January 8, 1988 The last two days I have written about the specialness of the physical act of love that takes place between man, woman, and God. I have been very clear that when this act is consummated in the full presence of Christ a new life takes place. I have said that new life can and should take place anytime this act occurs. I also said the most perfect place for this to happen was when it happened in the fullness of marriage.
It seems natural to me that marriage is the place to begin today. Let's hope the Lord agrees.
Marriage is the joining of two human beings into one person, in the presence of God, with the community of man for support, in a continuing fashion for the rest of the earthly life of these two human beings.
It is even more. Marriage is me taking you forever just like you are, no matter what you ever do to me for the rest of your life. Marriage is me knowing what I am promising and still agreeing to it. Marriage is one sided. Don't ever doubt it. I am the one getting married. I am the one making this promise. I am the one that is choosing to make this promise and I am the only one I should worry about keeping this promise.
What you do is your business!
Ok, wow! Can you see that if this is your understanding of marriage that you had better be sure that the person you are marrying has the same or at the very least a very close similar understanding of marriage. Can you see what a disaster marriage could be if you enter into marriage with this as your understanding and your partner for life has a somewhat different attitude toward marriage? You bet!
What I think I just said was that I promised before God and with the approval and support of my community, to take my wife as my full equal partner for the rest of our human life even if she stopped loving me...even if she sleeps with someone else....even if she is a lousy cook...even if...in fact no matter what! Wow!
Can you see you might want to make sure that the person you are pledging all this to has the same understanding of marriage that you do? Can you see that you might want that person to make the same commitment in the same way to you?
Marriage is not something to be jumped into without proper consideration and preparation. Marriage is one of the few things in life that is forever.
What makes a marriage valid?
Well to start with it takes more than just you understanding what marriage is. To make a marriage valid both partners must share the same knowledge and vision of marriage. There can be no hidden secrets between two people before, after or during marriage.
And still all this can take place and a marriage is not valid.
Remember God historically since the beginning of time as long as we have knowledge of, made two different species of man, that is ,God made man and a woman. He made each one different and gave to each one a special part to assist God with the continuing creation of humanity. Man was given the ability to produce a seed that when placed inside of a woman with the presence of God and only when God the only creator was present and so willed, a new human being would be formed. To a woman's body was given the special ability to nurture the man's seed until it had grown in such a manner as to allow it to enter the world as another human being. To this man and this woman were given the special abilities to nurture and love and cherish this new human being until it could someday do the same. It is only when these special abilities and the understanding that needs to accompany such abilities is present that a valid marriage can be.
This can only take place between a man and a woman of the human species.
A man joining to another man does not now, nor has ever been able to produce another human being. If God so willed for man to join with man, I have no doubt that God could produce a new human being from such a joining. It does not seem ,at least in the known history of God, that this is what God wants. Man joining another man can be under some circumstance a loving act. Man joining man in the act of sexual intercourse does not and cannot form a marriage. Woman joining woman is the same as man joining man. The union can never be a marriage. It may be and in fact can be a strong loving lasting relationship. For some people that may be as close as they can allow themselves to get to God. God loves this group of people the same as God loves you and me. Their understanding of God in many ways may be the same, or stronger than yours or mine. Ultimately I think they are missing one of the most important purposes of the creation of man and woman. This purpose, which is the primary reason that God created two different species, man and woman, giving each a different function, is to be God's physical means of creation.
Once again I want to bring out that even when no new human being is begun during the sexual act between man and woman only, if the Lord God's presence is a part of such an act, it cannot take place without a new life infusion. When the act of intercourse itself happens between man and woman with God present there is always new life. I don't know if this new life can be present between man and man, or woman and woman. I would think that it is possible. I don't understand such unions. I love people. God said that we are to love each other. I know God loves this group of people. If God loves them so can I. If love is a real presence in their relationship, then God must be present. God is love. Where there is love there is God.
Marriage is not a part of this group of people's lives. This group of people may be able to form strong lasting relationships. Many marriages fail because they do not have this kind of strong permanent relationship. A marriage without this kind of relationship is not a marriage. I cannot condemn any relationship that includes God. While I do not approve or support homosexuality in any way, God was very clear that humans are to love each other. At the last check homosexuals are still humans
I don't want to be seen as giving approval to homosexual relationships. I have stated very clearly that no marriage can take place in such a relationship. I do want to be just as clear that I love all people regardless of the kind of life or the way in which anyone chooses to live their life.
I hold marriage in the highest of places. I value marriage in the highest of ways and I know that God gives special gifts to those that undertake marriage. These are special gifts that God chooses as God not to give to anyone else.
In all things remember God is there for you. God is love and you were created from love and by love. You were created not by man and woman but by God. Man and woman are the treasured means by which God chose to place you physically on this earth.
January 9, 1988 Today I heard a man say that you and I must become new creations in Christ Jesus.
I could not help but think about what it meant to be a new creation...a new creation in Christ.
To become something new would seem to me to mean that I would need to put something in my life aside. It would seem that I needed to change in some way so as to become different in a clean, fresh, first born way. How can you become something new and remain the same? I don't think it is possible.
The subject the man was speaking on had to do with the baptism of Jesus. When Jesus was washed with water by John the Baptizer did he, Jesus who was man, who was God ,who was both creator and savior of the world, did he, Jesus become a new creation?
While the nature of Jesus could never change, the baptism he underwent was very real. Jesus was baptized in order that what was written would be fulfilled. At the moment of his baptism, God the Father and God the Spirit , came and dwelled in and on and with Jesus. The Lord God confirmed to man what John the Baptizer had been saying, God confirmed God. A new world was opened to humanity through Jesus. His baptism showed us the way. His baptism pointed out to humanity that the Lord God had indeed come to dwell with mankind.
Jesus went on to affirm to man that indeed he, Jesus, had come to both fulfill the old and bring the new. The new way that Jesus brought to mankind was at the same time a refreshing and cleansing new way for mankind and a clear clean new start. Jesus said that all man had to do was to love their God and to love each other. All other laws were subject to those two. Indeed those two laws were only one law for to love God would mean you had to love what was from and of God. All men were created by and from God and therefore as such must be loved. This was a new and fresh start for man. Man had been reborn in a very real sense. Humanity had been given a new start, humanity had become a new creation.
Each of us must become new creations. There is only one thing that is necessary for us to do in order for us to really have a fresh start. Can you imagine that? I mean you and I can be reborn in a very real way. You and I can become new. We can start over.
It isn't easy. Don't let anyone kid you. Don't let anyone tell you different. It will be the most difficult thing you have ever attempted and the most important. So what's the catch? You are. You are the only one that can cause this thing to happen. No one can do it, buy it for you, cause it to happen to or for you, no one but you.
You have to want it and desire it with all your being. You have to choose to let it happen to you. You have to be willing to take the pain that goes with being a new creation.
All right having heard all that you still are determined to do it? If anyone can become a new creation, by golly, you're going to do it, so, how?
Are you ready for this? Simple, accept Jesus Christ as your God. Believe in Jesus Christ and live by the law he gave you to live by. Love God with all your might, all your being, and all your actions. Oh yes, that includes loving your neighbor as yourself. By the way neighbor means any and all humans on the face of the earth.
Like I said being a new creation isn't so easy. Maybe you'd rather just stay the way you are. Maybe that would be more honest...just do me one small favor...don't call yourself a Christian. The word Christian means believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
God's love is there for you. All you have to do is the most difficult of all things, you have to choose to accept it. You have to choose to live in God. God already lives in you.
Choosing to live in love isn't easy. I can attest to that. I don't do it all the time either! I wish I did. I try to most of the time.
January 10, 1988 Did you ever feel that every time you get close to doing anything that you really want to do, anything that is really important to you, something is sure to happen? I mean just when you find the strength to go on, the strength to believe, the strength to pick yourself up and start fresh, well, you just get knocked flat on your ass once more. I mean how many times can you keep getting up? How many times can you keep starting over. When does the will run out? When is it so much you just can't face another moment? When do you quit?
If God is so real and full of so much love and his love is so powerful, then I must have done something to cause God to hate me because if he loved me, it wouldn't be like this.
You never felt this way? I have. More than once.
Sometimes life can be so unfair, so wrong, so overwhelming that like others, not you I'm sure, well I have just wanted to quit. I wanted to run away from my wife sand my children. My presence just seemed to make their life more miserable. Every thing I touched seemed to turn to shit. I loved them so much I just knew that they would be better off without me.
Well I didn't run away from them and God willing I never will.
You see even in the deepest darkest recess of depression, even in the moments of total anger over situations that I had alone managed to screw up, even when tomorrow seemed sure to bring worse than today, I know that I was put here on this earth through the love of my God. I know that God isn't shitting on me. I know that God loves me very much and I have proof of that. First of all he hasn't deserted me. I still know God loves me. Sometimes I'm not sure how, or why... but, I know it. God didn't cause me all my problems. Indeed I caused quite a few of them and because I am loved by God whatever evil one there is in this world is certainly attracted to me. You see the more I know of God's love for me, the more this evil one is attracted to me and tries to turn me away from God. As long as I choose to accept my God's love, I can survive the evil one. Even if I turn away from God's love, God will not stop loving me. No matter if I deny God in any and every way, I know first hand God will not stop loving me!
That, my friend is why I keep trying. I know I can be better than I am. In God's love is the answer.
My wife and my children have not turned away from me despite my failures and continuing disasters. It seems they even cling tighter to me. It seems we have become closer even. Why? God knows the limits of my humanity and God has provided in my family the strength for me not to give up. I told you I have proof that God loves me.
I even have today proof that God loves you. You see I love you and though we've never met, I know you. I care about you and I support you. You are worthwhile, you are more than worthwhile, yes, my dear friend, you are precious not only to Jesus as I'm sure you've been told, and it's true, but my friend, Jesus provided me on this earth right now for you. That's right. Me, right now, here, for you. I love you and I support you and I pray for you that you might have the strength not to give up, that you might have the strength to know that you are special, if I can do more for you I will. If you are lost, lonely, if you are a person in need and you see me, cry out to me-John, I need help if I hear you and I will be listening for you, whatever I have, whatever I can do to help you find yourself, I will do. I know you and I know what you feel. You see I love you, you see you have no control over that fact. You can do nothing about it. Shucks, I can't either. God loves me and I love you. You don't even have to love me. It's ok.
Sometimes we need something to hold on to in order to get through the moment. If you have nothing else, if you can find no hope...well, take strength that a short fat man over 40 no less loves you. He loves you because God loves you and God loves him. If a man that you have never met and might never meet can love you, surely the God who created you must love you. Sometimes that knowledge is the only thing we have to see us through.
There is always another moment, another tomorrow. But you have to want it. I want it. I want it for me and I want it for you. My wanting it for you will not bring you to wanting it. I cannot make you want it. You, my dear friend, you must want it, I know. I know sometimes and so many times it has seemed that even when you wanted it, even and especially when you have gone after it, it wasn't there. Tomorrow disappeared. I know because I too have felt like that. I am not going to lie to you. Getting up this time will be the hardest thing you ever have to do in your whole life, until you have to get up again. And you will. What am I saying to you, on the one hand I'm telling you to somehow, someway find the strength to set up and yes I'm saying you're going to have to get up again which means if you get up now you are going to fall again. O God yes, it's true. And at first it's harder each time. But if you get up enough, getting up will become a habit and it will become easier, and, unreal as it seems, you begin to stay up longer.
You are so right when you say and I have heard you say this because I have said it, this isn't the way it should be. But it is. You don't have the strength to get up now and you certainly will not find the strength to get up by yourself, no man can! That strength comes only from the ever present and unending love of God. That strength is within you as it is within me. God is in each of us. But you got to reach for his love. You got to be willing to want his love. His love will be there for you as it was for me, even when you just don't want to acknowledge its presence, don't worry. You can't make it go away. You can't even affect it. All you can do is accept it. That may really be all you have left, and it is enough. It is more than enough. God's love is unlimited power and that love is inside of you. Want it and feel its power take over your life.
I don't know if you have the courage to want it. I pray you do. It is the answer. It is the only answer. It is a good new clean clear answer. Jump on it. Cling to it. Dwell in it. You are a special creation!
There are so many words you could say, so many prayers, I am not going to attempt to write a prayer for you. Just talk to God. This is what I said: I need your love, Jesus now! Come into my heart and body and give me the strength I so desperately need! Now, I didn't even bother with please or thank you. I didn't have it in me.
What I say now and sometimes I really would like to change it, but I've said it so often I guess I have come to believe it. O Lord God, do with me anything you want just don't turn me loose. Even if I beg you to turn me loose, don't do it. I want to be your servant!
Now I can really tell you, God has heard and is answering both.
God loves you and so do I.
January 11, 1988 My wife and I recently visited an Indian mission in New Mexico just off of Interstate 40. We were visiting because we had always wanted to be of service to Native American Indians. I think in our own way we have always wanted to give something to the Indian people even if it was just ourselves. What we experienced and found in the community we visited left us dismayed and even angry and very unsure of what we could do if anything.
We found a very small town where there was an Indian school run by the bureau of Indian Affairs. Next to this school was the local public school. The Catholic mission we were visiting also had a school. The Catholic school went 30-40 miles in opposite directions to pick up students from other much larger communities to bring in students. An immediate question was why was this necessary especially with the cost of running a school these days. We were told that in the local school and the local public schools the Indian child was always made to feel inferior. We were also told very proudly that the mission school was certified and the other two schools were not. Although we didn't voice the opinion it occurred to us that a more logical approach might be to work toward the certification of the other two schools which had far superior facilities and much more money. It also seemed that if the Indian children were truly not receiving a good education at these two schools, perhaps, the mission pastor should be working to rectify this problem. The mission school while doing a super incredible job with the very little it had just did not seem to be the answer.
And that was just the beginning of our being troubled.
The job that we were being asked to consider was to provide religious education for the mission school and the local parish community,
We went out into the parish and talked with as many people as we could in a short time. The protestant and Mormon community - which were the other two significant church communities were open and friendly and welcomed us. The people who identified as being Catholic seemed almost reluctant to talk with us. It became very clear that the local people did not attend church in that community. It became very clear that the local Catholic community went elsewhere even 25-30 miles away rather than attend church locally^ one lady came right out and said that she felt like a second class citizen and doubted if we would be invited out because she felt the local pastor did not want anything to do with them.
In the school community we found more than one teacher very reluctantly teaching religion. Most were very uncomfortable. The reason became apparent. After teaching and visiting several classes my wife and I understood some of their discomfort. In a class of 9 children for example, 3 might be nominally Catholic, 3 might be of the Navajo way, and the other 3 might be Mormon and Baptist. Of the three that were Catholic, perhaps one might have received first communion.
We talked to the pastor about what we had found. He too was very clear. He made it plain that he new he had neglected the parish community. When we mentioned one woman whom we had seen as being very hurt, he said he had made a pastoral decision that if she decided to leave, too bad but fine! In the school community he went on to say that he needed someone to come in and impose the Catholic religion" I'm saying impose, he just meant it. My wife and I felt we could not do that, oh no problem with loving or knowing our faith. We love and we know it and our life is given to sharing it. We also believe that these young Indian children need to learn about our Lord Jesus Christ. They need to know we respect their religious beliefs. We, my wife and 1 felt a very Christian approach was needed both in the school and in the community. We felt once Christianity had been clearly taught, our Catholic faith would be well received. We just new that our cherished Catholic faith would be readily accepted by the Indian people. We also just knew we could not start without understanding something of what the Indian believed.
The pastor did not see it that way at all.
Inside the volunteer community we found tremendous unrest. A young girl who had been hired as a replacement teacher for her very first teaching assignment was given the 9th through 11th grade to teach. She was given the same grades in religion to teach at the same time. We were told outright by the principal and the administrator that this young woman was going to be dismissed. It seems when she had arrived at the mission she, about 23, had been roomed with her principal( a habited 60+ year old sister), and another older lady. She had not hit it off well with either. Big surprise. We suggested to the pastor that the mission owed this young woman more than it had given her. We suggested she be given a different class schedule which was possible. We suggested if they fired her from her missionary position after such a short time, she might wonder if could succeed at anything. I mean come on, I couldn't even make it as a missionary less than a week after we left, she was let go without warning of any kind! Her first comment to our oldest daughter who is also teaching there, was, "I hope my family doesn't find out I failed at being a volunteer^" there is no way they new if or if not this young lady after two and a half months could make it as a teacher-especially under the conditions she was living and teaching under.
I saw a picture of the ad the mission used to solicit donations. Under the picture I noticed that it said the pastor had been born in that city. Somewhat startled I asked Father if that was where he was from. The business manager quickly spoke up and said somewhat laughingly, don't worry about what the picture said. If the picture had run in another part of the country, that's where it would have said the pastor was born.
So what is the point of all this?
People do many things, even worthwhile things in the name of the Lord. There can be no doubt that what that mission is doing in many ways, providing food, 'clothes, yes even the education-is wonderful.
But consider a parish community that doesn't want anything to do with its pastor or the mission because they have been neglected by the pastor so often for the mission. Wasn't the parish community just as worthwhile? Consider imposing any religion on any people because they are hungry, poor, must attend that school to get an education. A sister who worked in the beginning to start the mission with this same pastor and will have nothing to do with it now, said if the Indians are so important to Father, don't you think he would have visited more than 3 hogans. Wouldn't he have at least a couple of Indian friends? At first I did not want to hear her much less believe her. Consider the vast number of turnover they have at the school. Why do you think this is? Is it just normal or is it just presented as normal.
Consider what was accidentally revealed about how money is raised?
My wife and I believe that God is love and where love is, God is, we saw and felt much love there and we know God is there.
There was no way we could have accepted an invitation to serve there. We were in tears and so hurt at the thought of turning that position down as we drove the 1,300 miles back to our home in my father's borrowed station wagon.
How can something so important and done in the name of God be wrong? We were so uncomfortable with the attitude of the pastor. When they decided not to invite us we were not happy but indeed very sad.
We believe there is a need for a mission. We believe that a mission and a parish could be a family. It isn't there and it doesn't look good for the future. We believe that the Indian people and their religion must be respected. We believe the Catholic religion could be well received by the Indian people. We believe you must first live in a Catholic way in order to share your faith.
There was much to learn about the Indian people. When we drove out on Meals on Wheels and spoke to each person, they always broke into such wonderful but real genuine smiles. We loved them and they understood and loved us back. My wife and I felt for sure we could live and love among such people. They had so much to give us and we had our wonderful faith to share with them. How would you feel though if someone came to love you and said to you, "you are really wonderful. What you believe and has been handed down to you for centuries is fine. Now, however, we're going to give you the one true religion guess what? It's mine." We feel that would be the most un-Catholic, un-Christian, inhuman thing anyone could do to another person. We deeply object to that kind of attitude.
The Catholic religion is a way of life. It is a way of life that must be lived, loved, and shared. Not that way!