, lived in union with God's Will. Until, that is, she meets up with a pesky little snake.
As we all remember from our elementary days, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge were located in the center of Eden. The Tree of Knowledge, when we trace it back to it's Jewish roots, was known as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is an important distinction because Jewish tradition understands this Tree to be the mixture of good and evil. Until humanity (through Adam and Eve) ingested this fruit (thus introducing the conflict of evil), good was humanity's nature. Evil was something altogether separate that had no place in the nature of humanity. We simply understood and trusted that God knew best, and we willingly went along with the plans He set forth because we naturally understood Him to have our best interests at heart.
That changed due to the 1st sin (which was Pride, not disobedience). When the serpent suggested to Eve that she could gain the knowledge that God had and begin making her OWN plans that would be even better than those of God, she was feeling the temptation of pride. When she acted out in eating the fruit, it was not disobedience that goaded her... it was her own pride. Her mistaken belief that she could somehow gain wisdom above God's. That given the chance, her will could rival that of God's. Sound familiar? It was the very same sin that Lucifer introduced to the other angels. It was the very sin that caused their downfall as well.
This was the first time humanity said "No" to the Divine Will. The second time was when Adam came along and accepted Eve's sin into the family line. In allowing himself (as head of creation) to sully humanity by not only accepting this sin, but taking part in it, Adam solidified our downfall. Now that both of our parents (Adam and Eve) have sullied themselves with the stain of sin, all subsequent generations would feel the smudge on our natures. This is original sin. It's not an actual "sin" that newborns are held accountable for. It's the tendency towards sin that we have inherited from our ancestors. Much like the child of an alcoholic is more likely to become an alcoholic himself, the children of sinners are more likely to sin. We are children of Adam and Eve. The tendency has been passed from generation to generation, and with the exception of Our Lady, all of humanity has been marred by the stain of this original "No" to Divine Will... this original misuse of free will.
Out of love, God sentenced us to a physical death so that we might once more reunite ourselves to His Will. Since humanity had marred its nature through sin, God rightly passed judgement on us, deeming us unfit to reside in Eden as that was a place of peace and unity with God's Will. Humanity, having now turned from God's Will, would be forced to work their way back to their original Divine Inheritance. Free will, having been gifted at our time of creation, was not taken away. Instead, as punishment for misusing this gift to alter our purely good nature, we would need to learn to properly use this gift for love.
That is what our lives on Earth are all about. We are learning to love. We are learning to consistently choose good over evil. We are learning to trust the Will of God and allow ourselves to take part in His plans for Divine Providence. THAT is the meaning of our earthly lives.
Upon death, we are judged on how well we learned this lesson. Did we consistently strive to love others? Did we consistently choose good over evil? Did we trust in the Will of God to move our lives in the direction necessary to once more gain eternal happiness?
If the answer is a resounding "Yes," we gain entrance to Heaven. If the answer is "Eh, it was a hell of a struggle, and I've got a ways to go, but I at least learned that Your Will is right" we gain entrance to Purgatory with the promise of Heaven. Finally, if the answer is, "No, this is all bull, God, you're just a big bully" we cast ourselves into Hell.
And yes, I said we cast ourselves. Much as those original fallen angels had.
At judgement, we see our own lives in the Light of Divine Truth. We see our souls as God sees them, and in the face of this Truth, we cannot help but understand our successes and failings. We, ourselves, pass sentence before the Throne of God (before which no sin or dishonesty can stand). We accept whatever "reward" we are given because at that moment, we cannot help but understand God to be Supreme Justice. Thus, our soul either joyfully enters Heaven (where our free will exists, but has been perfected so that it is united always to the Will of God), willingly enters Purgatory (with the understanding that our free will can be cleansed through the fires of God's Love in order for us to prepare for Heaven), or willingly seeks Hell as the only respite from ourselves away from the burning Justice of God's Truth.
Christ as Judge
God is mercifully patient, this is true. However, He is Divine Justice as well, and this Justice is not simply meant to punish - it is meant to protect and nurture those who wish to remain true to His Divine Will.
In His Mercy, God grants us enough trials and experiences through our lives in order for us to properly learn Love. This was revealed by Saint Michael to someone whose name escapes me.
St. Michael the Archangel revealed that every person on earth is given exactly what he or she needs to learn how to live by God's Will. It is up to us to heed these lessons. They don't continue in Heaven because at that point, all free will ceases to formulate through one's own accord. It is either solidified with access to Heaven, becoming engulfed in the Divine Will, forged through Divine Love in the embers of Purgatory, or left to fester with no hope of respite in the bowels of Hell. Our actions on earth determine which area our free will goes for a make-over (if one is necessary) after earthly death.
A recent comment from a friend of mine has led me to this entry. He chooses to use a feminine pronoun for God. That's well and good. Considering his reasoning, it makes sense. God is tender, compassionate and merciful, and he feels as though these attributes have a feminine ring to them. Plus, considering that pronouns do little justice to the all-encompassing Spirit that is God, why not give some air-time to an under-utilized pronoun such as "she."
That's fair. I'm not writing this to alter his opinion on the matter. I thought it an interesting topic to delve into, so here I go!
Why do I choose to use "He" when referencing God?
For one, Christ is male. He (and all His Jewish ancestors before Him) referred to God using masculine words, and all parables which describe God use male persons as corresponding symbols: father, bridegroom, rabbi, king, judge.
Why might that be? After all, in Genesis, it does say God made humans "male and female" after His own image, right? Does that mean God is a hermaphrodite?
Not so much.
We humans tend to think of everything on a physical realm because we're physical beings. However, we're also spiritual beings, having been gifted souls that are intrinsically united to our bodies. Our souls contain the neshama of God. THAT is the the part of God that makes us "like unto Him." That's the part that separates us from the rest of creation.
Since God's neshama is neither male nor female (it is simply a gift of His Being - specifically His Wisdom and Power to understand and choose good over evil), that phrase in Genesis isn't referring to a physical likeness of God. It's referring to a spiritual likeness in which humans are granted a very specific dignity.
The best way of explaining this that I've seen comes from the Catholic Patriot. He wrote:
I might not agree with all that Catholic Patriot has to say on this subject, but I think the above succinctly captures my thoughts in a better way than I could. :)
Try as we might to label God, we can't do Him justice because our minds are simply not equipped with handling it. However, we've been given little glimpses here and there of what our God deems Himself to be, so far be it from me to go against the examples He laid forth through that of His Son - and His Son's reciprocal teachings of His "Father."
In a nutshell, that is why I choose masculine pronouns.
I mean, there's also things like the Blessed Mother being daughter, spouse and mother of God as well, but that's another conversation for another time. :)
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Written by the Finger of
Little Catholic Bubble
So You're a Church Musician
There and Back Again
Make It - Love It
St. Monica's Bridge