Results filtered by “Fr. Dennis Saran”


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Forgiveness. That word has probably caused more anxiety, anger, bewilderment, and peace than any other word we use . . . even love. Forgiveness is the “meat and potatoes” of relationship. It is the glue that bonds every heart-felt association we have. How often have we really forgiven someone? How often have we had something terribly important taken from us, and then struggle to forgive the person who has taken it? How often do we equate forgiveness with being weak instead of being strong? How does letting go of the hurt that someone has wrought upon us, produce the only real healing.

I have no specific answer to the many questions I pose. What I do have to offer as a solution is an image, Jesus on the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Have you ever been able to say that in full honesty? My answer when I am asked for the meaning of heart wrenching event questions is Jesus on the Cross.
I don’t have polished words to ease someone’s distress, all I have for them is the Cross. If Jesus died for everyone, then he died for those who loved him and stood at the foot of the cross as well as the person who hammered the nails into his flesh. Jesus gave us the meaning, the substance of forgiveness. He did so not just as an example, but as a participation in our action of forgiveness. I want you to understand that the Real Presence of Jesus that we are expounding on in the Eucharist Revival means that in every act of forgiveness, God is there to give us the necessary grace to really forgive, to really forgive and the forget. If you ever have trouble forgiving, just look at the Crucifix. In that mystery is your answer.

Eyelash to Eyelash with God

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I don’t know if you have ever been lost. I have had two terrifying experiences with being lost. One when I was a child. Our whole brood of eight children were being taken to downtown Chicago to visit Santa. We came on the train (called the “L”). It stops at the basement floor of Marshall Fields. Santa was on the fifth floor. We all piled into the elevator along with a boatload of people. I am closest to the doors. The doors open on the ground floor, many depart, including me. I was five years old. Next thing I know I am following the river of people out onto State Street. I am in the middle of the street with everyone else, when a firm hand grips my arm, my mother. Somehow, she noticed I had departed and leaving the others, she ran to get me. To this very day, I have a fear of being left.

My second experience was losing my youngest daughter for a very short time in the State fair creampuff building. Like me, she just wandered off into the next building. I quickly found her, but there were painful seconds of pure panic.

Today’s readings resurrected those feelings of being lost and how lost we would be without God. Hearing today’s words from Jesus that we are so valued, removes any fear. In a homily a while ago, I spoke of how Jesus reconciled us to the Father. The word reconcile comes from the Greek expression which means eyelash-to-eyelash. Jesus has brought us eyelash-to-eyelash with the Father. That is how deeply we are loved. Spend a little time this week alone with God. I don’t mean in prayer or even in contemplation. I mean spend a little time eyelash-to-eyelash with God, if you can. See if an intimacy this close doesn’t remove any fear you have, any fear about anything.

Tags: love, god, lost, fear

The Tenth Commandment

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The Tenth Commandment, reads almost exactly the same as the ninth. “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s…You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbors. (CCC # 2534)” We have traditionally taken the Ninth Commandment to mean not coveting your neighbor’s wife and the tenth as not coveting your neighbor’s goods, but it is quite obvious that God felt he needed to be very clear and specific and say it twice. In fact the Jewish Ten Commandments incorporate our ninth and tenth into one. I do not know the history of how the differences occurred except to say, isn’t that just like religions, they can’t even agree on the same Ten Commandments.

If the Ninth Commandment speaks to the deadly sin of lust, this commandment speaks to the deadly sin of greed-with a side of envy. They are not so far apart in their sinfulness. Wanting is wanting, whether it be person, place, or thing. Both these two commandments come around to remind us of the first three. “Where our heart is so will be our treasure (Matt. 6:21).” Anything we want besides God becomes idol worship. God is not admonishing us by this commandment as much as warning us. We will not be satisfied with “stuff.” Wealth never sees enough wealth, there will always be someone who has something more. For me, it was always my distain that I was never the smartest. In grade school, high school, college, medical school, and even in seminary, I wanted to be number one…I was always about number sixteen.

Someone was kind enough to give me a one year subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I like to read newspapers, and I have been so disappointed with the content and the cost of the Milwaukee Journal that I took to reading my sister’s Wall Street Journal. One of the more interesting features, which I think is on Friday, is subtitled ‘Mansions.’ It lists some very high end homes for sale, in the 35 million dollar range. It must feed many people's desire for want, under the cover of, “I was just curious.” I get reminded of my sin every Friday.

I like Fr. Richard Rohr. He wrote this about the Tenth Commandment. See if you agree, “We can’t possibly preach on, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods' because Western society is based on this. It is called capitalism. Mass advertising tells us we need things none of us need. It sows confusion about what’s important for life. The level of need has moved to such a level of illusion and sophistication that what were once ultimate luxuries have become necessities…The affluent West has made happiness impossible. We’ve created a pseudo-happiness, a pseudo-success, a pseudo-security that will never satisfy the human heart.”

I quoted him extensively because I want you to spend some time on his words. I know my definition of success was money, a career, “running with the big dogs.” But as I may have said before, God gave me a king’s ambition with a jack’s ability, so I was always just off the mark. This led to a dissatisfaction with my work, and then the death of my wife, and the walls of what mattered came crashing down all at once. It took a spiritual car accident to get me to wake up to God’s voice. Our struggle is not with others, our struggle is within ourselves. The need to matter, outside of mattering to God, seems to drive these desires. We try to prove we matter by accumulating stuff. We are all guilty of this desire. Even now as I write this, I still have about fifteen pair of Allen Edmond shoes from my past life still neatly tucked away. If you saw my black and whites for Christmas, you were privileged to see a pair from my collection.

So here is my debatable point. Lust, greed, and envy, are products of our brokenness, our Original Sin. We can never, even with the grace of God, be freed from these temptations, because they are a part of our broken humanity. They are the reality we carry in our hearts that we are not masters of the world. If we were to be freed from them, we would believe we were gods. So what we need to do is harness the energy of these drives and direct them to good and moral ends. We must use our “lust energy” to build up other people rather than satisfying ourselves. We must use or envy to support those who have fallen instead of stepping on them to get higher. We must use the energy of greed to give from our need. This is how I view this commandment, not as something we should constantly judge ourselves in what we do and not do covet. Rather, I see this commandment as a reminder, as means of using what we would do for selfish motivations, are channeled into self-less caring. Now that takes the grace of God and you know what …he knows it, because he is the one who made this commandment in the first place.

I have had a personal experience which convinced me, and I can tell you as fact, that nothing we have here matters. What does matter is the love and goodness you have built up by practicing the challenging of our brokenness with the grace of God into service, and then God alone will be our only desire. St. Theresa of Avila said that is the Way to Perfection.