Monthly Archives: August 2017

Stop Murmuring & Disputing

 

Do you habitually complain, whine, argue and grumble? Do you know anyone who does not? It seems to have become a habit for many of us. By the way, the word “murmurings” refers to the complaints of the Israelites during their wanderings. You may know murmurings as being critical of others, bitterness, bickering, protesting or being unsociable. Pessimism. Negativity. In the New Testament, Paul said: “Do you do all things without murmuring and disputing?” 

Have you noticed that many people get caught up in heated and unending political discussions? — lots of murmurings going on there. Our change in government has caused new policies and procedures being enacted or offered – big time murmurings at home and the office. Don’t forget the economy or loss of jobs grumble – layoffs are increasing – homes are foreclosed.  There are countless things to whine and be bitter about and protest against. It hasn’t been easy for anyone.

Paul the Apostle, in his ministry while traveling and visiting many countries, cites in one of his directives, a Letter to the Philippians, (2:14) — “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”.

You may not be aware of Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, who really was a Hellenistic Jew who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Along with Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus’ church is built, he was among the most notable of early Christian missionaries.

Paul’s conversion to a follower of Christ is a profound story of faith. He spread Christanity by accounts of his travels which are found as Letters in the New Testament of the Bible and are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live.

What do we do in answer to Paul’s instruction – not to complain in all things. Sometimes it’s hard not to vent. Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest. It’s hard to comply with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at a ll.”  How can we tweak that?

We could say, “If you can only say something negative, don’t say anything at all”. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. It’s difficult to be positive when things are looking bleak, but does it help to heap more negativity on the pile?

It can become a habit to view everything with a sour outlook which becomes a bitterness and creates more murmurings. There’s little worse than facing each day with doom and gloom. Becoming embittered won’t change the price of gasoline or bring the prices down. It won’t change the politics of the day or create a new healthcare plan.

Listen to yourself and see how you approach these subjects. Do you always say things like, “I’m afraid that….” or “I know that things are going to get worse before they get better”…..or “I hate this or I hate that or I hate them or I hate him ….” or “That’s BS” or “they’re stupid” or “they are such a bunch of #&%$’s. And the beat goes on and the words become more heated and your murmurings may keep you from sleeping well at night. Your fear and hate will become self-fulfilling. You are what you think.

We can offset these complaints by offering words of kindness and compassion and hope. Change your heart and you will change your attitude. Kind thoughts and acts will replace your habits of negative thoughts. Negative and positive thoughts cannot share the same space in your mind. Crowd out those negative ones. God is still in control and local, national and world events are not as hopeless as we make them. Many others before us have lived through challenging times; bad times seem to be cyclical and eventually change from bad to good.

Be an agent for change. They say if you force yourself to smile, you will feel uplifted. A smile is the lighting system of the face.  It sure beats the frowns and growls. Smiles beget smiles. Maybe your co-worker or spouse or friend is tired of ‘murmuring’ or listening to yours, too, and you can make the difference to change that.

Don’t get bogged down by the signs of the times. If you are spiritual, try to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a).

Fill your spirit with Paul’s teaching: “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”. It can work and all you have to lose are your frown lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeannie ~ My Wake-Up Angel

I met Jeannie when I was 9.  She was 12.   She lived behind my cousin’s house in a 2nd floor apartment.  My cousin and I were the same age and were together often until I met Jeannie who had authentic red hair, blue eyes and loads of freckles.   My cousin didn’t understand why she wasn’t included when we were together, but we didn’t play like cousin and I did ~ Jeannie played religious school with me.

She attended a Catholic school in the next town; about 1.5 miles away.   Although I was born a Catholic and by age 9 had received First Holy Communion, our family then were Easter and Christmas attendees.  Every day Jeannie wore a gray plaid jumper uniform to school unlike my outfits to public school.  What stands out most about her is she would go over all her papers from school with me which always had her initialed cross on the top.  I learned as much from Jeannie about God, the church and its sacraments as  I did for a year at faith classes.  She instilled a love and reverence about God and the Bible I hadn’t had before.

Her love of faith included coming to my house at 8:00 am every Sunday morning for the 9:00 am children’s mass.  I was always asleep and my mom would yell, “Jeannie’s here for church”.   I always went.  We walked there together every Sunday where I learned about being in God’s House for the Sabbath.

We moved when I was 12 and I didn’t see much of Jeannie after that.  Saw her when I was in my 20s – she was married & with her husband.  We talked about getting together but we lived a distance away.

Many years had passed when I was attending a faith sharing class and we were asked who was our foundation in faith?  I immediately thought of  Jeannie.  I thought about her all that day and tried to call her through her brother who was the only name listed locally.   He remembered me and told me the sad news that she had recently passed – having had a weak heart since childhood.  I never knew she did.  We both cried.  I remembered her birth date and told him I would have a mass said for her and would send him the notice.

The only opening my church had on that date for her mass was not held at the church; it was in the Catholic school where masses are said one day a week.   I made the date for her birthday at the school mass at 8:00 am which the school children usually attend.

But on that day several months later, I had forgotten the mass date.  Since I didn’t usually get up that early, I had not set the alarm that day.

Early that morning in the still darkness the day of her birthday,  I woke up suddenly out of my sleep and next to my bed was a white brightly shining figure standing next to me.  I was stunned but not afraid.   It looked like an angel and I had never had any visions or hallucinations my whole life.  Or was it a dream?  The vision was bright but not frightening. Then I saw red hair on this figure; immediately I said, “It’s Jeannie’s mass today”.

I jumped out of bed waking my husband up and we scurried to the school.   I was still stunned by the apparition .  We were there on time and when the mass started, the school children walked down the aisle to sit in the front and they had on uniforms.  The girls wore gray plaid jumpers.  Just like Jeannie’s.

I felt Jeannie’s presence there that day; the uniformed children were a special treat which would not have happened if I had the mass said instead at our church that day.   I found that more than coincidental that I could remember and pray for her by going back in time when she was that age.   Remembrances of her from others recall how kind and giving she was to all.  She lived her faith.   She took care of her ailing father and the night he died, she died also that night.

Do I believe it was Jeannie who woke me up for her mass?  Yes, I do.  How fitting my dear, sweet friend would come to my house at 8:00 am  to take me to church.

 

 

 

No Expectations ~ No Disappointments

 

Expectations for prosperity caused great disappointments during recessions and depressions.  We can say those circumstances were beyond our control and yet, they cause disappointments. Big, major disappointments.

What if we added all big ones to all the little disappointments we experience each day? If we depend on circumstances to gauge our happiness, we are in jeopardy because circumstances are constantly changing. And like the big ones, they are beyond our control. You might say you don’t do that. In a day’s time you may do it more than once. I know that I have done it more than once.

I have felt expectations when a great promotion was coming up that I just knew I was ready for; it was ‘my time’ in the department to move up, and I ‘sensed’ that I would get it — and I didn’t. I ‘expected’ the school to close due to the bad weather, but it didn’t, and I had two teens bored from being indoors with ‘nothing to do’ while I had made my own plans for that day. I expected’ that I would get an “A” that I worked on diligently in my writing class, and instead, I got a “C.” No way! I expected my best article ever to be selected for a contest, and it didn’t. I set myself up for these disappointments because I ‘expected’ them.

When I placed my expectations on people, again I was usually disappointed.  Someone repeated something I asked them not to.  Someone didn’t invite my best friend to a party they were having.   Crushed expectations; big disappointments. Life and people may and do change; the unexpected happens to us all.

I know that men and women can never fulfill all of each other’s needs. Only God can.  But at times, I used to expect them to and in those expectations of them, when they didn’t or couldn’t, I was disappointed. Disappointment is ‘the first seed of doubt’ and can lead to defeat or depression.

So how did I finally learn not to expect things from others, not to lean on others for my joy or happiness? Can one unlearn the emotion of expecting others to fulfill our needs and do the things we think they ought to do?

Yes, I believe we can.  There is no commandment saying, “Thou shalt expect others to fulfill our needs and do what we want them to do.” Actually, the commandments are a compilation of honoring and doing good to others; not expecting them to do good for us.

I had a tremendous expectation turn into disappointment with my teen-age son.  It was a turbulent time and I loved him, but did not like him much, how he looked or how he dressed. The disappointed expectation turned into a life role play where I was the mother of expectations and he was the child of disappointments. I had visions of what he should do with his life and he had much different views of what he wanted. So much so, that it affected not only our relationship but included the whole family.

Frustrated, I finally went to a trusted family counselor and gave him my story. He wanted my son to come in to hear his view. That being done, he then told me my son did not have to come back, but I did.  What?  Is there some mistake here, I am paying for this session and I’m the disappointer?

I did return and he explained that my son was fine and perfectly happy with himself, his choices for school, work and his future. I had different expectations for him and that was my problem. His remedy was that I should learn to love my son as he was and to compliment him each day on something he did that was good. That would help us communicate without friction.  told him there was nothing my son did that pleased me. And his answer was, ‘If he takes the garbage out, that is good – thank him.’

Which is the only thing I could do and the garbage taking-out WAS good and I did genuinely thank him. I’m happy to say that I did follow the counselor’s advice, I thanked my son for all the good things (and there were many I had overlooked) and downplayed what I thought was bad.

Within a week, the tension subsided and we were talking and smiling to each other. The mother of expectations and the child of disappointments were no more. I took stock of what the doctor told me and found that once I lost my expectation of what I believed was ‘good’ for my son, I found what was ruining our relationship.

I practiced making a habit of gratitude instead of expectation.  Expectations can become habit-forming and sometimes the more you expect, the more you want. Then you have to deal with more disappointments.

Today, I am so blessed to have such a close and endearing relationship with this man – my son, who has done well in his life and succeeded without my expectations. Instead, he had my support, love and encouragement.

Mary ~ Jesus’ Mother


Some people question and many ask about Mary, Jesus’ Mother, being born without Original Sin. They say, that since Mary refers to her Redeemer and Savior, would she do that if she were without Original Sin?

Some reply that Mary probably did sin in her life – if she didn’t, then she would be considered a god like Jesus.

The church teaches Mary was free of Original Sin. How does the church come to this conclusion through scripture?

Mary is seen as the Ark of the New Covenant ~ a spotless vessel who carried a sinless Jesus ~ and that Ark would be sinless, too ~ of original sin.  God chose Mary among women, unblemished of sin, and full of grace to carry the baby Jesus in her womb.

There are many references which tie in this dogma to Scripture.  I found a Catholic interpretation and will repeat it here:   This is only one of the many ways it is explained ~~~~

“It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history.”  God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled Mary.  At that time Mary’s womb became the dwelling place of the presence of God”  [Luke 1:35].

In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl.   [Exodus 40:34-35] says “God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled the Ark. The Ark became the dwelling place of the presence of God”.

“The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness:  God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark [Deut. 10:3–5].  Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: “a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.”

“Notice the amazing parallels:

  • In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh.
  •  In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life.
  • In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest.

In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—

  • “gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary.”

 

© Marie Coppola, Revised December 2012   

Reference: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0510fea5.asp