Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Got Faith?

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." [Matthew 17:20.]

In the year from October 2012, to November 2013 the Catholic Church celebrates the "Year of Faith."

God has in His generosity given us three spiritual virtues: the gift of Hope; the gift of Love; and the gift of Faith.

I find more and more, as I come to understand my Faith in a deeper way, that it is part of the whole of me.

Some may be able to separate out their faith and compartmentalize it into what one does on Sunday morning, IF one happens to attend Mass. Then, as the church door slams shut, one's faith closes down for the coming week.

My Faith is part of my emotional response to the world, as well as my rational analysis of events around me. I cannot separate my Faith from myself. It is not merely a part of me; it IS me.

But there are many myths regarding the Christian Faith. Here are my Top Ten Faith Myths:

1) "Christians are so hopeless, that all they have is God."
The Truth:  We pray to God first, foremost and often. God is not our last resort, He is our               first resort. "Be always joyful, pray continuously." [1 Thessalonians 5: 8-18].

2) "Christians believe that God is here to fulfill all of our prayers."

The Truth: We know that God does not always give us what we want; but He is always there to be our strength, even when we face hardships. "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped." [Psalm 28: 7].

3) "Christians believe that we need to martyr ourselves, to become a self-sacrifice for others."

The Truth: We are called to give freely of ourselves and our gifts. But, we also need to keep ourselves balanced and whole, in order to be able to give continually. In his book, "The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything", Fr. James Martin speaks of St. Ignatius realizing, in his faith life, that his extreme ascetism was actually preventing him from carrying out his sacred work.

4) "Christians blindly follow the rules and cannot think for themselves."

The Truth:  Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life", [John 14:6]. That is, being a Christian is not a just set of Commandments, it is a Way of life. Of course, we will stumble and fall. We struggle deeply with how to be Christians. We are human.

5) "Christians judge others who are not like them."

The Truth: We are to "judge not." [ Matthew 7:1]. Besides, we are also called to "love our neighbors as ourselves." [Matthew 19:19].

6) "Christians believe that as long as they pray for forgiveness, it does not matter what they do; the prayer will 'cover' the sin." 

The Truth:  What we do, DOES count. "What good does it do if a man claims to have faith,but has no works? Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead." [James 2: 14-18].

7) "The Eucharist is an empty ritual".

Actually, Catholics believe that in receiving the Eucharist, we are receiving Jesus Himself, and all of His peace, love, mercy, justice etc.

8) "Christians believe that having any money is a sin."

The Truth:  Christians are not to worship money and wealth above all else, or hoard extreme stores of material things.  But God DOES want his children to be provided for. " Look at the birds of the air; they do not store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them." [ Matthew 6: 26].

9) " Christians believe that all sex is sinful."

The Truth: God gave us our human sexuality as a gift, to be used responsibly. We dishonor our sexuality, and God's gift, if we regard it as mere recreation.

10) "The majority of Catholic priests are child abusers."

The Truth: Per Sam Miller, prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman, ". . . . 1.7% of Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia, [but] 10% of Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not [only] a Catholic problem."

Faith. . . Got it?

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

The Truth: "                 

Monday, November 26, 2012

King of The Universe

" Pilate said to Jesus, ' Are you the King of the Jews?' Jesus answered, 'Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?' Pilate answered, 'I am not a Jew, am I ? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me What have you done?' Jesus answered, 'My kingdom does not belong to this world. My attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not here.' So Pilate said to him, ' Then you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.' " [John 18: 33-37].

We think that, as humans, we have grand political power over other states and nations. We delegate such extreme power to men, that we make them King. And yet, that royal power is so very fleeting.

Remember Rome? Where is that vast Roman Empire today, that extended from the East in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey), all the way West, to Gaul ( now France). The Roman Empire fell-- to corruption, to the flames consuming the city of Rome, to murders and excessive wealth.

And where is Emperor Nero of Rome? He allegedly set fire to Rome in order to make way for an even more extravagant palace. He was also allegedly the murderer of his own mother. In the end, his power did him no good; he was assassinated.

There are other, more recent men who were would-be kings.  Adolph Hitler thought that he would conquer the world. But in the end, he was assassinated, and his regime crumbled.

Think that the egotistical desire to be King ended with World War II? Remember the recent reign of Muammar Gaddafi? This Libyan dictator wore self-styled royal caftans and head-dresses, and convinced himself that his people loved him. He died in a hail of bullets, cornered and trapped by his own people.

And so, who IS the King of the Universe? Many kings of history have been corrupt dictators. Other kings, though benevolent, have been forgotten.

Perhaps modern celebrity is the source of royalty? We have dubbed Elvis Presley the "King of Rock and Roll". There is no doubt about his talent, and his immense contribution to the music world. We idolozed him and yet--- in 1977, he died of a massive drug overdose.

We have also dubbed Michael Jackson, "The King of Pop". Again, no doubting his near genius talent. But he died of a drug overdose as well, amid allegations of past scandal.

If not celebrities, maybe economic powerhouses rule to world?  Remember Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities", chronicling the lives of greedy, powerful men on Wall Street in the 1990's. Wolfe ironically dubbed these investment bankers, "Masters of the Universe"? Or, remember "Barbarians At The Gate"?

Where is Lehman Brothers now? Or Bear Stearns? Bankrupt. Defunct.

And so, who is really King of the Universe? Is it the moguls who own the most waterfront real estate? We have seen, tragically, in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and again during Hurricane Sandy, that real estate does not confer dependable status. Not when a single storm can wipe away an entire downtown. Not when a single storm can require redrawing of coastline maps, because expansive swathes of coastline have simply disappeared.

I have lived an uncertain and traumatic enough life to know that we live in a fragile, temporary world.
Everything I have, everything I see, will not last forever. Companies will go bankrupt or go out of business. Storms may blow homes and entire towns away. Politicians may come to power, or may lose power. Celebrities may become less popular, may die, or may even implode in controversy or scandal.

And yet, I long for something that is constant and eternal in my life. This longing has ever been so, even in Biblical times. This longing is the desire for God, and it is part of the human condition.

This is a counter-cultural concept today, but it is God who reigns. And God made His reign manifest through His Son, Jesus, who is The King of the Universe.

" Jesus was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and  humanity of every language worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." [Daniel 7: 14].

In the storms of my life, I have clung to this comfort, that God and Jesus are always there and always will be. Jesus' power is everlasting, and nothing can take His reign away. I may lose my home; lack food to eat, or electricity, or water, or a warm coat; I may even lose friends, family, employment, or money.

But God and Jesus are still there! And still they reign.

For Jesus is God's Truth, who will never fade, never lose relevance, never become tarnished or corrupt, never rule by brute force, and never die.

Ultimately, it is Jesus and His Truth that reign: "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth." No other Truth in the world holds value or bears any validity.

Jesus, Lord, as I seek to belong to the Truth, may I always listen, in the stillness of my heart, to Your Voice.

[Related Posting: "Not of This World", May 21, 2012.]

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer

" And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth; who fosters people's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to His will!  May He grant you joy of heart, and may peace abide among you. May His goodness toward us endure, to deliver us in our days." [Sirach 50: 22-24].

Prayer For Thanksgiving:

Lord, thank you for every breath I take;

thank you for every friend I make;

thank you for every prayer I give;

thank you for every moment I live.

Each day, may I offer my Thanksgiving unto You!

Happy Thanksgiving

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Fig Tree

" Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and it shoots come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, . . . Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." [Mark 13: 28-31].

As I grew up, I gradually learned to trust less and less. I learned that a mother's kindness could turn to cruelty in an instant. I learned that a sibling could play nicely for some time, then turn the neighborhood children against me; or call me ugly and hit me with no provocation. I learned that a father, who seemed remote at some times, could be dangerously close at others.

I learned to attend to my physical needs. I put myself down for naps, I found food if no one made sure I had enough to eat for dinner or breakfast. I saved earnings from odd jobs at age 13, so I could have enough funds to escape my life in that house.

Whether you have had a loving and easy life, or a cruel and harsh life: it can be very hard to trust.

I love this image of the little fig tree! This is an image to hold onto, that beautifully explains our Faith. There is a trust aspect to our Faith that is compelling and quite necessary. 

I have had many times in my life where I refused to trust in anyone, or anything. I stopped speaking as a child. I put a lot of effort into being invisible. I shut down. Not speaking, not sleeping, barely eating, not allowing myself to feel anything.

But, what kind of life does one have, if one becomes a shell of a human being?

And so, I say, No! It cannot be true that life means trusting or having faith --in No One, or No Thing. If this were so, you would not get out of bed in the morning. Where would be the purpose in your life?

I have had to learn to trust. I cannot even say that I had to "re-learn to trust", because I never learned to trust in the first place.

Where to begin?

A gentle priest once told me, 'You start small.'

You ask yourself: Do you trust that the sun will come up tomorrow?

Do you trust that if you go to pick up your child after school, he will come out of the building, looking for you?

Do you trust that your spouse will come home for dinner?

Do you trust that, following a long, cold, dark winter, the little fig tree will send up pale green shoots that turn into full leaves, that bear sweet fruit?

The metaphor of the fig tree is perfect, because now I can understand that, just because I do not see the fruit in the winter, the seed was planted a long time ago, and the spring will come and with it, the fruit.

And if I can believe in the sweet figs that I cannot see in winter, is it too big of a leap of Faith to believe in God? I cannot see Him directly, but I can see His signs everywhere: in the beautiful sunrise, in my son's smile, in the loving companionship of my husband, in the fruits of my life.

I have endured a long, harsh, cold, lonely winter. But gradually, I trust more because as I look around, I see evidence of God's Love everywhere in my life. The seeds were planted a long time ago, but spring is coming, and I shall bear much fruit.

Like the fig tree, my Faith grows, because, even if Heaven and earth were to pass away, God, with His Loving Word, will always remain, and His fruits will be abundant.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude is a Verb

" I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."   [Philippians 4: 11-13.]

At the Vacation Bible School, where my son attended one summer, the children sang a song: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! When you've got not a lot, when  you've got such a lot, WHAT?! Be happy!"

I think that in this earthly world, gratitude is in short supply.

Every day, we face a barrage of messages that, to be truly happy, we need to be living in extreme wealth. In the media, we see people living in extravagant mansions, with a fleet of expensive cars, dressing in luxurious clothes, in the company of only beautiful people. The clear message is that we can never be content with less.

Like St. Paul, I have been hungry and I have been well fed. I have lived in a childhood never secure that I would be fed dinner. I have lived on my own, and when I was just married, eating dinner from a can of tuna, or eating rice and beans, having only a few dollars in the bank until the next payday.

Yet, at times, I have lived in plenty, not having to worry about paying for expensive dental work, or the cost of a plane trip to attend to an ailing relative, or able to afford a little more vacation time for some much needed rest.

Either way, I was no more, and no less, content. My inner being was the same! Gratitude is being content, no matter what the situation.

To put things in perspective, the opposite of gratitude is not ingratitude or thanklessness. The opposite of gratitude is, my friends---- fear!

Because, if we have less, we grumble and complain. But what is really going on here is our profound feeling of loss.  The real issue is our fear that we will be alone and helpless.

The only true cure from this fear of loss --- is Faith!

Faith in God who loves us; and Faith that, in His Love, everything is going to be okay.

Our Faith is not merely a feeling, though. Our Faith is Love in action. In a strange and miraculous kind of alchemy, I am transforming my discontentment, my losses, my fears, into a burning fuel for Love in action.

I remember being cold, oh so cold as a child. If I asked for my sweater, I was told, 'Stop acting up.' Today, instead of wallowing in that cold feeling, I am knitting scarves and hats for the homeless shelter nearby.

I remember being hungry, and afraid of not finding enough food. Today, I donate non-perishables to my town food pantry.

I remember having difficulty breathing, with my chronic lung condition, that was not treated after age 14.  I remember thinking, I am coughing and gasping for breath, does anyone care? Today, I donate to Medic-Alert so that someone who cannot afford an emergency alert necklace can receive one.

When I was in college, I was told that if I did not study what I was directed to, tuition would be cut off. Today, I donate to the fund at my son's school so that more kids can get a great education.

I see now, more fully than ever, that Gratitude is a verb!  Whatever my past losses, I will not give into the complaining and the fear. I will battle the fear with consistent Love for others, who are facing the same losses as I did.

[Related Posting: " Dare To Serve", October 21, 2012].

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Greater Gift

"Jesus sat down opposite the treasury where the offerings were placed and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, " I tell you the truth, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury, for they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." [Mark 12: 41-43].

Imagine a situation like this, where people with extensive disposable income, give a portion of their wealth; but where someone who truly lives in destitution, gives generously, with all that she has.

I remember, as a child, giving when it felt like I had nothing to give.

I remember as a child going every summer with my family, to the same cottages, on the same lake. And I always noticed the caretaker there, Wilbur, a slight, wiry man with rough, tanned skin, big hands and a strong profile. He was part Native American and he seemed, in my child's view, a quiet and proud man.

He may have been sort of "slow", because he spoke with grunts, in a guttural. He smiled a lot and gestured, and in this way, made his meaning known. He smelled musty, like the barn where he slept, and sort of fishy, like the perch and walleye that he scaled and cleaned for the guests after their fishing trips. He brought a horse around now and again from the local stable, and he allowed the children to sit on her.

Except for the children at the cottages, he was a loner. In his free time, he paddled around in a wooden dinghy, painted in many faded, peeling colors, yellow splashed on top of blue and green and red. But the dinghy was so leaky, he could not venture too far from shore, and he bailed more than he rowed.

The adults whispered at Wilbur and made disparaging remarks. Some of the kids laughed at him. But I could see that he did not seem to have any family. I hated to think how alone he was.

The truth was, I felt alone too. In my dysfunctional and abusive family, no one had ever hugged me or said they loved me. I was called ugly every day and sometimes hit. I was putting myself down for naps, figuring out how to make the hunger go away, and finding ways to stay cool in summer and warm in winter. I waited to go to sleep, until everyone was in bed sleeping. I decided at around that time that I would speak rarely or not at all. I wanted to be invisible.

Wilbur gradually warmed to my family. He would try to talk to us, excitedly, but most of the time, no one understood him. He started to ask us if we would like to come to the Algonquin Inn, where he would go every Saturday night to eat dinner and have a few beers.

The truth is, I was worried about Wilbur. He had no one who seemed to care about him. He was scrawny, and wore old, stained clothes. One day, I spoke up enough to whisper to my mother, could we go to the Algonquin Inn when Wilbur was there? (It would make him so happy, I thought to myself.)

You could say that, even as a child, I had a poverty of spirit. I had come to distrust humans. Yet, I-- who was anxious, and afraid to speak, who had never felt love or mercy, who was worried every morning about whether I would get enough to eat, or about how I would get enough sleep-- I felt responsible for Wilbur. I gave kindness, to a man whom others belittled or ignored. I gave the love and gentle caring that I had never received. I was like the widow who gave the small amount that she had, (and it was all that she had), for she had nothing else to her name.

We showed up that night at the Algonquin Inn, and Wilbur ran over to us when he saw us there. He brought scores of people over to our table to introduce us. Wilbur was proud and excited and happy. It was as if, for a few hours, he had family.

I have not thought about this evening for decades. But I remembered it, when I re-read the story of the widow who gives away the two tiny copper coins in her purse.

Sometimes, it is not the amount that we give. It is the fact that we give all that we have.

True giving is not about offloading one's excess, which you do not need and will not miss anyway.

True generosity is when we care deeply enough to give all that we have. True generosity is when we have the faith to understand that much more comes back to us, than we can ever give.

When we give what we do not have to give, a miracle happens: we receive an even greater bounty in return.

[Related Posting: "Giving My All", March 21, 2012.]

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Replication of Evil

" I believe in the Sun, even when it is not shining, in Love, even when I am alone, and in God, even when He is silent." [ Found scratched into a wall in Germany by someone hiding from Nazi concentration camps.]

The night of November 9- 10 is the commemoration of Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass". On that night, throughout Germany, the Nazi paramilitary, as well as German citizens, shattered glass in Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues. More than 1,000 synagogues were destroyed, and 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps. Scores of Jewish people were killed.

Kristallnacht was the prelude to Hitler's fiendish "Final Solution", during which millions of Jews were systematically exterminated throughout Europe.

In his book, "Ordinary Men, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and The Final Solution in Poland", Christopher Browning [ (c) 1992, 1998] states that between mid-March 1942 and mid-February 1943, 75%- 80 % of all Holocaust victims were killed in a massive offensive by Germany. And so, in a roughly one year period, The Final Solution was methodically carried out. This was no accidental circumstance of war; this was premeditated, meticulously planned-- and yes, it was Evil.

There are those who would claim that Evil does not exist and that the Holocaust never happened! I call these "The Deniers". And yet, in opposition to this denial, stands Christopher Browning's book, a detailed and thorough examination of indictments, pre-trial interrogations and perpetrators' testimonies from court cases against The Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland . The data, the history based on actual trial documents, the relentless chronicling of the numbers of victims, the locations, the methods, all set forth in this treatise --  add up to a brilliant, but disturbing portrait of a society gone mad.

I have to say that there is something about the human psyche that cannot admit that Evil exists, or that wants to explain it away. 'Well. . . . it was the Nazis who carried this out.'. . .'Well. . . . it was a different time.'. . . .  'Well. . . . Hitler was abused as a child, what do you expect?!' These are the Apologists.

I do not WANT a world where Evil exists. I do not want to see it, admit it, chronicle it. I want to look away!. . . And yet, Evil is real. We ignore it at our peril.

The most disturbing and condemning piece of the book is the assertion that those who carried out the Holocaust were "ordinary men". They were working class and lower middle class men from Hamburg, not "hardened Nazis". They had been drafted, not into Hitler's Army, but into the Order Police. AND they were regularly given the opportunity to refuse to shoot Jews!

Given that Evil is real, and that The Holocaust was largely carried out by "ordinary men", can such an atrocity happen again?

I recently had the honor of attending a series of lectures given by Avinoam J. Patt, PHd., the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, University of Hartford. Professor Patt cited two experiments conducted since The Holocaust. One experiment, the Milgram Study conducted in the 1960's showed random volunteers willing to administer severe electric shocks to volunteeer "victims". Another experiment, the Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment, 1971, showed the shocking violence that ensued when
student volunteers assumed roles as prisoners and prison wardens, in a mock prison built in the basement of the Psychology Building. The Zimbardo Experiment, which was supposed to last two weeks, had to end early because of the violence. The devastating conclusion from Professor Patt's lecture:    "Evil is a behavior of choice"!

Do you think that a series of events as degrading and shocking as The Holocaust cannot happen again? Think of Abu Ghraib and the abuse of prisoners there. Think of the My Lai Massacre. Think of The Kmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia. Or the slaughters in Rwanda.

Now, why would a young, articulate, tech savvy professor such as Professor Avi Patt spend his life's work on The Holocaust? Isn't that a grisly and deeply depressing subject?

Because The Holocaust was not just an aberration of history. It can happen again! Because Evil can be carried out by ordinary men (and women). And because it can be prevented!

I wish and pray that all the adults in the world insist upon tolerance for those who differ from themselves. I pray for a world where all the barriers between us are broken and we can see each other as truly human, not as less than human, or as The Other. I pray that we teach our children to think for themselves and to really analyze what is happening, and what they are asked to do, before they act. I pray that we teach our children to choose love, and to see that Good CAN triumph over Evil. I pray that we come to cherish those small acts of kindness that can swell into a world-wide outpouring of Love. I pray that Evil, if it does begin to rear its ugly head, is swiftly squelched. I pray that love for our fellow man in this world becomes something far greater, and more valued, than greed for material things, or than for power or might.

At the end of his lectures, Professor Patt quoted the Talmud: 'He who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the world entire.'

[Related Posting, "Healing Gifts", May 23, 2012]. 

(c) The Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Heart and Soul

" One of the teachers of the law asked Jesus, ' Of all the commandments, which one is the most important?'  'The most important one', Jesus answered, 'is this; 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, is the one Lord. Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength. And the second commandment is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than this.' 'Well said,' the scribe replied. 'You are right in saying that.' When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.' [Mark 12: 28-34].

Hurricane Sandy struck the Eastern coast of the United States on October 29, 2012.

In the storms's aftermath, many still have no power and no heat, and night time temperatures are going to dip into the 30's this week. People have lost all of their possessions. Some are now homeless. Many have lost pets. Children have died, some swept out of their mother's arms. People who used to be economically secure, are hungry and are scavenging through dumpsters, looking for food. Businesses have been destroyed and, therefore, people have lost their livelihoods.

I see the images of this disaster, and it hurts me deeply. I am shocked, sad-- grieving, even as those hardest hit are struggling. I take all of this loss and devastation very personally.

THIS is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. It is a very simple commandment: to imagine yourself in this desperate situation. To ask yourself, what if this were me? What would I need others to do for me, to help me? How would I want to be treated?

I see these two commandments as essentially one and the same. IF you love God, then you are called to love your neighbor. IF you love your neighbor, then you are showing God how much you love HIM.

You cannot love God, with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, if you do not love your neighbor in the same way as well!

To love God -- and my neighbor-- with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength? It sounds as if I will have no other strength left, but to do that. It sounds like loving God and my neighbor would be a full-time job?

It IS meant to be a full-time job. . . . In a sense, this is more than just what I am called to do. It is what I am called to BE.

When I was thirteen and I found out that I had almost died before I was even born, I resolved to fill every waking moment, of every single day, with purposeful activity.

That is admirable, but it is only part of the story. (After all, I can be very, very single minded in shopping for the perfect item-- for myself. . . .!)

It is a wholly different thing to spend as many moments as possible, every day, in loving others! How would the world change, if we could all spend all of our hearts, souls and physical efforts, every day, in loving others deeply? What if that love were not just a feeling, or even a prayer? What if it were a determination to use all of our energy to make the world a better place?

So here is my question: Remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001? Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Remember the tsunami of 2006 in Indonesia? Remember the major earthquake in China in 2008? Remember the earthquake in Haiti in 2010? Remember the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011?

If you are like me, you were probably riveted to those images in the news at the time. But, now perhaps you will have to Google these events to refresh your memory. I am ashamed to say that the raw images that so held my fascination then, have faded with time.

We hungrily devour the images of destruction as they unfold. We donate a few dollars. We move on in our lives. Our world expands temporarily to include the site of disaster. Then we shrink back to taking care of ourselves.

 But, what if we kept these images of our struggling brothers and sisters in our hearts and souls, and in our very being? What if we were in a world that could never forget, that would always work, in love, for our neighbors?

Then, maybe, just maybe, we would take it very personally if someone had no home; or no food; or no clothes; or no job; or no hope.

Then, maybe, just maybe, we would be angry enough to get up everyday and do something about it. Not ask why "Someone", somewhere, doesn't do something about it.

I pray that everyone can love, and give to others, with all of their heart and all of their soul and all of their strength.

[Related Posting: " Love Thy Neighbor", October 23, 2011].

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2012. All Rights Reserved.