Building a Bridge (Book Recommendation) …

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage turns his attention to the relationship between LGBT Catholics and the Church in this loving, inclusive, and revolutionary book. Continue reading “Building a Bridge (Book Recommendation) …”

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Seven Last Words (Meditations for Lent) …

Pray as You Go, the popular prayer website and free app sponsored by the Jesuits in the UK, will be using Seven Last Words by James Martin as the basis for their free 2017 daily Lenten retreat.

Continue reading “Seven Last Words (Meditations for Lent) …”

What Does The Bible Say About Welcoming Refugees And Migrants …

What does the Bible say about helping refugees, migrants and foreigners? In this video, James Martin, S.J., explains the Biblical basis for welcoming the stranger.

Continue reading “What Does The Bible Say About Welcoming Refugees And Migrants …”

Love Is The Measure …

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
— Matthew 25:35-40

God has made man with the instinctive love of justice in him, which gradually gets developed in the world. But in Himself justice is infinite. This justice of God must appear in the world, and in the history of men …

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Continue reading “Love Is The Measure …”

An Election Day Prayer …

God, I know that I don’t have to get angry.
I don’t have to get worked up.

I don’t have to get depressed.

I don’t have to get worked up.
I don’t have to get depressed.

I just have to use
my conscience
and vote. Continue reading “An Election Day Prayer …”

Things I Regret …

Again, this year I would like to quote a piece written by Catholic priest and author Rev. James Martin posted in the Huffington Post.  I hope that you will find it insightful, wise and inspirational.  Thank you for your generous and overwhelming support of my blog – My Soul In Silence Waits.  Many blessings to you in 2012!

Last year I listed 12 things I knew at age 50 that I wish I had known at 25. Now I’m a year older. And if I’m not wiser, at least I’m a bit more experienced. So here are 12 really stupid things I’ve done that I never want to do again. Maybe you’ve done some of them, too. But I’ll bet we’d both be happier if we didn’t…

 1. Compare. Ever heard the saying “Compare and despair”? Comparing yourself to someone else usually means that you imagine the other person is better off, more satisfied — in a word, happier. But here’s the problem: We end up comparing what we know about our life, which is a mixed bag of good and bad, with a fantasy of someone else’s supposedly “perfect” life. Why do we do this? Because we know all about our own problems, but other people’s problems are harder to see. As a result, our real life always loses out. That leads to despair. Besides, there’s probably someone comparing his or her life to your supposedly perfect one — which shows you how ridiculous it all is.

 2. “Should” on Yourself. It’s devilishly easy to imagine yourself making a choice that would have taken you to a different place in your life. I should have married this person; I should have taken that job; I should have moved; I should have blah, blah, blah. This is called “shoulding all over yourself.” (Say it aloud and the negative meaning becomes clearer.) Reflecting on our choices is an important way to grow, but you can’t live your real life if you’re busy living in your “should have” life. You’ll end up torturing yourself. Jesus of Nazareth once said you can’t serve two masters. You can’t live two lives either.

3. Get People to Like You. I spent all of my teens, most of my 20s, a great deal of my 30s and too much of my 40s trying to get people to like me. But forcing people’s affection rarely works. Plus, it takes too much energy to tailor yourself to what you think people will like (which is impossible to figure out anyway). Your true friends like you already. Be open to change and growth by all means; but treasure friends who love you for who you are. St. Francis de Sales, a lighthearted 17th-century saint, once said: “Be who you are and be that perfectly well.”

4. Interrupt. We all think we’re good listeners. We’re not. Many of us are absolutely terrible listeners, impatiently waiting for our turn to speak, confident that our next utterance is the solution to everyone’s problems or the most interesting of all the commentary yet offered. But you can’t contribute intelligently to any conversation if you’re not listening what the other person is saying. Interrupting someone says, “I have no interest in even letting you finish your thought.” As my sister tells her children, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

 5. Worry About How You Look. I cut myself shaving: Is the blood still showing? I have a zit: Is it getting bigger or going away? I need a haircut: Should I get one today or tomorrow? Are these pants too short? Too long? Who cares? Sure, you need to look presentable for your job and a decent appearance is a sign of respect to those around you. But if your friends are overly concerned about your clothes, and judge you on that basis, they may not be the best friends for you. And who in their right mind cares what strangers think about your clothes, unless you’re a fashion model? Spend less time thinking about your outside and more about your inside.

6. Work Constantly. We are immersed in a culture of productivity, which says that we are what we do. That’s why the first question out of someone’s mouth upon meeting a stranger is often “So what do you do?” We also measure ourselves by how much money we have, or make. Thus, discussions about salary are a big taboo. You can ask someone about their facelift or their divorce, but not what they earn. Why? Because it’s the default measure of worth, and it ruthlessly places people on a social ladder. If someone makes more than we do, we may feel “less than.” Look, everyone’s got to work. But if value is gauged by wealth, then when we make less, we feel less valuable as human beings, which is tragic. Nelson Mandela didn’t make much money when he was imprisoned in South Africa; was he less valuable? Plus, if we are what we do, when we’re not working we’re nothing. This kind of thinking creates a skewed measure of “value.” Stop driving yourself nuts with the trap of constant work.

 7. Fail to Give People a Break. Hey, surly person behind the drugstore counter: Why didn’t you say thanks when you handed me my change? Hey, barista, why are you being so rude? Stop and think. Maybe it’s because they’re underpaid; they hate their low-paying job; their mother is dying. Remember that behind those frowning faces are full lives. Remember too, that all these people all beloved creatures of God, with their own human dignity, and holy in their own way — yes, holy. When the Book of Genesis said that God looked at everything and said, “It was good,” he meant people, too. Even the angry barista. Give them their dignity by giving them a break.

 8. Complain About Minor Illnesses. If you’ve got a serious or chronic illness, you need to share your struggles and frustrations with your physician, with friends and family, or even a therapist. You need support. But do you have a cold that has hung on for days and makes you phlegmy? When you bend over like this does your back ache because you pulled a muscle in the gym? No one really wants to hear about minor illnesses. Everyone gets sick, for Pete’s sake. In the words of the great prophets, suck it up.

 9. Be a Jerk. You’re tired. You’re rushed. You’ve got a cold. You’re late. You’re angry about something your boss said. Yes, you’re miserable. That doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk to everyone else. It really doesn’t. Sure, share your frustrations and struggles with close friends, but don’t make everyone else’s life more miserable by passing on your misery. Once, I joked to a friend, “Boy, my life is such a cross!” “Yes,” he said, “But for you or others?”

 10. Avoid Doing the Right Thing. It’s no fun to call a friend who is in a bad mood because she’s lost her job. It’s no fun to take responsibility for making a mistake. It’s no fun to speak out against racism, sexism or homophobia and stand up for those being mocked. It’s not fun, it takes effort; but you know it’s the right thing to do. Do it anyway. If you don’t, you’ll feel terrible about yourself, and that’s really no fun.

 11. Make Fun of People. Nothing brings me lower than a few minutes of mocking another person. (Particularly if the person is not present.) But the snappy putdown has a high value in our culture, and famous snubs (say, of one famous writer to another) are repeated, and treasured like beautiful jewels. Much of our current political climate consists of politicians mocking people in the other party. (That’s been a big help in this country, hasn’t it?) Malicious speech is an easy way to wound. If you feel like you’re powerless against badmouthing someone, ask yourself three questions when it comes to commenting on another: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?

 12. Be Hard on Yourself. One of my Jesuit mentors used to say, “Be easy with yourself, Jim.” If you’re reading this list, and taking it at all seriously, you may be beating yourself up about stupid things that you’ve done in the past. (Believe me, my list is just as long as yours.) But you also want to change yourself, which is good. So be careful to “trust in the slow work of God,” as the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin used to say. (He was also a paleontologist, so he knew about things moving really slowly.) Or if you don’t believe in God, trust in slow work, period.

If you ever get discouraged about your rate of change, just think about trees — yes, trees. In the summer they’re green. In the fall they’re red. And no one sees them change.

—  James Martin, SJ is a Jesuit priest, culture editor of America and author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life

God’s Wisdom …

If we want to be spiritual, then, let us first of all live our lives. Let us not fear the responsibilities and the inevitable distractions of the work appointed for us by the will of God. Let us embrace reality and thus find ourselves immersed in the life-giving will and wisdom of God which surrounds us everywhere.
— Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude

Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from God exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversations, the least erudite books become sources of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God’s purpose. This is why they carefully pick up the crumbs which clever minds tread underfoot, for to them everything is precious and a source of enrichment.
— Source: Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J. , The Sacrament of the Present Moment (As presented on p.284 in the The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J.)

12 Things I Wish I Knew at 25 …

The New Year is a time of reflection and resolutions.  It is a time when many of us commit to implementing positive changes into our lives striving for self-improvement.  The hope is at the end of the year that perhaps we may come out happier, wiser or in some way better than when we started.  Usually, at this time of year there is an abundance of suggestions and advice on how to make this the best year yet!   This year I was particularly inspired by post written by Catholic priest and author Rev. James Martin on the occasion of his 50th birthday.  It was a compilation of 12 tweets on the 12 things that he wished he had known at 25.  These are the things I took would like to learn and incorporate into my daily living this year – and hopefully well beyond that as well.  Happy New Year!

1. First up: Stop worrying so much! It’s useless. (i.e. Jesus was right.)

2. Being a saint means being yourself. Stop trying to be someone else and just be your best self. Saves you heartache.

3. There’s no right way to pray, any more than there’s a right way to be a friend. What’s “best” is what works best for you.

4. Remember three things and save yourself lots of unneeded heartache: You’re not God. This ain’t heaven. Don’t act like a jerk.

5. Your deepest, most heartfelt desires are God’s desires for you. And vice versa. Listen. And follow them.

6. Within you is the idea of your best self. Act as if you were that person and you will become that person, with God’s grace.

7. Don’t worry too much about the worst that can happen. Even if it happens, God is with you, and you can handle it. Really.

8. You can’t force people to approve of you, agree with you, be impressed with you, love you or even like you. Stop trying.

9. When we compare, we are usually imagining someone else’s life falsely. So our real-life loses out. i.e. Compare and despair.

10. Even when you finally realized the right thing, or the Christian thing, to do, it can still be hard to do. Do it anyway.

11. Seven things to say frequently: I love you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Forgive me. I’m so happy for you! Why not? Yes.

12. Peace and joy come after asking God to free you — from anything that keeps you from being loving and compassionate.

— Rev. James Martin, S.J., December 30, 2010, Huffington Post

Rev. James Martin, S.J. is a Jesuit priest, the culture editor of America magazine and author of numerous books, including The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.  He is also the author of My Life with the Saints which Publishers Weekly named one of the Best Books of 2006.  Father Martin is a frequent commentator in the national and international media.   Before entering the Jesuits in 1988 he graduated from the Wharton School of Business and worked with General Electric for several years.  He now lives in New York City.