My Writings. My Thoughts.
Jesus, and many others in Sacred Scripture suggest that our greater good, joy and happiness comes from being obedient to the Father. When we are in harmony with the person God created us to be, and when we draw closer to our Creator, we closely connect with our greatest source of happiness. Able’s brother Cain was not happy at God’s disregard for his half-hearted offering. Jacob’s son Joseph was happy obeying, even when it was not easy for him. Samson, under pressure, separated himself from God. After significant suffering, he later repents and God’s strength returns to him. Jesus prays for strength and chooses His Father’s will over his own in the Garden of Gethsemane, then saves all the world. We are invited to unite our crosses to Our Lord’s and to pray for the strength to return to him in ways great and small.
During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI offered the term “technological prometheanism”. By it, he warns that as the mythical Greek Prometheus gravely suffered after seeking a good for mankind, though without regard for moral or ethical truths, so could many suffer from certain ideologies present today. This includes ideas such as “gender freedom” where men and women supposedly are free to “choose” their gender. There is also risk of a reductionism whereby being a person is reducible only to matter, that a person is not both soul and matter. This means, for example, that our mind, as subtle and marvelous as it can be, is merely a brain with cells and firing synapses! God’s image and likeness is not present.
Pope Benedict is concerned that with a materialistic view of man, together with the great development of technology, that man becomes “deprived of his soul” and his personal relationship with the Creator is lost. Then, “what is technically possible becomes licit, each experiment is acceptable, any population policy permitted, any manipulation legitimized.”
When Pilot asks Jesus “What is truth?”, Pilot reveals an emptiness unfilled by not holding to objective values. Today, adrift in a sea of digitally-altered imagery and popular opinions pushed as “new truths”, it is difficult to know what is really solid, valuable or true. There is a “widespread lack of confidence in the truth” we are told in Fides et Ratio (#5). However, into this confusion steps BL. Pope John Paul II and his encyclical “The Splendor of Truth”. He makes two remarkable promises that fill us with hope and bring us joy. This great work may also be a source for the solutions sought to overcome the many extraordinary and complex challenges our world faces today.
The Church has honored Our Lady of Sorrows since the 13th century. What may we learn from this devotion? In short, not only may we come to understand that the Mother of God suffered during her life, but that our own suffering can have great merit. We become more like Christ and draw closer to his embrace when we “deny ourselves and take up our crosses” (Luke 9: 23). My guest, Deacon Dominic Peloso from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, shares the origin of this devotion, insights into Our Lady’s life, and the opportunities suffering can bring each of us. He also makes a connection with Our Lady’s apparitions in Kibeho, Rwanda in the 1980s. There, as in Fatima, Our Lady encourages us to pray the holy Rosary for the graces we need during our trials.
Man is always searching for meaning, including the meaning of life. Our particular orientation to life can raise different questions. If we hold to life evolving without God, right and wrong become dependent on passing things and so can change. Alternatively, for those who believe in God, we have a history that reveals God as the source of morality and in whom is goodness itself. BL John Paul II writes in The Splendor of Truth, how the rich young man asks Jesus about the good he must do to have eternal life. This beloved pope shows us that we too have these same questions about what is right and wrong, and that we somehow know they are connected with our eternal life. Lent, through its various disciplines and through the Church, presents us an opportunity to see more clearly the wonders God wishes to share.
Strength when we most need it can sometimes be elusive. We have seen how great athletes overcome great adversity by holding in their hearts a reward that goes beyond any accolade or gold medal. Common to them and to us this Lent is an opportunity to offer our efforts for a greater good, to sacrifice something we prefer for someone else. Through prayer, fasting and alms giving, we have an opportunity to draw closer to God. The result is the renewal of our strength and vitality. The champion David, in his fight against Goliath, shows us the way to do this.
In considering how some athletes go beyond many people’s expectations, we can discover a motivation greater than personal recognition or even a gold medal. Fr. Greg Haake and I discuss how these special athletes and their incredible results are often lifted by a higher good. In this lies the key. We discuss how to perform at our best under pressure, whether an athlete or worker or as one friend to another. We consider a reference in Scripture and many other practical examples to show that in selflessness lies the power to perform with greatness.
When we see athletes compete at the Olympic games, we can be amazed by the height of their achievement. But, we also know that not every athlete achieves the heights they are capable of. Furthermore, it is not simply the outcome of every sporting contest that matters, where there are winners and losers. It is a question of whether the athletes, and also you and I, bring forward all the talent that is within us, independent of our walk in life. C. S. Lewis proposes a source for greater strength and courage. We see this exhibited in the story of David’s remarkable contest with Goliath. Listeners are invited to consider the source of their talents and to solicit God’s aid for their “contests” and life.