Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Art

USA Today is Wrong

USA Today published an article today entitled, Most Americans believe in God but don’t know religious tenets. The premise of the article, as evidenced by it’s title, is that while Americans believe in God, they neither know their own nor neighbors religious tenants. Key findings of the article suggest:

  • Doctrines don’t grab us. Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.
  • Basic Bible eludes us. Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn’t one of the Ten Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
  • World religions are a struggle. Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims.

The challenge of course is that you only love what you know and know what you love. To divorce doctrine from our beliefs is to either re-create God in our image or to love  without depth. I could walk down this path but I prefer to prove the article wrong. The following is a short survey that I would like to use to give USA Today some feedback.

The World’s Toughest Catholic Quiz was first posted by This Rock authored by Karl Keating. I have more faith in Catholics. I would love to have you take the quiz and then I will report back the results to prove that Catholics know more than they think. Good luck!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Witness to Holiness…First in Speech

We are all called to be witnesses for the Gospel, it is the Gospel mandate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 2472 says it this way:

The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

As I continue to prepare for my God-willing Diaconate ordination, I am drawn to meditate on the following prayer that the Bishop admonishes the newly ordained Deacons to incarnate as he hands on the Book of the Gospel to them:

Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become.

Believe what you read,

teach what you believe,

and practice what you teach.

I think this admonishment is something we all need to inculcate into our daily lives. At the core of the prayer is the simple demand of becoming who we profess to be. St. Paul even gives a blueprint for success to the young (I pray I am still considered that):

Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Hopefully, we remember that St. Timothy was about 17 when this was written to him. So, we could say that he is a young adult or adult due to the culture and time in which he lived. The first step towards become a witness to those around us, according to St. Paul, is speech. St. James in his epistle, rather pointedly shares with us the importance of our speech:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. (James 1:13)

In fact, because of the sins of speech, he actively discourages those who want (or quickly volunteer) to be teachers (verbal witnesses) by proclaiming that if you cannot control your tongue, then you have no hope of controlling the rest of your conduct (Notice speech precedes and drives conduct):

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. (James 3:1-6)

Most of us think that this is just what we say. As every saint has taught, sins of omission are usually worse than sins of commission. This reminds me of Edmund Burke who once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We need to speak up,

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Today’s society uses words as  a tool. The very fact we have the sayings, “Words are cheap” or “I’ll believe it  when I see it” should scandalize the Christian. Remember what Michael Card wrote in his song, The Final Word?

When the Father wanted to communicate His love, He expressed it in one final word. The Final Word was Jesus, He needed no other one…

We live in a world of broken promises, trite comments and conversations that really communicate nothing. Oddly enough, the only words we typically trust in are those in our music. For some reason we many times allow them to manipulate our emotions into believing that somehow the artist understands us, what we are feeling, or where we are – I thought that was the definition of friends and family. From the beginning, the Lord intended words or speech to express who we are and to communicate His holiness and presence.

The greatest offenses of speech today is blasphemy. The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines blasphemy as:

Speaking against God in a contemptuous, scornful, or abusive manner. Included under blasphemy are offenses committed by thought, word, or action. Serious contemptuous ridicule of the saints, sacred objects, or of persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is indirectly attacked. Blasphemy is a grave violation of charity toward God. Its gravity may be judged by the capital punishment in the Old Testament, severe penalties of the Church, and in many cases also of the State for blasphemous speech or conduct. In order for a person to sin gravely in this manner, he must use blasphemous expressions and realize the contemptuous meaning of what he says or does.

To toss our Lord’s name around casually, or using His name as an exclamation in a text or IM would be grounds for being stoned in the Old Testament. Today, the penalty is well, hell (deliver us oh Lord!). We also need to remember that we participate in another person’s sin by choosing to ignore, confirm and/or allow the sin to continue. In other words, we incur the guilt as well. Example, what was the language like in the last movie or television show you watched? Did you encourage others to watch it and tell them it was a good/great movie if you just “overlook the language?” As a good priest friend also shared with me, being desensitized is not an excuse. It just means you choose to live with terminal cancer unless, of course, you take radical action.  For those who have no idea how to discover what is in a movie before you contribute to the profit: – fantastic service.

Let’s commit ourselves to recovering holy speech. To help us this Friday in our meditation on the Passion, the following is a quick list of offenses against truth that deal with speech- CCC 2463-2487.

Offenses against truthfulness:

  • False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness.276 When it is under oath, it is perjury.
  • [R]ash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor
  • [D]etraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them
  • [C]alumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
  • Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct.
    • Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another’s vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.
  • Boasting or bragging is an offense against truth. So is irony aimed at disparaging someone by maliciously caricaturing some aspect of his behavior.
  • [L]ie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.
    • Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

Have a great weekend and may the Lord bless you and your endeavors in recovering, rediscovering and building a Catholic culture for the glory of His name.

Poetic Dogma: Mary and Gabriel

For the mystic, all dogmas and doctrines are sources of endless meditation and delight for the intellect and will. The rest of us though, as we strive to grow in holiness, sometimes struggle to understand how the dogmas and doctrines fit into daily life or even our imagination. That is why our Lord gave us poets.

Poets have a way of bridging the gap between the imagination and mystery, if only for a brief moment. It is an art that seems to have fallen by the way side. John Paul II spoke of the ministry of the poet in his 1999 letter, To Artists. He addressed their mission to capture the ineffable in order to better understand the mysteries of who we are as a persons and most importantly, who the Living God is. He cautioned them that their gift is not meant to romanticize the heart into flights of fancy or compose sonnets that manipulate the emotions and heart to think only of itself and a solitary world separated from God. They are the evangelists and prophets who, through their enigmatic speech, set the heart free to experience the delights of heaven while embracing the sufferings on earth. Because really, all our minds desire is to understand while all our heart wants to do is love – even in obscurity. The true poet does not bind the reader to this earth but launches them into the heavens contemplating the attributes and love of God by revealing His goodness in creation and His grace in the plights and flights of the human spirit.

My sister sent me this poem which is a poet’s look at the Annunciation. Rupert Brooke wrote, Mary and Gabriel in 1912 and gave us some great gems of beauty hidden within to consider in our daily meditations. Hope you enjoy it. Mahalo nui loa Nani!

Mary and Gabriel

Young Mary, loitering once her garden way,
Felt a warm splendour grow in the April day,
As wine that blushes water through. And soon,
Out of the gold air of the afternoon,
One knelt before her: hair he had, or fire,
Bound back above his ears with golden wire,
Baring the eager marble of his face.
Not man’s nor woman’s was the immortal grace
Rounding the limbs beneath that robe of white,
And lighting the proud eyes with changeless light,
Incurious. Calm as his wings, and fair,
That presence filled the garden.
She stood there,
Saying, “What would you, Sir?”
He told his word,
“Blessed art thou of women!” Half she heard,
Hands folded and face bowed, half long had known,
The message of that clear and holy tone,
That fluttered hot sweet sobs about her heart;
Such serene tidings moved such human smart.
Her breath came quick as little flakes of snow.
Her hands crept up her breast. She did but know
It was not hers. She felt a trembling stir
Within her body, a will too strong for her
That held and filled and mastered all. With eyes
Closed, and a thousand soft short broken sighs,
She gave submission; fearful, meek, and glad….

She wished to speak. Under her breasts she had
Such multitudinous burnings, to and fro,
And throbs not understood; she did not know
If they were hurt or joy for her; but only
That she was grown strange to herself, half lonely,
All wonderful, filled full of pains to come
And thoughts she dare not think, swift thoughts and dumb,
Human, and quaint, her own, yet very far,
Divine, dear, terrible, familiar…
Her heart was faint for telling; to relate
Her limbs’ sweet treachery, her strange high estate,
Over and over, whispering, half revealing,
Weeping; and so find kindness to her healing.
‘Twixt tears and laughter, panic hurrying her,
She raised her eyes to that fair messenger.
He knelt unmoved, immortal; with his eyes
Gazing beyond her, calm to the calm skies;
Radiant, untroubled in his wisdom, kind.
His sheaf of lilies stirred not in the wind.
How should she, pitiful with mortality,
Try the wide peace of that felicity
With ripples of her perplexed shaken heart,
And hints of human ecstasy, human smart,
And whispers of the lonely weight she bore,
And how her womb within was hers no more
And at length hers?
Being tired, she bowed her head;
And said, “So be it!”
The great wings were spread
Showering glory on the fields, and fire.
The whole air, singing, bore him up, and higher,
Unswerving, unreluctant. Soon he shone
A gold speck in the gold skies; then was gone.

The air was colder, and grey. She stood alone.

The Gossamer Legend

Now that the air is a little chiller, we know that autumn is just around the corner. Nature itself is preparing for its Lenten retreat and so are all His creatures. It is at this time that a number of spider young-lings hatch from their eggs. After their exoskeleton hardens, the spiders  find the highest point, release a strand of their silken web and let the wind carry them where it wills (You remember, like in Charlotte’s web). This silken thread of web is known colloquially as gossamer.

This delicate filmy cobweb, prevalent in the air and on the grass and bushes, especially in autumn, is explained in a fine legend. It is the delicate thread unraveling from the Blessed Virgin’s winding sheet, falling to earth in her assumption. The word itself, however, comes from “goose summer” which was a name for St. Martin’s summer because of the goose legend, which is another story![1]

Sometimes our legends are written by the poets whose explanations while implausible, are so beautiful we ignore the logic and just believe. Maybe today as you enjoy your autumn day you can take a moment to lay on the ground and stare up and name the shapes of the clouds. If you have forgotten how, just ask a toddler and they will re-teach you.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. (Luke 18:17)

[1] Klein, Rev. Peter, The Catholic Source Book (Harcourt Religion Publishers, 2000) p. 352

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, my parish does not celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows as a Feast but a Solemnity. Why? Under this particular title, our parish, was instituted and entrusted. I was going to write a little history on the feast but I found that the opening hymn for Morning Prayer would better illustrate how Our Lady reflects her Son. Today, on this the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows, I offer this for your reflection, especially lines four and five:

Mary the Dawn

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.

Lift High the Cross

Today, the Church celebrates the Triumph of the Cross. Through this precious wood, the Christ was strapped, nail, bled and die – thereby winning our redemption. Christians reverence and exalt the cross because it is the proximate cause of our salvation. To adore the cross is to adore the Christ who hung upon it. It is the real symbol of the entire Paschal mystery: the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God.

History demonstrates that public veneration of the Cross has taken place since the fourth century. Tradition also shares with us that on September 14, 326, St. Helen, the mother of Constantine, miraculously discovered the cross.

The crucifix is the universal symbol of Christianity and our “calling card”. While an image of disgrace to the Romans and all those in their empire, it became the symbol of freedom, salvation and the desire of every Christian’s heart. It is the most basic and beloved symbol that identifies a Christian.

Today, most Catholics have adapted a Quaker’s religious piety – no sacred symbols in their homes or on their persons. This is a shame. St. Paul encourages us to not only display it but become it:

From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. (Gal 6:17)

or again,

More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:8-12)

In a society that spurns and avoids (even reminders of it) suffering at any cost, the crucifix is the singular reminder that suffering, when united with Christ, is a holy act. With Christ it also becomes a human act. The crucifix is our sign of victory. It is the primary instrument through which we have access to heaven and meritorious grace.

Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio spoke of the home as the domestic Church. In one sense he was addressing the family, while in quite another he was addressing every Christian home. When we walk into our home or even our bedroom, what is the first thing we see? What are the most prominent objects in our home/room? Whatever is most prominent is 9 times out of ten the most important object in our lives. If it is not the Christ, we should tremble…or are we embarrassed of Him? If it is embarrassment we need to remember those deadly words our Lord spoke in the Gospels,

But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father. (Matt 10:33)

What do you notice first when you walk into your living space?

Steve Camp in the 1980s wrote a song entitled, What would the Devil Say. The song asks if there is enough evidence to convict us for knowing the Christ. As Catholics, we understand that our physical actions and choices are a direct expression of our heart…and yes, we can lie with our actions as well – Scripture calls that being double-minded (see James 1:8). All things being equal, in our own homes and lives, is there enough evidence that the world would know we are a Christian if we were mute? Is there enough evidence not only in our lives but our possessions? Will hell acquit us or convict us of a Capital Crime…I pray all of us would receive a death sentence from hell!

I doubt if any of us will ever be a St. Francis, St. Padre Pio or a Theresa Neumann who bore the physical wounds of Christ. So, we will have to settle for hanging our crucifixes and and sacred art to remind ourselves and all those who enter into our lives and homes,

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! (Joshua 24:15)

Flipper: The Lord of the Seas

Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Flipper. Those in their twenties who remember this show probably relate to the 1995 series starring Jennifer Alba. You probably didn’t know that it was a remake of the original series which ran from 1964-1967. I of course, being too young to see the original, enjoyed the reruns in Hawai’i. Anyway, the star of the show was a dolphin named Flipper. She (yes, Flipper was a she) was the companion

The Original

animal of Chief Warden Porter Ricks and his two young sons Sandy and Bud at the fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in southern Florida. This dolphin of unusual intelligence befriended the young boy/girl (will include Alba since she is Catholic) and ends up saving the family numerous times – even placing itself in harms way.

As you know, lore about dolphins has always been part of the mariner’s experience. Dolphins have been credited saving numerous sailors including Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. To the Greeks, the god Apollo came among humankind in the form of a dolphin. Aristotle writes of how he marveled at the swiftness and elegance of dolphins in the water. Many pagans believed that dolphins carried the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Even in Jewish antiquity, Philo recounts a legend of the young boy who befriends a dolphin and when the young boy died unexpectedly, the dolphin dies soon after of grief.

For many of the early Christian sailors, the dolphin was a symbol for Jesus. The attributes of  the dolphins in folklore were attributed, and rightly so, to Jesus as the rescuer, savior of sailors, guide and of course, friend. As you might imagine, those who lived by the sea related much more to dolphins than sheep. And so, the dolphin naturally became a popular Christian image.

Early Christian art also is replete with images of dolphins. The dolphin, by far, is the most mentioned sea creature in Sacred Scripture. Many times a dolphin was placed on Christian grave markers representing Christ  “guiding” the souls of the faithful to their eternal glory. In other art pieces, a dolphin wraps itself around a trident symbolizing Christ on the cross. We also see in ancient Christian antiquity the combined symbolism of the dolphin wrapped around the anchor (a Christian symbol showing the cross or Christ and the rainbow of Noah and the thus the fulfillment of the Noaic

Sousse Museum, Tunisia

covenant in Baptism. Even more fascinating is that in underground Rome there is even a depiction of a dolphin with its heart exposed. (Source: Mike Aquilina writes in his book Signs and Mysteries Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols)

Dolphins are even found in early Church architecture. Constantine had altar candle sticks commissioned for St. Peter’s and even a church candelabra with more than twenty dolphins surrounding the center.

It should not come as a surprise that dolphins are an image of the Christ. Dolphins in so many ways are a material typology or shadow of the many attributes of our Lord. Besides, He is the Lord of the Seas. I knew there was a reason I loved Flipper so much.

A final note. Like sheep in Christian art, dolphins can also be a symbol for the Christian. Regardless, next time that you are at the beach, take a look out to sea. Maybe our Lord will send a reminder that He is out there too and wants us to remember that the sea and all its contents are His.

House of the Rising Sun

According to Hawaiian folklore, the crater in Māui’s famous volcano was the home to the grandmother of the demigod Māui. According to the legend, Māui’s grandmother helped him capture the sun by lassoing it and forcing it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day. Thus the name of the volcano, Haleakalā or “House of the Rising Sun” (that is how my grandmother translated the hawai’ian word regardless of what Wikipedia says).

My family and I head back home today and, that is okay. There is sadness because we enjoy the beach so much. My father’s eyes were a little dimmer because the beach is his connection with home that he left so long ago for the family he started- and Hawai’i is not right around the corner. My kids would be happy if we brought the sand and some of the waves back home with us. My in-laws experienced the beach for the first time in their lives and fell in love with it. My wife is sad since the end of vacation signals that school is about to begin. And me, the beach reminds me of my childhood and a time in my life when I had so few worries or concerns.

The last act on the beach before we left was Nicholas carving in the sand, “N was here.” In a matter of moments, the water came up and washed the “N” away. For some reason he had a look of surprise. I looked and said, “Um, Nicholas, that is what happens to sand on a beach.” His reply, “True. I at least God can’t be washed away from here.” I was awe-struck. What a great parting gift for me to think about.

Time moves on but the Lord does not change (Hebrews 13:8). And for that I am thankful. It is a good lesson to remind us that we cannot slow or control life (synonym for time) . Time only ceases when we are absent from the body but present before the Lord (not a synonym for life for our live continues outside of time).

That being said, I can tell you where you can have one foot in time and one in eternity – the Divine Liturgy. Here all time stops when the the priest elevates the host and the Son of God in all His glory shines upon us. The media keeps dreaming up what eternity might look like, why don’t they just come to Mass? Oh well. Take some time at Mass tomorrow and experience eternity…even for a minute (I love paradoxes).

So, this is the end of my vacation blogs. And, as I gazed upon the sunrise this morning, I thought I would share a sunrise and some of the most unique “things” from one of my favorite places on the planet, Haleakalā. Oh, said a prayer for you as well:

May the Sun of Justice (Mal 4:1) rise each day to shine upon you His grace and bring you into His ever-lasting glory.

Learning for the Dominicans

if today was not Sunday, the universal Church would be celebrating the Memorial of St. Dominic Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers. This is how Blessed Cecilia describes him:

“This was St Dominic’s appearance. He was of middle height and slender figure, of handsome and somewhat ruddy countenance, his hair and beard of auburn, and with lustrous eyes. From out his forehead and between his eye brows a radiant light shone forth, which drew everyone to revere and love him. He was always joyous and cheerful, except when moved to compassion at anyone’s sorrows. His hands were beautiful and tapering; his voice was clear, noble, and musical; he was never bald, but kept his religious tonsure entire, mingled here and there with a few grey hairs.” (From the Legend of St. Dominic by Bl. Cecilia Cesarini)

This simple mendicant’s work forever influenced the Church. He also gave us through his own witness a template for gestures during prayer.  The following are called The 9 Ways of Prayer by St. Dominic. For more of an explanation go to St. Dominic Biographical Documents.

To all in the Dominican family, thank you for your outstanding serve to the Trinity, our Lady and the Church. Many blessings!

The Discussion of our Heart

Today, Fr. Ephrem Houndje, O.P. in his homily provided a “discussion” that he believes many of us have with the Lord in prayer.  The core of his homily is that we need to enter into a trusting relationship with the Blessed Trinity and begin to live in His grace.  He also suggested that the Our Father is not a prayer form but reflects the art of prayer. The dialogue was based upon the Our Father, it was to the point and effective.  Thought I would share:

MAN: “Our Father who art in heaven.
GOD: Yes… here I am…
MAN: Please, do not interrupt me. I’m praying!
GOD: But, you called me… !
MAN: Called? I did not call anybody. I’m praying… “Our Father who art in heaven…”
GOD: Ah!!! It is still you?
MAN: What?
GOD: You called me! You said: “Our Father who art in heaven”. Here I am.
What Can I do for you?
MAN: I did not want to call. I’m praying. I say our Father every day, I feel good doing it. It is like fulfilling a duty. And I do not feel well if I don’t do it.
GOD: But how can you say Our Father, without thinking that all are your brothers and sisters? How can you say “Who art in heaven” if you do not know that heaven is peace, that heaven is love for all?
MAN: It is that really! I did not think about it.
GOD: But… Continue your prayer.
MAN: Hallowed be thy name…
GOD: Wait a little! What do you mean by that?
MAN: I mean… I mean… what it means; how could I know it? It is simply a part of the prayer!
GOD: “Hallowed” means recognizing me as your true father, who gives life to any being, who is worthy of respect, saint, sacred…, and as a consequence you put all your confidence in me and not in the insurance companies of the world.
MAN: Now, I understand. But I had never thought of the meaning of the word hallowed.
MAN: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… “
GOD: Are you talking seriously?
MAN: Of course! Why not?
GOD: And what do you do to make this happen?
MAN: How, what I do? Nothing! It is part of the prayer… But, by the way, it would be good that you influence and control a little bit what is occurring on the earth too.
GOD: Do I have a little influence or control over your life?
MAN: Eh well… I go to the church!
GOD: That is not what I’m asking! And the way in which you treats your human brothers, the way in which you spend your money forgetting about the one in need beside you, the time that you grant to TV shows, the material you watch on Internet, and the little time you devote to me?
MAN: Please, stop your criticisms!
GOD: Excuse me. I thought you were asking that my will be done. If that is to happen… you need to know what to do with those who prayers and accept my will no matter what the weather, cold, hot, rain, snow…
MAN: That is true, you are correct. I do not accept your will, since I complain about everything: if you send rain, I want sun, if I have sun, I complain about heat; if the weather is cold, I continue to complain; I ask for health, and I do not take care of it, I feed myself badly, I eat little or I eat too much…
GOD: It is good that you recognize it. Now we can work together, you and me. We will have victories and defeats. I like your new attitude.
MAN: Listen, Lord… It is necessary that I finish now. This prayer is now taking much more time than usually… I continue: “Give us this day our daily bread… “
GOD: Stop! Are you asking me for material bread? Man doesn’t live from bread alone, he lives on every word that also comes from my word. When you ask for bread, remember all those who do not have any. You can ask me for what you want, I am a loving Father! Now, I am interested, continue prayer…
MAN: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us… “
GOD: And the brother (or the sister) that you despise or look down upon?
MAN: Lord! He criticizes me too much, and it was not true. I cannot forgive him anymore. I need revenge…
GOD: But… what do you mean then when you pray? You called me and I am here. I desire that you come out of this prayer different, transformed. I want you to be honest. But it is not unhealthy and not good to carry the weight of this anger in your heart. Do you understand?
MAN: I understand that I would feel better if I could avenge…
GOD: No! You will feel worse! Revenge is not as good as it appears to be. Think about the sadness that you will cause, think of your current sadness. I can change all of this for you. Have you not heard, “Behold I make all things new”?  It is enough that you really wish it…
MAN: You can? And how?
GOD: Forgive your brother; and you will be able to taste my forgiveness. You will be relieved at peace…
MAN: But, Lord! I am unable!
God: Then, do not say this prayer…!
MAN: You’re right! I simply wanted to avenge myself, but what I really want it is peace! Then, it is okay as I forgive everyone, but “O God, come to my assistance”! Show me the way to follow.
GOD: What you are asking for is marvelous! I am happy and excited for you… How do you feel now?
MAN: Good, really good! To tell the truth, I had never felt better… It does good to talk with God…
GOD: Now, let us finish the prayer. Continue…
MAN: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil… “
GOD: Excellent! I will do it, but do not put yourself in situations where you can be tempted.
MAN: And now, What do you mean by that?
GOD: Stop going out with people who lead you to take part in dirty, hidden  businesses, … Give up hatred, wickedness. All that leads to deceiving ways… Do not use all that like emergency exits…
MAN: I do not understand !
GOD: Of course you understand! You did that several times with me. You take wrong short-cuts and then you shout out for Help.
MAN: I am ashamed, Lord, forgive me!
GOD: Obviously, I forgive you! I always forgive the one who is ready to forgive too. But when you call me again, remember our conversation, think of the words that you say to me! Finish your prayer now.
MAN: To finish? Ah, yes, “AMEN!”
GOD: And what means. “Amen”?
MAN: I do not know. It is the end of the prayer.
GOD: You say AMEN when you accept what I want, when you are in accord with my will, when you follow my commandments, because AMEN means may It be done, I agree with what I have just said…
MAN: Thank you, Lord to teach me this prayer, and now, thank you also for explaining it to me…
GOD: I love all my children, and I prefer those who want to get out of their mistakes, who want to be released from sin. Be blessed! Remain in my peace!
MAN: Thank you, Lord! I am happy of knowing that you are my FRIEND!