September 29th, the Feast of the Archangels marks the beginning of a powerful novena of feast days. We get particularly excited here about this day because of our dedication to the Archangel Raphael, the angel sent to heal and guide in the Book of Tobit. But St. Michael is also an important intercessor that we rely on. As the world seems to be getting darker as we hear of all that’s going on in Iraq and Syria with the advancement of ISIS and the horrific persecution of Christians there, I think this week takes on particular significance in terms of a prayer agenda for all Christians.
I’ve heard it said that 90% of the things we worry about never happen. Now an optimist would readily drop the worry and realize how useless it really is. A pessimist, on the other hand, would think, “Wow, worrying is pretty effective!”
Now I have to admit, my melancholy temperament is prone to worry and that second comment was my own. Of course, I said it tongue in cheek but deep down, I think for many of us veteran worriers, we believe there’s some truth to that idea- that somehow we stave off bad things by worrying to keep them at bay.
“The Most Holy Virgin, in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, temporal or especially spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary."
God sometimes allows us some tough trials in life, both emotionally and physically, but always with a greater purpose in mind. In the book of Tobit we see God's response to the prayers of two good people, Tobit and Sarah, who were dealing with crushing misfortune and were at the end of their patience.
We all are heartsick over the terrible news about the death of beloved actor/comedian, Robin Williams. A popular icon in America, Williams was loved by so many fans and his death by suicide is simply devastating.
I remember when I was very young and an actor that I liked committed suicide. At the top of his popularity on the hit show “Alias Smith and Jones”, Pete Duel took his life on the morning of New Year’s Eve, 1971. It was my first experience of “knowing” someone who took his own life and it deeply affected me.
As we head toward the end of July, the month in which we celebrate our independence as a nation, I keep reflecting on the idea of freedom…and how messed up our concept of it has become. Most of us would probably agree that if our founding fathers were to return to America today, they would be rather shocked and disgusted. Is this what they shed their blood for?!
Freedom has become gravely misunderstood these days as license- the right to do whatever the heck we feel like doing.
It’s summer, and the big questions I hear from patients are: What sunscreen do I use? Should I wear a hat or should I stay out of the sun completely?
My answer: “ It depends”
On what?, they ask. Lots of things: Genetics, history of skin cancer, diet, time of day etc...
Here is my professional opinion on sun exposure. YOU NEED IT! Everybody needs it.
I had to chuckle during a session recently. My poor client recounted a horrifying “vacation” with family. An over-controlling mother, tension with the step father and a fussy baby transformed a one week vacation into 3 weeks off purgatory. Ok, I didn’t really chuckle out loud, but inwardly I could really relate. Been there. Done that. Not fun.
When summer vacation or holidays come around, and especially for those who have families in other states, it’s often expected to spend your vacation time visiting them…or having them visit you. Seems logical.
Most Christians believe that God can heal those who are suffering physical or emotional illness or spiritual pain. Many of us have seen miracles happen. We have seen people recover from end stage cancer, overcome drug and alcohol addictions, survive shark attacks or weeks stranded in the wilderness. Miracles happen every single day.
But we also recognize that not everyone heals in the way they may be praying for. Yes, God does hear and answer our prayers but in His time and according to His will. Scripture tells us that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. My step dad died slowly of a painful cancer. His faith was stronger than any one else I know and yet God didn’t “cure” him.
Let’s face it, not all parents are perfect and some fall very short of that mark. In our dysfunctional world, many people today have come from homes of abuse and extreme neglect. In striving to be good Christians, many struggle with this commandment.
So, let’s take a closer look. Can we honor parents who constantly hurt or abuse us? The answer is yes- but with qualifications.