Results filtered by “Francis Dempsey”

Before Destruction . . .

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I was never an athlete in school. Well, unless you count marching band! It was in my freshman year of high school that we won it big down in Florida: we were the grand champions! Thoughts of the next few years began to form in our collective minds. Yet, that was the highest we would ever attain during the next few years other than an occasional 3rd place finish at state level competitions. Not exactly what you would call a great success. 

But how could this be? After all, aside from the continual stream of seniors graduating every year, we had a solid group of people and we were always coaching up the newest members of the band. Ultimately, our woes can probably be summed up in one simple word: pride. While not inherently a bad thing to have, too much pride can, and has been, the undoer of many people - thinking that they can do anything and not have to worry about shortcomings or failures. Truly, pride can make us seem as though we should always, and are destined to be, first. 

The Gospel tells us that the first shall be last. This resonates in reflection upon those moments of pride, of expectation. To think that we should be given something simply because we believe we deserve it! A book I was recently reading has the essential teachings of Mother Theresa day by day. How fitting, then, that the one I read for today states this: “Many people who have possessions, who have many goods and riches, are obsessed with them. They think that the only thing that counts is possessing wealth. That is why it is so difficult for them to walk each moment of each day with God. Too many of their moments are spent preoccupied with money and things.” 

Wealth comes in many different forms, not just money. If we allow ourselves to be too focused upon the wealth we have in terms of material goods and services, we lose sight of the wealth that we should be attempting to grow and keep and build up: a spiritual wealth that is richly abundant in the love of God. When we allow ourselves to build up wealth in a spiritual sense, the rewards are greater than any material good or service we could possibly possess! How wonderful to know that by building up our own spiritual wealth, we are creating ourselves anew and allowing God to work miracles in us! If there was something to be a little prideful about, I would argue that this it! 

There's Something Happening Here

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Do you ever get that "feeling"? The "feeling" that something is going to happen, something big?

I've been having that "feeling" lately. There are times when I think it just might be my nerves getting the best of me but that isn't exactly it. While I don't doubt that nerves have something to do with it, there is something more. I’ve started taking to the idea that this is the Holy Spirit. While driving to work recently, I heard that song by Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth” – and it has the lyrics: “There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear.” There truly is something happening here at St. Dominic that isn't exactly clear, but it is feeling really good. There is an energy, a life, a spirit. I can't quite put my finger on it but this "feeling" is causing me to well up with pride, with joy, with excitement.

Many Saints write about conversion and surrender, as it is a pathway to holiness. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, "We have to love until it hurts. It is not enough to say I love. We must put that love into a living action. And how do we do that? By giving until it hurts." This loving until it hurts is conversion. It is surrender because it is counter-cultural. St. Faustina brought us the depiction of surrender through the image of the Divine Mercy and the simple yet powerful prayer "Jesus, I trust in you!" Releasing oneself to the will of the Father is liberating yet terrifying. 

It is not enough to say yes to God when he has called us for himself. It's very important to put that “yes” into a living action. And how do we put that into a living action? By our total surrender to Him. We understand that He has chosen us for Himself - all that follows is that we allow Him to use us without consulting us. We are human beings and we like to know exactly what He wants, how He wants, and so on. But if we really want to be only all for Jesus, it is important that we give Him a free hand to do with us what He wants, as He wants. Only then can we really say we are only all for Jesus. - Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Thirsting for God, 2000.

There is something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear, but guaranteed is it is guided by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit through the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

Change My Heart

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When one gets hurt and injured, we instinctively flee to someone, or somewhere, to find comfort and solace -  a haven, if you will. Once there, one of two outcomes will likely occur: we are comforted because we received the care that was needed, or we seek someone/somewhere else because it did not do it well enough. For the previous, if too much care is given, we may find ourselves developing almost an "Allegory of the Cave" mindset (from Plato), meaning that even though we know there is something more out there (such as pain or suffering once we leave the comforting place), we choose to stay here because it is only safe and comforting. This, however, would breed ignorance to everything else surrounding us, depriving us of a more real life of experiences, or the ability to connect with others in a deeper way. That being said, the other outcome here does not exactly bear great fruit either: jumping from person to person or place to place just to avoid having to hear or experience something we are trying to avoid, which stunts us from being able to grow emotionally or spiritually as well.

During a recent Sustaining the Mission seminar, one presenter talked about how we are afraid to be vulnerable or accept feedback that challenges us to grow more deeply. This got me thinking about an old song that we would hear at home growing up. Now, you'll have to pardon me here in not remembering fully the name or lyrics of the song, but one verse in particular stuck out: "Change my heart, O God!" 

For me, this always meant that we are asking God to change us, making our hearts more true, and changing us into His own image. Finding that haven that we seek for the hardest of times, in God. But God also reveals unto us hard truths that we must be willing to accept and to allow the change that we may pray for to actually take place; it is one thing to simply ask for the change of one's heart to happen, but to actually act upon it and allow that change to take place requires work and dedication. It is from this concerted effort and work that we can find a footing in the raging waters of life knowing faithfully that God will, indeed, change our hearts...but only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and work to keep ourselves from falling back into our own personal caves.