NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

BIRTHDAY INTO ETERNAL LIFE


At least 500 people came together to celebrate the life of JoseMari Manahan at the church dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria in Riverside, California.  The faithful in attenance were there to support the family, true.  They were also there because a missionary has gone home and we all wanted to live a moment of spiritual connection with this zealous being who was a brother to so many of God's chosen ones.
My spouse and I knew JoseMari for but a short time.  From the first moment we knew that we were in the presence of an apostle.  So happy, so serene and at the same time, so focused and driven.  As the saying goes in California, "it was a magical moment."  
One element that caught my attention was that the passing from this life to the other was respected by the fact a full sized coffin was the final housing for God's creation.   This was fitting because the little I knew of the deceased touched me deeply and this was a great spiritual finishing touch.  It gives me pause when I see the remains being respected all the way to the grave in such a complete and continuing exercise of spirituality.  It is my wish that the same will be accorded to me.  I want to give everyone a chance to get a last burst of the relationship that developed over a lifetime.  Good, bad or indifferent, y'all come and spend one more moment with me and Our Father Creator.  Just remember that there is no crying allowed at my funeral.

Now we are going to ask Joe to accompany us and the choir to Bethlehem and Jerusalem and other places of God's Own Land.  That will be a great, great experience.  I, for one, can't wait.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ESCHATOLOGY -- END TIMES, STAY READY

The big Greek word in the title is one that has captivated me for a long time.  I have often spent extended periods of time on long road trips turning over various trial understandings of the reality behind this word.  I have also spent time wondering what others think about the word and the concepts that it evokes.  The simplest, general expression of its meaning can be written, as above, "end times."
Actually, that is not quite enough because after all, the word 'Eschatology" is a Theological term, not a purely secular term.  The end times that it drives the mind and heart to are the times when human life ends and all that is left is spiritual, disembodied life the likes of which will last for all eternity, or in other words, beyond time.  Our Catholic understanding of this all encompassing milestone can be boiled down to some simple terms:
Human life ends - spiritual life begins.  God takes over and decides whether the spiritual life will be one of everlasting joy or one of everlasting misery.
That's it.
The challenge for us is to trust that God and we can stay joined on the same page consistently enough so that when the end comes upon us, we will be ready and His judgment of us will fall on the happy side.  Thinking about this, and talking to God about it a lot in our lives is an important habit to have.  By talking to Him often and discussing the possibilities that our present, time measured behaviors present to us and to Him can help to deepen our trust (faith) in Him and get us ready, and keep us brave enough to stay ready until the unknown moment comes upon us.

Lately, in fact now, I am experiencing a life event that is new to me.  In 8 decades I have not yet had this experience.  It is a challenge for me, not to take away the towering challenge that it has to be for others.  On August 31, 2017, ten days ago, a new friend, a strong collaborator and a builder of success for a common project that is but one-half complete was called to judgment by our Father Creator, but not in a manner that I have ever experienced.  My newly found friend was killed in what is euphemistically called an "accident" but which legally will be defined as "manslaughter."  Yes, while sitting at a traffic signal, waiting for a light change, a drunken driver in a large vehicle travelling at close to100 MPH struck the smaller vehicle in which JoeMari was sitting.  The result was the termination of Joe's earthly life.

My life has been full of death, timely and untimely, to put it in human terms.  Eschatologically, every death is timely because it is a part of God's time.  But boy, I tell you, this one is strumming my heart strings pretty close to the "untimely" bracket.  Why?  Joe and his dear wife were preparing a choir presentation to be delivered on stage in the main public square of Bethlehem, yes, that Bethehem on the occasion of the solemn lighting of the Christmas Tree on December 2, 2017.  Don't worry, we will be there.  We have to be there so that we can see what it is that our dear Father Creator has in mind for us amid all this trauma, drama!  I'm staying ready for this one.  I gotta see the power of God at work in this one.  I know how it works, I've been there, a lot.

Here today, gone tomorrow:

Cecile. aunt.
Joseph, grandfather
Eugene, father
Melina, mother
Elna, cousin
Alcide, uncle
Donald, uncle
Harley, uncle
Tom, cousin
George, cousin
Victor, cousin

No, I didn't make this up.  Not a one by violence.  Not even the four who served in Europe and one in the pacific during WWII.  Only 8 first degree relatives slid quietly into death.  Joe's death is a new one on me.

My deep relationship with the concept of eschatology is keeping my mind whirring since this event occurred.  I have been a week and a half now wondering if eschatology can be a dynamic reality.  Is it time going toward the goal or it is the goal itself?  I know that through my life this concept has been a strong force that tends to keep me on the straight and narrow.  It has served as a sign-board of the final reality in waiting.  It has sometimes seemed to be close enough to be touched and at other times far and barely visible over the horizon.  I have personally faced death a couple of times (a .45 cal is a big, black hole, believe me) but I never feared it, and still don't.  This violent episode has driven me to a different side of myself that has me wondering about the things I have escaped.  Hmmm, like driving while plastered; like even talking my way out of the "ticket" one time when I got stopped at 2:30 AM (Springfield, MA it was...good Italian Catholic cop).  I wonder about this and other events in my life and I thank God for the energy and the Grace that He gives me to think about these things.
I have been thanking Him a lot this past week because had I been the one to cause another person's death, I am quite sure that I would have died to myself at the same time.

So, that's me. Now that you know all that, don't forget that because I didn't die to myself yet, when they finally do put me into a box, it is absolutely forbidden to cry at my funeral.

Monday, September 4, 2017

STAY READY FOR TONITE YOUR SOUL WILL BE REQUIRED OF YOU

LUKE 12;20 "This night your soul is required of you:
Hi, Joe.  How are you, Bro?
I'm fine.  You?
I'm fine too.  Thinkin' 'bout you and Ning.
Really?
Yeah.  I just noticed that you haven't reserved your seats yet.
He, he, you're almost right.  We just did that, so we're OK.
Sweeeet!! Glad to hear it.
(3:30 pm, August 31, 2017 - Phone call talk, Joe and Paul)


I started this blog about 7 years ago.  Along the way, as is very clear from the title, I have meditated and reflected on the mystery of life and death...not just mine, but others too.  I have assigned different titles to some of the various stories that I have decided to share with you.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

With none of the above did I have the blessing of a high happiness exchange of love as I did with Brother JoseMari on August 31, 2017.  There, he and I were joking about the dedication and the greatness of the Bethlehem project mixed together with the sudden surprising realization that the leaders (JoeMari and Ning) had not yet set aside their tickets, never once did we think that the guy to whom I was talking was going to be the first one to cross the finish line.  If any one of you is expecting "fair" from God, forget it.  Remember, He is the inventor of the "Last shall be first" rule.

There is also a very deeply spiritual moment in all of this that I want to put before you.  The Gospel readings of the last three days of the week were from the 25th chapter of Matthew.  This is the one about the final judgement.  The three stories are about the end of earthly time and the beginning of heavenly eternity.  We are all familiar with the story of the 10 maidens and the story of the talents and then the climax with the description of the final judgement with the sheep and the goats.

The first two stories in the chapter warn us to stay ready.  Not only to stay ready but to prepare ourselves about how to be ready.  We know that God is merciful and just.  We know that He gives us everything we need, including the virtue that it takes to hold His hand as we walk to heaven.  But just as the 5 dumb maidens couldn't get extra oil and the guy with only one talent couldn't get the smarts to make it grow, they got bounced.  Why?  Because there is one thing that they could not get, not even from God -- TIME.  God Himself did not grant His own Son the grace of letting "This chalice pass from me"  God's definition of the time allocated to us is not negotiable... He doesn't make exceptions.  

One final spiritual thought about this.  It has been nearly 70 years since my grandfather died and it has been going on 60 years since my father died.  God was good to them, and to us.  No suffering.  Out like candles in a storm.  These two people are still a part of my life.  Not just in pure human memory, but in spiritual presence.  They still guide me on the way.  I still follow the advice that they give me.  
God has given me the grace to relate to them and He gives them permission to guide and move me. That is the loving power of God,  Count on it.  I promise that you will experience JoeMari's supporting and guiding presence many times along the rest of the way that leads to heaven.  Yes, my sons tell me the same thing about the grandfather whom they never even knew.  Do not doubt it.  Live it and when it comes time for me to leave for good, remember that I do not allow crying at my funeral.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

CELEBRATING THE ASSUMPTION -- CELEBRANDO LA ASUNCIÓN DE MARÍA

Assumption
The Assumption of Mary at the threshold of the harvesting of the first fruits 
This is a homily that was delivered by Father Lauro Minimo, the vocations director of the diocese of San Diego, California on August 15, Feast of the Assumption.  He has graciously allowed its publication on my original blog.  May God bless you all with a deep appreciation of this invitation to understand one of the many facets of the spirituality of the mystery of the Assumption. 
Thanks, Father.  Don't forget, No Crying allowed at My Funeral.
============================
August is a strange month. The summer is waning yet fall is not quite here…vacations are spent but school has yet to begin. This is also the month when we celebrate victory; we commemorate the end of World War II and so we celebrate peace. Yet August is also the month of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- perhaps the greatest symbols of the carnage of war and of the inhumanity with which people…that we sometimes inflict on each other.
In the midst of this month of opposites we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, the dogma that solemnly decrees that, at the completion of her earthly life, Mary was taken up, body and soul, into heaven. We should be clear about what is so important about this feast.  The key is found in the second reading wherein Paul calls the Resurrection of Christ the “first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.”  This “first fruit” is actually a Jewish ritual term that signifies the custom of offering the first sheaf of the harvest back to God, and this first sheaf is considered a symbol of the entire harvest. So when Paul speaks of Christ as the first fruits to rise from the dead, he is saying that the whole crop will follow.   Mary is the first of this “whole crop” to follow Christ. Each of us, in turn, is called to the same.
So from this flows one very important lesson: when God glorifies the body of Mary and allows her to share in the victory of his Son, God also teaches us how sacred and how important our own bodies are. God teaches us that the gift of life is very precious, and that life should never be taken for granted, destroyed, or wastefully used. Whether the issue is war or destruction, abortion or embryonic stem cell research, the death penalty, insensitivity to the handicapped or prejudicial behavior…our response must always be the same: Life is so very sacred that it must be respected and honored, treasured and revered no matter what the surrounding circumstances might be.
The Feast of the Assumption of Mary teaches us that life is so precious that God does not want it to decay away forever…God calls it back home. But until God does that, we can only treasure life for the great gift that it is. May we do so with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother…through her intercession, by her example, and with her love.
Join together in a loving Hail Mary…
===============================

La Asunción de María en el umbral de la cosecha de las primicias
Esta es una homilía que fue pronunciada por el padre Lauro Minimo, director de vocaciones de la diócesis de San Diego, California, el 15 de agosto, Fiesta de la Asunción. Él ha permitido graciosamente su publicación en mi blog original. Que Dios les bendiga a todos con una profunda apreciación de esta invitación a entender una de las muchas facetas de la espiritualidad del misterio de la Asunción.
Gracias, padre. No te olvides, No es permitido Llorar en Mis Funerales
============================
Agosto es un mes extraño. El verano está menguando pero el otoño no está totalmente presente ... las vacaciones se acercan al vencimiento, pero la escuela todavía no ha comenzado. Este es también el mes en que celebramos la victoria; Conmemoramos el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y así celebramos la paz. Sin embargo, agosto es también el mes del bombardeo de Hiroshima y Nagasaki - quizás los símbolos más grandes de la carnicería de la guerra y de la inhumanidad con la que la gente ... que a veces nosotros mismos infligimos unos a otros.
En medio de este mes de contrariedades celebramos la Asunción de María, el dogma que decreta solemnemente que, al completar su vida terrenal, María fue llevada, cuerpo y alma, al cielo. Debemos tener claro lo que es tan importante en esta fiesta. La clave se encuentra en la segunda lectura en la que Pablo llama a la Resurrección de Cristo "el primer fruto de los que han dormido". Este "primer fruto" es en realidad un término ritual judío que significa la costumbre de ofrecer el primer haz de la cosecha de vuelta a Dios, y esta primera gavilla se considera un símbolo de toda la cosecha. Así que cuando Pablo habla de Cristo como los primeros frutos para resucitar de los muertos, está diciendo que toda la cosecha seguirá. María es la primera de esta "cosecha entera" para seguir a Cristo. Cada uno de nosotros, a su vez, es llamado a la misma.
Así, de esto fluye una lección muy importante: cuando Dios glorifica el cuerpo de María y le permite participar en la victoria de su Hijo, Dios también nos enseña lo sagrado y lo importante que son nuestros cuerpos. Dios nos enseña que el don de la vida es muy valioso, y que la vida nunca debe darse por adquirida, destruida o usada inútilmente. Si la cuestión es la guerra o la destrucción, el aborto o la investigación con células madre embrionarias, la pena de muerte, la insensibilidad a los discapacitados o el comportamiento perjudicial ... nuestra respuesta debe ser siempre la misma: la vida es tan sagrada que debe ser respetada y honrada, Reverenciada sin importar las circunstancias ambientales.
La Fiesta de la Asunción de María nos enseña que la vida es tan preciosa que Dios no quiere que se desintegre para siempre ... Dios la llama a casa. Pero hasta que Dios haga eso, solo podemos atesorar la vida por el gran don que es. Podemos hacerlo con la ayuda de la Santísima Virgen María, nuestra Madre ... por su intercesión, por su ejemplo y por su amor.
Únete en un amoroso Ave María ...


Monday, August 7, 2017

SEX -- MALE / FEMALE -- GENDER -- ? -- HUMAN -- YES -- BELOVED CHILD OF GOD

Christine Jorgensen 1954.jpg
Christine Jorgensen - 1954
I was 17 when this hit the front pages
This is a reflection about the topic of human beings who are in this world because God has put them here. Because they are His creatures, they are the objects of His everlasting love.

I start here:    I know what sex is - Male and female
                      I know what gender is - Masculine and feminine
Where I get lost is when people, human beings, start asserting that they have "gender" as though that noun makes them other than male or female.

I have been trying to get my head and my heart wrapped around the reality that is being described when I hear that someone cannot identify with the physical configuration of the body into which the individual has been "poured."  I often wonder if the difficulty that I have in understanding that discomfort is a shadow of the puzzlement that the "gender misunderstanding" of the ambivalent individual has to endure.  I do wonder about that.  I have to admit that when it comes to sex, I am a rather earthy individual.  From age 11 on I was comfortable with my identity as a male.  There was never any doubt, not even when I had some homosexual dalliances at one short period of my "coming of age."  So, that's who I am.  Dyed in the wool male.

Now, that dyed in the wool being is also one who has no trouble respecting and consorting with homosexual and "Q" people as well as those who have decided to transition to a sexual identity other than that into which they were born.  I have never experienced any discomfort around such people.  I once worked in a Catholic parish where the pastor was a nice old guy.  When he discovered that I was friendly with a homosexual young man and the man's mother, he forbade me to ever visit them again and to end the friendly relationship.  I told him "No."
He was not happy with that, but he did not fire me.  Good thing that he did not know that  I was counseling a female who was in the process of gender transition from female to male.
I think of these two individuals a lot, but because I left the service of the church in that jurisdiction, I have never had further contact with these two friends (and others).

I know that we are all God's creatures.  I am convinced that if I respect and love humans of every description, I stand a chance of being loved and accepted as well.  I am also convinced that the Father Creator of us all expects us to respect and love our fellow humans as He does.  To fall short of that is to fall short of what the Father Creator expects of us.  This expectation was declared to us by His Only Begotten Son.  That is our call.  What our answer is will be evaluated at the Pearly Gates.

When I leave you for the Pearly Gates, remember that I have forbidden you from crying at my funeral.  I know that my LGBTQ friends won't.