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I think if I have heard it once since our son was married, I have heard this phrase a thousand x.
Luch, you and Rosetta are so blessed!
As I think about what people mean by that is, ‘Luch, you are SO lucky.’
As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t think I am more blessed or lucky than anyone else, but I do think, I have ‘chosen’ to live by His blessing rather than against it.
My favourite spiritual mentor hands down, Fr Henri Nouwen, says the following about blessings AND cursing.
And it seems to be written out of what the Jewish scriptures teach.
Deuteronomy 30:19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
Without realising, we tend to curse ourselves. That cannot be so. That must be a joke. For who in his right senses would want to curse himself. Yet, unconsciously, we curse ourselves often. How can that be so? See how Father Henri Nouwen explains about blessings and curses: “It is an on going temptation to think of our lives as living under a curse. The loss of a friend, an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any failure can make us quickly think that we are no good and are being punished. This temptation to think of our lives as full of curses is even greater when all the media present us day after day with stories about human misery. Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us. But we must choose to receive that blessing and hand it on to others. Blessings and curses are always placed in front of us. We are to choose. God says, ‘Choose the blessings!’” (Bread for the Journey, Sept ) “To bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly. Parents need to bless their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God’s beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore, we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives.” (Bread for the Journey, Sept 7)
So, we bless ourselves:
· When we give thanks with a grateful heart.
· When we bless our family and others
· When we listen to the quiet, inner voice that says good things about ourselves.
· When we affirm ourselves and know that we have given the best of ourselves in whatever we have worked on.
· When we shut out the loud, busy outer voice that says we are being punished.
We bless others:
· When we speak good things about them and to them.
· When we show by our gestures that their presence is a joy to us.
· When we reveal to them their gifts, their goodness and their talents.
I think many of us might want to stop ‘hoarding the blessing’ and share it lavishly in spirit of Fr Henri’s words.
I am fascinated that many who say they are ‘believers’ have a hard time expressing blessing to another, while so called ‘non believers’(tragic expression) express blessing freely especially if they’ve never experienced it.
Sometimes mentoring doesn’t have to be long, drawn out, never getting to the point conversations. The late blessed St Mother Teresa provides an inspired example of giving direct communication to the late Dutch priest, Father Henri Nouwen. Known for his compulsivity, Fr Henri asked Mother Teresa how he could deal with ongoing issues in his life. Nouwen explains her direct response.
Once, quite a few years ago, I had the opportunity of meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I was struggling with many things at the time and decided to use the occasion to ask Mother Teresa’s advice. As soon as we sat down I started explaining all my problems and difficulties – trying to convince her of how complicated it all was! When, after ten minutes of elaborate explanation, I finally became silent, Mother Teresa looked at me quietly and said,: “Well, when you spend one hour a day adoring your Lord and never do anything which you know is wrong . . . you will be fine!” . . . Reflecting on this brief but decisive encounter, I realize that I had raised a question from below and that she had given an answer from above. At first, her answer didn’t seem to fit my question, but then I began to see that her answer came from God’s place and not from the place of my complaints. Most of the time we respond to questions from below with answers from below. The result is more questions and more answers and, often, more confusion. Mother Teresa’s answer was like a flash of lightning in my darkness. I suddenly knew the truth about myself. HERE AND NOW book
While reading a book on Refirement by Eric Thurman,😂 and while so much is being made on the airwaves about our health, this paragraph from AARP an organization providing helpful accurate health information for those over 50 but also all ages especially if you are young but acting like you are old and unfit.
AARP is a prolific source of information about aging. This organization, representing a membership of nearly thirty-eight million people, advocates for adults age fifty and over. Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, put her finger on the primary factor that determines your health—you: The saying used to be that the secret to a long, healthy life was to choose your parents well. But today we know that only about 20 percent of a person’s health is due to genetics, and about 20 percent is due to the medical care we receive. The other 60 percent is due to social, behavioral, and environmental factors, many of which we can and do influence by the choices we make throughout our lives—what we eat, how much and what kinds of exercise we do, where we live, the quality of our relationships, whether we smoke, and our ability to handle stress. 12 Your private thoughts, desires, and actions are the driving force that determine how good and how long your life will be from this point forward. By AARP’s estimate, 60 percent of your thriving throughout the remainder of your life depends on you. With that in mind, you can see why famed Italian actress Sophia Loren argued there actually is a fountain of youth. It is inside you: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.”
A few days after Mother’s Day and within a month, Dad’s day, here is one of the hardest and yet most important lessons to practice as a mom and dad. At least for this old boy.
So well articulated by the late Fr Henri Nouwen.
This is a lesson Rosetta and I want to learn well.
Let our kids GO!!!
We gave them roots. Now they have to fly and make their own roots.🙏❤️
The Great Gift of Parenthood
Children are their parents’ guests. They come into the space that has been created for them, stay for a while – fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years – and leave again to create their own space. Although parents speak about “our son” and “our daughter,” their children are not their property. In many ways children are strangers. Parents have to come to know them, discover their strengths and their weaknesses, and guide them to maturity, allowing them to make their own decisions.
The greatest gift parents can give their children is their love for each other. Through that love they create an anxiety-free place for their children to grow, encouraging them to develop confidence in themselves and find the freedom to choose their own ways in life.
Do you find your tongue—speech gets you in trouble?
Mine does. Still.
This prayer for good speech in my Give us this day devotional was timely as lately my ‘tongue’ has gotten the better of me.
Prayer for Good Speech
Gracious God, with only words
you created the universe and called it “good.”
Help me, then, to use my words well,
to create only life and give blessings this day.
You numbered the stars and called each one by name.
Let me cherish each person I meet
and speak their name with reverence.
You promised that your word is very near to us,
already in our mouths and in our hearts.
Give me your Spirit, and teach me what to say.
Stand guard over my mouth and temper my heart
when emotions race and words so easily cut.
Help me know when to speak up,
to be a cry for the poor and a voice in the desert,
and teach me the wisdom to know when to be silent.
Give me the grace to speak the simple words:
“Please” and “Thank you.” “Yes.” “I love you.”
And strengthen me to say the words that need to be said:
“I was wrong.” “I’m sorry.” “Forgive me.” “I forgive you.”
Let my “yes” be “yes,” my “no” mean “no,”
and my promises be kept.
Above all, may I remember that
even if I speak with the tongues of angels,
yet do not have love, I am simply making noise.
So let my tongue be silenced if ever I forget you.
Lord, today, make me your word and open my lips, c*
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
*Make the Sign of the Cross on your lips.
Thomas Merton the late Trappist monk said something that could revolutionize our increasingly sick world.
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . .
“This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.
Let’s take a good look at our own fourth and walnut.
Grateful expresses how I feel this morning, especially for Premier Doug Ford, Prime minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor John Tory and Education minister Stephen Lecce.
These 4 men—young and old—and the great teams around them have done their best as far as I can see and hear, to keep sanity for Canadians. And Ontarians. They have spouses and children and grandchildren too to worry about and yet they are not cowering and retreating but stepping up.
Two of the three self isolated and still do their job.
I may not agree with some of their ideologies and politics but who cares…what they have in common they have rallied around.
I love when reporter asked Doug Ford what he’s going to do to enforce social distancing.
His reply—‘Come on people….does it have to come to that?’
He actually believes that people are good at heart and will do the right thing.
Sadly that isn’t true but I am thanking God for these men and women staying at their post while we sleep relatively peacefully.
Lord, bless these men and women doing their best to guide our country. Give them peace, courage and wisdom to make good decisions for the common good. Amen
Last August I held 2 of my 7 grandchildren —Gianluca and Milia—so tightly, with not a concern.
These two physically affectionate grandkids hug like there’s no tomorrow.
Today they visited Nonno Luch and Nonna Rosetta with their daddy Vince. Not just to visit but to deliver something for our fight against covid-19 our beloved nurse Flavia wanted us and kids’ maternal grandparents Ioan and Elena to have.
The sad part is that although schooled by their parents not to get close and touch, they quickly unbuckled their belts to run to us but we had to shout lovingly 😢’NO, stay back Milia and Gianluca.’
The look in both sets of eyes broke me.
And out of love for us and them they stayed back.
And I could tell they too were reluctantly embracing a coronavirus world.
My son vince said it best as he saw this unfold as he said, What the F? under his breath.
Damn you coronavirus. I hate you and whoever and whatever sourced you. And we and all of us are finding a way to destroy you. It will not be without some tragic losses but I believe in the power of God and the ingenuity of humankind to defeat you, you who are a destroyer of all that is good.
Lastly, FU coronavirus.🥶
I will embrace my grandkids and kids and friends again someday.
In the meantime we will fight!!
Beautiful, timely piece by Father Richard Hendricks
by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
March 13th 2020
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
You are a leader. You’re a leader in your home, at work, in your community, and most important of all, the leader of your own life.
But are you the best leader you can be?
There are many attributes to great leadership. I believe the most important one by far is the lost art of ‘modeling’. It’s a lost art because so many of the good models have disappeared.
Author and prolific TED talker, Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, and his most recent, Leaders Eat Last, says the following about ‘modeling’ without ever using the word, but illustrating it lavishly.
Leaders are the ones who run headfirst into the unknown.
They rush toward danger.
They put their own interests aside to protect us or to pull us into the future.
Leaders would sooner sacrifice what is theirs to save what is ours.
And they would never sacrifice what is ours to save what is theirs.
And when we feel sure they will keep us safe, we will march behind them and work tirelessly, to see their visions come to life, and proudly call ourselves their followers.
Have you ever had a leader like that?
I think it’s time to raise the battle cry and call out to a new generation of men and women to strive to be models of exemplary conduct.
The problem in our industries and communities is that many supervisors and leaders are not living out the very things they are asking others to do. There is no congruence between what the boss says and what they do. This causes untold pain in a work atmosphere. It does the same in a home.
We can do better.
If you were blessed to grow up in an environment of encouragement, start counting your blessings. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of you began life under less than ideal circumstances. Perhaps broken homes, absentee parents, crumbling ethical world, all of these and more, factor into the making of a human being, for better or worse. You didn’t have leaders—parents, teachers, employers—like Sinek describes. You didn’t have a ‘model’ to trace your life on.
So if this was your lot, how do you go about changing? You can sit around and do what my coach calls ‘wallow’ about your lot in life, but eventually you have to ‘swallow’, because nobody really cares. Really. Sad to say, but unless you care enough about your situation to improve it, it’s going to be a miserable life.
But if you want to move on, one of the best places to start moving is to find a model.
The late Albert Bandura who pioneered social learning theory in the 60s and 70s said,
“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” – Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977.
In case you rushed through that last paragraph, read it again slowly, especially this sentence, “Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for actions.” There is hope if you lacked good modeling.
This seems to concur with Albert Schweitzer’s adage, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing”.
Perhaps an overstatement but not too far from the truth.
If you have a purpose or dream or mission in life, it goes without saying that you will not get anywhere without a ‘role model’, someone who has gone ahead of you.
Can we agree that ‘models’ have gone missing and that you are willing to rise up to the challenge of becoming one of ‘those’ for someone, and also committing to finding a model of someone you can follow to improve your life radically?
Another word for ‘model’ is ‘pattern’. Have you noticed that when someone sews up clothes, they use a ‘pattern’? Why? Because using a pattern shortens the process. It saves time. It prevents mistakes. It makes the task look easier. There are some amazing things that happen in your life when you choose the right pattern or model.
I would suggest that one of the best ways to achieve your goals is to find a model whose already achieved what you want– financially, spiritually, and relationally. Find someone who is where you want to be and then set about figuring out how they got there. That is the quickest way to learn. Study. Go on active search mode.
Have you noticed how babies learn most things? They learn by copying. I go work in my garden, and water my plants, and without me providing any instruction, pretty soon, my grandson is walking along, stumbling with his little pail of water, to water my tomato plants. Does he drip water? Does he miss the plant by a country mile? Yes, but who cares, he’s getting the right idea.
If it’s true that we learn the most by copying and modeling, then the challenge is choosing your models.
If you were blessed to have someone who had great habits and was success oriented in your life, then you probably grew up to be a high achiever. On the other hand, if you saw negative behavior modeled you may have innocently become a negative, fault finding person.
As a child you didn’t know what was right or wrong. You just had these people in your life, and in many cases, they said, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”
If you grew up as I did watching people ‘explode’ with their anger, you may have grown up with a temper. This happened to me. All through my young adult years and into the early part of my marriage, I struggled with managing my outbursts of anger. It took some coaching to discover that I had come by this innocently. What was encouraging was that just as I learned this by copying, I could relearn new patterns. I am a work in progress but surrounding myself with healthy models of anger expression has fueled my desire to manage and express my anger in constructive ways.
If you grew up being shamed and being a fault finder, it shouldn’t surprise you that you walk around in your daily life shaming the people you love the most and work with. There is hope. Find a new model.
How do we find a model? There’s two ways: The indirect method; and direct method.
The indirect is through the plethora of self help resources available to us today in all kinds of ways—audio programs, books, and reading biographies of people who overcame their ‘issues’ to achieve greatness. For example, as I move on in life one of my goals is to become a more teachable and coachable person. I suffer from having ‘china doll feelings. ‘ At the sound of the slightest criticism I used to get my back up and I would ultimately be the loser. My own coach has helped me overcome my fear of feedback by having me read the book Thanks for the Feedback, as well as exploring some of the reasons why I get my back up. I am growing.
There’s also the direct method of having a specific person in your life. I have had a few of these in my life. First as a teacher, then as a pastor, and now as a life and leadership coach. I am always looking for healthy models in areas I am aspiring to be great in.
One of the greatest benefits of having models is that they inspire us to crash through self imposed limitations. For years it was known that no human being could break the 4 minute mile running record. But in 1954, Roger Bannister broke that barrier, and right after him 1000s of people started to break it. That’s what a model can do for you. Help you crash through self imposed barriers.
You and I need models. Who are your models today? Who are the people who inspire you? Who could you get close enough to, to learn from?
Don’t let your ego get in the way of transforming your life. A lack of humility and over-exaggerated sense of self importance is the only reason to not make others our models.
When my kids were young, I was obsessed with being the best dad I could be. I am still obsessed with this value although now they are in their 30s, and my hope is that they will make being great role models their ambition, and that they will never stop seeking out models that will inspire them to achieve greatness in the areas of life that matter to them.
I memorized the following poem 30 plus years ago. It still resonates with me today. It’s a daily reminder that your attitudes and actions set an example for everyone around us.
Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager to do anything you do;
And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly, holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way when he’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right; and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example every day in all you do;
For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be just like you
– Author Unknown