Forgiveness is a decision

How can I forgive when I still feel the way I do toward that person? When I think about what they have done to hurt me, I feel anger, rage, bitterness, malice, and sadness. I can’t forgive them while I’m feeling this way.

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The key is you. It’s not wrong to feel the way you do. Feelings are gifts from God. They are emotions that we have spontaneously inside us. Emotions are neither right nor wrong. They just are. Emotions should not be the decider in how we act. They are just a part of who I am. My will and my feelings are not the same thing.

Forgiveness like love is not a feeling or emotion. Like love, forgiveness is a decision. It is something that we consciously do. Jesus has shown us how to forgive. How do you think He felt when He was on the cross and the soldiers were casting lots for His garments? We might not know exactly how He felt, but we know what He did. “Then Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23: 24).

Jesus made the decision to forgive, and so should I.

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Holy Week

Lent is behind us, and Holy Week has begun. Lent has brought us to remember, relive, and re-present the last week of Jesus the Christ. Today during mass, I spoke with the crowd, “Let him be crucified!”

Will I be there at the tomb on Sunday morning, when He has arisen?

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Where will I go from here?

Ten years ago, I couldn’t have even imagined all that I am a part of now. “Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20). Yesterday, I found myself talking to more than one person about the gifts that God has given me.

When I acknowledge that the gifts that I have are from God, and that I am using them for Him. I am giving credit where credit is due. At times, I have been worried that I might be sounding to prideful. Perhaps, it is really a false humility. “The true way to be humble is not to stoop till thou are smaller then thyself, but to stand at thy real height against some higher nature that will show thee what the real smallness of thy greatness is” (Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893).

During this time of Lenten reflection, I think I have discovered some additional gifts and ways in which I can use them. Where will I go from here? I wonder if ten years from now I will be doing something I can’t even imagine?

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Compassionate Listening

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I first heard the term compassionate listening this past weekend in a deacon formation class. We were learning about Carmelite Spirituality. Carmelites try to practice compassionate listening. From what I understand, it is a putting away of my own feelings, thoughts, and judgments, and listening to understand. A listening with one’s heart.

I talk to a fair amount of people in one day ranging from family, friends, colleagues, and students, but do I listen to them? I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a conversation with someone, and I find myself mentally forming my own answer or solution instead of listening to what the other person has to say.

This morning as we were praying Morning Prayer I thought to myself, “Have I been listening to God compassionately as I read His Word?” It seems I always think I have a lot to say, but I think I have been missing out on all that I have to hear.

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Before our Youth Group meeting began, we went to the Cristo Redentor Parish Hall and met with the Charismatic Prayer Group. The hall was full, and the band was set up. There were a couple of introductions, and then we sang songs. They were all in Spanish, but they had hand motions, so with my miniscule Spanish understanding and following the hand and body motions, I could understand a little. We sang about the big God that we serve. We sang about His Blessed Mother. After we finished singing, the youth and I went back to the Church for our group meeting. I asked the kids about some of the other songs. They said one was talking about worshiping with our whole body. They are all bilingual, some prefer English and some prefer Spanish, and some it doesn’t matter. They are smack dab in the middle of two cultures. I ask myself, “How can I help them?”

We read from the Gospel of Luke, and share what we feel that Jesus is saying to us. We talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and how we should examine our conscious. We pray, and we eat. While we are eating the phones come out. One boy has just gotten Facebook. I tell them I have Facebook, and they help me add themselves as friends.

Hopefully, I can be more than a Facebook friend.

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Calls from Nieces Make Me Smile

In the age of texting, Twitter, email, and Facebook, I don’t seem to talk on the phone as much as I used to. So, when my phone rings it’s kind of a surprise. Last night my niece Natalie called, and it made my day.

She called to tell me that her team had won their Ag Business competition in the Area round, and they were headed to state. It made my day because I know how hard Natalie has been working to get ready for the competition. She spent part of her spring break at my house working on practice questions, and listening to me try and explain the futures markets, and how they worked.

She made the time to call her old uncle, and I got to celebrate her success with her. I couldn’t help but smile.

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It’s His Time

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One of the requirements in the deacon formation process is to be a volunteer for a social justice or charitable ministry. There is good reason for doing such ministry for Jesus has called all to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, visit the sick, and come to those in prison (Matt. 25: 31-40). Some of the things that would be included in social justice and charitable ministries are: prison, jail, hospice, hospital, homeless shelters, meals on wheels, juvenile facilities, nursing homes, food banks, working with the disabled, interpreting/translating, and working with the unemployed.

I called a person at the Hansford Hospital, and discussed some of the ways I could help out. They told be that they were desperate for volunteers, especially hospice volunteers. At that moment, I thought to myself, “Why have I waited until now to do something?”

I could give all sorts of excuses such as I don’t have enough time, but the real thing I need to examine is the use of my time. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” (Gandalf, Lord of the Rings). If I want to follow Jesus, He has called me to die to myself. My time is not my time. It’s His time.

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