Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Being Judgemental

The other day while flipping through the channels I came across an interviewer,who is known to be very liberal in her opinions,she was interviewing Chaz Bono formally know as Chastity Bono.
Seems he has had all the things done to her to now make her a him and he has written a book about his experiences.
Chaz mother,Cher is none to happy with this transformation and his mother is having a hard time dealing with this whole thing.
The interviewer said "I don't understand how some one like your mother could treat you the way she does,I mean hasn't she always been around gay people like fashion designers,make up and costume people? Why should she be so upset about your being gay?"
I have to hand it to Chaz his reply,in a most loving tone of voice,was "She's my mother."
I always find it funny how people who claim to be so liberal about others and their short comings are only understanding toward the short falls of those they agree with not the ones they don't.
For example this same interviewer could not understand why Donald Trumps daughter would convert and become an Orthodox Jew in order to marry her husband.
She went on to say "I can't understand why anyone would change their religion for another person,I would never do that."
You know we are all suppose to be understanding toward everyone not just the people we agree with.
The world is made up of all different kinds of people with all different kinds of personalities and lifestyles,although we may not sanction what they do,we are not to be judgemental or cruel toward anyone,be it by our words or actions.
Jesus never hated,or ridiculed the marginalized.
He understood that even when someone was living a lifestyle not conducive to the ways of his father,that did not make them a bad person,it made them confused.
That was why so many people were drawn to Jesus,he understood we all fall short of the mark,in other words we sin.
He never got upset with those who did not know better but he did get upset with those who did,like the Pharisees,or religious leaders of the day, who felt they were better then those around them and said so by their words and actions.
Jesus was our example of how to love all people
How you judge others will be how you will be judged and those of us who call ourselves Christians,will be judged in this fashion because we,like the Pharisees, know better.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Marquette University Extended Health Care Benefits For Same-Sex Domestic Partnerships

Marquette University has announced that,beginning next year,it will extend health benefits to same sex domestic partners.University spokeswoman Kate Venne said the extension is contingent upon domestic partners registering their status with the Milwaukee County clerk's office.The county started registering same-sex couples as domestic partners last year.
Venne said there are currently 13 other Jesuit Colleges and universities that offer benefits to same-sex partners..
Article in the St. Anthony Messenger..June 2011
I thought this went against Catholic Teachings?
Not sure what message they are trying to send but isn't a Catholic College suppose to adhere to Catholic Teachings?
Maybe I'm wrong?
Wouldn't be the first time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Give 150.Com

Since I was a teenager I have always been interested in the Civil War.
My interest has brought me to Washington D.C. and Gettysburg multiple times,even attending a re-enactment one July 4 weekend over 10 years ago.
My husband Vic and I have visited many of the Virgina Battlefields both great and small ones and still to this day I long to spend my free time in search of more history.
The opportunity to see such great battle sites is a blessing,but alas with technology and buildings on the rise these fields,some day in the future,may only be a fond memory.
The loss of any historic site is a loss of who we are both our good and bad.
They say those who forget their past are bound to repeat it.
If your interested in helping to keep our Civil War History sites in the hands of the preservers and not the strip mall and condo builders,then please consider going to the web site " give150.com " and for every donation you make,even one as small as a $1.50,the history channel will match you.
So if you can give up one cup of coffee in the up coming week,you can save a piece of history for future generations.
We aren't in need of another strip mall but we our in need of our past.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stereotype Attacks

Ed Shultz learned the hard way that just because you don't like what a woman says or does,does not give you the right to call her a derogatory name.
Welcome to the year 2011 and still we think calling a woman a slut,is alright,because we happen to disagree with her words or actions.
Mind you not her sexual actions but her physical and political determinations to be out spoken and heard.
Why is it this sort of behavior considered almost acceptable,especially when I'm not hearing any women's groups up in arms about this word.
I was born in the 50's and raised into the years of the 70's,when this sort of thing would have been denounced by both the young men and women of that time.
Women's Liberation was suppose to help educate and eradicate this sort of mistreatment of women making us equal in respect to men.
But alas when ever a woman is not soft spoken or quite they must be a slut.
Seems judging women on how they dress or act is alright,especially if the woman is an outspoken conservative,like a Sarah Palin.
Who by the way was referred to as a "slutty stewardess" among other things.
Are you outspoken? opinionated? and a female? then you must be a "bitch".
Several weeks ago a friend of mine asked me why so many women in the Bible are prostitutes,they don't seem to be given much respect.
This question struck home because I too also felt this way until I began to spend more time reading the words of Jesus and understood that women,at that time,were not treated well by there society and second Jesus loved the marginalized.
Weather or not these women were really prostitutes or just the strong out spoken women of their day is not clear,but what is clear is Jesus never used degrading terms when he spoke with them and he helped them see the best of themselves,in return these women where loyal followers who helped spread his words to others.
I reminded my friend that when Jesus was crucified women stood at the foot of his cross and when he rose from the dead women were the first to see him.
Hopefully in the future,with more women now going to college then men,this attitude of strong will and leadership will change over time,and we will find other terms to use when disagreements arise.
Sometimes just because something is in your brain does not mean it should be instantly allowed out of your mouth,especially when personal attacks are related to gender and stereotypes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Being A Good Shepard

Those of us who belong to churches,understand the importance of a good pastor.
The person who chooses to lead a parish also knows that what they teach and say holds great weight in the minds of their congregation.
Many times in the Bible Jesus warns us to be cautious of the leaders we choose to follow,he tells us that the time will come when those we think are trusted leaders, acting like Shepard's,will really be wolves in sheep's clothing.
Jesus knew that there would always be so called religious leaders trying to mislead and scam those who want desperately to believe and lead a good life.
The world is a dark place and many are drawn to the light,but not all light is equal in brightness.
Followers want to believe that those who speak the words of God,speak truth,but some speak only their truth.
Just because someone preaches biblical words,in the front of a congregation does not mean they speak honestly.
We as church people,like any good consumer,need to be smart enough to know what goods are being sold to us.
To many leaders are out to enrich their lives not yours.
A preacher who lives a million dollar lifestyle and takes advantage of the trust and money of the poor,innocent or misguided of the world,will on the day of judgement, be called to answer,not only for their mismanagement but also for the loss of another person essence and spirit.
So how do you choose a good leader ?
First compare what you are being taught with what the Bible says,things taken out of context are only half truths.
Never be afraid to ask as many questions as you can,a good leader will always be willing to help you find truth or lead you in the right direction for your answers.
If you feel uncomfortable about what you are being taught or it doesn't sound Jesus like,then leave the church and rethink why your sitting in this particular church's pew.
A church should be a place of love and your minister or priest a spiritual leader,who encourages not only your religious growth but your soul's maturity.

A Wedding Of Fate

It is believed in the Jewish faith that God is the ultimate match maker and until the moment is right we are pushed away from our future partners,then when all is in place,the hand of fate nudges us into position.
Yesterday was such a day.
12 years ago the nursing nursing home I worked for finished closing their doors and I was transferred to one of their other facilities.
At that time I was a nurses aid and came to work under a head nurse named Mary.
We both hit it off very well and soon began to confide in each other.
One day she told me how she was married to a Seven Days Adventist Teacher,had three grown children and spent most of her married life traveling with her husband from school to school,as they were in need of good teachers in their Adventist Schools System.
This constant transferring of her husband made married life difficult and with her children grown the idea of settling in one place grew greater in her heart.
Finlay the time came when they mutually agreed they could no longer live this life style together.
Mary wanted to just settle down and grow a garden,which she could watch expand and flourish year by year.
Since she had a married daughter living in Webster and there were job openings at the local nursing home,she decided to jump at the chance for stability.
We continued our conversation with her telling me she had just ended a long distant relationship with a Seven Days Adventist School Principle,whom she had been friends with for many years and was feeling a bit lonely now.
I jokingly said "Mary you seem to like school teachers,if your interested I have a brother in law who is a school teacher who just ended a bad marriage and although he's very shy,I think you'd like him."
She agreed and with in months they went on their first date and became inseparable, from then on.
Yesterday,after 11 years,they decided to tie the knot and become man and wife.
At a quite little restaurant in Pomfret,Conn.with Friends and family not only in attendance but in participation,they did just that
This is the first wedding I have ever attended where the bride and grooms' family were both on personal relationships with each other.
At the moment of saying "I do" and being made husband and wife an entire room of people became relatives,as if a satin bow of love had been tied around each and every one of us
Funny how life is,as I was talking to the brides daughter,I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit,as if the warmth of the sunlight shining through the windows was falling down upon us and filling our hearts with completeness,like this was always meant to be,the time was right and the hand of fate was ready.
This family marriage ceremony started with Reverend Rice,a cousin of the bride,officiating,the organist,a granddaughter,playing the entrance music,the bride on the arm of her brother,soloist music by another granddaughter,gospile passage reading by the groom brother and the male attendents and brides maids all children of both future husband and wife.
It was truly a uniting and as we Orthodox and Seven Days Adventist stood together,side by side, it was as if the East was meeting the West to form an extended horizon through out time and space,from present to future.
The minister spoke of a day in history,May 22,1908,when a young bride named Mary married a dashing groom called William and these two were to become the present day grandparents of this particular Mary.
So congratulation to the new couple married May 22,2011 also named William and Mary.
Once again the hand of God,the ultimate match maker,has united another couple in love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Degrees Of Sin

When I was a Catholic it was taught to me that sin could be divided into two groups,mortal and venial.
Venal being the little white lies,sins that are bad but not terrible,they might send you to purgatory but you'll be forgiven for them in the end.
Then there are Mortal sins those that could give you a direct ticket into hell unless you repented and asked for real forgiveness.
The Orthodox Religion sees no difference,sin is sin no matter how small or how great,its all the same.
Sin distances us from God,mankind and our selves.
This week in Bible Study we are reading James,the brother of Jesus,in chapter 2:10-11
he says:"For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point,he is guilty of all".
"For he who said do not commit adultery also said do not murder".
What this all means is when you commit a minor sin you are just as guilty as if you transgressed on a more powerful sin.
How can adultery be equal to murder,you may ask?
In order to commit adultery one or both of you must be married and when you have an adulterous relationship,you are dragging not only your own body into this union,but also your unknowing spouse and children.
On the day a person is married they are made as one body,when you do evil with your body you are also dragging your married half into the affair,with you thus stealing their ness.
Now ness is a person's very make up,what makes then who they are,their knowledge of themselves.
Committing adultery is being made less because now you have soiled your partners very being of who they thought they were.
Like the spouse of a faithful loving person,who is trust able and above reproach.
Your act has caused the death of a vowed relationship,the admiration and trust of your children,even before its brought to the light.
All sin is an abomination in the eyes of God.
Lying and cheating,no matter if done for good intentions,is still wrong.
The Ten Commandments were set up to help people understand that if you treat others properly then you will not commit any of these transgressions,because when you love someone you look out only for their well being.
Sin is sin.
There is no distinction,every sin wounds our closeness to God,we move just a few more steps away from him by our own choice.
Most sins are caused by our personal needs,like the seven deadly sins,our own ness choices to be inflated and those around us,are just articles used to gain another step up the ladder of ego,pride,sloth and self absorption.
Do all things with a mind to what you are truly doing,even the simple slips like white lies can cause pain to those you are not intentionally trying to wound.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rapture.. May 21,2011 ?

The end of the world is coming!..we'll at least that's what I've heard.
Seems May 21,2011 is the day of rapture when 144,000 people will be brought up into the heavens and the rest of us will remain here wondering what just happened.
Now out of all the billions of people living in the world 144,000 seems like an awful small minority to me.
Kind of like going to the casino and winning the really big jack pot.. you know the one that if you stay at the casino for 10 hours the numbers just keep adding up.
With that said,I am not getting my hopes up to high that I will be one of those people,so I guess my life goes on just as it should with the thought of continuing to work on my spiritual life a little every day and most likely each day will bring me one step closer to my own judgement day.
The Orthodox Church is not a believer of the rapture and since they don't believe neither do I,seems like they've been studying this whole religious thing since the times of the apostles and they have a better knowledge of this whole rapture thing then I do.
On the day that God decided to create what we now call Earth,he did not take the time to ask me what my opinion was on creation and how he was to carry it out,now that the end may be near,I'm thinking he's not concerned about my ideas on how to call it quits.
We all think we're so important that God him self would care to inform us of his plans.
Funny since the time of the early Christian Church,people have been trying to tell us when the world will end.
See the issue is even Jesus said he didn't know the day of judgement and since Jesus was not allowed such privileged information why would any mortal man,or woman think they would be better advised.
Our job here on this planet is not to worry or wonder about such things,but just be spiritually ready every day like the watchman before the dawn.
We are to love our God and our neighbor,everything else remains in God hands.
With that said if all works out,and I'm sure it will,I'll see you on may 22nd and we can all have a nice Sunday here on this side.
But if it doesn't ..well silly me guess I was wrong..wouldn't be the first time..

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Universal Monastics

Back in the days of the Feudal Lords,during the time of the Dark Ages,A rich person would buy up great tracks of land for serfs to work,farm and live on.
When harvest time came and the crops were sold,the towns people would pay the land owner his fee and he in turn would protect the village from those of the outside world who may do them harm.
At this point and time in history many monasteries were built,the land owner would agree to have monks come to their property and set up their Buildings and in return the Feudal Lord would pay for the support and upkeep of both monastery and monks.
Like today,some landlords were good and some were not.
Back in this period most people never left their homes or traveled father then a neighboring village,everyone,including the monks,would live out their entire life in this one community.
It was very easy,back then to entice men and women into these growing monasteries and convents,since most people felt the outside world was dark and dangerous,they had few choices in their village,either you were a working serf or a monastic.
Today we are a very different people indeed.
Most of us have traveled to many places and may have lived in different homes in multiple states or even countries.
We are no longer a stationary group living in one town or doing one job for the rest of our natural days.
opportunities abound all around us,all we have to do is go and meet them.
Most people have no issues with getting into their car and driving off some where every day for no special reason,other then because they want to.
We live a fast paced life with many worldly choices around us on an hourly basis.
The idea of a person giving their life up for one idea is becoming very foreign to us.
This is a throw away society,if we don't like were we are or who we're with,we leave.
Jobs,marriages,families you name it and we know how to dispose of it.
The idea of people going off to be monks or nuns has become less and less of an attraction.
Its hard to decide to turn away from all that the world has to offer and lock ones self up in a building filled with prayer and rules,a place were self importance is on the bottom,rather then the top of our list.
We have now become the Feudal Lords,not the serfs.
With that said,many people today are becoming more turned off by what the world has to offer them,an overload of materialism but very little spiritualism.
Some are now turning their own homes into a sort of personal monastery.
Most of us live in the world of jobs,families and friends but are becoming more aware of our need to get closer to God on a more personal level.
I know of people who have set up,in their homes,small prayer areas in an attempt to get farther from the secular and close to the spiritual.
These people may not know it,but they are a growing trend and some monasteries are embracing this idea,allowing these small clusters of people to join into their monastic groups.
When St. Francis of Assisi was alive he and his followers traveled around the villages,embracing this rule based worldly monastery.
He once said "The world is my cloister,my body my cell and my spirit my hermit."
Many people today understand that a need for more discipline in a religious life is necessary,that we,as Jesus said are in the world but not of the world,unfortunately most of us have come to this realization after establishing a career and family,making running off to a monastery not in our future.
What to do?
I am in the process of reading a book written by the musician John Michael Talbert called "The Universal Monk",about his own hermitage in Arkansas,who are now embracing this concept.
They have allowed outside people living in communities all over the world,to join this new monastic idea.
With this comes an understanding that you may be of any religious denomination but you must be willing to follow the rules laid out by their Catholic Community,most of which are Benedictine in nature.
Becoming a member of this group is a lifetime commitment and can not be taken lightly,even vows before the community are required.
It is not a throw away idea which can be discarded on a whim,it requires full daily dedication and challenges.
The difficulty of this idea is you remain in the secular world and must be self motivated,its not like living in an organized daily functioning group where every one has the same daily regime.
Back in the days of the desert fathers and mothers,it was believed that the evil of the world lived in the dessert,so these people were not running from evil they were really running toward it.
Today this idea is that those who live in the world fight evil every day and we are not running from the wickedness of the world but toward it,like a candle light in a darkened room,we emit our glow.
Those who embrace this new idea of personal monasticism,living on the daily front lines are like the desert parents of old.
This new life style is one of great challenge and can not be entered into lightly,just has a novice spends many years being discouraged by the abbot,before being allowed to be a monk,so we must understand that such a lifestyle takes much time to see if we are truly called to a deeper religious conviction.
Every day is a trial and not every day will be a success,but one day at a time will win us the discipline we need to get ever closer to our goal of conversion,or change,thus making us more Jesus like in our faith and actions.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Loss Of A Community Church

Thursday evening,at our community meal,a friend came to me with great anxiety about the possible closing of her church,St. Hedwig in Southbridge.
The vote was coming that evening and she,like a child learning of her parents decision of possible disillusion,was very upset.
Sunday afternoon the answer was given to me,that their fate had been sealed and they were to be a discontinued church.
Now it is very easy when its not your parish to become flip about such judgements and see it as a much needed necessity,which unfortunately,it is.
The problem here is the people who now face the greatest sadness are the ones who put the most time and faith into their parish,not the ones who only came to service twice a year and almost needed a map or gps to find the building.
It is with great sadness that I have come to a point in my life were the need to close so many churches is a reality.
Lack of interest in what was,for some,a childhood religion,is a sad future.
We no longer have time,not even one morning a week,to walk into a church and make contact with God and neighbors,in worship.
The demise of a church,for some people,may also be the ending of their own faith as Satan helps increase their feelings of loss of trust in established religion.
Now I know all the reasons why a church needs to close and the biggest unfortunately is membership and financial loss.
Jesus said "when ever 2 or more are gathered in my name so am I" but I guess that idea doesn't work when your trying to pay the bills on a religious building.
This is the second church where I have had a personal knowledge of the good people,who are trying their hardest,to maintain and keep a dedicated relationship with God and man.
I guess all the good works of a single church can not save it when its on a life line.
The death of anyone or anything is always sad,but sometimes personal losses help us to move in new directions.
We at St. Micheal Orthodox Church,need to step up and be the good neighbor,by making ourselves ever ready to console and assist when needed.
The one thing St. Hedwig taught our church was,charity to neighborhood,by showing us how to set up and run our most successful community meals.
They were kind and patient with us and like an older sibling gave the encouragement we needed to assist and succeed in our new mission.
Now our time has come to pay back our neighbor during their time of loss.
Pope John Paul said something about the Catholic Faith and Orthodox Faith being like the right and left lung in a person body,working together we are strong and healthy.
When ever a Catholic or Orthodox Church is put in a position of having to close their doors,we as a united Christian Faith become just a little less strong and the world around us a little more sick.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden/Holy Wars

Yesterday,while at work,the news came to me that Osama Bin Laden,was indeed deceased.
First off may I inject great work to the American Military Elite Forces,who understood and successfully carried out this most distasteful of missions.
With that said after several moments of adulation a form of sadness filled my heart.
First for all the people who suffered at the hands of this misled tyrant and so called religious militant and secondly for Bin Laden,who fooled not only his followers but also himself.
The death of anyone is a sad thing,more so for the innocent then the guilty,true,but sad none the less.
What drives a person to do such terrible acts to those around him and in foreign lands,is a question we will never understand,but his delusion,quite frankly,was nothing less then "sick".
Worse yet is the idle belief that such things are sanctioned by God.
Since God is love he can not endorse evil of any kind,no matter which side.
We are all his children and as such he does not encourage discord between us.
But because we humans are fallen in nature we try to use the name of God for approval of our negative and incorrect actions of wars and killings.
The third of the Ten Commandments,brought down from the mount,by Moses,to the people of God,which now includes us,states: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain."
In our western mind we understand this to mean getting angry and saying God name while cursing or speaking profanity,what we in this country consider swearing.
But this third commandment has a deeper meaning,missed by us today,and that is do not bind,or tie in the name of God with an act unGod like,in order to make it seem honest or more righteous.
Since God is love,his name can not be linked to evil acts even if the doers feel they are justified.
The Crusaders of the 1200's,where told by Pope Urban that the war they needed to fight was to obtain the Holy Lands and bring Jerusalem back to the Christian world,he encouraged these followers to fight by telling them it was a noble act sanctioned by God himself.
This,unfortunately,proved to be untrue.
Those who fought to reclaim the Holy Lands,found out the hard way that as the atrocities mounted the good ideals of the first Crusaders waned and evil took over.
Don't get me wrong,not all wars are bad but all evil,selfish,self centered acts are.
Back in the times of the Old Testament to swear meant to make a vow to what could mean the ending of your very life.
To swear in the name of God,brought the Almighty's name onto an earthly level as if,in some way, God were equal with and sanctioning your earthly vow making it seem more justified and truthful.
During the time of Moses,God name was so sacred mere mortals were not even allowed to speak it and to swear by it was to show disrespect for such sacredness.
In the Epistle of James 5:12 he says:
But above all bretheren,do not swear,either by heaven or earth or with any other oath.But let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no," "no".less you fall into judgement.
What James is saying is swearing does not make what we say truthful nor our integrity better only God knows whats in a person heart and he is the judge of each of us.
No war is ever holy,though in the face of wickedness some seem more just then others.
Bin Laden had 10 years to make himself right with this country and turn himself in.
His war,like Pope Urbans,was neither holy nor sanctioned by the Almighty.
We all have free will.
If your hiding out and some one comes to arrest you,you can give in and be incarcerated or you can grab a gun and give up your life.
I do not feel good or bad that he is gone,because there are more deluded,evil people waiting in line to take his place,happy to swear by the name of God and kill more innocent people.
True the families of his victims can now feel some sense of justice and maybe even some closure but there will always be another Bin Laden and evil will always crop up because we are a fallen world.
Gandhi once said "evil never last",I think yesterday proved his point.