Friday, August 29, 2014

Look Before You Leap

As I look back on my years growing up in a very rural community, I remember the faithful admonition of my mother “Look Before You Leap”.  Every time my brothers or I were about to engage in a controversial conversation or activity, we were told “look before you leap”!  Certainly at 13 years old I had no real concept of what that meant, and what the heck did mom really know anyhow; but now, looking back and applying some of the life experiences that at times were thrust upon me rather than a casual brush with a simple education, I have a much clearer and somewhat colorful picture of her warning and my lack of obtaining the correct information.

Most recently I have, in puzzlement, watched as usually good people, become violators of one of the basic rules of the Judeo-Christian mindset; you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16 NASB); just because they ‘read it on the internet’, so it must be true.

More specifically, the recent attack on the Roman Catholic Church and the claims of how horrible their doctrine is has caught my eye.  While I will admit I do not agree with some of Catholic doctrine, I am hard pressed to point a finger and claim that Evangelical Christianity or Orthodox Judaism – or any other group are better and have no faults.

In Judaism, we are warned against lashon hora (the evil tongue) and are taught not to be part of spreading rumors, even if the subject matter is true.  Christianity teaches a similar lesson in the Gospel teachings of Jesus: Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?(Matthew 7:3 NASB).  If I can be so bold as to paraphrase ‘who do you think you are?  You’re not so perfect yourself’!  If you personally don’t know the facts, stop pretending you do!

Did you know that some Evangelical Churches and Organizations (from where the complaints and indictments are coming from) approve of same sex marriage?  Did you know that some Evangelical Churches and Organizations allow women to teach, preach and pastor?  Did you know that some Evangelical Churches and Organizations will not teach against …..well many things Catholics are put down for, are taking place in the Evangelical Churches and Organizations.  If you honestly believe that Catholic Priests are the only clergy that have committed sexual acts against children, you haven’t been paying attention in the Christian Youth Groups.

Before you decide to pass along what someone has posted on the internet, check it out.  Before you decide to take a stand against the Catholic Church or any other religious organization, find out what they really believe, not what you think they believe or what someone has told you.  And finally, if you really want to take a stand against Catholic practices and traditions (you have the right to do that), stop doing them in your life!

  • ·      Eating fish on Fridays began as a Catholic tradition – and most restaurants that you eat at (and order clam chowder on Friday) follow that tradition.
  • ·      Christmas and Easter, were started by the Catholic Church
  • ·      Communion, as we know it today, was started by the Catholic Church – even if other churches have changed some of the words and manner of distribution.  (no, Jesus didn’t start communion, he was celebrating the Passover Seder)
  • ·      The Catholic Church gave us Liturgy which in modern churches is called ‘order of worship’ (which is really a Jewish term, but that’s a subject for a future writing)
  • ·      The calendar we use today was introduced by Pope Gregory VIII, of the Catholic Church

At this point I can hear the cries of anguish from those who truly believe that they would never participate in a Catholic practice or tradition!  Oh really?

·      looking guy or website, is not trueIf you want to know about Catholic Doctrine and traditions, go to the Catholic Catechism, not an Evangelical writer who is trying to sell books.

Look Before You Leap – if you don’t, you might find yourself being embarrassed by facts rather than speculations.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Don’t Wait!

Robin Williams died yesterday; all of the news programs, the newspapers, blogs, tweets and many Facebook ‘statuses’ are relating the tragic end of a comedic genius.  And the question is asked over and over “why didn’t someone see what was happening and stop it”?

Well the truth of the matter is that if a person truly wants to live or die, they will find a way to make that happen.  Mr. Williams found a way to die.

"You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.— Dame Cicely Saunders

It appears that Mr. Williams didn't feel that he mattered any longer…..oh how wrong he was!  He leaves behind a wife, children, friends, coworkers and some clergy who knew him well….or at least they thought so.  Could this tragedy have been stopped if one of those people stepped in and acted?  Possibly… but only if Mr. Williams wanted to live with and through the personal torments that the media is now reporting.

What to do then, when a friend, a coworker or a family member seems to be in the depths of depression?  Is it inevitable that they will end their life at their own hand; or can we intervene and get them the help that they need? 

Unfortunately, we humans have developed that “I don’t want to interfere” attitude, which actually is an “I don’t care enough” attitude.  If we cared enough, we wouldn't worry about making a scene or looking foolish or being accused of not minding our own business.  We would “get involved” and “get them some help”

Depression is a real thing!  I've experienced it and you've experienced it.  It comes upon us for many reasons. Sometimes it drives a person to consider ‘ending it all’, but generally we live on and often help is obtained and once again we discover, to quote Bishop Sheen, “life is worth living”.  And sometimes it only takes a friend, someone that will just listen, someone who truly cares and does not judge, but remembers “there but for the grace of God, go I”

I visited a friend today.  I should have visited sooner and more often, but I let the events of my life take priority over his failing health.  I even feel guilty calling myself his friend, as a true friend would not have let it go this far.  A true friend would have made the time.  My friend will not end his life at his own hand, but he does need a better friend in me.

It was sad to see my friend in the state that he was….losing his eyesight and speech, not able to move about freely.  I found myself hanging on his every difficultly pronounced word; not out of duty, but because I truly wanted to hear my friend and his thoughts.  You see, he is a genius too.  An engineer who was an expert in his field; a family man with a dedicated wife and daughter and many friends.  One thing he said today that has struck me tonight: “I wouldn't wish this disease on my worst enemy”.  He also told me how his wife was such a blessing from Heaven.  In his suffering he found time to put things in perspective.
Why these two men in my story?  Because Mr. Williams and my friend both needed truly dedicated friends.  Their families needed help from outside the family.  A kind word, a phone call, a warm hand or a smile will go a long way for someone who is suffering, regardless if it’s from mental or physical impairment.
Who do you know that is suffering from some difficulty?  Are you willing to pick up the phone and call them?  Are you willing to make sure they understand you are there for them?  Will you give them a kind word of encouragement, a warm hand, a listening ear?  Will you be a real friend before it is too late?