Tag Archives: anger

The Luminous Mysteries

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday was a challenging day. The beginning of the semester is always hectic, and I end up running on just four or five hours of sleep each day. Not even a Starbucks triple espresso could help me much this morning.

Driving to campus, my anger, fatigue, and frustration from work and other life events became too much. What to do?

I tried spontaneous prayer, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Someone told me once to recite the Our Father or Hail Mary prayer in such times. The key to recited prayers is to say it with all your heart, though — “say it like you mean it.”

So I prayed the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. During rush-hour traffic, my mind and heart were taken away to a higher place, above the hustle and bustle of daily life. I no longer focused on being at a standstill on the highway and possibly arriving late for class. The holy power of the Rosary lifted me above all that.

I’d like to share with you some of the thoughts and meditations that I had while praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary this morning.

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1. The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan River – Fruit of the Spirit: Openness to the Holy Spirit

This really set the tone for the Mysteries. It humbled me and caused me to examine my anger and frustration issues. Why was I letting petty things get the best of me? Don’t I have the Holy Spirit in me?

Even Jesus, the Son of God, is baptized. The Scriptures say that the Holy Spirit came down like a dove upon Him (Matthew 3:16). God was showing me that I had to let go of control; He is Lord and, until I surrender to Him, I will continue to be frustrated and angry at the little things in life — and everything is little in God’s eyes.

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2. The Wedding Feast at Cana – Fruit of the Spirit: Fidelity

I particularly love this Mystery because it shows Mary’s maternal bond with Jesus. The wedding feast at Cana is where Jesus performs His first miracle of His ministry; and, at first, He tells his mother that it isn’t time yet. But, how could he refuse his beloved mother? At her request, Jesus changes the water into wine so that the wedding party could continue (because what is a wedding reception without wine?).

Interestingly, Mary tells the attendants to “do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5) This opened my eyes and forced me to examine my heart. Are there any areas of my life in which sin still dominates? What do I need to do to get rid of it? Fidelity means being true to your spouse; Christ wants our full loyalty and not just part of it.

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3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God – Fruit of the Spirit: Desire for Holiness

For me, this is the high point of the Luminous Mysteries. Jesus’ ministry is in full swing, and it’s now time for Him to announce to the world that God’s Kingdom has come! What a glorious image.

One thing I love about the Rosary is that it is meditative: I can picture Jesus among the people, His dusty sandals leaving prints on the ground, the murmur of the townspeople as they marvel at His words, and the sun beating down on His flesh.

I’m reminded of the Good News of the Scriptures and how God has called me to be one of His children. I desire what The Lord desires, and we become one.

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4. The Transfiguration – Fruit of the Spirit: Spiritual Courage

This Mystery somehow reminds me of Jesus driving out the moneychangers from the temple (Matthew 21:12), displaying the fire of righteous anger and zeal for His Father. When Christ is transfigured before the eyes of three of His apostles, it is a dazzling and radiant event that they would never forget.

The fruit of the Spirit compels me to view my trials and tribulations in light of the transfiguration (no pun intended). When someone opposes me or sets out to cause me harm for whatever reason, I must remember that the Devil is at war with God, and that unseen warfare also plays out in the material world. Seeing the bigger picture is comforting and takes the focus off myself.

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5. The Institution of the Holy Eucharist – Fruit of the Spirit: Love of Our Eucharistic Lord

What would my faith be without the Holy Eucharist: the body and blood of Christ? If it weren’t for Jesus offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for me, then everything that I believe would be in vain; life would be meaningless.

Christ is always present in the Eucharist and desires to help us. However, we must allow him to do so. Revelation 3:20 essentially says that we must make the decision to let Jesus heal us.

By this point in the Mysteries, my batteries are fully charged and I’m ready to stop my “woe is me” whining. Jesus came to set the captives free. Prayer and meditation on these Mysteries allow me to let Him set me free.

Final Thoughts

Of course, prayer, whether it be vocal, meditative, or contemplative, isn’t the same as chanting a magic spell and seeing the immediate effect appear before your eyes. If God doesn’t answer, it doesn’t mean He is ignoring you or is indifferent to your problems and concerns. God has a reason for everything that He does.

So, if you’re feeling F.I.N.E.* (faithless, insecure, neurotic, emotional), stop for a moment and pray. If you can’t bring yourself to pray, then at least think about everything in your life that you’re thankful for. We should all count our blessings.

~t

*title of an Aerosmith song


Pride Comes Before a Fall

Credit: David Lazar

The title of this post is a common saying. It’s so common that a lot of people don’t know that it’s from the Bible (Proverbs 16:18). For instance, this online dictionary doesn’t mention any biblical source: It’s merely referred to as an idiom in the English language.

All of the verses in the Book of Proverbs are awesome, and we need to apply them to our lives. However, verse 18 of chapter 16 (“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”) is one that I consider extremely important — a key in maintaining my faith and humility in order to stay close to God.

A minister at a certain Protestant-based church that I used to attend taught me the acronym KISS. No, the minister wasn’t a fan of the rock group of the same name (at least not that I knew of). It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” Now, stupid isn’t a very polite word. We don’t let our kids say it. However, I’ve heard variations of it at work and even in my parish such as “keep it simple, silly” or “keep it short and simple.” (The latter sort of adds more meaning to it, so I don’t particularly like that one. But if you do, then that’s totally cool.)

I’m mentioning all this because “pride comes before a fall” is one of those wise sayings in the Bible that is in line with the KISS philosophy. And, wouldn’t you know it, those are the things that I tend to forget all about when push comes to shove in my spiritual life.

I’ve been doing well (i.e. abstaining from mortal sin, praying, going to Mass every Sunday, et cetera). So well that I actually thought that I was invincible against certain types of sin: lust, anger, and gossip to name a few.

I was under an illusion. The Evil One is always at work, scheming up ways to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). Spiritual warfare rages on every day, every hour, every minute. Angels and demons are going head-to-head right now all around me as I type (and all around you as you’re reading). This Present Darkness is a good book that illustrates this biblical concept.

I’ve finished the first week of the fall semester at my job, and, while it was hectic, things went fairly well. I didn’t realize that my prayer time was going downhill. I had been praying a little less than usual, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was still in the mindset, though, that I was winning the battle against the darkness; never mind the fact that I was becoming more susceptible to temptation and outright sin.

If you’ve kept up with my posts, you’ll know that my wife is basically a non-practicing Buddhist/Shintoist (I’ll let you think on that for a second). She’s cool with my being Catholic. The only issue that we stay away from is abortion; although we agree to disagree on this subject, it still comes up from time to time. So, like the bumper sticker says, we “coexist.”

Anyway, we were driving to the park this morning, and my wife, Ayako, was telling me about a recent situation she had with a Christian friend named Molly. They were standing near a pond, and Molly told her son to get away from the edge because she didn’t want him to fall in. Her son said, “I won’t fall in.”

Ayako tried to remember what Molly said in reply. “She said something like ‘If you’re too confident, you’ll fall in too easily’ I think.”

After a moment, I said, “Oh, you mean ‘pride comes before a fall.'”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Because it’s from the Bible. It’s really famous.” I changed the subject to something else, quickly forgetting about that verse from Proverbs.

Little did I know that God was giving me one last chance to repent before He would humble me.

Sure enough, later in the day, my house of cards collapsed. I found myself plunged into various types of sin that, just a week ago, thought that I was above and too good for.

Broken and troubled, I turned to prayer. Not the superficial kind that I had been practicing, but the real, honest, gut-check kind.

I heard God’s whisper in my heart almost immediately: Pride comes before a fall.

Boy, does it.

How could I have been so bone-headed?

Because you’re human. Now get back up and continue the race.

I felt like I had finally pulled my head out of the ground where it had been stuck for the past few weeks. What an amazing feeling.

It’s even more amazing to be reminded about God’s love for us. He was giving me signs that I thought didn’t pertain to me. He allowed me to fall in order for me to learn my lesson. When I came to my senses, God was waiting with open arms.

In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus tells how God will always forgive us, no matter how badly we mess up (Luke 15:11-32). After the son squanders his inheritance and reaches rock bottom, he decides to go back to his father:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

~t


Paranoia, Rage, and T-ball

Since Independence Day is a few days from now, I thought I would post this little non-fiction piece about our national pastime that I originally wrote in spring 2012.

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I attended my son’s first T-ball game this past weekend.  I wanted to look over the email attachment of rules that the coach had sent me so I would know what was going on.  How much different could it be than regular baseball?

The rulebook turned out to be 41 pages.

Forget This.  I’ll learn as I go.

Since I teach some night classes, I’m not able to attend practices, so this was my first time to see the coaches and my 5-year-old son’s teammates.  Too anxious to sit, I paced back and forth, waiting for the game to start.

Being from the Midwest, I decided to wear my St. Louis Cardinals cap.  I unknowingly drew attention to myself since it was Rangers country and most parents and several coaches sported the red and blue apparel with the cool-looking “T’ on it.

It wouldn’t be the only time I would draw attention to myself.

Looking around at the other parents, it seemed I was the only male at the game who wasn’t:

1) a Harley rider;

2) a (wanna-be) gangbanger; or

3) a macho bodybuilder.

“I don’t think I fit in here.  Maybe I should have stayed at home and graded essays,” I whispered to my wife.

“You stay here.  Support your son!” my petite wife replied, not bothering to look at me.

Lord, I can’t do this.  Everyone is staring at me.  They all hate me.  I couldn’t get the paranoid thoughts out of my head.  Satan was attacking me with everything he had.

When the game started, our team took the field.   My son started at third base (each inning the kids switch to a different position)and I had to tell him not to stand on the actual base.  No big deal; it was their first game after all.

The first batter hit a bouncer (off the tee) to the pitcher.  The pitcher stopped the ball with his foot and picked it up, but then he just stood there.

“Throw.  The ball.  To first,” I growled to myself through clenched teeth.

“Good job, good job!” said the Harley biker dude, one of the assistant coaches.

Good job?!  He didn’t even attempt to make the play at first!  I thought.

Since all the balls usually don’t make it past the pitcher (it is T-ball after all)I was surprised when a batter on the other team hit one to the second baseman.  The fielder scooped it up and proceeded to throw the runner out.

Awesome!  This is more like it.

The second baseman did indeed throw the ball, but he threw it to third base for some unknown reason.  There wasn’t even a runner on that side of the diamond. 

“Come on!” I growled again.  A few people turned around.

My wife elbowed me.  “They’re only 5 years old!  Settle down.”

This time the dude with the drooping shorts and the Jesus is my Homeboy T-shirt clapped and shouted, “It’s OK!  Nice try!”

Why the is everyone being so darn nice?  These kids need training!

A few innings later (T-ball only has 4 innings), my son hit a grounder that made it all the way into center field.  I relaxed, a smile plastered across my face.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next.

The next batter got a base hit, meaning my son had to advance to second base.  He just stood there, though, picking his ear.

I jumped out of my folding chair like it was in flames.  “RUN!!  MICHAEL, RUN!!”

I’m not sure who else was urging my son to run to second; my voice drowned out all the others, so I didn’t know.  All I remember was that I unknowingly deputized myself as a coach.

“MICHAEL, RUN!!  *@#%*&$!!”

The game came to a standstill as everyone turned to me.  It was as if a pedophile had just walked onto the field buck naked.  Biker couples clad in U.S. flag bandanas and trailer people with mullets and faded Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts covered their kids’ ears.  Athletic muscleheads who could have thrown me like a javelin glared with contempt.

If T-ball had an umpire, I would have probably been banished from the sports complex for the rest of my life. 

I learned a lot about being judgmental that day.  I, the college instructor/ Christian in the polo shirt, cargo shorts, and Birkenstocks, turned out to be the true menace to society.

Luckily next weekend is picture day for the team, so I’ll just lie low and send my wife.  By the time the next game rolls around, hopefully everyone will have forgotten what happened.

Yeah, right.  And I’ll be pitching for the Yankees next season, too.

~topaz