Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Thought

‘O, how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.  I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.”  Psalm 119:97-99

Because of St. Paul’s words (“You are not under law; you are under grace”), Christians do not typically spend much time “meditating” on the Law.  We have been conditioned to believe that while the Law is nice to know and important to learn for context, the Law is not really who we are.  More is the pity. 

It seems to me that because we have so removed ourselves from the need or even the desire to know – let alone “meditate” on – the Law, we have completely removed our Teacher from His appropriate context and have assigned Jesus supernatural power independent of the Holy God.  We fail to understand Jesus’ very words and lessons that are actually expositions and expressions of the Law and how that Law practically applies to discipleship and the people of faith even today. 

The words of the psalmist, however, must be engaged.  We can surely see as the writer sees that the Law is much more than list of ten “thou shalt not’s” – but only if we “meditate” on the WHOLE Word, not just some of them.  The Lord, “through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies”.  We learn from the Law in a very real way, a life-giving and life-sustaining way.  And this, it should be clear from Christian theology, is our Holy Father’s ultimate desire for His people.

The Law is clearly for us; not against us.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Thought

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven, Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.  They continue this day according to Your ordinances, for all are Your servants.”  Psalm 119:89-91

The Word may well be “forever” settled in heaven, but down here the only thing the Church can seem to agree on is that there was a man named Jesus and that He was murdered.  Beyond this the Church (that is, all believers) seems concerned not with reconciling ourselves with the Word but rather dismissing the Word as antiquated, not applicable to “me”.  Whether we are talking about restrictions on what we should eat, sexuality issues, worship attendance, or tithing; we are much more concerned with what we don’t have to do and not so concerned with what we are privileged to do.

Discipleship is about following the Lord faithfully, learning more from Him each day, and seeking to get closer to Him, hungrily pursuing holiness of heart and mind.  How can it be, then, that the psalmist (presumably among the Lord’s faithful) “loves the Law”, but modern-day Christians actively and publicly show disdain for the Law (public acts which separate the faithful from the not-so-faithful) … and then wonder why an unbelieving world does not take us or our faith or our witness seriously?!  They do not see our fidelity; they hear our excuses … ostensibly in the name of grace!

Rather than seeking ways to distance ourselves from the WHOLE Word, we should be seeking to enter into the whole Word just as Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Whole Word.  Rather than finding excuses to separate ourselves from the Whole Word (based, incidentally, strictly on the opinions of St. Paul), we should be seeking ways to incorporate the Whole Word into our lives.

Whole = complete = perfect = sanctification = holy.  This should be our story; this should be our song.  This must be our living before it can ever be our witness.


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Thought

“My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word.  My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’  For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, yet I do not forget Your statutes.”  Psalm 119:81-83

It is hard not to be dismayed in an honest reading of Scripture and an earnest search of the soul because the biblical standards we are called to seem impossible to live up to.  Yet this is what the faithful is called to, and I think this is the dilemma the psalmist finds himself in.

Yet we are reminded by Jesus that the “perfection” we are called to strive for (Matthew 5:48) is very likely the same “perfection” we will never attain for ourselves because we cannot honestly compare ourselves to the holy perfection of the Father.  This does not mean we are not compelled to try because the effort itself is a measure of holiness, an honest reflection of the spiritual reality of where we once were vs. where we strive to be; who we once were vs. who we intend to become.

We must not make the mistake of thinking we are no longer obligated to observe the Lord’s statutes and commandments simply because Jesus was murdered because there is nothing attributed to Jesus (you know, the Word made Flesh) that suggests such a thing.  If anything, our commitment to perfection is sealed by His blood – AND – it is the only true witness we have.  Indeed people will not believe what we say, but they are much more likely to believe what we do.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

When Mortals Prevail

Matthew 7:1-12

"Rise up, O Lord!  Do not let mortals prevail!" Psalm 9:19a

When mortals did prevail, Jesus was beaten to within an inch of His life in a vain attempt to satisfy humanity's bloodlust.  When mortals did prevail, He was forced to carry His own cross to Golgotha where He was nailed to that cross and left to hang until dead.  At the point of Jesus' death it would have appeared to His disciples that in the end, the will of mortals will always prevail in spite of our best hopes.

When mortals do prevail, morals take a nose dive and what is good is relative only to the contemporary culture; when what is "holy is given to the dogs", when "pearls are cast before swine".  When mortals do prevail, hungry children stay hungry and the "consumerist mentality" packs fat upon fat.  When mortals do prevail, war is imminent.  When mortals do prevail, churches falter.  When mortals do prevail, missions and ministries collapse.  When mortals do prevail, the Bible is dismissed as fiction or as outdated or as completely irrelevant.

By the same token, when mortals prevail within the Church, biblical precepts are taken out of their appropriate context and used as weapons against those with whom we disagree.  When mortals prevail within the Church, Jesus is an Angry Judge who is just waiting for the "go" from the Holy Father to come and strike humanity down - except us!  When mortals prevail within the Church, Jesus and the Grace of the Living God are reduced to little more than excuses by which we dismiss the fellowship and discipline of the Church as unnecessary, overbearing, or judgmental.  When mortals prevail within the Church, "Love" is reduced to "lust" and becomes self-serving and self-indulgent.  When mortals prevail within the Church, the Church becomes little more than a dispensary of all we desire and is thus completely void of what we truly need.  When mortals prevail within the Church, the "end" will truly be "The End".

"And when Jesus' disciples heard all this, they were greatly astonished and said, 'Who, then, can be saved?'  Jesus looked at them and said, '[When mortals prevail] this is impossible; but [when God prevails], all things are possible" (Matthew 19:25-26).

The Love Dare© makes an interesting analogy in Dare #7: "Love believes the best".  In spite of perceived evidence to the contrary, Love chooses to believe the best!  In the deep recesses of our being are two rooms in which memories are stored.  One room is the Appreciation Room.  This is where the good stuff is.  This is the room in which is found the best of everything we know about our relationships - with our God, with our spouses, with our friends, and with our fellow disciples.  This is the room in which are found the most positive attributes of those whom we know; those attributes that likely attracted us to them in the first place.

Then there is another darker and more sinister room called the Depreciation Room.  This is the room in which are stored the attributes of our God, our spouses, our friends, and fellow disciples; those less-than-favorable attributes that become more apparent as we become more familiar with these relationships.  Into this room we cast our annoyances, our resentments, our hurt feelings, our frustrations, our anger, and every other thing we believe has been "caused" by our God, our spouses, our friends, and our fellow disciples.  And I don't EVEN want to speculate about what is stored in this room about preachers and pastors!!

According to Kabbalah [Jewish mysticism], the reason human beings are constantly in search of the next high, the newest technology, and the latest fashion is because it is our soul-essence to climb, advance, and move forward—to "become." However, how we will apply that inner yearning is up to our Free Will choice. One can apply the soul's energy toward building one's relationship with [YHWH] and personal development as it is [divinely] intended, or one can apply the soul's energy toward building something trivial or destructive.  True joy and fulfillment come about by moving forward and advancing toward the reality of [who we are divinely appointed to be]. One's entire life boils down to the story of his or her journey to their personal "becoming".  Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov, "Kabbalah Korner"

"Becoming" what, of course, is dependent upon what we truly believe - or what we choose to believe.  And according to St. Paul's words to the Corinthians, what we believe is entirely dependent upon what we believe about "agape" - that is, "true" love, enduring love, sacrificial love, unconditional love, the genuine love that does not respond merely to emotional outbursts and feelings of personal desire, the love expressed toward humanity by Christ Himself at the Cross.

"Believing" what, then, depends upon what we genuinely hope for; so what we truly hope for seems to be determined not only by our Free Will choices but by where these choices will take us and where we will choose to spend most of our time within our inmost being: the Appreciation Room or the Depreciation Room.  The rabbi seems to suggest we are by our spiritual nature "nomads" who have no real dwelling place but are constantly moving - ideally "forward".  If this is true, then, we must determine whether we are moving forward with hope - or constantly moving backward toward disdain and anger and resentment toward those whom we believe have intentionally sought to do us harm - whether we have real evidence or not.  We thus choose to believe the worst and be miserable - OR - choose to believe the best and be contented, satisfied, and happy. 

I would suggest that we are "dwellers" by our human nature, seeking roots, establishing a foundation upon which to build a life.  While this may seem conflicted by the opposing natures within each of us, there is also a continuity that establishes a good dwelling place by believing in the very best of what is to come - NOT by dwelling on what has already taken place and trying to carry those hurt feelings forward.

Jesus' words to His disciples about "judging" others is among the most misunderstood and misappropriated passages in the Gospels because we get tripped up on the difference between "judging" and "discerning".  One "condemns" not only those whom we "judge" but also ourselves as we are "judged" by the same measure, the same standard.  The other measures the difference between that which is "holy" (good, perfect, complete) and that which is "common" - or less-than-holy.  It is how we tell the difference between that which is divinely ordained and that which is the dominant "will of mortals". 

But I think Jesus is also advising us, especially when He makes us aware of the "log in [our] own eye", that we must always be aware that even in the midst of anger, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings over conflicts we have had with our God, our spouses, our friends, and our fellow disciples is that we must acknowledge our own part in the anger, the misunderstandings, and the hurt feelings.  We can learn from these things only if we engage in that certain reality that we are no more or less perfect than those who stand accused by us.

We all make mistakes.  And just as surely as those mistakes made by others against us have been stored in our own "Depreciation Room", Jesus is simply saying that others have their very own "Depreciation Room" in which our names are written prominently on the walls - in BIG, RED LETTERS!  Just as surely as we can - AND WILL - defend and justify our anger and hurt feelings, so can others by the same measure and the same means.  And when we choose to stay there, the journey forward, the journey toward "becoming" the best we can be, STOPS ... and relationships are destroyed.

I saw a little piece in this morning's paper I would like to share.  An old Native American tells his grandson that living within every person are two wolves.  One is good.  The other is evil, and they are constantly at war with one another within each of us fighting for domination.  The child asks, "Which one wins?"  The grandfather replied, "The one you feed."

Which will we choose to feed?  Let us choose to "hope" rather than to condemn.  Let us choose to believe the best of intentions even in the midst of such profound misunderstandings.  Let us remember that even when the "log" was implanted firmly in our own eyes, Jesus still chose to go forward to Golgotha.  Let us remember that "mortals prevailed" in this blood-thirsty demand that Jesus die - but that YHWH prevailed when Jesus was raised!  Jesus believed the very best - even when mortals spit in His eye! 

This is why we are spiritually compelled to believe the best - because in the hands and by the will of our Holy Father, the very best is yet to be for His faithful!  Believing this, we strive, we reach, we move.  And in the end, when Divine Will prevails ... WE LIVE!  

Monday, June 04, 2012

A Thought

“I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised.  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”  Ecclesiastes 1:13-14

The book of Ecclesiastes sounds like fatalistic defeatism – “all is vanity” – in which no human effort will ever pay off in any way.  We may enjoy some things for a time, a “season”; and likewise we may also endure suffering, but only for a “season”.  Things and people come and go, and I think this is the point of the writer’s lament as he continually concludes that the search for such temporal things is like “grasping for the wind”.

I also do not think the writer is necessarily cursing these things and persons we will surely embrace through the course of our lives, but we are being reminded not to get too attached to things that by their very nature will not last.  All these things and persons are merely “seasons” in our lives – to be enjoyed, to be endured – and they all serve some purpose but only for that season, only for that time.  After they’re gone, they’re gone.  Then what are we left with?

The answer for the faithful is obvious.  The Eternal One who “does not change” is steadfast.  The Holy God has given us the reason and the ability to see beyond the temporal things and persons in our lives.  And I think that if we can embrace Eternity, we can find genuine meaning even in the temporal things and persons.  And when the time comes – as it surely will come – we can more easily let go because we have been given a glimpse into Eternity by Messiah.

It is only when we are able to let go of the temporal things that we can find true meaning in these things.  And we know that moving forward, rather than vainly reaching into the past for things and persons and times that will never be again, is the Journey toward Home.


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Heretics: history's losers

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11
John 14:1-6

"St. Thomas (II-II:11:1) defines heresy: "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas.  The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics." (

Syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote: "As the president was being slapped by Mitt Romney for being too weak on national security, he was being rapped by a [NY] Times editorial for being too aggressive on national security."  Political commentator Robyn Blumner also observed: "Mitt Romney ... said early on that this election is a choice between President Obama's entitlement society in which people are dependent on government benefits ... but if you take Romney's own life as representing his governing philosophy, he has it backward; Romney is the one who has taken advantage of government entitlements."

I guess it's all a matter of perspective because both could be as wrong as both could be right.  This morning I said Jesus was not a "buffet" from which we may choose what we like and reject what we don't like; that Jesus as the Eternal Word must be taken in whole or not at all.  The historic question, however, comes to mind: which Jesus do we take?  Do we take the Jesus as recorded in the Gospel accounts written between 50-70 years after the fact?  Or do we take the "translated" Jesus as defined by the historic and Holy Church?  OR - do we re-create Jesus in a contemporary image more suitable for our time and/or our individual pleasures?

It has been said that history is recorded by the "winners"; everything else should be considered heresy.  But heresy in and of itself is not so bad a thing simply because of what we have done with language over time.  The Greek root of heresy is translated, "choice"; but the word was redefined by the Catholic Church as encompassing anything that did not mesh with Catholic doctrine (orthodoxy).  It probably was not long before the word itself progressed from a "point of definition" to a theological "accusation" that identified the need for correction - sometimes by force if necessary as was Spanish Queen Isabella's design during the Inquisition.

Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren wrote in a foreward to the book I'm currently reading, "Heresy" by Alister McGrath; "Because most believers have little or no knowledge of church history, they fail to recognize old errors that reappear on the scene after being refuted and rejected by previous generations of orthodox Christians.  We know truth is unchanging and eternal.  If it's true, it's not new, but many lies are not new either." 

And the author himself said, "Ancient heresies, seen by earlier generations as obscure and dangerous ideas, have now been sprinkled with stardust." 

Why does any of this matter now?  What interest can a lay person have - indeed, what interest must a lay person have - in Church history?  Perhaps in an era that has seen a consistent worship attendance and membership decline in mainstream Christianity, it may be more important now than ever before that we affirm what we know - and ask questions of those things we think.  It is not about who is "right" or "more orthodox".  What is "righteous", however, must be at the heart of what we do know and how we practice our faith now.

Baptism is the mark of the New Covenant.  It is the initiation into the Holy Church.  Prior to the Reformation, its importance was without question and infant baptism by believing parents was not questioned.  Because the origins of immersion, sprinkling, or pouring - and the origins of infant baptism - are all rather obscure and because the Bible does not offer a "thou shalt" prescription of exactly how baptism is to be done or exactly when it must be done, it has over time become one of the biggest points of contention within the Church; the other, of course, being the Lord's Supper. 

Yet as I stated this morning, the integrity of infant baptism did not come to be seriously questioned until the emergence of the so-called "Radical Reformation" of the 16th century when the Anabaptists declared infant baptism to be invalid for this reason: a verbal profession of faith is a must and is obviously not possible with an infant.  They also held to a literal translation of Scripture which obviously does not specifically mention infant baptism.  This, incidentally, is the same Scripture that does not specifically mention "Christmas".  FYI.

Well, so be it.  These are our Baptist friends' ancestors.  What is laughable, however, not only with the Radicals but with the other Reformers as well is not that they challenged Roman orthodoxy and rigid dogma; what is ironic is that they replaced one rigid orthodoxy for another more to their liking and understanding.  And this would not be so bad in itself except for one thing: the former "heretics" soon declared others to be "heretics".  They were, to their way of thinking, the "new" (or recovered) orthodoxy. 

St. Paul asks, "Why do you judge your brother?  Why do you show contempt for your brother?  For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ ... So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Therefore let us resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way" (Romans 14:10-13). 

I suppose in some form or fashion, each of us is a heretic in our own right; none of us is completely "catholic" in the universal sense.  We have embraced for ourselves practices that we are most comfortable with, practices that fit well with what we think we know, practices that make us feel good about what we do, practices we have simply made up along the way.  And this sounds all well and good except for one thing: do ANY of these practices make us feel good about our Lord??  Or do we "do" because by "doing" we gain some sense of personal satisfaction or accomplishment from it?   

On the surface this does not sound so bad except for this other sticking point: there is no "universal" element to it.  What sounds good to one may not sound so good to another, but we tend to insist that our way or our understanding is ok so it must therefore BE ok.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But if practices and beliefs cannot be universal by their nature, they cannot be Christian - or of Christ - because Christ died for ALL ... not some.  And if the traditions we embrace today cannot withstand the traditions of the historic Church, we must consider that we are becoming more "pharisaic" in our way of thinking by which we are inclined to attempt to "enforce" these redundancies.

The conflicts we endure to this day are nothing new.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes profoundly proclaims: "Is there anything of which it may be said, 'See, this is new?'  It has already been in ancient times before us."   

Let us stick to the Eternal Word, the Truth.  It has served us well in the past and will continue to serve us well into Eternity.

Love is Thoughtful

Micah 4:9-12
Matthew 12:33-37

"Watch your thoughts; they become your words.  Watch your words; they become your actions.  Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become your character.  Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."  Unknown

In a scene from the movie, "The Godfather", Vito Corleone admonished his son, Santino: "Never let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking."  Though we may not always act according to our thoughts, our thoughts will nevertheless reveal (and sometimes betray) what is innermost in our hearts, our hearts being the essence of who we truly are; and Jesus reminds us that evil thoughts are as spiritually damaging as the real deal because this is not only how we are defined but when we allow our minds to be so distracted and consumed, we are surrendering the better part of who we are called to be. 

We cannot concern ourselves with that theological debate between free will and spiritual compulsion.  What we must concern ourselves with, however, is what it will take to put our thoughts back on a proper track so that we may overcome who we are and grow more toward who we are called to become.  Scripture study is only one of the "means of grace" John Wesley encouraged among his preachers and his students to use in order to get and to grow their minds properly toward divine things.  It is this very practice that is at the heart of the Methodist “movement” (though, sadly, not always an integral part of the Methodist Church): the intentional pursuit of holiness. 

It is as I once heard a priest suggest in a sermon: If you read a lot of Bible, you'll think a lot of Bible.  If you read a little Bible, you'll think a little Bible.  And if you read no Bible, you will think no Bible.  Unbelievers have suggested this to be akin to little more than indoctrination; that is, working to convince ourselves and our children of something we might otherwise not rationally believe; that we would only go to so much trouble because the Church has at least convinced us of the fiery furnace of hell.  Well, we know we don't want that, but we should also know there is much more to our being than simply avoiding eternal condemnation.  Holiness not only requires more; it gives more.

We should know that our lives need purpose and focus beyond self for the sake of spiritual growth.  We should also know that following the pop culture and doing according to whatever is the "in" thing at the time is not only impractical, but it is also very confusing because what is "in" today is almost certainly "out" tomorrow.  Such a “scatter-shot” effort at a meaningful life is not only vanity at its worst, it is spiritually dangerous and defies what holiness is truly about. 

Those thoughts belong to someone else when we pursue external and secular things.  We're just following a crowd.  Even more dangerous still is that such "trendy" thoughts have more to do with self than with others who are in our lives, including our Lord and our spouses.  Even a secular society cannot function in such a way.  The Church certainly cannot function as it must if it's every man for himself, and marriages become rapidly dysfunctional in such arbitrary and subjective arrangements.

Though the tension between good and evil is always present and I think too many Christians think only within that framework, I don't think we should always be thinking strictly in such linear terms of only Heaven vs. hell.  Rather I think we will do better for the Church, for our marriages, and for our society if we can think more practically in terms of "functional" vs. "dysfunctional"; that is, how we move closer toward loving and supporting others - in the Church, in our marriages, and in society - according to Jesus' teachings.

Think about holistic "functionality" - mind, body, and soul - in terms of what Jesus teaches. "Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."  These are “dysfunctions”, and all these "dysfunctions" come from minds acting on natural impulses.  These things come from minds devoid of any semblance of Bible and spiritual contemplation because, as Jesus says, our thoughts not only reveal our true character but also become our actions.  And even though each of these violations of the Moral Law subjects us to the Judgment, they also adversely affect every relationship we have in this life - with our Lord, with the Church, with our spouses, with our friends, and with our neighbors. 

These actions offend our Holy Father (most notably so when committed by Christians!), they weaken the Church, they destroy marriages and families, and they even violate the secular social order.  An innocent lady was found dead in her home recently NOT because of the Bible and its precepts, not because those responsible spent too much time in Scripture study and reflecting on the Word - but - because of a distinctive absence of the most basic of biblical and social precepts.  Never mind heaven or hell; those responsible cannot function even in a secular, godless society!  Talk about dysfunction!

This may be an extreme example of all that can go wrong, but we must also consider "evil" in terms of St. Augustine's understanding of the "line of departure" between good and evil.  In very basic terms, if we are not explicitly pursuing "good" we are implicitly approving "evil".  You and I think in terms of evil incarnate in a child molester or a murderer or a rapist, but Augustine simply said there is no "kinda" evil.  The murderer is no more – or less – evil than the “false witness”.  The murderer will destroy a human life directly; the “false witness” will get someone else to do it for them.  Evil “is” or Good “is”, but there is no middle ground and there are no varying degrees.  We might like to think so in order to get ourselves off the hook, but the Bible will not back us up.

"A good person out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things, and an evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matthew 12:35).  These "treasures" to which Jesus refers are clearly the "thoughts" we carry with us, but try though we may we will not find a "middle ground" in which we can comfortably rest - simply because there is no "middle ground" between good and evil.  If there is, Jesus surely would have mentioned it in this discourse.  If the Lord's Law - the Moral Code - is not written upon our hearts, the Lord is simply not there (Jeremiah 31:33).  In other words, if “Good” is not present, “evil” must be.  For it is certain that the Law is the Word, and the Word (which already existed, by the way) "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).

I don't think it is fair to say Christians intentionally set out to do evil things, but a Christian who does not commit his or her thoughts to higher things than what is before us cannot be said to be a committed disciple because discipleship, like love itself, is not an "event" and it is not a "sprint".  It is a "marathon", a life-long journey.  And I say this because our natural impulses ARE “events” and “sprints”; and if they are not contained and controlled by our thoughts (that is, thinking things through before speaking or acting), the impulses will always prevail whether we are simply being selfish as a matter of self-preservation or actively planning to do harm to another – like picking up the phone to share malicious gossip.  Thoughts lead to words, and words lead to actions.  Now we may not act upon our evil thoughts; however, others just might if we allow these evil thoughts to manifest themselves in our words.  This is a given, and Jesus affirms it.

So we must determine for ourselves what the "treasures" of our minds are - lest "the satan" do it for us.  We must acknowledge, of course, the power of the Holy Spirit to convict AND convince us; but we are also compelled by Scripture to "test the spirit" of whatever it is that drives and ultimately controls us.  This requires serious reflection and contemplation because if what drives us and compels us is contrary to what is written in Scripture, it is safe to say we are flirting with the edge of the abyss, the pit, the "outer darkness" – both in this life and in the life to come.  Holistic; mind, body, AND soul – all equally committed to the same God and Lord.

It all begins with our thoughts; not the impulsive thoughts that pop into our heads in response to some external stimulus.  Rather the thoughts, the contemplations of the committed disciple, the committed husband, the committed wife think things through according to what Jesus teaches us not only about heaven and hell but also about a strong Church, solid marriages, and good social order and how we can learn to look after one another, giving “preference” to one another in love, as St. Paul encouraged the Romans.  To the glory of our Holy Father.  For now, for tomorrow – AND – forever more.  Amen.